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Chapter XVII.

Celsus then proceeds to say that “we shrink from raising altars, statues, and temples; and this,” he thinks, “has been agreed upon among us as the badge or distinctive mark of a secret and forbidden society.”  He does not perceive that we regard the spirit of every good man as an altar from which arises an incense which is truly and spiritually sweet-smelling, namely, the prayers ascending from a pure conscience.  Therefore it is said by John in the Revelation, “The odours are the prayers of saints;”48744874    Rev. v. 8. and by the Psalmist, “Let my prayer come up before Thee as incense.”48754875    Ps. cxli. 2.  And the statues and gifts which are fit offerings to God are the work of no common mechanics, but are wrought and fashioned in us by the Word of God, to wit, the virtues in which we imitate “the First-born of all creation,” who has set us an example of justice, of temperance, of courage, of wisdom, of piety, and of the other virtues.  In all those, 647then, who plant and cultivate within their souls, according to the divine word, temperance, justice, wisdom, piety, and other virtues, these excellences are their statues they raise, in which we are persuaded that it is becoming for us to honour the model and prototype of all statues:  “the image of the invisible God,” God the Only-begotten.  And again, they who “put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that hath created him,” in taking upon them the image of Him who hath created them, do raise within themselves a statue like to what the Most High God Himself desires.  And as among statuaries there are some who are marvellously perfect in their art, as for example Pheidias and Polycleitus, and among painters, Zeuxis and Apelles, whilst others make inferior statues, and others, again, are inferior to the second-rate artists,—so that, taking all together, there is a wide difference in the execution of statues and pictures,—in the same way there are some who form images of the Most High in a better manner and with a more perfect skill; so that there is no comparison even between the Olympian Jupiter of Pheidias and the man who has been fashioned according to the image of God the Creator.  But by far the most excellent of all these throughout the whole creation is that image in our Saviour who said, “My Father is in Me.”


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