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648Chapter XX.

There are, then, among the righteous some who are carbuncles, others sapphires, others jaspers, and others crystals, and thus there is among the righteous every kind of choice and precious stone.  As to the spiritual meaning of the different stones,—what is their nature, and to what kind of soul the name of each precious stone especially applies,—we cannot at present stay to examine.  We have only felt it necessary to show thus briefly what we understand by temples, and what the one Temple of God built of precious stones truly means.  For as if in some cities a dispute should arise as to which had the finest temples, those who thought their own were the best would do their utmost to show the excellence of their own temples and the inferiority of the others,—in like manner, when they reproach us for not deeming it necessary to worship the Divine Being by raising lifeless temples, we set before them our temples, and show to such at least as are not blind and senseless, like their senseless gods, that there is no comparison between our statues and the statues of the heathen, nor between our altars, with what we may call the incense ascending from them, and the heathen altars, with the fat and blood of the victims; nor, finally, between the temples of senseless gods, admired by senseless men, who have no divine faculty for perceiving God, and the temples, statues, and altars which are worthy of God.  It is not therefore true that we object to building altars, statues, and temples, because we have agreed to make this the badge of a secret and forbidden society; but we do so, because we have learnt from Jesus Christ the true way of serving God, and we shrink from whatever, under a pretence of piety, leads to utter impiety those who abandon the way marked out for us by Jesus Christ.  For it is He who alone is the way of piety, as He truly said, “I am the way, the truth, the life.”

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