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15. What then! some one will say, do you think that no honour should be given to the gods at all? If you propose to us gods such as they should be if they do exist, and such as48344834 Lit., “whom.” we feel that we all mean when we mention48354835 Lit., “say in the proclamation of.” that name, how can we but give them even the greatest honour, since we have been taught by the commands which have especial power over us,48364836 Lit., “more powerful commands,” i.e., by Christ’s injunctions. It seems hardly possible that any one should suppose that there is here any reference to Christ’s command to His disciples not to exercise lordship over each other, yet Orelli thinks that there is perhaps a reference to Mark x. 42, 43. If a particular reference were intended, we might with more reason find it in 1 Pet. ii. 17, “Honour all men.” to pay honour to all men even, of whatever rank, of whatever condition they may be? What, pray, you ask, is this very great honour? One much more in accordance with duty than is paid by you, and directed to48374837 Lit., “established in.” a more powerful race, we reply. Tell, us, you say, in the first place, what is an opinion worthy of the gods, right and honourable, and not blameworthy from its being made unseemly by something infamous? We reply, one such that you believe that they neither have any likeness to man, nor look for anything which is outside of them and comes from without; then—and this has been said pretty frequently—that they do not burn with the fires of anger, that they do not give themselves up passionately to sensual pleasure, that they are not bribed to be of service, that they are not tempted to injure our enemies, that they do not sell their kindness and favour, that they do not rejoice in having honour heaped on them, that they are not indignant and vexed if it is not given; but—and this belongs to the divine—that by their own power they know themselves, and that they do not rate themselves by the obsequiousness of others. And yet, that we may see the nature of what is said, what kind of honour is this, to bind a wether, a ram, a bull before the face of a god, and slay them in his sight? What kind of honour is it to invite a god to a banquet of blood, which you see him take and share in with dogs? What kind of honour is it, having set on fire piles of wood, to hide the heavens with smoke, and darken with gloomy blackness the images of the gods? But if it seems good to you that these actions should be considered in themselves,48384838 Lit., “weighed by their own force,” vi. not judged of according to your prejudices, you will find that those altars of which you speak, and even those beautiful ones which you dedicate to the superior gods,48394839 i.e., altariaque hæc pulchra. are places for burning the unhappy race of animals, funeral pyres, and mounds built for a most unseemly office, and formed to be filled with corruption.
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