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§47. The numerous oracles,—fancied apparitions in sacred places, &c., dispelled by the sign of the Cross. The old gods prove to have been mere men. Magic is exposed. And whereas Philosophy could only persuade select and local cliques of Immortality, and goodness,—men of little intellect have infused into the multitudes of the churches the principle of a supernatural life.

And whereas formerly every place was full of the deceit of the oracles332332    On these, see Döllinger, i. 216, &c., and Milton’s Ode on the Nativity, stanza xix., and the oracles at Delphi and Dodona, and in Bœotia333333    i.e. that of Trophonius. and Lycia334334    Patara. and Libya335335    Ammon. and Egypt and those of the Cabiri336336    See Döllinger, i. 73, 164–70: the Cabiri were pre-Hellenic deities, worshipped in many ancient sanctuaries, but principally in Samothrace and Lemnos., and the Pythoness, were held in repute by men’s imagination, now, since Christ has begun to be preached everywhere, their madness also has ceased and there is none among them to divine any more. 2. And whereas formerly demons used to deceive337337    Cf. Vit. Ant. xvi.–xliii., also Döllinger, ii. 212, and a curious catena of extracts from early Fathers, collected by Hurter in ‘Opuscula SS. Patrum Selecta,’ vol. 1, appendix. men’s fancy, occupying springs or rivers, trees or stones, and thus imposed upon the simple by their juggleries; now, after the divine visitation of the Word, their deception has ceased. For by the Sign of the Cross, though a man but use it, he drives out their deceits. 3. And while formerly men held to be gods the Zeus and Cronos and Apollo and the heroes mentioned in the poets, and went astray in honouring them; now that the Saviour has appeared among men, those others have been exposed as mortal men338338    For this opinion, see note 1 on c. Gent. 12., and Christ alone has been recognised among men as the true God, the Word of God. 4. And what is one to say of the magic339339    See Döllinger, ii. 210, and (on Julian) 215. esteemed among them? that before the Word sojourned among us this was strong and active among Egyptians, and Chaldees, and Indians, and inspired awe in those who saw it; but that by the presence of the Truth, and the Appearing of the Word, it also has been thoroughly confuted, and brought wholly to nought. 5. But as to Gentile wisdom, and the sounding pretensions of the philosophers, I think none can need our argument, since the wonder is before the eyes of all, that while the wise among the Greeks had written so much, and were unable to persuade even a few340340    In Plato’s ideal Republic, the notion of any direct influence of the highest ideals upon the masses is quite absent. Their happiness is to be in passive obedience to the few whom those ideals inspire. (Contrast Isa. liv. 13, Jer. xxxi. 34.) from their own neighbourhood, concerning immortality and a virtuous life, Christ alone, by ordinary language, and by men not clever with the tongue, has throughout all the world persuaded whole churches full of men to despise death, and to mind the things of immortality; to overlook what is temporal and to turn their eyes to what is eternal; to think nothing of earthly glory and to strive only for the heavenly.


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