Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Cyprian/The Treatises of Cyprian/Exhortation to Martyrdom/Part 2
On the Exhortation to Martyrdom.
1. That idols are not gods, and that the elements are not to be worshipped in the place of gods.
In the cxiiith Psalm it is shown that “the idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have a mouth, and speak not; eyes have they, and see not. They have ears, and hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouth. Let those that make them be made like unto them.” Also in the Wisdom of Solomon: “They counted all the idols of the nations to be gods, which neither have the use of eyes to see, nor noses to draw breath, nor ears to hear, nor fingers on their hands to handle; and as for their feet, they are slow to go. For man made them, and he that borrowed his own spirit fashioned them; but no man can make a god like unto himself. For, since he is mortal, he worketh a dead thing with wicked hands; for he himself is better than the things which he worshippeth, since he indeed lived once, but they never.” In Exodus also: “Thou shalt not make to thee an idol, nor the likeness of anything.” Moreover, in Solomon, concerning the elements: “Neither by considering the works did they acknowledge who was the workmaster; but deemed either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the violent water, or the sun, or the moon, to be gods. On account of whose beauty, if they thought this, let them know how much more beautiful is the Lord than they. Or if they admired their powers and operations, let them understand by them, that He that made these mighty things is mightier than they.”
- [The astronomical idols seem to have been the earliest adopted (Job xxxi. 27), and so the soul degraded itself to lower forms and to mere fetichism by a process over and over again repeated among men. Rom. i. 21, 23.]
- Ps. cxxxv. 15–18; cxv. 4–8.
- Wisd. xv. 15–17.
- Ex. xx. 4.
- Pamelius and others read here, “the gods who rule over the world,” apparently taking the words from the thirteenth chapter of the book of Wisdom, and from the Testimonies, iii. 59, below, where they are quoted.
- Wisd. xiii. 1–4.