It was an object not only of veneration but curiosity. It had grown up into a trade to make silver models of it as an article of merchandise, to be sold in different parts of the earth. The silversmiths as well as the priests took alarm at the spread of the Gospel, as the almost comic account of the town meeting called by Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen evidently shows, and that most cogent argument addressed to the cupidity of his hearers. "Sirs, ye know that by this crast we have our wealth. Moreover, ye see and hear that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying, that they be no gods, which are made with hands. So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought, but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard these things they were filled with wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.'

The religion of Greece was at all times most grossly idolatrous. Athens was full of statues, erected to imaginary deities, and deified men. Her superstition was not only bigoted but bloody. It was there that Socrates had suffered death, merely on suspicion of maintaining opinions subversive of the popuļar faith. Paul, to escape the same fate, was obliged to introduce the true God under the name of an unknown deity, to which they had some where erected an altar. While they rejected all foreign religions and raised a most beautiful temple and statue to their patron goddess, Minerva, their religious faith did not take sufficient hold of their minds to have the slightest influence upon their moral conduct, and while they had the reputation of knowing best of all men what was right, they fell under the reproach of practising it the least.

The Corinthians were always a dissipated people. Their vast commerce gave them boundless wealth, and they imported the luxuries and the vices as well as the merchandise of all nations and all climes. Their sacred rites, so far from sanctifying their manners, only ministered occasions for intemperance and excess. And so gross were their conceptions, that the Eucharist itself had not been established long among the converts to Christianity, before it was perverted to a like occasion of riot and sensuality. Near to Corinth was the temple of Delphi, consecrated to Apollo, which for nearly a thousand years had cheated the world with its pretended oracles of futurity. It is hardly necessary to say that it was all one stupendous deception, contrived with consummate art to make gain of the superstition of mankind; in fact no more respectable, except in its gold and its treasures, than the hovel of any witch or fortune teller of modern times.

And what shall we say of imperial Rome herself?


She had a religion, nay, was eminently religious. Cicero, the most learned and virtuous man of that people, makes it his boast, “that while we are excelled by the Greeks in the arts, by the Carthagenians in policy, and the Gauls in bravery, we surpass all the world in common sense, and in the wise conviction, that all things are governed by a super

a intending Providence. Hence it is that we give laws to the world.” But this great man, when he uttered this boast, belonged to the college of Augurs,

, who by divination from the flight of birds, or the entrails of sacrifices, might forbid the election of magistrates, and the march of armies; and he candidly confesses that no two augurs could look each other in the face without laughing.

Rome at the height of her power divided her worship among twelve gods of the highest class, besides a host of minor divinities. Each new emperor, when he died, went to swell the number, and not a few claimed that honor during their lives. It was the attempt of Caligula to place his statue in the temple at Jerusalem, which exasperated the Jews to an incurable resentment, and led them to prefer being overwhelmed in its ruins to seeing it desecrated by the worship of a tyrant. There was something, it is true, in a high degree imposing in the splendor and dignity of Jupiter Capitolinus, the Patron god of Rome. Enthroned within the majestic architecture

of the Capitol, the very gilding of which cost the revenue of nations, he looked down upon that city which was the mistress of the world. For seven hundred and fifty years he was supposed to have watched over the growing fortunes of the descendants of Romulus, and each new conquest seemed to increase his glory and add to his greatness. Under his protection were supposed to go forth those invincible legions, which planted his own victorious eagle upon every city and fortress from the Atlantic to the Indies. At his feet were laid the spoils which were gathered from the precious things of all nations, and on him was fixed the reverence of the countless millions who owned the sway of the Cæsars.

But it is needless to add, that this splendid idolatry, though sustained by boundless wealth, and dignified with the most commanding magnificence, though countenanced by statesmen and philosophers, generals and patriots, utterly failed of all moral and spiritual power. The grossest corruption of principles and manners pervaded every class of society from the emperor to the slave. The Jupiter of the Romans saw nothing immoral in the universal robbery of mankind, nothing inhuman in training human beings like wild beasts, to shed each other's blood in the amphitheatres, nothing cruel in dragging a brave and generous enemy in triumphal procession, chained to the chariot wheels of the conqueror. To his proud temple, O! how mysterious are the ways of Providence! were borne in captivity and humiliation the sacred utensils of the worship of the Most High. The ark, the golden candlestick, the table of the shewbread, were heaped among the common spoils of barbarous and heathen lands.

But when all this grandeur was at its height, a babe was born at Bethlehem, who, without the aid of armies was to turn again the captivity of the people of God; before whose growing greatness the splendid idolatry of Rome was to fade away like a vision of the night; and whose followers, after having planted his standard upon the site of the Capitol, were to raise an edifice in that very city to the worship of the true God, at the side of which that lofty pile would dwindle into the insignificant proportions of some private mansion of unambitious opulence.

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