CHAPTER 13 Digression on False Worship 13 A. NATURE WORSHIP[U] 1Foolish by nature were all who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing the one who is,[V] and from studying the works did not discern the artisan; 2Instead either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water, or the luminaries of heaven, the governors[W] of the world, they considered gods. 3Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods, let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these; for the original source of beauty fashioned them. 4Or if they were struck by their might and energy, let them realize from these things how much more powerful is the one who made them. 5For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen. 6But yet, for these the blame is less;[X] For they have gone astray perhaps, though they seek God and wish to find him. 7For they search busily among his works, but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair. 8But again, not even these are pardonable. 9For if they so far succeeded in knowledge that they could speculate about the world, how did they not more quickly find its Lord? B. IDOLATRY[Y] 10But wretched are they, and in dead things are their hopes, who termed gods things made by human hands: Gold and silver, the product of art, and images of beasts, or useless stone, the work of an ancient hand. The Carpenter and Wooden Idols 11A carpenter may cut down a suitable tree and skillfully scrape off all its bark, And deftly plying his art produce something fit for daily use, 12And use the scraps from his handiwork in preparing his food, and have his fill; 13Then the good–for–nothing refuse from these remnants, crooked wood grown full of knots, he takes and carves to occupy his spare time. This wood he models with mindless skill, and patterns it on the image of a human being 14or makes it resemble some worthless beast. When he has daubed it with red and crimsoned its surface with red stain, and daubed over every blemish in it, 15He makes a fitting shrine for it and puts it on the wall, fastening it with a nail. 16Thus he provides for it lest it fall down, knowing that it cannot help itself; for, truly, it is an image and needs help. 17But when he prays about his goods or marriage or children, he is not ashamed to address the thing without a soul. For vigor he invokes the powerless; 18for life he entreats the dead; For aid he beseeches the wholly incompetent; for travel, something that cannot even walk; 19For profit in business and success with his hands he asks power of a thing with hands utterly powerless.
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