Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IV/Minucius Felix/The Octavius of Minucius Felix/Chapter 29

Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. IV, Minucius Felix, The Octavius of Minucius Felix
by Minucius Felix, translated by Robert Ernest Wallis
Chapter 29
155917Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. IV, Minucius Felix, The Octavius of Minucius Felix — Chapter 29Robert Ernest WallisMinucius Felix

Chapter XXIX.—Argument:  Nor is It More True that a Man Fastened to a Cross on Account of His Crimes is Worshipped by Christians, for They Believe Not Only that He Was Innocent, But with Reason that He Was God.  But, on the Other Hand, the Heathens Invoke the Divine Powers of Kings Raised into Gods by Themselves; They Pray to Images, and Beseech Their Genii.

“These, and such as these infamous things, we are not at liberty even to hear; it is even disgraceful with any more words to defend ourselves from such charges.  For you pretend that those things are done by chaste and modest persons, which we should not believe to be done at all, unless you proved that they were true concerning yourselves.  For in that you attribute to our religion the worship of a criminal and his cross,[1] you wander far from the neighbourhood of the truth, in thinking either that a criminal deserved, or that an earthly being was able, to be believed God.  Miserable indeed is that man whose whole hope is dependent on mortal man, for all his help is put an end to with the extinction of the man.[2]  The Egyptians certainly choose out a man for themselves whom they may worship; him alone they propitiate; him they consult about all things; to him they slaughter victims; and he who to others is a god, to himself is certainly a man whether he will or no, for he does not deceive his own consciousness, if he deceives that of others.  “Moreover, a false flattery disgracefully caresses princes and kings, not as great and chosen men, as is just, but as gods; whereas honour is more truly rendered to an illustrious man, and love is more pleasantly given to a very good man.  Thus they invoke their deity, they supplicate their images, they implore their Genius, that is, their demon; and it is safer to swear falsely by the genius of Jupiter than by that of a king.  Crosses, moreover, we neither worship nor wish for.[3]  You, indeed, who consecrate gods of wood, adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods.  For your very standards, as well as your banners; and flags of your camp, what else are they but crosses glided and adorned?  Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it.  We assuredly see the sign of a cross,[4] naturally, in the ship when it is carried along with swelling sails, when it glides forward with expanded oars; and when the military yoke is lifted up, it is the sign of a cross; and when a man adores God with a pure mind, with hands outstretched.  Thus the sign of the cross either is sustained by a natural reason, or your own religion is formed with respect to it.

Footnotes edit

  1. [A reverent allusion to the Crucified, believed in and worshipped as God.]
  2. [Jer. xvii. 5–7.]
  3. [See Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, chap. lxxxix. et seqq. vol. i. p. 244.  S.]
  4. [See Reeves’s Apologies (ut supra), vol. ii. p. 144, note.  S.]