BOOK I, CHAPTER XXIII
to the administration of their religion, ventured to give as satisfaction this excuse: Ad deos id magis quam ad se pertinere; ipsos visuros ne sacra sua polluantur, conformably to what the oracle replied to those of Delphi in the war against the Medes. Fearing the invasion of the Persians, they asked the god what they were to do with the sacred treasures of his temple — whether they should conceal them, or carry them away. He replied that they should move nothing; that they should care for themselves; that he was able to provide for what was his.
(b) The Christian religion has all the marks of the greatest rightness and usefulness; but none more evident than the explicit injunction of obedience to authority, and upholding of the forms of government. What a marvellous example of this, divine wisdom has given us, which, to ensure the salvation Of the human race, and to conduct its glorious victory over death and sin, chose to do this only under sufferance of our political system, and subjected its progress and the guidance toward so high and so salutary a result to the blindness and injustice of our observances and usages, allowing the innocent blood to flow of so many of the elect, its beloved, and permitting the loss of long years in the ripening of this inestimable fruit! There is a vast difference between his cause who follows the customs and laws of his country, and that of him who undertakes to govern them and change them. The first may plead in excuse single-mindedness, obedience, and precedent; whatever he may do, it cannot be from ill intent; at the worst, it is disastrous. (c) Quis est enim quem non moveat clarissimis monumentis testata consignataque antiquitas? Besides what Isocrates says, that falling short is more akin to moderation than excess is.
(b) The other is in a much worse posture; (c) for he who meddles with choosing and changing usurps the authority of
- This matter concerned the gods more than it did them; the gods themselves would see to it that their sacred rites were not profaned. — Livy, X, 6.
- See Herodotus, VIII, 36.
- For who is not moved by antiquity, witnessed and attested by the most glorious monuments? — Cicero, De Divin., I, 40.
- See Isocrates, Oratio ad Nicoclem.