Folly of a Navigator Praying to an Idol
1Again, one preparing to sail and about to voyage over raging waves
calls upon a piece of wood more fragile than the ship which carries him.
2For it was desire for gain that planned that vessel,
and wisdom was the craftsman who built it;
3but it is thy providence, O Father, that steers its course,
because thou hast given it a path in the sea,
and a safe way through the waves,
4showing that thou canst save from every danger,
so that even if a man lacks skill, he may put to sea.
5It is thy will that works of thy wisdom should not be without effect;
therefore men trust their lives even to the smallest piece of wood,
and passing through the billows on a raft they come safely to land.
6For even in the beginning, when arrogant giants were perishing,
the hope of the world took refuge on a raft,
and guided by thy hand left to the world the seed of a new generation.
7For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.
8But the idol made with hands is accursed, and so is he who made it;
because he did the work, and the perishable thing was named a god.
9For equally hateful to God are the ungodly man and his ungodliness,
10for what was done will be punished together with him who did it.
11Therefore there will be a visitation also upon the heathen idols,
because, though part of what God created, they became an abomination,
and became traps for the souls of men
and a snare to the feet of the foolish.
The Origin and Evils of Idolatry
12For the idea of making idols was the beginning of fornication,
and the invention of them was the corruption of life,
13for neither have they existed from the beginning
nor will they exist for ever.
14For through the vanity of men they entered the world,
and therefore their speedy end has been planned.
15For a father, consumed with grief at an untimely bereavement,
made an image of his child, who had been suddenly taken from him;
and he now honored as a god what was once a dead human being,
and handed on to his dependents secret rites and initiations.
16Then the ungodly custom, grown strong with time, was kept as a law,
and at the command of monarchs graven images were worshiped.
17When men could not honor monarchsa in their presence, since they lived at a distance,
they imagined their appearance far away,
and made a visible image of the king whom they honored,
so that by their zeal they might flatter the absent one as though present.
18Then the ambition of the craftsman impelled
even those who did not know the king to intensify their worship.
19For he, perhaps wishing to please his ruler,
skilfully forced the likeness to take more beautiful form,
20and the multitude, attracted by the charm of his work,
now regarded as an object of worship the one whom shortly before they had honored as a man.
21And this became a hidden trap for mankind,
because men, in bondage to misfortune or to royal authority,
bestowed on objects of stone or wood the name that ought not to be shared.
22Afterward it was not enough for them to err about the knowledge of God,
but they live in great strife due to ignorance,
and they call such great evils peace.
23For whether they kill children in their initiations, or celebrate secret mysteries,
or hold frenzied revels with strange customs,
24they no longer keep either their lives or their marriages pure,
but they either treacherously kill one another, or grieve one another by adultery,
25and all is a raging riot of blood and murder, theft and deceit, corruption, faithlessness, tumult, perjury,
26confusion over what is good, forgetfulness of favors,
pollution of souls, sex perversion,
disorder in marriage, adultery, and debauchery.
27For the worship of idols not to be named
is the beginning and cause and end of every evil.
28For their worshipersb either rave in exultation, or prophesy lies,
or live unrighteously, or readily commit perjury;
29for because they trust in lifeless idols
they swear wicked oaths and expect to suffer no harm.
30But just penalties will overtake them on two counts:
because they thought wickedly of God in devoting themselves to idols,
and because in deceit they swore unrighteously through contempt for holiness.
31For it is not the power of the things by which men swear,c
but the just penalty for those who sin,
that always pursues the transgression of the unrighteous.