The original nature worshiper worshiped pure nature, the winds, and the moon, and then in turn the sun. After a time he carved his stock or his stone into a representation of nature, such as the demon of the northwest wind, the hippopotamus of the Nile, or the birds of the air. The Greek set up in his temple the human figure, making it a marvel of perfection, as in the Zeus of the Acropolis, the Venus of Milo, or the Apollo of Belvidere. The Romans went even a step further. They made Caesar god, and enthroned their images of Divus Caesar, amongst other places in Pergamos, "where Satan's seat is." It was perfectly natural, therefore, that the people of Lystra, when they beheld the healing of the man impotent in his feet, should imagine that the gods were come down to them in the likeness of men, and that, after they had called Barnabas Jupiter, and Paul Mercury, the priests of the former should have brought oxen and garlands to the city gates, in order to do sacrifice in their manner.

It is much easier, however, to train a people into idolatry than to cause them to break from their idols. The whole struggle of the prophets of Israel, century after century, was to prevent the people going back to the old gods, planting their groves and molding their images of Baal. Whoever the first man who made an idol may have been, he set an example which the world is still following, not only in darkest Africa, but wherever the crowd cries Hosanna! before a human being one day, in order that it may cry Crucify him! the next. The exorcists had set an example in Asia which the primitive Christian was incredibly swift to follow. Thus, when Paul was preaching at Ephesus, it was recorded "that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them." Not even Christ Jesus could break the belief of the people in the material efficacy of physical contact. The woman with the issue of blood, who touched his garment in the press at Capernaum, possessed a faith so assured of the efficacy of what she did as to bring about her own healing. Centuries later the kings of England touched, for the king's evil: Dr. Johnson was so touched in the eighteenth century.

The Victory of Experience
October 8, 1921

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