Chapter LVII.—How the Gentiles abandoned Idol Worship, and turned to the Knowledge of God.
Hence it was that, of those who had been the slaves of superstition, when they saw with their own eyes the exposure of their delusion, and beheld the actual ruin of the temples and images in every place, some applied themselves to the saving doctrine of Christ; while others, though they declined to take this step, yet reprobated the folly which they had received from their fathers, and laughed to scorn what they had so long been accustomed to regard as gods. Indeed, what other feelings could possess their minds, when they witnessed the thorough uncleanness concealed beneath the fair exterior of the objects of their worship? Beneath this were found either the bones of dead men or dry skulls, fraudulently adorned by the arts of magicians, 3292 or filthy rags full of abominable impurity, or a bundle of hay or stubble. On seeing all these things heaped together within their lifeless images, they denounced their fathers extreme folly and their own, especially when neither in the secret recesses of the temples nor in the statues themselves could any inmate be found; neither demon, nor utterer of oracles, neither god nor prophet, as they had heretofore supposed: nay, not even a dim and shadowy phantom could be seen. Accordingly, every gloomy cavern, every hidden recess, afforded easy access to the emperors emissaries: the inaccessible and secret chambers, the innermost shrines of the temples, were trampled by the soldiers feet; and thus the mental blindness which had prevailed for so many ages over the gentile world became clearly apparent to the eyes of all.
Through another reading translated by Val., 1709, Bag., “stolen by impostors.” Stroth has “impiously employed for magicians arts.”