Chapter XXIII.—Third Suggestion.
“Through the mouths of others also that serpent is wont to speak in this wise: We adore visible images in honour of the invisible God. 766 Now this is most certainly false. For if you really wished to worship the image of God, you would do good to man, and so worship the true image of God in him. For the image of God is in every man, though His likeness is not in all, but where the soul is benign and the mind pure. If, therefore, you wish truly to honour the image of God, we declare to you what is true, that you should do good to and pay honour and reverence to man, who is made in the image of God; that you minister food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, hospitality to the stranger, and necessary things to the prisoner; and that is what will be regarded as truly bestowed upon God. And so far do these things go to the honour of Gods image, that he who does not these things is regarded as casting reproach upon the divine image. What, then, is that honour of God which consists in running from one stone or wooden figure to another, in venerating empty and lifeless figures as deities, and despising men in whom the image of God is of a truth? Yea, rather be assured, that whoever commits murder or adultery, or anything p. 149 that causes suffering or injury to men, in all these the image of God is violated. For to injure men is a great impiety towards God. Whenever, therefore, you do to another what you would not have another do to you, you defile the image of God with undeserved distresses. Understand, therefore, that that is the suggestion of the serpent lurking within you, which persuades you that you may seem to be pious when you worship insensible things, and may not seem impious when you injure sensible and rational beings.
[To chaps. 23–36 a parallel is afforded by Homily XI. 4–18.—R.]