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aries and templés, involving untold expense, reared their massive forms. Victories of arms and deeds of celebrated men were commemorated by sculpture, shrines, and tablets. All these made Athens a vast gallery of art.
As Paul looked upon the beauty and grandeur surrounding him, and saw the city wholly given to idolatry, his spirit was stirred with jealousy for God, whom he saw dishonored on every side; and his heart was drawn out in pity for the people of Athens, who, notwithstanding their. intellectual culture, were ignorant of the true God.
The apostle was not deceived by that which he saw in this center of learning. His spiritual nature was so alive to the attraction of heavenly things, that the joy and glory of the riches which will never perish made valueless in his eyes the pomp and splendor with which he was surrounded. As he saw the magnificence of Athens, he realized its seductive power over lovers of art and science, and his mind was deeply impressed with the importance of the work before him.
In this great city, where God was not worshiped, Paul was oppressed by a feeling of solitude; and he longed for the sympathy and aid of his fellowlaborers. So far as human friendship was cerned, he felt himself to be utterly alone. In his epistle to the Thessalonians, he expresses his feelings in the words, “Left at Athens alone." : Obstacles that were apparently insurmountable presented themselves before him, making it seem almost hopeless for him to attempt to reach the hearts of the people.
21 Thess. 3:1.
While waiting for Silas and Timothy, Paul was not idle. He “disputed ... in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.” But his principal work in Athens was to bear the tidings of salvation to those who had no intelligent conception of God and of His purpose in behalf of the fallen race. The apostle was soon to meet paganism in its most subtle, alluring form.
The great men of Athens were not long in learning of the presence in their city of a singular teacher, who was setting before the people doctrines new and strange. Some of these men sought Paul out, and entered into conversation with him. Soon a crowd of listeners gathered about them. Some were prepared to ridicule the apostle as one who was far beneath them, both socially and intellectually, and these said jeeringly among themselves, “What will this babbler say?” Others, “because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection,” said, “He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods."
Among those who encountered Paul in the marketplace were “certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics;” but they, and all others who came in contact with him, soon saw that he had a store of knowledge even greater than their own. His intellectual power commanded the respect of the learned; while his earnest, logical reasoning and the power of his oratory held the attention of all in the audience. His hearers recognized the fact that he was no novice, but was able to meet all classes with convincing arguments in support of the doctrines he taught. Thus the apostle stood undaunted, meeting
his opposers on their own ground, matching logic with logic, philosophy with philosophy, eloquence with eloquence.
His heathen opponents called his attention to the fate of Socrates, who, because he was a setter forth of strange gods, had been condemned to death; and they counseled Paul not to endanger his life in the same way. But the apostle's discourses riveted the attention of the people, and his unaffected wisdom commanded their respect and admiration. not silenced by the science or the irony of the philosophers; and satisfying themselves that he was determined to accomplish his errand among them, and, at all hazards, to tell his story, they decided to give him a fair hearing.
They accordingly conducted him to Mars' Hill. This was one of the most sacred spots in all Athens, and its recollections and associations were such as to cause it to be regarded with a superstitious reverence that in the minds of some amounted to dread. It was in this place that matters connected with religion were often carefully considered by men who acted as final judges on all the more important moral as well as civil questions.
Here, away from the noise and bustle of crowded thoroughfares, and the tumult of promiscuous discussion, the apostle could be heard without interruption. Around him gathered poets, artists, and philosophers,— the scholars and sages of Athens, who thus addressed him: “May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? for thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.'
In that hour of solemn responsibility, the apostle was calm and self-possessed. His heart was burdened with an important message, and the words that fell from his lips convinced his hearers that he was no idle babbler. “Ye men of Athens," he said, "I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To the Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.” With all their intelligence and general knowledge, they were ignorant of the God who created the universe. Yet there were some who were longing for greater light. They were reaching out toward the Infinite.
With hand outstretched toward the temple crowded with idols, Paul poured out the burden of his soul, and exposed the fallacies of the religion of the Athenians. The wisest of his hearers were astonished as they listened to his reasoning. He showed himself familiar with their works of art, their literature, and their religion. Pointing to their statuary and idols, he declared that God could not be likened to forms of man's devising. These graven images could not, in the faintest sense, represent the glory of Jehovah. He reminded them that these images had no life, but were controlled by human power, moving only when the hands of men moved them; and therefore those who worshiped them were in every way superior to that which they worshiped.
Paul drew the minds of his idolatrous hearers beyond the limits of their false religion to a true view of the Deity, whom they had styled the “Unknown God.” This Being, whom he now declared
unto them, was independent of man, needing nothing from human hands to add to His power and glory.
The people were carried away with admiration for Paul's earnest and logical presentation of the attributes of the true God,- of His creative power, and the existence of His overruling providence. With earnest and fervid eloquence, the apostle declared, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things." The heavens were not large enough to contain God, how much less were the temples made by human hands.
In that age of caste, when the rights of men were often unrecognized, Paul set forth the great truth of human brotherhood, declaring that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” In the sight of God, all are on an equality; and to the Creator every human being owes supreme allegiance. Then the apostle showed how, through all God's dealings with man, His purpose of grace and mercy runs like a thread of gold. He “hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us.''
Pointing to the noble specimens of manhood about him, with words borrowed from a poet of their own he pictured the infinite God as a Father, whose children they were. “In Him we live, and move, and