Principale crimen generis humani, summus saeculi reatus, tota causa iudicii idololatria. Nam etsi suam speciem tenet unumquodque delictum, etsi suo quodque nomine iudicio destinatur, in idololatriae tamen crimine expungitur. Omitte titulos, opera recognosce. Idololatres idem homicida est. Quaeris quem occiderit ? Si quid ad elogii ambitionem facit, non extraneum nec inimicum, sed ipsum se. Quibus insidiis ? Erroris sui. Quo telo ? Offensa dei. Quot plagis? Quotquot idololatriis.  Qui negat idololatren perisse, is negabit idololatren homicidium fecisse. Perinde adulterium et stuprum in eodem recognoscas ; nam qui falsis deis seruit, sine dubio adulter est ueritatis, quia omne falsum adulterium est. Sic et stupro mergitur. Quis enim immundis spiritibus cooperator non conspurcatus et constupratus incedit ? Atque adeo scripturae sanctae stupri uocabulo utuntur in idololatriae exprobratione.  Fraudis condicio ea est, opinor, si quis alienum rapiat aut alii debitum deneget, et utique erga hominem admissa fraus maximi criminis nomen est. At enim idololatria fraudem deo facit honores illi suos denegans et conferens aliis, ut fraudi etiam contumeliam coniungat. Quodsi tam fraus quam stuprum atque adulterium mortem afferunt, iam in his aeque idololatria de homicidii reatu non liberatur.  Post talia crimina, tam exitiosa, tam deuoratoria salutis cetera quoque aliquem ad modum et seorsum perinde disposita in idololatria condicionem suam repraesentant. In illa et concupiscentiae saeculi. Quae enim idololatriae sollemnitas sine ambitione cultus et ornatus ? In illa lasciuiae et ebrietatis, cum plurimum uictus et uentris et libidinis causa frequententur. In illa iniustitia. Quid enim iniustius ea quae iustitiae patrem nescit ? In illa etiam uanitas, cum tota eius ratio uana sit. In illa mendacium, cum tota substantia eius mendax sit.  Ita fit, ut omnia in idololatria et in omnibus idololatria deprehendatur. Sed et alias, cum uniuersa delicta aduersus deum sapiant, nihil autem, quod aduersus deum sapiat, non daemoniis et immundis spiritibus deputetur quibus idola mancipantur, sine dubio idololatrian admittit quicunque delinquit. Id enim facit quod ad idolorum mancipes pertinet.
Chapter I.--Wide Scope of the Word Idolatry.
The principal crime of the human race, the highest guilt charged upon the world, the whole procuring cause of judgment, is idolatry. 1 For, although each single fault retains its own proper feature, although it is destined to judgment under its own proper name also, yet it is marked off under the general account of idolatry. Set aside names, examine works, the idolater is likewise a murderer. Do you inquire whom he has slain? If it contributes ought to the aggravation of the indictment, no stranger nor personal enemy, but his own self. By what snares? Those of his error. By what weapon? The offence done to God. By how many blows? As many as are his idolatries. He who affirms that the idolater perishes not, 2 will affirm that the idolater has not committed murder. Further, you may recognize in the same crime 3 adultery and fornication; for he who serves false gods is doubtless an adulterer 4 of truth, because all falsehood is adultery. So, too, he is sunk in fornication. For who that is a fellow-worker with unclean spirits, does not stalk in general pollution and fornication? And thus it is that the Holy Scriptures 5 use the designation of fornication in their upbraiding of idolatry. The essence of fraud, I take it, is, that any should seize what is another's, or refuse to another his due; and, of course, fraud done toward man is a name of greatest crime. Well, but idolatry does fraud to God, by refusing to Him, and conferring on others, His honours; so that to fraud it also conjoins contumely. But if fraud, just as much as fornication and adultery, entails death, then, in these cases, equally with the former, idolatry stands unacquitted of the impeachment of murder. After such crimes, so pernicious, so devouring of salvation, all other crimes also, after some manner, and separately disposed in order, find their own essence represented in idolatry. In it also are the concupiscences of the world. For what solemnity of idolatry is without the circumstance of dress and ornament? In it are lasciviousnesses and drunkennesses; since it is, for the most part, for the sake of food, and stomach, and appetite, that these solemnities are frequented. In it is unrighteousness. For what more unrighteous than it, which knows not the Father of righteousness? In it also is vanity, since its whole system is vain. In it is mendacity, for its whole substance is false. Thus it comes to pass, that in idolatry all crimes are detected, and in all crimes idolatry. Even otherwise, since all faults savour of opposition to God, and there is nothing which savours of opposition to God which is not assigned to demons and unclean spirits, whose property idols are; doubtless, whoever commits a fault is chargeable with idolatry, for he does that which pertains to the proprietors of idols.
[This solemn sentence vindicates the place I have given to the De Idololatria in the order adopted for this volume. After this and the Apology come three treatises confirming its positions, and vindicating the principles of Christians in conflict with Idolatry, the great generic crime of a world lying in wickedness. These three are the De Spectaculis, the De Corona and the Ad Scapulam. The De Spectaculis was written after this treatise, in which indeed it is mentioned (Cap. xiii.), but logically it follows, illustrates and enforces it. Hence my practical plan: which will be concluded by a scheme (conjectural in part) of chronological order in which precision is affirmed by all critics to be impossible, but, by which we may reach approximate accuracy, with great advantage. The De Idololatria is free from Montanism. But see Kaye, p. xvi.] ↩
Lit., "has not perished," as if the perishing were already complete; as, of course, it is judicially as soon as the guilt is incurred, though not actually. ↩
i.e., in idolatry. ↩
A play on the word: we should say, "an adulterator." ↩
Oehler refers to Ezek. xxiii.; but many other references might be given--in the Pentateuch and Psalms, for instance. ↩