1 For verily all men by nature Or, were but vain who had no perception of God,
And from the good things that are seen they gained not power to know him that is,
Neither by giving heed to the works did they recognize the artificer;
2 But either fire, or wind, or swift air,
They thought to be gods that rule the world.
3 And if it was through delight in their beauty that they took them to be gods,
Let them know how much better than these is their Sovereign Lord;
For the first author of beauty created them:
4 But if it was through astonishment at their power and influence,
Let them understand from them how much more powerful is he that formed them;
In like proportion is does man form the image of their first maker.
6 But yet for these men there is but small blame,
For they too perhaps do but go astray
While they are seeking God and desiring to find him.
7 For being living among his works they make diligent search,
And they trust yield themselves up to sight, because the things that they look upon are beautiful.
8 But again even they are not to be excused.
9 For if they had power to know so much,
That they should be able to explore thethe the course of things,
How is it that they did not sooner find the Sovereign Lord of these his works?
10 But miserable Or, were they, and in dead things Or, were their hopes,
Who called them gods which are works of men’s hands,
Gold and silver, wrought with careful are, and likenesses of animals,
Or a useless stone, the work of an ancient hand.
11 Yes and if some carpenter woodcutter, having sawn down a The tree that is easily moved,
Skilfully strippeth away all its bark,
And fashioning it in comely form makes a vessel useful for the service of life;
12 And burning the refuse of his handywork to dress his food, eats his fill;
13 And taking the very refuse thereof which served to no use,
A crooked piece of wood and full of knots,
Carveth it with the diligence of his idleness,
And shapeth it by the skill of his indolence;
Or, Then he gives it the semblance of the image of a man,
14 Or makes it like some paltry animal,
Smearing it with vermilion, and with paint colouring it red,
And smearing over every stain that is therein;
15 And having made for it a chamber worthy of it,
He sets it in a wall, making it fast with iron.
16 While then he takes thought for it that it may not fall down,
Knowing that it is unable to help itself;
(For verily it is an image, and has need of help;)
17 When he makes his prayer concerning goods and his marriage and children,
He is not ashamed to speak to that which has no life;
18 Yes for health he calls upon that which is weak,
And for life he implores that which is dead,
And for aid he supplicateth that which has least experience.
And for a good journey that which can’t so much as move a step,
19 And for gaining and getting and good success of his hands
He asks ability of that which with its hands is most unable.