CA Farmer 231:5 (Sept. 6, 1969), p. 30.
The Latin writer Gaius Petronius, of the first century A.D., had some telling criticisms to make of the Roman society of his day. He spoke of the “reason why such blank idiots graduate from our colleges” quite eloquently. The educational philosophy was all wrong as well as the methods: “You can no more absorb these methods and remain mentally balanced than you can be a scullion and not get yourself smutted with smells.” He added, “What’s the remedy then? Parents need a good talking to. They get restive at the simplest correction of their children. They make everything, every dearest hope, subordinate to a Career … Nowadays boys play about at school.”
Looking at the political scene, Petronius said, “When money is King, what use having Laws? Justice is auctioned.”
On religion, he wrote, “The gods are only swear words now … All people do is shut eyes and reckon up incomes.” The purpose of men is “to feed the senses.”
He added, “I hold there’s nothing wrong with the country. It’d be a fine place if it wasn’t for the people in it.”
But Petronius himself was as bad as anything he criticized and satirized. He himself was a degenerate and a man without real convictions. It is easy enough for any man to see the evils of the day. It is another thing entirely to have the faith and character to create a new society.
Thus, if you want a blunt and telling indictment of Roman life, go to the Roman writers. But if you want that which alone made possible new life amid the degeneracy of Rome, go to the Bible.
The world is full of men like Petronius today. In every area of life, they can describe very ably the evils of our time, but, like Petronius, they are at best impotent when it comes to doing anything, or more often, are themselves a part of our humanistic degeneracy.
Our need is for the grace and saving power of God and the authority of His law-word. Men are not saved by knowing how evil the times are but by the sovereign and saving power of God.
We need to say, therefore, good-bye, Petronius. You and your world are dead, and your sons today are equally dead and therefore unable to change our evil times. Then, welcome, Christ, who hast said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations” (Rev. 2:26). Evil is overcome, not simply by knowledge, but by godliness.
Topics: World History