At the College Conference yesterday evening Professor Goodwin, in a most interesting lecture, gave an account of the apostle Paul's visit to Athens. Athens at the time of Paul's visit retained all her ancient splendor and glory. The city was filled with the most beautiful works of art, and Paul, a native of obscure Tarsus, must have felt, as he looked about its streets, much as an obscure Yankee from a New England village would feel if he were set down before the art treasures of Florence, Rome and Venice.
It was in such a city that Paul waited for his friends to come from Berea, and felt "his spirit stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given over to idolatry." Now what were the idols that so moved him? First in size and importance was the collossal statue of Athena which towered sixty feet high in the centre of the Acropolis, visible for miles around, and the first object sighted by Athenian sailors on their return home. Then, inside the Parthe non was Phidias' famous statue of Athena made of ivory inlaid with gold. Close by, in the Erectheum, was the ancient wooden image of Athena, said to have fallen from heaven, and the sacred olive tree, planted by Athena herself. Throughout the city itself were the temples, altars and idols without number. Yet all this magnificence had no effect on Paul save to stir his spirit, while the obscure, modest altar "to an unknown god" gave him the text to his famous sermon on the Areopagus. It is interesting to note that in this sermon Paul quotes, in the words "For we are also His offspring," from the writings of Eudoxus, the originator of the Epicurean philosophy.
Professor Goodwin concluded his lecture with a comparison of the visits to Athens of Aristotle and Xerxes with that of Paul.