Chap. IX. — There Is but One Author, and One End to Both Covenants.
1. All things therefore are of one and the same substance, that is, from one and the same God; as also the Lord says to the disciples “Therefore every scribe, which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” (Mat_13:52) He did not teach that he who brought forth the old was one, and he that brought forth the new, another; but that they were one and the same. For the Lord is the good man of the house, who rules the tire house of His Father; and who delivers a law suited both for slaves and those who are as yet undisciplined; and gives fitting precepts to those that are free, and have been justified by faith, as well as throws His own inheritance open to those that are sons. And He called His disciples “scribes” and “teachers of the kingdom of heaven;” of whom also He elsewhere says to the Jews: “Behold, I send unto you wise men, and scribes, and teachers; and some of them ye shall kill, and persecute from city to city.” (Mat_23:34) Now, without contradiction, He means by those things which are brought forth from the treasure new and old, the two covenants; the old, that giving of the law which took place formerly; and He points out as the new, that manner of life required by the Gospel, of which David says, “Sing unto the Lord a new song;” (Psa_96:1) and Esaias, “Sing unto the Lord a new hymn. His beginning (initium), His name is glorified from the height of the earth: they declare His powers in the isles.”25 And Jeremiah says: “Behold, I will make a new covenant, not as I made with your fathers” (Jer_31:31) in Mount Horeb. But one and the same householder produced both covenants, the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who spake with both Abraham and Moses, and who has restored us anew to liberty, and has multiplied that grace which is from Himself.
2. He declares: “For in this place is One greater than the temple.” (Mat_12:6) But [the words] greater and less are not applied to those things which have nothing in common between themselves, and are of an opposite nature, and mutually repugnant; but are used in the case of those of the same substance, and which possess properties in common, but merely differ in number and size; such as water from water, and light from light, and grace from grace. Greater, therefore, is that legislation which has been given in order liberty than that given in order to bondage; and therefore it has also been diffused, not throughout one nation [only], but over the whole world. For one and the same Lord, who is greater than the temple, greater than Solomon, and greater than Jonah, confers gifts upon men, that is, His own presence, and the resurrection from the dead; but He does not change God, nor proclaim another Father, but that very same one, who always has more to measure out to those of His household. And as their love towards God increases, He bestows more and greater [gifts]; as also the Lord said to His disciples: “Ye shall see greater things than these.” (Joh_1:50) And Paul declares: “Not that I have already attained, or that I am justified, or already have been made perfect. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect has come, the things which are in part shall be done away.”26 As, therefore, when that which is perfect is come, we shall not see another Father, but Him whom we now desire to see (for “blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” [Mat_5:8]); neither shall we look for another Christ and Son of God, but Him who [was born] of the Virgin Mary, who also suffered, in whom too we trust, and whom we love; as Esaias says: “And they shall say in that day, Behold our Lord God, in whom we have trusted, and we have rejoiced in our salvation;” (Isa_25:9) and Peter says in his Epistle: “Whom, not seeing, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, ye have believed, ye shall rejoice with joy unspeakable;” (1Pe_1:8) neither do we receive another Holy Spirit, besides Him who is with us, and who cries, “Abba, Father;” (Rom_8:15) and we shall make increase in the very same things [as now], and shall make progress, so that no longer through a glass, or by means of enigmas, but face to face, we shall enjoy the gifts of God; — so also now, receiving more than the temple, and more than Solomon, that is, the advent of the Son of God, we have not been taught another God besides the Framer and the Maker of all, who has been pointed out to us from the beginning; nor another Christ, the Son of God, besides Him who was foretold by the prophets.
3. For the new covenant having been known and preached by the prophets, He who was to carry it out according to the good pleasure of the Father was also preached; having been revealed to men as God pleased; that they might always make progress through believing in Him, and by means of the [successive] covenants, 473 should gradually attain to perfect salvation.27 For there is one salvation and one God; but the precepts which form the man are numerous, and the steps which lead man to God are not a few. It is allowable for an earthly and temporal king, though he is [but] a man, to grant to his subjects greater advantages at times: shall not this then be lawful for God, since He is [ever] the same, and is always willing to confer a greater [degree of] grace upon the human race, and to honour continually with many gifts those who please Him? But if this be to make progress, [namely,] to find out another Father besides Him who was preached from the beginning; and again, besides him who is imagined to have been discovered in the second place, to find out a third other, — then the progress of this man will consist in his also proceeding from a third to a fourth; and from this, again, to another and another: and thus he who thinks that he is always making progress of such a kind, will never rest in one God. For, being driven away from Him who truly is [God], and being turned backwards, he shall be for ever seeking, yet shall never find out God; (2Ti_3:7) but shall continually swim in an abyss without limits, unless, being converted by repentance, he return to the place from which he had been cast out, confessing one God, the Father, the Creator, and believing [in Him] who was declared by the law and the prophets, who was borne witness to by Christ, as He did Himself declare to those who were accusing His disciples of not observing the tradition of the elders: “Why do ye make void the law of God by reason of your tradition? For God said, Honour thy father and mother; and, Whosoever curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” (Mat_15:3-4) And again, He says to them a second time: “And ye have made void the word of God28 by reason of your tradition;” Christ confessing in the plainest manner Him to be Father and God, who said in the law, “Honour thy father and mother; that it may be well with thee.” (Exo_20:12, LXX) For the true God did confess the commandment of the law as the word of God, and called no one else God besides His own Father.
Chap. X. — The Old Testament Scriptures, and Those Written by Moses in Particular, Do Everywhere Make Mention of the Son of God, and Foretell His Advent and Passion. From This Fact it Follows That They Were Inspired by One and the Same God.
1. Wherefore also John does appropriately relate that the Lord said to the Jews: “Ye search the Scriptures, in which ye think ye have eternal life; these are they which testify of me. And ye are not willing to come unto Me, that ye may have life.” (Joh_5:39-40) How therefore did the Scriptures testify of Him, unless they were from one and the same Father, instructing men beforehand as to the advent of His Son, and foretelling the salvation brought in by Him? “For if ye had believed Moses, ye would also have believed Me; for he wrote of Me;” (Joh_5:46) [saying this,] no doubt, because the Son of God is implanted everywhere throughout his writings: at one time, indeed, speaking with Abraham, when about to eat with him; at another time with Noah, giving to him the dimensions [of the ark]; at another; inquiring after Adam; at another, bringing down judgment upon the Sodomites; and again, when He becomes visible,29 and directs Jacob on his journey, and speaks with Moses from the bush. (Exo_3:4, etc.) And it would be endless to recount [the occasions] upon which the Son of God is shown forth by Moses. Of the day of His passion, too, he was not ignorant; but foretold Him, after a figurative manner, by the name given to the passover;30 and at that very festival, which had been proclaimed such a long time previously by Moses, did our Lord suffer, thus fulfilling the passover. And he did not describe the day only, but the place also, and the time of day at which the sufferings ceased,31 and the sign of the setting of the sun, saying: “Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any other of thy cities which the Lord God gives thee; but in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose that His name be called on there, thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, towards the setting of the sun.” (Deu_16:5-6)
2. And already he had also declared His advent, saying, “There shall not fail a chief in Judah, nor a leader from his loins, until He come for whom it is laid up, and He is the hope of the nations; binding His foal to the vine, and His ass’s colt to the creeping ivy. He shall wash His stole in wine, and His upper garment 474 in the blood of the grape; His eyes shall be more joyous than wine,32 and His teeth whiter than milk.” (Gen_49:10-12, LXX) For, let those who have the reputation of investigating everything, inquire at what time a prince and leader failed out of Judah, and who is the hope of the nations, who also is the vine, what was the ass’s colt [referred to as] His, what the clothing, and what the eyes, what the teeth, and what the wine, and thus let them investigate every one of the points mentioned; and they shall find that there was none other announced than our Lord, Christ Jesus. Wherefore Moses, when chiding the ingratitude of the people, said, “Ye infatuated people, and unwise, do ye thus requite the Lord?” (Deu_32:6) And again, he indicates that He who from the beginning founded and created them, the Word, who also redeems and vivifies us in the last times, is shown as hanging on the tree, and they will not believe on Him. For he says, “And thy life shall be hanging before thine eyes, and thou wilt not believe thy life.”33 And again, “Has not this same one thy Father owned thee, and made thee, and created thee?”34
Chap. XI. — The Old Prophets and Righteous Men Knew Beforehand of the Advent of Christ, and Earnestly Desired to See and Hear Him, He Revealing Himself in the Scriptures by the Holy Ghost, and Without Any Change in Himself, Enriching Men Day by Day with Benefits, but Conferring Them in Greater Abundance on Later Than on Former Generations.
1. But that it was not only the prophets and many righteous men, who, foreseeing through the Holy Spirit His advent, prayed that they might attain to that period in which they should see their Lord face to face, and hear His words, the Lord has made manifest, when He says to His disciples, “Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” (Mat_13:17) In what way, then, did they desire both to hear and to see, unless they had foreknowledge of His future advent? But how could they have foreknown it, unless they had previously received foreknowledge from Himself? And how do the Scriptures testify of Him, unless all things had ever been revealed and shown to believers by one and the same God through the Word; He at one time conferring with His creature, and at another pro-pounding His law; at one time, again, reproving, at another exhorting, and then setting free His servant, and adopting him as a son (in filium); and, at the proper time, bestowing an incorruptible inheritance, for the purpose of bringing man to perfection? For He formed him for growth and increase, as the Scripture says: “Increase and multiply.” (Gen_1:28)
2. And in this respect God differs from man, that God indeed makes, but man is made; and truly, He who makes is always the same; but that which is made must receive both beginning, and middle, and addition, and increase. And God does indeed create after a skilful manner, while, [as regards] man, he is created skilfully. God also is truly perfect in all things, Himself equal and similar to Himself, as He is all light, and all mind, and all substance, and the fount of all good; but man receives advancement and increase towards God. For as God is always the same, so also man, when found in God, shall always go on towards God. For neither does God at any time cease to confer benefits upon, or to enrich man; nor does man ever cease from receiving the benefits, and being enriched by God. For the receptacle of His goodness, and the instrument of His glorification, is the man who is grateful to Him that made him; and again, the receptacle of His just judgment is the ungrateful man, who both despises his Maker and is not subject to His Word; who has promised that He will give very much to those always bringing forth fruit, and more [and more] to those who have the Lord’s money. “Well done,” He says, “good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful in little, I will appoint thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Mat_25:21, etc.) The Lord Himself thus promises very much.
3. As, therefore, He has promised to give very much to those who do now bring forth fruit, according to the gift of His grace, but not according to the changeableness of “knowledge;” for the Lord remains the same, and the same Father is revealed; thus, therefore, has the one and the same Lord granted, by means of His advent, a greater gift of grace to those of a later period, than what He had granted to those under the Old Testament dispensation. For they indeed used to hear, by means of [His] servants, that the King would come, and they rejoiced to a certain extent, inasmuch as they hoped for His coming; but those who have beheld Him actually present, and have obtained liberty, and been made partakers of His gifts, do possess a greater amount of grace, and a higher degree of exultation, rejoicing because of the King’s arrival: as 475 also David says, “My soul shall rejoice in the Lord; it shall be glad in His salvation.” (Psa_35:9) And for this cause, upon His entrance into Jerusalem, all those who were in the way35 recognised David their king in His sorrow of soul, and spread their garments for Him, and ornamented the way with green boughs, crying out with great joy and gladness, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord: hosanna in the highest.” (Mat_21:8) But to the envious wicked stewards, who circumvented those under them, and ruled over those that had no great intelligence,36 and for this reason were unwilling that the king should come, and who said to Him, “Hearest thou what these say?” did the Lord reply, “Have ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou perfected praise?” (Mat_21:16; Psa_8:3) — thus pointing out that what had been declared by David concerning the Son of God, was accomplished in His own person; and indicating that they were indeed ignorant of the meaning of the Scripture and the dispensation of God; but declaring that it was Himself who was announced by the prophets as Christ, whose name is praised in all the earth, and who perfects praise to His Father from the mouth of babes and sucklings; wherefore also His glory has been raised above the heavens.
4. If, therefore, the self-same person is present who was announced by the prophets, our Lord Jesus Christ, and if His advent has brought in a fuller [measure of] grace and greater gifts to those who have received Him, it is plain that the Father also is Himself the same who was proclaimed by the prophets, and that the Son, on His coming, did not spread the knowledge of another Father, but of the same who was preached from the beginning; from whom also He has brought down liberty to those who, in a lawful manner, and with a willing mind, and with all the heart, do Him service; whereas to scoffers, and to those not subject to God, but who follow outward purifications for the praise of men (which observances had been given as a type of future things, — the law typifying, as it were, certain things in a shadow, and delineating eternal things by temporal, celestial by terrestrial), and to those who pretend that they do themselves observe more than what has been prescribed, as if preferring their own zeal to God Himself, while within they are full of hypocrisy, and covetousness, and all wickedness, — [to such] has He assigned everlasting perdition by cutting them off from life.
Chap. XII. — It Clearly Appears That There Was but One Author of Both the Old and the New Law, from the Fact That Christ Condemned Traditions and Customs Repugnant to the Former, While He Confirmed Its Most Important Precepts, and Taught That He Was Himself the End of the Mosaic Law.
1. For the tradition of the elders themselves, which they pretended to observe from the law, was contrary to the law given by Moses. Wherefore also Esaias declares: “Thy dealers mix the wine with water,” (Isa_1:22) showing that the elders were in the habit of mingling a watered tradition with the simple command of God; that is, they set up a spurious law, and one contrary to the [true] law; as also the Lord made plain, when He said to them, “Why do ye transgress the commandment of God, for the sake of your tradition?” (Mat_15:3) For not only by actual transgression did they set the law of God at nought, mingling the wine with water; but they also set up their own law in opposition to it, which is termed, even to the present day, the pharisaical. In this [law] they suppress certain things, add others, and interpret others, again, as they think proper, which their teachers use, each one in particular; and desiring to uphold these traditions, they were unwilling to be subject to the law of God, which prepares them for the coming of Christ. But they did even blame the Lord for healing on the Sabbath-days, which, as I have already observed, the law did not prohibit. For they did themselves, in one sense, perform acts of healing upon the Sabbath-day, when they circumcised a man [on that day]; but they did not blame themselves for transgressing the command of God through tradition and the aforesaid pharisaical law, and for not keeping the commandment of the law, which is the love of God.
2. But that this is the first and greatest commandment, and that the next [has respect to love] towards our neighbour, the Lord has taught, when He says that the entire law and the prophets hang upon these two commandments. Moreover, He did not Himself bring down [from heaven] any other commandment greater than this one, but renewed this very same one to His disciples, when He enjoined them to love God with all their heart, and others as themselves. But if He had descended from another Father, He never would have made use of the first and greatest commandment of the law; but He would undoubtedly have endeavoured by all means to bring down a greater one than this from the perfect Father, so as not to make use of that which had been given by the 476 God of the law. And Paul in like manner declares, “Love is the fulfilling of the law:” (Rom_13:10) and [he declares] that when all other things have been destroyed, there shall remain “faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of all is love;” (1Co_13:13) and that apart from the love of God, neither knowledge avails anything, (1Co_13:2) nor the understanding of mysteries, nor faith, nor prophecy, but that without love all are hollow and vain; moreover, that love makes man perfect; and that he who loves God is perfect, both in this world and in that which is to come. For we do never cease from loving God; but in proportion as we continue to contemplate Him, so much the more do we love Him.
3. As in the law, therefore, and in the Gospel [likewise], the first and greatest commandment is, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, and then there follows a commandment like to it, to love one’s neighbour as one’s self; the author of the law and the Gospel is shown to be one and the same. For the precepts of an absolutely perfect life, since they are the same in each Testament, have pointed out [to us] the same God, who certainly has promulgated particular laws adapted for each; but the more prominent and the greatest [commandments], without which salvation cannot [be attained], He has exhorted [us to observe] the same in both.
4. The Lord, too, does not do away with this [God], when He shows that the law was not derived from another God, expressing Himself as follows to those who were being instructed by Him, to the multitude and to His disciples: “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens, and lay them upon men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not so much as move them with a finger.” (Mat_23:2-4) He therefore did not throw blame upon that law which was given by Moses, when He exhorted it to be observed, Jerusalem being as yet in safety; but He did throw blame upon those persons, because they repeated indeed the words of the law, yet were without love. And for this reason were they held as being unrighteous as respects God, and as respects their neighbours. As also Isaiah says: “This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me: howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching the doctrines and the commandments of men.” (Isa_29:13) He does not call the law given by Moses commandments of men, but the traditions of the elders themselves which they had invented, and in upholding which they made the law of God of none effect, and were on this account also not subject to His Word. For this is what Paul says concerning these men: “For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Rom_10:3-4) And how is Christ the end of the law, if He be not also the final Cause of it? For He who has brought in the end has Himself also wrought the beginning; and it is He who does Himself say to Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have come down to deliver them;” (Exo_3:7-8) it being customary from the beginning with the Word of God to ascend and descend for the purpose of saving those who were in affliction.
5. Now, that the law did beforehand teach mankind the necessity of following Christ, He does Himself make manifest, when He replied as follows to him who asked Him what he should do that he might inherit eternal life: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Mat_19:17-18, etc.) But upon the other asking “Which?”” again the Lord replies: “Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honour father and mother, and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” — setting as an ascending series (velut gradus) before those who wished to follow Him, the precepts of the law, as the entrance into life; and What He then said to one He said to all. But when the former said, “All these have I done” (and most likely he had not kept them, for in that case the Lord would not have said to him, “Keep the commandments”), the Lord, exposing his covetousness, said to him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell all that thou hast, and distribute to the poor; and come, follow me;” promising to those who would act thus, the portion belonging to the apostles (apostolorum partem). And He did not preach to His followers another God the Father, besides Him who was proclaimed by the law from the beginning; nor another Son; nor the Mother, the enthymesis of the Aeon, who existed in suffering and apostasy; nor the Pleroma of the thirty Aeons, which has been proved vain, and incapable of being believed in; nor that fable invented by the other heretics. But He taught that they should obey the commandments which God enjoined from the beginning, and do away with their former covetousness by good works,37 and follow after Christ. But that 477 possessions distributed to the poor do annul former covetousness, Zaccheus made evident, when he said, “Behold, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one, I restore fourfold.” (Luk_19:8)
Chap. XIII. — Christ Did Not Abrogate the Natural Precepts of the Law, but Rather Fulfilled and Extended Them. He Removed the Yoke and Bondage of the Old Law, so That Mankind, Being Now Set Free, Might Serve God with That Trustful Piety Which Becometh Sons.
1. And that the Lord did not abrogate the natural [precepts] of the law, by which man38 is justified, which also those who were justified by faith, and who pleased God, did observe previous to the giving of the law, but that He extended and fulfilled them, is shown from His words. “For,” He remarks, “it has been said to them of old time, Do not commit adultery. But I say unto you, That every one who hath looked upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Mat_5:27-28) And again: “It has been said, Thou shalt not kill. But I say unto you, Every one who is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Mat_5:21-22) And, “It hath been said, Thou shalt not forswear thyself. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; but let your conversation be, Yea, yea, and Nay, nay.” (Mat_5:33, etc.) And other statements of a like nature. For all these do not contain or imply an opposition to and an overturning of the [precepts] of the past, as Marcion’s followers do strenuously maintain; but [they exhibit] a fulfilling and an extension of them, as He does Himself declare: “Unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat_5:20) For what meant the excess referred to? In the first place, [we must] believe not only in the Father, but also in His Son now revealed; for He it is who leads man into fellowship and unity with God. In the next place, [we must] not only say, but we must do; for they said, but did not. And [we must] not only abstain from evil deeds, but even from the desires after them. Now He did not teach us these things as being opposed to the law, but as fulfilling the law, and implanting in us the varied righteousness of the law. That would have been contrary to the law, if He had commanded His disciples to do anything which the law had prohibited. But this which He did command — namely, not only to abstain from things forbidden by the law, but even from longing after them — is not contrary to [the law], as I have remarked, neither is it the utterance of one destroying the law, but of one fulfilling, extending, and affording greater scope to it.
2. For the law, since it was laid down for those in bondage, used to instruct the soul by means of those corporeal objects which were of an external nature, drawing it, as by a bond, to obey its commandments, that man might learn to serve God. But the Word set free the soul, and taught that through it the body should be willingly purified. Which having been accomplished, it followed as of course, that the bonds of slavery should be removed, to which man had now become accustomed, and that he should follow God without fetters: moreover, that the laws of liberty should be extended, and subjection to the king increased, so that no one who is convened should appear unworthy to Him who set him free, but that the piety and obedience due to the Master of the household should be equally rendered both by servants and children; while the children possess greater confidence [than the servants], inasmuch as the working of liberty is greater and more glorious than that obedience which is rendered in [a state of] slavery.
3. And for this reason did the Lord, instead of that [commandment], “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” forbid even concupiscence; and instead of that which runs thus, “Thou shalt not kill,” He prohibited anger; and instead of the law enjoining the giving of tithes, [He told us] to share (Mat_19:21) all our possessions with the poor; and not to love our neighbours only, but even our enemies; and not merely to be liberal givers and bestowers, but even that we should present a gratuitous gift to those who take away our goods. For “to him that taketh away thy coat,” He says, “give to him thy cloak also; and from him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again; and as ye would that men should do unto you, do ye unto them:” (Luk_6:29-31) so that we may not grieve as those who are unwilling to be defrauded, but may rejoice as those who have given willingly, and as rather conferring a favour upon our neighbours than yielding to necessity. “And if any one,” He says, “shall compel thee [to go] a mile, go with him twain;” (Mat_5:41) so that thou mayest not follow him as a slave, but may as a free man go before him, showing thyself in all things kindly disposed and useful to thy neighbour, not regarding their evil intentions, but performing thy kind offices, assimilating thyself to the Father, “who maketh His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth 478 rain upon the just and unjust.” (Mat_5:45) Now all these [precepts], as I have already observed, were not the injunctions] of one doing away with the law, but of one fulfilling, extending, and widening it among us; just as if one should say, that the more extensive operation of liberty implies that a more complete subjection and affection towards our Liberator had been implanted within us. For He did not set us free for this purpose, that we should depart from Him (no one, indeed, while placed out of reach of the Lord’s benefits, has power to procure for himself the means of salvation), but that the more we receive His grace, the more we should love Him. Now the more we have loved Him, the more glory shall we receive from Him, when we are continually in the presence of the Father.
4. Inasmuch, then, as all natural precepts are common to us and to them (the Jews), they had in them indeed the beginning and origin; but in us they have received growth and completion. For to yield assent to God, and to follow His Word, and to love Him above all, and one’s neighbour as one’s self (now man is neighbour to man), and to abstain from every evil deed, and all other things of a like nature which are common to both [covenants], do reveal one and the same God. But this is our Lord, the Word of God, who in the first instance certainly drew slaves to God, but afterwards He set those free who were subject to Him, as He does Himself declare to His disciples: “I will not now call you servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends, for all things which I have heard from My Father I have made known.” (Joh_15:15) For in that which He says, “I will not now call you servants,” He indicates in the most marked manner that it was Himself who did originally appoint for men that bondage with respect to God through the law, and then afterwards conferred upon them freedom. And in that He says, “For the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth,” He points out, by means of His own advent, the ignorance of a people in a servile condition. But when He terms His disciples “the friends of God,” He plainly declares Himself to be the Word of God, whom Abraham also followed voluntarily and under no compulsion (sine vinculis), because of the noble nature of his faith, and so became “the friend of God.” (Jam_2:23) But the Word of God did not accept of the friendship of Abraham, as though He stood in need of it, for He was perfect from the beginning (“Before Abraham was,” He says, “I am” [Joh_8:58]), but that He in His goodness might bestow eternal life upon Abraham himself, inasmuch as the friendship of God imparts immortality to those who embrace it.
Chap. XIV. — If God Demands Obedience from Man, if He Formed Man, Called Him and Placed Him Under Laws, it Was Merely for Man’s Welfare; Not That God Stood in Need of Man, but That He Graciously Conferred upon Man His Favours in Every Possible Manner.
1. In the beginning, therefore, did God form Adam, not as if He stood in need of man, but that He might have [some one] upon whom to confer His benefits. For not alone antecedently to Adam, but also before all creation, the Word glorified His Father, remaining in Him; and was Himself glorified by the Father, as He did Himself declare, “Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” (Joh_17:5) Nor did He stand in need of our service when He ordered us to follow Him; but He thus bestowed salvation upon ourselves. For to follow the Saviour is to be a partaker of salvation, and to follow light is to receive light. But those who are in light do not themselves illumine the light, but are illumined and revealed by it: they do certainly contribute nothing to it, but, receiving the benefit, they are illumined by the light. Thus, also, service [rendered] to God does indeed profit God nothing, nor has God need of human obedience; but He grants to those who follow and serve Him life and in-corruption and eternal glory, bestowing benefit upon those who serve [Him], because they do serve Him, and on His followers, because they do follow Him; but does not receive any benefit from them: for He is rich, perfect, and in need of nothing. But for this reason does God demand service from men, in order that, since He is good and merciful, He may benefit those who continue in His service. For, as much as God is in want of nothing, so much does man stand in need of fellowship with God. For this is the glory of man, to continue and remain permanently in God’s service. Wherefore also did the Lord say to His disciples, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you;” (Joh_15:16) indicating that they did not glorify Him when they followed Him; but that, in following the Son of God, they were glorified by Him. And again, “I will, that where I am, there they also may be, that they may behold My glory;” (Joh_17:24) not vainly boasting because of this, but desiring that His disciples should share in His glory: of whom Esaias also says, “I will bring thy seed from the east, and will gather thee from the 479 west; and I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth; all, as many as have been called in My name: for in My glory I have prepared, and formed, and made him.” (Isa_43:5) Inasmuch as then, “wheresoever the carcase is, there shall also the eagles be gathered together,” (Mat_24:28) we do participate in the glory of the Lord, who has both formed us, and prepared us for this, that, when we are with Him, we may partake of His glory.
2. Thus it was, too, that God formed man at the first, because of His munificence; but chose the patriarchs for the sake of their salvation; and prepared a people beforehand, teaching the headstrong to follow God; and raised up prophets upon earth, accustoming man to bear His Spirit [within him], and to hold communion with God: He Himself, indeed, having need of nothing, but granting communion with Himself to those who stood in need of it, and sketching out, like an architect, the plan of salvation to those that pleased Him. And He did Himself furnish guidance to those who beheld Him not in Egypt, while to those who became unruly in the desert He promulgated a law very suitable [to their condition]. Then, on the people who entered into the good land He bestowed a noble inheritance; and He killed the fatted calf for those converted to the Father, and presented them with the finest robe. (Luk_15:22-23) Thus, in a variety of ways, He adjusted the human race to an agreement with salvation. On this account also does John declare in the Apocalypse, “And His voice as the sound of many waters.” (Rev_1:15) For the Spirit [of God] is truly [like] many waters, since the Father is both rich and great. And the Word, passing through all those [men], did liberally confer benefits upon His subjects, by drawing up in writing a law adapted and applicable to every class [among them].
3. Thus, too, He imposed upon the [Jewish] people the construction of the tabernacle, the building of the temple, the election of the Levites, sacrifices also, and oblations, legal monitions, and all the other service of the law. He does Himself truly want none of these things, for He is always full of all good, and had in Himself all the odour of kindness, and every perfume of sweet-smelling savours, even before Moses existed. Moreover, He instructed the people, who were prone to turn to idols, instructing them by repeated appeals to persevere and to serve God, calling them to the things of primary importance by means of those which were secondary; that is, to things that are real, by means of those that are typical; and by things temporal, to eternal; and by the carnal to the spiritual; and by the earthly to the heavenly; as was also said to Moses, “Thou shalt make all things after the pattern of those things which thou sawest in the mount.” (Exo_25:40) For during forty days He was learning to keep [in his memory] the words of God, and the celestial patterns, and the spiritual images, and the types of things to come; as also Paul says: “For they drank of the rock which followed them: and the rock was Christ.” (1Co_10:11) And again, having first mentioned what are contained in the law, he goes on to say: “Now all these things happened to them in a figure; but they were written for our admonition, upon whom the end of the ages is come.” For by means of types they learned to fear God, and to continue devoted to His service.
Chap. XV. — At First God Deemed it Sufficient to Inscribe the Natural Law, or the Decalogue, upon the Hearts of Men; but Afterwards He Found it Necessary to Bridle, with the Yoke of the Mosaic Law, the Desires of the Jews, Who Were Abusing Their Liberty; and Even to Add Some Special Commands, Because of the Hardness of Their Hearts.
1. They (the Jews) had therefore a law, a course of discipline, and a prophecy of future things. For God at the first, indeed, warning them by means of natural precepts, which from the beginning He had implanted in mankind, that is, by means of the Decalogue (which, if any one does not observe, he has no salvation), did then demand nothing more of them. As Moses says in Deuteronomy, “These are all the words which the Lord spake to the whole assembly of the sons of Israel on the mount, and He added no more; and He wrote them on two tables of stone, and gave them to me.” (Deu_5:22) For this reason [He did so], that they who are willing to follow Him might keep these commandments. But when they turned themselves to make a calf, and had gone back in their minds to Egypt, desiring to be slaves instead of free-men, they were placed for the future in a state of servitude suited to their wish, — [a slavery] which did not indeed cut them off from God, but subjected them to the yoke of bondage; as Ezekiel the prophet, when stating the reasons for the giving of such a law, declares: “And their eyes were after the desire of their heart; and I gave them statutes that were not good, and judgments in which they shall not live.” (Eze_20:24) 480 Luke also has recorded that Stephen, who was the first elected into the diaconate by the apostles,39 and who was the first slain for the testimony of Christ, spoke regarding Moses as follows: “This man did indeed receive the commandments of the living God to give to us, whom your fathers would not obey, but thrust [Him from them], and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us; for we do not know what has happened to [this] Moses, who led us from the land of Egypt. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifices to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their own hands. But God turned, and gave them up to worship the hosts of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets: (Amo_5:25, Amo_5:26) O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to Me sacrifices and oblations for forty years in the wilderness? And ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of the god Remphan,40 figures which ye made to worship them;” (Act_7:38, etc.) pointing out plainly, that the law being such, was not given to them by another God, but that, adapted to their condition of servitude, [it originated] from the very same [God as we worship]. Wherefore also He says to Moses in Exodus: “I will send forth My angel before thee; for I will not go up with thee, because thou art a stiff-necked people.” (Exo_33:2, Exo_33:3)
2. And not only so, but the Lord also showed that certain precepts were enacted for them by Moses, on account of their hardness [of heart], and because of their unwillingness to be obedient, when, on their saying to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a writing of divorcement, and to send away a wife?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he permitted these things to you; but from the beginning it was not so;” (Mat_19:7, Mat_19:8) thus exculpating Moses as a faithful servant, but acknowledging one God, who from the beginning made male and female, and reproving them as hard-hearted and disobedient. And therefore it was that they received from Moses this law of divorcement, adapted to their hard nature. But why say I these things concerning the Old Testament? For in the New also are the apostles found doing this very thing, on the ground which has been mentioned, Paul plainly declaring, But these things I say, not the Lord.” (1Co_7:12) And again: “But this I speak by permission, not by commandment.” (1Co_7:6) And again: “Now, as concerning virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.” (1Co_7:25) But further, in another place he says: “That Satan tempt you not for your incontinence.” (1Co_7:5) If, therefore, even in the New Testament, the apostles are found granting certain precepts in consideration of human infirmity, because of the incontinence of some, lest such persons, having grown obdurate, and despairing altogether of their salvation, should become apostates from God, — it ought not to be wondered at, if also in the Old Testament the same God permitted similar indulgences for the benefit of His people, drawing them on by means of the ordinances already mentioned, so that they might obtain the gift of salvation through them, while they obeyed the Decalogue, and being restrained by Him, should not revert to idolatry, nor apostatize from God, but learn to love Him with the whole heart. And if certain persons, because of the disobedient and ruined Israelites, do assert that the giver (doctor) of the law was limited in power, they will find in our dispensation, that “many are called, but few chosen;” (Mat_20:5) and that there are those who inwardly are wolves, yet wear sheep’s clothing in the eyes of the world (foris); and that God has always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man,41 while at the same time He issued His own exhortations, in order that those who do not obey Him should be righteously judged (condemned) because they have not obeyed Him; and that those who have obeyed and believed on Him should be honoured with immortality.
Chap. XVI. — Perfect Righteousness Was Conferred Neither by Circumcision Nor by Any Other Legal Ceremonies. The Decalogue, However, Was Not Cancelled by Christ, but Is Always in Force: Men Were Never Released from Its Commandments.
1. Moreover, we learn from the Scripture itself, that God gave circumcision, not as the completer of righteousness, but as a sign, that the race of Abraham might continue recognisable. For it declares: “God said unto Abraham, Every male among you shall be circumcised; and ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, as a token of the covenant between Me and you.” (Gen_7:9-11) This same does Ezekiel the prophet say with regard to the Sabbaths: “Also I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them.” (Eze_20:12) And in Exodus, God says to 481 Moses: “And ye shall observe My Sabbaths; for it shall be a sign between Me and you for your generations.” (Exo_21:13) These things, then, were given for a sign; but the signs were not unsymbolical, that is, neither unmeaning nor to no purpose, inasmuch as they were given by a wise Artist; but the circumcision after the flesh typified that after the Spirit. For “we,” says the apostle, “have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands.” (Col_2:11) And the prophet declares, “Circumcise the hardness of your heart.” (Deu_10:16, LXX. version) But the Sabbaths taught that we should continue day by day in God’s service.42 “For we have been counted,” says the Apostle Paul, “all the day long as sheep for the slaughter;” (Rom_8:36) that is, consecrated [to God], and ministering continually to our faith, and persevering in it, and abstaining from all avarice, and not acquiring or possessing treasures upon earth. (Mat_6:19) Moreover, the Sabbath of God (requietio Dei), that is, the kingdom, was, as it were, indicated by created things; in which [kingdom], the man who shall have persevered in serving God (Deo assistere) shall, in a state of rest, partake of God’s table.
2. And that man was not justified by these things, but that they were given as a sign to the people, this fact shows, — that Abraham himself, without circumcision and without observance of Sabbaths, “believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.” (Jam_2:23) Then, again, Lot, without circumcision, was brought out from Sodom, receiving salvation from God. So also did Noah, pleasing God, although he was uncircumcised, receive the dimensions [of the ark], of the world of the second race [of men]. Enoch, too, pleasing God, without circumcision, discharged the office of God’s legate to the angels although he was a man, and was translated, and is preserved until now as a witness of the just judgment of God, because the angels when they had transgressed fell to the earth for judgment, but the man who pleased [God] was translated for salvation.43 Moreover, all the rest of the multitude of those righteous men who lived before Abraham, and of those patriarchs who preceded Moses, were justified independently of the things above mentioned, and without the law of Moses. As also Moses himself says to the people in Deuteronomy: “The Lord thy God formed a covenant in Horeb. The Lord formed not this covenant with your fathers, but for you.” (Deu_5:2)
3. Why, then, did the Lord not form the covenant for the fathers? Because “the law was not established for righteous men.” (1Ti_1:9) But the righteous fathers had the meaning of the Decalogue written in their hearts and souls,44 that is, they loved the God who made them, and did no injury to their neighbour. There was therefore no occasion that they should be cautioned by prohibitory mandates (correptoriis literis),45 because they had the righteousness of the law in themselves. But when this righteousness and love to God had passed into oblivion, and became extinct in Egypt, God did necessarily, because of His great goodwill to men, reveal Himself by a voice, and led the people with power out of Egypt, in order that man might again become the disciple and follower of God; and He afflicted those who were disobedient, that they should not contemn their Creator; and He fed them with manna, that they might receive food for their souls (uti rationalem acciperent escam); as also Moses says in Deuteronomy: “And fed thee with manna, which thy fathers did not know, that thou mightest know that man cloth not live by bread alone; but by every word of God proceeding out of His mouth doth man live.” (Deu_8:3) And it enjoined love to God, and taught just dealing towards our neighbour, that we should neither be unjust nor unworthy of God, who prepares man for His friendship through the medium of the Decalogue, and likewise for agreement with his neighbour, — matters which did certainly profit man himself; God, however, standing in no need of anything from man.
4. And therefore does the Scripture say, “These words the Lord spake to all the assembly of the children of Israel in the mount, and He added no more;” (Deu_5:22) for, as I have already observed, He stood in need of nothing from them. And again Moses says: “And now Israel, what cloth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul?” (Deu_10:12) Now these things did indeed make man glorious, by supplying what was wanting to him, namely, the friendship of God; but they profited God nothing, for God did not at all 482 stand in need of man’s love. For the glory of God was wanting to man, which he could obtain in no other way than by serving God. And therefore Moses says to them again: “Choose life, that thou mayest live, and thy seed, to love the Lord thy God, to hear His voice, to cleave unto Him; for this is thy life, and the length of thy days.” (Deu_30:19, Deu_30:20) Preparing man for this life, the Lord Himself did speak in His own person to all alike the words of the Decalogue; and therefore, in like manner, do they remain permanently with us,46 receiving by means of His advent in the flesh, extension and increase, but not abrogation.
5. The laws of bondage, however, were one by one promulgated to the people by Moses, suited for their instruction or for their punishment, as Moses himself declared: “And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments.” (Deu_4:14) These things, therefore, which were given for bondage, and for a sign to them, He cancelled by the new covenant of liberty. But He has increased and widened those laws which are natural, and noble, and common to all, granting to men largely and without grudging, by means of adoption, to know God the Father, and to love Him with the whole heart, and to follow His word unswervingly, while they abstain not only from evil deeds, but even from the desire after them. But He has also increased the feeling of reverence; for sons should have more veneration than slaves, and greater love for their father. And therefore the Lord says, “As to every idle word that men have spoken, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.” (Mat_12:36) And, “he who has looked upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart;” (Mat_5:28) and, “he that is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Mat_5:22) [All this is declared,] that we may know that we shall give account to God not of deeds only, as slaves, but even of words and thoughts, as those who have truly received the power of liberty, in which [condition] a man is more severely tested, whether he will reverence, and fear, and love the Lord. And for this reason Peter says “that we have not liberty as a cloak of maliciousness,” (1Pe_2:16) but as the means of testing and evidencing faith.
25 Isa_42:10, quoted from memory.
26 These words of Scripture are quoted by memory from Phi_3:12, 1Co_4:4, and 1Co_13:9, 1Co_13:10. It is remarkable that the second is incorporated with the preceding in a similar way, in the ancient Italic version known as the St. Germain copy.
27 This is in accordance with Harvey’s text — “Maturescere profectum salutis.” Grabe, however, reads, “Maturescere prefectum salutis;” making this equivalent to “ad prefectam salutem.” In most mss. “profectum” and “prefectum” would be written alike. The same word (“profectus”) occurs again almost immediately, with an evident reference to and comparison with this clause.
28 Another variation from the textus receptus borne out by the Codex Bezae, and some ancient versions.
29 See Gen_18:13 and Gen_31:11, etc. There is an allusion here to a favourite notion among the Fathers, derived from Philo the Jew, that the name Israel, was compounded from the three Hebrew words אִי שׁרָאָ האֵ, i. e., “the man seeing God.”
30 Feuardent infers with great probability from this passage, that Irenaeus, like Tertullian and others of the Fathers, connected the word Pascha with πάσχειν, to suffer. [The LXX. constantly giving colour to early Christian ideas in this manner, they concluded, perhaps, that such coincidences were designed. The LXX. were credited with a sort of inspiration, as we learn from our author.]