Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 7: 7.01.12 Lactantius - Divine Institutes 4 - Ch 13-19

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Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 7: 7.01.12 Lactantius - Divine Institutes 4 - Ch 13-19



TOPIC: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 7 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 7.01.12 Lactantius - Divine Institutes 4 - Ch 13-19

Other Subjects in this Topic:

Lactantius (Cont.)

The Divine Institutes. (Cont.)

Book IV. (Cont.)

Chap. XIII. - Of Jesus, God and Man; And the Testimonies of the Prophets Concerning Him.

Therefore the Most High God, and Parent of all, when He had purposed to transfer105 His 112 religion, sent from heaven a teacher of righteousness, that in Him or through Him He might give a new law to new worshippers; not as He had before done, by the instrumentality of man. Nevertheless it was His pleasure that He should be born as a man, that in all things He might be like His supreme Father· For God the Father Himself, who is the origin and source of all things, inasmuch as He is without parents, is most truly named by Trismegistus “fatherless” and “motherless,”106 because He was born from no one. For which reason it was befitting that the Son also should be twice born, that He also might become “fatherless” and “motherless.” For in His first nativity, which was spiritual, He was “motherless,” because He was begotten by God the Father alone, without the office of a mother. But in His second, which was in the flesh, He was born of a virgin’s womb without the office of a father, that, bearing a middle substance between God and man, He might be able, as it were, to take by the hand this frail and weak nature of ours, and raise it to immortality. He became both the Son of God through the Spirit, and the Son of man through the flesh, - that is, both God and man. The power of God was displayed in Him, from the works which He performed; the frailty of the man, from the passion which He endured: on what account He undertook it I will mention a little later. In the meantime, we learn from the predictions of the prophets that He was both God and man - composed107 of both natures. Isaiah testifies that He was God in these words: (Isa_45:14-16) “Egypt is wearied,108 and the merchandise of Ethiopia, and the Sabæans, men of stature, shall come over unto Thee, and shall be Thy servants: and they shall walk behind Thee; in chains they shall fall down unto Thee, and shall make supplication unto Thee, Since God is in Thee, and there is no other God besides Thee. For Thou art God, and we knew Thee not, the God of Israel, the Saviour. They shall all be confounded and ashamed who oppose Thee, and shall fall into confusion.” In like manner the prophet Jeremiah109 thus speaks: “This is our God, and there shall none other be compared unto Him. He hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved. Afterward He was seen upon earth, and dwelt among men.” David also, in the forty-fourth Psalm: (Psa_45:6, Psa_45:7) “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated wickedness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness.” By which word he also shows His name, since (as I have shown above) He was called Christ from His anointing. Then, that He was also man, Jeremiah teaches, saying:110 “And He is a man, and who hath known Him?” Also Isaiah: (Isa_19:20, LXX) “And God shall send to them a man, who shall save them, shall save them by judging.” But Moses also, in Numbers,111 thus speaks: “There shall arise a star out of Jacob, and a man112 shall spring forth from Israel.” On which account the Milesian Apollo,113 being asked whether He was God or man, replied in this manner: “He was mortal as to His body, being wise with wondrous works; but being taken with arms under Chaldean judges, with nails and the cross He endured a bitter end.” In the first verse he spoke the truth, but he skilfully deceived him who asked the question, who was entirely ignorant of the mystery of the truth. For he appears to have denied that He was God. But when he acknowledges that He was mortal as to the flesh, which we also declare, it follows that as to the spirit He was God, which we affirm. For why would it have been necessary to make mention of the flesh, since it was sufficient to say that He was mortal? But being pressed by the truth, he could not deny the real state of the case; as that which he says, that He was wise.

What do you reply to this, Apollo? If he is wise, then his system of instruction is wisdom, and no other; and they are wise who follow it, and no others. Why then are we commonly esteemed as foolish, and visionary, and senseless, who follow a Master who is wise even by the confession of the gods themselves? For in that he said that He wrought wonderful deeds, by which He especially claimed faith is His divinity, he now appears to assent to us, when he says the same things in which we boast. But, however, he recovers himself, and again has recourse to demoniacal frauds. For when he had been compelled to speak the truth, he now appeared to be a betrayer of the gods and of himself, unless he had, by a deceptive falsehood, concealed that which the truth had extorted from him. He says, therefore, that He did indeed perform wonderful 113 works, yet not by divine power, but by magic. What wonder if Apollo thus persuaded men ignorant of the truth, when the Jews also, worshippers (as they seemed to be) of the Most High God, entertained the same opinion, though they had every day before their eyes those miracles which the prophets had foretold to them as about to happen, and yet they could not be induced by the contemplation of such powers to believe that He whom they saw was God? On this account, David, whom they especially read above the other prophets, in the twenty-seventh Psalm (Psa_28:4, Psa_28:5) thus condemns them: “Render to them their desert, because they regard not the works of the Lord.” Both David himself and other prophets announced that of the house of this very David, Christ should be born according to the flesh. Thus it is written in Isaiah: (Isa_11:10) “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and He who shall arise to rule over the nations, in Him shall the Gentiles trust; and His rest shall be glorious.” And in another place: (Isa_11:1, Isa_11:2) “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a blossom114 shall grow out of his root; and the Spirit of God shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and of might, the spirit of knowledge and of piety; and He shall be filled115 with the spirit of fear of the Lord.” Now Jesse was the father of David, from whose root he foretold that a blossom would arise; namely him of whom the Sibyl speaks, “A pure blossom shall spring forth.”

Also in the second book of Kings, the prophet Nathan was sent to David, who wished to build a temple for God; and this was the word of the Lord to Nathan, saying: (2Sa_7:4, 2Sa_7:5, 2Sa_7:12-14, 2Sa_7:16) “Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord Almighty, Thou shall not build me a house for me to dwell in; but when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will raise up thy seed after thee, and I will establish His kingdom. He shall build me a house for my name, and I will set up His throne for ever; and I will be to Him for a father, and He shall be to me for a son; and His house shall be established,116 and His kingdom for ever.” But the reason why the Jews did not understand these things was this, because Solomon the son of David built a temple for God, and the city which he called from his own name, Jerusalem.117 Therefore they referred the predictions of the prophets to him. Now Solomon received the government of the kingdom from his father himself. But the prophets spoke of Him who was then born after that David had slept with his fathers. Besides, the reign of Solomon was not everlasting; for he reigned forty years. In the next place, Solomon was never called the son of God, but the son of David; and the house which he built was not firmly established,118 as the Church, which is the true temple of God, which does not consist of walls, but of the heart119 and faith of the men who believe on Him, and are called faithful. But that temple of Solomon, inasmuch as it was built by the hand, fell by the hand. Lastly, his father, in the cxxvith Psalm, prophesied in this manner respecting the works of his son: (Psa_127:1) “Except the Lord build the house, they have laboured in vain that built it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman hath waked but in vain.”





Chap. XIV. - Of the Priesthood of Jesus Foretold by the Prophets.

From which things it is evident that all the prophets declared concerning Christ, that it should come to pass at some time, that being born with a body120 of the race of David, He should build an eternal temple in honour of God, which is called the Church, and assemble all nations to the true worship of God. This is the faithful house, this is the everlasting temple; and if any one hath not sacrificed in this, he will not have the reward of immortality. And since Christ was the builder of this great and eternal temple, He must also have an everlasting priesthood in it; and there can be no approach to the shrine of the temple, and to the sight of God, except through Him who built the temple. David in the cixth Psalm teaches the same, saying:121 “Before the morning-star I begat Thee. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent; Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec.” Also in the first book of Kings: (1Sa_2:35) “And I will raise me up a faithful Priest, who shall do all things that are in mine heart; and I will build him a sure122 house; and he shall walk in my sight123 all his days.” But who this was about to be, to whom God promised an everlasting priesthood, Zechariah most plainly teaches, even mentioning His name: (Zec_3:1-8) “And the Lord God showed 114 me Jesus124 the great Priest standing before the face of the angel of the Lord, and the adversary125 was standing at His right hand to resist Him. And the Lord said unto the adversary, The Lord who hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee; and lo, a brand plucked out of the fire. And Jesus was clothed with filthy garments, and He was standing before the face of the angel. And He answered and spake unto those that stood around before His face, saying, Take away the filthy garments from Him, and clothe Him with a flowing126 garment, and place a fair mitre127 upon His head; and they clothed Him with a garment, and placed a fair mitre upon His head. And the angel of the Lord stood, and protested, saying to Jesus: Thus saith the Lord of hosts, If Thou wilt walk in my ways, and keep my precepts, Thou shalt judge my house, and I will give Thee those that may walk with Thee in the midst of these that stand by. Hear, therefore, O Jesus, Thou great Priest.”

Who, therefore, would not believe that the Jews were then deprived of understanding, who, when they read and heard these things, laid impious hands upon their God? But from the time in which Zechariah lived, until the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, in which Christ was crucified, nearly five hundred years are reckoned; since he flourished in the time of Darius and Alexander,128 who lived not long after the banishment of Tarquinius Superbus. But they were again misled and deceived in the same manner, in supposing that these things were spoken concerning Jesus129 the son of Nave, who was the successor of Moses, or concerning Jesus the high priest the son of Josedech; to whom none of those things which the prophet related was suited. For they were never clothed in filthy garments, since one of them was a most powerful prince, and the other high priest; or suffered any adversity, so that they should be regarded as a brand plucked from the fire: not did they ever stand in the presence of God and the angels; nor did the prophet speak of the past so much as of the future. He spoke, therefore, of Jesus the Son of God, to show that He would first come in humility and in the flesh. For this is the filthy garment, that He might prepare a temple for God, and might be scorched130 as a brand with fire - that is, might endure tortures from men, and at last be extinguished. For a half-burnt brand drawn forth from the hearth and extinguished, is commonly so called,131 But in what manner and with what commands He was sent by God to the earth, the Spirit of God declared through the prophet, teaching us that when He had faithfully and uniformly fulfilled the will of His supreme Father, He should receive judgment132 and an everlasting dominion. If, He says, Thou wilt walk in my ways, and keep my precepts, then Thou shalt judge my house. What these ways of God were, and what His precepts, is neither doubtful nor obscure. For God, when He saw that wickedness and the worship of false gods had so prevailed throughout the world, that His name had now also been taken away from the memory of men (since even the Jews, who alone had been entrusted with the secret of God, had deserted the living God, and, ensnared by the deceits of demons, had gone astray, and turned aside to the worship of images, and when rebuked by the prophets did not choose to return to God), He sent His Son133 as an ambassador to men, that He might turn them from their impious and vain worship to the knowledge and worship of the true God; and also that He might turn their minds from foolishness to wisdom, and from wickedness to deeds of righteousness. These are the ways of God, in which He enjoined Him to walk. These are the precepts which He ordered to be observed. But He exhibited faith towards God. For He taught that there is but one God, and that He alone ought to be worshipped. Nor did He at any time say that He Himself was God; for He would not have maintained His faithfulness, if, when sent to abolish the false gods, and to assert the existence of the one God, He had introduced another besides that one. This would have been not to proclaim one God, nor to do the work of Him who sent Him, but to discharge a peculiar office for Himself, and to separate Himself from Him whom He came to reveal. On which account, because He was so faithful, because He arrogated nothing at all to Himself, that He might fulfil the commands of Him who sent Him, He received the dignity of everlasting Priest, and the honour of supreme King, and the authority of Judge, and the name of God.





Chap. XV. - Of the Life and Miracles of Jesus, and Testimonies Concerning Them.

Having spoken of the second nativity, in which, He showed Himself in the flesh to men, let us come to those wonderful works, on account of 115 which, though they were signs of heavenly power, the Jews esteemed Him a magician. When He first began to reach maturity134 He was baptized by the prophet John in the river Jordan, that He might wash135 away in the spiritual laver not His own sins, for it is evident that He had none, but those of the flesh,136 which He bare; that as He saved the Jews by undergoing circumcision, so He might save the Gentiles also by baptism - that is, by the pouring forth137 of the purifying dew. Then a voice from heaven was heard: “ Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten Thee.” (Compare Mat_3:17 with Psa_2:7.) Which voice is found to have been foretold by David. And the Spirit of God descended upon Him, formed after the appearance of a white dove.138 From that time He began to perform the greatest miracles, not by magical tricks, which display nothing true and substantial, but by heavenly strength and power, which were foretold even long ago by the prophets who announced Him; which works are so many, that a single book is not sufficient to comprise them all. I will therefore enumerate them briefly and generally, without any designation of persons and places, that I may be able to come to the setting forth of His passion and cross, to which my discourse has long been hastening. His powers were those which Apollo called wonderful:139 that wherever He journeyed, by a single word, and in a single moment, He healed the sick and infirm, and those afflicted with every kind of disease: so that those who were deprived of the use of all their limbs, having suddenly received power, were strengthened, and themselves carried their couches, on which they had a little time before been carried. But to the lame, and to those afflicted with some defect140 of the feet, He not only gave the power of walking, but also of running. Then, also, if any had their eyes blinded in the deepest darkness, He restored them to their former sight. He also loosened the tongues of the dumb, so that141 they discoursed and spoke eloquently. He also opened the ears of the deaf, and caused them to hear;142 He cleansed the polluted and the blemished.143 And He performed all these things not by His hands, or the application of any remedy,144 but by His word and command, as also the Sibyl had foretold:

“Doing all things by His word, and healing every disease.”

Nor, indeed, is it wonderful that He did wonderful things by His word, since He Himself was the Word of God, relying upon heavenly strength and power. Nor was it enough that He gave strength to the feeble, soundness of body to the maimed, health to the sick and languishing, unless He also raised the dead, as it were unbound from sleep, and recalled them to life.

And the Jews, then, when they saw these things, contended that they were done by demoniacal power, although it was contained in their secret writings that all things should thus come to pass as they did. They read indeed the words of other prophets, and of Isaiah,145 saying: “Be strong, ye hands that are relaxed; and ye weak knees, be comforted. Ye who are of a fearful146 heart, fear not, be not afraid: our Lord shall execute judgment; He Himself shall come and save us. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear: then shall the lame man leap as a deer, and the tongue of the dumb speak plainly:147 for in the wilderness water hath broken forth, and a stream in the thirsty land.” But the Sibyl also foretold the same things in these verses: -

“And there shall be a rising again of the dead; and the course of the lame shall be swift, and the deaf shall hear, and the blind shall see, the dumb shall speak.”

On account of these powers and divine works wrought by Him when a great multitude followed Him of the maimed, or sick, or of those who desired to present their sick to be healed, He went up into a desert mountain to pray there. And when He had tarried there three days, and the people were suffering from hunger, He called His disciples, and asked what quantity of food148 they had with them. But they said that they had five loaves and two fishes in a wallet. Then He commanded that these should be brought forward, and that the multitude, distributed by fifties, should recline on the ground. When the disciples did this, He Himself broke the bread in pieces, and divided the flesh of the fishes, and in His hands both of them were increased. And when He had ordered the disciples to set them before the people, five thousand men were satisfied, and moreover twelve baskets149 were filled from the fragments which remained. What can be more wonderful, either in narration or in action? 116 But the Sibyl had before foretold that it would take place, whose verses are related to this effect: -

“With five loaves at the same time, and with two fishes, He shall satisfy five thousand men in the wilderness; And afterwards taking all the fragments that remain, He shall fill twelve baskets to the hope of many.”

I ask, therefore, what the art of magic could have contrived in this case, the skill of which is of avail for nothing else than for deceiving150 the eyes? He also, when He was about to retire to a mountain, as He was wont, for the sake of prayer, directed His disciples to take a small ship and go before Him. But they, setting out when evening was now coming on, began to be distressed151 through a contrary wind. And when they were now in the midst of the sea,152 then, setting His feet on the sea, (Mat_14:24) He came up to them, walking as though on the solid ground,153 not as the poets fable Orion walking on the sea, who, while a part of his body was sunk in the water,

“With his shoulder rises above the waves.”154

And again, when He had gone to sleep in the ship, and the wind had begun to rage, even to the extremity of danger, being aroused from sleep, He immediately ordered the wind to be silent; and the waves, which were borne with great violence, were still, and immediately at His word there followed a calm.

But perhaps the sacred writings (Mat_8:1-34; Mar_4:1-41; Luk_8:1-56) speak falsely, when they teach that there was such power in Him, that by His command He compelled the winds to obey, the seas to serve Him, diseases to depart, the dead to be submissive. Why should I say that the Sibyls before taught the same things in their verses? one of whom, already mentioned, thus speaks: -

“He shall still the winds by His word, and calm the

         sea

As it rages, treading with feet of peace and in faith.”

And again another, which says: -

“He shall walk on the waves, He shall release men

         from disease.

He shall raise the dead, and drive away many pains;

And from the bread of one wallet there shall be a

         satisfying of men.”

Some, refuted by these testimonies, are accustomed to have recourse to the assertion that these poems were not by the Sibyls, but made up and composed by our own writers. But he will assuredly not think this who has read Cicero,155 and Varro, and other ancient writers, who make mention of the Erythræan and the other Sibyls, from whose books we bring forward these examples; and these authors died before the birth of Christ according to the flesh. But I do not doubt that these poems were in former times regarded as ravings, since no one then understood them. For they announced some marvellous wonders, of which neither the manner, nor the time, nor the author was signified. Lastly, the Erythræan Sibyl says that it would come to pass that she would be called mad and deceitful. But assuredly

                           “They will say that the Sibyl

Is mad, and deceitful: but when all things shall come

         to pass,

Then ye will remember me; and no one will any longer

Say that I, the prophetess of the great God, am mad.”

Therefore they were156 neglected for many ages; but they received attention after the nativity and passion of Christ had revealed secret things. Thus it was also with the utterances of the prophets, which were read by the people of the Jews for fifteen hundred years and more, but yet were not understood until after Christ had explained157 them both by His word and by His works. For the prophets spoke of Him; nor could the things which they said have been in any way understood, unless they had been altogether fulfilled.





Chap. XVI. - Of the Passion of Jesus Christ; That It Was Foretold.

I come now to the passion itself, which is often cast in our teeth as a reproach:158 that we worship a man, and one who was visited and tormented with remarkable punishment: that I may show that this very passion was undergone by Him in accordance with a great and divine plan, and that goodness and truth and wisdom are contained in it alone. For if He had been most happy on the earth, and had reigned through all His life in the greatest prosperity, no wise man would either have believed Him to be a God, or judged Him worthy of divine honour: which is the case with those who are destitute of true divinity, who not only look up159 to perishable riches, and frail power, and the advantages arising from the benefit of another, but even consecrate them, and knowingly do service to the memory of the dead, worshipping fortune when it is now extinguished, which the wise never regarded as an object of worship even when alive and present with them. For nothing among earthly things can be venerable and worthy of heaven; but it is virtue alone, and justice 117 alone, which can be judged a true, and heavenly, and perpetual good, because it is neither given to any one, nor taken away. And since Christ came upon earth, supplied with virtue and righteousness, yea rather, since He Himself is virtue and Himself righteousness, He descended that He might teach it and mould the character of man. And having performed this office and embassy from God, on account of this very virtue which He at once taught and practised, He deserved, and was able, to be believed a God by all nations. Therefore, when a great multitude from time to time flocked to Him, either on account of the righteousness which He taught or on account of the miracles which He worked, and heard His precepts, and believed that He was sent by God, and that He was the Son of God, then the rulers and priests of the Jews, excited with anger because they were rebuked by Him as sinners, and perverted by envy, because, while the multitude flocked to Him, they saw themselves despised and deserted, and (that which was the crowning point of their guilt) blinded by folly and error, and unmindful of the instructors sent from heaven, and of the prophets, they caballed against Him, and conceived the impious design of putting Him to death, and torturing Him: of which the prophets had long before written.

For both David, in the beginning of his Psalms, foreseeing in spirit what a crime they were about to commit, says, (Psa_1:1) “Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the way of the ungodly;” and Solomon in the book of Wisdom used these words: (Wisd. 2:12-22) “Let us defraud the righteous, for he is unpleasant to us, and upbraideth us with our offences against the law. He maketh his boast that he has the knowledge of God; and he calleth himself the Son of God. He is made to reprove160 our thoughts: it grieveth us even to look upon him: for his life is not like the life of others; his ways are of another fashion.161 We are counted by him as triflers,162 he withdraweth himself from our ways as from filthiness; he commendeth greatly163 the latter end of the just, and boasteth that he has God for his Father. Let us see, therefore, if his words be true; let us prove what end164 he shall have; let us examine him with rebukes and torments, that we may know his meekness,165 and prove his patience; let us condemn him to a shameful death. Such things have they imagined, and have gone astray. For their own folly hath blinded them, and they do not understand the mysteries166 of God.” Does he not describe that impious design entered into by the wicked against God, so that he clearly appears to have been present? But from Solomon, who foretold these things, to the time of their accomplishment, ten hundred and ten years intervened. We feign nothing; we add nothing. They who performed the actions had these accounts; they, against whom these things were spoken, read them. But even now the inheritors of their name and guilt have these accounts, and in their daily readings re-echo their own condemnation as foretold by the voice of the prophets; nor do they ever admit them into their heart, which is also itself a part of their condemnation. The Jews, therefore, being often reproved by Christ, who upbraided them with their sins and iniquities, and being almost deserted by the people, were stirred up to put Him to death.

Now His humility emboldened them to this deed. For when they read with what great power and glory the Son of God was about to descend from heaven, but on the other hand saw Jesus humble, peaceful, of low condition,167 without comeliness, they did not believe that He was the Son of God, being ignorant that two advents on His part were foretold by the prophets: the first, obscure in humility of the flesh; the other, manifest in the power of His majesty. Of the first David thus speaks in the seventy-first Psalm:168 “He shall descend as rain upon a fleece; and in His days shall righteousness spring forth, and abundance of peace, as long as the moon is lifted up.” For as rain, if it descends upon a fleece, cannot be perceived, because it makes no sound; so he said that Christ would come to the earth without exciting the notice169 of any, that He might teach righteousness and peace. Isaiah also thus spoke: (Isa_53:1-6) “Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We made proclamation170 before Him as children, and as a root in a thirsty land: He has no form nor glory; and we saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness. But His form was without honour, and defective beyond the rest of men. He is a man acquainted171 with grief, and knowing how to endure infirmity, because He turned172 His face away from us; and He was not esteemed. He 118 carries our sins, and He endures pain for us: and we thought that He Himself173 was in pain, and grief, and vexation. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised174 for our offences; the chastisement175 of our peace was upon Him, by His bruises176 we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, and God hath delivered Him up for our sins.” And in the same manner the Sibyl spoke: “Though an object of pity, dishonoured, without form, He will give hope to those who are objects of pity.” On account of this humility they did not recognise their God, and entered into the detestable design of depriving Him of life, who had come to give them life.





Chap. XVII. - Of the Superstitions of the Jews, and Their Hatred Against Jesus.

But they alleged other causes for their anger and envy, which they bore shut up177 within in their hearts - namely, that He destroyed the obligation178 of the law given by Moses; that is, that He did not rest179 on the Sabbath, but laboured for the good180 of men; that He abolished circumcision; that He took away the necessity of abstaining from the flesh of swine;181 - in which things the mysteries of the Jewish religion consist. On this account, therefore, the rest of the people, who had not yet withdrawn182 to Christ, were incited by the priests to regard Him as impious, because He destroyed the obligation of the law of God, though He did this not by His own judgment, but according to the will of God, and after the predictions of the prophets. For Micah announced that He would give a new law, in these terms: (Mic_4:2, Mic_4:3) “The law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations.”183 For the former law, which was given by Moses, was not given on Mount Zion, but on Mount Horeb;184 and the Sibyl shows that it would come to pass that this law would be destroyed by the Son of God: -

“But when all these things which I told you shall be accomplished, then all the law is fulfilled with respect to Him.”

But even Moses himself, by whom the law was given which they so tenaciously maintain, though they have fallen away from God, and have not acknowledged God, had foretold that it would come to pass that a very great prophet would be sent by God, who should be above the law, and be a bearer of the will of God to men. In Deuteronomy he thus left it written: (Deu_18:17-19) “And the Lord said unto me, I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put my word in His month, and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. And whosoever will not hearken to those things which that Prophet shall speak in my name, I will require185 it of him.” The Lord evidently announced by the law-giver himself that He was about to send His own Son - that is, a law alive, and present186 in person, and destroy that old law given by a mortal,187 that by Him who was eternal He might ratify afresh a law which was eternal.

In like manner, Isaiah188 thus prophesied concerning the abolition of circumcision: “Thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah who dwell at Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord your God, and take away the foreskins of your heart, lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it.” Also Moses himself says: (Deu_30:6) “In the last days the Lord shall circumcise thine heart to love the Lord thy God.” Also Jesus189 the son of Nun, his successor, said: “And the Lord said unto Jesus, Make thee knives of flint very sharp, and sit and circumcise the children of Israel the second time.” He said that this second circumcision would be not of the flesh, as the first was, which the Jews practise even now, but of the heart and spirit, which was delivered by Christ, who was the true Jesus. For the prophet does not say, “And the Lord said unto me,” but “unto Jesus,” that he might show that God was not speaking of him, but of Christ, to whom God was then speaking. For that Jesus represented190 Christ: for when he was at first called Auses,191 Moses, foreseeing the future, ordered that he should be called Jesus; that since he had been chosen as the leader of the warfare 119 against Amalek, who was the enemy of the children of Israel, he might both subdue the adversary by the emblem192 of the name, and lead the people into the land of promise. And for this reason he was also successor to Moses, to show that the new law given by Christ Jesus was about to succeed to the old law which was given by Moses. For that circumcision of the flesh is plainly irrational; since, if God had so willed it, He might so have formed man from the beginning, that he should be without a foreskin. But it was a figure of this second circumcision, signifying that the breast is to be laid bare; that is, that we ought to live with an open and simple heart, since that part of the body which is circumcised has a kind of resemblance to the heart, and is to be treated with reverence. On this account God ordered that it should be laid bare, that by this argument He might admonish us not to have our breast hidden193 in obscurity; that is, not to veil any shameful deed within the secrets of conscience. This is the circumcision of the heart of which the prophets speak, which God transferred from the mortal flesh to the soul, which alone is about to endure. For, being desirous of promoting our life and salvation in accordance with His own goodness, in that circumcision He hath set before us repentance, that if we lay open our hearts, - that is if we confess our sins and make satisfaction to God, - we shall obtain pardon, which is denied to those who are obstinate and conceal their faults, by Him who regards not the outward appearance, as man does, but the innermost secrets of the heart.194

The forbidding of the flesh of swine also has the same intention; for when God commanded them to abstain from this, He willed that this should be especially understood, that they should abstain from sins and impurities. For this animal is filthy and unclean,195 and never looks up to heaven,196 but prostrates itself to the earth with its whole body and face: it is always the slave of its appetite and food; nor during its life can it afford any other service, as the other animals do, which either afford a vehicle for riding,197 or aid in the cultivation of the fields, or draw waggons by their neck, or carry burthens on their back, or furnish a covering with their skins,198 or abound with a supply of milk, or keep watch for guarding our houses. Therefore He forbade them to use the flesh of the pig for food, that is, not to imitate the life of swine, which are nourished only for death; lest, by devoting themselves to their appetite and pleasures, they should be useless for working righteousness, and should be visited with death. Also that they should not immerse themselves in foul lusts, as the sow, which wallows in the mire;199 or that they do not serve earthly images, and thus defile themselves with mud: for they do bedaub themselves with mud who worship gods, that is, who worship mud and earth. Thus all the precepts of the Jewish law have for their object the setting forth of righteousness, since they are given in a mysterious200 manner, that under the figure of carnal things those which are spiritual might be known.





Chap. XVIII. - Of the Lord’s Passion, and That It Was Foretold.

When, therefore, Christ fulfilled these things which God would have done, and which He foretold many ages before by His prophets, incited by these things, and ignorant of the sacred Scriptures, they conspired together to condemn their God. And though He knew that this would come to pass, and repeatedly201 said that He must suffer and be put to death for the salvation of many, nevertheless He withdrew Himself with His disciples, not that He might avoid that which it was necessary for Him to undergo and endure, but that He might show what ought to take place in every persecution, that no one should appear to have fallen into it through his own fault: and He announced that it would come to pass that He should be betrayed by one of them. And thus Judas, induced by a bribe, delivered up to the Jews the Son of God. But they took and brought Him before Pontius Pilate, who at that time was administering the province of Syria as governor,202 and demanded that He should be crucified, though they laid nothing else to His charge except that He said that He was the Son of God, the King of the Jews; also His own saying,203 “Destroy this temple, which was forty-six years in building, and in three days I will raise it up again without hands,”120 - signifying that His passion would shortly take place, and that He, having been put to death by the Jews, would rise again on the third day. For He Himself was the true temple of God. They inveighed against these expressions of His, as ill-omened and impious. And when Pilate had heard these things, and He said nothing in His own defence, he gave sentence that there appeared nothing deserving of condemnation in Him. But those most unjust accusers, together with the people whom they had stirred up, began to cry out, and with loud voices to demand His crucifixion.

Then Pontius204 was overpowered both by their outcries, and by the instigation of Herod the tetrarch,205 who feared lest he should be deposed from his sovereignty. He did not, however, himself pass sentence, but delivered Him up to the Jews, that they themselves might judge Him according to their law.206 Therefore they led Him away when He had been scourged with rods, and before they crucified Him they mocked Him; for they put upon Him a scarlet207 robe, and a crown of thorns, and saluted Him as King, and gave Him gall for food, and mingled for Him vinegar to drink. After these things they spat upon His face, and struck Him with the palms of their hands; and when the executioners208 themselves contended about His garments, they cast lots among themselves for His tunic and mantle.209 And while all these things were doing, He uttered no voice from His mouth, as though He were dumb. Then they lifted Him up in the midst between two malefactors, who had been condemned for robbery, and fixed Him to the cross. What can I here deplore in so great a crime? or in what words can I lament such great wickedness? For we are not relating the crucifixion of Gavius,210 which Marcus Tullius followed up with all the spirit and strength of his eloquence, pouring forth as it were the fountains of all his genius, proclaiming that it was an unworthy deed that a Roman citizen should be crucified in violation of all laws. And although He was innocent, and undeserving of that punishment, yet He was put to death, and that, too, by an impious man, who was ignorant of justice. What shall I say respecting the indignity of this cross, on which the Son of God was suspended and nailed?211 Who will be found so eloquent, and supplied with so great an abundance of deeds and words, what speech flowing with such copious exuberance,212 as to lament in a befitting manner that cross, which the world itself, and all the elements of the world, bewailed?

But that these things were thus about to happen, was announced both by the utterances of the prophets and by the predictions of the Sibyls. In Isaiah it is found thus written:213 “I am not rebellious, nor do I oppose: I gave my back to the scourge, and my cheeks to the hand:214 I turned not away my face from the foulness of spitting.” In like manner David, in the thirty-fourth Psalm:215 “The abjects216 were gathered together against me,217 and they knew me not:218 they were dispersed, nor did they feel remorse; they tempted me, and greatly219 derided me; and they gnashed upon me with their teeth.” The Sibyl also showed that the same things would happen: -

“He shall afterwards come into the hands of the unjust and the faithless;and they shall inflict on God blows with impure hands, and with polluted mouths they shall send forth poisonous spittle; and He shall then absolutely220 give His holy back to stripes.”

Likewise respecting His silence, which He perseveringly maintained even to His death, Isaiah thus spoke again: (Isa_53:7) “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.” And the above-mentioned Sibyl said: -

“And being beaten, He shall be silent, lest any one should know what theWord is, or whence it came, that it may speak with mortals; and He shall wear the crown of thorns.”

But respecting the food and the drink which they offered to Him before they fastened Him to the cross, David thus speaks in the sixty-eighth Psalm: (Psa_69:21) “And they gave me gall for my meat; 121 and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” The Sibyl foretold that this also would happen: -

“They gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst vinegar; this inhospitable table they will show.”

And another Sibyl rebukes the land of Judæa in these verses: -

“For you, entertaining hurtful thoughts, did not recognise your God sporting221 with mortal thoughts; but crowned Him with a crown of thorns, and mingled dreadful gall.”

Now, that it would come to pass that the Jews would lay hands upon their God, and put Him to death, these testimonies of the prophets foretold. In Esdras it is thus written:222 “And Ezra said to the people, This passover is our Saviour and our refuge. Consider and let it come into your heart, that we have to abase Him in a figure; and after these things we will hope in Him, lest this place be deserted for ever, saith the Lord God of hosts. If you will not believe Him, nor hear His announcement, ye shall be a derision among the nations.” From which it appears that the Jews had no other hope, unless they purified themselves from blood, and put their hopes in that very person whom they denied.223 Isaiah also points out their deed, and says:224 “In His humiliation His judgment was taken away. Who shall declare His generation? for His life shall be taken away from the earth; from the transgressions of my people He was led away to death. And I will give Him the wicked for His burial, and the rich for His death, because He did no wickedness, nor spoke guile with His mouth. Wherefore He shall obtain225 many, and shall divide the spoils of the strong; because He was delivered up to death, and was reckoned among the transgressors; and He bore the sins of many, and was delivered up on account of their transgressions.” David also, in the ninety-third Psalm: (Psa_94:21, Psa_94:22) “They will hunt after the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood; and the Lord is become my refuge.” Also Jeremiah: (Jer_11:18, Jer_11:19, quoted from the Septuagint) “Lord, declare it unto me, and I shall know. Then I saw their devices; I was led as an innocent226 lamb to the sacrifice;227 they meditated a plan against me, saying, Come, let us send wood into his bread,228 and let us sweep away his life from the earth, and his name shall no more be remembered.” Now the wood229 signifies the cross, and the bread His body; for He Himself is the food and the life of all who believe in the flesh which He bare, and on the cross upon which He was suspended.

Respecting this, however, Moses himself more plainly spoke to this effect, in Deuteronomy: (Deu_28:66) “And Thy life shall hang230 before Thine eyes; and Thou shall fear day and night, and shalt have no assurance of Thy life.” And the same again in Numbers:231 “God is not in doubt as a man, nor does he suffer threats232 as the son of man.” Zechariah also thus wrote: (Zec_12:10) “And they shall look on me, whom they pierced.” Also David in the twenty-first Psalm:233 “They pierced my hands and my feet; they numbered all my bones; they themselves looked and stared upon me; they divided my garments among them; and upon my vesture they did cast lots.” It is evident that the prophet did not speak these things concerning himself. For he was a king, and never endured these sufferings; but the Spirit of God, who was about to suffer these things, after ten hundred and fifty years, spoke by him. For this is the number of years from the reign of David to the crucifixion of Christ. But Solomon also, his son, who built Jerusalem, prophesied that this very city would perish in revenge for the sacred cross:234 “But if ye turn away from me, saith the Lord, and will not keep my truth, I will drive Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have built for them in my name, I will cast it out from all:235 and Israel shall be for perdition236 and a reproach to the people; and this house shall be desolate, and every one that shall pass by it shall be astonished, and shall say, Why hath God done these evils to this land and to this house? And they shall say, Because they forsook the Lord their God, and persecuted their King most beloved by God, and crucified Him with great degradation,237 therefore hath God brought upon them these evils.”



Chap. XIX. - Of the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus; And the Predictions of These Events.

What more can now be said respecting the crime of the Jews, than that they were then blinded and seized with incurable madness, who read these things daily, and yet neither understood them, nor were able to be on their guard so as not to do them? Therefore, being lifted up and nailed to the cross, He cried to the Lord with a loud voice, and of His own accord gave up His spirit. And at the same hour there was an earthquake; and the veil of the temple, which separated the two tabernacles, was rent into two parts; and the sun suddenly withdrew its light, and there was darkness from the sixth238 even to the ninth hour. Of which event the prophet Amos testifies: (Amo_8:9, Amo_8:10) “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that the sun shall go down at noon, and the daylight shall be darkened; and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and your songs into lamentation.” Also Jeremiah: (Jer_15:9) “She who brings forth is affrighted, and vexed in spirit; her sun is gone down while it was yet mid-day; she hath been ashamed and confounded;239 and the residue of them will I give to the sword in the sight of their enemies.” And the Sibyl: -

“And the veil of the temple shall be rent, and at midday there shall be dark vast night for three hours,”

When these things were done, even by the heavenly prodigies, they were not able to understand their crime.

But since He had foretold that on the third day He should rise again from the dead, fearing lest, the body having been stolen by the disciples, and removed, all should believe that He had risen, and there should be a much greater disturbance among the people, they took Him down from the cross, and having shut Him up in a tomb, they securely surrounded it with a guard of soldiers. But on the third day, before light, there was an earthquake, and the sepulchre was suddenly opened; and the guard, who were astonished and stupefied with fear, seeing nothing, He came forth uninjured and alive from the sepulchre, and went into Galilee to seek His disciples: but nothing was found in the sepulchre except the grave-clothes in which they haft enclosed and wrapt His body. Now, that He would not remain in hell,240 but rise again on the third day, had been foretold by the prophets. David says, in the fifteenth Psalm: (Psa_16:10) “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine holy one to see corruption.” Also in the third Psalm: (Psa_3:5) “I laid me down to sleep, and took my rest, and rose again, for the Lord sustained me.” Hosea also, the first of the twelve prophets, testified of His resurrection: (Hos_13:13, Hos_13:14) “This my Son is wise, therefore He will not remain in the anguish of His sons: and I will redeem Him from the power241 of the grave. Where is thy judgment, O death? or where is thy sting?” The same also in another place: (Hos_6:2) “After two days, He will revive us in the third day.” And therefore the Sibyl said, that after three days’ sleep he would put an end to death: -

“And after sleeping three days, He shall put an end to the fate of death; and then, releasing Himself from the dead, He shall come to light, first showing to the called ones the beginning of the resurrection.”

For He gained life for us by overcoming death. No hope, therefore, of gaining immortality is given to man, unless he shall believe on Him, and shall take up that cross to be borne and endured.





FOOTNOTES



105 From the Isrealites, to whom He first revealed Himself, to the Gentile world at large.

106 ἀπάτωρ and ἀμήτωρ. See Heb_7:3, where Melchisedec is a type of Christ.

107 Ex utroque genere permistum. Though the Godhead and the manhood are joined together in one person in our Lord Jesus Christ, there is no confounding of the two natures: each is whole and perfect. While Nestorius held that there were two persons in Christ, Eutyches fell into the opposite error, and taught that the two natures were so b