Ante-nicene fathers



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3. And again, the law did not forbid those who were hungry on the Sabbath-days to take food lying ready at hand: it did, however, forbid them to reap and to gather into the barn. And therefore did the Lord say to those who were blaming His disciples because they plucked and ate the ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands, “Have ye not read this, what David did, when himself was an hungered; how he went into the house of God, and ate the shew-bread, and gave to those who were with him; which it is not lawful to eat, but for the priests alone? ”90 justifying His disciples by the words of the law, and pointing out that it was lawful for the priests to act freely. For David had been appointed a priest by God, although Saul persecuted him. For all the righteous possess the sacerdotal rank.91 And all the apostles of the Lord are priests, who do inherit here neither lands nor houses, but serve God and the altar continually. Of whom Moses also says in Deuteronomy, when blessing Levi, “Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not known thee; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, and he disinherited his own sons: he kept Thy commandments, and observed Thy covenant.”92 But who are they that have left father and mother, and have said adieu to all their neighbours, on account of the word of God and His covenant, unless the disciples of the Lord? Of whom again Moses says, “They shall have no inheritance, for the Lord Himself is their inheritance.”93 And again, “The priests the Levites shall have no part in the whole tribe of Levi, nor substance with Israel; their substance is the offerings (fructifications) of the Lord: these shall they eat.”94 Wherefore also Paul says, “I do not seek after a gift, but I seek after fruit.”95 To His disciples He said, who had a priesthood of the Lord,96 to whom it was lawful when hungry to eat the ears of corn,97 “For the workman is worthy of his meat.”98 And the priests in the temple profaned the Sabbath, and were blameless. Wherefore, then, were they blameless? Because when in the temple they were not engaged in secular affairs, but in the service of the Lord, fulfilling the law, but not going beyond it, as that man did, who of his own accord carded dry wood into the camp of God, and was justly stoned to death.99 “For every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire; ”100 and “whosoever shall defile the temple of God, him shall God defile.”101

Chapter 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.”102 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.”103 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; ”104 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.”105 And Jeremiah says: “Behold, I will make a new covenant, not as I made with your fathers”106 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.”107 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.”108 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.”109 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”110 ); 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; ”111 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; ”112 neither do we receive another Holy Spirit, besides Him who is with us, and who cries, “Abba, Father; ”113 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, should gradually attain to perfect salvation.114 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;115 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.”116 And again, He says to them a second time: “And ye have made void the word of God117 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.”118 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.

Chapter 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.”119 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; ”120 [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,121 and directs Jacob on his journey, and speaks with Moses from the bush.122 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;123 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,124 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.”125

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 in the blood of the grape; His eyes shall be more joyous than wine,126 and His teeth whiter than milk.”127 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? ”128 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.”129 And again, “Has not this same one thy Father owned thee, and made thee, and created thee? ”130

Chapter 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.”131 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.”132

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.”133 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 also David says, “My soul shall rejoice in the Lord; it shall be glad in His salvation.”134 And for this cause, upon His entrance into Jerusalem, all those who were in the way135 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.”136 But to the envious wicked stewards, who circumvented those under them, and ruled over those that had no great intelligence,137 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? ”138 —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 asChrist, 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.

Chapter 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,”139 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? ”140 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 God of the law. And Paul in like manner declares, “Love is the fulfilling of the law: ”141 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; ”142 and that apart from the love of God, neither knowledge avails anything,143 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.”144 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.”145 He does not call the law given by Moses commandments of men, but the traditions of the eiders 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.”146 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; ”147 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.




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