Early Christian Writings
Title: The Five Books Against Marcion. Book IV.
Subheading: In Which Tertullian Pursues His Argument. Jesus is the Christ of the Creator. He Derives His Proofs from St. Luke’s Gospel; That Being the Only Historical Portion of the New Testament Partially Accepted by Marcion. This Book May Also Be Regarded as a Commentary on St. Luke. It Gives Remarkable Proof of Tertullian’s Grasp of Scripture, and Proves that “The Old Testament is Not Contrary to the New.“ It Also Abounds in Striking Expositions of Scriptural Passages, Embracing Profound Views of Revelation, in Connection with the Nature of Man.
From: (CCEL ANF03 Anti-Marcion./The Five Books against Marcion)
Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol III. (Anti-Marcion. Part.II)
Τὰ ἀρχαῖα ἔθη κρατείτω. The Nicene Council
Original Source: CCEL ANF03 II.
Related Link: earlychristianwritings.com
Translated by: Dr. Peter Holmes, D.D., F.R.A.S.
By: Tertullianus, Quintus Septimius
Published: 197-220 A.D.
(PDF File Size: xx mb) xx pages
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345 In Which Tertullian Pursues His Argument. Jesus is the Christ of the Creator. He Derives His Proofs from St. Luke’s Gospel; That Being the Only Historical Portion of the New Testament Partially Accepted by Marcion. This Book May Also Be Regarded as a Commentary on St. Luke. It Gives Remarkable Proof of Tertullian’s Grasp of Scripture, and Proves that “The Old Testament is Not Contrary to the New.” It Also Abounds in Striking Expositions of Scriptural Passages, Embracing Profound Views of Revelation, in Connection with the Nature of Man.
Chapter I. — Examination of the Antitheses of Marcion, Bringing Them to the Test of Marcion’s Own Gospel.
Certain True Antitheses in the Dispensations of the Old and the New Testaments. These Variations Quite Compatible with One and the Same God, Who Ordered Them.
Every opinion and the whole scheme of the impious and sacrilegious Marcion we now bring to the test of that very Gospel which, by his process of interpolation, he has made his own. To encourage a belief of this Gospel he has actually devised for it a sort of dower, in a work composed of contrary statements set in opposition, thence entitled Antitheses, and compiled with a view to such a severance of the law from the gospel as should divide the Deity into two, nay, diverse, gods—one for each Instrument, or Testament as it is more usual to call it; that by such means he might also patronize belief in “the Gospel according to the Antitheses.”
These, however, I would have attacked in special combat, hand to hand; that is to say, I would have encountered singly the several devices of the Pontic heretic, if it were not much more convenient to refute them in and with that very gospel to which they contribute their support. Although it is so easy to meet them at once with a peremptory demurrer, yet, in order that I may both make them admissible in argument, and account them valid expressions of opinion, and even contend that they make for our side, that so there may be all the redder shame for the blindness of their author, we have now drawn out some antitheses of our own in opposition to Marcion.
And indeed I do allow that one order did run its course in the old dispensation under the Creator, and that another is on its way in the new under Christ. I do not deny that there is a difference in the language of their documents, in their precepts of virtue, and in their teachings of the law; but yet all this diversity is consistent with one and the same God, even Him by whom it was arranged and also foretold. Long ago did Isaiah declare 346 that “out of Sion should go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” —some other law, that is, and another word.
In short, says he, “He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people;” meaning not those of the Jewish people only, but of the nations which are judged by the new law of the gospel and the new word of the apostles, and are amongst themselves rebuked of their old error as soon as they have believed. And as the result of this, “they beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears (which are a kind of hunting instruments) into pruning-hooks;” that is to say, minds, which once were fierce and cruel, are changed by them into good dispositions productive of good fruit. And again: “Hearken unto me, hearken unto me, my people, and ye kings, give ear unto me; for a law shall proceed from me, and my judgment for a light to the nations;” wherefore He had determined and decreed that the nations also were to be enlightened by the law and the word of the gospel.
This will be that law which (according to David also) is unblameable, because “perfect, converting the soul” from idols unto God. This likewise will be the word concerning which the same Isaiah says, “For the Lord will make a decisive word in the land.” Because the New Testament is compendiously short, and freed from the minute and perplexing burdens of the law. But why enlarge, when the Creator by the same prophet foretells the renovation more manifestly and clearly than the light itself? “Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old” (the old things have passed away, and new things are arising).
“Behold, I will do new things, which shall now spring forth.” So by Jeremiah: “Break up for yourselves new pastures, and sow not among thorns, and circumcise yourselves in the foreskin of your heart.” And in another passage: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Jacob, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I arrested their dispensation, in order to bring them out of the land of Egypt.” He thus shows that the ancient covenant is temporary only, when He indicates its change; also when He promises that it shall be followed by an eternal one.
For by Isaiah He says: “Hear me, and ye shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you,” adding “the sure mercies of David,” in order that He might show that that covenant was to run its course in Christ. That He was of the family of David, according to the genealogy of Mary, He declared in a figurative way even by the rod which was to proceed out of the stem of Jesse. Forasmuch then as he said, that from the Creator there would come other laws, and other words, and new dispensations of covenants, indicating also that the very sacrifices were to receive higher offices, and that amongst all nations, by Malachi when he says: “I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord, neither will I accept your sacrifices at your hands.
For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place a sacrifice is offered unto my name, even a pure offering” —meaning simple prayer from a pure conscience,—it is of necessity that every change which comes as the result of innovation, introduces a diversity in those things of which the change is made, from which diversity arises also a contrariety. For as there is nothing, after it has undergone a change, which does not become different, so there is nothing different which is not contrary. Of that very thing, therefore, there will be predicated a contrariety in consequence of its diversity, to which there accrued a change of condition after an innovation.
He who brought about the change, the same instituted the diversity also; He who foretold the innovation, the same announced beforehand the contrariety likewise. Why, in your interpretation, do you impute a difference in the state of things to a difference of powers? Why do you wrest to the Creator’s prejudice those examples from which you draw your antitheses, when you may recognise them all in His sensations and affections? “I will wound,” He says, “and I will heal;” “I will kill,” He says again, “and I will make alive” —even the same “who createth evil and maketh peace;” from which you are used even to censure 347 Him with the imputation of fickleness and inconstancy, as if He forbade what He commanded, and commanded what He forbade.
Why, then, have you not reckoned up the Antitheses also which occur in the natural works of the Creator, who is for ever contrary to Himself? You have not been able, unless I am misinformed, to recognise the fact, that the world, at all events, even amongst your people of Pontus, is made up of a diversity of elements which are hostile to one another. It was therefore your bounden duty first to have determined that the god of the light was one being, and the god of darkness was another, in such wise that you might have been able to have distinctly asserted one of them to be the god of the law and the other the god of the gospel. It is, however, the settled conviction already of my mind from manifest proofs, that, as His works and plans exist in the way of Antitheses, so also by the same rule exist the mysteries of His religion.
Chapter II. — St. Luke’s Gospel, Selected by Marcion as His Authority, and Mutilated by Him.
The Other Gospels Equally Authoritative. Marcion’s Terms of Discussion, However, Accepted, and Grappled with on the Footing of St. Luke’s Gospel Alone.
You have now our answer to the Antitheses compendiously indicated by us. I pass on to give a proof of the Gospel —not, to be sure, of Jewry, but of Pontus—having become meanwhile adulterated; and this shall indicate the order by which we proceed. We lay it down as our first position, that the evangelical Testament has apostles for its authors, to whom was assigned by the Lord Himself this office of publishing the gospel. Since, however, there are apostolic men also, they are yet not alone, but appear with apostles and after apostles; because the preaching of disciples might be open to the suspicion of an affectation of glory, if there did not accompany it the authority of the masters, which means that of Christ, for it was that which made the apostles their masters.
Of the apostles, therefore, John and Matthew first instill faith into us; whilst of apostolic men, Luke and Mark renew it afterwards. These all start with the same principles of the faith, so far as relates to the one only God the Creator and His Christ, how that He was born of the Virgin, and came to fulfil the law and the prophets. Never mind if there does occur some variation in the order of their narratives, provided that there be agreement in the essential matter of the faith, in which there is disagreement with Marcion. Marcion, on the other hand, you must know, ascribes no author to his Gospel, as if it could not be allowed him to affix a title to that from which it was no crime (in his eyes) to subvert the very body.
And here I might now make a stand, and contend that a work ought not to be recognised, which holds not its head erect, which exhibits no consistency, which gives no promise of credibility from the fulness of its title and the just profession of its author. But we prefer to join issue on every point; nor shall we leave unnoticed what may fairly be understood to be on our side. Now, of the authors whom we possess, Marcion seems to have singled out Luke for his mutilating process. Luke, however, was not an apostle, but only an apostolic man; not a master, but a disciple, and so inferior to a master—at least as far subsequent to him as the apostle whom he followed (and that, no doubt, was Paul) was subsequent to the others; so that, had Marcion even published his Gospel in the name of St. Paul himself, the single authority of the document, destitute of all support from preceding authorities, would not be a sufficient basis for our faith.
There would be still wanted that Gospel which St. Paul found in existence, to which he yielded his belief, and with which he so earnestly wished his own to agree, that he 348 actually on that account went up to Jerusalem to know and consult the apostles, “lest he should run, or had been running in vain;” in other words, that the faith which he had learned, and the gospel which he was preaching, might be in accordance with theirs. Then, at last, having conferred with the (primitive) authors, and having agreed with them touching the rule of faith, they joined their hands in fellowship, and divided their labours thenceforth in the office of preaching the gospel, so that they were to go to the Jews, and St. Paul to the Jews and the Gentiles. Inasmuch, therefore, as the enlightener of St. Luke himself desired the authority of his predecessors for both his own faith and preaching, how much more may not I require for Luke’s Gospel that which was necessary for the Gospel of his master.
Chapter III. — Marcion Insinuated the Untrustworthiness of Certain Apostles Whom St. Paul Rebuked.
The Rebuke Shows that It Cannot Be Regarded as Derogating from Their Authority. The Apostolic Gospels Perfectly Authentic.
In the scheme of Marcion, on the contrary, the mystery of the Christian religion begins from the discipleship of Luke. Since, however, it was on its course previous to that point, it must have had its own authentic materials, by means of which it found its own way down to St. Luke; and by the assistance of the testimony which it bore, Luke himself becomes admissible. Well, but Marcion, finding the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians (wherein he rebukes even apostles for “not walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel,” as well as accuses certain false apostles of perverting the gospel of Christ), labours very hard to destroy the character of those Gospels which are published as genuine and under the name of apostles, in order, forsooth, to secure for his own Gospel the credit which he takes away from them.
But then, even if he censures Peter and John and James, who were thought to be pillars, it is for a manifest reason. They seemed to be changing their company from respect of persons. And yet as Paul himself “became all things to all men,” that he might gain all, it was possible that Peter also might have betaken himself to the same plan of practising somewhat different from what he taught. And, in like manner, if false apostles also crept in, their character too showed itself in their insisting upon circumcision and the Jewish ceremonies. So that it was not on account of their preaching, but of their conversation, that they were marked by St. Paul, who would with equal impartiality have marked them with censure, if they had erred at all with respect to God the Creator or His Christ.
Each several case will therefore have to be distinguished. When Marcion complains that apostles are suspected (for their prevarication and dissimulation) of having even depraved the gospel, he thereby accuses Christ, by accusing those whom Christ chose. If, then, the apostles, who are censured simply for inconsistency of walk, composed the Gospel in a pure form, but false apostles interpolated their true record; and if our own copies have been made from these, where will that genuine text of the apostle’s writings be found which has not suffered adulteration? Which was it that enlightened Paul, and through him Luke?
It is either completely blotted out, as if by some deluge—being obliterated by the inundation of falsifiers—in which case even Marcion does not possess the true Gospel; or else, is that very edition which Marcion alone possesses the true one, that is, of the apostles? How, then, does that agree with ours, which is said not to be (the work) of apostles, but of Luke? Or else, again, if that which Marcion uses is not to be attributed to Luke simply because it does agree with ours (which, of course, is, also adulterated in its title), then it is the work of apostles. Our Gospel, therefore, which is in agreement with it, is equally the work of apostles, but also adulterated in its title.
Chapter IV. — Each Side Claims to Possess the True Gospel.
Antiquity the Criterion of Truth in Such a Matter. Marcion’s Pretensions as an Amender of the Gospel.
We must follow, then, the clue of our discussion, meeting every effort of our opponents with reciprocal vigor. I say that my Gospel is the true one; Marcion, that his is. I 349 affirm that Marcion’s Gospel is adulterated; Marcion, that mine is. Now what is to settle the point for us, except it be that principle of time, which rules that the authority lies with that which shall be found to be more ancient; and assumes as an elemental truth, that corruption (of doctrine) belongs to the side which shall be convicted of comparative lateness in its origin.
For, inasmuch as error is falsification of truth, it must needs be that truth therefore precede error. A thing must exist prior to its suffering any casualty; and an object must precede all rivalry to itself. Else how absurd it would be, that, when we have proved our position to be the older one, and Marcion’s the later, ours should yet appear to be the false one, before it had even received from truth its objective existence; and Marcion’s should also be supposed to have experienced rivalry at our hands, even before its publication; and, in fine, that that should be thought to be the truer position which is the later one—a century later than the publication of all the many and great facts and records of the Christian religion, which certainly could not have been published without, that is to say, before, the truth of the gospel.
With regard, then, to the pending question, of Luke’s Gospel (so far as its being the common property of ourselves and Marcion enables it to be decisive of the truth,) that portion of it which we alone receive is so much older than Marcion, that Marcion himself once believed it, when in the first warmth of faith he contributed money to the Catholic church, which along with himself was afterwards rejected, when he fell away from our truth into his own heresy. What if the Marcionites have denied that he held the primitive faith amongst ourselves, in the face even of his own letter? What, if they do not acknowledge the letter?
They, at any rate, receive his Antitheses; and more than that, they make ostentatious use of them. Proof out of these is enough for me. For if the Gospel, said to be Luke’s which is current amongst us (we shall see whether it be also current with Marcion), is the very one which, as Marcion argues in his Antitheses, was interpolated by the defenders of Judaism, for the purpose of such a conglomeration with it of the law and the prophets as should enable them out of it to fashion their Christ, surely he could not have so argued about it, unless he had found it (in such a form).
No one censures things before they exist, when he knows not whether they will come to pass. Emendation never precedes the fault. To be sure, an amender of that Gospel, which had been all topsy-turvy from the days of Tiberius to those of Antoninus, first presented himself in Marcion alone—so long looked for by Christ, who was all along regretting that he had been in so great a hurry to send out his apostles without the support of Marcion!
But for all that, heresy, which is for ever mending the Gospels, and corrupting them in the act, is an affair of man’s audacity, not of God’s authority; and if Marcion be even a disciple, he is yet not “above his master;” if Marcion be an apostle, still as Paul says, “Whether it be I or they, so we preach;” if Marcion be a prophet, even “the spirits of the prophets will be subject to the prophets,” for they are not the authors of confusion, but of peace; or if Marcion be actually an angel, he must rather be designated “as anathema than as a preacher of the gospel,” because it is a strange gospel which he has preached. So that, whilst he amends, he only confirms both positions: both that our Gospel is the prior one, for he amends that which he has previously fallen in with; and that that is the later one, which, by putting it together out of the emendations of ours, he has made his own Gospel, and a novel one too.
Chapter V.—By the Rule of Antiquity, the Catholic Gospels are Found to Be True, Including the Real St.
Luke’s. Marcion’s Only a Mutilated Edition. The Heretic’s Weakness and Inconsistency in Ignoring the Other Gospels.
On the whole, then, if that is evidently more true which is earlier, if that is earlier which is from the very beginning, if that is from the beginning which has the apostles for its authors, then it will certainly be quite as evident, that that comes down from the apostles, which has been kept as a sacred deposit in the churches of the apostles. Let us 350 see what milk the Corinthians drank from Paul; to what rule of faith the Galatians were brought for correction; what the Philippians, the Thessalonians, the Ephesians read by it; what utterance also the Romans give, so very near (to the apostles), to whom Peter and Paul conjointly bequeathed the gospel even sealed with their own blood.
We have also St. John’s foster churches. For although Marcion rejects his Apocalypse, the order of the bishops (thereof), when traced up to their origin, will yet rest on John as their author. In the same manner is recognised the excellent source of the other churches. I say, therefore, that in them (and not simply such of them as were founded by apostles, but in all those which are united with them in the fellowship of the mystery of the gospel of Christ) that Gospel of Luke which we are defending with all our might has stood its ground from its very first publication; whereas Marcion’s Gospel is not known to most people, and to none whatever is it known without being at the same time condemned.
It too, of course, has its churches, but specially its own—as late as they are spurious; and should you want to know their original, you will more easily discover apostasy in it than apostolicity, with Marcion forsooth as their founder, or some one of Marcion’s swarm. Even wasps make combs; so also these Marcionites make churches. The same authority of the apostolic churches will afford evidence to the other Gospels also, which we possess equally through their means, and according to their usage—I mean the Gospels of John and Matthew—whilst that which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter’s whose interpreter Mark was.
For even Luke’s form of the Gospel men usually ascribe to Paul. And it may well seem that the works which disciples publish belong to their masters. Well, then, Marcion ought to be called to a strict account concerning these (other Gospels) also, for having omitted them, and insisted in preference on Luke; as if they, too, had not had free course in the churches, as well as Luke’s Gospel, from the beginning. Nay, it is even more credible that they existed from the very beginning; for, being the work of apostles, they were prior, and coeval in origin with the churches themselves.
But how comes it to pass, if the apostles published nothing, that their disciples were more forward in such a work; for they could not have been disciples, without any instruction from their masters? If, then, it be evident that these (Gospels) also were current in the churches, why did not Marcion touch them—either to amend them if they were adulterated, or to acknowledge them if they were uncorrupt? For it is but natural that they who were perverting the gospel, should be more solicitous about the perversion of those things whose authority they knew to be more generally received.
Even the false apostles (were so called) on this very account, because they imitated the apostles by means of their falsification. In as far, then, as he might have amended what there was to amend, if found corrupt, in so far did he firmly imply that all was free from corruption which he did not think required amendment. In short, he simply amended what he thought was corrupt; though, indeed, not even this justly, because it was not really corrupt. For if the (Gospels) of the apostles have come down to us in their integrity, whilst Luke’s, which is received amongst us, so far accords with their rule as to be on a par with them in permanency of reception in the churches, it clearly follows that Luke’s Gospel also has come down to us in like integrity until the sacrilegious treatment of Marcion.
In short, when Marcion laid hands on it, it then became diverse and hostile to the Gospels of the apostles. I will therefore advise his followers, that they either change these Gospels, however late to do so, into a conformity with their own, whereby they may seem to be in agreement with the apostolic writings (for they are daily retouching their work, as daily they are convicted by us); or else that they blush for their master, who stands self-condemned either way—when once he hands on the truth of the gospel conscience smitten, or again subverts it by shameless tampering. Such are the summary arguments which we use, when we take up arms against heretics for the faith of the gospel, maintaining both that 351 order of periods, which rules that a late date is the mark of forgers, and that authority of churches which lends support to the tradition of the apostles; because truth must needs precede the forgery, and proceed straight from those by whom it has been handed on.
Chapter VI. — Marcion’s Object in Adulterating the Gospel.
No Difference Between the Christ of the Creator and the Christ of the Gospel. No Rival Christ Admissible. The Connection of the True Christ with the Dispensation of the Old Testament Asserted.
But we now advance a step further on, and challenge (as we promised to do) the very Gospel of Marcion, with the intention of thus proving that it has been adulterated. For it is certain that the whole aim at which he has strenuously laboured even in the drawing up of his Antitheses, centres in this, that he may establish a diversity between the Old and the New Testaments, so that his own Christ may be separate from the Creator, as belonging to this rival god, and as alien from the law and the prophets.
It is certain, also, that with this view he has erased everything that was contrary to his own opinion and made for the Creator, as if it had been interpolated by His advocates, whilst everything which agreed with his own opinion he has retained. The latter statements we shall strictly examine; and if they shall turn out rather for our side, and shatter the assumption of Marcion, we shall embrace them. It will then become evident, that in retaining them he has shown no less of the defect of blindness, which characterizes heresy, than he displayed when he erased all the former class of subjects.
Such, then, is to be the drift and form of my little treatise; subject, of course, to whatever condition may have become requisite on both sides of the question. Marcion has laid down the position, that Christ who in the days of Tiberius was, by a previously unknown god, revealed for the salvation of all nations, is a different being from Him who was ordained by God the Creator for the restoration of the Jewish state, and who is yet to come. Between these he interposes the separation of a great and absolute difference—as great as lies between what is just and what is good; as great as lies between the law and the gospel; as great, (in short,) as is the difference between Judaism and Christianity.
Hence will arise also our rule, by which we determine that there ought to be nothing in common between the Christ of the rival god and the Creator; but that (Christ) must be pronounced to belong to the Creator, if He has administered His dispensations, fulfilled His prophecies, promoted His laws, given reality to His promises, revived His mighty power, remoulded His determinations, expressed His attributes, His properties. This law and this rule I earnestly request the reader to have ever in his mind, and so let him begin to investigate whether Christ be Marcion’s or the Creator’s.
Chapter VII. — Marcion Rejected the Preceding Portion of St. Luke’s Gospel.
Therefore This Review Opens with an Examination of the Case of the Evil Spirit in the Synagogue of Capernaum. He Whom the Demon Acknowledged Was the Creator’s Christ.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius (for such is Marcion’s proposition) he “came down to the Galilean city of Capernaum,” of course meaning from the heaven of the Creator, to which he had previously descended from his own. What then had been his course, for him to be described as first descending from his own heaven to the Creator’s? For why should I abstain from censuring those parts of the statement which do not satisfy the requirement of an ordinary narrative, but always end in a falsehood?
To be sure, our censure has been once for all expressed in the question, which we have already suggested: Whether, when descending through the Creator’s domain, and indeed in hostility to him, he could possibly have been admitted by him, and by him been transmitted to the earth, which was equally his territory? Now, however, I want also to know the remainder of his course down, as suming that he came down. For we must not be too nice in inquiring whether it is supposed that he was seen in any place. To come into 352 view indicates a sudden unexpected glance, which for a moment fixed the eye upon the object that passed before the view, without staying.
But when it happens that a descent has been effected, it is apparent, and comes under the notice of the eyes. Moreover, it takes account of fact, and thus obliges one to examine in what condition with what preparation, with how much violence or moderation, and further, at what time of the day or night, the descent was made; who, again, saw the descent, who reported it, who seriously avouched the fact, which certainly was not easy to be believed, even after the asseveration. It is, in short, too bad that Romulus should have had in Proculus an avoucher of his ascent to heaven, when the Christ of (this) god could not find any one to announce his descent from heaven; just as if the ascent of the one and the descent of the other were not effected on one and the same ladder of falsehood!
Then, what had he to do with Galilee, if he did not belong to the Creator by whom that region was destined (for His Christ) when about to enter on His ministry? As Isaiah says: “Drink in this first, and be prompt, O region of Zabulon and land of Nephthalim, and ye others who (inhabit) the sea-coast, and that of Jordan, Galilee of the nations, ye people who sit in darkness, behold a great light; upon you, who inhabit (that) land, sitting in the shadow of death, the light hath arisen.” It is, however, well that Marcion’s god does claim to be the enlightener of the nations, that so he might have the better reason for coming down from heaven; only, if it must needs be, he should rather have made Pontus his place of descent than Galilee.
But since both the place and the work of illumination according to the prophecy are compatible with Christ, we begin to discern that He is the subject of the prophecy, which shows that at the very outset of His ministry, He came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather to fulfil them; for Marcion has erased the passage as an interpolation. It will, however, be vain for him to deny that Christ uttered in word what He forthwith did partially indeed.
For the prophecy about place He at once fulfilled. From heaven straight to the synagogue. As the adage runs: “The business on which we are come, do at once.” Marcion must even expunge from the Gospel, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel;” and, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs,” —in order, forsooth, that Christ may not appear to be an Israelite. But facts will satisfy me instead of words.
Withdraw all the sayings of my Christ, His acts shall speak. Lo, He enters the synagogue; surely (this is going) to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Behold, it is to Israelites first that He offers the “bread” of His doctrine; surely it is because they are “children” that He shows them this priority. Observe, He does not yet impart it to others; surely He passes them by as “dogs.” For to whom else could He better have imparted it, than to such as were strangers to the Creator, if He especially belonged not to the Creator? And yet how could He have been admitted into the synagogue—one so abruptly appearing, so unknown; one, of whom no one had as yet been apprised of His tribe, His nation, His family, and lastly, His enrollment in the census of Augustus—that most faithful witness of the Lord’s nativity, kept in the archives of Rome?
They certainly would have remembered, if they did not know Him to be circumcised, that He must not be admitted into their most holy places. And even if He had the general right of entering the synagogue (like other Jews), yet the function of giving instruction was allowed only to a man who was extremely well known, and examined and tried, and for some time invested with the privilege after experience duly attested elsewhere. But “they were all astonished at His doctrine.” Of course they were; “for, says (St. Luke), “His word was with power —not because He taught in opposition to the law and the prophets. No doubt, His divine discourse 353 gave forth both power and grace, building up rather than pulling down the substance of the law and the prophets. Otherwise, instead of “astonishment, they would feel horror.
It would not be admiration, but aversion, prompt and sure, which they would bestow on one who was the destroyer of law and prophets, and the especial propounder as a natural consequence of a rival god; for he would have been unable to teach anything to the disparagement of the law and the prophets, and so far of the Creator also, without premising the doctrine of a different and rival divinity. Inasmuch, then, as the Scripture makes no other statement on the matter than that the simple force and power of His word produced astonishment, it more naturally shows that His teaching was in accordance with the Creator by not denying (that it was so), than that it was in opposition to the Creator, by not asserting (such a fact).
And thus He will either have to be acknowledged as belonging to Him, in accordance with whom He taught; or else will have to be adjudged a deceiver since He taught in accordance with One whom He had come to oppose. In the same passage, “the spirit of an unclean devil” exclaims: “What have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.” I do not here raise the question whether this appellation was suitable to one who ought not to be called Christ, unless he were sent by the Creator. Elsewhere there has been already given a full consideration of His titles.
My present discussion is, how the evil spirit could have known that He was called by such a name, when there had never at any time been uttered about Him a single prophecy by a god who was unknown, and up to that time silent, of whom it was not possible for Him to be attested as “the Holy One,” as (of a god) unknown even to his own Creator. What similar event could he then have published of a new deity, whereby he might betoken for “the holy one” of the rival god?
Simply that he went into the synagogue, and did nothing even in word against the Creator? As therefore he could not by any means acknowledge him, whom he was ignorant of, to be Jesus and the Holy One of God; so did he acknowledge Him whom he knew (to be both). For he remembered how that the prophet had prophesied of “the Holy One” of God, and how that God’s name of “Jesus” was in the son of Nun. These facts he had also received from the angel, according to our Gospel: “Wherefore that which shall be born of thee shall be called the Holy One, the Son of God;” and, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus.”
Thus he actually had (although only an evil spirit) some idea of the Lord’s dispensation, rather than of any strange and heretofore imperfectly understood one. Because he also premised this question: “What have we to do with Thee?”—not as if referring to a strange Jesus, to whom pertain the evil spirits of the Creator. Nor did he say, What hast Thou to do with us? but, “What have we to do with Thee?” as if deploring himself, and deprecating his own calamity; at the prospect of which he adds: “Art Thou come to destroy us?” So completely did he acknowledge in Jesus the Son of that God who was judicial and avenging, and (so to speak) severe, and not of him who was simply good, and knew not how to destroy or how to punish!
Now for what purpose have we adduced his passage first? In order to show that Jesus was neither acknowledged by the evil spirit, nor affirmed by Himself, to be any other than the Creator’s. Well, but Jesus rebuked him, you say. To be sure he did, as being an envious (spirit), and in his very confession only petulant, and evil in adulation—just as if it had been Christ’s highest glory to have come for the destruction of demons, and not for the salvation of mankind; whereas His wish really was that His disciples should not glory in the subjection of evil spirits but in the fair beauty of salvation.
Why else did He rebuke him? If it was because he was entirely wrong (in his invocation), then He was neither Jesus nor the Holy One of God; if it was because he was partially wrong—for having supposed him to be, rightly enough, Jesus and the Holy One of God, but also as belonging to the Creator—most unjustly would He have rebuked him for thinking what he knew he ought to think (about Him), and for not supposing that of Him which he knew not that he ought to suppose—that he was another Jesus, and the holy one of the other god. If, however, the 354 rebuke has not a more probable meaning than that which we ascribe to it, it follows that the evil spirit made no mistake, and was not rebuked for lying; for it was Jesus Himself, besides whom it was impossible for the evil spirit to have acknowledged any other, whilst Jesus affirmed that He was He whom the evil spirit had acknowledged, by not rebuking him for uttering a lie.
Chapter VIII.—Other Proofs from the Same Chapter.
That Jesus, Who Preached at Nazareth, and Was Acknowledged by Certain Demons as Christ the Son of God, Was the Creator’s Christ. As Occasion Offers, the Docetic Errors of Marcion are Exposed.
The Christ of the Creator had to be called a Nazarene according to prophecy; whence the Jews also designate us, on that very account, Nazerenes after Him. For we are they of whom it is written, “Her Nazarites were whiter than snow;” even they who were once defiled with the stains of sin, and darkened with the clouds of ignorance. But to Christ the title Nazarene was destined to become a suitable one, from the hiding-place of His infancy, for which He went down and dwelt at Nazareth, to escape from Archelaus the son of Herod.
This fact I have not refrained from mentioning on this account, because it behoved Marcion’s Christ to have forborne all connection whatever with the domestic localities of the Creator’s Christ, when he had so many towns in Judæa which had not been by the prophets thus assigned to the Creator’s Christ. But Christ will be (the Christ) of the prophets, wheresoever He is found in accordance with the prophets. And yet even at Nazareth He is not remarked as having preached anything new, whilst in another verse He is said to have been rejected by reason of a simple proverb.
Here at once, when I observe that they laid their hands on Him, I cannot help drawing a conclusion respecting His bodily substance, which cannot be believed to have been a phantom, since it was capable of being touched and even violently handled, when He was seized and taken and led to the very brink of a precipice. For although He escaped through the midst of them, He had already experienced their rough treatment, and afterwards went His way, no doubt because the crowd (as usually happens) gave way, or was even broken through; but not because it was eluded as by an impalpable disguise, which, if there had been such, would not at all have submitted to any touch.
“Tangere enim et tangi, nisi corpus, nulla potest res,” is even a sentence worthy of a place in the world’s wisdom. In short, He did himself touch others, upon whom He laid His hands, which were capable of being felt, and conferred the blessings of healing, which were not less true, not less unimaginary, than were the hands wherewith He bestowed them. He was therefore the very Christ of Isaiah, the healer of our sicknesses. “Surely,” says he, “He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”
Now the Greeks are accustomed to use for carry a word which also signifies to take away. A general promise is enough for me in passing. Whatever were the cures which Jesus effected, He is mine. We will come, however, to the kinds of cures. To liberate men, then, from evil spirits, is a cure of sickness. Accordingly, wicked spirits (just in the manner of our former example) used to go forth with a testimony, exclaiming, “Thou art the Son of God,” —of what God, is clear enough from the case itself.
But they were rebuked, and ordered not to speak; precisely because Christ willed Himself to be proclaimed by men, not by unclean spirits, as the Son of God—even that Christ alone to whom this was befitting, because He had sent beforehand men through whom He might become known, and who were assuredly worthier preachers. It was natural to Him to refuse the proclamation of an unclean spirit, at whose command there was an abundance of saints.
He, however, who had never been foretold (if, indeed, he wished to be acknowledged; for if he did not wish so much, his coming was in vain), would not have spurned the testimony of an alien or any sort of substance, who did not happen to have a substance of his own, but had descended in an alien one. And now, too, as the destroyer also of the Creator, he would have desired nothing better than to be acknowledged by His spirits, and to be divulged for the sake of being feared: only that Marcion says that his god is not feared; 355 maintaining that a good being is not an object of fear, but only a judicial being, in whom reside the grounds of fear—anger, severity, judgments, vengeance, condemnation.
But it was from fear, undoubtedly, that the evil spirits were cowed. Therefore they confessed that (Christ) was the Son of a God who was to be feared, because they would have an occasion of not submitting if there were none for fearing. Besides, He showed that He was to be feared, because He drave them out, not by persuasion like a good being, but by command and reproof. Or else did he reprove them, because they were making him an object of fear, when all the while he did not want to be feared?
And in what manner did he wish them to go forth, when they could not do so except with fear? So that he fell into the dilemma of having to conduct himself contrary to his nature, whereas he might in his simple goodness have at once treated them with leniency. He fell, too, into another false position —of prevarication, when he permitted himself to be feared by the demons as the Son of the Creator, that he might drive them out, not indeed by his own power, but by the authority of the Creator. “He departed, and went into a desert place.” This was, indeed, the Creator’s customary region. It was proper that the Word should there appear in body, where He had aforetime, wrought in a cloud.
To the gospel also was suitable that condition of place which had once been determined on for the law. “Let the wilderness and the solitary place, therefore, be glad and rejoice;” so had Isaiah promised. When “stayed” by the crowds, He said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also.” Had He displayed His God anywhere yet? I suppose as yet nowhere. But was He speaking of those who knew of another god also? I do not believe so. If, therefore, neither He had preached, nor they had known, any other God but the Creator, He was announcing the kingdom of that God whom He knew to be the only God known to those who were listening to Him.
Chapter IX.—Out of St. Luke’s Fifth Chapter are Found Proofs of Christ’s Belonging to the Creator.
E.g. In the Call of Fishermen to the Apostolic Office, and in the Cleansing of the Leper. Christ Compared with the Prophet Elisha.
Out of so many kinds of occupations, why indeed had He such respect for that of fishermen, as to select from it for apostles Simon and the sons of Zebedee (for it cannot seem to be the mere fact itself for which the narrative was meant to be drawn out), saying to Peter, when he trembled at the very large draught of the fishes, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men?” By saying this, He suggested to them the meaning of the fulfilled prophecy, that it was even He who by Jeremiah had foretold, “Behold, I will send many fishers; and they shall fish them,” that is, men. Then at last they left their boats, and followed Him, understanding that it was He who had begun to accomplish what He had declared.
It is quite another case, when he affected to choose from the college of shipmasters, intending one day to appoint the shipmaster Marcion his apostle. We have indeed already laid it down, in opposition to his Antitheses, that the position of Marcion derives no advantage from the diversity which he supposes to exist between the Law and the Gospel, inasmuch as even this was ordained by the Creator, and indeed predicted in the promise of the new Law, and the new Word, and the new Testament.
Since, however, he quotes with especial care, as a proof in his domain, a certain companion in misery (συνταλαίπωρον), and associate in hatred (συμμισούμενον ), with himself, for the cure of leprosy, I shall not be sorry to meet him, and before anything else to point out to him the force of the law figuratively interpreted, which, in this example of a leper (who was not to be touched, but was rather to be removed from all intercourse with others), prohibited any communication with a person who was defiled with sins, with whom the apostle also forbids us even to eat food, forasmuch as the taint of sins would be communicated as if contagious, wherever a man should mix himself with the sinner.
The Lord, therefore, wishing that the law should be more profoundly understood as signifying spiritual truths by carnal facts —and thus not destroying, but rather building up, that law which He wanted to have 356 more earnestly acknowledged—touched the leper, by whom (even although as man He might have been defiled) He could not be defiled as God, being of course incorruptible. The prescription, therefore, could not be meant for Him, that He was bound to observe the law and not touch the unclean person, seeing that contact with the unclean would not cause defilement to Him. I thus teach that this (immunity) is consistent in my Christ, the rather when I show that it is not consistent in yours.
Now, if it was as an enemy of the law that He touched the leper—disregarding the precept of the law by a contempt of the defilement—how could he be defiled, when he possessed not a body which could be defiled? For a phantom is not susceptible of defilement. He therefore, who could not be defiled, as being a phantom, will not have an immunity from pollution by any divine power, but owing to his fantastic vacuity; nor can he be regarded as having despised pollution, who had not in fact any material capacity for it; nor, in like manner, as having destroyed the law, who had escaped defilement from the occasion of his phantom nature, not from any display of virtue.
If, however, the Creator’s prophet Elisha cleansed Naaman the Syrian alone, to the exclusion of so many lepers in Israel, this fact contributes nothing to the distinction of Christ, as if he were in this way the better one for cleansing this Israelite leper, although a stranger to him, whom his own Lord had been unable to cleanse. The cleansing of the Syrian rather was significant throughout the nations of the world of their own cleansing in Christ their light, steeped as they were in the stains of the seven deadly sins: idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, fornication, false-witness, and fraud.
Seven times, therefore, as if once for each, did he wash in Jordan; both in order that he might celebrate the expiation of a perfect hebdomad; and because the virtue and fulness of the one baptism was thus solemnly imputed to Christ, alone, who was one day to establish on earth not only a revelation, but also a baptism, endued with compendious efficacy. Even Marcion finds here an antithesis: how that Elisha indeed required a material resource, applied water, and that seven times; whereas Christ, by the employment of a word only, and that but once for all, instantly effected the cure. And surely I might venture to claim the Very Word also as of the Creator’s substance.
There is nothing of which He who was the primitive Author is not also the more powerful one. Forsooth, it is incredible that that power of the Creator should have, by a word, produced a remedy for a single malady, which once by a word brought into being so vast a fabric as the world! From what can the Christ of the Creator be better discerned, than from the power of His word? But Christ is on this account another (Christ), because He acted differently from Elisha—because, in fact, the master is more powerful than his servant!
Why, Marcion, do you lay down the rule, that things are done by servants just as they are by their very masters? Are you not afraid that it will turn to your discredit, if you deny that Christ belongs to the Creator, on the ground that He was once more powerful than a servant of the Creator—since, in comparison with the weakness of Elisha, He is acknowledged to be the greater, if indeed greater! For the cure is the same, although there is a difference in the working of it. What has your Christ performed more than my Elisha? Nay, what great thing has the word of your Christ performed, when it has simply done that which a river of the Creator effected? On the same principle occurs all the rest.
So far as renouncing all human glory went, He forbade the man to publish abroad the cure; but so far as the honour of the law was concerned, He requested that the usual course should be followed: “Go, show thyself to the priest, and 357 present the offering which Moses commanded.” For the figurative signs of the law in its types He still would have observed, because of their prophetic import. These types signified that a man, once a sinner, but afterwards purified from the stains thereof by the word of God, was bound to offer unto God in the temple a gift, even prayer and thanksgiving in the church through Christ Jesus, who is the Catholic Priest of the Father.
Accordingly He added: “that it may be for a testimony unto you”—one, no doubt, whereby He would testify that He was not destroying the law, but fulfilling it; whereby, too, He would testify that it was He Himself who was foretold as about to undertake their sicknesses and infirmities. This very consistent and becoming explanation of “the testimony,” that adulator of his own Christ, Marcion seeks to exclude under the cover of mercy and gentleness. For, being both good (such are his words), and knowing, besides, that every man who had been freed from leprosy would be sure to perform the solemnities of the law, therefore He gave this precept.
Well, what then? Has He continued in his goodness (that is to say, in his permission of the law) or not? For if he has persevered in his goodness, he will never become a destroyer of the law; nor will he ever be accounted as belonging to another god, because there would not exist that destruction of the law which would constitute his claim to belong to the other god. If, however, he has not continued good, by a subsequent destruction of the law, it is a false testimony which he has since imposed upon them in his cure of the leper; because he has forsaken his goodness, in destroying the law. If, therefore, he was good whilst upholding the law, he has now become evil as a destroyer of the law.
However, by the support which he gave to the law, he affirmed that the law was good. For no one permits himself in the support of an evil thing. Therefore he is not only bad if he has permitted obedience to a bad law; but even worse still, if he has appeared as the destroyer of a good law. So that if he commanded the offering of the gift because he knew that every cured leper would be sure to bring one; he possibly abstained from commanding what he knew would be spontaneously done. In vain, therefore, was his coming down, as if with the intention of destroying the law, when he makes concessions to the keepers of the law. And yet, because he knew their disposition, he ought the more earnestly to have prevented their neglect of the law, since he had come for this purpose.
Why then did he not keep silent, that man might of his own simple will obey the law? For then might he have seemed to some extent to have persisted in his patience. But he adds also his own authority increased by the weight of this “testimony.” Of what testimony, I ask, if not that of the assertion of the law? Surely it matters not in what way he asserted the law—whether as good, or as supererogatory, or as patient, or as inconstant—provided, Marcion, I drive you from your position. Observe, he commanded that the law should be fulfilled. In whatever way he commanded it, in the same way might he also have first uttered that sentiment: “I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it.”
What business, therefore, had you to erase out of the Gospel that which was quite consistent in it? For you have confessed that, in his goodness, he did in act what you deny that he did in word. We have therefore good proof that He uttered the word, in the fact that He did the deed; and that you have rather expunged the Lord’s word, than that our (evangelists) have inserted it.
Chapter X.—Further Proofs of the Same Truth in the Same Chapter.
From the Healing of the Paralytic, and from the Designation Son of Man Which Jesus Gives Himself. Tertullian Sustains His Argument by Several Quotations from the Prophets.
The sick of the palsy is healed, and that in public, in the sight of the people. For, says Isaiah, “they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.” What glory, and what excellency? “Be strong, ye weak hands, and ye feeble knees:” this refers to the palsy. “Be strong; fear not.” Be strong is not vainly repeated, nor is fear not vainly added; because with the renewal of the limbs there was to be, according to the promise, a restoration also of bodily energies: “Arise, and take up thy couch;” and likewise 358 moral courage not to be afraid of those who should say, “Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”
So that you have here not only the fulfilment of the prophecy which promised a particular kind of healing, but also of the symptoms which followed the cure. In like manner, you should also recognise Christ in the same prophet as the forgiver of sins. “For,” he says, “He shall remit to many their sins, and shall Himself take away our sins.” For in an earlier passage, speaking in the person of the Lord himself, he had said: “Even though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them as white as snow; even though they be like crimson, I will whiten them as wool.” In the scarlet colour He indicates the blood of the prophets; in the crimson, that of the Lord, as the brighter.
Concerning the forgiveness of sins, Micah also says: “Who is a God like unto Thee? pardoning iniquity, and passing by the transgressions of the remnant of Thine heritage. He retaineth not His anger as a testimony against them, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, and will have compassion upon us; He wipeth away our iniquities, and casteth our sins into the depths of the sea.” Now, if nothing of this sort had been predicted of Christ, I should find in the Creator examples of such a benignity as would hold out to me the promise of similar affections also in the Son of whom He is the Father.
I see how the Ninevites obtained forgiveness of their sins from the Creator —not to say from Christ, even then, because from the beginning He acted in the Father’s name. I read, too, how that, when David acknowledged his sin against Uriah, the prophet Nathan said unto him, “The Lord hath cancelled thy sin, and thou shalt not die;” how king Ahab in like manner, the husband of Jezebel, guilty of idolatry and of the blood of Naboth, obtained pardon because of his repentance; and how Jonathan the son of Saul blotted out by his deprecation the guilt of a violated fast.
Why should I recount the frequent restoration of the nation itself after the forgiveness of their sins?—by that God, indeed, who will have mercy rather than sacrifice, and a sinner’s repentance rather than his death. You will first have to deny that the Creator ever forgave sins; then you must in reason show that He never ordained any such prerogative for His Christ; and so you will prove how novel is that boasted benevolence of the, of course, novel Christ when you shall have proved that it is neither compatible with the Creator nor predicted by the Creator. But whether to remit sins can appertain to one who is said to be unable to retain them, and whether to absolve can belong to him who is incompetent even to condemn, and whether to forgive is suitable to him against whom no offence can be committed, are questions which we have encountered elsewhere, when we preferred to drop suggestions rather than treat them anew.
Concerning the Son of man our rule is a twofold one: that Christ cannot lie, so as to declare Himself the Son of man, if He be not truly so; nor can He be constituted the Son of man, unless He be born of a human parent, either father or mother. And then the discussion will turn on the point, of which human parent He ought to be accounted the son—of the father or the mother? Since He is (begotten) of God the Father, He is not, of course, (the son) of a human father. If He is not of a human father, it follows that He must be (the son) of a human mother. If of a human mother, it is evident that she must be a virgin.
For to whom a human father is not ascribed, to his mother a husband will not be reckoned; and then to what mother a husband is not reckoned, the condition of virginity belongs. But if His mother be not a virgin, two fathers will have to be reckoned to Him—a divine and a human one. For she must have a husband, not to be a virgin; and by having a husband, she would cause two fathers—one divine, the other human—to accrue to Him, who would thus be Son both of God and of a man. Such a nativity (if one may call it so) the mythic stories assign to Castor or to Hercules. Now, if this distinction be observed, that is to say, if He be Son of man as born of His mother, because not begotten of a father, and His mother be a virgin, because His father is not human—He will be that Christ whom Isaiah foretold that a virgin should conceive, on what principle you, Marcion, can admit Him Son of man, I cannot possibly see.
If through a human father, then you deny him to be Son of God; if through a divine one also, then you make Christ the Hercules of fable; if 359 through a human mother only, then you concede my point; if not through a human father also, then He is not the son of any man, and He must have been guilty of a lie for having declared Himself to be what He was not. One thing alone can help you in your difficulty: boldness on your part either to surname your God as actually the human father of Christ, as Valentinus did with his Æon; or else to deny that the Virgin was human, which even Valentinus did not do.
What now, if Christ be described in Daniel by this very title of “Son of man?” Is not this enough to prove that He is the Christ of prophecy? For if He gives Himself that appellation which was provided in the prophecy for the Christ of the Creator, He undoubtedly offers Himself to be understood as Him to whom (the appellation) was assigned by the prophet. But perhaps it can be regarded as a simple identity of names; and yet we have maintained that neither Christ nor Jesus ought to have been called by these names, if they possessed any condition of diversity. But as regards the appellation “Son of man,” in as far as it occurs by accident, in so far there is a difficulty in its occurrence along with a casual identity of names. For it is of pure accident, especially when the same cause does not appear whereby the identity may be occasioned.
And therefore, if Marcion’s Christ be also said to be born of man, then he too would receive an identical appellation, and there would be two Sons of man, as also two Christs and two Jesuses. Therefore, since the appellation is the sole right of Him in whom it has a suitable reason, if it be claimed for another in whom there is an identity of name, but not of appellation, then the identity of name even looks suspicious in him for whom is claimed without reason the identity of appellation. And it follows that He must be believed to be One and the Same, who is found to be the more fit to receive both the name and the appellation; while the other is excluded, who has no right to the appellation, because he has no reason to show for it.
Nor will any other be better entitled to both than He who is the earlier, and has had allotted to Him the name of Christ and the appellation of Son of man, even the Jesus of the Creator. It was He who was seen by the king of Babylon in the furnace with His martyrs: “the fourth, who was like the Son of man.” He also was revealed to Daniel himself expressly as “the Son of man, coming in the clouds of heaven” as a Judge, as also the Scripture shows. What I have advanced might have been sufficient concerning the designation in prophecy of the Son of man. But the Scripture offers me further information, even in the interpretation of the Lord Himself.
For when the Jews, who looked at Him as merely man, and were not yet sure that He was God also, as being likewise the Son of God, rightly enough said that a man could not forgive sins, but God alone, why did He not, following up their point about man, answer them, that He had power to remit sins; inasmuch as, when He mentioned the Son of man, He also named a human being? except it were because He wanted, by help of the very designation “Son of man” from the book of Daniel, so to induce them to reflect as to show them that He who remitted sins was God and man—that only Son of man, indeed, in the prophecy of Daniel, who had obtained the power of judging, and thereby, of course, of forgiving sins likewise (for He who judges also absolves); so that, when once that objection of theirs was shattered to pieces by their recollection of Scripture, they might the more easily acknowledge Him to be the Son of man Himself by His own actual forgiveness of sins.
I make one more observation, how that He has nowhere as yet professed Himself to be the Son of God—but for the first time in this passage, in which for the first time He has remitted sins; that is, in which for the first time He has used His function of judgment, by the absolution. All that the opposite side has to allege in argument against these things, (I beg you) carefully weigh what it amounts to. For it must needs strain itself to such a pitch of infatuation as, on the one hand, to maintain that (their Christ) is also Son of man, in order to save Him from the charge of falsehood; and, on the other hand, to deny that He was born of woman, lest they grant that He was the Virgin’s son.
Since, however, the divine 360 authority and the nature of the case, and common sense, do not admit this insane position of the heretics, we have here the opportunity of putting in a veto in the briefest possible terms, on the substance of Christ’s body, against Marcion’s phantoms. Since He is born of man, being the Son of man. He is body derived from body. You may, I assure you, more easily find a man born without a heart or without brains, like Marcion himself, than without a body, like Marcion’s Christ. And let this be the limit to your examination of the heart, or, at any rate, the brains of the heretic of Pontus.
Chapter XI.—The Call of Levi the Publican.
Christ in Relation to the Baptist. Christ as the Bridegroom. The Parable of the Old Wine and the New. Arguments Connecting Christ with the Creator.
The publican who was chosen by the Lord, he adduces for a proof that he was chosen as a stranger to the law and uninitiated in Judaism, by one who was an adversary to the law. The case of Peter escaped his memory, who, although he was a man of the law, was not only chosen by the Lord, but also obtained the testimony of possessing knowledge which was given to him by the Father.
He had nowhere read of Christ’s being foretold as the light, and hope, and expectation of the Gentiles! He, however, rather spoke of the Jews in a favourable light, when he said, “The whole needed not a physician, but they that are sick.” For since by “those that are sick” he meant that the heathens and publicans should be understood, whom he was choosing, he affirmed of the Jews that they were “whole” for whom he said that a physician was not necessary. This being the case, he makes a mistake in coming down to destroy the law, as if for the remedy of a diseased condition. because they who were living under it were “whole,” and “not in want of a physician.”
How, moreover, does it happen that he proposed the similitude of a physician, if he did not verify it? For, just as nobody uses a physician for healthy persons, so will no one do so for strangers, in so far as he is one of Marcion’s god-made men, having to himself both a creator and preserver, and a specially good physician, in his Christ. This much the comparison predetermines, that a physician is more usually furnished by him to whom the sick people belong. Whence, too, does John come upon the scene? Christ, suddenly; and just as suddenly, John! After this fashion occur all things in Marcion’s system.
They have their own special and plenary course in the Creator’s dispensation. Of John, however, what else I have to say will be found in another passage. To the several points which now come before us an answer must be given. This, then, I will take care to do —demonstrate that, reciprocally, John is suitable to Christ, and Christ to John, the latter, of course, as a prophet of the Creator, just as the former is the Creator’s Christ; and so the heretic may blush at frustrating, to his own frustration, the mission of John the Baptist.
For if there had been no ministry of John at all—“the voice,” as Isaiah calls him, “of one crying in the wilderness,” and the preparer of the ways of the Lord by denunciation and recommendation of repentance; if, too, he had not baptized (Christ) Himself along with others, nobody could have challenged the disciples of Christ, as they ate and drank, to a comparison with the disciples of John, who were constantly fasting and praying; because, if there existed any diversity between Christ and John, and their followers respectively, no exact comparison would be possible, nor would there be a single point where it could be challenged.
For nobody would feel surprise, and nobody would be perplexed, although there should arise rival predictions of a diverse deity, which should also mutually differ about modes of conduct, having a prior difference about the authorities upon which they were based. Therefore Christ belonged to John, and John to Christ; while both belonged to the Creator, and both were of the law and the prophets, preachers and masters.
Else Christ would have rejected the discipline of John, as of the rival god, and would also have defended the disciples, as very properly pursuing a different walk, because consecrated to the service of another and contrary deity. But as it is, while modestly giving a reason why “the children of the bridegroom are unable to fast during the time the bridegroom is with them,” but promising that “they should afterwards fast, when the bridegroom was 361 taken away from them,”
He neither defended the disciples, (but rather excused them, as if they had not been blamed without some reason), nor rejected the discipline of John, but rather allowed it, referring it to the time of John, although destining it for His own time. Otherwise His purpose would have been to reject it, and to defend its opponents, if He had not Himself already belonged to it as then in force. I hold also that it is my Christ who is meant by the bridegroom, of whom the psalm says: “He is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His return is back to the end of it again.”
By the mouth of Isaiah He also says exultingly of the Father: “Let my soul rejoice in the Lord; for He hath clothed me with the garment of salvation and with the tunic of joy, as a bridegroom. He hath put a mitre round about my head, as a bride.” To Himself likewise He appropriates the church, concerning which the same Spirit says to Him: “Thou shalt clothe Thee with them all, as with a bridal ornament.” This spouse Christ invites home to Himself also by Solomon from the call of the Gentiles, because you read: “Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse.”
He elegantly makes mention of Lebanon (the mountain, of course) because it stands for the name of frankincense with the Greeks; for it was from idolatry that He betrothed Himself the church. Deny now, Marcion, your utter madness, (if you can)! Behold, you impugn even the law of your god. He unites not in the nuptial bond, nor, when contracted, does he allow it; no one does he baptize but a cælebs or a eunuch; until death or divorce does he reserve baptism. Wherefore, then, do you make his Christ a bridegroom? This is the designation of Him who united man and woman, not of him who separated them.
You have erred also in that declaration of Christ, wherein He seems to make a difference between things new and old. You are inflated about the old bottles, and brain-muddled with the new wine; and therefore to the old (that is to say, to the prior) gospel you have sewed on the patch of your new-fangled heresy. I should like to know in what respect the Creator is inconsistent with Himself. When by Jeremiah He gave this precept, “Break up for yourselves new pastures,” does He not turn away from the old state of things? And when by Isaiah He proclaims how “old things were passed away; and, behold, all things, which I am making, are new,” does He not advert to a new state of things?
We have generally been of opinion that the destination of the former state of things was rather promised by the Creator, and exhibited in reality by Christ, only under the authority of one and the same God, to whom appertain both the old things and the new. For new wine is not put into old bottles, except by one who has the old bottles; nor does anybody put a new piece to an old garment, unless the old garment be forthcoming to him. That person only does not do a thing when it is not to be done, who has the materials wherewithal to do it if it were to be done.
And therefore, since His object in making the comparison was to show that He was separating the new condition of the gospel from the old state of the law, He proved that that from which He was separating His own ought not to have been branded as a separation of things which were alien to each other; for nobody ever unites his own things with things that are alien to them, in order that he may afterwards be able to separate them from the alien things.
A separation is possible by help of the conjunction through which it is made. Accordingly, the things which He separated He also proved to have been once one; as they would have remained, were it not for His separation. But still we make this concession, that there is a separation, by reformation, by amplification, by progress; just as the fruit is separated from the seed, although the fruit comes from the seed. So likewise the gospel is separated from the law, whilst it advances from the law—a different thing from it, but not an alien one; diverse, but not contrary. Nor in Christ do we even find any novel form of discourse.
Whether He proposes similitudes or refute questions, it comes 362 from the seventy-seventh Psalm. “I will open,” says He, “my mouth in a parable” (that is, in a similitude); “I will utter dark problems” (that is, I will set forth questions). If you should wish to prove that a man belonged to another race, no doubt you would fetch your proof from the idiom of his language.
Chapter XII.—Christ’s Authority Over the Sabbath.
As Its Lord He Recalled It from Pharisaic Neglect to the Original Purpose of Its Institution by the Creator the Case of the Disciples Who Plucked the Ears of Corn on the Sabbath. The Withered Hand Healed on the Sabbath.
Concerning the Sabbath also I have this to premise, that this question could not have arisen, if Christ did not publicly proclaim the Lord of the Sabbath. Nor could there be any discussion about His annulling the Sabbath, if He had a right to annul it. Moreover, He would have the right, if He belonged to the rival god; nor would it cause surprise to any one that He did what it was right for Him to do.
Men’s astonishment therefore arose from their opinion that it was improper for Him to proclaim the Creator to be God and yet to impugn His Sabbath. Now, that we may decide these several points first, lest we should be renewing them at every turn to meet each argument of our adversary which rests on some novel institution of Christ, let this stand as a settled point, that discussion concerning the novel character of each institution ensued on this account, because as nothing was as yet advanced by Christ touching any new deity, so discussion thereon was inadmissible; nor could it be retorted, that from the very novelty of each several institution another deity was clearly enough demonstrated by Christ, inasmuch as it was plain that novelty was not in itself a characteristic to be wondered at in Christ, because it had been foretold by the Creator.
And it would have been, of course, but right that a new god should first be expounded, and his discipline be introduced afterwards; because it would be the god that would impart authority to the discipline, and not the discipline to the god; except that (to be sure) it has happened that Marcion acquired his very perverse opinions not from a master, but his master from his opinion! All other points respecting the Sabbath I thus rule.
If Christ interfered with the Sabbath, He simply acted after the Creator’s example; inasmuch as in the siege of the city of Jericho the carrying around the walls of the ark of the covenant for eight days running, and therefore on a Sabbath-day, actually annulled the Sabbath, by the Creator’s command—according to the opinion of those who think this of Christ in this passage of St. Luke, in their ignorance that neither Christ nor the Creator violated the Sabbath, as we shall by and by show. And yet the Sabbath was actually then broken by Joshua, so that the present charge might be alleged also against Christ.
But even if, as being not the Christ of the Jews, He displayed a hatred against the Jews’ most solemn day, He was only professedly following the Creator, as being His Christ, in this very hatred of the Sabbath; for He exclaims by the mouth of Isaiah: “Your new moons and your Sabbaths my soul hateth.” Now, in whatever sense these words were spoken, we know that an abrupt defence must, in a subject of this sort, be used in answer to an abrupt challenge. I shall now transfer the discussion to the very matter in which the teaching of Christ seemed to annul the Sabbath. The disciples had been hungry; on that the Sabbath day they had plucked some ears and rubbed them in their hands; by thus preparing their food, they had violated the holy day. Christ excuses them, and became their accomplice in breaking the Sabbath.
The Pharisees bring the charge against Him. Marcion sophistically interprets the stages of the controversy (if I may call in the aid of the truth of my Lord to ridicule his arts), both in the scriptural record and in Christ’s purpose. For from the Creator’s Scripture, and from the purpose of Christ, there is derived a colourable precedent —as from the example of David, when he went into the temple on the Sabbath, and provided food by boldly breaking up the shew-bread. Even he remembered that this privilege (I mean the dispensation from fasting) was allowed to the Sabbath from the very beginning, when the Sabbath-day itself was instituted.
For although the Creator had forbidden that the manna should be gathered for two days, He yet permitted it on the one occasion only of the day before the Sabbath, in order that the yesterday’s provision of food might free from fasting the feast of the following Sabbath-day. Good reason, 363 therefore, had the Lord for pursuing the same principle in the annulling of the Sabbath (since that is the word which men will use); good reason, too, for expressing the Creator’s will, when He bestowed the privilege of not fasting on the Sabbath-day. In short, He would have then and there put an end to the Sabbath, nay, to the Creator Himself, if He had commanded His disciples to fast on the Sabbath-day, contrary to the intention of the Scripture and of the Creator’s will.
But because He did not directly defend His disciples, but excuses them; because He interposes human want, as if deprecating censure; because He maintains the honour of the Sabbath as a day which is to be free from gloom rather than from work; because he puts David and his companions on a level with His own disciples in their fault and their extenuation; because He is pleased to endorse the Creator’s indulgence: because He is Himself good according to His example—is He therefore alien from the Creator? Then the Pharisees watch whether He would heal on the Sabbath-day, that they might accuse Him—surely as a violator of the Sabbath, not as the propounder of a new god; for perhaps I might be content with insisting on all occasions on this one point, that another Christ is nowhere proclaimed.
The Pharisees, however, were in utter error concerning the law of the Sabbath, not observing that its terms were conditional, when it enjoined rest from labour, making certain distinctions of labour. For when it says of the Sabbath-day, “In it thou shalt not do any work of thine,” by the word thine it restricts the prohibition to human work—which every one performs in his own employment or business—and not to divine work. Now the work of healing or preserving is not proper to man, but to God. So again, in the law it says, “Thou shalt not do any manner of work in it,” except what is to be done for any soul, that is to say, in the matter of delivering the soul; because what is God’s work may be done by human agency for the salvation of the soul.
By God, however, would that be done which the man Christ was to do, for He was likewise God. Wishing, therefore, to initiate them into this meaning of the law by the restoration of the withered hand, He requires, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath-days to do good, or not? to save life, or to destroy it?” In order that He might, whilst allowing that amount of work which He was about to perform for a soul, remind them what works the law of the Sabbath forbade—even human works; and what it enjoined—even divine works, which might be done for the benefit of any soul, He was called “Lord of the Sabbath,” because He maintained the Sabbath as His own institution.
Now, even if He had annulled the Sabbath, He would have had the right to do so, as being its Lord, (and) still more as He who instituted it. But He did not utterly destroy it, although its Lord, in order that it might henceforth be plain that the Sabbath was not broken by the Creator, even at the time when the ark was carried around Jericho. For that was really God’s work, which He commanded Himself, and which He had ordered for the sake of the lives of His servants when exposed to the perils of war.
Now, although He has in a certain place expressed an aversion of Sabbaths, by calling them your Sabbaths, reckoning them as men’s Sabbaths, not His own, because they were celebrated without the fear of God by a people full of iniquities, and loving God “with the lip, not the heart,” He has yet put His own Sabbaths (those, that is, which were kept according to His prescription) in a different position; for by the same prophet, in a later passage, He declared them to be “true, and delightful, and inviolable.”
Thus Christ did not at all rescind the Sabbath: He kept the law thereof, and both in the former case did a work which was beneficial to the life of His disciples, for He indulged them with the relief of food when they were hungry, and in the present instance cured the withered hand; in each case intimating by 364 facts, “I came not to destroy, the law, but to fulfil it,”3893 although Marcion has gagged His mouth by this word.
For even in the case before us He fulfilled the law, while interpreting its condition; moreover, He exhibits in a clear light the different kinds of work, while doing what the law excepts from the sacredness of the Sabbath and while imparting to the Sabbath-day itself, which from the beginning had been consecrated by the benediction of the Father, an additional sanctity by His own beneficent action. For He furnished to this day divine safeguards, —a course which His adversary would have pursued for some other days, to avoid honouring the Creator’s Sabbath, and restoring to the Sabbath the works which were proper for it.
Since, in like manner, the prophet Elisha on this day restored to life the dead son of the Shunammite woman, you see, O Pharisee, and you too, O Marcion, how that it was proper employment for the Creator’s Sabbaths of old to do good, to save life, not to destroy it; how that Christ introduced nothing new, which was not after the example, the gentleness, the mercy, and the prediction also of the Creator. For in this very example He fulfils the prophetic announcement of a specific healing: “The weak hands are strengthened,” as were also “the feeble knees” in the sick of the palsy.
Chapter XIII.—Christ’s Connection with the Creator Shown.
Many Quotations Out of the Old Testament Prophetically Bear on Certain Events of the Life of Jesus—Such as His Ascent to Praying on the Mountain; His Selection of Twelve Apostles; His Changing Simon’s Name to Peter, and Gentiles from Tyre and Sidon Resorting to Him.
Surely to Sion He brings good tidings, and to Jerusalem peace and all blessings; He goes up into a mountain, and there spends a night in prayer, and He is indeed heard by the Father. Accordingly turn over the prophets, and learn therefrom His entire course. “Into the high mountain,” says Isaiah, “get Thee up, who bringest good tidings to Sion; lift up Thy voice with strength, who bringest good tidings to Jerusalem.”
“They were mightily astonished at His doctrine; for He was teaching as one who had power.” And again: “Therefore, my people shall know my name in that day.” What name does the prophet mean, but Christ’s? “That I am He that doth speak—even I.” For it was He who used to speak in the prophets—the Word, the Creator’s Son. “I am present, while it is the hour, upon the mountains, as one that bringeth glad tidings of peace, as one that publisheth good tidings of good.” So one of the twelve (minor prophets), Nahum: “For behold upon the mountain the swift feet of Him that bringeth glad tidings of peace.”
Moreover, concerning the voice of His prayer to the Father by night, the psalm manifestly says: “O my God, I will cry in the day-time, and Thou shalt hear; and in the night season, and it shall not be in vain to me.” In another passage touching the same voice and place, the psalm says: “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy mountain.” You have a representation of the name; you have the action of the Evangelizer; you have a mountain for the site; and the night as the time; and the sound of a voice; and the audience of the Father: you have, (in short,) the Christ of the prophets. But why was it that He chose twelve apostles, and not some other number?
In truth, I might from this very point conclude of my Christ, that He was foretold not only by the words of prophets, but by the indications of facts. For of this number I find figurative hints up and down the Creator’s dispensation in the twelve springs of Elim; in the twelve gems of Aaron’s priestly vestment; and in the twelve stones appointed by Joshua to be taken out of the Jordan, and set up for the ark of the covenant.
Now, the same number of apostles was thus portended, as if they were to be fountains and rivers which should water the Gentile world, which was formerly dry and destitute of knowledge (as He says by Isaiah: “I will put streams in the unwatered ground”); as if they were to be gems to shed lustre upon the church’s sacred robe, which Christ, the High Priest of the Father, puts on; as if, also, they were to be stones massive in their faith, which the true Joshua took out of the laver of 365 the Jordan, and placed in the sanctuary of His covenant.
What equally good defence of such a number has Marcion’s Christ to show? It is impossible that anything can be shown to have been done by him unconnectedly, which cannot be shown to have been done by my Christ in connection (with preceding types). To him will appertain the event in whom is discovered the preparation for the same. Again, He changes the name of Simon to Peter, inasmuch as the Creator also altered the names of Abram, and Sarai, and Oshea, by calling the latter Joshua, and adding a syllable to each of the former. But why Peter? If it was because of the vigour of his faith, there were many solid materials which might lend a name from their strength.
Was it because Christ was both a rock and a stone? For we read of His being placed “for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence.” I omit the rest of the passage. Therefore He would fain impart to the dearest of His disciples a name which was suggested by one of His own especial designations in figure; because it was, I suppose, more peculiarly fit than a name which might have been derived from no figurative description of Himself.
There come to Him from Tyre, and from other districts even, a transmarine multitude. This fact the psalm had in view: “And behold tribes of foreign people, and Tyre, and the people of the Ethiopians; they were there. Sion is my mother, shall a man say; and in her was born a man” (forasmuch as the God-man was born), and He built her by the Father’s will; that you may know how Gentiles then flocked to Him, because He was born the God-man who was to build the church according to the Father’s will—even of other races also.
So says Isaiah too: “Behold, these come from far; and these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of the Persians.” Concerning whom He says again: “Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold, all these have gathered themselves together.” And yet again: “Thou seest these unknown and strange ones; and thou wilt say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these? But who hath brought me up these? And these, where have they been?” Will such a Christ not be (the Christ) of the prophets? And what will be the Christ of the Marcionites? Since perversion of truth is their pleasure, he could not be (the Christ) of the prophets.
Chapter XIV.—Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
In Manner and Contents It So Resembles the Creator’s Dispensational Words and Deeds. It Suggests Therefore the Conclusion that Jesus is the Creator’s Christ. The Beatitudes.
I now come to those ordinary precepts of His, by means of which He adapts the peculiarity of His doctrine to what I may call His official proclamation as the Christ. “Blessed are the needy” (for no less than this is required for interpreting the word in the Greek, “because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Now this very fact, that He begins with beatitudes, is characteristic of the Creator, who used no other voice than that of blessing either in the first fiat or the final dedication of the universe: for “my heart,” says He, “hath indited a very good word.”
This will be that “very good word” of blessing which is admitted to be the initiating principle of the New Testament, after the example of the Old. What is there, then, to wonder at, if He entered on His ministry with the very attributes of the Creator, who ever in language of the same sort loved, consoled, protected, and avenged the beggar, and the poor, and the humble, and the widow, and the orphan? So that you may believe this private bounty as it were of Christ to be a rivulet streaming from the springs of salvation. Indeed, I hardly know which way to turn amidst so vast a wealth of good words like these; as if I were in a forest, or a meadow, or an orchard of apples. I must therefore look out for such matter as chance may present to me.
In the psalm he exclaims: “Defend the fatherless and the needy; do justice to the humble and the poor; deliver the poor, and rid the needy out of the hand of the 366 wicked.” Similarly in the seventy-first Psalm: “In righteousness shall He judge the needy amongst the people, and shall save the children of the poor.” And in the following words he says of Christ: “All nations shall serve Him.”
Now David only reigned over the Jewish nation, so that nobody can suppose that this was spoken of David; whereas He had taken upon Himself the condition of the poor, and such as were oppressed with want, “Because He should deliver the needy out of the hand of the mighty man; He shall spare the needy and the poor, and shall deliver the souls of the poor. From usury and injustice shall He redeem their souls, and in His sight shall their name be honoured.”
Again: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, even all the nations that forget God; because the needy shall not alway be forgotten; the endurance of the poor shall not perish for ever.” Again: “Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, and yet looketh on the humble things that are in heaven and on earth!—who raiseth up the needy from off the ground, and out of the dunghill exalteth the poor; that He may set him with the princes of His people,” that is, in His own kingdom.
And likewise earlier, in the book of Kings, Hannah the mother of Samuel gives glory to God in these words: “He raiseth the poor man from the ground, and the beggar, that He may set him amongst the princes of His people (that is, in His own kingdom), and on thrones of glory” (even royal ones). And by Isaiah how He inveighs against the oppressors of the needy! “What mean ye that ye set fire to my vineyard, and that the spoil of the poor is in your houses?
Wherefore do ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the face of the needy?” And again: “Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees; for in their decrees they decree wickedness, turning aside the needy from judgment, and taking away their rights from the poor of my people.” These righteous judgments He requires for the fatherless also, and the widows, as well as for consolation to the very needy themselves.
“Do justice to the fatherless, and deal justly with the widow; and come, let us be reconciled, saith the Lord.” To him, for whom in every stage of lowliness there is provided so much of the Creator’s compassionate regard, shall be given that kingdom also which is promised by Christ, to whose merciful compassion belong, and for a great while have belonged, those to whom the promise is made. For even if you suppose that the promises of the Creator were earthly, but that Christ’s are heavenly, it is quite clear that heaven has been as yet the property of no other God whatever, than Him who owns the earth also; quite clear that the Creator has given even the lesser promises (of earthly blessing), in order that I may more readily believe Him concerning His greater promises (of heavenly blessings) also, than (Marcion’s god), who has never given proof of his liberality by any preceding bestowal of minor blessings.
“Blessed are they that hunger, for they shall be filled.” I might connect this clause with the former one, because none but the poor and needy suffer hunger, if the Creator had not specially designed that the promise of a similar blessing should serve as a preparation for the gospel, that so men might know it to be His. For thus does He say, by Isaiah, concerning those whom He was about to call from the ends of the earth—that is, the Gentiles: “Behold, they shall come swiftly with speed:” swiftly, because hastening towards the fulness of the times; with speed, because unclogged by the weights of the ancient law.
They shall neither hunger nor thirst. Therefore they shall be filled,—a promise which is made to none but those who hunger and thirst. And again He says: “Behold, my servants shall be filled, but ye shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty.” As for these oppositions, we shall see whether they are not premonitors of Christ. Meanwhile the promise of fulness to the hungry is a provision of God the Creator.
“Blessed are they that weep, for they shall laugh.” Turn again to the passage of Isaiah: “Behold, my servants shall exult with joy, but ye shall be ashamed; behold, my servants shall be glad, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart.” And recognise these oppositions also in the dispensation of Christ. Surely gladness and joyous exultation is promised to those who are in an opposite condition—to the sorrowful, and sad, and anxious. Just as it is said in the 125th Psalm: “They who sow in tears shall reap in joy.”
Moreover, laughter is as much an accessory to the exulting and glad, as weeping is to the sorrowful and grieving. Therefore the Creator, in foretelling matters for laughter and tears, was the first who said that 367 those who mourned should laugh. Accordingly, He who began (His course) with consolation for the poor, and the humble, and the hungry, and the weeping, was at once eager to represent Himself as Him whom He had pointed out by the mouth of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the poor.” “Blessed are the needy, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted.” “Blessed are they that hunger, for they shall be filled.” “To comfort all that mourn.” “Blessed are they that weep, for they shall laugh.” “To give unto them that mourn in Sion, beauty (or glory) for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
Now since Christ, as soon as He entered on His course, fulfilled such a ministration as this, He is either, Himself, He who predicted His own coming to do all this; or else if he is not yet come who predicted this, the charge to Marcion’s Christ must be a ridiculous one (although I should perhaps add a necessary one), which bade him say, “Blessed shall ye be, when men shall hate you, and shall reproach you, and shall cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.” In this declaration there is, no doubt, an exhortation to patience. Well, what did the Creator say otherwise by Isaiah? “Fear ye not the reproach of men, nor be diminished by their contempt.”
What reproach? what contempt? That which was to be incurred for the sake of the Son of man. What Son of man? He who (is come) according to the Creator’s will. Whence shall we get our proof? From the very cutting off, which was predicted against Him; as when He says by Isaiah to the Jews, who were the instigators of hatred against Him: “Because of you, my name is blasphemed amongst the Gentiles;” and in another passage: “Lay the penalty on Him who surrenders His own life, who is held in contempt by the Gentiles, whether servants or magistrates.”
Now, since hatred was predicted against that Son of man who has His mission from the Creator, whilst the Gospel testifies that the name of Christians, as derived from Christ, was to be hated for the Son of man’s sake, because He is Christ, it determines the point that that was the Son of man in the matter of hatred who came according to the Creator’s purpose, and against whom the hatred was predicted. And even if He had not yet come, the hatred of His name which exists at the present day could not in any case have possibly preceded Him who was to bear the name. But He has both suffered the penalty in our presence, and surrendered His life, laying it down for our sakes, and is held in contempt by the Gentiles. And He who was born (into the world) will be that very Son of man on whose account our name also is rejected.
Chapter XV.—Sermon on the Mount Continued.
Its Woes in Strict Agreement with the Creator’s Disposition. Many Quotations Out of the Old Testament in Proof of This.
“In the like manner,” says He, “did their fathers unto the prophets.” What a turncoat is Marcion’s Christ! Now the destroyer, now the advocate of the prophets! He destroyed them as their rival, by converting their disciples; he took up their cause as their friend, by stigmatizing their persecutors. But, in as far as the defence of the prophets could not be consistent in the Christ of Marcion, who came to destroy them; in so far is it becoming to the Creator’s Christ that He should stigmatize those who persecuted the prophets, for He in all things accomplished their predictions.
Again, it is more characteristic of the Creator to upbraid sons with their fathers’ sins, than it is of that god who chastizes no man for even his own misdeeds. But you will say, He cannot be regarded as defending the prophets simply because He wished to affirm the iniquity of the Jews for their impious dealings with their own prophets. Well, then, in this case, no sin ought to have been charged against the Jews: they were rather deserving of praise and approbation when they maltreated those whom the absolutely good god of Marcion, after so long a time, bestirred himself to destroy.
I suppose, however, that by this time he had ceased to be 368 the absolutely good god; he had now sojourned a considerable while even with the Creator, and was no longer (like) the god of Epicurus purely and simply. For see how he condescends to curse, and proves himself capable of taking offence and feeling anger! He actually pronounces a woe! But a doubt is raised against us as to the import of this word, as if it carried with it less the sense of a curse than of an admonition. Where, however, is the difference, since even an admonition is not given without the sting of a threat, especially when it is embittered with a woe?
Moreover, both admonition and threatening will be the resources of him who knows how to feel angry. For no one will forbid the doing of a thing with an admonition or a threat, except him who will inflict punishment for the doing of it. No one would inflict punishment, except him who was susceptible of anger. Others, again, admit that the word implies a curse; but they will have it that Christ pronounced the woe, not as if it were His own genuine feeling, but because the woe is from the Creator, and He wanted to set forth to them the severity of the Creator in order that He might the more commend His own long-suffering in His beatitudes.
Just as if it were not competent to the Creator, in the preeminence of both His attributes as the good God and Judge, that, as He had made clemency the preamble of His benediction so He should place severity in the sequel of His curses; thus fully developing His discipline in both directions, both in following out the blessing and in providing against the curse. He had already said of old, “Behold, I have set before you blessing and cursing.” Which statement was really a presage of this temper of the gospel. Besides, what sort of being is that who, to insinuate a belief in his own goodness, invidiously contrasted with it the Creator’s severity? Of little worth is the recommendation which has for its prop the defamation of another. And yet by thus setting forth the severity of the Creator, he, in fact, affirmed Him to be an object of fear.
Now if He be an object of fear, He is of course more worthy of being obeyed than slighted; and thus Marcion’s Christ begins to teach favourably to the Creator’s interests. Then, on the admission above mentioned, since the woe which has regard to the rich is the Creator’s, it follows that it is not Christ, but the Creator, who is angry with the rich; while Christ approves of the incentives of the rich —I mean, their pride, their pomp, their love of the world, and their contempt of God, owing to which they deserve the woe of the Creator. But how happens it that the reprobation of the rich does not proceed from the same God who had just before expressed approbation of the poor?
There is nobody but reprobates the opposite of that which he has approved. If, therefore, there be imputed to the Creator the woe pronounced against the rich, there must be claimed for Him also the promise of the blessing upon the poor; and thus the entire work of the Creator devolves on Christ.—If to Marcion’s god there be ascribed the blessing of the poor, he must also have imputed to him the malediction of the rich; and thus will he become the Creator’s equal, both good and judicial; nor will there be left any room for that distinction whereby two gods are made; and when this distinction is removed, there will remain the verity which pronounces the Creator to be the one only God. Since, therefore, “woe” is a word indicative of malediction, or of some unusually austere exclamation; and since it is by Christ uttered against the rich, I shall have to show that the Creator is also a despiser of the rich, as I have shown Him to be the defender of the poor, in order that I may prove Christ to be on the Creator’s side in this matter, even when He enriched Solomon.
But with respect to this man, since, when a choice was left to him, he preferred asking for what he knew to be well-pleasing to God—even wisdom—he further merited the attainment of the riches, which he did not prefer. The endowing of a man indeed with riches, is not an incongruity to God, for by the help of riches even rich men are comforted and assisted; moreover, by them many a work of justice and charity is carried out. But yet there are serious faults which accompany riches; and it is because of these that woes are denounced on the rich, even in the Gospel. “Ye have received,” says He, “your consolation;” that is, of course, from their riches, in the pomps and vanities of the world which these purchase for them.
Accordingly, in Deuteronomy, Moses says: “Lest, when thou hast eaten and 369 art full, and hast built goodly houses, and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, as well as thy silver and thy gold, thine heart be then lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God.” In similar terms, when king Hezekiah became proud of his treasures, and gloried in them rather than in God before those who had come on an embassy from Babylon, (the Creator) breaks forth against him by the mouth of Isaiah: “Behold, the days come when all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store, shall be carried to Babylon.”
So by Jeremiah likewise did He say: “Let not the rich man glory in his riches but let him that glorieth even glory in the Lord.” Similarly against the daughters of Sion does He inveigh by Isaiah, when they were haughty through their pomp and the abundance of their riches, just as in another passage He utters His threats against the proud and noble: “Hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth, and down to it shall descend the illustrious, and the great, and the rich (this shall be Christ’s ‘woe to the rich’); and man shall be humbled,” even he that exalts himself with riches; “and the mighty man shall be dishonoured,” even he who is mighty from his wealth.
Concerning whom He says again: “Behold, the Lord of hosts shall confound the pompous together with their strength: those that are lifted up shall be hewn down, and such as are lofty shall fall by the sword.” And who are these but the rich? Because they have indeed received their consolation, glory, and honour and a lofty position from their wealth. In Psalm xlviii1)48. He also turns off our care from these and says: “Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, and when his glory is increased: for when he shall die, he shall carry nothing away; nor shall his glory descend along with him.”
So also in Psalm lxi2)62.: “Do not desire riches; and if they do yield you their lustre, do not set your heart upon them.” Lastly, this very same woe is pronounced of old by Amos against the rich, who also abounded in delights. “Woe unto them,” says he, “who sleep upon beds of ivory, and deliciously stretch themselves upon their couches; who eat the kids from the flocks of the goats, and sucking calves from the flocks of the heifers, while they chant to the sound of the viol; as if they thought they should continue long, and were not fleeting; who drink their refined wines, and anoint themselves with the costliest ointments.”
Therefore, even if I could do nothing else than show that the Creator dissuades men from riches, without at the same time first condemning the rich, in the very same terms in which Christ also did, no one could doubt that, from the same authority, there was added a commination against the rich in that woe of Christ, from whom also had first proceeded the dissuasion against the material sin of these persons, that is, their riches.
For such commination is the necessary sequel to such a dissuasive. He inflicts a woe also on “the full, because they shall hunger; on those too which laugh now, because they shall mourn.” To these will correspond these opposites which occur, as we have seen above, in the benedictions of the Creator: “Behold, my servants shall be full, but ye shall be hungry”—even because ye have been filled; “behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed” —even ye who shall mourn, who now are laughing. For as it is written in the psalm, “They who sow in tears shall reap in joy,” so does it run in the Gospel: They who sow in laughter, that is, in joy, shall reap in tears.
These principles did the Creator lay down of old; and Christ has renewed them, by simply bringing them into prominent view, not by making any change in them. “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” With equal stress does the Creator, by His prophet Isaiah, censure those who seek after human flattery and praise: “O my people, they who call you happy mislead you, and disturb the paths of your feet.” In another passage He forbids all implicit trust in man, and likewise in the applause of man; as by the prophet Jeremiah: “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.”
Whereas in Psalm cxvii3)117. it is said: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man; it is better to trust in the Lord than to place hope in princes.” Thus everything which is caught at by men is adjured by the Creator, down to their good words. It is as 370 much His property to condemn the praise and flattering words bestowed on the false prophets by their fathers, as to condemn their vexatious and persecuting treatment of the (true) prophets. As the injuries suffered by the prophets could not be imputed to their own God, so the applause bestowed on the false prophets could not have been displeasing to any other god but the God of the true prophets.
Chapter XVI.—The Precept of Loving One’s Enemies.
It is as Much Taught in the Creator’s Scriptures of the Old Testament as in Christ’s Sermon. The Lex Talionis of Moses Admirably Explained in Consistency with the Kindness and Love Which Jesus Christ Came to Proclaim and Enforce in Behalf of the Creator. Sundry Precepts of Charity Explained.
“But I say unto you which hear” (displaying here that old injunction, of the Creator: “Speak to the ears of those who lend them to you”), “Love your enemies, and bless those which hate you, and pray for them which calumniate you.” These commands the Creator included in one precept by His prophet Isaiah: “Say, Ye are our brethren, to those who hate you.” For if they who are our enemies, and hate us, and speak evil of us, and calumniate us, are to be called our brethren, surely He did in effect bid us bless them that hate us, and pray for them who calumniate us, when He instructed us to reckon them as brethren.
Well, but Christ plainly teaches a new kind of patience, when He actually prohibits the reprisals which the Creator permitted in requiring “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” and bids us, on the contrary, “to him who smiteth us on the one cheek, to offer the other also, and to give up our coat to him that taketh away our cloak.” No doubt these are supplementary additions by Christ, but they are quite in keeping with the teaching of the Creator.
And therefore this question must at once be determined, Whether the discipline of patience be enjoined by the Creator? When by Zechariah He commanded, “Let none of you imagine evil against his brother,” He did not expressly include his neighbour; but then in another passage He says, “Let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour.” He who counselled that an injury should be forgotten, was still more likely to counsel the patient endurance of it. But then, when He said, “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay,” He thereby teaches that patience calmly waits for the infliction of vengeance.
Therefore, inasmuch as it is incredible that the same (God) should seem to require “a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye,” in return for an injury, who forbids not only all reprisals, but even a revengeful thought or recollection of an injury, in so far does it become plain to us in what sense He required “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,”—not, indeed, for the purpose of permitting the repetition of the injury by retaliating it, which it virtually prohibited when it forbade vengeance; but for the purpose of restraining the injury in the first instance, which it had forbidden on pain of retaliation or reciprocity; so that every man, in view of the permission to inflict a second (or retaliatory) injury, might abstain from the commission of the first (or provocative) wrong.
For He knows how much more easy it is to repress violence by the prospect of retaliation, than by the promise of (indefinite) vengeance. Both results, however, it was necessary to provide, in consideration of the nature and the faith of men, that the man who believed in God might expect vengeance from God, while he who had no faith (to restrain him) might fear the laws which prescribed retaliation. This purpose of the law, which it was difficult to understand, Christ, as the Lord of the Sabbath and of the law, and of all the dispensations of the Father, both revealed and made intelligible, when He commanded that “the other cheek should be offered (to the smiter),” in order that He might the more effectually extinguish all reprisals of an injury, which the law had wished to prevent by the method of retaliation, (and) which most certainly revelation had manifestly restricted, both by prohibiting the memory of the wrong, and referring the vengeance thereof to God.
Thus, whatever (new provision) Christ introduced, He did it not in opposition to the law, but 371 rather in furtherance of it, without at all impairing the prescription of the Creator. If, therefore, one looks carefully into the very grounds for which patience is enjoined (and that to such a full and complete extent), one finds that it cannot stand if it is not the precept of the Creator, who promises vengeance, who presents Himself as the judge (in the case). If it were not so, —if so vast a weight of patience—which is to refrain from giving blow for blow; which is to offer the other cheek; which is not only not to return railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing; and which, so far from keeping the coat, is to give up the cloak also—is laid upon me by one who means not to help me,—(then all I can say is,) he has taught me patience to no purpose, because he shows me no reward to his precept—I mean no fruit of such patience.
There is revenge which he ought to have permitted me to take, if he meant not to inflict it himself; if he did not give me that permission, then he should himself have inflicted it; since it is for the interest of discipline itself that an injury should be avenged. For by the fear of vengeance all iniquity is curbed. But if licence is allowed to it without discrimination, it will get the mastery—it will put out (a man’s) both eyes; it will knock out every tooth in the safety of its impunity.
This, however, is (the principle) of your good and simply beneficent god—to do a wrong to patience, to open the door to violence, to leave the righteous undefended, and the wicked unrestrained! “Give to every one that asketh of thee” —to the indigent of course, or rather to the indigent more especially, although to the affluent likewise. But in order that no man may be indigent, you have in Deuteronomy a provision commanded by the Creator to the creditor. “There shall not be in thine hand an indigent man; so that the Lord thy God shall bless thee with blessings,” —thee meaning the creditor to whom it was owing that the man was not indigent.
But more than this. To one who does not ask, He bids a gift to be given. “Let there be, not,” He says, “a poor man in thine hand;” in other words, see that there be not, so far as thy will can prevent; by which command, too, He all the more strongly by inference requires men to give to him that asks, as in the following words also: “If there be among you a poor man of thy brethren, thou shalt not turn away thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother. But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him as much as he wanteth.” Loans are not usually given, except to such as ask for them.
On this subject of lending, however, more hereafter. Now, should any one wish to argue that the Creator’s precepts extended only to a man’s brethren, but Christ’s to all that ask, so as to make the latter a new and different precept, (I have to reply) that one rule only can be made out of those principles, which show the law of the Creator to be repeated in Christ. For that is not a different thing which Christ enjoined to be done towards all men, from that which the Creator prescribed in favour of a man’s brethren. For although that is a greater charity, which is shown to strangers, it is yet not preferable to that which was previously due to one’s neighbours.
For what man will be able to bestow the love (which proceeds from knowledge of character, upon strangers? Since, however, the second step in charity is towards strangers, while the first is towards one’s neighbours, the second step will belong to him to whom the first also belongs, more fitly than the second will belong to him who owned no first. Accordingly, the Creator, when following the course of nature, taught in the first instance kindness to neighbours, intending afterwards to enjoin it towards strangers; and when following the method of His dispensation, He limited charity first to the Jews, but afterwards extended it to the whole race of mankind.
So long, therefore, as the mystery of His government was confined to Israel, He properly commanded that pity should be shown only to a man’s brethren; but when Christ had given to Him “the Gentiles for His heritage, and the ends of the earth for His possession,” then began to be accomplished what was said by Hosea: “Ye are not my people, who were my people; ye have not obtained mercy, who once obtained mercy” —that is, the (Jewish) nation. Thenceforth Christ extended to all men the law of His Father’s compassion, excepting 372 none from His mercy, as He omitted none in His invitation.
So that, whatever was the ampler scope of His teaching, He received it all in His heritage of the nations. “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” In this command is no doubt implied its counterpart: “And as ye would not that men should do to you, so should ye also not do to them likewise.” Now, if this were the teaching of the new and previously unknown and not yet fully proclaimed deity, who had favoured me with no instruction beforehand, whereby I might first learn what I ought to choose or to refuse for myself, and to do to others what I would wish done to myself, not doing to them what I should be unwilling to have done to myself, it would certainly be nothing else than the chance-medley of my own sentiments which he would have left to me, binding me to no proper rule of wish or action, in order that I might do to others what I would like for myself, or refrain from doing to others what I should dislike to have done to myself.
For he has not, in fact, defined what I ought to wish or not to wish for myself as well as for others, so that I shape my conduct according to the law of my own will, and have it in my power not to render to another what I would like to have rendered to myself—love, obedience, consolation, protection, and such like blessings; and in like manner to do to another what I should be unwilling to have done to myself—violence, wrong, insult, deceit, and evils of like sort. Indeed, the heathen who have not been instructed by God act on this incongruous liberty of the will and the conduct.
For although good and evil are severally known by nature, yet life is not thereby spent under the discipline of God, which alone at last teaches men the proper liberty of their will and action in faith, as in the fear of God. The god of Marcion, therefore, although specially revealed, was, in spite of his revelation, unable to publish any summary of the precept in question, which had hitherto been so confined, and obscure, and dark, and admitting of no ready interpretation, except according to my own arbitrary thought, because he had provided no previous discrimination in the matter of such a precept.
This, however, was not the case with my God, for He always and everywhere enjoined that the poor, and the orphan, and the widow should be protected, assisted, refreshed; thus by Isaiah He says: “Deal thy bread to the hungry, and them that are houseless bring into thine house; when thou seest the naked, cover him.” By Ezekiel also He thus describes the just man: “His bread will he give to the hungry, and the naked will he cover with a garment.”
That teaching was even then a sufficient inducement to me to do to others what I would that they should do unto me. Accordingly, when He uttered such denunciations as, “Thou shalt do no murder; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness,” —He taught me to refrain from doing to others what I should be unwilling to have done to myself; and therefore the precept developed in the Gospel will belong to Him alone, who anciently drew it up, and gave it distinctive point, and arranged it after the decision of His own teaching, and has now reduced it, suitably to its importance, to a compendious formula, because (as it was predicted in another passage) the Lord—that is, Christ—“was to make (or utter) a concise word on earth.”
Chapter XVII.—Concerning Loans.
Prohibition of Usury and the Usurious Spirit. The Law Preparatory to the Gospel in Its Provisions; So in the Present Instance. On Reprisals. Christ’s Teaching Throughout Proves Him to Be Sent by the Creator.
And now, on the subject of a loan, when He asks, “And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye?” compare with this the following words of Ezekiel, in which He says of the before-mentioned just man, “He hath not given his money upon usury, nor will he take any increase” —meaning the redundance of interest, which is usury.
The first step was to eradicate the fruit of the money lent, the more easily to accustom a man to the loss, should it happen, of the money itself, the interest of which he 373 had learnt to lose. Now this, we affirm, was the function of the law as preparatory to the gospel. It was engaged in forming the faith of such as would learn, by gradual stages, for the perfect light of the Christian discipline, through the best precepts of which it was capable, inculcating a benevolence which as yet expressed itself but falteringly.
For in the passage of Ezekiel quoted above He says, “And thou shalt restore the pledge of the loan” —to him, certainly, who is incapable of repayment, because, as a matter of course, He would not anyhow prescribe the restoration of a pledge to one who was solvent. Much more clearly is it enjoined in Deuteronomy: “Thou shalt not sleep upon his pledge; thou shalt be sure to return to him his garment about sunset, and he shall sleep in his own garment.”
Clearer still is a former passage: “Thou shalt remit every debt which thy neighbour oweth thee; and of thy brother thou shalt not require it, because it is called the release of the Lord thy God.” Now, when He commands that a debt be remitted to a man who shall be unable to pay it (for it is a still stronger argument when He forbids its being asked for from a man who is even able to repay it), what else does He teach than that we should lend to those of whom we cannot receive again, inasmuch as He has imposed so great a loss on lending? “And ye shall be the children of God.” What can be more shameless, than for him to be making us his children, who has not permitted us to make children for ourselves by forbidding marriage? How does he propose to invest his followers with a name which he has already erased?
I cannot be the son of a eunuch especially when I have for my Father the same great Being whom the universe claims for its! For is not the Founder of the universe as much a Father, even of all men, as (Marcion’s) castrated deity, who is the maker of no existing thing? Even if the Creator had not united male and female, and if He had not allowed any living creature whatever to have children, I yet had this relation to Him before Paradise, before the fall, before the expulsion, before the two became one. I became His son a second time, as soon as He fashioned me with His hands, and gave me motion with His inbreathing.
Now again He names me His son, not begetting me into natural life, but into spiritual life. “Because,” says He, “He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Well done, Marcion! how cleverly have you withdrawn from Him the showers and the sunshine, that He might not seem to be a Creator! But who is this kind being which hitherto has not been even known? How can he be kind who had previously shown no evidences of such a kindness as this, which consists of the loan to us of sunshine and rain?—who is not destined to receive from the human race (the homage due to that) Creator,—who, up to this very moment, in return for His vast liberality in the gift of the elements, bears with men while they offer to idols, more readily than Himself, the due returns of His graciousness. But God is truly kind even in spiritual blessings.
“The utterances of the Lord are sweeter than honey and honeycombs.” He then has taunted men as ungrateful who deserved to have their gratitude—even He, whose sunshine and rain even you, O Marcion, have enjoyed, but without gratitude! Your god, however, had no right to complain of man’s ingratitude, because he had used no means to make them grateful. Compassion also does He teach: “Be ye merciful,” says He, “as your Father also that had mercy upon you.” This injunction will be of a piece with, “Deal thy bread to the hungry; and if he be houseless, bring him into thine house; and if thou seest the naked, cover him;” also with, “Judge the fatherless, plead with the widow.”
I recognise here that ancient doctrine of Him who “prefers mercy to sacrifice.” If, however, it be now some other being which teaches mercy, on the ground of his own mercifulness, how happens it that he has been wanting in mercy to me for so vast an age? “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven; give, and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye measure withal, it shall be measured to you again.” As it seems to me, this passage 374 announces a retribution proportioned to the merits. But from whom shall come the retribution?
If only from men, in that case he teaches a merely human discipline and recompense; and in everything we shall have to obey man: if from the Creator, as the Judge and the Recompenser of merits, then He compels our submission to Him, in whose hands He has placed a retribution which will be acceptable or terrible according as every man shall have judged or condemned, acquitted or dealt with, his neighbour; if from (Marcion’s god) himself, he will then exercise a judicial function which Marcion denies. Let the Marcionites therefore make their choice: Will it not be just the same inconsistency to desert the prescription of their master, as to have Christ teaching in the interest of men or of the Creator?
But “a blind man will lead a blind man into the ditch.” Some persons believe Marcion. But “the disciple is not above his master.” Apelles ought to have remembered this—a corrector of Marcion, although his disciple. The heretic ought to take the beam out of his own eye, and then he may convict the Christian, should he suspect a mote to be in his eye. Just as a good tree cannot produce evil fruit, so neither can truth generate heresy; and as a corrupt tree cannot yield good fruit, so heresy will not produce truth. Thus, Marcion brought nothing good out of Cerdon’s evil treasure; nor Apelles out of Marcion’s.
For in applying to these heretics the figurative words which Christ used of men in general, we shall make a much more suitable interpretation of them than if we were to deduce out of them two gods, according to Marcion’s grievous exposition. I think that I have the best reason possible for insisting still upon the position which I have all along occupied, that in no passage to be anywhere found has another God been revealed by Christ. I wonder that in this place alone Marcion’s hands should have felt benumbed in their adulterating labour. But even robbers have their qualms now and then.
There is no wrong-doing without fear, because there is none without a guilty conscience. So long, then, were the Jews cognisant of no other god but Him, beside whom they knew none else; nor did they call upon any other than Him whom alone they knew. This being the case, who will He clearly be that said, “Why callest thou me Lord, Lord?” Will it be he who had as yet never been called on, because never yet revealed; or He who was ever regarded as the Lord, because known from the beginning—even the God of the Jews? Who, again, could possibly have added, “and do not the things which I say?”
Could it have been he who was only then doing his best to teach them? Or He who from the beginning had addressed to them His messages both by the law and the prophets? He could then upbraid them with disobedience, even if He had no ground at any time else for His reproof. The fact is, that He who was then imputing to them their ancient obstinacy was none other than He who, before the coming of Christ, had addressed to them these words, “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart standeth far off from me.” Otherwise, how absurd it were that a new god, a new Christ, the revealer of a new and so grand a religion should denounce as obstinate and disobedient those whom he had never had it in his power to make trial of!
Chapter XVIII.—Concerning the Centurion’s Faith.
The Raising of the Widow’s Son. John Baptist, and His Message to Christ; And the Woman Who Was a Sinner. Proofs Extracted from All of the Relation of Christ to the Creator.
Likewise, when extolling the centurion’s faith, how incredible a thing it is, that He should confess that He had “found so great a faith not even in Israel,” to whom Israel’s faith was in no way interesting! But not from the fact (here stated by Christ) could it have been of any interest to Him to approve and compare what was hitherto crude, nay, I might say, hitherto naught. Why, however, might He not have used the example of faith in another god?
Because, if He had done so, He would have said that no such faith had 375 ever had existence in Israel; but as the case stands, He intimates that He ought to have found so great a faith in Israel, inasmuch as He had indeed come for the purpose of finding it, being in truth the God and Christ of Israel, and had now stigmatized it, only as one who would enforce and uphold it. If, indeed, He had been its antagonist, He would have preferred finding it to be such faith, having come to weaken and destroy it rather than to approve of it.
He raised also the widow’s son from death. This was not a strange miracle. The Creator’s prophets had wrought such; then why not His Son much rather? Now, so evidently had the Lord Christ introduced no other god for the working of so momentous a miracle as this, that all who were present gave glory to the Creator, saying: “A great prophet is risen up among us, and God hath visited His people.” What God? He, of course, whose people they were, and from whom had come their prophets.
But if they glorified the Creator, and Christ (on hearing them, and knowing their meaning) refrained from correcting them even in their very act of invoking the Creator in that vast manifestation of His glory in this raising of the dead, undoubtedly He either announced no other God but Him, whom He thus permitted to be honoured in His own beneficent acts and miracles, or else how happens it that He quietly permitted these persons to remain so long in their error, especially as He came for the very purpose to cure them of their error? But John is offended when he hears of the miracles of Christ, as of an alien god.
Well, I on my side will first explain the reason of his offence, that I may the more easily explode the scandal of our heretic. Now, that the very Lord Himself of all might, the Word and Spirit of the Father, was operating and preaching on earth, it was necessary that the portion of the Holy Spirit which, in the form of the prophetic gift, had been through John preparing the ways of the Lord, should now depart from John, and return back again of course to the Lord, as to its all-embracing original. Therefore John, being now an ordinary person, and only one of the many, was offended indeed as a man, but not because he expected or thought of another Christ as teaching or doing nothing new, for he was not even expecting such a one.
Nobody will entertain doubts about any one whom (since he knows him not to exist) he has no expectation or thought of. Now John was quite sure that there was no other God but the Creator, even as a Jew, especially as a prophet. Whatever doubt he felt was evidently rather entertained about Him whom he knew indeed to exist but knew not whether He were the very Christ. With this fear, therefore, even John asks the question, “Art thou He that should come, or look we for another?” —simply inquiring whether He was come as He whom he was looking for. “Art thou He that should come?” i.e. Art thou the coming One? “or look we for another?” i.e. Is He whom we are expecting some other than Thou, if Thou art not He whom we expect to come?
For he was supposing, as all men then thought, from the similarity of the miraculous evidences, that a prophet might possibly have been meanwhile sent, from whom the Lord Himself, whose coming was then expected, was different, and to whom He was superior. And there lay John’s difficulty. He was in doubt whether He was actually come whom all men were looking for; whom, moreover, they ought to have recognised by His predicted works, even as the Lord sent word to John, that it was by means of these very works that He was to be recognised.
Now, inasmuch as these predictions evidently related to the Creator’s Christ—as we have proved in the examination of each of them—it was perverse enough, if he gave himself out to be not the Christ of the Creator, and 376 rested the proof of his statement on those very evidences whereby he was urging his claims to be received as the Creator’s Christ. Far greater still is his perverseness when, not being the Christ of John, he yet bestows on John his testimony, affirming him to be a prophet, nay more, his messenger, applying to him the Scripture, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”
He graciously adduced the prophecy in the superior sense of the alternative mentioned by the perplexed John, in order that, by affirming that His own precursor was already come in the person of John, He might quench the doubt which lurked in his question: “Art thou He that should come, or look we for another?” Now that the forerunner had fulfilled his mission, and the way of the Lord was prepared, He ought now to be acknowledged as that (Christ) for whom the forerunner had made ready the way. That forerunner was indeed “greater than all of women born;” but for all that, He who was least in the kingdom of God was not subject to him; as if the kingdom in which the least person was greater than John belonged to one God, while John, who was greater than all of women born, belonged himself to another God.
For whether He speaks of any “least person” by reason of his humble position, or of Himself, as being thought to be less than John—since all were running into the wilderness after John rather than after Christ (“What went ye out into the wilderness to see?”)—the Creator has equal right to claim as His own both John, greater than any born of women, and Christ, or every “least person in the kingdom of heaven,” who was destined to be greater than John in that kingdom, although equally pertaining to the Creator, and who would be so much greater than the prophet, because he would not have been offended at Christ, an infirmity which then lessened the greatness of John.
We have already spoken of the forgiveness of sins. The behaviour of “the woman which was a sinner,” when she covered the Lord’s feet with her kisses, bathed them with her tears, wiped them with the hairs of her head, anointed them with ointment, produced an evidence that what she handled was not an empty phantom, but a really solid body, and that her repentance as a sinner deserved forgiveness according to the mind of the Creator, who is accustomed to prefer mercy to sacrifice. But even if the stimulus of her repentance proceeded from her faith, she heard her justification by faith through her repentance pronounced in the words, “Thy faith hath saved thee,” by Him who had declared by Habakkuk, “The just shall live by his faith.”
Chapter XIX. — The Rich Women of Piety Who Followed Jesus Christ’s Teaching by Parables.
The Marcionite Cavil Derived from Christ’s Remark, When Told of His Mother and His Brethren. Explanation of Christ’s Apparent Rejection Them.
The fact that certain rich women clave to Christ, “which ministered unto Him of their substance,” amongst whom was the wife of the king’s steward, is a subject of prophecy. By Isaiah the Lord called these wealthy ladies—“Rise up, ye women that are at ease, and hear my voice” —that He might prove them first as disciples, and then as assistants and helpers: “Daughters, hear my words in hope; this day of the year cherish the memory of, in labour with hope.”
For it was “in labour” that they followed Him, and “with hope” did they minister to Him. On the subject of parables, let it suffice that it has been once for all shown that this kind of language was with equal distinctness promised by the Creator. But there is that direct mode of His speaking to the people—“Ye shall hear with the ear, but ye shall not understand” —which now claims notice as having furnished to Christ 377 that frequent form of His earnest instruction: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Not as if Christ, actuated with a diverse spirit, permitted a hearing which the Creator had refused; but because the exhortation followed the threatening. First came, “Ye shall hear with the ear, but shall not understand;” then followed, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” For they wilfully refused to hear, although they had ears. He, however, was teaching them that it was the ears of the heart which were necessary; and with these the Creator had said that they would not hear.
Therefore it is that He adds by His Christ, “Take heed how ye hear,” and hear not,—meaning, of course, with the hearing of the heart, not of the ear. If you only attach a proper sense to the Creator’s admonition, suitable to the meaning of Him who was rousing the people to hear by the words, “Take heed how ye hear,” it amounted to a menace to such as would not hear. In fact, that most merciful god of yours, who judges not, neither is angry, is minatory.
This is proved even by the sentence which immediately follows: “Whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.” What shall be given? The increase of faith, or understanding, or even salvation. What shall be taken away? That, of course, which shall be given. By whom shall the gift and the deprivation be made? If by the Creator it be taken away, by Him also shall it be given. If by Marcion’s god it be given, by Marcion’s god also will it be taken away. Now, for whatever reason He threatens the “deprivation,” it will not be the work of a god who knows not how to threaten, because incapable of anger.
I am, moreover, astonished when he says that “a candle is not usually hidden,” who had hidden himself—a greater and more needful light—during so long a time; and when he promises that “everything shall be brought out of its secrecy and made manifest,” who hitherto has kept his god in obscurity, waiting (I suppose) until Marcion be born. We now come to the most strenuously-plied argument of all those who call in question the Lord’s nativity. They say that He testifies Himself to His not having been born, when He asks, “Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?” In this manner heretics either wrest plain and simple words to any sense they choose by their conjectures, or else they violently resolve by a literal interpretation words which imply a conditional sense and are incapable of a simple solution, as in this passage.
We, for our part, say in reply, first, that it could not possibly have been told Him that His mother and His brethren stood without, desiring to see Him, if He had had no mother and no brethren. They must have been known to him who announced them, either some time previously, or then at that very time, when they desired to see Him, or sent Him their message. To this our first position this answer is usually given by the other side. But suppose they sent Him the message for the purpose of tempting Him? Well, but the Scripture does not say so; and inasmuch as it is usual for it to indicate what is done in the way of temptation (“Behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him;” again, when inquiring about tribute, the Pharisees came to Him, tempting Him), so, when it makes no mention of temptation, it does not admit the interpretation of temptation.
However, although I do not allow this sense, I may as well ask, by way of a superfluous refutation, for the reasons of the alleged temptation, To what purpose could they have tempted Him by naming His mother and His brethren? If it was to ascertain whether He had been born or not—when was a question raised on this point, which they must resolve by tempting Him in this way? Who could doubt His having been born, when they saw Him before them a veritable man?—whom they had heard call Himself “Son of man?”—of whom they doubted whether He were God or Son of God, from seeing Him, as they did, in the perfect garb of human quality?—supposing Him rather to be a prophet, a great one indeed, but still one who had been born as man?
Even if it had been necessary that He should thus be tried in the investigation of His birth, surely any other proof would have better answered the trial than that to be obtained from mentioning those relatives which it was quite possible for Him, in spite of His true nativity, not at that moment to have had. For tell me now, does a mother live on contemporaneously with her sons in every case? Have all sons brothers born for them? May a man rather not have fathers and sisters (living), or even no relatives at all? But there is historical proof that at this very time a census had been taken in Judæa by Sentius 378 Saturninus, which might have satisfied their inquiry respecting the family and descent of Christ.
Such a method of testing the point had therefore no consistency whatever in it and they “who were standing without” were really “His mother and His brethren.” It remains for us to examine His meaning when He resorts to non-literal words, saying “Who is my mother or my brethren?” It seems as if His language amounted to a denial of His family and His birth; but it arose actually from the absolute nature of the case, and the conditional sense in which His words were to be explained. He was justly indignant, that persons so very near to Him “stood without,” while strangers were within hanging on His words, especially as they wanted to call Him away from the solemn work He had in hand. He did not so much deny as disavow them.
And therefore, when to the previous question, “Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?” He added the answer “None but they who hear my words and do them,” He transferred the names of blood-relationship to others, whom He judged to be more closely related to Him by reason of their faith. Now no one transfers a thing except from him who possesses that which is transferred. If, therefore, He made them “His mother and His brethren” who were not so, how could He deny them these relationships who really had them?
Surely only on the condition of their deserts, and not by any disavowal of His near relatives; teaching them by His own actual example, that “whosoever preferred father or mother or brethren to the Word of God, was not a disciple worthy of Him.” Besides, His admission of His mother and His brethren was the more express, from the fact of His unwillingness to acknowledge them. That He adopted others only confirmed those in their relationship to Him whom He refused because of their offence, and for whom He substituted the others, not as being truer relatives, but worthier ones. Finally, it was no great matter if He did prefer to kindred (that) faith which it did not possess.
Chapter XX.—Comparison of Christ’s Power Over Winds and Waves with Moses’
Command of the Waters of the Red Sea and the Jordan. Christ’s Power Over Unclean Spirits. The Case of the Legion. The Cure of the Issue of Blood. The Mosaic Uncleanness on This Point Explained.
But “what manner of man is this? for He commandeth even the winds and water!” Of course He is the new master and proprietor of the elements, now that the Creator is deposed, and excluded from their possession! Nothing of the kind. But the elements own their own Maker, just as they had been accustomed to obey His servants also. Examine well the Exodus, Marcion; look at the rod of Moses, as it waves His command to the Red Sea, ampler than all the lakes of Judæa. How the sea yawns from its very depths, then fixes itself in two solidified masses, and so, out of the interval between them, makes a way for the people to pass dry-shod across; again does the same rod vibrate, the sea returns in its strength, and in the concourse of its waters the chivalry of Egypt is engulphed!
To that consummation the very winds subserved! Read, too, how that the Jordan was as a sword, to hinder the emigrant nation in their passage across its stream; how that its waters from above stood still, and its current below wholly ceased to run at the bidding of Joshua, when his priests began to pass over! What will you say to this? If it be your Christ that is meant above, he will not be more potent than the servants of the Creator.
But I 379 should have been content with the examples I have adduced without addition, if a prediction of His present passage on the sea had not preceded Christ’s coming. As psalm is, in fact, accomplished by this crossing over the lake. “The Lord,” says the psalmist, “is upon many waters.” When He disperses its waves, Habakkuk’s words are fulfilled, where he says, “Scattering the waters in His passage.” When at His rebuke the sea is calmed, Nahum is also verified: He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry,” including the winds indeed, whereby it was disquieted. With what evidence would you have my Christ vindicated?
Shall it come from the examples, or from the prophecies, of the Creator? You suppose that He is predicted as a military and armed warrior, instead of one who in a figurative and allegorical sense was to wage a spiritual warfare against spiritual enemies, in spiritual campaigns, and with spiritual weapons: come now, when in one man alone you discover a multitude of demons calling itself Legion, of course comprised of spirits, you should learn that Christ also must be understood to be an exterminator of spiritual foes, who wields spiritual arms and fights in spiritual strife; and that it was none other than He, who now had to contend with even a legion of demons.
Therefore it is of such a war as this that the Psalm may evidently have spoken: “The Lord is strong, The Lord is mighty in battle.” For with the last enemy death did He fight, and through the trophy of the cross He triumphed. Now of what God did the Legion testify that Jesus was the Son? No doubt, of that God whose torments and abyss they knew and dreaded. It seems impossible for them to have remained up to this time in ignorance of what the power of the recent and unknown god was working in the world, because it is very unlikely that the Creator was ignorant thereof. For if He had been at any time ignorant that there was another god above Himself, He had by this time at all events discovered that there was one at work below His heaven.
Now, what their Lord had discovered had by this time become notorious to His entire family within the same world and the same circuit of heaven, in which the strange deity dwelt and acted. As therefore both the Creator and His creatures must have had knowledge of him, if he had been in existence, so, inasmuch as he had no existence, the demons really knew none other than the Christ of their own God. They do not ask of the strange god, what they recollected they must beg of the Creator—not to be plunged into the Creator’s abyss. They at last had their request granted. On what ground? Because they had lied?
Because they had proclaimed Him to be the Son of a ruthless God? And what sort of god will that be who helped the lying, and upheld his detractors? However, no need of this thought, for, inasmuch as they had not lied, inasmuch as they had acknowledged that the God of the abyss was also their God, so did He actually Himself affirm that He was the same whom these demons acknowledged—Jesus, the Judge and Son of the avenging God.
Now, behold an inkling of the Creator’s failings and infirmities in Christ; for I on my side mean to impute to Him ignorance. Allow me some indulgence in my effort against the heretic. Jesus is touched by the woman who had an issue of blood, He knew not by whom. “Who touched me?” He asks, when His disciples alleged an excuse. He even persists in His assertion of ignorance: “Somebody hath touched me,” He says, and advances some proof: “For I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.” What says our heretic? Could Christ have known the person? And why did He speak as if He were ignorant?
Why? Surely it was to challenge her faith, and to try her fear. Precisely as He had once questioned Adam, as if in ignorance: Adam, where art thou?” Thus you have both the Creator excused in the same way as Christ, and Christ acting similarly to the Creator. But in this case He acted as an adversary of the law; and therefore, as the law forbids contact with a woman with an issue, He desired not only that this woman should touch Him, but that He should heal her. Here, then, is a God who is not merciful 380 by nature, but in hostility! Yet, if we find that such was the merit of this woman’s faith, that He said unto her, Thy faith hath saved thee,” what are you, that you should detect an hostility to the law in that act, which the Lord Himself shows us to have been done as a reward of faith?
But will you have it that this faith of the woman consisted in the contempt which she had acquired for the law? Who can suppose, that a woman who had been. hitherto unconscious of any God, uninitiated as yet in any new law, should violently infringe that law by which she was up to this time bound? On what faith, indeed, was such an infringement hazarded? In what God believing? Whom despising? The Creator? Her touch at least was an act of faith. And if of faith in the Creator, how could she have violated His law, when she was ignorant of any other God? Whatever her infringement of the law amounted to, it proceeded from and was proportionate to her faith in the Creator.
But how can these two things be compatible? That she violated the law, and violated it in faith, which ought to have restrained her from such violation? I will tell you how her faith was this above all: it made her believe that her God preferred mercy even to sacrifice; she was certain that her God was working in Christ; she touched Him, therefore, nor as a holy man simply, nor as a prophet, whom she knew to be capable of contamination by reason of his human nature, but as very God, whom she assumed to be beyond all possibility of pollution by any uncleanness. She therefore, not without reason, interpreted for herself the law, as meaning that such things as are susceptible of defilement become defiled, but not so God, whom she knew for certain to be in Christ.
But she recollected this also, that what came under the prohibition of the law was that ordinary and usual issue of blood which proceeds from natural functions every month, and in childbirth, not that which was the result of disordered health. Her case, however, was one of long abounding ill health, for which she knew that the succour of God’s mercy was needed, and not the natural relief of time. And thus she may evidently be regarded as having discerned the law, instead of breaking it. This will prove to be the faith which was to confer intelligence likewise. “If ye will not believe,” says (the prophet), “ye shall not understand.” When Christ approved of the faith of this woman, which simply rested in the Creator, He declared by His answer to her, that He was Himself the divine object of the faith of which He approved.
Nor can I overlook the fact that His garment, by being touched, demonstrated also the truth of His body; for of course” it was a body, and not a phantom, which the garment clothed. This indeed is not our point now; but the remark has a natural bearing on the question we are discussing. For if it were not a veritable body, but only a fantastic one, it could not for certain have received contamination, as being an unsubstantial thing. He therefore, who, by reason of this vacuity of his substance, was incapable of contamination, how could he possibly have desired this touch? As an adversary of the law, his conduct was deceitful, for he was not susceptible of a real pollution.
Chapter XXI. — Christ’s Connection with the Creator.
Shown from Several Incidents in the Old Testament, Compared with St. Luke’s Narrative of the Mission of the Disciples. The Feeding of the Multitude. The Confession of St. Peter. Being Ashamed of Christ. This Shame is Only Possible of the True Christ. Marcionite Pretensions Absurd.
He sends forth His disciples to preach the kingdom of God. Does He here say of what God? He forbids their taking anything for their journey, by way of either food or raiment. Who would have given such a commandment as this, but He who feeds the ravens and clothes the flowers of the field? Who anciently enjoined for the treading ox an unmuzzled mouth, that he might be at liberty to gather his fodder from his labour, on the principle that the worker is worthy of his hire?
Marcion may expunge such precepts, but no matter, provided the sense of them survives. But when He charges them to shake off the dust of their feet against such as should refuse to receive them, He also bids that this be done as a witness. Now no one bears witness except in a case which is decided by judicial process; and whoever orders inhuman conduct to be submitted to the trial by testimony, 381 does really threaten as a judge. Again, that it was no new god which recommended by Christ, was clearly attested by the opinion of all men, because some maintained to Herod that Jesus was the Christ; others, that He was John; some, that He was Elias; and others, that He was one of the old prophets.
Now, whosoever of all these He might have been, He certainly was not raised up for the purpose of announcing another god after His resurrection. He feeds the multitude in the desert place;4 this, you must know was after the manner of the Old Testament. Or else, if there was not the same grandeur, it follows that He is now inferior to the Creator. For He, not for one day, but during forty years, not on the inferior aliment of bread and fish, but with the manna of heaven, supported the lives of not five thousand, but of six hundred thousand human beings. However, such was the greatness of His miracle, that He willed the slender supply of food, not only to be enough, but even to prove superabundant; and herein He followed the ancient precedent.
For in like manner, during the famine in Elijah’s time, the scanty and final meal of the widow of Sarepta was multiplied by the blessing of the prophet throughout the period of the famine. You have the third book of the Kings. If you also turn to the fourth book, you will discover all this conduct of Christ pursued by that man of God, who ordered ten barley loaves which had been given him to be distributed among the people; and when his servitor, after contrasting the large number of the persons with the small supply of the food, answered, “What, shall I set this before a hundred men?” he said again, “Give them, and they shall eat: for thus saith the Lord, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof, according to the word of the Lord.” O Christ, even in Thy novelties Thou art old! Accordingly, when Peter, who had been an eye-witness of the miracle, and had compared it with the ancient precedents, and had discovered in them prophetic intimations of what should one day come to pass, answered (as the mouthpiece of them all) the Lord’s inquiry, “Whom say ye that I am?” in the words, “Thou art the Christ,” he could not but have perceived that He was that Christ, beside whom he knew of none else in the Scriptures, and whom he was now surveying in His wonderful deeds.
This conclusion He even Himself confirms by thus far bearing with it, nay, even enjoining silence respecting it. For if Peter was unable to acknowledge Him to be any other than the Creator’s Christ, while He commanded them “to tell no man that saying,” surely He was unwilling to have the conclusion promulged which Peter had drawn. No doubt of that, you say; but as Peter’s conclusion was a wrong one, therefore He was unwilling to have a lie disseminated. It was, however, a different reason which He assigned for the silence, even because “the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and scribes, and priests, and be slain, and be raised again the third day.”
Now, inasmuch as these sufferings were actually foretold for the Creator’s Christ (as we shall fully show in the proper place), so by this application of them to His own case does He prove that it is He Himself of whom they were predicted. At all events, even if they had not been predicted, the reason which He alleged for imposing silence (on the disciples) was such as made it clear enough that Peter had made no mistake, that reason being the necessity of His undergoing these sufferings. “Whosoever,” says He, “will save his life, shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Surely it is the Son of man who uttered this sentence.
Look carefully, then, along with the king of Babylon, into his burning fiery furnace, and there you will discover one “like the Son of man” (for He was not yet really Son of man, because not yet born of man), even as early as then appointing issues such as these. He saved the lives of the three brethren, who had agreed to lose them for God’s sake; but He destroyed those of the Chaldæans, when they had preferred to save them by the means of their idolatry. Where is that novelty, which you pretend in a doctrine which possesses these ancient proofs? But all the predictions have been fulfilled concerning martyrdoms which were to happen, and were to receive the recompenses of their reward from God.
“See,” says 382 Isaiah, “how the righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and just men are taken away, and no man considereth.” When does this more frequently happen than in the persecution of His saints? This, indeed, is no ordinary matter, no common casualty of the law of nature; but it is that illustrious devotion, that fighting for the faith, wherein whosoever loses his life for God saves it, so that you may here again recognize the Judge who recompenses the evil gain of life with its destruction, and the good loss thereof with its salvation. It is, however, a jealous God whom He here presents to me; one who returns evil for evil.
“For whosoever,” says He, “shall be ashamed of me, of him will I also be ashamed.” Now to none but my Christ can be assigned the occasion of such a shame as this. His whole course was so exposed to shame as to open a way for even the taunts of heretics, declaiming with all the bitterness in their power against the utter disgrace of His birth and bringing-up, and the unworthiness of His very flesh. But how can that Christ of yours be liable to a shame, which it is impossible for him to experience?
Since he was never condensed into human flesh in the womb of a woman, although a virgin; never grew from human seed, although only after the law of corporeal substance, from the fluids of a woman; was never deemed flesh before shaped in the womb; never called fœtus after such shaping; was never delivered from a ten months’ writhing in the womb; was never shed forth upon the ground, amidst the sudden pains of parturition, with the unclean issue which flows at such a time through the sewerage of the body, forthwith to inaugurate the light of life with tears, and with that primal wound which severs the child from her who bears him; never received the copious ablution, nor the meditation of salt and honey; nor did he initiate a shroud with swaddling clothes; nor afterwards did he ever wallow in his own uncleanness, in his mother’s lap; nibbling at her breast; long an infant; gradually a boy; by slow degrees a man.
But he was revealed from heaven, full-grown at once, at once complete; immediately Christ; simply spirit, and power, and god. But as withal he was not true, because not visible; therefore he was no object to be ashamed of from the curse of the cross, the real endurance of which he escaped, because wanting in bodily substance. Never, therefore, could he have said, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me.” But as for our Christ, He could do no otherwise than make such a declaration; “made” by the Father “a little lower than the angels,” “a worm and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people;” seeing that it was His will that “with His stripes we should be healed,” that by His humiliation our salvation should be established.
And justly did He humble Himself for His own creature man, for the image and likeness of Himself, and not of another, in order that man, since he had not felt ashamed when bowing down to a stone or a stock, might with similar courage give satisfaction to God for the shamelessness of his idolatry, by displaying an equal degree of shamelessness in his faith, in not being ashamed of Christ. Now, Marcion, which of these courses is better suited to your Christ, in respect of a meritorious shame? Plainly, you ought yourself to blush with shame for having given him a fictitious existence.
Chapter XXII. — The Same Conclusion Supported by the Transfiguration.
Marcion Inconsistent in Associating with Christ in Glory Two Such Eminent Servants of the Creator as Moses and Elijah. St. Peter’s Ignorance Accounted for on Montanist Principle.
You ought to be very much ashamed of yourself on this account too, for permitting him to appear on the retired mountain in the company of Moses and Elias, whom he 383 had come to destroy. This, to be sure, was what he wished to be understood as the meaning of that voice from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, hear Him” —Him, that is, not Moses or Elias any longer. The voice alone, therefore, was enough, without the display of Moses and Elias; for, by expressly mentioning whom they were to hear, he must have forbidden all others from being heard. Or else, did he mean that Isaiah and Jeremiah and the others whom he did not exhibit were to be heard, since he prohibited those whom he did display?
Now, even if their presence was necessary, they surely should not be represented as conversing together, which is a sign of familiarity; nor as associated in glory with him, for this indicates respect and graciousness; but they should be shown in some slough as a sure token of their ruin, or even in that darkness of the Creator which Christ was sent to disperse, far removed from the glory of Him who was about to sever their words and writings from His gospel.
This, then, is the way how he demonstrates them to be aliens, even by keeping them in his own company! This is how he shows they ought to be relinquished: he associates them with himself instead! This is how he destroys them: he irradiates them with his glory! How would their own Christ act? I suppose He would have imitated the frowardness (of heresy), and revealed them just as Marcion’s Christ was bound to do, or at least as having with Him any others rather than His own prophets! But what could so well befit the Creator’s Christ, as to manifest Him in the company of His own foreannouncers? —to let Him be seen with those to whom He had appeared in revelations?—to let Him be speaking with those who had spoken of Him?—to share His glory with those by whom He used to be called the Lord of glory; even with those chief servants of His, one of whom was once the moulder of His people, the other afterwards the reformer thereof; one the initiator of the Old Testament, the other the consummator of the New?
Well therefore does Peter, when recognizing the companions of his Christ in their indissoluble connection with Him, suggest an expedient: “It is good for us to be here” (good: that evidently means to be where Moses and Elias are); “and let us make three tabernacles, one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. But he knew not what he said.” How knew not? Was his ignorance the result of simple error? Or was it on the principle which we maintain in the cause of the new prophecy, that to grace ecstasy or rapture is incident. For when a man is rapt in the Spirit, especially when he beholds the glory of God, or when God speaks through him, he necessarily loses his sensation, because he is overshadowed with the power of God,—a point concerning which there is a question between us and the carnally-minded.
Now, it is no difficult matter to prove the rapture of Peter. For how could he have known Moses and Elias, except (by being) in the Spirit? People could not have had their images, or statues, or likenesses; for that the law forbade. How, if it were not that he had seen them in the Spirit? And therefore, because it was in the Spirit that he had now spoken, and not in his natural senses, he could not know what he had said. But if, on the other hand, he was thus ignorant, because he erroneously supposed that (Jesus) was their Christ, it is then evident that Peter, when previously asked by Christ, “Whom they thought Him to be,” meant the Creator’s Christ, when he answered, “Thou art the Christ;” because if he had been then aware that He belonged to the rival god, he would not have made a mistake here.
But if he was in error here because of his previous erroneous opinion, then you may be sure that up to that very day no new divinity had been revealed by Christ, and that Peter had so far made no mistake, because hitherto Christ had revealed nothing of the kind; and that Christ accordingly was not to be regarded as belonging to any other than the Creator, whose entire 384 dispensation he, in fact, here described. He selects from His disciples three witnesses of the impending vision and voice. And this is just the way of the Creator. “In the mouth of three witnesses,” says He, “shall every word be established.”
He withdraws to a mountain. In the nature of the place I see much meaning. For the Creator had originally formed His ancient people on a mountain both with visible glory and His voice. It was only right that the New Testament should be attested on such an elevated spot as that whereon the Old Testament had been composed; under a like covering of cloud also, which nobody will doubt, was condensed out of the Creator’s air. Unless, indeed, he had brought down his own clouds thither, because he had himself forced his way through the Creator’s heaven; or else it was only a precarious cloud, as it were, of the Creator which he used. On the present (as also on the former) occasion, therefore, the cloud was not silent; but there was the accustomed voice from heaven, and the Father’s testimony to the Son; precisely as in the first Psalm He had said, “Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee.”
By the mouth of Isaiah also He had asked concerning Him, “Who is there among you that feareth God? Let him hear the voice of His Son.” When therefore He here presents Him with the words, “This is my (beloved) Son,” this clause is of course understood, “whom I have promised.” For if He once promised, and then afterwards says, “This is He,” it is suitable conduct for one who accomplishes His purpose that He should utter His voice in proof of the promise which He had formerly made; but unsuitable in one who is amenable to the retort, Can you, indeed, have a right to say, “This is my son,” concerning whom you have given us no previous information, any more than you have favoured us with a revelation about your own prior existence? “Hear ye Him,” therefore, whom from the beginning (the Creator) had declared entitled to be heard in the name of a prophet, since it was as a prophet that He had to be regarded by the people.
“A prophet,” says Moses, “shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your sons” (that is, of course, after a carnal descent); “unto Him shall ye hearken, as unto me.” “Every one who will not hearken unto Him, his soul shall be cut off from amongst his people.” So also Isaiah: “Who is there among you that feareth God? Let him hear the voice of His Son.” This voice the Father was going Himself to recommend. For, says he, He establishes the words of His Son, when He says, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him.” Therefore, even if there be made a transfer of the obedient “hearing” from Moses and Elias to Christ, it is still not from another God, or to another Christ; but from the Creator to His Christ, in consequence of the departure of the old covenant and the supervening of the new.
“Not an ambassador, nor an angel, but He Himself,” says Isaiah, “shall save them;” for it is He Himself who is now declaring and fulfilling the law and the prophets. The Father gave to the Son new disciples, after that Moses and Elias had been exhibited along with Him in the honour of His glory, and had then been dismissed as having fully discharged their duty and office, for the express purpose of affirming for Marcion’s information the fact that Moses and Elias had a share in even the glory of Christ. But we have the entire structure of this same vision in Habakkuk also, where the Spirit in the person of some of the apostles says, “O Lord, I have heard Thy speech, and was afraid.”
What speech was this, other than the words of the voice from heaven, This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him? “I considered thy works, and was astonished.” When could this have better happened than when Peter, on seeing His glory, knew not what he was saying? “In the midst of the two Thou shalt be known”—even Moses and Elias. These likewise did Zechariah see under the figure of the two olive trees and olive branches. For these are they of whom 385 he says, “They are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” And again Habakkuk says, “His glory covered the heavens” (that is, with that cloud), “and His splendour shall be like the light—even the light, wherewith His very raiment glistened.”
And if we would make mention of the promise to Moses, we shall find it accomplished here. For when Moses desired to see the Lord, saying, “If therefore I have found grace in Thy sight, manifest Thyself to me, that I may see Thee distinctly,” the sight which he desired to have was of that condition which he was to assume as man, and which as a prophet he knew was to occur. Respecting the face of God, however, he had already heard, “No man shall see me, and live.” “This thing,” said He, “which thou hast spoken, will I do unto thee.” Then Moses said, “Show me Thy glory.”
And the Lord, with like reference to the future, replied, “I will pass before thee in my glory,” etc. Then at the last He says, “And then thou shalt see my back.” Not loins, or calves of the legs, did he want to behold, but the glory which was to be revealed in the latter days. He had promised that He would make Himself thus face to face visible to him, when He said to Aaron, “If there shall be a prophet among you, I will make myself known to him by vision, and by vision will I speak with him; but not so is my manner to Moses; with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently” (that is to say, in the form of man which He was to assume), “and not in dark speeches.”
Now, although Marcion has denied that he is here represented as speaking with the Lord, but only as standing, yet, inasmuch as he stood “mouth to mouth,” he must also have stood “face to face” with him, to use his words, not far from him, in His very glory—not to say, in His presence. And with this glory he went away enlightened from Christ, just as he used to do from the Creator; as then to dazzle the eyes of the children of Israel, so now to smite those of the blinded Marcion, who has failed to see how this argument also makes against him.
Chapter XXIII. — Impossible that Marcion’s Christ Should Reprove the Faithless Generation.
Such Loving Consideration for Infants as the True Christ Was Apt to Shew, Also Impossible for the Other. On the Three Different Characters Confronted and Instructed by Christ in Samaria.
I take on myself the character of Israel. Let Marcion’s Christ stand forth, and exclaim, “O faithless generation! how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?” He will immediately have to submit to this remonstrance from me: “Whoever you are, O stranger, first tell us who you are, from whom you come, and what right you have over us. Thus far, all you possess belongs to the Creator. Of course, if you come from Him, and are acting for Him, we will bear your reproof.
But if you come from some other god, I should wish you to tell us what you have ever committed to us belonging to yourself, which it was our duty to believe, seeing that you are upbraiding us with ‘faithlessness,’ who have never yet revealed to us your own self. How long ago did you begin to treat with us, that you should be complaining of the delay? On what points have you borne with us, that you should adduce your patience? Like Æsop’s ass, you are just come from the well, and are filling every place with your braying.” I assume, besides, the person of the disciple, against whom he has inveighed: “O perverse nation! how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?”
This outburst of his I might, of course, retort upon him most justly in such words as these: “Whoever you are, O stranger, first tell us who you are, from whom you come, what right you have over us. Thus far, I suppose, you belong to the Creator, and so we have followed you, recognising in you all things which are His. Now, if you come from Him, we will bear your reproof. If, however, you are acting for another, prythee tell us what you have ever conferred upon us that is simply your own, which it had become our duty to believe, seeing that you reproach us with ‘faithlessness,’ although up to this moment you show us no credentials.
How long since did you begin to plead with us, that you are charging us with delay? Wherein have you borne with us, that you 386 should even boast of your patience? The ass has only just arrived from Æsop’s well, and he is already braying.” Now who would not thus have rebutted the unfairness of the rebuke, if he had supposed its author to belong to him who had had no right as yet to complain? Except that not even He would have inveighed against them, if He had not dwelt among them of old in the law and by the prophets, and with mighty deeds and many mercies, and had always experienced them to be “faithless.”
But, behold, Christ takes infants, and teaches how all ought to be like them, if they ever wish to be greater. The Creator, on the contrary, let loose bears against children, in order to avenge His prophet Elisha, who had been mocked by them. This antithesis is impudent enough, since it throws together things so different as infants and children, —an age still innocent, and one already capable of discretion—able to mock, if not to blaspheme.
As therefore God is a just God, He spared not impious children, exacting as He does honour for every time of life, and especially, of course, from youth. And as God is good, He so loves infants as to have blessed the midwives in Egypt, when they protected the infants of the Hebrews which were in peril from Pharaoh’s command. Christ therefore shares this kindness with the Creator. As indeed for Marcion’s god, who is an enemy to marriage, how can he possibly seem to be a lover of little children, which are simply the issue of marriage? He who hates the seed must needs also detest the fruit. Yea, he ought to be deemed more ruthless than the king of Egypt.
For whereas Pharaoh forbade infants to be brought up, he will not allow them even to be born, depriving them of their ten months’ existence in the womb. And how much more credible it is, that kindness to little children should be attributed to Him who blessed matrimony for the procreation of mankind, and in such benediction included also the promise of connubial fruit itself, the first of which is that of infancy!
The Creator, at the request of Elias, inflicts the blow of fire from heaven in the case of that false prophet (of Baalzebub). I recognise herein the severity of the Judge. And I, on the contrary, the severe rebuke of Christ on His disciples, when they were for inflicting a like visitation on that obscure village of the Samaritans. The heretic, too, may discover that this gentleness of Christ was promised by the selfsame severest Judge. “He shall not contend,” says He, “nor shall His voice be heard in the street; a bruised reed shall He not crush, and smoking flax shall He not quench.”
Being of such a character, He was of course much the less disposed to burn men. For even at that time the Lord said to Elias, “He was not in the fire, but in the still small voice.” Well, but why does this most humane and merciful God reject the man who offers himself to Him as an inseparable companion? If it were from pride or from hypocrisy that he had said, “I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest,’ then, by judicially reproving an act of either pride or hypocrisy as worthy of rejection, He performed the office of a Judge. And, of course, him whom He rejected He condemned to the loss of not following the Saviour.
For as He calls to salvation him whom He does not reject, or him whom He voluntarily invites, so does He consign to perdition him whom He rejects. When, however, He answers the man, who alleged as an excuse his father’s burial, “Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the kingdom of God,” He gave a clear confirmation to those two laws of the Creator—that in Leviticus, which concerns the sacerdotal office, and forbids the priests to be present at the funerals even of their parents. “The priest,” says He, “shall not enter where there is any dead person; and for his father he shall not be defiled”; as well as that in Numbers, which relates to the (Nazarite) vow of separation; for there he who devotes himself to God, among other things, is bidden “not to come at any dead body,” not even of his father, or his mother, or his brother.
Now it was, I suppose, for the Nazarite and the priestly office that He intended this man whom He had been inspiring to preach the kingdom of God. Or else, if it be not so, 387 he must be pronounced impious enough who, without the intervention of any precept of the law, commanded that burials of parents should be neglected by their sons. When, indeed, in the third case before us, (Christ) forbids the man “to look back” who wanted first “to bid his family farewell,” He only follows out the rule of the Creator. For this (retrospection) He had been against their making, whom He had rescued out of Sodom.
Chapter XXIV. — On the Mission of the Seventy Disciples, and Christ’s Charge to Them.
Precedents Drawn from the Old Testament. Absurdity of Supposing that Marcion’s Christ Could Have Given the Power of Treading on Serpents and Scorpions.
He chose also seventy other missionaries besides the twelve. Now why, if the twelve followed the number of the twelve fountains of Elim, should not the seventy correspond to the like number of the palms of that place? Whatever be the Antitheses of the comparison, it is a diversity in the causes, not in the powers, which has mainly produced them. But if one does not keep in view the diversity of the causes, he is very apt to infer a difference of powers.
When the children of Israel went out of Egypt, the Creator brought them forth laden with their spoils of gold and silver vessels, and with loads besides of raiment and unleavened dough; whereas Christ commanded His disciples not to carry even a staff for their journey. The former were thrust forth into a desert, but the latter were sent into cities. Consider the difference presented in the occasions, and you will understand how it was one and the same power which arranged the mission of His people according to their poverty in the one case, and their plenty in the other.
He cut down their supplies when they could be replenished through the cities, just as He had accumulated them when exposed to the scantiness of the desert. Even shoes He forbade them to carry. For it was He under whose very protection the people wore not out a shoe, even in the wilderness for the space of so many years. “No one,” says He, “shall ye salute by the way.” What a destroyer of the prophets, forsooth, is Christ, seeing it is from them that He received his precept also!
When Elisha sent on his servant Gehazi before him to raise the Shunammite’s son from death, I rather think he gave him these instructions: “Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again.” For what is a wayside blessing but a mutual salutation as men meet? So also the Lord commands: “Into whatsoever house they enter, let them say, Peace be to it.” Herein He follows the very same example. For Elisha enjoined upon his servant the same salutation when he met the Shunammite; he was to say to her: “Peace to thine husband, peace to thy child.”
Such will be rather our Antitheses; they compare Christ with, instead of sundering Him from, the Creator. “The labourer is worthy of his hire.” Who could better pronounce such a sentence than the Judge? For to decide that the workman deserves his wages, is in itself a judicial act. There is no award which consists not in a process of judgment. The law of the Creator on this point also presents us with a corroboration, for He judges that labouring oxen are as labourers worthy of their hire: “Thou shalt not muzzle,” says He, “the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” Now, who is so good to man as He who is also merciful to cattle?
Now, when Christ pronounced labourers to be worthy of their hire, He, in fact, exonerated from blame that precept of the Creator about depriving the Egyptians of their gold and silver vessels. For they who had built for the Egyptians their houses and cities, were surely workmen worthy of their hire, and were not instructed in a fraudulent act, but only set to claim compensation for their hire, which they were unable in any other way to exact from their masters. That the kingdom of God was neither new nor unheard of, He in this way affirmed, whilst at the same time He bids them announce that it was near at hand.
Now it is that which was once far off, which can be properly said to have become 388 near. If, however, a thing had never existed previous to its becoming near, it could never have been said to have approached, because it had never existed at a distance. Everything which is new and unknown is also sudden. Everything which is sudden, then, first receives the accident of time when it is announced, for it then first puts on appearance of form. Besides it will be impossible for a thing either to have been tardy all the while it remained unannounced, or to have approached from the time it shall begin to be announced.
He likewise adds, that they should say to such as would not receive them: “Notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” If He does not enjoin this by way of a commination, the injunction is a most useless one. For what mattered it to them that the kingdom was at hand, unless its approach was accompanied with judgment?—even for the salvation of such as received the announcement thereof. How, if there can be a threat without its accomplishment, can you have in a threatening god, one that executes also, and in both, one that is a judicial being?
So, again, He commands that the dust be shaken off against them, as a testimony,—the very particles of their ground which might cleave to the sandal, not to mention any other sort of communication with them. But if their churlishness and inhospitality were to receive no vengeance from Him, for what purpose does He premise a testimony, which surely forbodes some threats? Furthermore, when the Creator also, in the book of Deuteronomy, forbids the reception of the Ammonites and the Moabites into the church, because, when His people came from Egypt, they fraudulently withheld provisions from them with inhumanity and inhospitality, it will be manifest that the prohibition of intercourse descended to Christ from Him.
The form of it which He uses—“He that despiseth you, despiseth me” —the Creator had also addressed to Moses: “Not against thee have they murmured, but against me.” Moses, indeed, was as much an apostle as the apostles were prophets. The authority of both offices will have to be equally divided, as it proceeds from one and the same Lord, (the God) of apostles and prophets. Who is He that shall bestow “the power of treading on serpents and scorpions?”
Shall it be He who is the Lord of all living creatures or he who is not god over a single lizard? Happily the Creator has promised by Isaiah to give this power even to little children, of putting their hand in the cockatrice den and on the hole of the young asps without at all receiving hurt. And, indeed, we are aware (without doing violence to the literal sense of the passage, since even these noxious animals have actually been unable to do hurt where there has been faith) that under the figure of scorpions and serpents are portended evil spirits, whose very prince is described by the name of serpent, dragon, and every other most conspicuous beast in the power of the Creator.
This power the Creator conferred first of all upon His Christ, even as the ninetieth Psalm says to Him: “Upon the asp and the basilisk shalt Thou tread; the lion and the dragon shalt Thou trample under foot.” So also Isaiah: “In that day the Lord God shall draw His sacred, great, and strong sword” (even His Christ) “against that dragon, that great and tortuous serpent; and He shall slay him in that day.” But when the same prophet says, “The way shall be called a clean and holy way; over it the unclean thing shall not pass, nor shall be there any unclean way; but the dispersed shall pass over it, and they shall not err therein; no lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; it shall not be found there,” he points out the way of faith, by which we shall reach to God; and then to this way of faith he promises this utter crippling and subjugation of all noxious animals.
Lastly, you may discover the suitable times of the promise, if you read what precedes the passage: “Be strong, ye weak hands and ye feeble knees: then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be articulate.” When, therefore, He proclaimed the benefits of His cures, then also did He put the scorpions and the serpents under the feet of His saints—even He who had first received this power from the 389 Father, in order to bestow it upon others and then manifested it forth conformably to the order of prophecy.
Chapter XXV. — Christ Thanks the Father for Revealing to Babes What He Had Concealed from the Wise.
This Concealment Judiciously Effected by the Creator. Other Points in St. Luke’s Chap. X. Shown to Be Only Possible to the Creator’s Christ.
Who shall be invoked as the Lord of heaven, that does not first show Himself to have been the maker thereof? For He says, “I thank thee, (O Father,) and own Thee, Lord of heaven, because those things which had been hidden from the wise and prudent, Thou has revealed unto babes.” What things are these? And whose? And by whom hidden? And by whom revealed? If it was by Marcion’s god that they were hidden and revealed, it was an extremely iniquitous proceeding; for nothing at all had he ever produced in which anything could have been hidden—no prophecies, no parables, no visions, no evidences of things, or words, or names, obscured by allegories and figures, or cloudy enigmas, but he had concealed the greatness even of himself, which he was with all his might revealing by his Christ.
Now in what respect had the wise and prudent done wrong, that God should be hidden from them, when their wisdom and prudence had been insufficient to come to the knowledge of Him? No way had been provided by himself, by any declaration of his works, or any vestiges whereby they might become wise and prudent. However, if they had even failed in any duty towards a god whom they knew not, suppose him now at last to be known still they ought not to have found a jealous god in him who is introduced as unlike the Creator. Therefore, since he had neither provided any materials in which he could have hidden anything, nor had any offenders from whom he could have hidden himself: since, again, even if he had had any, he ought not to have hidden himself from them, he will not now be himself the revealer, who was not previously the concealer; so neither will any be the Lord of heaven nor the Father of Christ but He in whom all these attributes consistently meet.
For He conceals by His preparatory apparatus of prophetic obscurity, the understanding of which is open to faith (for “if ye will not believe, ye shall not understand”); and He had offenders in those wise and prudent ones who would not seek after God, although He was to be discovered in His so many and mighty works, or who rashly philosophized about Him, and thereby furnished to heretics their arts; and lastly, He is a jealous God. Accordingly, that which Christ thanks God for doing, He long ago announced by Isaiah: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the understanding of the prudent will I hide.”
So in another passage He intimates both that He has concealed, and that He will also reveal: “I will give unto them treasures that have been hidden, and secret ones will I discover to them.” And again: “Who else shall scatter the tokens of ventriloquists, and the devices of those who divine out of their own heart; turning wise men backward, and making their counsels foolish?” Now, if He has designated His Christ as an enlightener of the Gentiles, saying, “I have set thee for a light of the Gentiles;” and if we understand these to be meant in the word babes —as having been once dwarfs in knowledge and infants in prudence, and even now also babes in their lowliness of faith—we shall of course more easily understand how He who had once hidden “these things,” and promised a revelation of them through Christ, was the same God as He who had now revealed them unto babes.
Else, if it was Marcion’s god who revealed the things which had been formerly hidden by the Creator, it follows that he did the Creator’s work by setting forth His deeds. But he did it, say you, for His destruction, that he might refute them. Therefore he ought to have refuted them to those from whom the Creator had hidden them, even the wise and prudent. For if he had a kind intention in what he did, the gift of knowledge was due to those from whom the Creator had detained it, instead of the babes, to whom the Creator had grudged no gift. But after all, it is, I presume, the edification rather than the demolition of the law and the prophets which we have thus far found effected in Christ.
“All things,” He says, “are delivered unto me of my 390 Father.” You may believe Him, if He is the Christ of the Creator to whom all things belong; because the Creator has not delivered to a Son who is less than Himself all things, which He created by Him, that is to say, by His Word. If, on the contrary, he is the notorious stranger, what are the “all things” which have been delivered to him by the Father? Are they the Creator’s? Then the things which the Father delivered to the Son are good, and the Creator is therefore good, since all His “things” are good; whereas he is no longer good who has invaded another’s good (domains) to deliver it to his son, thus teaching robbery of another’s goods.
Surely he must be a most mendacious being, who had no other means of enriching his son than by helping himself to another’s property! Or else, if nothing of the Creator’s has been delivered to him by the Father, by what right does he claim for himself (authority over) man? Or again, if man has been delivered to him, and man alone, then man is not “all things.” But Scripture clearly says that a transfer of all things has been made to the Son. If, however, you should interpret this “all” of the whole human race, that is, all nations, then the delivery of even these to the Son is within the purpose of the Creator: “I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.”
If, indeed, he has some things of his own, the whole of which he might give to his son, along with the man of the Creator, then show some one thing of them all, as a sample, that I may believe; lest I should have as much reason not to believe that all things belong to him, of whom I see nothing, as I have ground for believing that even the things which I see not are His, to whom belongs the universe, which I see. But “no man knoweth who the Father is, but the Son; and who the Son is, but the Father, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” And so it was an unknown god that Christ preached! And other heretics, too, prop themselves up by this passage; alleging in opposition to it that the Creator was known to all, both to Israel by familiar intercourse, and to the Gentiles by nature.
Well, how is it He Himself testifies that He was not known to Israel? “But Israel doth not know me, and my people doth not consider me;” nor to the Gentiles: “For, behold,” says He, “of the nations I have no man.” Therefore He reckoned them “as the drop of a bucket,” while “Sion He left as a look-out in a vineyard.” See, then, whether there be not here a confirmation of the prophet’s word, when he rebukes that ignorance of man toward God which continued to the days of the Son of man. For it was on this account that he inserted the clause that the Father is known by him to whom the Son has revealed Him, because it was even He who was announced as set by the Father to be a light to the Gentiles, who of course required to be enlightened concerning God, as well as to Israel, even by imparting to it a fuller knowledge of God.
Arguments, therefore, will be of no use for belief in the rival god which may be suitable for the Creator, because it is only such as are unfit for the Creator which will be able to advance belief in His rival. If you look also into the next words, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things which ye see, for I tell you that prophets have not seen the things which ye see,” you will find that they follow from the sense above, that no man indeed had come to the knowledge of God as he ought to have done, since even the prophets had not seen the things which were being seen under Christ.
Now if He had not been my Christ, He would not have made any mention of the prophets in this passage. For what was there to wonder at, if they had not seen the things of a god who had been unknown to them, and was only revealed a long time after them? What blessedness, however, could theirs have been, who were then seeing what others were naturally unable to see, since it was of things which they had never predicted that they had not obtained the sight; if it were not because they might justly have seen the things pertaining to their God, which they had even predicted, but which they at the same time had not seen?
This, however, will be the blessedness of others, even of such as were seeing the things which others had only foretold. We shall by and by show, nay, we have already shown, that in Christ those things were seen which had 391 been foretold, but yet had been hidden from the very prophets who foretold them, in order that they might be hidden also from the wise and the prudent. In the true Gospel, a certain doctor of the law comes to the Lord and asks, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
In the heretical gospel life only is mentioned, without the attribute eternal; so that the lawyer seems to have consulted Christ simply about the life which the Creator in the law promises to prolong, and the Lord to have therefore answered him according to the law, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength,” since the question was concerning the conditions of mere life. But the lawyer of course knew very well in what way the life which the law meant was to be obtained, so that his question could have had no relation to the life whose rules he was himself in the habit of teaching. But seeing that even the dead were now raised by Christ, and being himself excited to the hope of an eternal life by these examples of a restored one, he would lose no more time in merely looking on (at the wonderful things which had made him) so high in hope.
He therefore consulted him about the attainment of eternal life. Accordingly, the Lord, being Himself the same, and introducing no new precept other than that which relates above all others to (man’s) entire salvation, even including the present and the future life, places before him the very essence of the law—that he should in every possible way love the Lord his God. If, indeed, it were only about a lengthened life, such as is at the Creator’s disposal, that he inquired and Christ answered, and not about the eternal life, which is at the disposal of Marcion’s god, how is he to obtain the eternal one?
Surely not in the same manner as the prolonged life. For in proportion to the difference of the reward must be supposed to be also the diversity of the services. Therefore your disciple, Marcion, will not obtain his eternal life in consequence of loving your God, in the same way as the man who loves the Creator will secure the lengthened life. But how happens it that, if He is to be loved who promises the prolonged life, He is not much more to be loved who offers the eternal life?
Therefore both one and the other life will be at the disposal of one and the same Lord; because one and the same discipline is to be followed for one and the other life. What the Creator teaches to be loved, that must He necessarily maintain also by Christ, for that rule holds good here, which prescribes that greater things ought to be believed of Him who has first lesser proofs to show, than of him for whom no preceding smaller presumptions have secured a claim to be believed in things of higher import.
It matters not then, whether the word eternal has been interpolated by us. It is enough for me, that the Christ who invited men to the eternal—not the lengthened—life, when consulted about the temporal life which he was destroying, did not choose to exhort the man rather to that eternal life which he was introducing. Pray, what would the Creator’s Christ have done, if He who had made man for loving the Creator did not belong to the Creator? I suppose He would have said that the Creator was not to be loved!
Chapter XXVI. — From St. Luke’s Eleventh Chapter Other Evidence that Christ Comes from the Creator.
The Lord’s Prayer and Other Words of Christ. The Dumb Spirit and Christ’s Discourse on Occasion of the Expulsion. The Exclamation of the Woman in the Crowd.
When in a certain place he had been praying to that Father above, looking up with insolent and audacious eyes to the heaven of the Creator, by whom in His rough and cruel nature he might have been crushed with hail and lightning—just as it was by Him contrived that he was (afterwards) attached to a cross at Jerusalem—one of his disciples came to him and said, “Master, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
This he said, forsooth, because he thought that different prayers were required for different gods! Now, he who had advanced such a conjecture as this should first show that another god had been proclaimed by Christ. For nobody would have wanted to know how to pray, before he had learned whom he was to pray to. If, however, he had already learned this, prove it. If you find nowhere any proof, let me tell you that it was to the Creator that he asked 392 for instruction in prayer, to whom John’s disciples also used to pray.
But, inasmuch as John had introduced some new order of prayer, this disciple had not improperly presumed to think that he ought also to ask of Christ whether they too must not (according to some special rule of their Master) pray, not indeed to another god, but in another manner. Christ accordingly would not have taught His disciple prayer before He had given him the knowledge of God Himself. Therefore what He actually taught was prayer to Him whom the disciple had already known.
In short, you may discover in the import of the prayer what God is addressed therein. To whom can I say, “Father?” To him who had nothing to do with making me, from whom I do not derive my origin? Or to Him, who, by making and fashioning me, became my parent? Of whom can I ask for His Holy Spirit? Of him who gives not even the mundane spirit; or of Him “who maketh His angels spirits,” and whose Spirit it was which in the beginning hovered upon the waters.
Whose kingdom shall I wish to come—his, of whom I never heard as the king of glory; or His, in whose hand are even the hearts of kings? Who shall give me my daily bread? Shall it be he who produces for me not a grain of millet-seed; or He who even from heaven gave to His people day by day the bread of angels? Who shall forgive me my trespasses? He who, by refusing to judge them, does not retain them; or He who, unless He forgives them, will retain them, even to His judgment?
Who shall suffer us not to be led into temptation? He before whom the tempter will never be able to tremble; or He who from the beginning has beforehand condemned the angel tempter? If any one, with such a form, invokes another god and not the Creator, he does not pray; he only blasphemes. In like manner, from whom must I ask that I may receive? Of whom seek, that I may find? To whom knock, that it may be opened to me? Who has to give to him that asks, but He to whom all things belong, and whose am I also that am the asker? What, however, have I lost before that other god, that I should seek of him and find it.
If it be wisdom and prudence, it is the Creator who has hidden them. Shall I resort to him, then, in quest of them? If it be health and life, they are at the disposal of the Creator. Nor must anything be sought and found anywhere else than there, where it is kept in secret that it may come to light. So, again, at no other door will I knock than at that out of which my privilege has reached me. In fine, if to receive, and to find, and to be admitted, is the fruit of labour and earnestness to him who has asked, and sought, and knocked, understand that these duties have been enjoined, and results promised, by the Creator.
As for that most excellent god of yours, coming as he professes gratuitously to help man, who was not his (creature), he could not have imposed upon him any labour, or (endowed him with) any earnestness. For he would by this time cease to be the most excellent god, were he not spontaneously to give to every one who does not ask, and permit every one who seeks not to find, and open to every one who does not knock.
The Creator, on the contrary, was able to proclaim these duties and rewards by Christ, in order that man, who by sinning had offended his God, might toil on (in his probation), and by his perseverance in asking might receive, and in seeking might find, and in knocking might enter. Accordingly, the preceding similitude represents the man who went at night and begged for the loaves, in the light of a friend and not a stranger, and makes him knock at a friend’s house and not at a stranger’s. But even if he has offended, man is more of a friend with the Creator than with the god of Marcion.
At His door, therefore, does he knock to whom he had the right of access; whose gate he had found; whom he knew to possess bread; in bed now with His children, whom He had willed to be born. Even though the knocking is late in the day, it is yet the Creator’s time. To Him belongs the latest hour who owns an entire age and the end thereof. As for the new god, however, no one could have knocked at his door late, for he has hardly yet seen the light of morning.
It is the Creator, who once shut the door to the Gentiles, which was then knocked at by the Jews, that both rises and gives, if not now to man as a friend, yet not as a stranger, but, as He says, “because of his importunity.” Importunate, however, the recent god could not have permitted any one to be in the short time (since his 393 appearance). Him, therefore, whom you call the Creator recognise also as “Father.” It is even He who knows what His children require.
For when they asked for bread, He gave them manna from heaven; and when they wanted flesh, He sent them abundance of quails—not a serpent for a fish, nor for an egg a scorpion. It will, however, appertain to Him not to give evil instead of good, who has both one and the other in His power. Marcion’s god, on the contrary, not having a scorpion, was unable to refuse to give what he did not possess; only He (could do so), who, having a scorpion, yet gives it not. In like manner, it is He who will give the Holy Spirit, at whose command is also the unholy spirit. When He cast out the “demon which was dumb” (and by a cure of this sort verified Isaiah), and having been charged with casting out demons by Beelzebub, He said, “If I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out?” By such a question what does He otherwise mean, than that He ejects the spirits by the same power by which their sons also did—that is, by the power of the Creator?
For if you suppose the meaning to be, “If I by Beelzebub, etc., by whom your sons?”—as if He would reproach them with having the power of Beelzebub,—you are met at once by the preceding sentence, that “Satan cannot be divided against himself.” So that it was not by Beelzebub that even they were casting out demons, but (as we have said) by the power of the Creator; and that He might make this understood, He adds: “But if I with the finger of God cast out demons, is not the kingdom of God come near unto you?” For the magicians who stood before Pharaoh and resisted Moses called the power of the Creator “the finger of God.” It was the finger of God, because it was a sign that even a thing of weakness was yet abundant in strength.
This Christ also showed, when, recalling to notice (and not obliterating) those ancient wonders which were really His own, He said that the power of God must be understood to be the finger of none other God than Him, under whom it had received this appellation. His kingdom, therefore, was come near to them, whose power was called His “finger.” Well, therefore, did He connect with the parable of “the strong man armed,” whom “a stronger man still overcame,” the prince of the demons, whom He had already called Beelzebub and Satan; signifying that it was he who was overcome by the finger of God, and not that the Creator had been subdued by another god.
Besides, how could His kingdom be still standing, with its boundaries, and laws, and functions, whom, even if the whole world were left entire to Him, Marcion’s god could possibly seem to have overcome as “the stronger than He,” if it were not in consequence of His law that even Marcionites were constantly dying, by returning in their dissolution to the ground, and were so often admonished by even a scorpion, that the Creator had by no means been overcome? “A (certain) mother of the company exclaims, ‘Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked;’ but the Lord said, ‘Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.’”
Now He had in precisely similar terms rejected His mother or His brethren, whilst preferring those who heard and obeyed God. His mother, however, was not here present with Him. On that former occasion, therefore, He had not denied that He was her son by birth. On hearing this (salutation) the second time, He the second time transferred, as He had done before, the “blessedness” to His disciples from the womb and the paps of His mother, from whom, however, unless He had in her (a real mother) He could not have transferred it.
Chapter XXVII. — Christ’s Reprehension of the Pharisees Seeking a Sign.
His Censure of Their Love of Outward Show Rather Than Inward Holiness. Scripture Abounds with Admonitions of a Similar Purport. Proofs of His Mission from the Creator.
I prefer elsewhere refuting the faults which the Marcionites find in the Creator. It is here enough that they are also found in Christ. Behold how unequal, inconsistent, and capricious he is! Teaching one thing and doing another, he enjoins “giving to every one that seeks;” and yet he himself refuses to give to those “who seek a sign.” For a vast age 394 he hides his own light from men, and yet says that a candle must not be hidden, but affirms that it ought to be set upon a candlestick, that it may give light to all. He forbids cursing again, and cursing much more of course; and yet he heaps his woe upon the Pharisees and doctors of the law.
Who so closely resembles my God as His own Christ? We have often already laid it down for certain, that He could not have been branded as the destroyer of the law if He had promulged another god. Therefore even the Pharisee, who invited Him to dinner in the passage before us, expressed some surprise in His presence that He had not washed before He sat down to meat, in accordance with the law, since it was the God of the law that He was proclaiming. Jesus also interpreted the law to him when He told him that they “made clean the outside of the cup and the platter, whereas their inward part was full of ravening and wickedness.”
This He said, to signify that by the cleansing of vessels was to be understood before God the purification of men, inasmuch as it was about a man, and not about an unwashed vessel, that even this Pharisee had been treating in His presence. He therefore said: “You wash the outside of the cup,” that is, the flesh, “but you do not cleanse your inside part,” that is, the soul; adding: “Did not He that made the outside,” that is, the flesh, “also make the inward part,” that is to say, the soul?—by which assertion He expressly declared that to the same God belongs the cleansing of a man’s external and internal nature, both alike being in the power of Him who prefers mercy not only to man’s washing, but even to sacrifice. For He subjoins the command: “Give what ye possess as alms, and all things shall be clean unto you.”
Even if another god could have enjoined mercy, he could not have done so previous to his becoming known. Furthermore, it is in this passage evident that they were not reproved concerning their God, but concerning a point of His instruction to them, when He prescribed to them figuratively the cleansing of their vessels, but really the works of merciful dispositions. In like manner, He upbraids them for tithing paltry herbs, but at the same time “passing over hospitality and the love of God.” The vocation and the love of what God, but Him by whose law of tithes they used to offer their rue and mint?
For the whole point of the rebuke lay in this, that they cared about small matters in His service of course, to whom they failed to exhibit their weightier duties when He commanded them: “Thou shalt love with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, the Lord thy God, who hath called thee out of Egypt.” Besides, time enough had not yet passed to admit of Christ’s requiring so premature—nay, as yet so distasteful —a love towards a new and recent, not to say a hardly yet developed, deity. When, again, He upbraids those who caught at the uppermost places and the honour of public salutations, He only follows out the Creator’s course, who calls ambitious persons of this character “rulers of Sodom,” who forbids us “to put confidence even in princes,” and pronounces him to be altogether wretched who places his confidence in man.
But whoever aims at high position, because he would glory in the officious attentions of other people, (in every such case,) inasmuch as He forbade such attentions (in the shape) of placing hope and confidence in man, He at the same time censured all who were ambitious of high positions. He also inveighs against the doctors of the law themselves, because they were “lading men with burdens grievous to be borne, which they did not venture to touch with even a finger of their own;” but not as if He made a mock of the burdens of the law with any feeling of detestation towards it.
For how could He have felt aversion to the law, who used with so much earnestness to upbraid them for passing over its weightier matters, alms—giving, hospitality, and the love of God? Nor, indeed, was it only these great things (which He recognized), but even the tithes of rue and the cleansing of cups. But, in truth, He would rather have deemed them excusable for being unable to carry 395 burdens which could not be borne. What, then, are the burdens which He censures? None but those which they were accumulating of their own accord, when they taught for commandments the doctrines of men; for the sake of private advantage joining house to house, so as to deprive their neighbour of his own; cajoling the people, loving gifts, pursuing rewards, robbing the poor of the rights of judgment, that they might have the widow for a prey and the fatherless for a spoil.
Of these Isaiah also says, “Woe unto them that are strong in Jerusalem!” and again, “They that demand you shall rule over you.” And who did this more than the lawyers? Now, if these offended Christ, it was as belonging to Him that they offended Him. He would have aimed no blow at the teachers of an alien law. But why is a “woe” pronounced against them for “building the sepulchres of the prophets whom their fathers had killed?” They rather deserved praise, because by such an act of piety they seemed to show that they did not allow the deeds of their fathers.
Was it not because (Christ) was jealous of such a disposition as the Marcionites denounce, visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the fourth generation? What “key,” indeed, was it which these lawyers had, but the interpretation of the law? Into the perception of this they neither entered themselves, even because they did not believe (for “unless ye believe, ye shall not understand”); nor did they permit others to enter, because they preferred to teach them for commandments even the doctrines of men. When, therefore, He reproached those who did not themselves enter in, and also shut the door against others, must He be regarded as a disparager of the law, or as a supporter of it?
If a disparager, those who were hindering the law ought to have been pleased; if a supporter, He is no longer an enemy of the law. But all these imprecations He uttered in order to tarnish the Creator as a cruel Being, against whom such as offended were destined to have a “woe.” And who would not rather have feared to provoke a cruel Being, by withdrawing allegiance from Him? Therefore the more He represented the Creator to be an object of fear, the more earnestly would He teach that He ought to be served. Thus would it behove the Creator’s Christ to act.
Chapter XXVIII. — Examples from the Old Testament, Balaam, Moses, and Hezekiah.
To Show How Completely the Instruction and Conduct of Christ Are in Keeping with the Will and Purpose of the Creator.
Justly, therefore, was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees displeasing to Him, loving God as they did with their lips, but not with their heart. “Beware,” He says to the disciples, “of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy,” not the proclamation of the Creator. The Son hates those who refused obedience to the Father; nor does He wish His disciples to show such a disposition towards Him—not (let it be observed) towards another god, against whom such hypocrisy indeed might have been admissible, as that which He wished to guard His disciples against.
It is the example of the Pharisees which He forbids. It was in respect of Him against whom the Pharisees were sinning that (Christ) now forbade His disciples to offend. Since, then, He had censured their hypocrisy, which covered the secrets of the heart, and obscured with superficial offices the mysteries of unbelief, because (while holding the key of knowledge) it would neither enter in itself, nor permit others to enter in, He therefore adds, “There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hid, which shall not be known,”4622 in order that no one should suppose that He was attempting the revelation and the recognition of an hitherto unknown and hidden god.
When He remarks also on their murmurs and taunts, in saying of Him, “This man casteth out devils only through Beelzebub,” He means that all these imputations would come forth to the light of day, and be in the mouths of men in consequence of the promulgation of the Gospel. He then turns to His disciples with these words, “I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them which can only kill the body, and after that have no more power over you.”
They will, however, find Isaiah had already said, “See how the just man is taken away, and no man layeth it to heart.” “But I will show you whom ye shall fear: fear Him who, after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell” (meaning, of course, the Creator); “yea, I say 396 unto you, fear Him.” Now, it would here be enough for my purpose that He forbids offence being given to Him whom He orders to be feared; and that He orders Him to be respected whom He forbids to be offended; and that He who gives these commands belongs to that very God for whom He procures this fear, this absence of offence, and this respect. But this conclusion I can draw also from the following words: “For I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before God.”
Now they who shall confess Christ will have to be slain before men, but they will have nothing more to suffer after they have been put to death by them. These therefore will be they whom He forewarns above not to be afraid of being only killed; and this forewarning He offers, in order that He might subjoin a clause on the necessity of confessing Him: “Every one that denieth me before men shall be denied before God” —by Him, of course, who would have confessed him, if he had only confessed God. Now, He who will confess the confessor is the very same God who will also deny the denier of Himself. Again, if it is the confessor who will have nothing to fear after his violent death, it is the denier to whom everything will become fearful after his natural death.
Since, therefore, that which will have to be feared after death, even the punishment of hell, belongs to the Creator, the denier, too, belongs to the Creator. As with the denier, however, so with the confessor: if he should deny God, he will plainly have to suffer from God, although from men he had nothing more to suffer after they had put him to death. And so Christ is the Creator’s, because He shows that all those who deny Him ought to fear the Creator’s hell. After deterring His disciples from denial of Himself, He adds an admonition to fear blasphemy: “Whosoever shall speak against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him.”
Now, if both the remission and the retention of sin savour of a judicial God, the Holy Ghost, who is not to be blasphemed, will belong to Him, who will not forgive the blasphemy; just as He who, in the preceding passage, was not to be denied, belonged to, Him who would, after He had killed, also cast into hell. Now, since it is Christ who averts blasphemy from the Creator, I am at a loss to know in what manner His adversary could have come. Else, if by these sayings He throws a black cloud of censure over the severity of Him who will not forgive blasphemy and will kill even to hell, it follows that the very spirit of that rival god may be blasphemed with impunity, and his Christ denied; and that there is no difference, in fact, between worshipping and despising him; but that, as there is no punishment for the contempt, so there is no reward for the worship, which men need expect.
When “brought before magistrates,” and examined, He forbids them “to take thought how they shall answer;” “for,” says He, “the Holy Ghost shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say.” If such an injunction as this comes from the Creator, the precept will only be His by whom an example was previously given. The prophet Balaam, in Numbers, when sent forth by king Balak to curse Israel, with whom he was commencing war, was at the same moment filled with the Spirit. Instead of the curse which he was come to pronounce, he uttered the blessing which the Spirit at that very hour inspired him with; having previously declared to the king’s messengers, and then to the king himself, that he could only speak forth that which God should put into his mouth.
The novel doctrines of the new Christ are such as the Creator’s servants initiated long before! But see how clear a difference there is between the example of Moses and of Christ. Moses voluntarily interferes with brothers who were quarrelling, and chides the offender: “Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?” He is, however, rejected by him: “Who made thee a prince or a judge over us?” Christ, on the contrary, when requested by a certain man to compose a strife between him and his brother about dividing an inheritance, refused His assistance, although in so honest a cause.
Well, then, my Moses is better than your Christ, aiming as he did at the peace of brethren, and obviating their wrong. But of course the case must be different with Christ, for he is the Christ of the simply good and non-judicial god. “Who,” says he, “made me a judge over you?” No other word of excuse was he able to find, without using that with which the wicked, man and impious 397 brother had rejected the defender of probity and piety! In short, he approved of the excuse, although a bad one, by his use of it; and of the act, although a bad one, by his refusal to make peace between brothers. Or rather, would He not show His resentment at the rejection of Moses with such a word? And therefore did He not wish in a similar case of contentious brothers, to confound them with the recollection of so harsh a word? Clearly so.
For He had Himself been present in Moses, who heard such a rejection—even He, the Spirit of the Creator. I think that we have already, in another passage, sufficiently shown that the glory of riches is condemned by our God, “who putteth down the mighty from their throne, and exalts the poor from the dunghill.” From Him, therefore, will proceed the parable of the rich man, who flattered himself about the increase of his fields, and to Whom God said: “Thou fool, this night shall they require thy soul of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?” It was just in the like manner that the king Hezekiah heard from Isaiah the sad doom of his kingdom, when he gloried, before the envoys of Babylon, in his treasures and the deposits of his precious things.
Chapter XXIX. — Parallels from the Prophets to Illustrate Christ’s Teaching in the Rest of This Chapter of St. Luke.
The Sterner Attributes of Christ, in His Judicial Capacity, Show Him to Have Come from the Creator. Incidental Rebukes of Marcion’s Doctrine of Celibacy, and of His Altering of the Text of the Gospel.
Who would be unwilling that we should distress ourselves about sustenance for our life, or clothing for our body, but He who has provided these things already for man; and who, therefore, while distributing them to us, prohibits all anxiety respecting them as an outrage against his liberality?—who has adapted the nature of “life” itself to a condition “better than meat,” and has fashioned the material of “the body,” so as to make it “more than raiment;” whose “ravens, too, neither sow nor reap, nor gather into storehouses, and are yet fed” by Himself; whose “lilies and grass also toil not, nor spin, and yet are clothed” by Him; whose “Solomon, moreover, was transcendent in glory, and yet was not arrayed like” the humble flower.
Besides, nothing can be more abrupt than that one God should be distributing His bounty, while the other should bid us take no thought about (so kindly a) distribution—and that, too, with the intention of derogating (from his liberality). Whether, indeed, it is as depreciating the Creator that he does not wish such trifles to be thought of, concerning which neither the crows nor the lilies labour, because, forsooth, they come spontaneously to hand by reason of their very worthlessness, will appear a little further on.
Meanwhile, how is it that He chides them as being “of little faith?” What faith? Does He mean that faith which they were as yet unable to manifest perfectly in a god who has hardly yet revealed, and whom they were in process of learning as well as they could; or that faith which they for this express reason owed to the Creator, because they believed that He was of His own will supplying these wants of the human race, and therefore took no thought about them?
Now, when He adds, “For all these things do the nations of the world seek after,” even by their not believing in God as the Creator and Giver of all things, since He was unwilling that they should be like these nations, He therefore upbraided them as being defective of faith in the same God, in whom He remarked that the Gentiles were quite wanting in faith. When He further adds, “But your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things,” I would first ask, what Father Christ would have to be here understood?
If He points to their own Creator, He also affirms Him to be good, who knows what His children have need of; but if He refers to that other god, how does he know that food and raiment are necessary to man, seeing that he has made no such provision for him? For if he had known the want, he would have made the provision. If, however, he knows what things man has need of, and yet has failed to supply them, he is in the failure guilty of either malignity or weakness.
But when he confessed that these things are necessary to man, he really affirmed that they are good. For nothing that is evil is necessary. So that he will not be any longer a depreciator of the works and the indulgences of the Creator, that I may here complete the answer which I deferred 398 giving above. Again, if it is another god who has foreseen man’s wants, and is supplying them, how is it that Marcion’s Christ himself promises them? Is he liberal with another’s property? “Seek ye,” says he, “the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you”—by himself, of course. But if by himself, what sort of being is he, who shall bestow the things of another?
If by the Creator, whose all things are, then who is he that promises what belongs to another? If these things are “additions” to the kingdom, they must be placed in the second rank; and the second rank belongs to Him to whom the first also does; His are the food and raiment, whose is the kingdom. Thus to the Creator belongs the entire promise, the full reality of its parables, the perfect equalization of its similitudes; for these have respect to none other than Him to whom they have a parity of relation in every point.
We are servants because we have a Lord in our God. We ought “to have our loins girded:” in other words, we are to be free from the embarrassments of a perplexed and much occupied life; “to have our lights burning,” that is, our minds kindled by faith, and resplendent with the works of truth. And thus “to wait for our Lord,” that is, Christ. Whence “returning?” If “from the wedding,” He is the Christ of the Creator, for the wedding is His.
If He is not the Creator’s, not even Marcion himself would have gone to the wedding, although invited, for in his god he discovers one who hates the nuptial bed. The parable would therefore have failed in the person of the Lord, if He were not a Being to whom a wedding is consistent. In the next parable also he makes a flagrant mistake, when he assigns to the person of the Creator that “thief, whose hour, if the father of the family had only known, he would not have suffered his house to be broken through.”
How can the Creator wear in any way the aspect of a thief, Lord as He is of all mankind? No one pilfers or plunders his own property, but he rather acts the part of one who swoops down on the things of another, and alienates man from his Lord. Again, when He indicates to us that the devil is “the thief,” whose hour at the very beginning of the world, if man had known, he would never have been broken in upon by him, He warns us “to be ready,” for this reason, because “we know not the hour when the Son of man shall come” —not as if He were Himself the thief, but rather as being the judge of those who prepared not themselves, and used no precaution against the thief. Since, then, He is the Son of man, I hold Him to be the Judge, and in the Judge I claim the Creator.
If then in this passage he displays the Creator’s Christ under the title “Son of man,” that he may give us some presage of the thief, of the period of whose coming we are ignorant, you still have it ruled above, that no one is the thief of his own property; besides which, there is our principle also unimpaired —that in as far as He insists on the Creator as an object of fear, in so far does He belong to the Creator, and does the Creator’s work.
When, therefore, Peter asked whether He had spoken the parable “unto them, or even to all,” He sets forth for them, and for all who should bear rule in the churches, the similitude of stewards. That steward who should treat his fellow-servants well in his Lord’s absence, would on his return be set as ruler over all his property; but he who should act otherwise should be severed, and have his portion with the unbelievers, when his lord should return on the day when he looked not for him, at the hour when he was not aware —even that Son of man, the Creator’s Christ, not a thief, but a Judge.
He accordingly, in this passage, either presents to us the Lord as a Judge, and instructs us in His character, or else as the simply good god; if the latter, he now also affirms his judicial attribute, although the heretic refuses to admit it. For an attempt is made to modify this sense when it is applied to his god,—as if it were an act of serenity and mildness simply to sever the man off, and to assign him a portion with the unbelievers, under the idea that he was not summoned (before the judge), but only returned to his own state! As if this very process did not imply a judicial act! What folly! What will be the end of the severed ones?
Will it not be the forfeiture of salvation, since their separation will be from those who shall attain salvation? What, again, will be the condition of the unbelievers? Will it not be damnation? Else, if these severed and unfaithful ones shall have nothing to suffer, there will, on the other hand, be nothing for the accepted and 399 the believers to obtain. If, however, the accepted and the believers shall attain salvation, it must needs be that the rejected and the unbelieving should incur the opposite issue, even the loss of salvation.
Now here is a judgment, and He who holds it out before us belongs to the Creator. Whom else than the God of retribution can I understand by Him who shall “beat His servants with stripes,” either “few or many,” and shall exact from them what He had committed to them? Whom is it suitable for me to obey, but Him who remunerates? Your Christ proclaims, “I am come to send fire on the earth.” That most lenient being, the lord who has no hell, not long before had restrained his disciples from demanding fire on the churlish village. Whereas He burnt up Sodom and Gomorrah with a tempest of fire. Of Him the psalmist sang, “A fire shall go out before Him, and burn up His enemies round about.” By Hosea He uttered the threat, “I will send a fire upon the cities of Judah;” and by Isaiah, “A fire has been kindled in mine anger.” He cannot lie. If it is not He who uttered His voice out of even the burning bush, it can be of no importance what fire you insist upon being understood. Even if it be but figurative fire, yet, from the very fact that he takes from my element illustrations for His own sense, He is mine, because He uses what is mine. The similitude of fire must belong to Him who owns the reality thereof.
But He will Himself best explain the quality of that fire which He mentioned, when He goes on to say, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.” It is written “a sword,” but Marcion makes an emendation of the word, just as if a division were not the work of the sword. He, therefore, who refused to give peace, intended also the fire of destruction. As is the combat, so is the burning. As is the sword, so is the flame. Neither is suitable for its lord. He says at last, “The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law.”
Since this battle among the relatives was sung by the prophet’s trumpet in the very words, I fear that Micah must have predicted it to Marcion’s Christ! On this account He pronounced them “hypocrites,” because they could “discern the face of the sky and the earth, but could not distinguish this time,” when of course He ought to have been recognised, fulfilling (as he was) all things which had been predicted concerning them, and teaching them so. But then who could know the times of him of whom he had no evidence to prove his existence? Justly also does He upbraid them for “not even of themselves judging what is right.” Of old does He command by Zechariah, “Execute the judgment of truth and peace;” by Jeremiah, “Execute judgment and righteousness;” by Isaiah, “Judge the fatherless, plead for the widow,” charging it as a fault upon the vine of Sorech, that when “He looked for righteousness therefrom, there was only a cry” (of oppression).
The same God who had taught them to act as He commanded them, was now requiring that they should act of their own accord. He who had sown the precept, was now pressing to an abundant harvest from it. But how absurd, that he should now be commanding them to judge righteously, who was destroying God the righteous Judge! For the Judge, who commits to prison, and allows no release out of it without the payment of “the very last mite,” they treat of in the person of the Creator, with the view of disparaging Him. Which cavil, however, I deem it necessary to meet with the same answer. For as often as the Creator’s severity is paraded before us, so often is Christ (shown to be) His, to whom He urges submission by the motive of fear.
Chapter XXX. — Parables of the Mustard-Seed, and of the Leaven.
Transition to the Solemn Exclusion Which Will Ensue When the Master of the House Has Shut the Door. This Judicial Exclusion Will Be Administered by Christ, Who is Shown Thereby to Possess the Attribute of the Creator.
400 When the question was again raised concerning a cure performed on the Sabbath-day, how did He discuss it: “Doth not each of you on the Sabbath loose his ass or his ox from the stall, and lead him away to watering?” When, therefore, He did a work according to the condition prescribed by the law, He affirmed, instead of breaking, the law, which commanded that no work should be done, except what might be done for any living being; and if for any one, then how much more for a human life?
In the case of the parables, it is allowed that I everywhere require a congruity. “The kingdom of God,” says He, “is like a grain of mustard-seed which a man took and cast into his garden.” Who must be understood as meant by the man? Surely Christ, because (although Marcion’s) he was called “the Son of man.” He received from the Father the seed of the kingdom, that is, the word of the gospel, and sowed it in his garden—in the world, of course —in man at the present day, for instance.
Now, whereas it is said, “in his garden,” but neither the world nor man is his property, but the Creator’s, therefore He who sowed seed in His own ground is shown to be the Creator. Else, if, to evade this snare, they should choose to transfer the person of the man from Christ to any person who receives the seed of the kingdom and sows it in the garden of his own heart, not even this meaning would suit any other than the Creator. For how happens it, if the kingdom belong to the most lenient god, that it is closely followed up by a fervent judgment, the severity of which brings weeping?
With regard, indeed, to the following similitude, I have my fears lest it should somehow presage the kingdom of the rival god! For He compared it, not to the unleavened bread which the Creator is more familiar with, but to leaven. Now this is a capital conjecture for men who are begging for arguments. I must, however, on my side, dispel one fond conceit by another, and contend with even leaven is suitable for the kingdom of the Creator, because after it comes the oven, or, if you please, the furnace of hell. How often has He already displayed Himself as a Judge, and in the Judge the Creator?
How often, indeed, has He repelled, and in the repulse condemned? In the present passage, for instance, He says, “When once the master of the house is risen up;” but in what sense except that in which Isaiah said, “When He ariseth to shake terribly the earth?” “And hath shut to the door,” thereby shutting out the wicked, of course; and when these knock, He will answer, “I know you not whence ye are;” and when they recount how “they have eaten and drunk in His presence,” He will further say to them, “Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
But where? Outside, no doubt, when they shall have been excluded with the door shut on them by Him. There will therefore be punishment inflicted by Him who excludes for punishment, when they shall behold the righteous entering the kingdom of God, but themselves detained without. By whom detained outside? If by the Creator, who shall be within receiving the righteous into the kingdom? The good God. What, therefore, is the Creator about, that He should detain outside for punishment those whom His adversary shut out, when He ought rather to have kindly received them, if they must come into His hands, for the greater irritation of His rival?
But when about to exclude the wicked, he must, of course, either be aware that the Creator would detain them for punishment, or not be aware. Consequently either the wicked will be detained by the Creator against the will of the excluder, in which case he will be inferior to the Creator, submitting to Him unwillingly; or else, if the process is carried out with his will, then he himself has judicially determined its execution; and then he who is the very originator of the Creator’s infamy, will not prove to be one whit better than the Creator. Now, if these ideas be incompatible with reason—of one being supposed to punish, and the other to liberate—then to one only power will appertain both the judgment and the kingdom and while they both belong to one, He who executeth judgment can be none else than the Christ of the Creator.
Chapter XXXI. — Christ’s Advice to Invite the Poor in Accordance with Isaiah.
The Parable of the Great Supper a Pictorial Sketch of the Creator’s Own Dispensations of Mercy and Grace. The Rejections of the Invitation Paralleled by Quotations from the Old Testament. Marcion’s Christ Could Not Fulfill the Conditions Indicated in This Parable. The Absurdity of the Marcionite Interpretation.
401 What kind of persons does He bid should be invited to a dinner or a supper? Precisely such as he had pointed out by Isaiah: “Deal thy bread to the hungry man; and the beggars—even such as have no home—bring in to thine house,” because, no doubt, they are “unable to recompense” your act of humanity. Now, since Christ forbids the recompense to be expected now, but promises it “at the resurrection,” this is the very plan of the Creator, who dislikes those who love gifts and follow after reward. Consider also to which deity is better suited the parable of him who issued invitations: “A certain man made a great supper, and bade many.”
The preparation for the supper is no doubt a figure of the abundant provision of eternal life. I first remark, that strangers, and persons unconnected by ties of relationship, are not usually invited to a supper; but that members of the household and family are more frequently the favoured guests. To the Creator, then, it belonged to give the invitation, to whom also appertained those who were to be invited—whether considered as men, through their descent from Adam, or as Jews, by reason of their fathers; not to him who possessed no claim to them either by nature or prerogative. My next remark is, if He issues the invitations who has prepared the supper, then, in this sense the supper is the Creator’s, who sent to warn the guests.
These had been indeed previously invited by the fathers, but were to be admonished by the prophets. It certainly is not the feast of him who never sent a messenger to warn—who never did a thing before towards issuing an invitation, but came down himself on a sudden—only then beginning to be known, when already giving his invitation; only then inviting, when already compelling to his banquet; appointing one and the same hour both for the supper and the invitation.
But when invited, they excuse themselves. And fairly enough, if the invitation came from the other god, because it was so sudden; if, however, the excuse was not a fair one, then the invitation was not a sudden one. Now, if the invitation was not a sudden one, it must have been given by the Creator—even by Him of old time, whose call they had at last refused. They first refused it when they said to Aaron, “Make us gods, which shall go before us;” and again, afterwards, when “they heard indeed with the ear, but did not understand” their calling of God.
In a manner most germane to this parable, He said by Jeremiah: “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and ye shall walk in all my ways, which I have commanded you.” This is the invitation of God. “But,” says He, “they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear.” This is the refusal of the people. “They departed, and walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart.” “I have bought a field—and I have bought some oxen—and I have married a wife.” And still He urges them: “I have sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early even before daylight.”
The Holy Spirit is here meant, the admonisher of the guests. “Yet my people hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck.” This was reported to the Master of the family. Then He was moved (He did well to be moved; for, as Marcion denies emotion to his god, He must be therefore my God), and commanded them to invite out of “the streets and lanes of the city.” Let us see whether this is not the same in purport as His words by Jeremiah: “Have I been a wilderness to the house of Israel, or a land left uncultivated?”
That is to say: “Then have I none whom I may call to me; have I no place whence I may bring them?” “Since my people have said, We will come no more unto thee.” Therefore He sent out to call others, but from the same city. My third remark is this, that although the place abounded with people, He yet commanded that they gather men from the highways and the hedges. In other words, we are now gathered out of the Gentile strangers; with that jealous resentment, no doubt, which He 402 expressed in Deuteronomy: “I will hide my face from them, and I will show them what shall happen in the last days (how that others shall possess their place); for they are a froward generation, children in whom is no faith.
They have moved me to jealousy by that which is no god, and they have provoked me to anger with their idols; and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people: I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” —even with us, whose hope the Jews still entertain. But this hope the Lord says they should not realize; “Sion being left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers,” since the nation rejected the latest invitation to Christ. (Now, I ask,) after going through all this course of the Creator’s dispensation and prophecies, what there is in it which can possibly be assigned to him who has done all his work at one hasty stroke, and possesses neither the Creator’s course nor His dispensation in harmony with the parable?
Or, again in what will consist his first invitation, and what his admonition at the second stage? Some at first would surely decline; others afterwards must have accepted.” But now he comes to invite both parties promiscuously out of the city, out of the hedges, contrary to the drift of the parable. It is impossible for him now to condemn as scorners of his invitation those whom he has never yet invited, and whom he is approaching with so much earnestness.
If, however, he condemns them beforehand as about to reject his call, then beforehand he also predicts the election of the Gentiles in their stead. Certainly he means to come the second time for the very purpose of preaching to the heathen. But even if he does mean to come again, I imagine it will not be with the intention of any longer inviting guests, but of giving to them their places. Meanwhile, you who interpret the call to this supper as an invitation to a heavenly banquet of spiritual satiety and pleasure, must remember that the earthly promises also of wine and oil and corn, and even of the city, are equally employed by the Creator as figures of spiritual things.
Chapter XXXII. — A Sort of Sorites.
As the Logicians Call It, to Show that the Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Drachma Have No Suitable Application to the Christ of Marcion.
Who sought after the lost sheep and the lost piece of silver? Was it not the loser? But who was the loser? Was it not he who once possessed them? Who, then, was that? Was it not he to whom they belonged? Since, then, man is the property of none other than the Creator, He possessed Him who owned him; He lost him who once possessed him; He sought him who lost him; He found him who sought him; He rejoiced who found him.
Therefore the purport of neither parable has anything whatever to do with him to whom belongs neither the sheep nor the piece of silver, that is to say, man. For he lost him not, because he possessed him not; and he sought him not, because he lost him not; and he found him not, because he sought him not; and he rejoiced not, because he found him not. Therefore, to rejoice over the sinner’s repentance—that is, at the recovery of lost man—is the attribute of Him who long ago professed that He would rather that the sinner should repent and not die.
Chapter XXXIII. — The Marcionite Interpretation of God and Mammon Refuted.
The Prophets Justify Christ’s Admonition Against Covetousness and Pride. John Baptist the Link Between the Old and the New Dispensations of the Creator. So Said Christ—But So Also Had Isaiah Said Long Before. One Only God, the Creator, by His Own Will Changed the Dispensations. No New God Had a Hand in the Change.
What the two masters are who, He says, cannot be served, on the ground that while one is pleased the other must needs be displeased, He Himself makes clear, when He mentions God and mammon. Then, if you have no interpreter by you, you may learn again from Himself what He would have understood by mammon. For when 403 advising us to provide for ourselves the help of friends in worldly affairs, after the example of that steward who, when removed from his office, relieves his lord’s debtors by lessening their debts with a view to their recompensing him with their help, He said, “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness,” that is to say, of money, even as the steward had done.
Now we are all of us aware that money is the instigator of unrighteousness, and the lord of the whole world. Therefore, when he saw the covetousness of the Pharisees doing servile worship to it, He hurled this sentence against them, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Then the Pharisees, who were covetous of riches, derided Him, when they understood that by mammon He meant money. Let no one think that under the word mammon the Creator was meant, and that Christ called them off from the service of the Creator. What folly! Rather learn therefrom that one God was pointed out by Christ. For they were two masters whom He named, God and mammon—the Creator and money.
You cannot indeed serve God—Him, of course whom they seemed to serve—and mammon to whom they preferred to devote themselves. If, however, he was giving himself out as another god, it would not be two masters, but three, that he had pointed out. For the Creator was a master, and much more of a master, to be sure, than mammon, and more to be adored, as being more truly our Master. Now, how was it likely that He who had called mammon a master, and had associated him with God, should say nothing of Him who was really the Master of even these, that is, the Creator?
Or else, by this silence respecting Him did He concede that service might be rendered to Him, since it was to Himself alone and to mammon that He said service could not be (simultaneously) rendered? When, therefore, He lays down the position that God is one, since He would have been sure to mention the Creator if He were Himself a rival to Him, He did (virtually) name the Creator, when He refrained from insisting” that He was Master alone, without a rival god.
Accordingly, this will throw light upon the sense in which it was said, “If ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” “In the unrighteous mammon,” that is to say, in unrighteous riches, not in the Creator; for even Marcion allows Him to be righteous: “And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who will give to you that which is mine?” For whatever is unrighteous ought to be foreign to the servants of God. But in what way was the Creator foreign to the Pharisees, seeing that He was the proper God of the Jewish nation? Forasmuch then as the words, “Who will entrust to you the truer riches?” and, “Who will give you that which is mine?” are only suitable to the Creator and not to mammon, He could not have uttered them as alien to the Creator, and in the interest of the rival god.
He could only seem to have spoken them in this sense, if, when remarking their unfaithfulness to the Creator and not to mammon, He had drawn some distinctions between the Creator (in his manner of mentioning Him) and the rival god—how that the latter would not commit his own truth to those who were unfaithful to the Creator. How then can he possibly seem to belong to another god, if He be not set forth, with the express intention of being separated from the very thing which is in question. But when the Pharisees “justified themselves before men,”4790 and placed their hope of reward in man, He censured them in the sense in which the prophet Jeremiah said, “Cursed is the man that trusteth in man.”
Since the prophet went on to say, “But the Lord knoweth your hearts,” he magnified the power of that God who declared Himself to be as a lamp, “searching the reins and the heart.” When He strikes at pride in the words: “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God,” He recalls Isaiah: “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is arrogant and lifted up, and they shall be brought low.” I can now make out why Marcion’s god was for so long an age concealed. He was, I suppose, waiting until he had learnt all these things from the Creator. He continued his pupillage up to the 404 time of John, and then proceeded forthwith to announce the kingdom of God, saying: “The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is proclaimed.”
Just as if we also did not recognise in John a certain limit placed between the old dispensation and the new, at which Judaism ceased and Christianity began—without, however, supposing that it was by the power of another god that there came about a cessation of the law and the prophets and the commencement of that gospel in which is the kingdom of God, Christ Himself. For although, as we have shown, the Creator foretold that the old state of things would pass away and a new state would succeed, yet, inasmuch as John is shown to be both the forerunner and the preparer of the ways of that Lord who was to introduce the gospel and publish the kingdom of God, it follows from the very fact that John has come, that Christ must be that very Being who was to follow His harbinger John.
So that, if the old course has ceased and the new has begun, with John intervening between them, there will be nothing wonderful in it, because it happens according to the purpose of the Creator; so that you may get a better proof for the kingdom of God from any quarter, however anomalous,than from the conceit that the law and the prophets ended in John, and a new state of things began after him. “More easily, therefore, may heaven and earth pass away—as also the law and the prophets—than that one tittle of the Lord’s words should fail.” “For,” as says Isaiah: “the word of our God shall stand for ever.”
Since even then by Isaiah it was Christ, the Word and Spirit of the Creator, who prophetically described John as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord,” and as about to come for the purpose of terminating thenceforth the course of the law and the prophets; by their fulfilment and not their extinction, and in order that the kingdom of God might be announced by Christ, He therefore purposely added the assurance that the elements would more easily pass away than His words fail; affirming, as He did, the further fact, that what He had said concerning John had not fallen to the ground.
Chapter XXXIV. — Moses, Allowing Divorce, and Christ Prohibiting It, Explained. John Baptist and Herod.
Marcion’s Attempt to Discover an Antithesis in the Parable of the Rich Man and the Poor Man in Hades Confuted. The Creator’s Appointment Manifested in Both States.
But Christ prohibits divorce, saying, “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, also committeth adultery.” In order to forbid divorce, He makes it unlawful to marry a woman that has been put away. Moses, however, permitted repudiation in Deuteronomy: “When a man hath taken a wife, and hath lived with her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found unchastity in her; then let him write her a bill of divorcement and give it in her hand, and send her away out of his house.”
You see, therefore, that there is a difference between the law and the gospel—between Moses and Christ? To be sure there is! But then you have rejected that other gospel which witnesses to the same verity and the same Christ. There, while prohibiting divorce, He has given us a solution of this special question respecting it: “Moses,” says He, “because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to give a bill of divorcement; but from the beginning it was not so” —for this reason, indeed, because He who had “made them male and female” had likewise said, “They twain shall become one flesh; what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Now, by this answer of His (to the Pharisees), He both sanctioned the provision of Moses, who was His own (servant), and restored to its primitive purpose the institution of the Creator, whose Christ He was.
Since, however, you are to be refuted out of the Scriptures which you have received, I will meet you on your own ground, as if your Christ were mine. When, therefore, He prohibited divorce, and yet at the same time represented the Father, even Him who united male and female, must He not have rather exculpated than abolished the enactment of Moses? But, observe, if this Christ be yours when he teaches contrary to Moses and the Creator, on the same principle must He be mine if I can show that His teaching is not contrary to them.
I maintain, then, that there was a condition in the prohibition 405 which He now made of divorce; the case supposed being, that a man put away his wife for the express purpose of marrying another. His words are: “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, also committeth adultery,” —“put away,” that is, for the reason wherefore a woman ought not to be dismissed, that another wife may be obtained.
For he who marries a woman who is unlawfully put away is as much of an adulterer as the man who marries one who is undivorced. Permanent is the marriage which is not rightly dissolved; to marry, therefore, whilst matrimony is undissolved, is to commit adultery. Since, therefore, His prohibition of divorce was a conditional one, He did not prohibit absolutely; and what He did not absolutely forbid, that He permitted on some occasions, when there is an absence of the cause why He gave His prohibition.
In very deed His teaching is not contrary to Moses, whose precept He partially defends, I will not say confirms. If, however, you deny that divorce is in any way permitted by Christ, how is it that you on your side destroy marriage, not uniting man and woman, nor admitting to the sacrament of baptism and of the eucharist those who have been united in marriage anywhere else, unless they should agree together to repudiate the fruit of their marriage, and so the very Creator Himself? Well, then, what is a husband to do in your sect, if his wife commit adultery? Shall he keep her?
But your own apostle, you know, does not permit “the members of Christ to be joined to a harlot.” Divorce, therefore, when justly deserved, has even in Christ a defender. So that Moses for the future must be considered as being confirmed by Him, since he prohibits divorce in the same sense as Christ does, if any unchastity should occur in the wife. For in the Gospel of Matthew he says, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery.” He also is deemed equally guilty of adultery, who marries a woman put away by her husband.
The Creator, however, except on account of adultery, does not put asunder what He Himself joined together, the same Moses in another passage enacting that he who had married after violence to a damsel, should thenceforth not have it in his power to put away his wife. Now, if a compulsory marriage contracted after violence shall be permanent, how much rather shall a voluntary one, the result of agreement! This has the sanction of the prophet: “Thou shalt not forsake the wife of thy youth.”
Thus you have Christ following spontaneously the tracks of the Creator everywhere, both in permitting divorce and in forbidding it. You find Him also protecting marriage, in whatever direction you try to escape. He prohibits divorce when He will have the marriage inviolable; He permits divorce when the marriage is spotted with unfaithfulness. You should blush when you refuse to unite those whom even your Christ has united; and repeat the blush when you disunite them without the good reason why your Christ would have them separated. I have now to show whence the Lord derived this decision of His, and to what end He directed it.
It will thus become more fully evident that His object was not the abolition of the Mosaic ordinance by any suddenly devised proposal of divorce; because it was not suddenly proposed, but had its root in the previously mentioned John. For John reproved Herod, because he had illegally married the wife of his deceased brother, who had a daughter by her (a union which the law permitted only on the one occasion of the brother dying childless, when it even prescribed such a marriage, in order that by his own brother, and from his own wife, seed might be reckoned to the deceased husband), and was in consequence cast into prison, and finally, by the same Herod, was even put to death.
The Lord having therefore made mention of John, and of course of the occurrence of his death, hurled His censure against Herod in the form of unlawful marriages and of adultery, pronouncing as an adulterer even the man who married a woman that had been put away from her husband. This he said in order the more severely to load Herod with guilt, who had taken his brother’s wife, after she had been loosed from her husband not less by death than by divorce; who had been impelled thereto by his lust, not by the prescription of the (Levirate) law—for, as his brother had left a daughter, the marriage with the widow 406 could not be lawful on that very account; and who, when the prophet asserted against him the law, had therefore put him to death.
The remarks I have advanced on this case will be also of use to me in illustrating the subsequent parable of the rich man tormented in hell, and the poor man resting in Abraham’s bosom. For this passage, so far as its letter goes, comes before us abruptly; but if we regard its sense and purport, it naturally fits in with the mention of John wickedly slain, and of Herod, who had been condemned by him for his impious marriage. It sets forth in bold outline the end of both of them, the “torments” of Herod and the “comfort” of John, that even now Herod might hear that warning: “They have there Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.”
Marcion, however, violently turns the passage to another end, and decides that both the torment and the comfort are retributions of the Creator reserved in the next life for those who have obeyed the law and the prophets; whilst he defines the heavenly bosom and harbour to belong to Christ and his own god. Our answer to this is, that the Scripture itself which dazzles his sight expressly distinguishes between Abraham’s bosom, where the poor man dwells, and the infernal place of torment. “Hell” (I take it) means one thing, and “Abraham’s bosom” another. “A great gulf” is said to separate those regions, and to hinder a passage from one to the other. Besides, the rich man could not have “lifted up his eyes,” and from a distance too, except to a superior height, and from the said distance all up through the vast immensity of height and depth.
It must therefore be evident to every man of intelligence who has ever heard of the Elysian fields, that there is some determinate place called Abraham’s bosom, and that it is designed for the reception of the souls of Abraham’s children, even from among the Gentiles (since he is “the father of many nations,” which must be classed amongst his family), and of the same faith as that wherewithal he himself believed God, without the yoke of the law and the sign of circumcision.
This region, therefore, I call Abraham’s bosom. Although it is not in heaven, it is yet higher than hell, and is appointed to afford an interval of rest to the souls of the righteous, until the consummation of all things shall complete the resurrection of all men with the “full recompense of their reward.” This consummation will then be manifested in heavenly promises, which Marcion, however, claims for his own god, just as if the Creator had never announced them. Amos, however, tells us of “those stories towards heaven” which Christ “builds”—of course for His people. There also is that everlasting abode of which Isaiah asks, “Who shall declare unto you the eternal place, but He (that is, of course, Christ) who walketh in righteousness, speaketh of the straight path, hateth injustice and iniquity?”
Now, although this everlasting abode is promised, and the ascending stories (or steps) to heaven are built by the Creator, who further promises that the seed of Abraham shall be even as the stars of heaven, by virtue certainly of the heavenly promise, why may it not be possible, without any injury to that promise, that by Abraham’s bosom is meant some temporary receptacle of faithful souls, wherein is even now delineated an image of the future, and where is given some foresight of the glory of both judgments?
If so, you have here, O heretics, during your present lifetime, a warning that Moses and the prophets declare one only God, the Creator, and His only Christ, and how that both awards of everlasting punishment and eternal salvation rest with Him, the one only God, who kills and who makes alive. Well, but the admonition, says Marcion, of our God from heaven has commanded us not to hear Moses and the prophets, but Christ; Hear Him is the command.
This is true enough. For the apostles had by that time sufficiently heard Moses and the prophets, for they had followed Christ, being persuaded by Moses and the prophets. For even Peter would not have been able to say, “Thou art the Christ,” unless he had beforehand heard and believed Moses and the prophets, by whom alone Christ had been hitherto announced. Their faith, indeed, had deserved this confirmation by such a voice from heaven as should bid them hear Him, whom they had recognized as preaching peace, announcing glad tidings, 407 promising an everlasting abode, building for them steps upwards into heaven.
Down in hell, however, it was said concerning them: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them!”—even those who did not believe them or at least did not sincerely believe that after death there were punishments for the arrogance of wealth and the glory of luxury, announced indeed by Moses and the prophets, but decreed by that God, who deposes princes from their thrones, and raiseth up the poor from dunghills. Since, therefore, it is quite consistent in the Creator to pronounce different sentences in the two directions of reward and punishment, we shall have to conclude that there is here no diversity of gods, but only a difference in the actual matters before us.
Chapter XXXV. — The Judicial Severity of Christ and the Tenderness of the Creator, Asserted in Contradiction to Marcion.
The Cure of the Ten Lepers. Old Testament Analogies. The Kingdom of God Within You; This Teaching Similar to that of Moses. Christ, the Stone Rejected by the Builders. Indications of Severity in the Coming of Christ. Proofs that He is Not the Impassible Being Marcion Imagined.
Then, turning to His disciples, He says: “Woe unto him through whom offences come! It were better for him if he had not been born, or if a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones,” that is, one of His disciples. Judge, then, what the sort of punishment is which He so severely threatens. For it is no stranger who is to avenge the offence done to His disciples.
Recognise also in Him the Judge, and one too, who expresses Himself on the safety of His followers with the same tenderness as that which the Creator long ago exhibited: “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of my eye.” Such identity of care proceeds from one and the same Being. A trespassing brother He will have rebuked. If one failed in this duty of reproof, he in fact sinned, either because out of hatred he wished his brother to continue in sin, or else spared him from mistaken friendship, although possessing the injunction in Leviticus: “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart; thy neighbor thou shalt seriously rebuke, and on his account shalt not contract sin.”
Nor is it to be wondered at, if He thus teaches who forbids your refusing to bring back even your brother’s cattle, if you find them astray in the road; much more should you bring back your erring brother to himself. He commands you to forgive your brother, should he trespass against you even “seven times.” But that surely, is a small matter; for with the Creator there is a larger grace, when He sets no limits to forgiveness, indefinitely charging you “not to bear any malice against your brother,” and to give not merely to him who asks, but even to him who does not ask.
For His will is, not that you should forgive an offence, but forget it. The law about lepers had a profound meaning as respects the forms of the disease itself, and of the inspection by the high priest. The interpretation of this sense it will be our task to ascertain. Marcion’s labour, however, is to object to us the strictness of the law, with the view of maintaining that here also Christ is its enemy—forestalling its enactments even in His cure of the ten lepers.
These He simply commanded to show themselves to the priest; “and as they went, He cleansed them” —without a touch, and without a word, by His silent power and simple will. Well, but what necessity was there for Christ, who had been once for all announced as the healer of our sicknesses and sins, and had proved Himself such by His acts, to busy Himself with inquiries into the qualities and details of cures; or for the Creator to be summoned to the scrutiny of the law in the person of Christ?
If any part of this healing was effected by Him in a way different from the law, He yet Himself did it to perfection; for surely the Lord may by Himself, or by His Son, produce after one manner, and after another manner by His servants the prophets, those proofs of His power and might especially, which (as excelling in glory and strength, because they are His own acts) rightly enough leave in the distance behind them the works which are done by His servants. But enough has been already said on this point in a former passage. Now, 408 although He said in a preceding chapter, that “there were many lepers in Israel in the days of Eliseus the prophet, and none of them was cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian,” yet of course the mere number proves nothing towards a difference in the gods, as tending to the abasement of the Creator in curing only one, and the preeminence of Him who healed ten.
For who can doubt that many might have been cured by Him who cured one more easily than ten by him who had never healed one before? But His main purpose in this declaration was to strike at the unbelief or the pride of Israel, in that (although there were many lepers amongst them, and a prophet was not wanting to them) not one had been moved even by so conspicuous an example to betake himself to God who was working in His prophets.
Forasmuch, then, as He was Himself the veritable High Priest of God the Father, He inspected them according to the hidden purport of the law, which signified that Christ was the true distinguisher and extinguisher of the defilements of mankind. However, what was obviously required by the law He commanded should be done: “Go,” said He, “show yourselves to the priests.” Yet why this, if He meant to cleanse them first?
Was it as a despiser of the law, in order to prove to them that, having been cured already on the road, the law was now nothing to them, nor even the priests? Well, the matter must of course pass as it best may, if anybody supposes that Christ had such views as these! But there are certainly better interpretations to be found of the passage, and more deserving of belief: how that they were cleansed on this account, because they were obedient, and went as the law required, when they were commanded to go to the priests; and it is not to be believed that persons who observed the law could have found a cure from a god that was destroying the law.
Why, however, did He not give such a command to the leper who first returned? Because Elisha did not in the case of Naaman the Syrian, and yet was not on that account less the Creator’s agent? This is a sufficient answer. But the believer knows that there is a profounder reason. Consider, therefore, the true motives. The miracle was performed in the district of Samaria, to which country also belonged one of the lepers. Samaria, however, had revolted from Israel, carrying with it the disaffected nine tribes, which, having been alienated by the prophet Ahijah, Jeroboam settled in Samaria.
Besides, the Samaritans were always pleased with the mountains and the wells of their ancestors. Thus, in the Gospel of John, the woman of Samaria, when conversing with the Lord at the well, says, “No doubt Thou art greater,” etc.; and again, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; but ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Accordingly, He who said, “Woe unto them that trust in the mountain of Samaria,” vouchsafing now to restore that very region, purposely requests the men “to go and show themselves to the priests,” because these were to be found only there where the temple was; submitting the Samaritan to the Jew, inasmuch as “salvation was of the Jews,” whether to the Israelite or the Samaritan. To the tribe of Judah, indeed, wholly appertained the promised Christ, in order that men might know that at Jerusalem were both the priests and the temple; that there also was the womb of religion, and its living fountain, not its mere “well.”
Seeing, therefore, that they recognised the truth that at Jerusalem the law was to be fulfilled, He healed them, whose salvation was to come of faith without the ceremony of the law. Whence also, astonished that one only out of the ten was thankful for his release to the divine grace, He does not command him to offer a gift according to the law, because he had already paid his tribute of gratitude when “he glorified God”; for thus did the Lord will that the law’s requirement should be interpreted.
And yet who was the God to whom the Samaritan gave thanks, because thus far not even had an Israelite heard of another god? Who else but He by whom all had hitherto been healed through Christ? And therefore it was said to him, “Thy faith hath made thee 409 whole,” because he had discovered that it was his duty to render the true oblation to Almighty God—even thanksgiving—in His true temple, and before His true High Priest Jesus Christ.
But it is impossible either that the Pharisees should seem to have inquired of the Lord about the coming of the kingdom of the rival god, when no other god has ever yet been announced by Christ; or that He should have answered them concerning the kingdom of any other god than Him of whom they were in the habit of asking Him. “The kingdom of God,” He says, “cometh not with observation; neither do they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Now, who will not interpret the words “within you” to mean in your hand, within your power, if you hear, and do the commandment of God? If, however, the kingdom of God lies in His commandment, set before your mind Moses on the other side, according to our antitheses, and you will find the self-same view of the case. “The commandment is not a lofty one, neither is it far off from thee. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?’ nor is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?’ But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, and in thy hands, to do it.”
This means, “Neither in this place nor that place is the kingdom of God; for, behold, it is within you.” And if the heretics, in their audacity, should contend that the Lord did not give an answer about His own kingdom, but only about the Creator’s kingdom, concerning which they had inquired, then the following words are against them. For He tells them that “the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected,” before His coming, at which His kingdom will be really revealed.
In this statement He shows that it was His own kingdom which His answer to them had contemplated, and which was now awaiting His own sufferings and rejection. But having to be rejected and afterwards to be acknowledged, and taken up and glorified, He borrowed the very word “rejected” from the passage, where, under the figure of a stone, His twofold manifestation was celebrated by David—the first in rejection, the second in honour: “The stone,” says He, “which the builders rejected, is become the head-stone of the corner.
This is the Lord’s doing.” Now it would be idle, if we believed that God had predicted the humiliation, or even the glory, of any Christ at all, that He could have signed His prophecy for any but Him whom He had foretold under the figure of a stone, and a rock, and a mountain. If, however, He speaks of His own coming, why does He compare it with the days of Noe and of Lot, which were dark and terrible—a mild and gentle God as He is?
Why does He bid us “remember Lot’s wife,” who despised the Creator’s command, and was punished for her contempt, if He does not come with judgment to avenge the infraction of His precepts? If He really does punish, like the Creator, if He is my Judge, He ought not to have adduced examples for the purpose of instructing me from Him whom He yet destroys, that He might not seem to be my instructor. But if He does not even here speak of His own coming, but of the coming of the Hebrew Christ, let us still wait in expectation that He will vouchsafe to us some prophecy of His own advent; meanwhile we will continue to believe that He is none other than He whom He reminds us of in every passage.
Chapter XXXVI. — The Parables of the Importunate Widow, and of the Pharisee and the Publican.
Christ’s Answer to the Rich Ruler, the Cure of the Blind Man. His Salutation—Son of David. All Proofs of Christ’s Relation to the Creator, Marcion’s Antithesis Between David and Christ Confuted.
When He recommends perseverance and earnestness in prayer, He sets before us the parable of the judge who was compelled to listen to the widow, owing to the earnestness and importunity of her requests. He show us that it is God the judge whom we must importune with prayer, and not Himself, if He is not Himself the judge. But He added, that “God would avenge His own elect.” Since, then, He who judges will also Himself be the avenger, He proved that the Creator is on that account the specially good God, 410 whom He represented as the avenger of His own elect, who cry day and night to Him. And yet, when He introduces to our view the Creator’s temple, and describes two men worshipping therein with diverse feelings—the Pharisee in pride, the publican in humility—and shows us how they accordingly went down to their homes, one rejected, the other justified, He surely, by thus teaching us the proper discipline of prayer, has determined that that God must be prayed to from whom men were to receive this discipline of prayer—whether condemnatory of pride, or justifying in humility.
I do not find from Christ any temple, any suppliants, any sentence (of approval or condemnation) belonging to any other god than the Creator. Him does He enjoin us to worship in humility, as the lifter-up of the humble, not in pride, because He brings down the proud. What other god has He manifested to me to receive my supplications? With what formula of worship, with what hope (shall I approach him?) I trow, none. For the prayer which He has taught us suits, as we have proved, none but the Creator. It is, of course, another matter if He does not wish to be prayed to, because He is the supremely and spontaneously good God! But who is this good God?
There is, He says, “none but one.” It is not as if He had shown us that one of two gods was the supremely good; but He expressly asserts that there is one only good God, who is the only good, because He is the only God. Now, undoubtedly, He is the good God who “sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust, and maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good;” sustaining and nourishing and assisting even Marcionites themselves! When afterwards “a certain man asked him, ‘Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Jesus) inquired whether he knew (that is, in other words, whether he kept) the commandments of the Creator, in order to testify that it was by the Creator’s precepts that eternal life is acquired.
Then, when he affirmed that from his youth up he had kept all the principal commandments, (Jesus) said to him: “One thing thou yet lackest: sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Well now, Marcion, and all ye who are companions in misery, and associates in hatred with that heretic, what will you dare say to this? Did Christ rescind the forementioned commandments: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother?” Or did He both keep them, and then add what was wanting to them?
This very precept, however, about giving to the poor, was very largely diffused through the pages of the law and the prophets. This vainglorious observer of the commandments was therefore convicted of holding money in much higher estimation (than charity). This verity of the gospel then stands unimpaired: “I am not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather to fulfil them.” He also dissipated other doubts, when He declared that the name of God and of the Good belonged to one and the same being, at whose disposal were also the everlasting life and the treasure in heaven and Himself too—whose commandments He both maintained and augmented with His own supplementary precepts.
He may likewise be discovered in the following passage of Micah, saying: “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to be ready to follow the Lord thy God?” Now Christ is the man who tells us what is good, even the knowledge of the law. “Thou knowest,” says He, “the commandments.” “To do justly”—“Sell all that thou hast;” “to love mercy”—“Give to the poor:” “and to be ready to walk with God”—“And come,” says He, “follow me.”
The Jewish nation was from its beginning so carefully divided into tribes and clans, and families and houses, that no man could very well have been ignorant of his descent—even from the recent assessments of Augustus, which were still probably extant at this time. But the Jesus of Marcion (although there could be no doubt of a person’s having been born, who was seen to be a man), as being unborn, could not, of course, have possessed any public testimonial of his descent, but was to be regarded as one of that obscure class of whom nothing was in any way known.
Why 411 then did the blind man, on hearing that He was passing by, exclaim, “Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me?” unless he was considered, in no uncertain manner, to be the Son of David (in other words, to belong to David’s family) through his mother and his brethren, who at some time or other had been made known to him by public notoriety? “Those, however, who went before rebuked the blind man, that he should hold his peace.” And properly enough; because he was very noisy, not because he was wrong about the son of David.
Else you must show me, that those who rebuked him were aware that Jesus was not the Son of David, in order that they may be supposed to have had this reason for imposing silence on the blind man. But even if you could show me this, still (the blind man) would more readily have presumed that they were ignorant, than that the Lord could possibly have permitted an untrue exclamation about Himself. But the Lord “stood patient.”
Yes; but not as confirming the error, for, on the contrary, He rather displayed the Creator. Surely He could not have first removed this man’s blindness, in order that he might afterwards cease to regard Him as the Son of David! However, that you may not slander His patience, nor fasten on Him any charge of dissimulation, nor deny Him to be the Son of David, He very pointedly confirmed the exclamation of the blind man—both by the actual gift of healing, and by bearing testimony to his faith: “Thy faith,” say Christ, “hath made thee whole.” What would you have the blind man’s faith to have been?
That Jesus was descended from that (alien) god (of Marcion), to subvert the Creator and overthrow the law and the prophets? That He was not the destined offshoot from the root of Jesse, and the fruit of David’s loins, the restorer also of the blind? But I apprehend there were at that time no such stone-blind persons as Marcion, that an opinion like this could have constituted the faith of the blind man, and have induced him to confide in the mere name, of Jesus, the Son of David. He, who knew all this of Himself, and wished others to know it also, endowed the faith of this man—although it was already gifted with a better sight, and although it was in possession of the true light—with the external vision likewise, in order that we too might learn the rule of faith, and at the same time find its recompense.
Whosoever wishes to see Jesus the Son of David must believe in Him; through the Virgin’s birth. He who will not believe this will not hear from Him the salutation, “Thy faith hath saved thee.” And so he will remain blind, falling into Antithesis after Antithesis, which mutually destroy each other, just as “the blind man leads the blind down into the ditch.” For (here is one of Marcion’s Antitheses): whereas David in old time, in the capture of Sion, was offended by the blind who opposed his admission (into the stronghold) —in which respect (I should rather say) that they were a type of people equally blind, who in after-times would not admit Christ to be the son of David—so, on the contrary, Christ succoured the blind man, to show by this act that He was not David’s son, and how different in disposition He was, kind to the blind, while David ordered them to be slain.
If all this were so, why did Marcion allege that the blind man’s faith was of so worthless a stamp? The fact is, the Son of David so acted, that the Antithesis must lose its point by its own absurdity. Those persons who offended David were blind, and the man who now presents himself as a suppliant to David’s son is afflicted with the same infirmity. Therefore the Son of David was appeased with some sort of satisfaction by the blind man when He restored him to sight, and added His approval of the faith which had led him to believe the very truth, that he must win to his help the Son of David by earnest entreaty. But, after all, I suspect that it was the audacity (of the old Jebusites) which offended David, and not their malady.
Chapter XXXVII. — Christ and Zacchæus.
The Salvation of the Body as Denied by Marcion. The Parable of the Ten Servants Entrusted with Ten Pounds. Christ a Judge, Who is to Administer the Will of the Austere Man, i.e. The Creator.
“Salvation comes to the house” of Zacchæus even. For what reason? Was it because he also believed that Christ came by Marcion? But the blind man’s cry was still 412 sounding in the ears of all: “Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” And “all the people gave praise unto God”—not Marcion’s, but David’s. Now, although Zacchæus was probably a Gentile, he yet from his intercourse with Jews had obtained a smattering of their Scriptures, and, more than this, had, without knowing it, fulfilled the precepts of Isaiah: “Deal thy bread,” said the prophet, “to the hungry, and bring the poor that are cast out into thine house.”
This he did in the best possible way, by receiving the Lord, and entertaining Him in his house. “When thou seest the naked cover him.” This he promised to do, in an equally satisfactory way, when he offered the half of his goods for all works of mercy. So also “he loosened the bands of wickedness, undid the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, and broke every yoke,” when he said, “If I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”
Therefore the Lord said, “This day is salvation come to this house.” Thus did He give His testimony, that the precepts of the Creator spoken by the prophet tended to salvation. But when He adds, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” my present contention is not whether He was come to save what was lost, to whom it had once belonged, and from whom what He came to save had fallen away; but I approach a different question.
Man, there can be no doubt of it, is here the subject of consideration. Now, since he consists of two parts, body and soul, the point to be inquired into is, in which of these two man would seem to have been lost? If in his body, then it is his body, not his soul, which is lost. What, however, is lost, the Son of man saves. The body, therefore, has the salvation. If, (on the other hand,) it is in his soul that man is lost, salvation is designed for the lost soul; and the body which is not lost is safe. If, (to take the only other supposition,) man is wholly lost, in both his natures, then it necessarily follows that salvation is appointed for the entire man; and then the opinion of the heretics is shivered to pieces, who say that there is no salvation of the flesh.
And this affords a confirmation that Christ belongs to the Creator, who followed the Creator in promising the salvation of the whole man. The parable also of the (ten) servants, who received their several recompenses according to the manner in which they had increased their lord’s money by trading proves Him to be a God of judgment—even a God who, in strict account, not only bestows honour, but also takes away what a man seems to have. Else, if it is the Creator whom He has here delineated as the “austere man,” who “takes up what he laid not down, and reaps what he did not sow,” my instructor even here is He, (whoever He may be,) to whom belongs the money He teaches me fruitfully to expend.
Chapter XXXVIII. — Christ’s Refutations of the Pharisees.
Rendering Dues to Cæsar and to God. Next of the Sadducees, Respecting Marriage in the Resurrection. These Prove Him Not to Be Marcion’s But the Creator’s Christ. Marcion’s Tamperings in Order to Make Room for His Second God, Exposed and Confuted.
Christ knew “the baptism of John, whence it was.”4981 Then why did He ask them, as if He knew not? He knew that the Pharisees would not give Him an answer; then why did He ask in vain? Was it that He might judge them out of their own mouth, or their own heart? Suppose you refer these points to an excuse of the Creator, or to His comparison with Christ; then consider what would have happened if the Pharisees had replied to His question.
Suppose their answer to have been, that John’s baptism was “of men,” they would have been immediately stoned to death. Some Marcion, in rivalry to Marcion, would have stood up and said: O most excellent God; how different are his ways from the Creator’s! Knowing that men would rush down headlong over it, He placed them actually on the very precipice. For thus do men treat of the Creator respecting His law of the tree. 413 But John’s baptism was “from heaven.” “Why, therefore,” asks Christ, “did ye not believe him?” He therefore who had wished men to believe John, purposing to censure them because they had not believed him, belonged to Him whose sacrament John was administering.
But, at any rate, when He actually met their refusal to say what they thought, with such reprisals as, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things,” He returned evil for evil! “Render unto Cæsar the things which be Cæsar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” What will be “the things which are God’s?” Such things as are like Cæsar’s denarius—that is to say, His image and similitude. That, therefore, which he commands to be “rendered unto God,” the Creator, is man, who has been stamped with His image, likeness, name, and substance. Let Marcion’s god look after his own mint. Christ bids the denarius of man’s imprint to be rendered to His Cæsar, (His Cæsar I say,) not the Cæsar of a strange god.
The truth, however, must be confessed, this god has not a denarius to call his own! In every question the just and proper rule is, that the meaning of the answer ought to be adapted to the proposed inquiry. But it is nothing short of madness to return an answer altogether different from the question submitted to you. God forbid, then, that we should expect from Christ conduct which would be unfit even to an ordinary man!
The Sadducees, who said there was no resurrection, in a discussion on that subject, had proposed to the Lord a case of law touching a certain woman, who, in accordance with the legal prescription, had been married to seven brothers who had died one after the other. The question therefore was, to which husband must she be reckoned to belong in the resurrection? This, (observe,) was the gist of the inquiry, this was the sum and substance of the dispute. And to it Christ was obliged to return a direct answer.
He had nobody to fear; that it should seem advisable for Him either to evade their questions, or to make them the occasion of indirectly mooting a subject which He was not in the habit of teaching publicly at any other time. He therefore gave His answer, that “the children of this world marry.” You see how pertinent it was to the case in point. Because the question concerned the next world, and He was going to declare that no one marries there, He opens the way by laying down the principles that here, where there is death, there is also marriage.
“But they whom God shall account worthy of the possession of that world and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; forasmuch as they cannot die any more, since they become equal to the angels, being made the children of God and of the resurrection.” If, then, the meaning of the answer must not turn on any other point than on the proposed question, and since the question proposed is fully understood from this sense of the answer, then the Lord’s reply admits of no other interpretation than that by which the question is clearly understood.
You have both the time in which marriage is permitted, and the time in which it is said to be unsuitable, laid before you, not on their own account, but in consequence of an inquiry about the resurrection. You have likewise a confirmation of the resurrection itself, and the whole question which the Sadducees mooted, who asked no question about another god, nor inquired about the proper law of marriage. Now, if you make Christ answer questions which were not submitted to Him, you, in fact, represent Him as having been unable to solve the points on which He was really consulted, and entrapped of course by the cunning of the Sadducees.
I shall now proceed, by way of supererogation, and after the rule (I have laid down about questions and answers), to deal with the arguments which have any consistency in them. They procured then a copy of the Scripture, and made short work with its text, by reading it thus: “Those whom the god of that world shall account worthy.” They 414 add the phrase “of that world” to the word “god,” whereby they make another god “the god of that world;” whereas the passage ought to be read thus: “Those whom God shall account worthy of the possession of that world” (removing the distinguishing phrase “of this world” to the end of the clause, in other words, “Those whom God shall account worthy of obtaining and rising to that world.”
For the question submitted to Christ had nothing to do with the god, but only with the state, of that world. It was: “Whose wife should this woman be in that world after the resurrection?” They thus subvert His answer respecting the essential question of marriage, and apply His words, “The children of this world marry and are given in marriage,” as if they referred to the Creator’s men, and His permission to them to marry; whilst they themselves whom the god of that world—that is, the rival god—accounted worthy of the resurrection, do not marry even here, because they are not children of this world. But the fact is, that, having been consulted about marriage in that world, not in this present one, He had simply declared the non-existence of that to which the question related.
They, indeed, who had caught the very force of His voice, and pronunciation, and expression, discovered no other sense than what had reference to the matter of the question. Accordingly, the Scribes exclaimed, “Master, Thou hast well said.” For He had affirmed the resurrection, by describing the form thereof in opposition to the opinion of the Sadducees. Now, He did not reject the attestation of those who had assumed His answer to bear this meaning. If, however, the Scribes thought Christ was David’s Son, whereas (David) himself calls Him Lord, what relation has this to Christ? David did not literally confute an error of the Scribes, yet David asserted the honour of Christ, when he more prominently affirmed that He was his Lord than his Son,—an attribute which was hardly suitable to the destroyer of the Creator.
But how consistent is the interpretation on our side of the question! For He, who had been a little while ago invoked by the blind man as “the Son of David,” then made no remark on the subject, not having the Scribes in His presence; whereas He now purposely moots the point before them, and that of His own accord, in order that He might show Himself whom the blind man, following the doctrine of the Scribes, had simply declared to be the Son of David, to be also his Lord.
He thus honoured the blind man’s faith which had acknowledged His Sonship to David; but at the same time He struck a blow at the tradition of the Scribes, which prevented them from knowing that He was also (David’s) Lord. Whatever had relation to the glory of the Creator’s Christ, no other would thus guard and maintain but Himself the Creator’s Christ.
Chapter XXXIX. — Concerning Those Who Come in the Name of Christ.
The Terrible Signs of His Coming. He Whose Coming is So Grandly Described Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, is None Other Than the Christ of the Creator. This Proof Enhanced by the Parable of the Fig-Tree and All the Trees. Parallel Passages of Prophecy.
As touching the propriety of His names, it has already been seen that both of them are suitable to Him who was the first both to announce His Christ to mankind, and to give Him the further name of Jesus. The impudence, therefore, of Marcion’s Christ will be evident, when he says that many will come in his name, whereas this name does not at all belong to him, since he is not the Christ and Jesus of the Creator, to whom these names do properly appertain; and more especially when he prohibits those to be received whose very equal in imposture he is, inasmuch as he (equally with them) comes in a name which belongs to another—unless it was his business to warn off from a mendaciously assumed name the disciples (of One) who, by reason of His name being properly given to Him, possessed also the verity thereof.
But when “they shall by and by come and say, I am Christ,” they will be received by you, who have already received one altogether like them. Christ, however, comes in His own name. What will you do, then, when He 415 Himself comes who is the very Proprietor of these names, the Creator’s Christ and Jesus? Will you reject Him? But how iniquitous, how unjust and disrespectful to the good God, that you should not receive Him who comes in His own name, when you have received another in His name!
Now, let us see what are the signs which He ascribes to the times. “Wars,” I observe, “and kingdom against kingdom, and nation against nation, and pestilence, and famines, and earthquakes, and fearful sights, and great signs from heaven” —all which things are suitable for a severe and terrible God. Now, when He goes on to say that “all these things must needs come to pass,” what does He represent Himself to be?
The Destroyer, or the Defender of the Creator? For He affirms that these appointments of His must fully come to pass; but surely as the good God, He would have frustrated rather than advanced events so sad and terrible, if they had not been His own (decrees). “But before all these,” He foretells that persecutions and sufferings were to come upon them, which indeed were “to turn for a testimony to them,” and for their salvation.
Hear what is predicted in Zechariah: “The Lord of hosts shall protect them; and they shall devour them, and subdue them with sling-stones; and they shall drink their blood like wine, and they shall fill the bowls as it were of the altar. And the Lord shall save them in that day, even His people, like sheep; because as sacred stones they roll,” etc. And that you may not suppose that these predictions refer to such sufferings as await them from so many wars with strangers, consider the nature (of the sufferings).
In a prophecy of wars which were to be waged with legitimate arms, no one would think of enumerating stones as weapons, which are better known in popular crowds and unarmed tumults. Nobody measures the copious streams of blood which flow in war by bowlfuls, nor limits it to what is shed upon a single altar. No one gives the name of sheep to those who fall in battle with arms in hand, and while repelling force with force, but only to those who are slain, yielding themselves up in their own place of duty and with patience, rather than fighting in self-defence. In short, as he says, “they roll as sacred stones,” and not like soldiers fight.
Stones are they, even foundation stones, upon which we are ourselves edified—“built,” as St. Paul says, “upon the foundation of the apostles,” who, like “consecrated stones,” were rolled up and down exposed to the attack of all men. And therefore in this passage He forbids men “to meditate before what they answer” when brought before tribunals, even as once He suggested to Balaam the message which he had not thought of, nay, contrary to what he had thought; and promised “a mouth” to Moses, when he pleaded in excuse the slowness of his speech, and that wisdom which, by Isaiah, He showed to be irresistible: “One shall say, I am the Lord’s, and shall call himself by the name of Jacob, and another shall subscribe himself by the name of Israel.”
Now, what plea is wiser and more irresistible than the simple and open confession made in a martyr’s cause, who “prevails with God”—which is what “Israel” means? Now, one cannot wonder that He forbade “premeditation,” who actually Himself received from the Father the ability of uttering words in season: “The Lord hath given to me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season (to him that is weary);” except that Marcion introduces to us a Christ who is not subject to the Father.
That persecutions from one’s nearest friends are predicted, and calumny out of hatred to His name, I need not again refer to. But “by patience,” says He, “ye shall yourselves be saved.” Of this very patience the Psalm says, “The patient endurance of the just shall not perish for ever;” because it is said in another Psalm, “Precious (in the sight of the Lord) is the death of the just”—arising, no doubt, out of their patient endurance, so that Zechariah declares: “A crown shall be to them that endure.” But that you may not boldly contend that it was as announcers of another god that the apostles were persecuted by the Jews, remember that even the prophets suffered the same treatment of the Jews, and that they were not the heralds of any other god than the Creator.
Then, having shown what was to be the period of the destruction, even “when Jerusalem should begin to be compassed with armies,” He described the signs of the end of all things: “portents in the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and upon the earth distress of 416 nations in perplexity—like the sea roaring—by reason of their expectation of the evils which are coming on the earth.”
That “the very powers also of heaven have to be shaken,” you may find in Joel: “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth—blood and fire, and pillars of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” In Habakkuk also you have this statement: “With rivers shall the earth be cleaved; the nations shall see thee, and be in pangs.
Thou shalt disperse the waters with thy step; the deep uttered its voice; the height of its fear was raised; the sun and the moon stood still in their course; into light shall thy coruscations go; and thy shield shall be (like) the glittering of the lightning’s flash; in thine anger thou shalt grind the earth, and shalt thresh the nations in thy wrath.” There is thus an agreement, I apprehend, between the sayings of the Lord and of the prophets touching the shaking of the earth, and the elements, and the nations thereof.
But what does the Lord say afterwards? “And then shall they see the Son of man coming from the heavens with very great power. And when these things shall come to pass, ye shall look up, and raise your heads; for your redemption hath come near,” that is, at the time of the kingdom, of which the parable itself treats. “So likewise ye, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”
This will be the great day of the Lord, and of the glorious coming of the Son of man from heaven, of which Daniel wrote: “Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,” etc. “And there was given unto Him the kingly power,” which (in the parable) “He went away into a far country to receive for Himself,” leaving money to His servants wherewithal to trade and get increase —even (that universal kingdom of) all nations, which in the Psalm the Father had promised to give to Him: Ask of me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance.” “And all that glory shall serve Him; His dominion shall be an everlasting one, which shall not be taken from Him, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed,” because in it “men shall not die, neither shall they marry, but be like the angels.”
It is about the same advent of the Son of man and the benefits thereof that we read in Habakkuk: “Thou wentest forth for the salvation of Thy people, even to save Thine anointed ones,” —in other words, those who shall look up and lift their heads, being redeemed in the time of His kingdom. Since, therefore, these descriptions of the promises, on the one hand, agree together, as do also those of the great catastrophes, on the other—both in the predictions of the prophets and the declarations of the Lord, it will be impossible for you to interpose any distinction between them, as if the catastrophes could be referred to the Creator, as the terrible God, being such as the good god (of Marcion) ought not to permit, much less expect—whilst the promises should be ascribed to the good god, being such as the Creator, in His ignorance of the said god, could not have predicted.
If, however, He did predict these promises as His own, since they differ in no respect from the promises of Christ, He will be a match in the freeness of His gifts with the good god himself; and evidently no more will have been promised by your Christ than by my Son of man. (If you examine) the whole passage of this Gospel Scripture, from the inquiry of the disciples down to the parable of the fig-tree you will find the sense in its connection suit in every point the Son of man, so that it consistently ascribes to Him both the sorrows and the joys, and the catastrophes and the promises; nor can you separate them from Him in either respect.
For as much, then, as there is but one Son of man whose advent is placed between the two issues of catastrophe and promise, it must needs follow that to that one Son of man belong both the judgments upon the nations, and the prayers of the saints. He who thus comes in midway so as to be common to both issues, will terminate one of them by inflicting judgment on the nations at His coming; and will at the same time commence the other by fulfilling the prayers of His saints: so that if (on the one hand) you grant that the coming of the Son of man is (the advent) of my Christ, then, when you ascribe to Him the infliction of the judgments which precede His appearance, you are compelled also to assign to Him the blessings which 417 issue from the same.
If (on the other hand) you will have it that it is the coming of your Christ, then, when you ascribe to him the blessings which are to be the result of his advent, you are obliged to impute to him likewise the infliction of the evils which precede his appearance. For the evils which precede, and the blessings which immediately follow, the coming of the Son of man, are both alike indissolubly connected with that event. Consider, therefore, which of the two Christs you choose to place in the person of the Son of man, to whom you may refer the execution of the two dispensations. You make either the Creator a most beneficent God, or else your own god terrible in his nature!
Reflect, in short, on the picture presented in the parable: “Behold the fig-tree, and all the trees; when they produce their fruit, men know that summer is at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is very near.” Now, if the fructification of the common trees be an antecedent sign of the approach of summer, so in like manner do the great conflicts of the world indicate the arrival of that kingdom which they precede. But every sign is His, to whom belong the thing of which it is the sign; and to everything is appointed its sign by Him to whom the thing belongs. If, therefore, these tribulations are the signs of the kingdom, just as the maturity of the trees is of the summer, it follows that the kingdom is the Creator’s to whom are ascribed the tribulations which are the signs of the kingdom.
Since the beneficent Deity had premised that these things must needs come to pass, although so terrible and dreadful, as they had been predicted by the law and the prophets, therefore He did not destroy the law and the prophets, when He affirmed that what had been foretold therein must be certainly fulfilled. He further declares, “that heaven and earth shall not pass away till all things be fulfilled.” What things, pray, are these? Are they the things which the Creator made?
Then the elements will tractably endure the accomplishment of their Maker’s dispensation. If, however, they emanate from your excellent god, I much doubt whether the heaven and earth will peaceably allow the completion of things which their Creator’s enemy has determined! If the Creator quietly submits to this, then He is no “jealous God.” But let heaven and earth pass away, since their Lord has so determined; only let His word remain for evermore! And so Isaiah predicted that it should. Let the disciples also be warned, “lest their hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this world; and so that day come upon them unawares, like a snare” —if indeed they should forget God amidst the abundance and occupation of the world.
Like this will be found the admonition of Moses,—so that He who delivers from “the snare” of that day is none other than He who so long before addressed to men the same admonition. Some places there were in Jerusalem where to teach; other places outside Jerusalem whither to retire —“in the day-time He was teaching in the temple;” just as He had foretold by Hosea: “In my house did they find me, and there did I speak with them.” “But at night He went out to the Mount of Olives.” For thus had Zechariah pointed out: “And His feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives.” Fit hours for an audience there also were. “Early in the morning” must they resort to Him, who (having said by Isaiah, “The Lord giveth me the tongue of the learned”) added, “He hath appointed me the morning, and hath also given me an ear to hear.” Now if this is to destroy the prophets, what will it be to fulfil them?
Chapter XL. — How the Steps in the Passion of the Saviour Were Predetermined in Prophecy.
The Passover. The Treachery of Judas. The Institution of the Lord’s Supper. The Docetic Error of Marcion Confuted by the Body and the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In like manner does He also know the very time it behoved Him to suffer, since the law prefigures His passion. Accordingly, of all the festal days of the Jews He chose the Passover In this Moses had declared that there was a sacred mystery: “It is the Lord’s Passover.” How earnestly, therefore, does He manifest the bent of His soul: “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” What a destroyer of the law was this, who actually longed to keep its Passover!
Could it be that He was 418 so fond of Jewish lamb? But was it not because He had to be “led like a lamb to the slaughter; and because, as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so was He not to open His mouth,” that He so profoundly wished to accomplish the symbol of His own redeeming blood? He might also have been betrayed by any stranger, did I not find that even here too He fulfilled a Psalm: “He who did eat bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” And without a price might He have been betrayed. For what need of a traitor was there in the case of one who offered Himself to the people openly, and might quite as easily have been captured by force as taken by treachery?
This might no doubt have been well enough for another Christ, but would not have been suitable in One who was accomplishing prophecies. For it was written, “The righteous one did they sell for silver.” The very amount and the destination of the money, which on Judas’ remorse was recalled from its first purpose of a fee, and appropriated to the purchase of a potter’s field, as narrated in the Gospel of Matthew, were clearly foretold by Jeremiah: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him who was valued and gave them for the potter’s field.” When He so earnestly expressed His desire to eat the Passover, He considered it His own feast; for it would have been unworthy of God to desire to partake of what was not His own.
Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure. If, however, (as Marcion might say,) He pretended the bread was His body, because He lacked the truth of bodily substance, it follows that He must have given bread for us.
It would contribute very well to the support of Marcion’s theory of a phantom body, that bread should have been crucified! But why call His body bread, and not rather (some other edible thing, say) a melon, which Marcion must have had in lieu of a heart! He did not understand how ancient was this figure of the body of Christ, who said Himself by Jeremiah: “I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter, and I knew not that they devised a device against me, saying, Let us cast the tree upon His bread,” which means, of course, the cross upon His body. And thus, casting light, as He always did, upon the ancient prophecies, He declared plainly enough what He meant by the bread, when He called the bread His own body.
He likewise, when mentioning the cup and making the new testament to be sealed “in His blood,” affirms the reality of His body. For no blood can belong to a body which is not a body of flesh. If any sort of body were presented to our view, which is not one of flesh, not being fleshly, it would not possess blood. Thus, from the evidence of the flesh, we get a proof of the body, and a proof of the flesh from the evidence of the blood.
In order, however, that you may discover how anciently wine is used as a figure for blood, turn to Isaiah, who asks, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, from Bosor with garments dyed in red, so glorious in His apparel, in the greatness of his might? Why are thy garments red, and thy raiment as his who cometh from the treading of the full winepress?” The prophetic Spirit contemplates the Lord as if He were already on His way to His passion, clad in His fleshly nature; and as He was to suffer therein, He represents the bleeding condition of His flesh under the metaphor of garments dyed in red, as if reddened in the treading and crushing process of the wine-press, from which the labourers descend reddened with the wine-juice, like men stained in blood.
Much more clearly still does the book of Genesis foretell this, when (in the blessing of 419 Judah, out of whose tribe Christ was to come according to the flesh) it even then delineated Christ in the person of that patriarch, saying, “He washed His garments in wine, and His clothes in the blood of grapes” —in His garments and clothes the prophecy pointed out his flesh, and His blood in the wine. Thus did He now consecrate His blood in wine, who then (by the patriarch) used the figure of wine to describe His blood.
Chapter XLI. — The Woe Pronounced on the Traitor a Judicial Act, Which Disproves Christ to Be Such as Marcion Would Have Him to Be.
Christ’s Conduct Before the Council Explained. Christ Even Then Directs the Minds of His Judges to the Prophetic Evidences of His Own Mission. The Moral Responsibility of These Men Asserted.
“Woe,” says He, “to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed!” Now it is certain that in this woe must be understood the imprecation and threat of an angry and incensed Master, unless Judas was to escape with impunity after so vast a sin. If he were meant to escape with impunity, the “woe” was an idle word; if not, he was of course to be punished by Him against whom he had committed the sin of treachery.
Now, if He knowingly permitted the man, whom He deliberately elected to be one of His companions, to plunge into so great a crime, you must no longer use an argument against the Creator in Adam’s case, which may now recoil on your own God: either that he was ignorant, and had no foresight to hinder the future sinner; or that he was unable to hinder him, even if he was ignorant; or else that he was unwilling, even if he had the foreknowledge and the ability; and so deserved the stigma of maliciousness, in having permitted the man of his own choice to perish in his sin.
I advise you therefore (willingly) to acknowledge the Creator in that god of yours, rather than against your will to be assimilating your excellent god to Him. For in the case of Peter, too, he gives you proof that he is a jealous God, when he destined the apostle, after his presumptuous protestations of zeal, to a flat denial of him, rather than prevent his fall. The Christ of the prophets was destined, moreover, to be betrayed with a kiss, for He was the Son indeed of Him who was “honoured with the lips” by the people. When led before the council, He is asked whether He is the Christ.
Of what Christ could the Jews have inquired but their own? Why, therefore, did He not, even at that moment, declare to them the rival (Christ)? You reply, In order that He might be able to suffer. In other words, that this most excellent god might plunge men into crime, whom he was still keeping in ignorance. But even if he had told them, he would yet have to suffer. For he said, “If I tell you, ye will not believe.” And refusing to believe, they would have continued to insist on his death. And would he not even more probably still have had to suffer, if had announced himself as sent by the rival god, and as being, therefore, the enemy of the Creator?
It was not, then, in order that He might suffer, that He at that critical moment refrained from proclaiming Himself the other Christ, but because they wanted to extort a confession from His mouth, which they did not mean to believe even if He had given it to them, whereas it was their bounden duty to have acknowledged Him in consequence of His works, which were fulfilling their Scriptures.
It was thus plainly His course to keep Himself at that moment unrevealed, because a spontaneous recognition was due to Him. But yet for all this, He with a solemn gesture says, “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.” For it was on the authority of the prophecy of Daniel that He intimated to them that He was “the Son of man,” and of David’s Psalm, that He would “sit at the right hand of God.”
Accordingly, after He had said this, and so suggested a comparison of the Scripture, a ray of light did seem to show them whom He would have them understand Him to be; for they say: “Art thou then the Son of God?” Of what God, but of Him whom alone they knew? Of what God but of Him whom they remembered in the Psalm as having said to His Son, “Sit Thou on my right hand?” Then He answered, “Ye say that I am;” as if He meant: It is ye who say this—not I. 420 But at the same time He allowed Himself to be all that they had said, in this their second question.
By what means, however, are you going to prove to us that they pronounced the sentence “Ergo tu filius Dei es” interrogatively, and not affirmatively? Just as, (on the one hand,) because He had shown them in an indirect manner, by passages of Scripture, that they ought to regard Him as the Son of God, they therefore meant their own words, “Thou art then the Son of God,” to be taken in a like (indirect) sense, as much as to say, “You do not wish to say this of yourself plainly,” so, (on the other hand,) He likewise answered them, “Ye say that I am,” in a sense equally free from doubt, even affirmatively; and so completely was His statement to this effect, that they insisted on accepting that sense which His statement indicated.
Chapter XLII. — Other Incidents of the Passion Minutely Compared with Prophecy.
Pilate and Herod. Barabbas Preferred to Jesus. Details of the Crucifixion. The Earthquake and the Mid-Day Darkness. All Wonderfully Foretold in the Scriptures of the Creator. Christ’s Giving Up the Ghost No Evidence of Marcion’s Docetic Opinions. In His Sepulture There is a Refutation Thereof.
For when He was brought before Pilate, they proceeded to urge Him with the serious charge, of declaring Himself to be Christ the King; that is, undoubtedly, as the Son of God, who was to sit at God’s right hand. They would, however, have burdened Him with some other title, if they had been uncertain whether He had called Himself the Son of God—if He had not pronounced the words, “Ye say that I am,” so as (to admit) that He was that which they said He was. Likewise, when Pirate asked Him, “Art thou Christ (the King)?” He answered, as He had before (to the Jewish council) “Thou sayest that I am” in order that He might not seem to have been driven by a fear of his power to give him a fuller answer.
“And so the Lord hath stood on His trial.” And he placed His people on their trial. The Lord Himself comes to a trial with “the elders and rulers of the people,” as Isaiah predicted. And then He fulfilled all that had been written of His passion. At that time “the heathen raged, and the people imagined vain things; the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers gathered themselves together against the Lord and against His Christ.” The heathen were Pilate and the Romans; the people were the tribes of Israel; the kings were represented in Herod, and the rulers in the chief priests.
When, indeed, He was sent to Herod gratuitously by Pilate, the words of Hosea were accomplished, for he had prophesied of Christ: “And they shall carry Him bound as a present to the king.” Herod was “exceeding glad” when he saw Jesus, but he heard not a word from Him. For, “as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so He opened not His mouth,” because “the Lord had given to Him a disciplined tongue, that he might know how and when it behoved Him to speak” —even that “tongue which clove to His jaws,” as the Psalm said it should, through His not speaking.
Then Barabbas, the most abandoned criminal, is released, as if he were the innocent man; while the most righteous Christ is delivered to be put to death, as if he were the murderer. Moreover two malefactors are crucified around Him, in order that He might be reckoned amongst the transgressors. Although His raiment was, without doubt, parted among the soldiers, and partly distributed by lot, yet Marcion has erased it all (from his Gospel), for he had his eye upon the Psalm: “They parted my garments amongst them, and cast lots upon my vesture.”
You may as well take away the cross itself! But even then the Psalm is not silent concerning it: “They pierced my hands and my feet.” Indeed, the details of the whole event are therein read: “Dogs compassed me about; the assembly of the wicked enclosed me around. All that looked upon me laughed me to scorn; they did shoot out their lips and shake their heads, 421 (saying,) He hoped in God, let Him deliver Him.”
Of what use now is (your tampering with) the testimony of His garments? If you take it as a booty for your false Christ, still all the Psalm (compensates) the vesture of Christ. But, behold, the very elements are shaken. For their Lord was suffering. If, however, it was their enemy to whom all this injury was done, the heaven would have gleamed with light, the sun would have been even more radiant, and the day would have prolonged its course —gladly gazing at Marcion’s Christ suspended on his gibbet!
These proofs would still have been suitable for me, even if they had not been the subject of prophecy. Isaiah says: “I will clothe the heavens with blackness.” This will be the day, concerning which Amos also writes: And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that the sun shall go down at noon and the earth shall be dark in the clear day.” (At noon) the veil of the temple was rent” by the escape of the cherubim, which “left the daughter of Sion as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers.”
With what constancy has He also, in Psalm xxx4)30., laboured to present to us the very Christ! He calls with a loud voice to the Father, “Into Thine hands I commend my spirit,” that even when dying He might expend His last breath in fulfilling the prophets. Having said this, He gave up the ghost.” Who? Did the spirit give itself up; or the flesh the spirit? But the spirit could not have breathed itself out.
That which breathes is one thing, that which is breathed is another. If the spirit is breathed it must needs be breathed by another. If, however, there had been nothing there but spirit, it would be said to have departed rather than expired. What, however, breathes out spirit but the flesh, which both breathes the spirit whilst it has it, and breathes it out when it loses it? Indeed, if it was not flesh (upon the cross), but a phantom of flesh (and a phantom is but spirit, and so the spirit breathed its own self out, and departed as it did so), no doubt the phantom departed, when the spirit which was the phantom departed: and so the phantom and the spirit disappeared together, and were nowhere to be seen.
Nothing therefore remained upon the cross, nothing hung there, after “the giving up of the ghost;” there was nothing to beg of Pilate, nothing to take down from the cross, nothing to wrap in the linen, nothing to lay in the new sepulchre. Still it was not nothing that was there. What was there, then? If a phantom Christ was yet there. If Christ had departed, He had taken away the phantom also. The only shift left to the impudence of the heretics, is to admit that what remained there was the phantom of a phantom! But what if Joseph knew that it was a body which he treated with so much piety? That same Joseph “who had not consented” with the Jews in their crime? The “happy man who walked not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful.”
Jesus as the Christ of the Creator Proved from the Events of the Last Chapter of St. Luke. The Pious Women at the Sepulchre. The Angels at the Resurrection. The Manifold Appearances of Christ After the Resurrection. His Mission of the Apostles Amongst All Nations. All Shown to Be in Accordance with the Wisdom of the Almighty Father, as Indicated in Prophecy. The Body of Christ After Death No Mere Phantom. Marcion’s Manipulation of the Gospel on This Point.
It was very meet that the man who buried the Lord should thus be noticed in prophecy, and thenceforth be “blessed;” since prophecy does not omit the (pious) office of the women who resorted before day-break to the sepulchre with the spices which they had prepared. For of this incident it is said by Hosea: “To seek my face they will watch till 422 day-light, saying unto me, Come, and let us return to the Lord: for He hath taken away, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up; after two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up.”
For who can refuse to believe that these words often revolved in the thought of those women between the sorrow of that desertion with which at present they seemed to themselves to have been smitten by the Lord, and the hope of the resurrection itself, by which they rightly supposed that all would be restored to them? But when “they found not the body (of the Lord Jesus),” “His sepulture was removed from the midst of them,” according to the prophecy of Isaiah. “Two angels however, appeared there.”
For just so many honorary companions were required by the word of God, which usually prescribes “two witnesses.” Moreover, the women, returning from the sepulchre, and from this vision of the angels, were foreseen by Isaiah, when he says, “Come, ye women, who return from the vision;” that is, “come,” to report the resurrection of the Lord. It was well, however, that the unbelief of the disciples was so persistent, in order that to the last we might consistently maintain that Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples as none other than the Christ of the prophets.
For as two of them were taking a walk, and when the Lord had joined their company, without its appearing that it was He, and whilst He dissembled His knowledge of what had just taken place, they say: “But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel,” —meaning their own, that is, the Creator’s Christ. So far had He been from declaring Himself to them as another Christ! They could not, however, deem Him to be the Christ of the Creator; nor, if He was so deemed by them, could He have tolerated this opinion concerning Himself, unless He were really He whom He was supposed to be.
Otherwise He would actually be the author of error, and the prevaricator of truth, contrary to the character of the good God. But at no time even after His resurrection did He reveal Himself to them as any other than what, on their own showing, they had always thought Him to be. He pointedly reproached them: “O fools, and slow of heart in not believing that which He spake unto you.” By saying this, He proves that He does not belong to the rival god, but to the same God. For the same thing was said by the angels to the women: “Remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered up, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”
“Must be delivered up;” and why, except that it was so written by God the Creator? He therefore upbraided them, because they were offended solely at His passion, and because they doubted of the truth of the resurrection which had been reported to them by the women, whereby (they showed that) they had not believed Him to have been the very same as they had thought Him to be. Wishing, therefore, to be believed by them in this wise, He declared Himself to be just what they had deemed Him to be—the Creator’s Christ, the Redeemer of Israel. But as touching the reality of His body, what can be plainer?
When they were doubting whether He were not a phantom—nay, were supposing that He was one—He says to them, “Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; for a spirit hath not bones, as ye see me have.” Now Marcion was unwilling to expunge from his Gospel some statements which even made against him—I suspect, on purpose, to have it in his power from the passages which he did not suppress, when he could have done so, either to deny that he had expunged anything, or else to justify his suppressions, if he made any.
But he spares only such passages as he can subvert quite as well by explaining them away as by expunging them from the text. Thus, in the passage before us, he would have the words, “A spirit hath not bones, as ye see me have,” so transposed, as to mean, “A spirit, such as ye see me to be, hath not bones;” that is to say, it is not the nature of a spirit to have bones. But what need of so tortuous a construction, when He might have simply said, “A spirit hath not bones, even as you observe that I have not?”
Why, moreover, does He offer His hands and His feet for their examination—limbs which consist of bones—if He had no bones? Why, too, does He add, “Know that it is I myself,” when they had before known Him to be corporeal? Else, if He were altogether a phantom, why did 423 He upbraid them for supposing Him to be a phantom? But whilst they still believed not, He asked them for some meat, for the express purpose of showing them that He had teeth.
And now, as I would venture to believe, we have accomplished our undertaking. We have set forth Jesus Christ as none other than the Christ of the Creator. Our proofs we have drawn from His doctrines, maxims, affections, feelings, miracles, sufferings, and even resurrection—as foretold by the prophets. Even to the last He taught us (the same truth of His mission), when He sent forth His apostles to preach His gospel “among all nations;” for He thus fulfilled the psalm: “Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” Marcion, I pity you; your labour has been in vain. For the Jesus Christ who appears in your Gospel is mine.
Dr. Holmes’ Note. (Dr. Peter Holmes, D.D., F.R.A.S.)
Dr. Holmes appends the following as a note to the Fourth Book. (See cap. vi. p. 351.)
The following statement, abridged from Dr. Lardner (The History of Heretics, chap. x5)10. secs. 35–40), may be useful to the reader, in reference to the subject of the preceding Book:—Marcion received but eleven books of the New Testament, and these strangely curtailed and altered. He divided them into two parts, which he called τὸ Εὐαγγέλιον (the Gospel) and τὸ ᾽Αποστολικόν (the Apostolicon).
1. The former contained nothing more than a mutilated, and sometimes interpolated, edition of St. Luke; the name of that evangelist, however, he expunged from the beginning of his copy. Chaps. i6)1. and ii7)2. he rejected entirely, and began at iii8)3. 1, reading the opening verse thus: “In the xv9)15. year of Tiberius Cæsar, God descended into Capernaum, a city of Galilee.”
2. According to Irenæus, Epiphanius, and Theodoret, he rejected the genealogy and baptism of Christ; whilst from Tertullian’s statement (chap. vii10)7.) it seems likely that he connected what part of chap. iii11)3.—vers. 1, 2—he chose to retain, with chap. iv12)4. 31, at a leap.
3. He further eliminated the history of the temptation. That part of chap. iv13)4. which narrates Christ’s going into the synagogue at Nazareth and reading out of Isaiah he also rejected, and all afterwards to the end of ver. 30.
4. Epiphanius mentions sundry slight alterations in capp. v14)5. 14, 24, vi15)6. 5, 17. In chap. viii16)8. 19 he expunged ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ. From Tertullian’s remarks (chap. xix17)19.), it would seem at first as if Marcion had added to his Gospel that answer of our Saviour which we find related by St. Matthew, chap. xii18)12. 48: “Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?” For he represents Marcion (as in De carne Christi, vii19)7., he represents other heretics, who deny the nativity) as making use of these words for his favourite argument.
But, after all, Marcion might use these words against those who allowed the authenticity of Matthew’s Gospel, without inserting them in his own Gospel; or else Tertullian might quote from memory, and think that to be in Luke which was only in Matthew—as he has done at least in three instances. [Lardner refers two of these instances to passages in chap. vii20)7. of this Book iv21)4., where Tertullian mentions, as erasures from Luke, what really are found in Matthew v. 17 and xv22)15. 24. The third instance referred to by Lardner probably occurs at the end of chap. ix23)9. of this same Book iv24)4., where Tertullian again mistakes Matt. v25)5. 17 for a passage of Luke, and charges Marcion with expunging it; curiously enough, the mistake recurs 424 in chap. xii26)12 of the same Book.]
In Luke x27)10. 21 Marcion omitted the first πάτερ and the words καὶ τῆς γῆς, that he might not allow Christ to call His Father the Lord of earth, or of this world. The second πατήρ in this verse, not open to any inconvenience, he retained. In chap. xi28)11. 29 he omitted the last words concerning the sign of the prophet Jonah; he also omitted all the 30th, 31st, and 32d; in ver. 42 he read κλῆσιν, ‘calling,’ instead of κρίσιν ‘judgment.’ He rejected verses 49, 50, 51, because the passage related to the prophets. He entirely omitted chap. xii29)12. 6; whilst in ver. 8 he read ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Θεοῦ instead of ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀγγέλων τοῦ Θεοῦ.
He seems to have left out all the 28th verse, and expunged ὑμῶν from verses 30 and 32, reading only ὁ πατήρ. In ver. 38, instead of the words ἐν τῇ δευτέρᾳ φυλακῇ, καὶ ἐν τῇ τρίτῃ φυλακῇ, he read ἐν τῇ ἑσπερινῇ φυλακῇ. In chap. xiii30)13. he omitted the first five verses, whilst in the 28th verse of the same chapter, where we read, “When ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and ye yourselves thrust out,” he read (by altering, adding, and transposing), “When ye shall see all the just in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves cast out, and bound without, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” He likewise excluded all the remaining verses of this chapter. All chap. xv31)15. after the 10th verse, in which is contained the parable of the prodigal son, he eliminated from his Gospel. In xvii32)17. 10 he left out all the words after λέγετε.
He made many alterations in the story of the ten lepers; he left out part of ver. 12, all of ver. 13, and altered ver. 14, reading thus: “There met Him ten lepers; and He sent them away, saying, Show yourselves to the priest;” after which he inserted a clause from chap. iv33)4. 27: “There were many lepers in the days of Eliseus the prophet, but none of them were cleansed, but Naaman the Syrian.” In chap. xviii34)18. 19 he added the words ὁ πατήρ, and in ver. 20 altered οἶδας, thou knowest, into the first person. He entirely omitted verses 31–33, in which our blessed Saviour declares that the things foretold by the prophets concerning His sufferings, and death, and resurrection, should all be fulfilled.
He expunged nineteen verses out of chap. xix35)29., from the end of ver. 27 to the beginning of ver. 47. In chap. xx36)20. he omitted ten verses, from the end of ver. 8 to the end of ver. 18. He rejected also verses 37 and 38, in which there is a reference to Moses. Marcion also erased of chap. xxi37)21. the first eighteen verses, as well as verses 21 and 22, on account of this clause, “that all things which are written may be fulfilled;” xx38)20. 16 was left out by him, so also verses 35–37, 50, and 51 (and, adds Lardner, conjecturally, not herein following his authority Epiphanius, also vers. 38 and 49). In chap. xxiii39)23. 2, after the words “perverting the nation,” Marcion added, “and destroying the law and the prophets;” and again, after “forbidding to give tribute unto Cæsar,” he added, “and perverting women and children.”
He also erased ver. 43. In chap. xxiv40)24. he omitted that part of the conference between our Saviour and the two disciples going to Emmaus, which related to the prediction of His sufferings, and which is contained in verses 26 and 27. These two verses he omitted, and changed the words at the end of ver. 25, ἐλάλησαν οἱ προφῆται, into ἐλάλησα ὑμῖν. Such are the alterations, according to Epiphanius, which Marcion made in his Gospel from St. Luke. Tertullian says (in the 4th chapter of the preceding Book) that Marcion erased the passage which gives an account of the parting of the raiment of our Saviour among the soldiers. But the reason he assigns for the erasure—‘respiciens Psalmi prophetiam’—shows that in this, as well as in the few other instances which we have already named, where Tertullian has charged Marcion with so altering passages, his memory deceived him into mistaking Matthew for Luke, for the reference to the passage in the Psalm is only given by St. Matthew xxvii41)27. 35.
5. On an impartial review of these alterations, some seem to be but slight; others might be nothing but various readings; but others, again, are undoubtedly designed 425 perversions. There were, however, passages enough left unaltered and unexpunged by the Marcionites, to establish the reality of the flesh and blood of Christ, and to prove that the God of the Jews was the Father of Christ, and of perfect goodness as well as justice. Tertullian, indeed, observes [chap. xliii42)43.] that “Marcion purposely avoided erasing all the passages which made against him, that he might with the greater confidence deny having erased any at all, or at least that what he had omitted was for very good reasons.”
6. To show the unauthorized and unwarrantable character of these alterations, omissions, additions, and corruptions, the Catholic Christians asserted that their copies of St. Luke’s Gospel were more ancient than Marcion’s [so Tertullian in chap. iii43)3. and iv44)4. of this Book iv45)4.]; and they maintained also the genuineness and integrity of the unadulterated Gospel, in opposition to that which had been curtailed and altered by him [chap. v46)5.].
(Deadly Sins, cap. ix., p. 356.)
To maintain a modern and wholly uncatholic system of Penitence, the schoolmen invented a technical scheme of sins mortal and sins venial, which must not be read into the Fathers, who had no such technicalities in mind. By “deadly sins” they meant all such as St. John recognizes (1 John 5: 16–17) and none other; that is to say sins of surprise and infirmity, sins having in them no malice or wilful disobedience, such as an impatient word, or a momentary neglect of duty.
Should a dying man commit a deliberate sin and then expire, even after a life of love and obedience, who could fail to recognize the fearful nature of such an end? But, should his last word be one of infirmity and weakness, censurable but not involving wilful disobedience, surely we may consider it as provided for by the comfortable words—“there is a sin not unto death.” Yet “all unrighteousness is sin,” and the Fathers held that all sin should be repented of and confessed before God; because all sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.”
In St. Augustine’s time, when moral theology became systematized in the West, by his mighty genius and influence, the following were recognized degrees of guilt:
(1.) Sins deserving excommunication.
(2.) Sins requiring to be confessed to the brother offended in order to God’s forgiveness, and
(3.) sins covered by God’s gracious covenant, when daily confessed in the Lord’s Prayer, in public, or in private.
And this classification was professedly based on Holy Scripture.
(1.) on the text—“To deliver such an one unto Satan, etc.” (1 Cor 5: 4–5).
(2.) On the text—(Matt xviii.47)15.), “Confess your sins one to another, brethren” (James 5: 16), and
(3.) on the text—(Matt 6: 12) “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us.”
This last St. Augustine regards as the “daily medication” of our ordinary life, habitual penitence and faith and the baptismal covenant being presupposed.
The modern Trent theology has vastly amplified the scholastic teachings and refinements, and the elevation of Liguori to the rank of a church-doctor has virtually made the whole system de fide with the Latins. The Easterns know nothing of this modern and uncatholic teaching, and it is important that the student of the Ante-Nicene Patrologia should be on his guard against the novel meanings which the Trent theology imposes upon orthodox (Nicene) language.
The long ages during which Eastern orthodoxy has been obscured by 426 the sufferings and consequent ignorance of the Greeks, have indeed tainted their doctrinal and practical system, but it still subsists in amazing contrast with Latin impurity. See, on the “indulgences,” of the latter, the “Orthodox Theology of Macarius, Bishop of Vinnitza,” Tom. II. p. 541, Paris, 1860.
(Reservation of Baptism, cap. xi., note, p. 361.)
It is important, here, to observe the heretical origin of a sinful superstition which becomes conspicuous in the history of Constantine. If the church tolerated it in his case, it was doubtless in view of this extraordinary instance of one, who was a heathen still, at heart, becoming a guardian and protector of the persecuted Faithful. It is probable that he was regarded as a Cyrus or a Nebuchadnezzar whom God had raised up to protect and to deliver His people; who was to be honoured and obeyed as “God’s minister” (Rom 13: 4.) in so far, and for this purpose.
The church was scrupulous and he was superstitious; it would have been difficult to discipline him and worse not to discipline him. Tacitly, therefore, he was treated as a catechumen, but was not formally admitted even to that class. He permitted Heathenism, and while he did so, how could he be received as a Christian? The Christian church never became responsible for his life and character, but strove to reform him and to prepare him for a true confession of Christ at some “convenient season.”
In this, there seems to have been a great fault somewhere, chargeable perhaps to Eusebius or to some other Christian counsellor; but, when could any one say—“the emperor is sincere and humble and penitent and ought now to be received into the church.” It was a political conversion, and as such was accepted, and Constantine was a heathen till near his death.
As to his final penitence and acceptance—“Forbear to judge.” 2 Kings 10: 29–31. Concerning his baptism, see Eusebius, de Vita Const. iv. 61, see also, Mosheim’s elaborate and candid views of the whole subject: First Three Centuries, Vol. II. 460–471.
(Peter, cap. xiii. p. 365.)
The great Gallican, Launoy, doctor of the Sorbonne, has proved that the Fathers understand the Rock to be Christ, while, only rarely, and that rhetorically, not dogmatically, St. Peter is called a stone or a rock; a usage to which neither Luther nor Calvin could object. Tertullian himself, when he speaks dogmatically, is in accord with other Fathers, and gives no countenance to the modern doctrine of Rome. See La Papauté, of the Abbé Guettée, pp. 42–61. It is important, also, to note that the primacy of St. Peter, more or less, whatever it may have been in the mind of the Fathers, was wholly personal, in their view. Of the fables which make it hereditary and a purtenance of Rome they knew nothing.
(Loans, cap. xvii. p. 372.)
The whole subject of usury, in what it consists, etc., deserves to receive more attention than it does in our times, when nominal Christians are steeped in the sin of money-traffic to the injury of neighbours, on a scale truly gigantic. God’s word clearly rebukes this sin. So does the Council of Nice.5191 Now by what is the sin defined? Certainly by the spirit of the Gospel; but, is it also, by the letter? A sophistical casuistry which maintains the letter, and then sophisticates and refines so as to explain it all away, is the product of school divinity and of modern Jesuitry; but even the great Bossuet is its apologist. (See his Traité de l’Usure. opp. ix. p. 49, etc., ed. Paris, 1846.) But for an exhaustive review of the whole matter, I ask attention to Huet, Le Règne Social, etc. (Paris, 1853) pp. 334–345.
(The Baptist, cap. xviii. p. 375.)
The interpretation of Tertullian, however, has the all-important merit (which Bacon and Hooker recognize as cardinal) of flowing from the Scripture without squeezing.
(1.) Our Lord sent the message to John as a personal and tender assurance to him.
(2.) The story illustrates the decrease of which the Baptist had spoken prophetically (John iii. 30.); and
(3.) it sustains the great principle that Christ alone is without sin, this being the one fault recorded of the Baptist, otherwise a singular instance of sinlessness. The B. Virgin’s fault (gently reproved by the Lord, John ii. 4.), seems in like manner introduced on this principle of exhibiting the only sinless One, in His Divine perfections as without spot. So even Joseph and Moses (Psalm cvi. 33., and Gen. xlvii. 20.) are shewn “to be but men.” The policy of Joseph has indeed been extravagantly censured.
(Harshness, cap. xix., note 6., p. 378. Also, cap. xxvi. p. 393.)
Tertullian seems with reflect the early view of the church as to our Lord’s total abnegation of all filial relations with the Virgin, when He gave to her St. John, instead of Himself, on the Cross. For this purpose He had made him the beloved disciple and doubtless charged him with all the duties with which he was to be clothed. Thus He fulfilled the figurative law of His priesthood, as given by Moses, (Deut. xxxiii. 9.) and crucified himself, from the beginning, according to his own Law (Luke xiv. 26–27.) which he identifies with the Cross, here and also in Matt. x. 37–38. These then are the steps of His own holy example, illustrating His own precept, for doubtless, as “the Son of man,” His filial love was superlative and made the sacrifice the sharper:
(1.) He taught Joseph that He had no earthly father, when he said—“Wist ye not that I must be in my Father’s house,” (Luke iii. 49., Revised); but, having established this fact, he then became “subject” to both his parents, till His public ministry began.
(2.) At this time, He seems to have admonished His mother, that He could not recognize her authority any longer, (John ii. 4.) having now entered upon His work as the Son of God.
(3.) Accordingly, He refused, thenceforth, to know her save only as one of His redeemed, excepting her in nothing from this common work for all the Human Race, (Matt. xii. 48) in the passage which Tertullian so forcibly expounds.
(4.) Finally, when St. Mary draws near to the cross, apparently to claim the final recognition of the previous understanding (John ii. 4.) to which the Lord had referred her at Cana—He fulfils His last duty to her in giving her a son instead of Himself, and thereafter
(5) recognizes her no more; not even in His messages after the Resurrection, nor when He met her with other disciples. He rewards her, instead, with the infinite love He bears to all His saints, and with the brightest rewards which are bestowed upon Faith. In this consists her superlative excellence and her conspicuous glory among the Redeemed (Luke i. 47–48.) in Christ’s account.
(Children, cap. xxiii. p. 386.)
In this beautiful testimony of our author to the sanctity of marriage, and the blessedness of its fruits, I see his austere spirit reflecting the spirit of Christ so tenderly and so faithfully, in the love of children, that I am warmly drawn to him. I cannot give him up to Montanism at this period of his life and labours. Surely, he was as yet merely persuaded that the prophetic charismata were not extinct, and that they had been received by his Phrygian friends, although he may still have regarded them as prophesying subject to all the 428 infirmities which St. Paul attributes even to persons elevated by spiritual gifts. (1 Cor. xiv.) Why not recognize him in all his merits, until his open and senile lapse is complete?
(Hades, cap. xxxiv. p. 406.)
Here again our author shews his unsettled view as to Sheol or Hades, on which see Kaye, pp. 247–250. Here he distinguishes between the Inferi and Abraham’s bosom; but (in B. iii. cap. 24.) he has already, more aptly, regarded the Inferi, or Hades, as the common receptacle of departed spirits, where a “great gulf” indeed, separates between the two classes.
A caricature may sometimes illustrate characteristic features more powerfully than a true portrait. The French call the highest gallery in theatres, paradis; and I have sometimes explained it by the fact that the modern drama originated in the monkish Mysteries, revived so profanely in our own day. To reconcile the poor to a bad place they gave it the name of Paradise, thus illustrating their Mediæval conceptions; for trickling down from Tertullian his vivid notions seem to have suffused all Western theology on this subject.
Thus, then, one vast receptacle receives all the dead. The pit, as we very appropriately call it in English, answers to the place of lost spirits, where the rich man was in torments. Above, are ranged the family of Abraham reclining, as it were, in their father’s bosom, by turns. Far above, under skylights, (for the old Mysteries were celebrated in the day-time) is the Paradise, where the Martyrs see God, and are represented as “under the altar” of heaven itself. Now, abandoning our grotesque illustration, but using it for its topography, let us conceive of our own globe, as having a world-wide concavity such as they imagined, from literalizing the under-world of Sheol.
In its depths is the Phylace (1 Peter iii. 19.) of “spirits in prison.” In a higher region repose the blessed spirits in “Abraham’s bosom.” Yet nearer to the ethereal vaults, are the martyrs in Paradise, looking out into heavenly worlds. The immensity of the scale does not interfere with the vision of spirits, nor with such communications as Abraham holds with his lost son in the history of Dives and Lazarus.
Here indeed Science comes to our aid, for if the telephone permits such conversations while we are in the flesh, we may at least imagine that the subtile spirit can act in like manner, apart from such contrivances. Now, so far as Tertullian is consistent with himself, I think these explanations may clarify his words and references. The Eastern Theology is less inconsistent and bears the marks alike of Plato and of Origen. But of this hereafter. Of a place, such as the Mediæval Purgatory, affirmed as de fide by the Trent creed, the Fathers knew nothing at all. See Vol. II. p. 490, also 522, this Series.
(Passage not easy to identify, p. 390, note 14.)
Easy enough, by the LXX. See Isaiah lxiii. 3. καὶ τῶν εθνῶν οὐκ ἔστιν ἀνὴρ μετ᾽ εμοῦ. The first verse, referring to Edom, leads our author to accentuate this point of Gentile ignorance.
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