Boy this would have been helpful when studying the old testament! This should be required commentary for all seekers of understanding! =)
CHAP. IX.—THERE IS BUT ONE AUTHOR, AND ONE END TO BOTH COVENANTS.
1. All things therefore are of one and the same substance, that is, from one and the same God; as also the Lord says to the disciples: “Therefore every scribe, which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” He did not teach that he who brought forth the old was one, and he that brought forth the new, another; but that they were one and the same. For the Lord is the good man of the house, who rules the tire house of His Father; and who delivers a law suited both for slaves and those who are as yet undisciplined; and gives fitting precepts to those that are free, and have been justified by faith, as well as throws His own inheritance open to those that are sons. And He called His disciples “scribes” and “teachers of the kingdom of heaven; ” of whom also He elsewhere says to the Jews: “Behold, I send unto you wise men, and scribes, and teachers; and some of them ye shall kill, and persecute from city to city.”2 Now, without contradiction, He means by those things which are brought forth from the treasure new and old, the two covenants; the old, that giving of the law which took place formerly; and He points out as the new, that manner of life required by the Gospel, of which David says, “Sing unto the LORD a new song;” and Esaias, “Sing unto the LORD a new hymn. His beginning (initium), His name is glorified from the height of the earth: they declare His powers in the isles.” And Jeremiah says: “Behold, I will make a new covenant, not as I made with your fathers”5 in Mount Horeb. But one and the same householder produced both covenants, the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who spake with both Abraham and Moses, and who has restored us anew to liberty, and has multiplied that grace which is from Himself.
2. He declares: “For in this place is One greater than the temple.” But [the words] greater and less are not applied to those things which have nothing in common between themselves, and are of an opposite nature, and mutually repugnant; but are used in the case of those of the same substance, and which possess properties in common, but merely differ in number and size; such as water from water, and light from light, and grace from grace. Greater, therefore, is that legislation which has been given in order liberty than that given in order to bondage; and therefore it has also been diffused, not throughout one nation [only], but over the whole world. For one and the same Lord, who is greater than the temple, greater than Solomon, and greater than Jonah, confers gifts upon men, that is, His own presence, and the resurrection from the dead; but He does not change God, nor proclaim another Father, but that very same one, who always has more to measure out to those of His household. And as their love towards God increases, He bestows more and greater [gifts]; as also the Lord said to His disciples: “Ye shall see greater things than these.” And Paul declares: “Not that I have already attained, or that I am justified, or already have been made perfect. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect has come, the things which are in part shall be done away.”8 As, therefore, when that which is perfect is come, we shall not see another Father, but Him whom we now desire to see (for “blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”); neither shall we look for another Christ and Son of God, but Him who [was born] of the Virgin Mary, who also suffered, in whom too we trust, and whom we love; as Esaias says: “And they shall say in that day, Behold our LORD God, in whom we have trusted, and we have rejoiced in our salvation;” and Peter says in his Epistle: “Whom, not seeing, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, ye have believed, ye shall rejoice with joy unspeakable;”11 neither do we receive another Holy Spirit, besides Him who is with us, and who cries, “Abba, Father;” and we shall make increase in the very same things [as now], and shall make progress, so that no longer through a glass, or by means of enigmas, but face to face, we shall enjoy the gifts of God;—so also now, receiving more than the temple, and more than Solomon, that is, the advent of the Son of God, we have not been taught another God besides the Framer and the Maker of all, who has been pointed out to us from the beginning; nor another Christ, the Son of God, besides Him who was foretold by the prophets.
3. For the new covenant having been known and preached by the prophets, He who was to carry it out according to the good pleasure of the Father was also preached, having been revealed to men as God pleased; that they might always make progress through believing in Him, and by means of the [successive] covenants, should gradually attain to perfect salvation. For there is one salvation and one God; but the precepts which form the man are numerous, and the steps which lead man to God are not a few. It is allowable for an earthly and temporal king, though he is [but] a man, to grant to his subjects greater advantages at times: shall not this then be lawful for God, since He is [ever] the same, and is always willing to confer a greater [degree of] grace upon the human race, and to honour continually with many gifts those who please Him? But if this be to make progress, [namely,] to find out another Father besides Him who was preached from the beginning; and again, besides him who is imagined to have been discovered in the second place, to find out a third other,—then the progress of this man will consist in his also proceeding from a third to a fourth; and from this, again, to another and another: and thus he who thinks that he is always making progress of such a kind, will never rest in one God. For, being driven away from Him who truly is [God], and being turned backwards, he shall be for ever seeking, yet shall never find out God;2 but shall continually swim in an abyss without limits, unless, being converted by repentance, he return to the place from which he had been cast out, confessing one God, the Father, the Creator, and believing [in Him] who was declared by the law and the prophets, who was borne witness to by Christ, as He did Himself declare to those who were accusing His disciples of not observing the tradition of the elders: “Why do ye make void the law of God by reason of your tradition? For God said, Honour thy father and mother; and, Whosoever curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” And again, He says to them a second time: “And ye have made void the word of God4 by reason of your tradition;” Christ confessing in the plainest manner Him to be Father and God, who said in the law, “Honour thy father and mother; that it may be well with thee.” For the true God did confess the commandment of the law as the word of God, and called no one else God besides His own Father.
CHAP. XI.—THE OLD PROPHETS AND RIGHTEOUS MEN KNEW BEFOREHAND OF THE ADVENT OF CHRIST, AND EARNESTLY DESIRED TO SEE AND HEAR HIM, HE REVEALING HIMSELF IN THE SCRIPTURES BY THE HOLY GHOST, AND WITHOUT ANY CHANGE IN HIMSELF, ENRICHING MEN DAY BY DAY WITH BENEFITS, BUT CONFERRING THEM IN GREATER ABUNDANCE ON LATER THAN ON FORMER GENERATIONS.
1. But that it was not only the prophets and many righteous men, who, foreseeing through the Holy Spirit His advent, prayed that they might attain to that period in which they should see their Lord face to face, and hear His words, the Lord has made manifest, when He says to His disciples, “Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” In what way, then, did they desire both to hear and to see, unless they had foreknowledge of His future advent? But how could they have foreknown it, unless they had previously received foreknowledge from Himself? And how do the Scriptures testify of Him, unless all things had ever been revealed and shown to believers by one and the same God through the Word; He at one time conferring with His creature, and at another pro-pounding His law; at one time, again, reproving, at another exhorting, and then setting free His servant, and adopting him as a son (in filium); and, at the proper time, bestowing an incorruptible inheritance, for the purpose of bringing man to perfection? For He formed him for growth and increase, as the Scripture says: “Increase and multiply.”
2. And in this respect God differs from man, that God indeed makes, but man is made; and truly, He who makes is always the same; but that which is made must receive both beginning, and middle, and addition, and increase. And God does indeed create after a skilful manner, while, [as regards] man, he is created skilfully. God also is truly perfect in all things, Himself equal and similar to Himself, as He is all light, and all mind, and all substance, and the fount of all good; but man receives advancement and increase towards God. For as God is always the same, so also man, when found in God, shall always go on towards God. For neither does God at any time cease to confer benefits upon, or to enrich man; nor does man ever cease from receiving the benefits, and being enriched by God. For the receptacle of His goodness, and the instrument of His glorification, is the man who is grateful to Him that made him; and again, the receptacle of His just judgment is the ungrateful man, who both despises his Maker and is not subject to His Word; who has promised that He will give very much to those always bringing forth fruit, and more [and more] to those who have the Lord’s money. “Well done,” He says, “good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful in little, I will appoint thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” The Lord Himself thus promises very much.
3. As, therefore, He has promised to give very much to those who do now bring forth fruit, according to the gift of His grace, but not according to the changeableness of “knowledge;” for the Lord remains the same, and the same Father is revealed; thus, therefore, has the one and the same Lord granted, by means of His advent, a greater gift of grace to those of a later period, than what He had granted to those under the Old Testament dispensation. For they indeed used to hear, by means of [His] servants, that the King would come, and they rejoiced to a certain extent, inasmuch as they hoped for His coming; but those who have beheld Him actually present, and have obtained liberty, and been made partakers of His gifts, do possess a greater amount of grace, and a higher degree of exultation, rejoicing because of the King’s arrival: as also David says, “My soul shall rejoice in the LORD; it shall be glad in His salvation.” And for this cause, upon His entrance into Jerusalem, all those who were in the way2 recognised David their king in His sorrow of soul, and spread their garments for Him, and ornamented the way with green boughs, crying out with great joy and gladness, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord: hosanna in the highest.” But to the envious wicked stewards, who circumvented those under them, and ruled over those that had no great intelligence,4 and for this reason were unwilling that the king should come, and who said to Him, “Hearest thou what these say?” did the Lord reply, “Have ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou perfected praise?”—thus pointing out that what had been declared by David concerning the Son of God, was accomplished in His own person; and indicating that they were indeed ignorant of the meaning of the Scripture and the dispensation of God; but declaring that it was Himself who was announced by the prophets as Christ, whose name is praised in all the earth, and who perfects praise to His Father from the mouth of babes and sucklings; wherefore also His glory has been raised above the heavens.
4. If, therefore, the self-same person is present who was announced by the prophets, our Lord Jesus Christ, and if His advent has brought in a fuller [measure of] grace and greater gifts to those who have received Him, it is plain that the Father also is Himself the same who was proclaimed by the prophets, and that the Son, on His coming, did not spread the knowledge of another Father, but of the same who was preached from the beginning; from whom also He has brought down liberty to those who, in a lawful manner, and with a willing mind, and with all the heart, do Him service; whereas to scoffers, and to those not subject to God, but who follow outward purifications for the praise of men (which observances had been given as a type of future things,—the law typifying, as it were, certain things in a shadow, and delineating eternal things by temporal, celestial by terrestrial), and to those who pretend that they do themselves observe more than what has been prescribed, as if preferring their own zeal to God Himself, while within they are full of hypocrisy, and covetousness, and all wickedness,—[to such] has He assigned everlasting perdition by cutting them off from life.
CHAP. XV.—AT FIRST GOD DEEMED IT SUFFICIENT TO INSCRIBE THE NATURAL LAW, OR THE DECALOGUE, UPON THE HEARTS OF MEN; BUT AFTERWARDS HE FOUND IT NECESSARY TO BRIDLE, WITH THE YOKE OF THE MOSAIC LAW, THE DESIRES OF THE JEWS, WHO WERE ABUSING THEIR LIBERTY; AND EVEN TO ADD SOME SPECIAL COMMANDS, BECAUSE OF THE HARDNESS OF THEIR HEARTS.
1. They (the Jews) had therefore a law, a course of discipline, and a prophecy of future things. For God at the first, indeed, warning them by means of natural precepts, which from the beginning He had implanted in mankind, that is, by means of the Decalogue (which, if any one does not observe, he has no salvation), did then demand nothing more of them. As Moses says in Deuteronomy, “These are all the words which the Lord spake to the whole assembly of the sons of Israel on the mount, and He added no more; and He wrote them on two tables of stone, and gave them to me.” For this reason [He did so], that they who are willing to follow Him might keep these commandments. But when they turned themselves to make a calf, and had gone back in their minds to Egypt, desiring to be slaves instead of free-men, they were placed for the future in a state of servitude suited to their wish,—[a slavery] which did not indeed cut them off from God, but subjected them to the yoke of bondage; as Ezekiel the prophet, when stating the reasons for the giving of such a law, declares: “And their eyes were after the desire of their heart; and I gave them statutes that were not good, and judgments in which they shall not live.”8 Luke also has recorded that Stephen, who was the first elected into the diaconate by the apostles, and who was the first slain for the testimony of Christ, spoke regarding Moses as follows: “This man did indeed receive the commandments of the living God to give to us, whom your fathers would not obey, but thrust [Him from them], and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us; for we do not know what has happened to [this] Moses, who led us from the land of Egypt. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifices to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their own hands. But God turned, and gave them up to worship the hosts of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets:2 O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to Me sacrifices and oblations for forty years in the wilderness? And ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of the god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them;”4 pointing out plainly, that the law being such, was not given to them by another God, but that, adapted to their condition of servitude, [it originated] from the very same [God as we worship]. Wherefore also He says to Moses in Exodus: “I will send forth My angel before thee; for I will not go up with thee, because thou art a stiff-necked people.”
2. And not only so, but the Lord also showed that certain precepts were enacted for them by Moses, on account of their hardness [of heart], and because of their unwillingness to be obedient, when, on their saying to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a writing of divorcement, and to send away a wife?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he permitted these things to you; but from the beginning it was not so;” thus exculpating Moses as a faithful servant, but acknowledging one God, who from the beginning made male and female, and reproving them as hard-hearted and disobedient. And therefore it was that they received from Moses this law of divorcement, adapted to their hard nature. But why say I these things concerning the Old Testament? For in the New also are the apostles found doing this very thing, on the ground which has been mentioned, Paul plainly declaring, But these things I say, not the Lord.”7 And again: “But this I speak by permission, not by commandment.” And again: “Now, as concerning virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.”9 But further, in another place he says: “That Satan tempt you not for your incontinence.” If, therefore, even in the New Testament, the apostles are found granting certain precepts in consideration of human infirmity, because of the incontinence of some, lest such persons, having grown obdurate, and despairing altogether of their salvation, should become apostates from God,—it ought not to be wondered at, if also in the Old Testament the same God permitted similar indulgences for the benefit of His people, drawing them on by means of the ordinances already mentioned, so that they might obtain the gift of salvation through them, while they obeyed the Decalogue, and being restrained by Him, should not revert to idolatry, nor apostatize from God, but learn to love Him with the whole heart. And if certain persons, because of the disobedient and ruined Israelites, do assert that the giver (doctor) of the law was limited in power, they will find in our dispensation, that “many are called, but few chosen;” and that there are those who inwardly are wolves, yet wear sheep’s clothing in the eyes of the world (foris); and that God has always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man, while at the same time He issued His own exhortations, in order that those who do not obey Him should be righteously judged (condemned) because they have not obeyed Him; and that those who have obeyed and believed on Him should be honoured with immortality.
CHAP. XVI.—PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS WAS CONFERRED NEITHER BY CIRCUMCISION NOR BY ANY OTHER LEGAL CEREMONIES. THE DECALOGUE, HOWEVER, WAS NOT CANCELLED BY CHRIST, BUT IS ALWAYS IN FORCE: MEN WERE NEVER RELEASED FROM ITS COMMANDMENTS.
1. Moreover, we learn from the Scripture itself, that God gave circumcision, not as the completer of righteousness, but as a sign, that the race of Abraham might continue recognisable. For it declares: “God said unto Abraham, Every male among you shall be circumcised; and ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, as a token of the covenant between Me and you.” This same does Ezekiel the prophet say with regard to the Sabbaths: “Also I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them.”14 And in Exodus, God says to Moses: “And ye shall observe My Sabbaths; for it shall be a sign between Me and you for your generations.” These things, then, were given for a sign; but the signs were not unsymbolical, that is, neither unmeaning nor to no purpose, inasmuch as they were given by a wise Artist; but the circumcision after the flesh typified that after the Spirit. For “we,” says the apostle, “have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands.”2 And the prophet declares, “Circumcise the hardness of your heart.” But the Sabbaths taught that we should continue day by day in God’s service.4“For we have been counted,” says the Apostle Paul, “all the day long as sheep for the slaughter; ” that is, consecrated [to God], and ministering continually to our faith, and persevering in it, and abstaining from all avarice, and not acquiring or possessing treasures upon earth.6 Moreover, the Sabbath of God (requietio Dei), that is, the kingdom, was, as it were, indicated by created things; in which [kingdom], the man who shall have persevered in serving God (Deo assistere) shall, in a state of rest, partake of God’s table.
2. And that man was not justified by these things, but that they were given as a sign to the people, this fact shows,—that Abraham himself, without circumcision and without observance of Sabbaths, “believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.” Then, again, Lot, without circumcision, was brought out from Sodom, receiving salvation from God. So also did Noah, pleasing God, although he was uncircumcised, receive the dimensions [of the ark], of the world of the second race [of men]. Enoch, too, pleasing God, without circumcision, discharged the office of God’s legate to the angels although he was a man, and was translated, and is preserved until now as a witness of the just judgment of God, because the angels when they had transgressed fell to the earth for judgment, but the man who pleased [God] was translated for salvation.8 Moreover, all the rest of the multitude of those righteous men who lived before Abraham, and of those patriarchs who preceded Moses, were justified independently of the things above mentioned, and without the law of Moses. As also Moses himself says to the people in Deuteronomy: “The LORD thy God formed a covenant in Horeb. The LORD formed not this covenant with your fathers, but for you.”
3. Why, then, did the Lord not form the covenant for the fathers? Because “the law was not established for righteous men.” But the righteous fathers had the meaning of the Decalogue written in their hearts and souls,11 that is, they loved the God who made them, and did no injury to their neighbour. There was therefore no occasion that they should be cautioned by prohibitory mandates (correptoriis literis), because they had the righteousness of the law in themselves. But when this righteousness and love to God had passed into oblivion, and became extinct in Egypt, God did necessarily, because of His great goodwill to men, reveal Himself by a voice, and led the people with power out of Egypt, in order that man might again become the disciple and follower of God; and He afflicted those who were disobedient, that they should not contemn their Creator; and He fed them with manna, that they might receive food for their souls (uti rationalem acciperent escam); as also Moses says in Deuteronomy: “And fed thee with manna, which thy fathers did not know, that thou mightest know that man doth not live by bread alone; but by every word of God proceeding out of His mouth doth man live.” And it enjoined love to God, and taught just dealing towards our neighbour, that we should neither be unjust nor unworthy of God, who prepares man for His friendship through the medium of the Decalogue, and likewise for agreement with his neighbour,—matters which did certainly profit man himself; God, however, standing in no need of anything from man.
4. And therefore does the Scripture say, “These words the Lord spake to all the assembly of the children of Israel in the mount, and He added no more;” for, as I have already observed, He stood in need of nothing from them. And again Moses says: “And now Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul?” Now these things did indeed make man glorious, by supplying what was wanting to him, namely, the friendship of God; but they profited God nothing, for God did not at all stand in need of man’s love. For the glory of God was wanting to man, which he could obtain in no other way than by serving God. And therefore Moses says to them again: “Choose life, that thou mayest live, and thy seed, to love the LORD thy God, to hear His voice, to cleave unto Him; for this is thy life, and the length of thy days.” Preparing man for this life, the Lord Himself did speak in His own person to all alike the words of the Decalogue; and therefore, in like manner, do they remain permanently with us,2 receiving by means of His advent in the flesh, extension and increase, but not abrogation.
5. The laws of bondage, however, were one by one promulgated to the people by Moses, suited for their instruction or for their punishment, as Moses himself declared: “And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments.” These things, therefore, which were given for bondage, and for a sign to them, He cancelled by the new covenant of liberty. But He has increased and widened those laws which are natural, and noble, and common to all, granting to men largely and without grudging, by means of adoption, to know God the Father, and to love Him with the whole heart, and to follow His word unswervingly, while they abstain not only from evil deeds, but even from the desire after them. But He has also increased the feeling of reverence; for sons should have more veneration than slaves, and greater love for their father. And therefore the Lord says, “As to every idle word that men have spoken, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.”4 And, “he who has looked upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart;” and, “he that is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.”6 [All this is declared,] that we may know that we shall give account to God not of deeds only, as slaves, but even of words and thoughts, as those who have truly received the power of liberty, in which [condition] a man is more severely tested, whether he will reverence, and fear, and love the Lord. And for this reason Peter says “that we have not liberty as a cloak of maliciousness,” but as the means of testing and evidencing faith.
CHAP. XVII.—PROOF THAT GOD DID NOT APPOINT THE LEVITICAL DISPENSATION FOR HIS OWN SAKE, OR AS REQUIRING SUCH SERVICE; FOR HE DOES, IN FACT, NEED NOTHING FROM MEN.
1. Moreover, the prophets indicate in the fullest manner that God stood in no need of their slavish obedience, but that it was upon their own account that He enjoined certain observances in the law. And again, that God needed not their oblation, but [merely demanded it], on account of man himself who offers it, the Lord taught distinctly, as I have pointed out. For when He perceived them neglecting righteousness, and abstaining from the love of God, and imagining that God was to be propitiated by sacrifices and the other typical observances, Samuel did even thus speak to them: “God does not desire whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices, but He will have His voice to be hearkened to. Behold, a ready obedience is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” David also says: “Sacrifice and oblation Thou didst not desire, but mine ears hast Thou perfected;9 burnt-offerings also for sin Thou hast not required.” He thus teaches them that God desires obedience, which renders them secure, rather than sacrifices and holocausts, which avail them nothing towards righteousness; and [by this declaration] he prophesies the new covenant at the same time. Still clearer, too, does he speak of these things in the fiftieth Psalm: “For if Thou hadst desired sacrifice, then would I have given it: Thou wilt not delight in burnt-offerings. The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart the Lord will not despise.”11 Because, therefore, God stands in need of nothing, He declares in the preceding Psalm: “I will take no calves out of thine house, nor he-goats out of thy fold. For Mine are all the beasts of the earth, the herds and the oxen on the mountains: I know all the fowls of heaven, and the various tribes of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fulness thereof. Shall I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?”13 Then, lest it might be supposed that He refused these things in His anger, He continues, giving him (man) counsel: “Offer unto God the sacrifice of praise, and pay thy vows to the Most High; and call upon Me in the day of thy trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me;” rejecting, indeed, those things by which sinners imagined they could propitiate God, and showing that He does Himself stand in need of nothing; but He exhorts and advises them to those things by which man is justified and draws nigh to God. This same declaration does Esaias make: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the Lord. I am full.” And when He had repudiated holocausts, and sacrifices, and oblations, as likewise the new moons, and the sabbaths, and the festivals, and all the rest of the services accompanying these, He continues, exhorting them to what pertained to salvation: “Wash you, make you clean, take away wickedness from your hearts from before mine eyes: cease from your evil ways, learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow; and come, let us reason together, saith the LORD.”
2. For it was not because He was angry, like a man, as many venture to say, that He rejected their sacrifices; but out of compassion to their blindness, and with the view of suggesting to them the true sacrifice, by offering which they shall appease God, that they may receive life from Him. As He elsewhere declares: “The sacrifice to God is an afflicted heart: a sweet savour to God is a heart glorifying Him who formed it.” For if, when angry, He had repudiated these sacrifices of theirs, as if they were persons unworthy to obtain His compassion, He would not certainly have urged these same things upon them as those by which they might be saved. But inasmuch as God is merciful, He did not cut them off from good counsel. For after He had said by Jeremiah, “To what purpose bring ye Me incense from Saba, and cinnamon from a far country? Your whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices are not acceptable to Me;”3 He proceeds: “Hear the word of the Lord, all Judah. These things saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Make straight your ways and your doings, and I will establish you in this place. Put not your trust in lying words, for they will not at all profit you, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, it is [here].”
3. And again, when He points out that it was not for this that He led them out of Egypt, that they might offer sacrifice to Him, but that, forgetting the idolatry of the Egyptians, they should be able to hear the voice of the Lord, which was to them salvation and glory, He declares by this same Jeremiah: “Thus saith the LORD; Collect together your burnt-offerings with your sacrifices and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices: but this word I commanded them, saying, Hear My voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be My people; and walk in all My ways whatsoever I have commanded you, that it may be well with you. But they obeyed not, nor hearkened; but walked in the imaginations of their own evil heart, and went backwards, and not forwards.” And again, when He declares by the same man, “But let him that glorieth, glory in this, to understand and know that I am the LORD, who doth exercise loving-kindness, and righteousness, and judgment in the earth;” He adds, “For in these things I delight, says the LORD,” but not in sacrifices, nor in holocausts, nor in oblations. For the people did not receive these precepts as of primary importance (principaliter), but as secondary, and for the reason already alleged, as Isaiah again says: “Thou hast not [brought to] Me the sheep of thy holocaust, nor in thy sacrifices hast thou glorified Me: thou hast not served Me in sacrifices, nor in [the matter of] frankincense hast thou done anything laboriously; neither hast thou bought for Me incense with money, nor have I desired the fat of thy sacrifices; but thou hast stood before Me in thy sins and in thine iniquities.” He says, therefore, “Upon this man will I look, even upon him that is humble, and meek, and who trembles at My words.”8 “For the fat and the fat flesh shall not take away from thee thine unrighteousness.” “This is the fast which I have chosen, saith the LORD. Loose every band of wickedness, dissolve the connections of violent agreements, give rest to those that are shaken, and cancel every unjust document. Deal thy bread to the hungry willingly, and lead into thy house the roofless stranger. If thou hast seen the naked, cover him, and thou shalt not despise those of thine own flesh and blood (domesticos seminis tui). Then shall thy morning light break forth, and thy health shall spring forth more speedily; and righteousness shall go before thee, and the glory of the LORD shall surround thee: and whilst thou art yet speaking, I will say, Behold, here I am.” And Zechariah also, among the twelve prophets, pointing out to the people the will of God, says: “These things does the LORD Omnipotent declare: Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassion each one to his brother. And oppress not the widow, and the orphan, and the proselyte, and the poor; and let none imagine evil against your brother in his heart.” And again, he says: “These are the words which ye shall utter. Speak ye the truth every man to his neighbour, and execute peaceful judgment in your gates, and let none of you imagine evil in his heart against his brother, and ye shall not love false swearing: for all these things I hate, saith the LORD Almighty.” Moreover, David also says in like manner: “What man is there who desireth life, and would fain see good days? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile. Shun evil, and do good: seek peace, and pursue it.”2
4. From all these it is evident that God did not seek sacrifices and holocausts from them, but faith, and obedience, and righteousness, because of their salvation. As God, when teaching them His will in Hosea the prophet, said, “I desire mercy rather than sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings.” Besides, our Lord also exhorted them to the same effect, when He said, “But if ye had known what [this] meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.”4 Thus does He bear witness to the prophets, that they preached the truth; but accuses these men (His hearers) of being foolish through their own fault.
5. Again, giving directions to His disciples to offer to God the first-fruits of His own, created things—not as if He stood in need of them, but that they might be themselves neither unfruitful nor ungrateful—He took that created thing, bread, and gave thanks, and said, “This is My body.”6 And the cup likewise, which is part of that creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His blood, and taught the new oblation of the new covenant; which the Church receiving from the apostles, offers to God throughout all the world, to Him who gives us as the means of subsistence the first-fruits of His own gifts in the New Testament, concerning which Malachi, among the twelve prophets, thus spoke beforehand: “I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD Omnipotent, and I will not accept sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun, unto the going down [of the same], My name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is My name among the Gentiles, saith the LORD Omnipotent;”—indicating in the plainest manner, by these words, that the former people [the Jews] shall indeed cease to make offerings to God, but that in every place sacrifice shall be offered to Him, and that a pure one; and His name is glorified among the Gentiles.8
6. But what other name is there which is glorified among the Gentiles than that of our Lord, by whom the Father is glorified, and man also? And because it is [the name] of His own Son, who was made man by Him, He calls it His own. Just as a king, if he himself paints a likeness of his son, is right in calling this likeness his own, for both these reasons, because it is [the likeness] of his son, and because it is his own production; so also does the Father confess the name of Jesus Christ, which is throughout all the world glorified in the Church, to be His own, both because it is that of His Son, and because He who thus describes it gave Him for the salvation of men. Since, therefore, the name of the Son belongs to the Father, and since in the omnipotent God the Church makes offerings through Jesus Christ, He says well on both these grounds, “And in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure sacrifice.” Now John, in the Apocalypse, declares that the “incense” is “the prayers of the saints.”
CHAP. XVIII.—CONCERNING SACRIFICES AND OBLATIONS, AND THOSE WHO TRULY OFFER THEM.
1. The oblation of the Church, therefore, which the Lord gave instructions to be offered throughout all the world, is accounted with God a pure sacrifice, and is acceptable to Him; not that He stands in need of a sacrifice from us, but that he who offers is himself glorified in what he does offer, if his gift be accepted. For by the gift both honour and affection are shown forth towards the King; and the Lord, wishing us to offer it in all simplicity and innocence, did express Himself thus: “Therefore, when thou offerest thy gift upon the altar, and shalt remember that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then return and offer thy gift.” We are bound, therefore, to offer to God the first-fruits of His creation, as Moses also says, “Thou shalt not appear in the presence of the Lord thy God empty; ”11 so that man, being accounted as grateful, by those things in which he has shown his gratitude, may receive that honour which flows from Him.
2. And the class of oblations in general has not been set aside; for there were both oblations there [among the Jews], and there are oblations here [among the Christians]. Sacrifices there were among the people; sacrifices there are, too, in the Church: but the species alone has been changed, inasmuch as the offering is now made, not by slaves, but by freemen. For the Lord is [ever] one and the same; but the character of a servile oblation is peculiar [to itself], as is also that of freemen, in order that, by the very oblations, the indication of liberty may be set forth. For with Him there is nothing purposeless, nor without signification, nor without design. And for this reason they (the Jews) had indeed the tithes of their goods consecrated to Him, but those who have received liberty set aside all their possessions for the Lord’s purposes, bestowing joyfully and freely not the less valuable portions of their property, since they have the hope of better things [hereafter]; as that poor widow acted who cast all her living into the treasury of God.
3. For at the beginning God had respect to the gifts of Abel, because he offered with single-mindedness and righteousness; but He had no respect unto the offering of Cain, because his heart was divided with envy and malice, which he cherished against his brother, as God says when reproving his hidden [thoughts], “Though thou offerest rightly, yet, if thou dost not divide rightly, hast thou not sinned? Be at rest;” since God is not appeased by sacrifice. For if any one shall endeavour to offer a sacrifice merely to outward appearance, unexceptionably, in due order, and according to appointment, while in his soul he does not assign to his neighbour that fellowship with him which is right and proper, nor is under the fear of God;—he who thus cherishes secret sin does not deceive God by that sacrifice which is offered correctly as to outward appearance; nor will such an oblation profit him anything, but [only] the giving up of that evil which has been conceived within him, so that sin may not the more, by means of the hypocritical action, render him the destroyer of himself.3 Wherefore did the Lord also declare: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye are like whited sepulchres. For the sepulchre appears beautiful outside, but within it is full of dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness; even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of wickedness and hypocrisy.” For while they were thought to offer correctly so far as outward appearance went, they had in themselves jealousy like to Cain; therefore they slew the Just One, slighting the counsel of the Word, as did also Cain. For [God] said to him, “Be at rest;” but he did not assent. Now what else is it to “be at rest” than to forego purposed violence? And saying similar things to these men, He declares: “Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse that which is within the cup, that the outside may be clean also.” And they did not listen to Him. For Jeremiah says, “Behold, neither thine eyes nor thy heart are good; but [they are turned] to thy covetousness, and to shed innocent blood, and for injustice, and for man-slaying, that thou mayest do it.”6 And again Isaiah saith, “Ye have taken counsel, but not of Me; and made covenants, [but] not by My Spirit.” In order, therefore, that their inner wish and thought, being brought to light, may show that God is without blame, and worketh no evil—that God who reveals what is hidden [in the heart], but who worketh not evil—when Cain was by no means at rest, He saith to him: “To thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” Thus did He in like manner speak to Pilate: “Thou shouldest have no power at all against Me, unless it were given thee from above;”9 God always giving up the righteous one [in this life to suffering], that he, having been tested by what he suffered and endured, may [at last] be accepted; but that the evildoer, being judged by the actions he has performed, may be rejected. Sacrifices, therefore, do not sanctify a man, for God stands in no need of sacrifice; but it is the conscience of the offerer that sanctifies the sacrifice when it is pure, and thus moves God to accept [the offering] as from a friend. “But the sinner,” says He, “who kills a calf [in sacrifice] to Me, is as if he slew a dog.”
4. Inasmuch, then, as the Church offers with single-mindedness, her gift is justly reckoned a pure sacrifice with God. As Paul also says to the Philippians, “I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things that were sent from you, the odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, pleasing to God.” For it behoves us to make an oblation to God, and in all things to be found grateful to God our Maker, in a pure mind, and in faith without hypocrisy, in well-grounded hope, in fervent love, offering the first-fruits of His own created things. And the Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator, offering to Him, with giving of thanks, [the things taken] from His creation. But the Jews do not offer thus: for their hands are full of blood; for they have not received the Word, through whom it is offered to God. Nor, again, do any of the conventicles (synagogæ) of the heretics [offer this]. For some, by maintaining that the Father is different from the Creator, do, when they offer to Him what belongs to this creation of ours, set Him forth as being covetous of another’s property, and desirous of what is not His own. Those, again, who maintain that the things around us originated from apostasy, ignorance, and passion, do, while offering unto Him the fruits of ignorance, passion, and apostasy, sin against their Father, rather subjecting Him to insult than giving Him thanks. But how can they be consistent with themselves, [when they say] that the bread over which thanks have been given is the body of their Lord, and the cup His blood, if they do not call Himself the Son of the Creator of the world, that is, His Word, through whom the wood fructifies, and the fountains gush forth, and the earth gives “first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.”3
5. Then, again, how can they say that the flesh, which is nourished with the body of the Lord and with His blood, goes to corruption, and does not partake of life? Let them, therefore, either alter their opinion, or cease from offering the things just mentioned. But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit.5 For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity.
6. Now we make offering to Him, not as though He stood in need of it, but rendering thanks for His gift, and thus sanctifying what has been created. For even as God does not need our possessions, so do we need to offer something to God; as Solomon says: “He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord.” For God, who stands in need of nothing, takes our good works to Himself for this purpose, that He may grant us a recompense of His own good things, as our Lord says: “Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you. For I was an hungered, and ye gave Me to eat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me; sick, and ye visited Me; in prison, and ye came to Me.”9 As, therefore, He does not stand in need of these [services], yet does desire that we should render them for our own benefit, lest we be unfruitful; so did the Word give to the people that very precept as to the making of oblations, although He stood in no need of them, that they might learn to serve God: thus is it, therefore, also His will that we, too, should offer a gift at the altar, frequently and without intermission. The altar, then, is in heaven (for towards that place are our prayers and oblations directed); the temple likewise [is there], as John says in the Apocalypse, “And the temple of God was opened:”11 the tabernacle also: “For, behold,” He says, “the tabernacle of God, in which He will dwell with men.”