CHAP. 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"(3)), "Love your enemies, and bless(4) those which hate you, and pray for them which calumniate you."(5) These commands the Creator included in one precept by His prophet Isaiah: "Say, Ye are our brethren, to those who hate you."
(6) 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,(7) when He actually prohibits the reprisals which the Creator permitted in requiring "an eye for an eye,(8) and a tooth for a tooth,"(9) 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."(10) 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,(11) Whether the discipline of patience be enjoined by(12) the Creator? When by Zechariah He commanded, "Let none of you imagine evil against his brother,"(13) 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."(14) 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,"(15) He thereby teaches that patience calmly waits for the infliction of vengeance. Therefore, inasmuch as it is incredible(16) 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;(17) 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.(18) This purpose(19) 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,(20) 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(21) 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 rather in furtherance of it, without at all impairing the prescription(1) of the Creator. If, therefore,(2) one looks carefully(3) into the very grounds for which patience is enjoined (and trial 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,(4)--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,(5) 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;(6) 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,(7) it will get the mastery--it will put out (a man's) both eyes; it will knock out(8) 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"(9)--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.(10) "There shall not be in thine hand an indigent man; so that the Lord thy God shall bless thee with blessings,"(11)--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;(12) by which command, too, He all the more strongly by inference requires(13) 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,"(14) Loans are not usually given, except to such as ask for them. On this subject of lending,(15) however, more hereafter.(16) 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.(17) 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(18) which was previously due to one's neighbours. For what man will be able to bestow the love (which proceeds from knowledge of character,(19) upon strangers? Since, however, the second step(20) 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.(21) Accordingly, the Creator, when following the course of nature, taught in the first instance kindness to neighbours,(22) 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(23) 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"(1)--that is, the (Jewish) nation. Thenceforth Christ extended to all men the law of His Father's compassion, excepting 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."(2) 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(3) 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(4) according to the law of my own will, and have it in my power(5) not to render(6) 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.(7) For although good and evil are severally known by nature, yet life is not thereby spent(8) 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,(9) and obscure, and dark, and admitting of no ready interpretation, except according to my own arbitrary thought,(10) 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."(12) 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."(13) 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,(15) 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."(16)
CHAP. 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?"(17) 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"(18)--meaning the redundance of interest,(19) which is usury. The first step was to eradicate the fruit of the money lent,(20) the more easily to accustom a man to the loss, should it happen, of the money itself, the interest of which he 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,(1) by gradual stages, for the perfect light of the Christian discipline, through the best precepts of which it was capable,(2) inculcating a benevolence which as yet expressed itself but falteringly.(3) For in the passage of Ezekiel quoted above He says, "And thou shalt restore the pledge of the loan "(4)--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."(5) 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."(6) 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."(7) 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?(8) 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,(9) 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(10) before Paradise, before the fall, before the expulsion, before the two became one.(11) I became His son a second time,(12) as soon as He fashioned me(13) 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.(14) "Because," says He, "He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil."(15) Well done,(16) 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(17) 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(18) of the Lord are sweeter than honey and honeycombs."(19) He then has taunted(20) 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."(21) 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;"(22) also with, "Judge the fatherless, plead with the widow."(23) I recognise here that ancient doctrine of Him who "prefers mercy to sacrifice."(24) 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."(1) As it seems to me, this passage 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(2) He has placed a retribution which will be acceptable or terrible according as every man shall have judged or condemned, acquitted or dealt with,(3) 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."(4) Some persons believe Marcion. But "the disciple is not above his master."(5) Apelles ought to have remembered this--a corrector of Marcion, although his disciple.(6) The heretic ought to take the beam out of his own eye, and then he may convict(7) 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.(8) 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.(9) 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.(10) 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(11) that said, "Why tallest thou me Lord, Lord?"(12) Will it be he who had as yet never been called on, because never yet revealed;(13) 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(14) to teach them? Or He who from the beginning had addressed to them His messages(15) 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."(16) 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!
CHAP. 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."(17) to whom Israel's faith was in no way interesting!(18) But not from the fact (here stated by Christ)(19) 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(20) god? Because, if He had done so, He would have said that no such faith had ever had existence in Israel; but as the case stands,(1) 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(2) it, only as one who would enforce and Uphold it. If, indeed, He had been its antagonist,(3) He would have preferred finding it to be such faith,(4) having come to weaken and destroy it rather than to approve of it.
He raised also the widow's son from death.(5) This was not a strange miracle.(6) 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."(7) 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(8) 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(9) when he hears of the miracles of Christ, as of an alien god.(10) Well, I on my side(11) will first explain the reason of his offence, that I may the more easily explode the scandal(12) of our heretic. Now, that the very Lord Himself of all might, the Word and Spirit of the Father,(13) was operating and preaching on earth, it was necessary that the portion of the Holy Spirit which, in the form of the prophetic gift,(14) had been through John preparing the ways of the Lord, should now depart from John,(15) and return back again of course to the Lord, as to its all-embracing original.(16) Therefore John, being now an ordinary person, and only one of the many,(17) 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.(18) 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.(19) Whatever doubt he felt was evidently rather(20) entertained about Him(21) 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?"(22)--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,(23) as all men then thought, from the similarity of the miraculous evidences,(24) 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.(25) And there lay John's difficulty.(26) 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.(27) 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 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,(1) he yet bestows on John his testimony, affirming him to be a prophet, nay more, his messenger,(2) applying to him the Scripture, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee."(3) He graciously(4) 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(5) 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;"(6) but for all that, He who was least in the kingdom of God(7) was not subject to him;(8) 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?"(9))--the Creator has equal right(10) 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,(11) because he would not have been offended at Christ, as infirmity which then lessened the greatness John.
We have already spoken of the forgiveness(12) 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,(13) produced an evidence that what she handled was not an empty phantom,(14) 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.(15) 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."(16)