CHAP. 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,(1) whom he had come to destroy. This, to be sure,(2) was what he wished to be understood as the meaning of that voice from heaven: "This is my beloved Son, hear Him"(3)--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(4) 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(5) 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(6) how he demonstrates them to be aliens,(7) 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),(8) 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?(9)--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(10) of His people, the other afterwards the reformer(11) thereof; one the initiator of the Old Testament, the other the consummator(12) 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 EIias 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(14) in the cause of the new prophecy,(15) 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,(17) because he is overshadowed with the power of God,--a point concerning which there is a question between us and the carnally-minded.(18) 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,(20) 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 cause of his previous erroneous opinion,(21) 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 dispensation(1) 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."(2) 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 tight that the New Testament should be attested(3) on such an elevated spot(4) as that whereon the Old Testament had been composed;(5) under a like covering of cloud also, which nobody will doubt, was condensed out of the Creator's air. Unless, indeed, he(6) had brought down his own clouds thither, because he had himself forced his way through the Creator's heaven;(7) or else it was only a precarious cloud,(8) as it were, of the Creator which he used.
On the present (as also on the former)(9) 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."(10) 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."(11) 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(12) 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,(13) 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(14); "unto Him shall ye hearken, as unto me."(15) "Every one who will not hearken unto Him, his soul(16) shall be cut off from amongst his people."(17), So also Isaiah: "Who is there among you that feareth God? Let him hear the voice of His Son."(18) This voice the Father was going Himself to recommend. For, says he,(19) 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 "heating" from Moses and Elias to(20) Christ, it is still not from(21) 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;"(22) for it is He Himself who is now declaring and fulfilling the law and the prophets. The Father gave to the Son new disciples,(23) 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(24) of this same vision in Habakkuk also, where the Spirit in the person of some(25) 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.(1) These likewise did Zechariah see under the figure of the two olive trees and olive branches.(2) For these are they of whom 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(3) 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,"(4) 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 shall see my back."(5) Not loins, or calves of the legs, did he want to behold, but the glory which was to be revealed in the latter days.(6) 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."(7) Now, although Marcion has denied(8) 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,(9) not far from him, in His very glory--not to say,(10) 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.
CHAP. 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 SAMARIA.
I take on myself the character(11) of Israel. Let Marcion's Christ stand forth, and exclaim, "O faithless generation!(12) how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?"(13) He will immediately have to submit to this remonstrance from me: "Whoever you are, O stranger,(14) first tell us who you are, from whom you come, and what right you have over us. Thus far, all you possess(15) 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,(16) 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(17) 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(18) your patience? Like AEsop's ass, you are just come from the well,(19) and are filling every place with your braying." I assume, besides,(20) the person of the disciple, against whom he has inveighed:(21) "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 should even boast of your patience? The ass has only just arrived from AEsop'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(1) 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(2) infants, and teaches how all ought to be like them, if they ever wish to be greater.(3) The Creator, on the contrary,(4) let loose bears against children, in order to avenge His prophet Elisha, who had been mocked by them.(5) This antithesis is impudent enough, since it throws together(6) things so different as infants(7) and children,(8)--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(9) which were in peril from Pharaoh's command.(10) 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.(11) 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!
(12) The Creator, at the request of Elias, inflicts the blow(13)of fire from heaven in the case of that false prophet (of Baalzebub).(14) I recognise herein the severity of the Judge. And I, on the contrary, the severe rebuke(15) of Christ on His disciples, when they were for inflicting(16) a like visitation on that obscure village of the Samaritans.(17) 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."(18) 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,(19) "He was not in the fire, but in the still small voice."(20) Well, but why does this most humane and merciful God reject the man who offers himself to Him as an inseparable companion?(21) 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.(22) 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,"(23) 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;(24) and for his father he shall not be defiled"(25); 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.(26) Now it was, I suppose, for the Nazarite and the priestly office that He intended this man whom He had been inspiring(1) to preach the kingdom of God. Or else, if it be not so, 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(2) of the Creator. For this (retrospection) He had been against their making, whom He had rescued out of Sodom.(3)
CHAP. 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(4) besides the twelve. Now why, if the twelve followed the number of the twelve fountains of Elim,(5) should not the seventy correspond to the like number of the palms of that place?(6) 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,(7) he is very apt to infer a difference of powers.(8) 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;(9) whereas Christ commanded His disciples not to carry even a staff(10) 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,(11) and you will understand how it was one and the same power which arranged the mission(12) of His people according to their poverty in the one case, and their plenty in the other. He cut down(13) 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,(15) even in the wilderness for the space of so many years. "No one," says He, "shall ye salute by the way."(16) 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:(17) "Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not;(18) and if any salute thee, answer him not again."(19) 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."(20) 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."(21) Such will be rather our Antitheses; they compare Christ with, instead of sundering Him from, the Creator. "The labourer is worthy of his hire."(22) 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 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 shall not muzzle," says He. "the ox when he treadeth out the corn."(23) Now, who so good to man(24) 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.(25) 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.(26) 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.(27) Now it is that which was once far off, which can be properly said to have become 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.(1) Everything which is sudden, then, first receives the accident of time(2) when it is announced, for it then first puts on appearance of form.(3) Besides it will be impossible for a thing either to have been tardy(4) all the while it remained unannounced,(5) or to have approached(6) 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."(7) 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?(8) So, again, He commands that the dust be shaken off against them, as a testimony,--the very particles of their ground which might cleave(9) to the sandal, not to mention(10) any other sort of communication with them.(11) But if their churlishness(12) 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,(13) because, when His people came from Egypt, they fraudulently withheld provisions from them with inhumanity and inhospitality,(14) 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"(15)--the Creator had also addressed to Moses: "Not against thee have they murmured, but against me."(16) 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?"(17) 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.(18) 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(19) by the name of serpent, dragon, and every other most conspicuous beast in the power of the Creator.(20) 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 shall Thou tread; the lion and the dragon shall Thou trample under foot."(21) 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."(22) 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,"(23) 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(24) 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."(25) 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 Father, in order to bestow it upon others and then manfested it forth conformably to the order of prophecy.(1)