(Chapters 26(end)-29)

CHAP. XXVI (end)

(18) "A (certain) mother of the company exclaims, 'Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked;' but the Lord said, 'Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.'"(19) Now He had in precisely similar terms rejected His mother or His brethren, whilst preferring those who heard and obeyed God.(20) His mother, however, was not here present with Him. On that former occasion, therefore, He had not denied that He was her son by birth.(21) On hearing this (salutation) the second time, He the second time transferred, as He had done before,(22) the "blessedness" to His disciples from the womb and the paps of His mother, from whom, however, unless He had in her (a real mother) He could not have transferred it.


I prefer elsewhere refuting(23) the faults which the Marcionites find in the Creator. It is here enough that they are also found in Christ.(24) Behold how unequal, inconsistent, and capricious he is! Teaching one thing and doing another, he enjoins "giving to every one that seeks;" and yet he himself refuses to give to those "who seek a sign."(1) For a vast age he hides his own light from men, and yet says that a candle must not be hidden, but affirms that it ought to be set upon a candlestick, that it may give light to all.(2) He forbids cursing again, and cursing much more of course; and yet he heaps his woe upon the Pharisees and doctors of the law.(3) Who so closely resembles my God as: His own Christ? We have often already laid it down for certain,(4) that He could not have been branded(5) as the destroyer of the law if He had promulged another god. Therefore even the Pharisee, who invited Him to dinner in the passage before us,(6) expressed some surprise(7) in His presence that He had not washed before He sat down to meat, in accordance with the law, since it was the God of the law that He was proclaiming.(8) Jesus also interpreted the law to him when He told him that they "made clean the outside of the cup and the platter, whereas their inward part was full of ravening and wickedness." This He said, to signify that by the cleansing of vessels was to be understood before God the purification of men, inasmuch as it was about a man, and not about an unwashed vessel, that even this Pharisee had been treating in His presence. He therefore said: "You wash the outside of the cup," that is, the flesh, "but you do not cleanse your inside part,"(9) that is, the soul; adding: "Did not He that made the outside," that is, the flesh, "also make the inward part," that is to say, the soul?--by which assertion He expressly declared that to the same God belongs the cleansing of a man's external and internal nature, both alike being in the power of Him who prefers mercy not only to man's washing,(10) but even to sacrifice.(11) For He subjoins the command: "Give what ye possess as alms, and alI things shall be clean unto you."(12) Even if another god could have enjoined mercy, he could not have done so previous to his becoming known. Furthermore, it is in this passage evident that they(13) were not reproved concerning their God, but concerning a point of His instruction to them, when He prescribed to them figuratively the cleansing of their vessels, but really the works of merciful dispositions. In like manner, He upbraids them for tithing paltry herbs,(14) but at the same time "passing over hospitality(15) and the love of God. (16) The vocation and the love of what God, but Him by whose law of tithes they used to offer their rue and mint? For the whole point of the rebuke lay in this, that they cared about small matters in His service of course, to whom they failed to exhibit their weightier duties when He commanded them: "Thou shalt love with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, the Lord thy God, who hath called thee out of Egypt."(17) Besides, time enough had not yet passed to admit of Christ's requiring so premature--nay, as yet so distasteful(18)--a love towards a new and recent, not to say a hardly i yet developed,(19) deity. When, again, He upbraids those who caught at the uppermost places and the honour of public salutations, He only follows out the Creator's course,(20) who calls ambitious persons of this character "rulers of Sodom"(21) who forbids us "to put confidence even in princes,"(22) and pronounces him to be altogether wretched who places his confidence in man. But whoever(23) aims at high position, because he would glory in the officious attentions(24) of other people, (in every such case,) inasmuch as He forbade such attentions (in the shape) of placing hope and confidence in man, He at the same time(25) censured all who were ambitious of high positions. He also inveighs against the doctors of the law themselves, because they were "lading men with burdens grievous to be borne, which they did not venture to touch with even a finger of their own;"(26) but not as if He made a mock of(27) the burdens of the law with any feeling of detestation towards it. For how could He have felt aversion to the law, who used with so much earnestness to upbraid them for passing over its weightier matters, alms--giving, hospitality,(28) and the love of God? Nor, indeed, was it only these great things (which He recognized), but even(29) the tithes of rue and the cleansing of cups. But, in truth, He would rather have deemed them excusable for being unable to carry burdens which could not be borne. What, then, are the burdens which He censures?(1) None but those which they were accumulating of their own accord, when they taught for commandments the doctrines of men; for the sake of private advantage joining house to house, so as to deprive their neighbour of his own; cajoling(2) the people, loving gifts, pursuing rewards, robbing the poor of the rights of judgment, that they might have the widow for a prey and the fatherless for a spoil.(3) Of these Isaiah also says, "Woe unto them that are strong in Jerusalem!"(4) and again, "They that demand you shall rule over you."(5) And who did this more than the lawyers?(6) Now, if these offended Christ, it was as belonging to Him that they offended Him. He would have aimed no blow at the teachers of an alien law.

But why is a "woe" pronounced against them for "building the sepulchres of the prophets whom their fathers had killed?"(7) They rather deserved praise, because by such an act of piety they seemed to show that they did not allow the deeds of their fathers. Was it not because (Christ) was jealous(8) of such a disposition as the Marcionites denounce,(9) visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the fourth generation? What "key," indeed, was it which these lawyers had,(10) but the interpretation of the law? Into the perception of this they neither entered themselves, even because they did not believe (for "unless ye believe, ye shall not understand"); nor did they permit others to enter, because they preferred to teach them for commandments even the doctrines of men. When, therefore, He reproached those who did not themselves enter in, and also shut the door against others, must He be regarded as a disparager of the law, or as a supporter of it? If a disparager, those who were hindering the law ought to have been pleased; if a supporter, He is no longer an enemy of the law.(11) But all these imprecations He uttered in order to tarnish the Creator as a cruel Being,(12) against whom such as offended were destined to have a "woe." And who would not rather have feared to provoke a cruel Being,(13) by withdrawing allegiance(14) from Him? Therefore the more He represented the Creator to be an object of fear, the more earnestly would He teach that He ought to be served. Thus would it behove the Creator's Christ to act.


Justly, therefore, was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees displeasing to Him, loving God as they did with their lips, but not with their heart. "Beware," He says to the disciples, "of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy," not the proclamation of the Creator. The Son hates those who refused obedience(16) to the Father; nor does He wish His disciples to show such a disposition towards Him--not (let it be observed) towards another god, against whom such hypocrisy indeed might have been admissible, as that which He wished to guard His disciples against. It is the example of the Pharisees which He forbids. It was in respect of Him against whom the Pharisees were sinning that (Christ) now forbade His disciples to offend. Since, then, He had censured their hypocrisy, which covered the secrets of the heart, and obscured with superficial offices the mysteries of unbelief, because (while holding the key of knowledge) it would neither enter in itself, nor permit others to enter in, He therefore adds, "There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hid, which shall not be known,"(17) in order that no one should suppose that He was attempting the revelation and the recognition of an hitherto unknown and hidden god. When He remarks also on their murmurs and taunts, in saying of Him, "This man casteth out devils only through Beelzebub," He means that all these imputations would come forth to the light of day, and be in the mouths of men in consequence of the promulgation of the Gospel. He then turns to His disciples with these words, "I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them which can only kill the body, and after that have no more power over you."(18) They will, however, find Isaiah had already said, "See how the just man is taken away, and no man layeth it to heart."(19) "But I will show you whom ye shall fear: fear Him who, after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell" (meaning, of course, the Creator); "yea, I say unto you, fear Him."(1) Now, it would here be enough for my purpose that He forbids offence being given to Him whom He orders to be feared; and that He orders Him to be respected(2) whom He forbids to be offended; and that He who gives these commands belongs to that very God for whom He procures this fear, this absence of offence, and this respect.

But this conclusion I can draw also from the following words: "For I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before God."(3) Now they who shall confess Christ will have to be slain(4) before men, but they will have nothing more to suffer after they have been put to death by them. These therefore will be they whom He forewarns above not to be afraid of being only killed; and this forewarning He offers, in order that He might subjoin a clause on the necessity of confessing Him: "Every one that denieth me before men shall be denied before God"(5)--by Him, of course, who would have confessed him, if he had only confessed God. Now, He who will confess the confessor is the very same God who will also deny the denier of Himself. Again, if it is the confessor who will have nothing to fear after his violent death,(6) it is the denier to whom everything will become fearful after his natural death. Since, therefore, that which will have to be feared after death, even the punishment of hell, belongs to the Creator, the denier, too, belongs to the Creator. As with the denier, however, so with the confessor: if he should deny God, he will plainly have to suffer from God, although from men he had nothing more to suffer after they had put him to death. And so Christ is the Creator's, because He shows that all those who deny Him ought to fear the Creator's hell.

After deterring disciples from denial of Himself, He adds an admonition to fear blasphemy: "Whosoever shall speak against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him."(7) Now, if both the remission and the retention of sin savour of a judicial God, the Holy Ghost, who is not to be blasphemed, will belong to Him, who will not forgive the,blasphemy; just as He who, in the preceding passage, was not to be denied, belonged to, Him who would, after He had killed, also cast into hell. Now, since it is Christ who averts blasphemy from the Creator, I am at a loss to know in what manner His adversary.(8) could have come. Else, if by these sayings He throws a black cloud of censure(9) over the severity of Him who will not forgive blasphemy and will kill even to hell, it follows that the very spirit of that rival god may be blasphemed with impunity, and his Christ denied; and that there is no difference, in fact, between worshipping and despising him; but that, as there is no punishment for the contempt, so there is no reward for the worship, which men need expect.

When "brought before magistrates," and examined, He forbids them "to take thought how they shall answer;" "for," says He, "the Holy Ghost shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say."(10) If such an injunction(11) as this comes from the Creator, the precept will only be His by whom an example was previously given. The prophet Balaam, in Numbers, when sent forth by king Balak to curse lsrael, with whom he was commencing war, was at the same moment(12) filled with the Spirit. Instead of the curse which he was come to pronounce, he uttered the blessing which the Spirit at that very hour inspired him with; having previously declared to the king's messengers, and then to the king himself, that he could only speak forth that which God should put into his mouth.(13) The novel doctrines of the new Christ are such as the Creator's servants initiated long before! But see how clear a difference there is between the example of Moses and of Christ.

(14) Moses voluntarily interferes with brothers(15) who were quarrelling, and chides the offender: "Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?" He is, however, rejected by him: "Who made thee a prince or a judge over us?"(16) Christ, on the contrary, when requested by a certain man to compose a strife between him and his brother about dividing an inheritance, refused His assistance, although in so honest a cause. Well, then, my Moses is better than your Christ, aiming as he did at the peace of brethren, and obviating their wrong. But of course the case must be different with Christ, for he is the Christ of the simply good and non-judicial god. "Who," says he, "made me a judge over you?"(17) No other word of excuse was he able to find,without using(1) that with which the wicked, man and impious brother had rejected(2) the defender of probity and piety! In short, he approved of the excuse, although a bad one, by his use of it; and of the act, although a bad one, by his refusal to make peace between brothers. Or rather, would He not show His resentment(3) at the rejection of Moses with such a word? And therefore did He not wish in a similar case of contentious brothers, to confound them with the recollection of so harsh a word? Clearly so. For He had Himself been present in Moses, who heard such a rejection--even He, the Spirit of the Creator.(4) I think that we have already, in another passage,(5) sufficiently shown that the glory of riches is condemned by our God, "who putteth down the mighty from their throne, and exalts the poor from the dunghill."

(6) From Him, therefore, will proceed the parable of the rich man, who flattered himself about the increase of his fields, and to Whom God said: "Thou fool, this night shall they require thy soul of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?"(7) It was just in the like manner that the king Hezekiah heard from Isaiah the sad doom of his kingdom, when he gloried, before the envoys of Babylon,(8) in his treasures and the deposits of his precious things.(9)


Who would be unwilling that we should distress ourselves(10) about sustenance for our life, or clothing for our body,(11) but He who has provided these things already for man; and who, therefore, while distributing them to us, prohibits all anxiety respecting them as an outrage(12) against his liberality?--who has adapted the nature of "life" itself to a condition "better than meat," and has fashioned the material of "the body," so as to make it "more than raiment;" whose "ravens, too, neither sow nor reap, nor gather into storehouses, and are yet fed" by Himself; whose "lilies and grass also toil not, nor spin, and yet are clothed" by Him; whose "Solomon, moreover, was transcendent in glory, and yet was not arrayed like" the humble flower.(13) Besides, nothing can be more abrupt than that one God should be distributing His bounty, while the other should bid us take no thought about (so kindly a) distribution--and that, too, with the intention of derogating (from his liberality). Whether, indeed, it is as depreciating the Creator that he does not wish such trifles to be thought of, concerning which neither the crows nor the lilies labour, because, forsooth, they come spontaneously to hand(14) by reason of their very worthlessness,(15) will appear a little further on.

Meanwhile, how is it that He chides them as being "of little faith?"(16) What faith? Does He mean that faith which they were as yet unable to manifest perfectly in a god who has hardly yet revealed,(17) and whom they were in process of learning as well as they could; or that faith which they for this express reason owed to the Creator, because they believed that He was of His own will supplying these wants of the human race, and therefore took no thought about them? Now, when He adds, "For all these things do the nations of the world seek after,"(18) even by their not believing in God as the Creator and Giver of all things, since He was unwilling that they should be like these nations, He therefore upbraided them as being defective of faith in the same God, in whom He remarked that the Gentiles were quite wanting in faith. When He further adds, "But your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things,"(19) I would first ask, what Father Christ would have to be here understood? If He points to their own Creator, He also affirms Him to be good, who knows what His children have need of; but if He refers to that other god, how does he know that food and raiment are necessary to man, seeing that he has made no such pro vision for him? For if he had known the want, he would have made the provision. If, however, he knows what things man has need of, and yet has failed to supply them, he is in the failure guilty of either malignity or weakness. But when he confessed that these things are necessary to man, he really affirmed that they are good. For nothing that is evil is necessary. So that he will not be any longer a depreciator of the works and the indulgences of the Creator, that I may here complete the answer(1) which I deferred giving above. Again, if it is another god who has foreseen man's wants, and is supplying them, how is it that Marcion's Christ himself promises them?(2) Is he liberal with another's property?(3) "Seek ye," says he, "the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you"--by himself, of course. But if by himself, what sort of being is he, who shall bestow the things of another? If by the Creator, whose all things are, then who(4) is he that promises what belongs to another? If these things are "additions" to the kingdom, they must be placed in the second rank;(5) and the second rank belongs to Him to whom the first also does; His are the food and raiment, whose is the kingdom. Thus to the Creator belongs the entire promise, the full reality(6) of its parables, the perfect equalization(7) of its similitudes; for these have respect to none other than Him to whom they have a parity of relation in every point.

(8) We are servants because we have a Lord in our God. We ought "to have our loins girded:"(9) in other words, we are to be free from the embarrassments of a perplexed and much occupied life; "to have our lights burning,"(10) that is, our minds kindled by faith, and resplendent with the works of truth. And thus "to wait for our Lord,"(11) that is, Christ. Whence "returning?" If "from the wedding," He is the Christ of the Creator, for the wedding is His. If He is not the Creator's, not even Marcion himself would have gone to the wedding, although invited, for in his god he discovers one who hates the nuptial bed. The parable would therefore have failed in the person of the Lord, if He were not a Being to whom a wedding is consistent.

In the next parable also he makes a flagrant mistake, when he assigns to the person of the Creator that "thief, whose hour, if the father of the family had only known, he would not have suffered his house to be broken through."(12) How can the Creator wear in any way the aspect of a thief, Lord as He is of all mankind? No one pilfers or plunders his own property, but he(13) rather acts the part of one who swoops down on the things of another, and alienates man from his Lord.(14) Again, when He indicates to us that the devil is "the thief," whose hour at the very beginning of the world, if man had known, he would never have been broken in upon(15) by him, He warns us "to be ready," for this reason, because "we know not the hour when the Son of man shall come"(16)--not as if He were Himself the thief, but rather as being the judge of those who prepared not themselves, and used no precaution against the thief. Since, then, He is the Son of man, I hold Him to be the Judge, and in the Judge I claim(17) the Creator. If then in this passage he displays the Creator's Christ under the title "Son of man," that he may give us some presage(18) of the thief, of the period of whose coming we are ignorant, you still have it ruled above, that no one is the thief of his own property; besides which, there is our principle also unimpaired(19)--that in as far as He insists on the Creator as an object of fear, in so far does He belong to the Creator, and does the Creator's work.

When, therefore, Peter asked whether He had spoken the parable "unto them, or even to all,"(20) He sets forth for them, and for all who should bear rule in the churches, the similitude of stewards.(21) That steward who should treat his fellow-servants well in his Lord's absence, would on his return be set as ruler over all his property; but he who should act otherwise should be severed, and have his portion with the unbelievers, when his lord should return on the day when he looked not for him, at the hour when he was not aware(22)--even that Son of man, the Creator's Christ, not a thief, but a Judge. He accordingly, in this passage, either presents to us the Lord as a Judge, and instructs us in His character,(23) or else as the simply good god; if the latter, he now also affirms his judicial attribute, although the heretic refuses to admit it. For an attempt is made to modify this sense when it is applied to his god,--as if it were an act of serenity and mildness simply to sever the man off, and to assign him a portion with the unbelievers, under the idea that he was not summoned (before the judge), but only returned to his own state! As if this very process did not imply a judicial act! What folly! What will be the end of i the severed ones? Will it not be the for feiture of salvation, since their separation will be from those who shall attain salvation? What, again, will be the condition of the unbelievers? Will it not be damnation? Else, if these severed and unfaithful ones shall have nothing to suffer, there will, on the other hand, be nothing for the accepted and the believers to obtain. If, however, the accepted and the believers shall attain salvation, it must needs be that the rejected and the unbelieving should incur the opposite issue, even the loss of salvation. Now here is a judgment, and He who holds it out before us belongs to the Creator. Whom else than the God of retribution can I understand by Him who shall "beat His servants with stripes," either "few or many," and shall exact from them what He had committed to them? Whom is it suitable(1) for me to obey, but Him who remunerates?

Your Christ proclaims, "I am come to send fire on the earth."(2) That(3) most lenient being, the lord who has no hell, not long before had restrained his disciples from demanding fire on the churlish village. Whereas He(4) burnt up Sodom and Gomorrah with a tempest of fire. Of Him the psalmist sang, "A fire shall go out before Him, and burn up His enemies round about."(5) By Hoses He uttered the threat, "I will send a fire upon the cities of Judah;"(6) and(7) by Isaiah, "A fire has been kindled in mine anger." He cannot lie. If it is not He who uttered His voice out of even the burning bush, it can be of no importance(8) what fire you insist upon being understood. Even if it be but figurative fire, yet, from the very fact that he takes from my element illustrations for His own sense, He is mine, because He uses what is mine. The similitude of fire must belong to Him who owns the reality thereof. But He will Himself best explain the quality of that fire which He mentioned, when He goes on to say, "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division."(9) It is written "a sword,"(10) but Marcion makes an emendation(11) of the word, just as if a division were not the work of the sword. He, therefore, who refused to give peace, intended also the fire of destruction. As is the combat, so is the burning. As is the sword, so is the flame. Neither is suitable for its lord. He says at last, "The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law."(12) Since this battle among the relatives(13) was sung by the prophet's trumpet in the very words, I fear that Micah(14) must have predicted it to Marcion's Christ! On this account He pronounced them "hypocrites," because they could "discern the face of the sky and the earth, but could not distinguish this time,"(15) when of course He ought to have been recognised, fulfilling (as he was) all things which had been predicted concerning them, and teaching them so. But then who could know the times of him of whom he had no evidence to prove his existence? Justly also does He upbraid them for "not even of themselves judging what is right."(16) Of old does He command by Zechariah, "Execute the judgment of truth and peace;"(17) by Jeremiah, "Execute judgment and righteousness;"(18) by Isaiah, "Judge the fatherless, plead for the widow,"(19) charging it as a fault upon the vine of Sorech,(20) that when "He looked for righteousness therefrom, there was only a cry"(21) (of oppression). The same God who had taught them to act as He commanded them,(22) was now requiring that they should act of their own accord.(23) He who had sown the precept, was now pressing to an abundant harvest from it. But how absurd, that he should now be commanding them to judge righteously, who was destroying God the righteous Judge! For the Judge, who commits to prison, and allows no release Out of it without the payment of "the very last mite,"(24) they treat of in the person of the Creator, with the view of disparaging Him. Which cavil, however, I deem it necessary to meet with the same answer.(25) For as often as the Creator's severity is paraded before us, so often is Christ (shown to be) His, to whom He urges submission by the motive of fear.