WHICH TERTULLIAN PURSUES HIS ARGUMENT. JESUS IS THE CHRIST OF THE CREATOR. HE DERIVES HIS PROOFS FROM ST. LUKE’S GOSPEL; THAT BEING THE ONLY HISTORICAL PORTION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT PARTIALLY ACCEPTED BY MARCION. THIS BOOK MAY ALSO BE REGARDED AS A COMMENTARY ON ST. LUKE. IT GIVES REMARKABLE PROOF OF TERTULLIAN’S GRASP OF SCRIPTURE, AND PROVES THAT “THE OLD TESTAMENT IS NOT CONTRARY TO THE NEW.” IT ALSO ABOUNDS IN STRIKING EXPOSITIONS OF SCRIPTURAL PASSAGES, EMBRACING PROFOUND VIEWS OF REVELATION, IN CONNECTION WITH THE NATURE OF MAN.
CHAP. I.—EXAMINATION OF THE ANTITHESES OF MARCION, BRINGING THEM TO THE TEST OF MARCION’S OWN GOSPEL. CERTAIN TRUE ANTITHESES IN THE DISPENSATIONS OF THE OLD AND THE NEW TESTAMENTS.THESE VARIATIONS QUITE COMPATIBLE WITH ONE AND THE SAME GOD, WHO ORDERED THEM.
EVERY opinion and the whole scheme(2) of the impious and sacrilegious Marcion we now bring to the test(3) of that very Gospel which, by his process of interpolation, he has made his own. To encourage a belief of this Gospel he has actually(4) devised for it a sort of dower,(5) in a work composed of contrary statements set in opposition, thence entitled Antitheses, and compiled with a view to such a severance of the law from the gospel as should divide the Deity into two, nay, diverse, gods—one for each Instrument, or Testament(6) as it is more usual to call it; that by such means he might also patronize(7) belief in “the Gospel according to the Antitheses.” These, however, I would have attacked in special combat, hand to hand; that is to say, I would have encountered singly the several devices Of the Pontic heretic, if it were not much more convenient to refute them in and with that very gospel to which they contribute their support. Although it is so easy to meet them at once with a peremptory demurrer,(8) yet, in order that I may both make them admissible in argument, and account them valid expressions of opinion, and even contend that they make for our side, that so there may be all the redder shame for the blindness of their author, we have now drawn out some antitheses of our own in opposition to Marcion. And indeed(9) I do allow that one order did run its course in the old dispensation under the Creator,(10) and that another is on its way in the new under Christ. I do not deny that there is a difference in the language of their documents, in their precepts of virtue, and in their teachings of the law; but yet all this diversity is consistent with one and the same God, even Him by whom it was arranged and also foretold. Long ago(1) did Isaiah declare that “out of Sion should go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem”(2)—some other law, that is, and another word. In short, says he, “He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people;”(3) meaning not those of the Jewish people only, but of the nations which are judged by the new law of the gospel and the new word of the apostles, and are amongst themselves rebuked of their old error as soon as they have believed. And as the result of this, “they beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears(which are a kind of hunting instruments) into pruning-hooks;”(4) that is to say, minds, which once were fierce and cruel, are changed by them into good dispositions productive of good fruit. And again: “Hearken unto me, hearken unto me, my people, and ye kings, give ear unto me; for a law shall proceed from me,and my judgment for a light to the nations;”(5) wherefore He had determined and decreed that the nations also were to be enlightened by the law and the word of the gospel. This will be that law which (according to David also) is unblameable, because “perfect, converting the soul”(6) from idols unto God. This likewise will be the word concerning which the same Isaiah says, “For the Lord will make a decisive word in the land.”(7) Because the New Testament is compendiously short,(8) and freed from the minute and perplexing(9) burdens of the law. But why enlarge, when the Creator by the same prophet foretells the renovation more manifestly and clearly than the light itself?
“Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old” (the old things have passed away, and new things are arising). “Behold, I will do new things, which shall now spring forth.”(10) So by Jeremiah: “Break up for yourselves new pastures,(11) and sow not among thorns, and circumcise yourselves in the foreskin of your heart.”(12) And in another passage: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Jacob, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I arrested their dispensation, in order to bring them out of the land of Egypt.”(13) He thus shows that the ancient covenant is temporary only, when He indicates its change; also when He promises that it shall be followed by an eternal one. For by Isaiah He says: “Hear me, and ye shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you,” adding “the sure mercies of David,”(14) in order that He might show that that covenant was to run its course in Christ. That He was of the family of David, according to the genealogy of Mary,(15) He declared in a figurative way even by the rod which was to proceed out of the stem of Jesse.(16) Forasmuch then as he said, that from the Creator there would come other laws, and other words, and new dispensations of covenants, indicating also that the very sacrifices were to receive higher offices, and that amongst all nations, by Malachi when he says: “I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord, neither will I accept your sacrifices at your hands. For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place a sacrifice is offered unto my name, even a pure offering”(17)—meaning simple prayer from a pure conscience,—it is of necessity that every change which comes as the result of innovation, introduces a diversity in those things of which the change is made, from which diversity arises also a contrariety. For as there is nothing, after it has undergone a change, which does not become different, so there is nothing different which is not contrary.(18) Of that very thing, therefore, there will be predicated a contrariety in consequence of its diversity, to which there accrued a change of condition after an innovation. He who brought about the change, the same instituted the diversity also; He who foretold the innovation, the same announced beforehand the contrariety likewise. Why, in your interpretation, do you impute a difference in the state of things to a difference of powers? Why do you wrest to the Creator’s prejudice those examples from which you draw your antitheses, when you may recognise them all in His sensations and affections? “I will wound,” He says, “and I will heal;” “I will kill,” He says again, “and I will make alive”(19)—even
the same “who createth evil and maketh peace;”(1) from which you are used even to censure Him with the imputation of fickleness and inconstancy, as if He forbade what He commanded, and commanded what He forbade. Why, then, have you not reckoned up the Antitheses also which occur in the natural works of the Creator, who is for ever contrary to Himself? You have not been able, unless I am misinformed, to recognise the fact,(2) that the world, at all events,(3) even amongst your people of Pontus, is made up of a diversity of elements which are hostile to one another.(4) It was therefore your bounden duty first to have determined that the god of the light was one being, and the god of darkness was another, in such wise that you might have been able to have distinctly asserted one of them to be the god of the law and the other the god of the gospel. It is, however, the settled conviction already(5) of my mind from manifest proofs, that, as His works and plans(6) exist in the way of Antitheses, so also by the same rule exist the mysteries of His religion.(7)
CHAP. II.—ST. LUKE’S GOSPEL, SELECTED BY MARCION AS HIS AUTHORITY, AND MUTILATED BY HIM. THE OTHER GOSPELS EQUALLY AUTHORITATIVE. MARCION’S TERMS OF DISCUSSION, HOWEVER, ACCEPTED, AND GRAPPLED WITH ON THE FOOTING OF ST. LUKE’S GOSPEL ALONE.
You have now our answer to the Antitheses compendiously indicated by us.(8) I pass on to give a proof of the Gospel(9)—not, to be sure, of Jewry, but of Pontus—having become meanwhile(10) adulterated; and this shall indicate(11) the order by which we proceed. We lay it down as our first position, that the evangelical Testament(12) has apostles for its authors,(13) to whom was assigned by the Lord Himself this office of publishing the gospel. Since, however, there are apostolic(14) men also,(15) they are yet not alone, but appear with apostles and after apostles; because the
preaching of disciples might be open to the suspicion of an affectation of glory, if there did not accompany it(16) the authority of the masters, which means that of Christ,(17) for it was that which made the apostles their masters. Of the apostles, therefore, John and Matthew first instil(18) faith into us; whilst of apostolic men, Luke and Mark renew it afterwards.(19) These all start with the same principles of the faith,(20) so far as relates to the one only God the Creator and His Christ, how that He was born of the Virgin, and came to fulfil(21) the law and the prophets. Never mind(22) if there does occur some variation in the order of their narratives, provided that there be agreement in the essential matter(23) of the faith, in which there is disagreement with Marcion. Marcion, on the other hand, you must know,(24) ascribes no author to his Gospel, as if it could not be allowed him to affix a title to that from which it was no crime (in his eyes) to subvert(25) the very body. And here I might now make a stand, and contend that a work ought not to be recognised, which holds not its head erect, which exhibits no consistency, which gives no promise of credibility from the fulness of its title and the just profession of its author. But we prefer to join issue(26) on every point; nor shall we leave unnoticed(27) what may fairly be understood to be on our side.(28) Now, of the authors whom we possess, Marcion seems to have singled out Luke(29) for his mutilating process.(30) Luke, however, was not an apostle, but only an apostolic man; not a master, but a disciple, and so inferior to a master—at least as far subsequent to(31) him as the apostle whom he followed (and that, no doubt, was Paul(32)) was subsequent to the others; so that, had Marcion even published his Gospel in the name of St. Paul himself, the single authority of the document,(33) destitute of all support from preceding authorities, would not be a sufficient basis for our faith. There would be still wanted that Gospel which St. Paul found in existence, to which he yielded
his belief, and with which he so earnestly wished his own to agree, that he actually on that account went up to Jerusalem to know and consult the apostles, “lest he should run, or had been running in vain;”(1) in other words, that the faith which he had learned, and the gospel which he was preaching, might be in accordance with theirs. Then, at last, having conferred with the (primitive) authors, and having agreed with them touching the rule of faith, they joined their hands in fellowship, and divided their labours thenceforth in the office of preaching the gospel, so that they were to go to the Jews, and St. Paul to the Jews and the Gentiles. Inasmuch, therefore, as the enlightener of St. Luke himself desired the authority of his predecessors for both his own faith and preaching, how much more may not I require for Luke’s Gospel that which was necessary for the Gospel of his master.(2)
CHAP. III.(3)—MARCION INSINUATED THE UNTRUSTWORTHINESS OF CERTAIN APOSTLES WHOM ST. PAUL REBUKED. THE REBUKE SHOWS THAT IT CANNOT BE REGARDED AS DEROGATING FROM THEIR AUTHORITY. THE APOSTOLIC GOSPELS PERFECTLY AUTHENTIC.
In the scheme of Marcion, on the contrary,(4) the mystery(5) of the Christian religion begins from the discipleship of Luke. Since, however, it was on its course previous to that point, it must have had(6) its own authentic materials,(7) by means of which it found its own way down to St. Luke; and by the assistance of the testimony which it bore, Luke himself becomes admissible. Well, but(8) Marcion, finding the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians (wherein he rebukes even apostles(9)) for “not walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel,”(10) as well as accuses certain false apostles of perverting the gospel of Christ), labours very hard to destroy the character(11) of those Gospels which are published as genuine(12) and under the name of apostles, in order, forsooth, to secure for his own Gospel the credit which he takes away from them. But then, even if he censures
Peter and John and James, who were thought to be pillars, it is for a manifest reason. They seemed to be changing their company(13) from respect of persons. And yet as Paul himself “became all things to all men,”(14) that he might gain all, it was possible that Peter also might have betaken himself to the same plan of practising somewhat different from what he taught. And, in like manner, if false apostles also crept in, their character too showed itself in their insisting upon circumcision and the Jewish ceremonies. So that it was not on account of their preaching, but of their conversation, that they were marked by St. Paul, who would with equal impartiality have marked them with censure, if they had erred at all with respect to God the Creator or His Christ. Each several case will therefore have to be distinguished. When Marcion complains that apostles are suspected (for their prevarication and dissimulation) of having even depraved the gospel, he thereby accuses Christ, by accusing those whom Christ chose. If, then, the apostles, who are censured simply for inconsistency of walk, composed the Gospel in a pure form,(15) but false apostles interpolated their true record; and if our own copies have been made from these,(16) where will that genuine text(17) of the apostle’s writings be found which has not suffered adulteration? Which was it that enlightened Paul, and through him Luke? It is either completely blotted out, as if by some deluge—being obliterated by the inundation of falsifiers—in which case even Marcion does not possess the true Gospel; or else, is that very edition which Marcion alone possesses the true one, that is, of the apostles? How, then, does that agree with ours, which is said not to be (the work) of apostles, but of Luke? Or else, again, if that which Marcion uses is not to be attributed to Luke simply because it does agree with ours (which, of course,(18) is, also adulterated in its title), then it is the work of apostles. Our Gospel, therefore, which is in agreement with it, is equally the work of apostles, but also adulterated in its title. (19)
CHAP. IV.—EACH SIDE CLAIMS TO POSSESS THE TRUE GOSPEL. ANTIQUITY THE CRITERION OF TRUTH IN SUCH A MATTER. MARCION’S PRETENSIONS AS AN AMENDER OF THE GOSPEL.
We must follow, then, the clue(20) of our discussion, meeting every effort of our opponents
with reciprocal vigor. I say that my Gospel is the true one; Marcion, that his is. I affirm that Marcion’s Gospel is adulterated; Marcion, that mine is. Now what is to settle the point for us, except it be that principle(1) of time, which rules that the authority lies with that which shall be found to be more ancient; and assumes as an elemental truth,(2) that corruption (of doctrine) belongs to the side which shall be convicted of comparative lateness in its origin.(3) For, inasmuch as error(4) is falsification of truth, it must needs be that truth therefore precede error. A thing must exist prior to its suffering any casualty;(5) and an object(6) must precede all rivalry to itself. Else how absurd it would be, that, when we have proved our position to be the older one, and Marcion’s the later, ours should yet appear to be the false one, before it had even received from truth its objective existence;(7) and Marcion’s should also be supposed to have experienced rivalry at our hands, even before its publication; and, in fine, that that should be thought to be the truer position which is the later one—a century(8) later than the publication of all the many and great facts and records of the Christian religion, which certainly could not have been published without, that is to say, before, the truth of the gospel. With regard, then, to the pending(9) question, of Luke’s Gospel (so far as its being the common property(10) of ourselves and Marcion enables it to be decisive of the truth,(11)) that portion of it which we alone receive(12) is so much older than Marcion, that Marcion, himself once believed it, when in the first warmth of faith he contributed money to the Catholic church, which along with himself was afterwards rejected,(13) when he fell away from our truth into his own heresy. What if the Marcionites have denied that he held the primitive faith amongst ourselves, in the face even of his own letter? What, if they do not acknowledge the letter? They, at any rate, receive his Antitheses; and more than that, they make ostentatious use(14) of them. Proof out of these is enough for me. For if the Gospel, said to be Luke’s which is current amongst us(15) (we shall see whether it be also
current with Marcion), is the very one which, as Marcion argues in his Antitheses, was interpolated by the defenders of Judaism, for the purpose of such a conglomeration with it of the law and the prophets as should enable them out of it to fashion their Christ, surely he could not have so argued about it, unless he had found it (in such a form). No one censures things before they exist,(16) when he knows not whether they will come to pass. Emendation never precedes the fault. To be sure,(17) an amender of that Gospel, which had been all topsy-turvy(18) from the days of Tiberius to those of Antoninus, first presented himself in Marcion alone—so long looked for by Christ, who was all along regretting that he had been in so great a hurry to send out his apostles without the support of Marcion! But for all that,(19) heresy, which is for ever mending the Gospels, and corrupting them in the act, is an affair of man’s audacity, not of God’s authority; and if Marcion be even a disciple, he is yet not “above his master;”(20) if Marcion be an apostle, still as Paul says, “Whether it be I or they, so we preach;”(21) if Marcion be a prophet, even “the spirits of the prophets will be subject to the prophets,”(22) for they are not the authors of confusion, but of peace; or if Marcion be actually an angel, he must rather be designated “as anathema than as a preacher of the gospel,”(23) because it is a strange gospel which he has preached. So that, whilst he amends, he only confirms both positions: both that our Gospel is the prior one, for he amends that which he has previously fallen in with; and that that is the later one, which, by putting it together out of the emendations of ours, he has made his own Gospel, and a novel one too.
CHAP. V.—BY THE RULE OF ANTIQUITY, THE CATHOLIC GOSPELS ARE FOUND TO BE TRUE, INCLUDING THE REAL ST. LUKE’S. MARCION’S ONLY A MUTILATED EDITION. THE HERETIC’S WEAKNESS AND INCONSISTENCY IN IGNORING THE OTHER GOSPELS.(24)
On the whole, then, if that is evidently more true which is earlier, if that is earlier which is from the very beginning, if that is from the beginning which has the apostles for its authors, then it will certainly be quite as evident, that that comes down from the apos-
tles, which has been kept as a sacred deposit(1) in the churches of the apostles. Let us see what milk the Corinthians drank from Paul; to what rule of faith the Galatians were brought for correction; what the Philippians, the Thessalonians, the Ephesians read by it; what utterance also the Romans give, so very near(2) (to the apostles), to whom Peter and Paul conjointly(3) bequeathed the gospel even sealed with their own blood. We have also St. John’s foster churches.(4) For although Marcion rejects his Apocalypse, the orders of the bishops (thereof), when traced up to their origin, will yet rest on John as their author. In the same manner is recognised the excellent source(6) of the other churches. I say, therefore, that in them (and not simply such of them as were rounded by apostles, but in all those which are united with them in the fellowship of the mystery of the gospel of Christ(7)) that Gospel of Luke which we are defending with all our might has stood its ground from its very first publication; whereas Marcion’s Gospel is not known to most people, and to none whatever is it known without being at the same time(8) condemned. It too, of course,(9) has its churches, but specially its own—as late as they are spurious; and should you want to know their original,(10) you will more easily discover apostasy in it than apostolicity, with Marcion forsooth as their founder, or some one of Marcion’s swarm.(11) Even wasps make combs;(12) so also these Marcionites make churches. The same authority of the apostolic churches will afford evidence(13) to the other Gospels also, which we possess equally through their means,(14) and according to their usage—I mean the Gospels of John and Matthew—whilst that which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter’s(15) whose interpreter Mark was. For even Luke’s form(16) of the Gospel men unsually ascribe to Paul.(17) And it may well seem(18) that the works which disciples publish belong to their masters. Well, then, Marcion ought to be called to a strict account(19) concerning these (other Gospels) also,
for having omitted them, and insisted in preference(20) on Luke; as if they, too, had not had free course in the churches, as well as Luke’s Gospel, from the beginning. Nay, it is even more credible that they(21) existed from the very beginning; for, being the work of apostles, they were prior, and coeval in origin with(22) the churches themselves. But how comes it to pass, if the apostles published nothing, that their disciples were more forward in such a work; for they could not have been disciples, without any instruction from their masters? If, then, it be evident that these (Gospels) also were current in the churches, why did not Marcion touch them—either to amend them if they were adulterated, or to acknowledge them if they were uncorrupt? For it is but natural(23) that they who were perverting the gospel, should be more solicitous about the perversion of those things whose authority they knew to be more generally received. Even the false apostles (were so called) on this very account, because they imitated the apostles by means of their falsification. In as far, then, as he might have amended what there was to amend, if found corrupt, in so far did he firmly imply(24) that all was free from corruption which he did not think required amendment. In short,(25) he simply amended what he thought was corrupt; though, indeed, not even this justly, because it was not really corrupt. For if the (Gospels) of the apostles(26) have come down to us in their integrity, whilst Luke’s, which is received amongst us,(27) so far accords with their rule as to be on a par with them in permanency of reception in the churches, it clearly follows that Luke’s Gospel also has come down to us in like integrity until the sacrilegious treatment of Marcion. In short, when Marcion laid hands on it, it then became diverse and hostile to the Gospels of the apostles. I will therefore advise his followers, that they either change these Gospels, however late to do so, into a conformity with their own, whereby they may seem to be in agreement with the apostolic writings (for they are daily retouching their work, as daily they are convicted by us); or else that they blush for their master, who stands self-condemned(28) either way—when once(29) he hands on the truth of the gospel conscience smitten, or again(29) subverts it by shameless tampering.
Such are the summary arguments which we use, when we take up arms(1) against heretics for the faith(2) of the gospel, maintaining both that order of periods, which rules that a late date is the mark of forgers,(3) and that authority of churches(4) which lends support to the tradition of the apostles; because truth must needs precede the forgery, and proceed straight from those by whom it has been handed on.
CHAP.VI.—MARCION’S OBJECT IN ADULTERATING THE GOSPEL. NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CHRIST OF THE CREATOR AND THE CHRIST OF THE GOSPEL. NO RIVAL CHRIST ADMISSIBLE. THE CONNECTION OF THE TRUE CHRIST WITH THE DISPENSATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT ASSERTED.
But we now advance a step further on, and challenge (as we promised to do) the very Gospel of Marcion, with the intention of thus proving that it has been adulterated. For it is certain(5) that the whole aim at which he has strenuously laboured even in the drawing up of his Antitheses, centres in this, that he may establish a diversity between the Old and the New Testaments, so that his own Christ may be separate from the Creator, as belonging to this rival god, and as alien from the law and the prophets. It is certain, also, that with this view(6) he has erased everything that was contrary to his own opinion and made for the Creator, as if it had been interpolated by His advocates, whilst everything which agreed with his own opinion he has retained. The latter statements we shall strictly examine;(7) and if they shall turn out rather for our side, and shatter the assumption of Marcion, we shall embrace them. It will then become evident, that in retaining them he has shown no less of the defect of blindness, which characterizes heresy, than he displayed when he erased all the former class of subjects. Such, then, is to be(8) the drift and form of my little treatise; subject, of course, to whatever condition may have become requisite on both sides of the question.(9) Marcion has laid down the position, that Christ who in the days of Tiberius was, by a previously unknown god, revealed for the salvation of all nations, is a different being from Him who was ordained by God the Creator for the restoration
of the Jewish state, and who is yet to come. Between these he interposes the separation of(10) a great and absolute difference—as great as lies between what is just and what is good;(11) as great as lies between the law and the gospel; as great, (in short,) as is the difference between Judaism and Christianity. Hence will arise also our rule,(12) by which we determine(13) that there ought to be nothing in common between the Christ of the rival god and the Creator; but that (Christ) must be pronounced to belong to the Creator,(14) if He has administered His dispensations, fulfilled His prophecies, promoted(15) His laws, given reality to(16) His promises, revived His mighty power,(17) remoulded His determinations(18) expressed His attributes, His properties. This law and this rule I earnestly request the reader to have ever in his mind, and so let him begin to investigate whether Christ be Marcion’s or the Creator’s.
CHAP.VII.—MARCION REJECTED THE PRECEDINGPORTION OF ST. LUKE’S GOSPEL. THEREFORE THIS REVIEW OPENS WITH AN EXAMINATION OF THE CASE OF THE EVIL SPIRIT IN THE SYNAGOGUE OF CAPERNAUM. HE WHOM THE DEMON ACKNOWLEDGED WAS THE CREATOR’S CHRIST.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius(19) (for such is Marcion’s proposition) he “came down to the Galilean city of Capernaum,” of course meaning(20) from the heaven of the Creator, to which he had previously descended from his own. What then had been his Course,(21) for him to be described as first descending from his own heaven to the Creator’s? For why should I abstain from censuring those parts of the statement which do not satisfy the requirement of an ordinary narrative, but always end in a falsehood? To be sure, our censure has been once for all expressed in the question, which we have already(22) suggested: Whether, when descending through the Creator’s domain, and indeed in hostility to him, he could possibly have been admitted by him, and by him been transmitted to the earth, which was equally his territory? Now, however, I want also to know the remainder of his course down, as-
suming that he came down. For we must not be too nice in inquiring(1) whether it is supposed that he was seen in any place. To come into view(2) indicates(3) a sudden unexpected glance, which for a moment fixed(4) the eye upon the object that passed before the view, without staying. But when it happens that a descent has been effected, it is apparent, and comes under the notice of the eyes.(5) Moreover, it takes account of fact, and thus obliges one to examine in what condition with what preparation,(6) with how much violence or moderation, and further, at what time of the day or night, the descent was made; who, again, saw the descent, who reported it, who seriously avouched the fact, which certainly was not easy to be believed, even after the asseveration. It is, in short, too bad(7) that Romulus should have had in Proculus an avoucher of his ascent to heaven, when the Christ of (this) god could not find any one to announce his descent from heaven; just as if the ascent of the one and the descent of the other were not effected on one and the same ladder of falsehood! Then, what had he to do with Galilee, if he did not belong to the Creator by whom(8) that region was destined (for His Christ) when about to enter on His ministry?(9) As Isaiah says: “Drink in this first, and be prompt, O region of Zabulon and land of Nephthalim, and ye others who (inhabit) the sea-coast, and that of Jordan, Galilee of the nations, ye people who sit in darkness, behold a great light; upon you, who inhabit (that) land, sitting in the shadow of death, the light hath arisen.”(10) It is, however, well that Marcion’s god does claim to be the enlightener of the nations, that so he might have the better reason for coming down from heaven; only, if it must needs be,(11) he should rather have made Pontus his place of descent than Galilee. But since both the place and the work of illumination according
to the prophecy are compatible with Christ, we begin to discern(12) that He is the subject of the prophecy, which shows that at the very outset of His ministry, He came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather to fulfil them;(13) for Marcion has erased the passage as an interpolation.(14) It will, however, be vain for him to deny that Christ uttered in word what He forthwith did partially indeed. For the prophecy about place He at once fulfilled. From heaven straight to the synagogue. As the adage runs: “The business on which we are come, do at once.” Marcion must even expunge from the Gospel, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel;”(15) and, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs,”(16)—in order, forsooth, that Christ may not appear to be an Israelite. But facts will satisfy me instead of words. Withdraw all the sayings of my Christ, His acts shall speak. Lo, He enters the synagogue; surely (this is going) to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Behold, it is to Israelites first that He offers the “bread” of His doctrine; surely it is because they are “children” that He shows them this priority.(17) Observe, He does not yet impart it to others; surely He passes them by as “dogs.” For to whom else could He better have imparted it, than to such as were strangers to the Creator, if He especially belonged not to the Creator? And yet how could He have been admitted into the synagogue—one so abruptly appearing,(18) so unknown; one, of whom no one had as yet been apprised of His tribe, His nation, His family, and lastly, His enrolment in the census of Augustus—that most faithful witness of the Lord’s nativity, kept in the archives of Rome? They certainly would have remembered, if they did not know Him to be circumcised, that He must not be admitted into their most holy places. And even if He had the general right of entering(19) the synagogue (like other Jews), yet the function of giving instruction was allowed only to a man who was extremely well known, and examined and tried, and for some time invested with the privilege after experience duly attested elsewhere. But “they were all astonished at His doctrine.” Of course they were; “for, says (St. Luke), “His word was with power(20)—not because He taught in opposition to the law and the proph-
ets. No doubt, His divine discourse(1) gave forth both power and grace, building up rather than pulling down the substance of the law and the prophets. Otherwise, instead of “astonishment, they would feel horror. It would not be admiration, but aversion, prompt and sure, which they would bestow on one who was the destroyer of law and prophets, and the especial propounder as a natural consequence of a rival god; for he would have been unable to teach anything to the disparagement of the law and the prophets, and so far of the Creator also, without premising the doctrine of a different and rival divinity, Inasmuch, then, as the Scripture makes no other statement on the matter than that the simple force and power of His word produced astonishment, it more naturally(2) shows that His teaching was in accordance with the Creator by not denying (that it was so), than that it was in opposition to the Creator, by not asserting (such a fact). And thus He will either have to be acknowledged as belonging to Him,(3) in accordance with whom He taught; or else will have to be adjudged a deceiver since He taught in accordance with One whom He had come to oppose. In the same passage, “the spirit of an unclean devil” exclaims: “What have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.”(4) I do not here raise the question whether this appellation was suitable to one who ought not to be called Christ, unless he were sent by the Creator.(5) Elsewhere(6) there has been already given a full consideration of His titles. My present discussion is, how the evil spirit could have known that He was called by such a name, when there had never at any time been uttered about Him a single prophecy by a god who was unknown, and up to that time silent, of whom it was not possible for Him to be attested as “the Holy One,” as (of a god) unknown even to his own Creator. What similar event could he then have published(7) of a new deity, whereby he might betoken for “the holy one” of the rival god? Simply that he went into the synagogue, and did nothing even in word against the Creator? As therefore he could not by any means acknowledge him, whom he was ignorant of, to be Jesus and the Holy One of God; so did he acknowledge Him whom he knew (to be
both). For he remembered how that the prophet had prophesied(8) of “the Holy One” of God, and how that God’s name of “Jesus” was in the son of Nun.(9) These facts he had also received(10) from the angel, according to our Gospel: “Wherefore that which shall be born of thee shall be called the Holy One, the Son of God;”(11) and, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus.”(12) Thus he actually had (although only an evil spirit) some idea of the Lord’s dispensation, rather than Of any strange and heretofore imperfectly understood one. Because he also premised this question: “What have we to do with Thee?”—not as if referring to a strange Jesus, to whom pertain the evil spirits of the Creator. Nor did he say, What hast Thou to do with us? but, “What have we to do with Thee?” as if deploring himself, and deprecating his own calamity; at the prospect of which he adds: “Art Thou come to destroy us?” So completely did he acknowledge in Jesus the Son of that God who was judicial and avenging, and (so to speak) severe,(13) and not of him who was simply good,(14) and knew not how to destroy or how to punish! Now for what purpose have we adduced his passage first?(15) In order to show that Jesus was neither acknowledged by the evil spirit, nor affirmed by Himself, to be any other than the Creator’s. Well, but Jesus rebuked him, you say. To be sure he did, as being an envious (spirit), and in his very confession only petulant, and evil in adulation—just as if it had been Christ’s highest glory to have come for the destruction of demons, and not for the salvation of mankind; whereas His wish really was that His disciples should not glory in the subjection of evil spirits but in the fair beauty of salvation.(16) Why else(17) did He rebuke him? If it was because he was entirely wrong (in his invocation), then He was neither Jesus nor the Holy One of God; if it was because he was partially wrong—for having supposed him to be, rightly enough,(18) Jesus and the Holy One of God, but also as belonging to the Creator—most unjustly would He have rebuked him for thinking what he knew he ought to think (about Him), and for not supposing that of Him which he knew not that he ought to suppose—that he was another Jesus, and the holy one of the other god. If,
however, the rebuke has not a more probable meaning(1) than that which we ascribe to it, follows that the evil spirit made no mistake, and was not rebuked for lying; for it was Jesus Himself, besides whom it was impossible for the evil spirit to have acknowledged any other, whilst Jesus affirmed that He was He whom the evil spirit had acknowledged, by not rebuking him for uttering a lie.
CHAP. VIII.”—OTHER PROOFS FROM THE SAME CHAPTER, THAT JESUS, WHO PREACHED AT NAZARETH, AND WAS ACKNOWLEDGED BY CERTAIN DEMONS AS CHRIST THE SON OF GOD, WAS THE CREATOR’S CHRIST. AS OCCASION OFFERS, THE DOCETIC ERRORS OF MARCION ARE EXPOSED.
The Christ of the Creator had(2) to be called a Nazarene according to prophecy; whence the Jews also designate us, on that very account,(3) Nazerenes(4) after Him. For we are they of whom it is written, “Her Nazarites were whiter than snow;”(5) even they who were once defiled with the stains of sin, and darkened with the clouds of ignorance. But to Christ the title Nazarene was destined to become a suitable one, from the hiding-place of His infancy, for which He went down and dwelt at Nazareth,(6) to escape from Archelaus the son of Herod. This fact I have not refrained from mentioning on this account, because it behoved Marcion’s Christ to have forborne all connection whatever with the domestic localities of the Creator’s Christ, when he had so many towns in Judaea which had not been by the prophets thus assigned(7) to the Creator’s Christ. But Christ will be (the Christ) of the prophets, wheresoever He is found in accordance with the prophets. And yet even at Nazareth He is not remarked as having preached anything new,(8) whilst in another verse He is said to have been rejected(9) by reason of a simple proverb.(10) Here at once, when I observe that they laid their hands on Him, I cannot help drawing a conclusion respecting His bodily substance, which cannot be believed to have been a phantom,(11) since it was capable of being touched and even violently handled, when He was seized and taken and led to the very brink of a precipice. For although He escaped through the
midst of them, He had already experienced their rough treatment, and afterwards went His way, no doubt(12) because the crowd (as usually happens) gave way, or was even broken through; but not because it was eluded as by an impalpable disguise,(13) which, if there had been such, would not at all have submitted to any touch.
“Tangere enim et tangi, nisi corpus, nulla potest res,”(14)
is even a sentence worthy of a place in the world’s wisdom. In short, He did himself touch others, upon whom He laid His hands, which were capable of being felt, and conferred the blessings of healing,(15) which were not less true, not less unimaginary, than were the hands wherewith He bestowed them. He was therefore the very Christ of Isaiah, the healer of our sicknesses.(16) “Surely,” says he, “He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Now the Greeks are accustomed to use for carry a word which also signifies to take away. A general promise Is enough for me in passing.(17) Whatever were the cures which Jesus effected, He is mine. We will come, however, to the kinds of cures. To liberate men, then, from evil spirits, is a cure of sickness. Accordingly, wicked spirits (just in the manner of our former example) used to go forth with a testimony, exclaiming, “Thou art the Son of God,”(18)—of what God, is clear enough from the case itself. But they were rebuked, and ordered not to speak; precisely because(19) Christ willed Himself to be proclaimed by men, not by unclean spirits, as the Son of God—even that Christ alone to whom this was befitting, because He had sent beforehand men through whom He might become known, and who were assuredly worthier preachers. It was natural to Him(20) to refuse the proclamation of an unclean spirit, at whose command there was an abundance of saints. He, however,(21) who had never been foretold (if, indeed, he wished to be acknowledged; for if he did not wish so much, his coming was in vain), would not have spurned the testimony of an alien or any sort of substance, who did not happen to have a substance of his own,(22) but had descended in an alien one. And now, too, as the destroyer also of the Creator, he would have desired nothing better
than to be acknowledged by His spirits, and to be divulged for the sake of being feared:(1) only that Marcion says(2) that his god is not feared; maintaining that a good being Is not an object of fear, but only a judicial being, in whom reside the grounds(3) of fear—anger, severity, judgments, vengeance, condemnation. But it was from fear, undoubtedly, that the evil spirits were cowed.(4) Therefore they confessed that (Christ) was the Son of a God who was to be feared, because they would have an occasion of not submitting if there were none for fearing. Besides, He showed that He was to be feared, because He drave them out, not by persuasion like a good being, but by command and reproof. Or else did he(5) reprove them, because they were making him an object of fear, when all the while he did not want to be feared? And in what manner did he wish them to go forth, when they could not do so except with fear? So that he fell into the dilemma(6) of having to conduct himself contrary to his nature, whereas he might in his simple goodness have at once treated them with leniency. He fell, too, into another false position(7)—of prevarication, when he permitted himself to be feared by the demons as the Son of the Creator, that he might drive them out, not indeed by his own power, but by the authority of the Creator. “He departed, and went into a desert place.”(8) This was, indeed, the Creator’s customary region. It was proper that the Word(9) should there appear in body, where He had aforetime, wrought in a cloud. To the gospel also was suitable that condition of place(10) which had once been determined on for the law.(11) “Let the wilderness and the solitary place, therefore, be glad and rejoice;” so had Isaiah promised.(12) When “stayed” by the crowds, He said,” I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also.”(13) Had He displayed His God anywhere yet? I suppose as yet nowhere. But was He speaking of those who knew of another god also? I do not believe so. If, therefore, neither He had preached, nor they had known, any other God but the Creator, He was announcing the kingdom of that God whom He knew to be the only God known to those who were listening to Him.
CHAP. IX.—OUT OF ST. LUKE’S FIFTH CHAPTER ARE FOUND PROOFS OF CHRIST’S BELONGING TO THE CREATOR, E.G. IN THE CALL OF FISHERMEN TO THE APOSTOLIC OFFICE, AND IN THE CLEANSING OF THE LEPER. CHRIST COMPARED WITH THE PROPHET ELISHA.
Out of so many kinds of occupations, why indeed had He such respect for that of fishermen, as to select from it for apostles Simon and the sons of Zebedee (for it cannot seem to be the mere fact itself for which the narrative was meant to be drawn out(14)), saying to Peter, when he trembled at the very large draught of the fishes, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men?”(15) By saying this, He suggested to them the meaning of the fulfilled prophecy, that it was even He who by Jeremiah had foretold, “Behold, I will send many fishers; and they shall fish them,”(16) that is, men. Then at last they left their boats, and followed Him, understanding that it was He who had begun to accomplish what He had declared. It is quite another case, when he affected to choose from the college of shipmasters, intending one day to appoint the shipmaster Marcion his apostle. We have indeed already laid it down, in opposition to his Antitheses, that the position of Marcion derives no advantage from the diversity which he supposes to exist between the Law and the Gospel, inasmuch as even this was ordained by the Creator, and indeed predicted in the promise of the new Law, and the new Word, and the new Testament. Since, however, he quotes with especial care,(17) as a proof in his domain,(18) a certain companion in misery (
stroying, but rather building up, that law which He wanted to have more earnestly acknowledged-touched the leper, by whom (even although as man He might have been defiled) He could not be defiled as God, being of course incorruptible. The prescription, therefore, could not be meant for Him, that He was bound to observe the law and not touch the unclean person, seeing that contact with the unclean would not cause defilement to Him. I thus teach that this (immunity) is consistent in my Christ, the rather when I show that it is not consistent in yours. Now, if it was as an enemy(1) of the law that He touched the leper—disregarding the precept of the law by a contempt of the defilement—how could he be defiled, when he possessed not a body(2) which could be defiled? For a phantom is not susceptible of defilement. He therefore, who could not be defiled, as being a phantom, will not have an immunity from pollution by any divine power, but owing to his fantastic vacuity; nor can he be regarded as having despised pollution, who had not in fact any material capacity(3) for it; nor, in like manner, as having destroyed the law, who had escaped defilement from the occasion of his phantom nature, not from any display of virtue. If, however, the Creator’s prophet Elisha cleansed Naaman the Syrian alone,(4) to the exclusion of(5) so many lepers in Israel,(6) this fact contributes nothing to the distinction of Christ, as if he were in this way the better one for cleansing this Israelite leper, although a stranger to him, whom his own Lord had been unable to cleanse. The cleansing of the Syrian rather(7) was significant throughout the nations of the world(8) of their own cleansing in Christ their light,(9) steeped as they were in the stains of the seven deadly sins:(10) idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, fornication, false-witness, and fraud.(11) Seven times,
therefore, as if once for each,” did he wash in Jordan; both in order that he might celebrate the expiation of a perfect hebdomad;(13) and because the virtue and fulness of the one baptism was thus solemnly imputed(14) to Christ, alone, who was one day to establish on earth not only a revelation, but also a baptism, endued with compendious efficacy.(15) Even Marcion finds here an antithesis:(16) how that Elisha indeed required a material resource, applied water, and that seven times; whereas Christ, by the employment of a word only, and that but once for all, instantly effected(17) the cure. And surely I might venture(18) to claim(19) the Very Word also as of the Creator’s substance. There is nothing of which He who was the primitive Author is not also the more powerful one. Forsooth,(20) it is incredible that that power of the Creator should have, by a word, produced a remedy for a single malady, which once by a word brought into being so vast a fabric as the world! From what can the Christ of the Creator be better discerned, than from the power of His word? But Christ is on this account another (Christ), because He acted differently from Elisha—because, in fact, the master is more powerful than his servant! Why, Marcion, do you lay down the rule, that things are done by servants just as they are by their very masters? Are you not afraid that it will turn to your discredit, if you deny that Christ belongs to the Creator, on the ground that He was once more powerful than a servant of the Creator—since, in comparison with the weakness of Elisha, He is acknowledged to be the greater, if indeed greater!(21) For the cure is the same, although there is a difference in the working of it. What has your Christ performed more than my Elisha? Nay, what great thing has the word of your Christ performed, when it has simply done that which a river of the Creator effected? On the same principle occurs all the rest. So far as renouncing all human glory went, He forbade the man to publish abroad the cure; but so far as the honour of the law was concerned, He requested that the usual course should be followed: “Go, show thyself to the priest, and
present the offering which Moses commanded.”(1) For the figurative signs of the law in its types He still would have observed, because of their prophetic import.(2) These types signified that a man, once a sinner, but afterwards purified(3) from the stains thereof by the word of God, was bound to offer unto God in the temple a gift, even prayer and thanksgiving in the church through Christ Jesus, who is the Catholic Priest of the Father.(4) Accordingly He added: “that it may be for a testimony unto you”—one, no doubt, whereby He would testify that He was not destroying the law, but fulfilling it; whereby, too, He would testify that it was He Himself who was foretold as about to undertake(5) their sicknesses and infirmities. This very consistent and becoming explanation of “the testimony,” that adulator of his own Christ, Marcion seeks to exclude under the cover of mercy and gentleness. For, being both good (such are his words), and knowing, besides, that every man who had been freed from leprosy would be sure to perform the solemnities of the law, therefore He gave this precept. Well, what then? Has He continued in his goodness (that is to say, in his permission of the law) or not? For if he has persevered in his goodness, he will never become a destroyer of the law; nor will he ever be accounted as belonging to another god, because there would not exist that destruction of the law which would constitute his claim to belong to the other god. If, however, he has not continued good, by a subsequent destruction of the law, it is a false testimony which he has since imposed upon them in his cure of the leper; because he has forsaken his goodness, in destroying the law. If, therefore, he was good whilst upholding the law,(6) he has now become evil as a destroyer of the law. However, by the support which he gave to the law, he affirmed that the law was good. For no one permits himself in the support of an evil thing. Therefore he is not only bad if he has permitted obedience to a bad law; but even worse still, if he has appeared(7) as the destroyer of a good law. So that if he commanded the offering of the gift because he knew that every cured leper would be sure to bring one; he possibly abstained from commanding what he knew would be spontaneously done. In vain, therefore, was his coming down, as if with the intention of destroying the law, when he makes concessions to the keepers of the law. And yet,(8) because he knew their disposition,(9) he ought the more earnestly to have prevented their neglect of the law,(10) since he had come for this purpose. Why then did he not keep silent, that man might of his own simple will obey the law? For then might he have seemed to some extent(11)to have persisted in his patience. But he adds also his own authority increased by the weight of this “testimony.” Of what testimony, I ask,(12) if not that of the assertion of the law? Surely it matters not in what way he asserted the law—whether as good, or as supererogatory,(13) or as patient, or as inconstant-provided, Marcion, I drive you from your position.(14) Observe,(15) he commanded that the law should be fulfilled. In whatever way he commanded it, in the same way might he also have first uttered that sentiment:(16) “I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it.”(17) What business, therefore, had you to erase out of the Gospel that which was quite consistent in it?(18) For you have confessed that, in his goodness, he did in act what you deny that he did in word.(19) We have therefore good proof that He uttered the word, in the fact that He did the deed; and that you have rather expunged the Lord’s word, than that our (evangelists)(20) have inserted it.
CHAP. X.—FURTHER PROOFS OF THE SAME TRUTH IN THE SAME CHAPTER, FROM THE HEALING OF THE PARALYTIC, AND FROM THE DESIGNATION SON OF MAN WHICH JESUS GIVES HIMSELF. TERTULLIAN SUSTAINS HIS ARGUMENT BY SEVERAL QUOTATIONS FROM THE PROPHETS.
The sick of the palsy is healed,(21) and that in public, in the sight of the people. For, says Isaiah, “they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.”(22) What glory, and what excellency? “Be strong, ye weak hands, and ye feeble knees:”(23) this refers to the palsy. “Be strong; fear not.”(24) Be strong is not vainly repeated, nor is fear not vainly added; because with the
renewal of the limbs there was to be, according to the promise, a restoration also of bodily energies: “Arise, and take up thy couch;” and likewise moral courage(1) not to be afraid of those who should say, “Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” So that you have here not only the fulfilment of the prophecy which promised a particular kind of healing, but also of the symptoms which followed the cure. In like manner, you should also recognise Christ in the same prophet as the forgiver of sins. “For,” he says, “He shall remit to many their sins, and shall Himself take away our sins.”(2) For in an earlier passage, speaking in the person of the Lord himself, he had said: “Even though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them as white as snow; even though they be like crimson, I will whiten them as wool.”(3) In the scarlet colour He indicates the blood of the prophets; in the crimson, that of the Lord, as the brighter. Concerning the forgiveness of sins, Micah also says: “Who is a God like unto Thee? pardoning iniquity, and passing by the transgressions of the remnant of Thine heritage. He retaineth not His anger as a testimony against them, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, and will have compassion upon us; He wipeth away our iniquities, and casteth our sins into the depths of the sea.”(4) Now, if nothing of this sort had been predicted of Christ, I should find in the Creator examples of such a benignity as would hold out to me the promise of similar affections also in the Son of whom He is the Father. I see how the Ninevites obtained forgiveness of their sins from the Creator(5)—not to say from Christ, even then, because from the beginning He acted in the Father’s name. I read, too, how that, when David acknowledged his sin against Uriah, the prophet Nathan said unto him, “The Lord hath cancelled(6) thy sin, and thou shalt not die;”(7) how king Ahab in like manner, the husband of Jezebel, guilty of idolatry and of the blood of Naboth, obtained pardon because of his repentance;(8) and how Jonathan the son of Saul blotted out by his deprecation the guilt of a violated fast.(9) Why should I recount the frequent restoration of the nation itself after the forgiveness of their sins?—by that God, indeed, who will have mercy rather than sacrifice, and a sinner’s repentance rather than his
death.(10) You will first have to deny that the Creator ever forgave sins; then you must in reason show(11) that He never ordained any such prerogative for His Christ; and so you will prove how novel is that boasted(12) benevolence of the, of course, novel Christ when you shall have proved that it is neither compatible with(13) the Creator nor predicted by the Creator. But whether to remit sins can appertain to one who is said to be unable to retain them, and whether to absolve can belong to him who is incompetent even to condemn, and whether to forgive is suitable to him against whom no offence can be committed, are questions which we have encountered elsewhere,(14) when we preferred to drop suggestions(15) rather than treat them anew.(16) Concerning the Son of man our rule(17) is a twofold one: that Christ cannot lie, so as to declare Himself the Son of man, if He be not truly so; nor can He be constituted the Son of man, unless He be born of a human parent, either father or mother. And then the discussion will turn on the point, of which human parent He ought to be accounted the son—of the father or the mother? Since He is (begotten) of God the Father, He is not, of course, (the son) of a human father. If He is not of a human father, it follows that He must be (the son) of a human mother. If of a human mother, it is evident that she must be a virgin. For to whom a human father is not ascribed, to his mother a husband will not be reckoned; and then to what mother a husband is not reckoned, the condition of virginity belongs.(18) But if His mother be not a virgin, two fathers will have to be reckoned to Him—a divine and a human one. For she must have a husband, not to be a virgin; and by having a husband, she would cause two fathers—one divine, the other human—to accrue to Him, who would thus be Son both of God and of a man. Such a nativity (if one may call it so)(19) the mythic stories assign to Castor or to Hercules. Now, if this distinction be observed, that is to say, if He be Son of man as born of His mother, because not begotten of a father, and His mother be a virgin, because His father is not human—He will be that Christ whom Isaiah foretold that a virgin should conceive,(20) On what principle you, Marcion, can admit Him Son of man, I
cannot possibly see. If through a human father, then you deny him to be Son of God; if through a divine one also,(1) then you make Christ the Hercules of fable; if through a human mother only, then you concede my point; if not through a human father also,(2) then He is not the son of any man,(3) and He must have been guilty of a lie for having declared Himself to be what He was not. One thing alone can help you in your difficulty: boldness on your part either to surname your God as actually the human father of Christ, as Valentinus did(4) with his AEon; or else to deny that the Virgin was human, which even Valentinus did not do. What now, if Christ be described(5) in Daniel by this very title of “Son of man?” Is not this enough to prove that He is the Christ of prophecy? For if He gives Himself that appellation which was provided in the prophecy for the Christ of the Creator, He undoubtedly offers Himself to be understood as Him to whom (the appellation) was assigned by the prophet. But perhaps(6) it can be regarded as a simple identity of names;(7) and yet we have maintained(8) that neither Christ nor Jesus ought to have been called by these names, if they possessed any condition of diversity. But as regards the appellation “Son of man,” in as far as it Occurs by accident,(9) in so far there is a difficulty in its occurrence along with(10) a casual identity of names. For it is of pure(11) accident, especially when the same cause does not appear(12) whereby the identity may be occasioned. And therefore, if Marcion’s Christ be also said to be born of man, then he too would receive an identical appellation, and there would be two Sons of man, as also two Christs and two Jesuses. Therefore, since the appellation is the sole right of Him in whom it has a suitable reason,(13) if it be claimed for another in whom there is an identity of name, but not of appellation,(14) then the identity of name even looks suspicious in him for whom is claimed without reason the identity of appellation. And it follows that He must be believed to be One and the Same, who is found to be the more fit to receive both the name and the appellation; while the other is
excluded, who has no right to the appellation, because he has no reason to show for it. Nor will any other be better entitled to both than He who is the earlier, and has had allotted to Him the name of Christ and the appellation of Son of man, even the Jesus of the Creator. It was He who was seen by the king of Babylon in the furnace with His martyrs: “the fourth, who was like the Son of man.”(15) He also was revealed to Daniel himself expressly as “the Son of man, coming in the clouds of heaven” as a Judge, as also the Scripture shows.(16) What I have advanced might have been sufficient concerning the designation in prophecy of the Son of man. But the Scripture offers me further information, even in the interpretation of the Lord Himself. For when the Jews, who looked at Him as merely man, and were not yet sure that He was God also, as being likewise the Son of God, rightly enough said that a man could not forgive sins, but God alone, why did He not, following up their point(17) about man, answer them,that He(18) had power to remit sins; inasmuch as, when He mentioned the Son of man, He also named a human being? except it were because He wanted, by help of the very designation “Son of man” from the book of Daniel, so to induce them to reflect(19) as to show them that He who remitted sins was God and man—that only Son of man, indeed, in the prophecy of Daniel, who had obtained the power of judging, and thereby, of course, of forgiving sins likewise (for He who judges also absolves); so that, when once that objection of theirs(20) was shattered to pieces by their recollection of Scripture, they might the more easily acknowledge Him to be the Son of man Himself by His own actual forgiveness of sins. I make one more observation,(21) how that He has nowhere as yet professed Himself to be the Son of God—but for the first time in this passage, in which for the first time He has remitted sins; that is, in which for the first time He has used His function of judgment, by the absolution. All that the opposite side has to allege in argument against these things, (I beg you) carefully weigh(22) what it amounts to. For it must needs strain itself to such a pitch of infatuation as, on the one hand, to maintain that (their Christ) is also Son of man, in order to save Him from the charge of falsehood; and, on the other hand, to deny that He was born of woman, lest they grant
that He was the Virgin’s son. Since, however, the divine authority and the nature of the case, and common sense, do not admit this insane position of the heretics, we have here the opportunity of putting in a veto(1) in the briefest possible terms, on the substance of Christ’s body, against Marcion’s phantoms. Since He is born of man, being the Son of man. He is body derived from body.(2) You may, I assure you,(3) more easily find a man born without a heart or without brains, like Marcion himself, than without a body, like Marcion’s Christ. And let this be the limit to your examination of the heart, or, at any rate, the brains of the heretic of Pontus.(4)
CHAP. XI.—THE CALL OF LEVI THE PUBLICAN. CHRIST IN RELATION TO THE BAPTIST. CHRIST AS THE BRIDEGROOM. THE PARABLE OF THE OLD WINE AND THE NEW. ARGUMENTS CONNECTING CHRIST WITH THE CREATOR.
The publican who was chosen by the Lord,(5) he adduces for a proof that he was chosen as a stranger to the law and uninitiated in(6) Judaism, by one who was an adversary to the law. The case of Peter escaped his memory, who, although he was a man of the law, was not only chosen by the Lord, but also obtained the testimony of possessing knowledge which was given to him by the Father.(7) He had nowhere read of Christ’s being foretold as the light, and hope, and expectation of the Gentiles! He, however, rather spoke of the Jews in a favourable light, when he said, “The whole needed not a physician, but they that are sick.”(8) For since by “those that are sick” he meant that the heathens and publicans should be understood, whom he was choosing, he affirmed of the Jews that they were “whole” for whom he said that a physician was not necessary. This being the case, he makes a mistake in coming down(9) to destroy the law, as if for the remedy of a diseased condition. because they who were living under it were “whole,” and “not in want of a physician.” How, moreover, does it happen that he proposed the similitude of a physician, if he did not verify it? For, just as nobody uses a physician for healthy persons, so will no one do so for strangers, in so far as he is one of Marcion’s god-made men,(10) having to himself
both a creator and preserver, and a specially good physician, in his Christ. This much the comparison predetermines, that a physician is more usually furnished by him to whom the sick people belong. Whence, too, does John come upon the scene? Christ, suddenly; and just as suddenly, John!(11) After this fashion occur all things in Marcion’s system. They have their own special and plenary course(12) in the Creator’s dispensation. Of John, however, what else I have to say will be found in another passage.(13) To the several points which now come before us an answer must be given. This, then, I will take care to do(14)—demonstrate that, reciprocally, John is suitable to Christ, and Christ to Joan, the latter, of course, as a prophet of the Creator, just as the former is the Creator’s Christ; and so the heretic may blush at frustrating, to his own frustration, the mission of John the Baptist. For if there had been no ministry of John at all—“the voice,” as Isaiah calls him, “of one crying in the wilderness,” and the preparer of the ways of the Lord by denunciation and recommendation of repentance; if, too, he had not baptized (Christ) Himself(15) along with others, nobody could have challenged the disciples of Christ, as they ate and drank, to a comparison with the disciples of John, who were constantly fasting and praying; because, if there existed any diversity(16) between Christ and John, and their followers respectively, no exact comparison would be possible, nor would there be a single point where it could be challenged. For nobody would feel surprise, and nobody would be perplexed, although there should arise rival predictions of a diverse deity, which should also mutually differ about modes of conduct,(17) having a prior difference about the authorities(18) upon which they were based. Therefore Christ belonged to John, and John to Christ; while both belonged to the Creator, and both were of the law and the prophets, preachers and masters. Else Christ would have rejected the discipline of John, as of the rival god, and would also have defended the disciples, as very properly pursuing a different walk, because consecrated to the service of another and contrary deity. But as it is, while modestly(19) giving a reason why “the children of the bridegroom are unable to fast during the
time the bridegroom is with them,” but promising that “they should afterwards fast, when the bridegroom was taken away from them,”(1) He neither defended the disciples, (but rather excused them, as if they had not been blamed without some reason), nor rejected the discipline of John, but rather allowed(2) it, referring it to the time of John, although destining it for His own time. Otherwise His purpose would have been to reject it,(3) and to defend its opponents, if He had not Himself already belonged to it as then in force. I hold also that it is my Christ who is meant by the bridegroom, of whom the psalm says: “He is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His return is back to the end of it again.”(4) By the mouth of Isaiah He also says exultingly of the Father: “Let my soul rejoice in the Lord; for He hath clothed me with the garment of salvation and with the tunic of joy, as a bridegroom. He hath put a mitre round about my head, as a bride.”(5) To Himself likewise He appropriates(6) the church, concerning which the same(7) Spirit says to Him: “Thou shall clothe Thee with them all, as with a bridal ornament.”(8) This spouse Christ invites home to Himself also by Solomon from the call of the Gentiles, because you read: “Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse.”(9) He elegantly makes mention of Lebanon (the mountain, of course) because it stands for the name of frankincense with the Greeks;(10) for it was from idolatry that He betrothed Himself the church. Deny now, Marcion, your utter madness, (if you can)! Behold, you impugn even the law of your god. He unites not in the nuptial bond, nor, when contracted, does he allow it; no one does he baptize but a coelebs or a eunuch; until death or divorce does he reserve baptism.(11) Wherefore, then, do you make his Christ a bridegroom? This is the designation of Him who united man and woman, not of him who separated them. You have erred also in that declaration of Christ, wherein He seems to make a difference between things new and old. You are inflated about the old bottles, and brain-muddled with the new wine;
and therefore to the old (that is to say, to the prior) gospel you have sewed on the patch of your new-fangled heresy. I should like to know in what respect the Creator is inconsistent with Himself.(12) When by Jeremiah He gave this precept, “Break up for yourselves new pastures,”(13) does He not turn away from the old state of things? And when by Isaiah He proclaims how “old things were passed away; and, behold, all things, which I am making, are new,”(14) does He not advert to a new state of things? We have generally been of opinion’s that the destination of the former state of things was rather promised by the Creator, and exhibited in reality by Christ, only under the authority of one and the same God, to whom appertain both the old things and the new. For new wine is not put into old bottles, except by one who has the old bottles; nor does anybody put a new piece to an old garment, unless the old garment be forthcoming to him. That person only(16) does not do a thing when it is not to be done, who has the materials wherewithal to do it if it were to be done. And therefore, since His object in making the comparison was to show that He was separating the new condition(17) of the gospel from the old state(18) of the law, He proved that that(19) from which He was separating His own(20) ought not to have been branded(21) as a separation(22) of things which were alien to each other; for nobody ever unites his own things with things that are alien to them,(23) in order that he may afterwards be able to separate them from the alien things. A separation is possible by help of the conjunction through which it is made. Accordingly, the things which He separated He also proved to have been once one; as they would have remained, were it not for His separation. But still we make this concession, that there is a separation, by reformation, by amplification,(24) by progress; just as the fruit is separated from the seed, although the fruit comes from the seed. So likewise the gospel is separated from the law, whilst it advances(25) from the law—a different thing(26) from it, but not an alien one; diverse, but not contrary. Nor in Christ do we even find any novel form of discourse. Whether He proposes simili-
tudes or refute questions, it comes from the seventy-seventh Psalm. “I will open,” says He, “my mouth in a parable” (that is, in a similitude); “I will utter dark problems” (that is, I will set forth questions).(1) If you should wish to prove that a man belonged to another race, no doubt you would fetch your proof from the idiom of his language.
CHAP. XII.—CHRIST’S AUTHORITY OVER THE SABBATH. AS ITS LORD HE RECALLED IT FROM PHARISAIC NEGLECT TO THE ORIGINAL PURPOSE OF ITS INSTITUTION BY THE CREATOR THE CASE OF THE DISCIPLES WHO PLUCKED THE EARS OF CORN ON THE SABBATH. THE WITHERED HAND HEALED ON THE SABBATH.
Concerning the Sabbath also I have this to premise, that this question could not have arisen, if Christ did not publicly proclaim(2) the Lord of the Sabbath. Nor could there be any discussion about His annulling(3) the Sabbath, if He had a right(4) to annul it. Moreover, He would have the right, if He belonged to the rival god; nor would it cause surprise to any one that He did what it was right for Him to do. Men’s astonishment therefore arose from their opinion that it was improper for Him to proclaim the Creator to be God and yet to impugn His Sabbath. Now, that we may decide these several points first, lest we should be renewing them at every turn to meet each argument of our adversary which rests on some novel institution s of Christ, let this stand as a settled point, that discussion concerning the novel character of each institution ensued on this account, because as nothing was as yet advanced by Christ touching any new deity, so discussion thereon was inadmissible; nor could it be retorted, that from the very novelty of each several institution another deity was clearly enough demonstrated by Christ, inasmuch as it was plain that novelty was not in itself a characteristic to be wondered at in Christ, because it had been foretold by the Creator. And it would have been, of course, but right that a new(6) god should first be expounded, and his discipline be introduced afterwards; because it Would be the god that would impart authority to the discipline, and not the discipline to the god; except that (to be sure) it has happened that Marcion acquired his very perverse opinions not from a master, but his master from his opinion! All other points respecting the Sabbath I thus rule. If Christ interfered
with(7) the Sabbath, He simply acted after the Creator’s example; inasmuch as in the siege of the city of Jericho the carrying around the walls of the ark of the covenant for eight days running, and therefore on a Sabbath-day, actually(8) annulled the Sabbath, by the Creator’s command—according to the opinion of those who think this of Christ in this passage of St. Luke, in their ignorance that neither Christ nor the Creator violated the Sabbath, as we shall by and by show. And yet the Sabbath was actually then broken(9) by Joshua,(10) so that the present charge might be alleged also against Christ. But even if, as being not the Christ of the Jews, He displayed a hatred against the Jews’ most solemn day, He was only professedly following(11) the Creator, as being His Christ, in this very hatred of the Sabbath; for He exclaims by the mouth of Isaiah: “Your new moons and your Sabbaths my soul hateth.”(12) Now, in whatever sense these words were spoken, we know that an abrupt defence must, in a subject of this sort, be used in answer to an abrupt challenge. I shall now transfer the discussion to the very matter in which the teaching of Christ seemed to annul the Sabbath. The disciples had been hungry; on that the Sabbath day they had plucked some ears and rubbed them in their hands; by thus preparing their food, they had violated the holy day. Christ excuses them, and became their accomplice in breaking the Sabbath. The Pharisees bring the charge against Him. Marcion sophistically interprets the stages of the controversy (if I may call in the aid of the truth of my Lord to ridicule his arts), both in the scriptural record and in Christ’s purpose.(13) For from the Creator’s Scripture, and from the purpose of Christ, there is derived a colourable precedent(14)—as from the example of David, when he went into the temple on the Sabbath, and provided food by boldly breaking up the shew-bread.(15) Even he remembered that this privilege (I mean the dispensation from fasting) was allowed to the Sabbath from the very beginning, when the Sabbath-day itself was instituted. For although the Creator had forbidden that the manna should be gathered for two days, He yet permitted it on the one occasion only of the day before the Sabbath,
in order that the yesterday’s provision of food might free from fasting the feast of the following Sabbath-day. Good reason, therefore, had the Lord for pursuing the same principle in the annulling of the Sabbath (since that is the word which men will use); good reason, too, for expressing the Creator’s will,(1) when He bestowed the privilege of not fasting on the Sabbath-day. In short, He would have then and there(2) put an end to the Sabbath, nay, to the Creator Himself, if He had commanded His disciples to fast on the Sabbath-day, contrary to the intention(3) of the Scripture and of the Creator’s will. But because He did not directly defend(4) His disciples, but excuses them; because He interposes human want, as if deprecating censure; because He maintains the honour of the Sabbath as a day which is to be free from gloom rather than from work;(5) because he puts David and his companions on a level with His own disciples in their fault and their extenuation; because He is pleased to endorse(6) the Creator’s indulgence:(7) because He is Himself good according to His example—is He therefore alien from the Creator? Then the Pharisees watch whether He would heal on the Sabbath-day,(8) that they might accuse Him—surely as a violator of the Sabbath, not as the propounder of a new god; for perhaps I might be content with insisting on all occasions on this one point, that another Christ(9) is nowhere proclaimed. The Pharisees, however, were in utter error concerning the law of the Sabbath, not observing that its terms were conditional, when it enjoined rest from labour, making certain distinctions of labour. For when it says of the Sabbath-day, “In it thou shalt not do any work of thine,”(10) by the word thine(11) it restricts the prohibition to human work—which every one performs in his own employment or business—and not to divine work. Now the work of healing or preserving is not proper to man, but to God. So again, in the law it says, “Thou shalt not do any manner of work in it,”(12) except what is to be done for any soul,(13) that is to say, in the matter of delivering the soul;(14) because what is God’s work may be done by human agency for the salvation of the soul. By God, however, would that be done which the man Christ was to do, for He was likewise God.(15) Wishing, therefore, to initiate them into this meaning of the law by the restoration of the withered hand, He requires, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath-days to do good, or not? to save life, or to destroy it?”(16) In order that He might, whilst allowing that amount of work which He was about to perform for a soul,(17) remind them what works the law of the Sabbath forbade—even human works; and what it enjoined—even divine works, which might be done for the benefit of any soul,(18) He was called “Lord of the Sabbath,”(19) because He maintained(20) the Sabbath as His own institution. Now, even if He had annulled the Sabbath, He would have had the right to do so,(21) as being its Lord, (and) still more as He who instituted it. But He did not utterly destroy it, although its Lord, in order that it might henceforth be plain that the Sabbath was not broken(22) by the Creator, even at the time when the ark was carried around Jericho. For that was really(23) God’s work, which He commanded Himself, and which He had ordered for the sake of the lives of His servants when exposed to the perils of war. Now, although He has in a certain place expressed an aversion of Sabbaths, by calling them your Sabbaths,(24) reckoning them as men’s Sabbaths, not His own, because they were celebrated without the fear of God by a people full of iniquities, and loving God “with the lip, not the heart,”(25) He has yet put His own Sabbaths (those, that is, which were kept according to His prescription) in a different position; for by the same prophet, in a later passage,(26) He declared them to be “true, and delightful, and inviolable.” Thus Christ did not at all rescind the Sabbath: He kept the law thereof, and both in the former case did a work which was beneficial to the life of His disciples, for He indulged them with the relief of food when they were hungry, and in the present instance cured the withered hand; in each case in-
timating by facts, “I came not to destroy, the law, but to fulfil it,”(1) although Marcion has gagged(2) His mouth by this word.(3) For even in the case before us He fulfilled the law, while interpreting its condition; moreover, He exhibits in a dear light the different kinds of work, while doing what the law excepts from the sacredness of the Sabbath(4) and while imparting to the Sabbath-day itself, which from the beginning had been consecrated by the benediction of the Father, an additional sanctity by His own beneficent action. For He furnished to this day divine safeguards,(5)—a course which(6) His adversary would have pursued for some other days, to avoid honouring the Creator’s Sabbath, and restoring to the Sabbath the works which were proper for it. Since, in like manner, the prophet Elisha on this day restored to life the dead son of the Shunammite woman,(7) you see, O Pharisee, and you too, O Marcion, how that it was proffer employment for the Creator’s Sabbaths of old(8) to do good, to save life, not to destroy it; how that Christ introduced nothing new, which was not after the example,(9) the gentleness, the mercy, and the prediction also of the Creator. For in this very example He fulfils(10) the prophetic announcement of a specific healing: “The weak hands are strengthened,” as were also “the feeble knees”(11)in the sick of the palsy.
CHAP. XIII.—CHRIST’S CONNECTION WITH THE CREATOR SHOWN. MANY QUOTATIONS OUT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETICALLY BEAR ON CERTAIN EVENTS OF THE LIFE OF JESUS—SUCH AS HIS ASCENT TO PRAYING ON THE MOUNTAIN; HIS SELECTION OF TWELVE APOSTLES; HIS CHANGING SIMON’S NAME TO PETER, AND GENTILES FROM TYRE AND SIDON RESORTING TO HIM.
Surely to Sion He brings good tidings, and to Jerusalem peace and all blessings; He goes up into a mountain, and there spends a night in prayer,(12) and He is indeed heard by the Father. Accordingly turn over the prophets, and learn therefrom His entire course.(13) “Into the high mountain,” says Isaiah, “get Thee up, who bringest good tidings to Sion;
lift up Thy voice with strength, who bringest good tidings to Jerusalem.”(14) “They were mightily(15) astonished at His doctrine; for He was teaching as one who had power.”(16) And again: “Therefore, my people shall know my name in that day.” What name does the prophet mean, but Christ’s? “That I am He that doth speak—even I.”(17) For it was He who used to speak in the prophets—the Word, the Creator’s Son. “I am present, while it is the hour, upon the mountains, as one that bringeth glad tidings of peace, as one that publisheth good tidings of good.”(18) So one of the twelve (minor prophets), Naburn: “For behold upon the mountain the swift feet of Him that bringeth glad tidings of peace.”(19) Moreover, concerning the voice of His prayer to the Father by night, the psalm manifestly says: “O my God, I will cry in the day-time, and Thou shalt hear; and in the night season, and it shall not be in vain to me.”(20) in another passage touching the same voice and place, the psalm says: “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy mountain.”(21) You have a representation of the name; you have the action of the Evangelizer; you have a mountain for the site; and the night as the time; and the sound of a voice; and the audience of the Father: you have, (in short,) the Christ of the prophets. But why was it that He chose twelve apostles,(22) and not some other number? In truth,(23) I might from this very point conclude(24) of my Christ, that He was foretold not only by the words of prophets, but by the indications of facts. For of this number I find figurative hints up and down the Creator’s dispensation(25) in the twelve springs of Elfin;(26) in the twelve gems of Aaron’s priestly vestment;(27) and in the twelve stones appointed by Joshua to be taken out of the Jordan, and set up for the ark of the covenant. Now, the same number of apostles was thus portended, as if they were to be fountains and rivers which should water the Gentile world, which was formerly dry and destitute of knowledge (as He says by Isaiah: “I will put streams in the unwatered ground”(28)); as if they were to be gems to shed lustre upon the church’s sacred
robe, which Christ, the High Priest of the Father, puts on; as if, also, they were to be stones massive in their faith, which the true Joshua took out of the layer of the Jordan, and placed in the sanctuary of His covenant. What equally good defence of such a number has Marcion’s Christ to show? It is impossible that anything can be shown to have been done by him unconnectedly,(1) which cannot be shown to have been done by my Christ in connection (with preceding types).(2) To him will appertain the event(3) in whom is discovered the preparation for the same.(4) Again, He changes the name of Simon to peter,(5) inasmuch as the Creator also altered the names of Abram, and Sarai, and Oshea, by calling the latter Joshua, and adding a syllable to each of the former. But why Peter? If it was because of the vigour of his faith, there were many solid materials which might lend a name from their strength. Was it because Christ was both a rock and a stone? For we read of His being placed “for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence.”(6) I omit the rest of the passage.(7) Therefore He would fain(8) impart to the dearest of His disciples a name which was suggested by one of His own especial designations in figure; because it was, I suppose, more peculiarly fit than a name which might have been derived from no figurative description of Himself.(9) There come to Him from Tyre, and from other districts even, a transmarine multitude. This fact the psalm had in view: “And behold tribes of foreign people, and Tyre, and the people of the Ethiopians; they were there. Sion is my mother, shall a man say; and in her was born a man” (forasmuch as the God-man was born), and He built her by the Father’s will; that you may know how Gentiles then flocked to Him, because He was born the God-man who was to build the church according to the Father’s will—even of other races also.(10) So says Isaiah too: “Behold, these come from far; and these from the north and from the west;(11) and these from the land of the Persians.”(12) Concerning whom He says again: “Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold, all these have gathered themselves together.”(13) And yet again:
“Thou seest these unknown and strange ones; and thou wilt say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these? But who hath brought me up these? And these, where have they been?”(14) Will such a Christ not be (the Christ) of the prophets? And what will be the Christ of the Marcionites? Since perversion of truth is their pleasure, he could not be (the Christ) of the prophets.
CHAP. XIV.—CHRIST’S SERMON ON THE MOUNT. IN MANNER AND CONTENTS IT SO RESEMBLES THE CREATOR’S DISPENSATIONAL WORDS AND DEEDS. IT SUGGESTS THEREFORE THE CONCLUSION THAT JESUS IS THE CREATOR’S CHRIST. THE BEATITUDES.
I now come to those ordinary precepts of His, by means of which He adapts the peculiarity(15) of His doctrine to what I may call His official proclamation as the Christ.(16) “Blessed are the needy” (for no less than this is required for interpreting the word in the Greek,(17) “because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(18) Now this very fact, that He begins with beatitudes, is characteristic of the Creator, who used no other voice than that of blessing either in the first fiat or the final dedication of the universe: for “my heart,” says He, “hath indited a very good word.”(19) This will be that “very good word” of blessing which is admitted to be the initiating principle of the New Testament, after the example of the Old. What is there, then, to wonder at, if He entered on His ministry with the very attributes(20) of the Creator, who ever in language of the same sort loved, consoled, protected, and avenged the beggar, and the poor, and the humble, and the widow, and the orphan? So that you may believe this private bounty as it were of Christ to be a rivulet streaming from the springs of salvation. Indeed, I hardly know whiCh way to turn amidst so vast a wealth of good words like these; as if I were in a forest, or a meadow, or an orchard of apples. I must therefore look out for such matter as chance may present to me.(21)
In the psalm he exclaims: “Defend the fatherless and the needy; do justice to the humble and the poor; deliver the poor, and rid the needy out of the hand of the wicked.”(22)
Similarly in the seventy-first Psalm: “In righteousness shall He judge the needy amongst the people, and shall save the children of the poor.”(1) And in the following words he says of Christ: “All nations shall serve Him.”(2) Now David only reigned over the Jewish nation, so that nobody can suppose that this was spoken of David; whereas He had taken upon Himself the condition of the poor, and such as were oppressed with want, “Because He should deliver the needy out of the hand of the mighty man; He shall spare the needy and the poor, and shall deliver the souls of the poor. From usury and injustice shall He redeem their souls, and in His sight shall their name be honoured.”(3) Again: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, even all the nations that forget God; because the needy shall not alway be forgotten; the endurance of the poor shall not perish for ever.”(4) Again: “Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, and yet looketh on the humble things that are in heaven and on earth!—who raiseth up the needy from off the ground, and out of the dunghill exalteth the poor; that He may set him with the princes of His people,”(5) that is, in His own kingdom. And likewise earlier, in the book of Kings,(6) Hannah the mother of Samuel gives glory to God in these words: “He raiseth the poor man from the ground, and the beggar, that He may set him amongst the princes of His people (that is, in His own kingdom), and on thrones of glory” (even royal ones).(7) And by Isaiah how He inveighs against the oppressors of the needy “What mean ye that ye set fire to my vineyard, and that the spoil of the poor is in your houses? Wherefore do ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the face of the needy?”(8) And again: “Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees; for in their decrees they decree wickedness, turning aside the needy from judgment, and taking away their rights from the poor of my people.”(9) These righteous judgments He requires for the fatherless also, and the widows, as well as for consolation(10) to the very needy themselves. “Do justice to the fatherless, and deal justly with the widow; and come, let us be reconciled,(11) saith the Lord.”(12) To him, for whom in every
stage of lowliness there is provided so much of the Creator’s compassionate regard, shall be given that kingdom also which is promised by Christ, to whose merciful compassion belong, and for a great while have belonged,(13) those to whom the promise is made. For even if you suppose that the promises of the Creator were earthly, but that Christ’s are heavenly, it is quite clear that heaven has been as yet the property of no other God whatever, than Him who owns the earth also; quite clear that the Creator has given even the lesser promises (of earthly blessing), in order that I may more readily believe Him concerning His greater promises (of heavenly blessings) also, than (Marcion’s god), who has never given proof of his liberality by any preceding bestowal of minor blessings. “Blessed are they that hunger, for they shall be filled.”(14) I might connect this clause with the former one, because none but the poor and needy suffer hunger, if the Creator had not specially designed that the promise of a similar blessing should serve as a preparation for the gospel, that so men might know it to be His.(15) For thus does He say, by Isaiah, concerning those whom He was about to call from the ends of the earth—that is, the Gentiles: “Behold, they shall come swiftly with speed:”(16) swiftly, because hastening towards the fulness of the times; with speed, because unclogged by the weights of the ancient law. They shall neither hunger nor thirst. Therefore they shall be filled,—a promise which is made to none but those who hunger and thirst. And again He says: “Behold, my servants shall be filled, but ye shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty.”(17) As for these oppositions, we shall see whether they are not premonitors of Christ.(18) Meanwhile the promise of fulness to the hungry is a provision of God the Creator. “Blessed are they that weep, for they shall laugh.”(19) Turn again to the passage of Isaiah: “Behold, my servants shall exult with joy, but ye shall be ashamed; behold, my servants shall be glad, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart.”(20) And recognise these oppositions also in the dispensation of Christ. Surely gladness and joyous exultation is promised to those who are in an opposite condition—to the sorrowful, and sad, and anxious. Just as it is said in the 125th Psalm: “They who sow in tears shall reap in joy.”(21) Moreover, laughter is as much an
accessory to the exulting and glad, as weeping is to the sorrowful and grieving. Therefore the Creator, in foretelling matters for laughter and tears, was the first who said that those who mourned should laugh. Accordingly, He who began (His course) with consolation for the poor, and the humble, and the hungry, and the weeping, was at once eager(1) to represent Himself as Him whom He had pointed out by the mouth of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the poor.”(2) “Blessed are the needy, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(3) “He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted.”(4) “Blessed are they that hunger, for they shall be filled.”(5) “To comfort all that mourn.”(6) “Blessed are they that weep, for they shall laugh.”(7) “To give unto them that mourn in Sion, beauty (or glory) for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”(8) Now since Christ, as soon as He entered on His course,(9) fulfilled such a ministration as this, He is either, Himself, He who predicted His own coming to do all this; or else if he is not yet come who predicted this, the charge to Marcion’s Christ must be a ridiculous one (although I should perhaps add a necessary(10) one), which bade him say, “Blessed shall ye be, when men shall bate you, and shall reproach you, and shall cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.”(11) In this declaration there is, no doubt, an exhortation to patience. Well, what did the Creator say otherwise by Isaiah? “Fear ye not the reproach of men, nor be diminished by their contempt.”(12) What reproach? what contempt? That which was to be incurred for the sake of the Son of man. What Son of man? He who (is come) according to the Creator’s will. Whence shall we get our proof? From the very cutting off, which was predicted against Him; as when He says by Isaiah to the Jews, who were the instigators of hatred against Him: “Because of you, my name is blasphemed amongst the Gentiles;”(13) and in another passage: “Lay the penalty on(14) Him who surrenders(15) His own life, who is held in contempt by the Gentiles, whether servants or magistrates.”(16) Now, since hatred was predicted against that Son of man who has His mission from the Creator, whilst the Gospel testifies that the name of Christians, as derived from Christ, was to be hated for the Son of man’s sake, because He is Christ, it determines the point that that was the Son of man in the matter of hatred who came according to the Creator’s purpose, and against whom the hatred was predicted. And even if He had not yet come, the hatred of His name which exists at the present day could not in any case have possibly preceded Him who was to bear the name.(17) But He has both suffered the penalty(18) in out presence, and surrendered His life, laying it down for our sakes, and is held in contempt by the Gentiles. And He who was born (into the world) will be that very Son of man on whose account our name also is rejected.
CHAP. XV.—SERMON ON THE MOUNT CONTINUED. ITS WOES IN STRICT AGREEMENT WITH THE CREATOR’S DISPOSITION. MANY QUOTATIONS OUT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IN PROOF OF THIS.
“In the like manner,” says He,(19) “did their fathers unto the prophets.” What a turncoat(20) is Marcion’s Christ! Now the destroyer, now the advocate of the prophets! He destroyed them as their rival, by converting their disciples; he took up their cause as their friend, by stigmatizing(21) their persecutors. But,(22) in as far as the defence of the prophets could not be consistent in the Christ of Marcion, who came to destroy them; in so far is it becoming to the Creator’s Christ that He should stigmatize those who persecuted the prophets, for He in all things accomplished their predictions. Again, it is more characteristic of the Creator to upbraid sons with their fathers’ sins, than it is of that god who chastizes no man for even his own misdeeds. But you will say, He cannot be regarded as defending the prophets simply because He wished to affirm the iniquity of the Jews for their impious dealings with their own prophets. Well, then, in this case,(23) no sin ought to have been charged against the Jews: they were rather deserving of praise and approbation when they maltreated(24 those whom
the absolutely good god of Marcion, after so long a time, bestirred himself(2) to destroy. I suppose, however, that by this time he bad ceased to be the absolutely good god;(2) he had now sojourned a considerable while even with the Creator, and was no longer (like) the god of Epicurus(3) purely and simply. For see how he condescends(4) to curse, and proves himself capable of taking offence and feeling anger! He actually pronounces a woe! But a doubt is raised against us as to the import of this word, as if it carried with it less the sense of a curse than of an admonition. Where, however, is the difference, since even an admonition is not given without the sting of a threat, especially when it is embittered with a woe? Moreover, both admonition and threatening will be the resources of him s who knows how to feel angry, For no one will forbid the doing of a thing with an admonition or a threat, except him who will inflict punishment for the doing of it. No one would inflict punishment, except him who was susceptible of anger. Others, again, admit that the word implies a curse; but they will have it that Christ pronounced the woe, not as if it were His own genuine feeling, but because the woe is from the Creator, and He wanted to set forth to them the severity of the Creator in order that He might the more commend His own long-suffering(6) in His beatitudes Just as if it were not competent to the Creator, in the pre-eminence of both His attributes as the good God and Judge, that, as He had made clemency(7) the preamble of His benediction so He should place severity in the sequel of His curses; thus fully developing His discipline in both directions, both in following out the blessing and in providing against the curse.(8) He had already said of old, “Behold, I have set before you blessing and cursing.”(9) Which statement was really a presage of(10) this temper of the gospel. Besides, what sort of being is that who, to insinuate a belief in his own goodness, invidiously contrasted(11) with it the Creator’s severity? Of little worth is the recommendation which has for its prop the defamation of another. And yet by thus setting forth the severity of the Creator, he, in fact, affirmed Him to be an object of fear.(12) Now if He be an object of fear, He is of course more worthy of being
obeyed than slighted; and thus Marcion’s Christ begins to teach favourably to the Creator’s interests.(13) Then, on the admission above mentioned, since the woe which has regard to the rich is the Creator’s, it follows that it is not Christ, but the Creator, who is angry with the rich; while Christ approves of(14) the incentives of the rich(15)—I mean, their pride, their pomp,(16) their love of the world, and their contempt of God, owing to which they deserve the woe of the Creator. But how happens it that the reprobation of the rich does not proceed from the same Gad who had just before expressed approbation of the poor? There is nobody but reprobates the opposite of that which he has approved. If, therefore, there be imputed to the Creator the woe pronounced against the rich, there must be claimed for Him also the promise of the blessing upon the poor; and thus the entire work of the Creator devolves on Christ.—If to Marcion’s god there be ascribed the blessing of the poor, he must also have imputed to him the malediction of the rich; and thus will he become the Creator’s equal,(17) both good and judicial; nor will there be left any room for that distinction whereby two gods are made; and when this distinction is removed, there will remain the verity which pronounces the Creator to be the one only God. Since, therefore, “woe” is a word indicative of malediction, or of some unusually austere(18) exclamation; and since it is by Christ uttered against the rich, I shall have to show that the Creator is also a despiser(19) of the rich, as I have shown Him to be the defender(20) of the poor, in order that I may prove Christ to be on the Creator’s side in this matter, even when He enriched Solomon.(21) But with respect to this man, since, when a choice was left to him, he preferred asking for what he knew to be well-pleasing to God—even wisdom—he further merited the attainment of the riches, which he did not prefer. The endowing of a man indeed with riches, is not an incongruity to God, for by the help of riches even rich men are comforted and assisted; moreover, by them many a work of justice and charity is carried out. But yet there are serious faults(22) which accompany riches; and it is because of these that woes are denounced on the rich, even in the Gospel. “Ye have received,” says He, “your consolation;”(23) that is, of course, from
their riches, in the pomps and vanities of the world which these purchase for them. Accordingly, in Deuteronomy, Moses says: “Lest, when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, as well as thy silver and thy gold, thine heart be then lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God.”(1) in similar terms, when king Hezekiah became proud of his treasures, and gloried in them rather than in God before those who had come on an embassy from Babylon,(2) (the Creator) breaks forth(3) against him by the mouth of Isaiah: “Behold, the days come when all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store, shall be carried to Babylon.”(4) So by Jeremiah likewise did He say: “Let not the rich man glory in his riches but let him that glorieth even glory in the Lord.”(5) Similarly against the daughters of Sion does He inveigh by Isaiah, when they were haughty through their pomp and the abundance of their riches,(6) just as in another passage He utters His threats against the proud and noble: “Hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth, and down to it shall descend the illustrious, and the great, and the rich (this shall be Christ’s ‘woe to the rich’); and man(7) shall be humbled,” even he that exalts himself with riches; “and the mighty man(8) shall be dishonoured,” even he who is mighty from his wealth.(9) Concerning whom He says again: “Behold, the Lord of hosts shall confound the pompous together with their strength: those that are lifted up shall be hewn down, and such as are lofty shall fall by the sword.”(10) And who are these but the rich? Because they have indeed received their consolation, glory, and honour and a lofty position from their wealth. In Ps. xlviii. He also turns off our care from these and says: “Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, and when his glory is increased: for when he shall die, he shall carry nothing away; nor shall his glory descend along with him.”(11) So also in Ps. lxi.: “Do not desire riches; and if they do yield you their lustre,(12) do not set your heart upon them.”(13) Lastly, this very same woe is pronounced of old by Amos against the rich, who also abounded in delights. “Woe unto them,” says he, “who
sleep upon beds of ivory, and deliciously stretch themselves upon their couches; who eat the kids from the flocks of the goats, and sucking calves from the flocks of the heifers, while they chant to the sound of the viol; as if they thought they should continue long, and were not fleeting; who drink their refined wines, and anoint themselves with the costliest ointments.”(14) Therefore, even if I could do nothing else than show that the Creator dissuades men from riches, without at the same time first condemning the rich, in the very same terms in which Christ also did, no one could doubt that, from the same authority, there was added a commination against the rich in that woe of Christ, from whom also had first proceeded the dissuasion against the material sin of these persons, that is, their riches. For such commination is the necessary sequel to such a dissuasive. He inflicts a woe also on “the full, because they shall hunger; on those too which laugh now,, because they shall mourn.”(15) To these will correspond these opposites which occur, as we have seen above, in the benedictions of the Creator: “Behold, my servants shall be full, but ye shall be hungry “—even because ye have been filled; “behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed”(16)—even ye who shall mourn, who now are laughing. For as it is written in the psalm, “They who sow in tears shall reap in joy,”(17) so does it run in the Gospel: They who sow in laughter, that is, in joy, shall reap in tears. These principles did the Creator lay down of old; and Christ has renewed them, by simply bringing them into prominent view,(18) not by making any change in them. “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”(19) With equal stress does the Creator, by His prophet Isaiah, censure those who seek after human flattery and praise: “O my people, they who call you happy mislead you, and disturb the paths of your feet.”(20) In another passage He forbids all implicit trust in man, and likewise in the applause of man; as by the prophet Jeremiah: “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.”(21) Whereas in Ps. cxvii. it is said: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man; it is better to trust in the Lord than to place hope in princes.”(22) Thus everything which is caught at by men is adjured by the Creator, down to their good
words.(1) It is as much His property to condemn the praise and flattering words bestowed on the false prophets by their fathers, as to condemn their vexatious and persecuting treatment of the (true) prophets. As the injuries suffered by the prophets could not be imputed(2) to their own God, so the applause bestowed on the false prophets could not have been displeasing to any other god but the God of the true prophets.
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 in-
terest 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 meas-
ure 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,