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ANF07. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily
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Chap. XVII.—Of the Superstitions of the Jews, and Their Hatred Against Jesus.

But they alleged other causes for their anger and envy, which they bore shut up706706     Intus inclusam. Another reading is, “Intus inclusâ malitia,” with malice shut up within.   within in their hearts—namely, that He destroyed the obligation707707     Solveret, “He loosened or relaxed.”   of the law given by Moses; that is, that He did not rest708708     Non vacaret.   on the Sabbath, but laboured for the good709709     Operans in salutem hominum, “by healing diseases and doing good.”   of men; that He abolished circumcision; that He took away the necessity of abstaining from the flesh of swine;710710     There is no mention of this in the Gospels.  —in which things the mysteries of the Jewish religion consist. On this account, therefore, the rest of the people, who had not yet withdrawn711711     Secesserat: “withdrawn themselves from the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees, and betaken themselves to Christ.”   to Christ, were incited by the priests to regard Him as impious, because He destroyed the obligation of the law of God, though He did this not by His own judgment, but according to the will of God, and after the predictions of the prophets. For Micah announced that He would give a new law, in these terms:712712     Mic. iv. 2, 3.   “The law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations.”713713     Some read, “evincet et deliget validas nationes;” but the reading “deliget” seems to have arisen from a corrupt reading of the Septuagint,—ἐκλέξει, “he shall choose,” having been substituted for ἐξελεγξει, “he shall rebuke.”   For the former law, which was given by Moses, was not given on Mount Zion, but on Mount Horeb;714714     The scene of the giving of the law is sometimes spoken of as Horeb, as Ex. iii., and sometimes as Sinai, as Ex. xix. The difficulty of discriminating the two is very great. See Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine [pp. 29, 32, 36–37, 40–42, etc. Robinson, vol. i. 177, 551.]   and the Sibyl shows that it would come to pass that this law would be destroyed by the Son of God:—  

“But when all these things which I told you shall be accomplished, then all the law is fulfilled with respect to Him.”

But even Moses himself, by whom the law was given which they so tenaciously maintain, though they have fallen away from God, and have not acknowledged God, had foretold that it would come to pass that a very great prophet would be sent by God, who should be above the law, and be a bearer of the will of God to men. In Deuteronomy he thus left it written:715715     Deut. xviii. 17–19.   “And the Lord said unto me, I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put my word in His mouth, and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. And whosoever will not hearken to those things which that Prophet shall speak in my name, I will require716716     Ego vindicabo in eum.   it of him.” The Lord evidently announced by the law-giver himself that He was about to send His own Son—that is, a law alive, and present717717     Vivam præsentemque legem.   in person, and destroy that old law given by a mortal,718718     Another reading is, “per Moysen,” by Moses.   that by Him who was eternal He might ratify afresh a law which was eternal.  

In like manner, Isaiah719719     The quotation is not from Isaiah, but from Jer. iv. 3, 4.   thus prophesied concerning the abolition of circumcision: “Thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah who dwell at Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord your God, and take away the foreskins of your heart, lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it.” Also Moses himself says:720720     Deut. xxx. 6.   “In the last days the Lord shall circumcise thine heart to love the Lord thy God.” Also Jesus721721     i.e., Joshua See Josh. v. 2.   the son of Nun, his successor, said: “And the Lord said unto Jesus, Make thee knives of flint very sharp, and sit and circumcise the children of Israel the second time.” He said that this second circumcision would be not of the flesh, as the first was, which the Jews practice even now, but of the heart and spirit, which was delivered by Christ, who was the true Jesus. For the prophet does not say, “And the Lord said unto me,” but “unto Jesus,” that he might show that God was not speaking of him, but of Christ, to whom God was then speaking. For that Jesus represented722722     “Figuram gerebat,” typified, or set forth as in a figure.   Christ: for when he was at first called Auses,723723     i.e., Osee, Oshea, or Hoshea, as Joshua was first called. See Num. xiii. 8. [But note Num. xiii. 16. The change was significant. See Pearson On the Creed, art. ii. 125–128. Thus, “Jehovah-Saviour” = Jesus, and the change was prophetic of “the Name which is above every name.” Compare Gen. xxxii. 29 and Phil. ii. 9, 10.]   Moses, foreseeing the future, ordered that he should be called Jesus; that since he had been chosen as the leader of the warfare against Amalek, who was the enemy of the children of Israel, he might both subdue the adversary by the emblem724724     Per figuram nominis. The name Jesus or Joshua signifies a deliverer or saviour. [Nay, more, Jehovah-Salvator, thus: Hoshea + Jah = Jehoshua = Joshua = Jesus.]   of the name, and lead the people into the land of promise. And for this reason he was also successor to Moses, to show that the new law given by Christ Jesus was about to succeed to the old law which was given by Moses. For that circumcision of the flesh is plainly irrational; since, if God had so willed it, He might so have formed man from the beginning, that he should be without a foreskin. But it was a figure of this second circumcision, signifying that the breast is to be laid bare; that is, that we ought to live with an open and simple heart, since that part of the body which is circumcised has a kind of resemblance to the heart, and is to be treated with reverence. On this account God ordered that it should be laid bare, that by this argument He might admonish us not to have our breast hidden725725     Involutum. Thus Seneca: “Non est tibi frons ficta, nec in alienam voluptatem sermo compositus, nec cor involutum.”   in obscurity; that is, not to veil any shameful deed within the secrets of conscience. This is the circumcision of the heart of which the prophets speak, which God transferred from the mortal flesh to the soul, which alone is about to endure. For being desirous of promoting our life and salvation in accordance with His own goodness, in that circumcision He hath set before us repentance, that if we lay open our hearts,—that is if we confess our sins and make satisfaction to God,—we shall obtain pardon, which is denied to those who are obstinate and conceal their faults, by Him who regards not the outward appearance, as man does, but the innermost secrets of the heart.726726     1 Sam. xvi. 7: “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”    

The forbidding of the flesh of swine also has the same intention; for when God commanded them to abstain from this, He willed that this should be especially understood, that they should abstain from sins and impurities. For this animal is filthy and unclean,727727     Lutulentum (besmeared with mud) “et immundum.” See 2 Pet. ii. 22.   and never looks up to heaven,728728     [“The swine gorges his acorns, and never looks up to the tree from which they fall,” as a parable of nature for swinish men.]   but prostrates itself to the earth with its whole body and face: it is always the slave of its appetite and food; nor during its life can it afford any other service, as the other animals do, which either afford a vehicle for riding,729729     Sedendi vehiculum.Sedeor” is sometimes used in this sense for riding.   or aid in the cultivation of the fields, or draw waggons by their neck, or carry burthens on their back, or furnish a covering with their skins,730730     Exuviis, used in the same sense as “pellibus.”   or abound with a supply of milk, or keep watch for guarding our houses. Therefore He forbade them to use the flesh of the pig for food, that is, not to imitate the life of swine, which are nourished only for death; lest, by devoting themselves to their appetite and pleasures, they should be useless for working righteousness, and should be visited with death. Also that they should not immerse themselves in foul lusts, as the sow, which wallows in the mire;731731     Ingurgitat cœno, “plunges into the mire.” [“Sus lota in volutabro luti.” 2 Pet. ii. 22, Vulgate.]   of that they do not serve earthly images, and thus defile themselves with mud: for they do bedaub themselves with mud who worship gods, that is, who worship mud and earth. Thus all the precepts of the Jewish law have for their object the setting forth of righteousness, since they are given in a mysterious732732     Per figuram. [This Typology has never yet been fully or satisfactorily treated. Yet the volumes of Dr. Fairbairn (Typology of Scripture, Clarks, Edin.) ought to be known to every Bible student.]   manner, that under the figure of carnal things those which are spiritual might be known.  


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