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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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Sec. II.—On the Formation of the Character of Believers, and on Giving of Thanks to God.

That We Ought Not to Despise Any of the Sorts of Food that are Set Before Us, But Gratefully and Orderly to Partake of Them.

XX. Now concerning the several sorts of food, the Lord says to thee, “Ye shall eat the good things of the earth;”34373437     Isa. i. 19   and, “All sorts of flesh shall ye eat, as the green herb;”34383438     Gen. ix. 3   but, “Thou shalt pour out the blood.”34393439     Deut. xv. 23   For “not those things that go into the mouth, but those that come out of it, defile a man;”34403440     Matt. xv. 11   I mean blasphemies, evil-speaking, and if there be any other thing of the like nature.34413441     Mark vii. 22   But “do thou eat the fat of the land with righteousness.”34423442     Zech. ix. 17   For “if there be anything pleasant, it is His; and if there be anything good, it is His. Wheat for the young men, and wine to cheer the maids.” For “who shall eat or who shall drink without Him?”34433443     Eccles. ii. 25, LXX.   Wise Ezra34443444     The words from “Wise Ezra” to “sorrowful” are not in one V. ms.   does also admonish thee and say: “Go your way, and eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and be not sorrowful.”34453445     Neh. viii. 10.    

That We Ought to Avoid the Eating of Things Offered to Idols.

XXI. But do ye abstain from things offered to idols;34463446     1 Cor. x. 20.   for they offer them in honour of demons, that is, to the dishonour of the one God, that ye may not become partners with demons.  

A Constitution of Our Lord, How We Ought to Baptize, and into Whose Death.

XXII. Now concerning baptism,34473447     [Comp., with this chapter, Teaching, chap. vii.—R.]   O bishop, or presbyter, we have already given direction, and we now say, that thou shalt so baptize as the Lord commanded us, saying: “Go ye, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you):”34483448     Matt. xxviii. 19.   of the Father who sent, of Christ who came, of the Comforter who testified. But thou shalt beforehand anoint the person with the holy oil, and afterward baptize him with the water, and in the conclusion shall seal him with the ointment; that the anointing with oil may be the participation of the Holy Spirit, and the water the symbol of the death of Christ, and the ointment the seal of the covenants. But if there be neither oil nor ointment, water is sufficient both for the anointing, and for the seal, and for the confession of Him that is dead, or indeed is dying together with Christ. But before baptism, let him that is to be baptized fast; for even the Lord, when He was first baptized by John, and abode in the wilderness, did afterward fast forty days and forty nights.34493449     Matt. iii., iv.   But He was baptized, and then fasted, not having Himself any need of cleansing, or of fasting, or of purgation, who was by nature pure and holy; but that He might testify the truth to John, and afford an example to us. Wherefore our Lord was not baptized into His own passion, or death, or resurrection—for none of those things had then happened—but for another purpose. Wherefore He by His own authority fasted after His baptism, as being the Lord of John. But he who is to be initiated into His death ought first to fast, and then to be baptized. For it is not reasonable that he who has been buried with Christ, and is risen again with Him, should appear dejected at His very resurrection. For man is not lord of our Saviour’s constitution, since one is the Master and the other the servant.  

Which Days of the Week We are to Fast, and Which Not, and for What Reasons.

XXIII. But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites;34503450     [Comp. the few but remarkable resemblances of Teaching, chap. viii., with chaps. xxiii., xxiv., here.—R.]   for they fast on the second and fifth days of the week. But do you either fast the entire five days, or on the fourth day of the week, and on the day of the Preparation, because on the fourth day the condemnation went out against the Lord, Judas then promising to betray Him for money; and you must fast on the day of the Preparation, because on that day the Lord suffered the death of the cross under Pontius Pilate. But keep the Sabbath, and the Lord’s day festival; because the former is the memorial of the creation, and the latter of the resurrection. But there is one only Sabbath to be observed by you in the whole year, which is that of our Lord’s burial, on which men ought to keep a fast, but not a festival. For inasmuch as the Creator was then under the earth, the sorrow for Him is more forcible than the joy for the creation; for the Creator is more honourable by nature and dignity than His own creatures.  

What Sort of People Ought to Pray that Prayer that Was Given by the Lord.

XXIV. Now, “when ye pray, be not ye as the hypocrites;”34513451     Matt. vi. 5   but as the Lord has appointed us in the Gospel, so pray ye: “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth; give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Thine is the kingdom for ever. Amen.”34523452     Matt. vi. 9,. etc.   Pray thus thrice in a day, preparing yourselves beforehand, that ye may be worthy of the adoption of the Father; lest, when you call Him Father unworthily, you be reproached by Him, as Israel once His first-born son was told: “If I be a Father, where is my glory? And if I be a Lord, where is my fear?”34533453     Mal. i. 6.   For the glory of fathers is the holiness of their children, and the honour of masters is the fear of their servants, as the contrary is dishonour and confusion. For says He: “Through you my name is blasphemed among the Gentiles.”34543454     Isa. lii. 5.    

A Mystical Thanksgiving.

XXXV. Be ye always thankful, as faithful and honest servants; and concerning the eucharistical thanksgiving say thus:34553455     [See the eucharistic prayer in Teaching, chap. ix. The correspondences and divergences are alike interesting.—R.]   We thank Thee, our Father, for that life which Thou hast made known to us by Jesus Thy Son, by whom Thou madest all things, and takest care of the whole world; whom Thou hast sent to become man for our salvation; whom Thou hast permitted to suffer and to die; whom Thou hast raised up, and been pleased to glorify, and hast set Him down on Thy right hand; by whom Thou hast promised us the resurrection of the dead. Do thou, O Lord Almighty, everlasting God, so gather together Thy Church from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom, as this corn was once scattered, and is now become one loaf. We also, our Father, thank Thee for the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed for us and for His precious body, whereof we celebrate this representation, as Himself appointed us, “to show forth His death.”34563456     1 Cor. xi. 26.   For through Him glory is to be given to Thee for ever. Amen. Let no one eat of these things that is not initiated; but those only who have been baptized into the death of the Lord. But if any one that is not initiated conceal himself, and partake of the same, “he eats eternal damnation;”34573457     1 Cor. xi. 59.[See Elucidation I. p. 382, supra.]   because, being not of the faith of Christ, he has partaken of such things as it is not lawful for him to partake of, to his own punishment. But if any one is a partaker through ignorance, instruct him quickly, and initiate him, that he may not go out and despise you.  

A Thanksgiving at the Divine Participation.

XXVI. After the participation,34583458     [Comp. Teaching, chap. x.—R.]   give thanks in this manner: We thank thee, O God and Father of Jesus our Saviour, for Thy holy name, which Thou hast made to inhabit among us; and that knowledge, faith, love, and immortality which Thou hast given us through Thy Son Jesus. Thou, O Almighty Lord, the God of the universe, hast created the world, and the things that are therein, by Him; and hast planted a law in our souls, and beforehand didst prepare things for the convenience of men. O God of our holy and blameless fathers, Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, Thy faithful servants; Thou, O God, who art powerful, faithful, and true, and without deceit in Thy promises; who didst send upon earth Jesus Thy Christ to live with men, as a man, when He was God the Word, and man, to take away error by the roots: do Thou even now, through Him, be mindful of this Thy holy Church, which Thou hast purchased with the precious blood of Thy Christ, and deliver it from all evil, and perfect it in Thy love and Thy truth, and gather us all together into Thy kingdom which Thou hast prepared. Let this Thy kingdom come.34593459     [“Maran atha,” as in Teaching.—R.]   “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord”34603460     1 Cor. xvi. 22; Matt. xxi. 9; Mark xi. 10 [Comp. John xii. 13.—R.]  —God the Lord, who was manifested to us in the flesh. If any one be holy, let him draw near; but if any one be not such, let him become such by repentance. Permit also to your presbyters to give thanks.  

A Thanksgiving About the Mystical Ointment.

XXVII. Concerning the ointment give thanks in this manner: We give Thee thanks, O God, the Creator of the whole world, both for the flagrancy of the ointment, and for the immortality which Thou hast made known to us by Thy Son Jesus. For Thine is the glory and the power for ever. Amen. Whosoever comes to you,34613461     [Comp. Teaching, chap. xi., where, however, only a few phrases correspond. R.]   and gives thanks in this manner, receive him as a disciple of Christ. But if he preach another doctrine, different from that which Christ by us has delivered to you, such a one you must not permit to give thanks; for such a one rather affronts God than glorifies Him.  

That We Ought Not to Be Indifferent About Communicating.

XXVIII. But whosoever comes to you, let him be first examined, and then received: for ye have understanding, and are able to know the right hand from the left,34623462     [This sentence is found in Teaching, chap. xii.—R.]   and to distinguish false teachers from true teachers. But when a teacher comes to you, supply him with what he wants with all readiness. And even when a false teacher comes, you shall give him for his necessity, but shall not receive his error. Nor indeed may ye pray together with him, lest ye be polluted as well as he. Every true prophet or teacher34633463     [Part of this sentence has a parallel in Teaching, chap. xiii., but there is an obvious difference of circumstances. Chap. xxix. presents more parallel passages.—R.]   that comes to you is worthy of his maintenance, as being a labourer in the word of righteousness.34643464     Matt. x. 41.    

A Constitution Concerning Oblations.

XXIX. All the first-fruits of the winepress, the threshing-floor, the oxen, and the sheep, shalt thou give to the priests,34653465     Num. xviii.   that thy storehouses and garners and the products of thy land may be blessed, and thou mayst be strengthened with corn and wine and oil, and the herds of thy cattle and flocks of thy sheep may be increased. Thou shalt give the tenth of thy increase to the orphan, and to the widow, and to the poor, and to the stranger. All the first-fruits of thy hot bread, of thy barrels of wine, or oil, or honey, or nuts, or grapes, or the first-fruits of other things, shalt thou give to the priests; but those of silver, and of garments, and of all sort of possessions, to the orphan and to the widow.  

How We Ought to Assemble Together, and to Celebrate the Festival Day of Our Saviour’s Resurrection.

XXX. On the day of the resurrection of the Lord,34663466     [The resemblance to Teaching, chap. xiv., is marked.—R.]   that is, the Lord’s day, assemble yourselves together, without fail, giving thanks to God, and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ, and has delivered you from ignorance, error, and bondage, that your sacrifice may be unspotted, and acceptable to God, who has said concerning His universal Church: “In every place shall incense and a pure sacrifice be offered unto me; for I am a great King, saith the Lord Almighty, and my name is wonderful among the heathen.”34673467     Mal. i. 11, 14.    

What Qualifications They Ought to Have Who are to Be Ordained.

XXXI. Do you first ordain bishops worthy of the Lord,34683468     [Comp. text and notes, Teaching, chap. xv.—R.]   and presbyters and deacons, pious men, righteous, meek, free from the love of money, lovers of truth, approved, holy, not accepters of persons, who are able to teach the word of piety, and rightly dividing the doctrines of the Lord.34693469     2 Tim. ii. 15.   And do ye honour such as your fathers, as your lords, as your benefactors, as the causes of your well-being. Reprove ye one another, not in anger, but in mildness, with kindness and peace. Observe all things that are commanded you by the Lord. Be watchful for your life.34703470     [This clause is found verbatim in Teaching, chap. xvi. There is a resemblance also, in order of topics, from this point down to the phrase “above the clouds;” see chap. xxxii. No further correspondences appear.—R.]   “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye like unto men who wait for their Lord, when He will come, at even, or in the morning, or at cock-crowing, or at midnight. For at what hour they think not, the Lord will come; and if they open to Him, blessed are those servants, because they were found watching. For He will gird Himself, and will make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.”34713471     Luke xii. 35, 37; Mark xiii. 35.   Watch therefore, and pray, that ye do not sleep unto death. For your former good deeds will not profit you, if at the last part of your life you go astray from the true faith.  

A Prediction Concerning Futurities.

XXXII. For in the last days false prophets shall be multiplied, and such as corrupt the word; and the sheep shall be changed into wolves, and love into hatred: for through the abounding of iniquity the love of many shall wax cold. For men shall hate, and persecute, and betray one another. And then shall appear the deceiver of the world, the enemy of the truth, the prince of lies,34723472     2 Thess. ii.   whom the Lord Jesus “shall destroy with the spirit of His mouth, who takes away the wicked with His lips; and many shall be offended at Him. But they that endure to the end, the same shall be saved. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven;”34733473     Isa. xi. 4; Matt. xxiv.   and afterwards shall be the voice of a trumpet by the archangel;34743474     1 Thess. iv. 16.   and in that interval shall be the revival of those that were asleep. And then shall the Lord come, and all His saints with Him,34753475     [Zech. xiv. 5.—R.]   with a great concussion above the clouds, with the angels of His power,34763476     Matt. xvi. 27.   in the throne of His kingdom, to condemn the devil, the deceiver of the world, and to render to every one according to his deeds. “Then shall the wicked go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous shall go into life eternal,”34773477     Matt. xxv. 46.   to inherit those things “which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, such things as God hath prepared for them that love Him;”34783478     1 Cor. ii. 9.   and they shall rejoice in the kingdom of God, which is in Christ Jesus. Since we are vouchsafed such great blessings from Him, let us become His suppliants, and call upon Him by continual prayer, and say:—  

A Prayer Declarative of God’s Various Providence.

XXXIII. Our eternal Saviour, the King of gods, who alone art almighty, and the Lord, the God of all beings, and the God of our holy and blameless fathers, and of those before us; the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob; who art merciful and compassionate, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy; to whom every heart is naked, and by whom every heart is seen, and to whom every secret thought is revealed: to Thee do the souls of the righteous cry aloud, upon Thee do the hopes of the godly trust, Thou Father of the blameless, Thou hearer of the supplication of those that call upon Thee with uprightness, and who knowest the supplications that are not uttered: for Thy providence reaches as far as the inmost parts of mankind; and by Thy knowledge Thou searchest the thoughts of every one, and in every region of the whole earth the incense of prayer and supplication is sent up to Thee. O Thou who hast appointed this present world as a place of combat to righteousness, and hast opened to all the gate of mercy, and hast demonstrated to every man by implanted knowledge, and natural judgment, and the admonitions of the law, how the possession of riches is not everlasting, the ornament of beauty is not perpetual, our strength and force are easily dissolved; and that all is vapour and vanity; and that only the good conscience of faith unfeigned passes through the midst of the heavens, and returning with truth, takes hold of the right hand of the joy34793479     A conjecture of Cotelerius is adopted. The mss. read “nourishment” instead of “joy.”   which is to come. And withal, before the promise of the restoration of all things is accomplished, the soul itself exults in hope, and is joyful. For from that truth which was in our forefather Abraham, when he changed his way Thou didst guide him by a vision, and didst teach him what kind of state this world is; and knowledge went before his faith, and faith was the consequence of his knowledge; and the covenant did follow after his faith. For Thou saidst: “I will make thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is by the seashore.”34803480     Gen. xiii. 16, xxii. 17.   Moreover, when Thou hadst given him Isaac, and knewest him to be like him in his mode of life, Thou wast then called his God, saying: “I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee.”34813481     Gen. xxvi. 3.   And when our father Jacob was sent into Mesopotamia, Thou showedst him Christ, and by him speakest, saying: “Behold, I am with thee, and I will increase thee, and multiply thee exceedingly.”34823482     Gen. xvii. 7, xxviii. 15, xlviii. 4.   And so spakest Thou to Moses, Thy faithful and holy servant, at the vision of the bush: “I am He that is; this is my name for ever, and my memorial for generations of generations.”34833483     Ex. iii. 14, 15.   O Thou great protector of the posterity of Abraham, Thou art blessed for ever.  

A Prayer Declarative of God’s Various Creation.

XXXIV. Thou art blessed, O Lord, the King of ages, who by Christ hast made the whole world, and by Him in the beginning didst reduce into order the disordered parts; who dividedst the waters from the waters by a firmament, and didst put into them a spirit of life; who didst fix the earth, and stretch out the heaven, and didst dispose every creature by an accurate constitution. For by Thy power, O Lord, the world is beautified, the heaven is fixed as an arch over us, and is rendered illustrious with stars for our comfort in the darkness. The light also and the sun were begotten for days and the production of fruit, and the moon for the change of seasons, by its increase and diminutions; and one was called Night, and the other Day. And the firmament was exhibited in the midst of the abyss, and Thou commandedst the waters to be gathered together, and the dry land to appear. But as for the sea itself, who can possibly describe it, which comes with fury from the ocean, yet runs back again, being stopped by the sand at Thy command? For Thou hast said: “Thereby shall her waves be broken.”34843484     Job xxxviii. 11.   Thou hast also made it capable of supporting little and great creatures, and made it navigable for ships. Then did the earth become green, and was planted with all sorts of flowers, and the variety of several trees; and the shining luminaries, the nourishers of those plants, preserve their unchangeable course, and in nothing depart from Thy command. But where Thou biddest them, there do they rise and set for signs of the seasons and of the years, making a constant return of the work of men. Afterwards the kinds of the several animals were created—those belonging to the land, to the water, to the air, and both to air and water; and the artificial wisdom of Thy providence does still impart to every one a suitable providence. For as He was not unable to produce different kinds, so neither has He disdained to exercise a different providence towards every one. And at the conclusion of the creation Thou gavest direction to Thy Wisdom, and formedst a reasonable creature as the citizen of the world, saying, “Let us make man after our image, and after our likeness;”34853485     Gen. i. 26.   and hast exhibited him as the ornament of the world, and formed him a body out of the four elements, those primary bodies, but hadst prepared a soul out of nothing, and bestowedst upon him his five senses, and didst set over his sensations a mind as the conductor of the soul. And besides all these things, O Lord God, who can worthily declare the motion of the rainy clouds, the shining of the lightning, the noise of the thunder, in order to the supply of proper food, and the most agreeable temperature of the air? But when man was disobedient, Thou didst deprive him of the life which should have been his reward. Yet didst Thou not destroy him for ever, but laidst him to sleep for a time; and Thou didst by oath call him to a resurrection, and loosedst the bond of death, O Thou reviver of the dead, through Jesus Christ, who is our hope.  

A Prayer, with Thanksgiving, Declarative of God’s Providence Over the Beings He Has Made.

XXXV. Great art thou, O Lord Almighty, and great is Thy power, and of Thy understanding there is no number. Our Creator and Saviour, rich in benefits, long-suffering, and the bestower of mercy, who dost not take away Thy salvation from Thy creatures: for Thou art good by nature, and sparest sinners, and invitest them to repentance; for admonition is the effect of Thy bowels of compassion. For how should we abide if we were required to come to judgment immediately, when, after so much long-suffering, we hardly get clear of our miserable condition? The heavens declare Thy dominion, and the earth shakes with earthquakes, and, hanging upon nothing, declares Thy unshaken stedfastness. The sea raging with waves, and feeding a flock of ten thousand creatures, is bounded with sand, as standing in awe at Thy command, and compels all men to dry out: “How great are Thy works, O Lord! in wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy creation.”34863486     Ps. civ. 24.   And the bright host of angels and the intellectual spirits say to Palmoni,34873487     [i.e., “the wonderful Numberer;” Eng., marg.]   “There is but one holy Being;”34883488     Dan. viii. 13. [Not according to Heb. nor LXX. as now.]   and the holy seraphim, together with the six-winged cherubim, who sing to Thee their triumphal song, cry out with never-ceasing voices, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts! heaven and earth are full of Thy glory;”34893489     Isa. vi. 3.   and the other multitudes of the orders, angels archangels, thrones, dominions, principalities, authorities, and powers cry aloud, and say, “Blessed be the glory of the Lord out of His place.”34903490     Ezek. iii. 12.   But Israel, Thy Church on earth, taken out of the Gentiles, emulating the heavenly powers night and day, with a full heart and a willing soul sings, “The chariot of God is ten thousandfold thousands of them that rejoice: the Lord is among them in Sinai, in the holy place.”34913491     Ps. lxvii. 17.   The heaven knows Him who fixed it as a cube of stone, in the form of an arch, upon nothing, who united the land and water to one another, and scattered the vital air all abroad, and conjoined fire therewith for warmth, and the comfort against darkness. The choir of stars strikes us with admiration, declaring Him that numbers them, and showing Him that names them; the animals declare Him that puts life into them; the trees show Him that makes them grow: all which creatures, being made by Thy word, show forth the greatness of Thy power. Wherefore every man ought to send up an hymn from his very soul to Thee, through Christ, in the name of all the rest, since He has power over them all by Thy appointment. For Thou art kind in Thy benefits, and beneficent in Thy bowels of compassion, who alone art almighty: for when Thou willest, to be able is present with Thee; for Thy eternal power both quenches flame, and stops the mouths of lions, and tames whales, and raises up the sick, and overrules the power of all things, and overturns the host of enemies, and casts down a people numbered in their arrogance. Thou art He who art in heaven, He who art on earth, He who art in the sea, He who art in finite things, Thyself unconfined by anything. For of Thy majesty there is no boundary; for it is not ours, O Lord, but the oracle of Thy servant, who said, “And thou shalt know in thine heart that the Lord thy God He is God in heaven above, and on earth beneath, and there is none other besides Thee:”34923492     Deut. iv. 39.   for there is no God besides Thee alone, there is none holy besides Thee, the Lord, the God of knowledge, the God of the saints, holy above all holy beings; for they are sanctified by Thy hands. Thou art glorious, and highly exalted, invisible by nature, and unsearchable in Thy judgments; whose life is without want, whose duration can never alter or fail, whose operation is without toil, whose greatness is unlimited, whose excellency is perpetual, whose habitation is inaccessible, whose dwelling is unchangeable, whose knowledge is without beginning, whose truth is immutable, whose work is without assistants, whose dominion cannot be taken away, whose monarchy is without succession, whose kingdom is without end, whose strength is irresistible, whose army is very numerous: for Thou art the Father of wisdom, the Creator of the creation, by a Mediator, as the cause; the Bestower of providence, the Giver of laws, the Supplier of want, the Punisher of the ungodly, and the Rewarder of the righteous; the God and Father of Christ, and the Lord of those that are pious towards Him, whose promise is infallible, whose judgment without bribes, whose sentiments are immutable, whose piety is incessant, whose thanksgiving is everlasting, through whom34933493     One V. ms. reads, “with whom.”   adoration is worthily due to Thee from every rational and holy nature.  

A Prayer Commemorative of the Incarnation of Christ, and His Various Providence to the Saints.

XXXVI. O Lord Almighty Thou hast created the world by Christ, and hast appointed the Sabbath in memory thereof, because that on that day Thou hast made us rest from our works, for the meditation upon Thy laws. Thou hast also appointed festivals for the rejoicing of our souls, that we might come into the remembrance of that wisdom which was created by Thee; how He submitted to be made of a woman on our account;34943494     Prov. viii. 22, LXX.   He appeared in life, and demonstrated Himself in His baptism; how He that appeared is both God and man; He suffered for us by Thy permission, and died, and rose again by Thy power: on which account we solemnly assemble to celebrate the feast of the resurrection on the Lord’s day, and rejoice on account of Him who has conquered death, and has brought life and immortality to light. For by Him Thou hast brought home the Gentiles to Thyself for a peculiar people, the true Israel beloved of God, and seeing God. For Thou O Lord, broughtest our fathers out of the land of Egypt, and didst deliver them out of the iron furnace, from clay and brick-making, and didst redeem them out of the hands of Pharaoh, and of those under him, and didst lead them through the sea as through dry land, and didst bear their manners in the wilderness, and bestow on them all sorts of good things. Thou didst give them the law or decalogue, which was pronounced by Thy voice and written with Thy hand. Thou didst enjoin the observation of the Sabbath, not affording them an occasion of idleness, but an opportunity of piety, for their knowledge of Thy power, and the prohibition of evils; having limited them as within an holy circuit for the sake of doctrine, for the rejoicing upon the seventh period. On this account was there appointed one week, and seven weeks, and the seventh month, and the seventh year, and the revolution of these, the jubilee, which is the fiftieth year for remission, that men might have no occasion to pretend ignorance.34953495     Lev. xxiii., xxv.   On this account He permitted men every Sabbath to rest, that so no one might be willing to send one word out of his mouth in anger on the day of the Sabbath. For the Sabbath is the ceasing of the creation, the completion of the world, the inquiry after laws, and the grateful praise to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon men. All which the Lord’s day excels,34963496     [Vol. vi. p. 149, note 8, this series.]   and shows the Mediator Himself, the Provider, the Lawgiver, the Cause of the resurrection, the First-born of the whole creation, God the Word, and man, who was born of Mary alone, without a man, who lived holily, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and died, and rose again from the dead. So that the Lord’s day commands us to offer unto Thee, O Lord, thanksgiving for all.34973497     [Justin Martyr, vol. i. p. 186, this series.]   For this is the grace afforded by Thee, which on account of its greatness has obscured all other blessings.  

A Prayer Containing the Memorial of His Providence, and an Enumeration of the Various Benefits Afforded the Saints by the Providence of God Through Christ.

XXXVII. Thou who hast fulfilled Thy promises made by the prophets, and hast had mercy on Zion, and compassion on Jerusalem, by exalting the throne of David, Thy servant, in the midst of her, by the birth of Christ, who was born of his seed according to the flesh, of a virgin alone; do Thou now, O Lord God, accept the prayers which proceed from the lips of Thy people which are of the Gentiles, which call upon Thee in truth, as Thou didst accept of the gifts of the righteous in their generations. In the first place Thou did respect the sacrifice of Abel,34983498     Gen. iv.   and accept it as Thou didst accept of the sacrifice of Noah when he went out of the ark;34993499     Gen. viii.   of Abraham, when he went out of the land of the Chaldeans;35003500     Gen. xii.   of Isaac at the Well of the Oath;35013501     Gen. xxvi   of Jacob in Bethel;35023502     Gen. xxxv   of Moses in the desert;35033503     Ex. iii   of Aaron between the dead and the living;35043504     Num. xvi.   of Joshua the son of Nun in Gilgal;35053505     Josh. v.   of Gideon at the rock, and the fleeces, before his sin;35063506     Judg. vi., viii.   of Manoah and his wife in the field; of Samson in his thirst before the transgression;35073507     Judg. xiii., xv., xvi.   of Jephtha in the war before his rash vow; of Barak and Deborah in the days of Sisera;35083508     Judg. xi., iv.   of Samuel in Mizpeh;35093509     1 Sam. vii.   of David in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite;35103510     1 Chron. xxi.   of Solomon in Gibeon and in Jerusalem:35113511     1 Kings iii., viii.   of Elijah in Mount Carmel;35123512     1 Kings xviii.   of Elisha at the barren fountain;35133513     2 Kings ii.   of Jehoshaphat in war;35143514     2 Chron. xviii.   of Hezekiah in his sickness, and concerning Sennacherib;35153515     2 Kings xx., xix. [Curiously enough, the chronological order, according to the best recent authorities, is that indicated above; the sickness (2 Kings xx.) preceded the invasion of Sennacherib (chap. xix.). Monumental evidence confirms this view.—R.]   of Manasseh in the land of the Chaldeans, after his transgression;35163516     2 Chron. xxxiii.   of Josiah in Phassa;35173517     2 Chron. xxxv. Cotelerius conjectures “in his Passover,” instead of “in Phassa.” [A very probable textual emendation.—R.]   of Ezra at the return;35183518     Ezra viii.   of Daniel in the den of lions;35193519     Dan. vi. 16.   of Jonah in the whale’s belly;35203520     Jonah ii.   of the three children in the fiery furnace;35213521     Dan. iii.   of Hannah in the tabernacle before the ark;35223522     1 Sam. i.   of Nehemiah at the rebuilding of the walls;35233523     Neh. iii   of Zerubbabel; of Mattathias and his sons in their zeal;35243524     1 Macc. i.,. etc.   of Jael in blessings. Now also do Thou receive the prayers of Thy people which are offered to Thee with knowledge, through Christ in the Spirit.  

A Prayer for the Assistance of the Righteous.

XXXVIII. We give Thee thanks for all things, O Lord Almighty, that Thou hast not taken away Thy mercies and Thy compassions from us; but in every succeeding generation Thou dost save, and deliver, and assist, and protect: for Thou didst assist in the days of Enos and Enoch, in the days of Moses and Joshua, in the days of the judges, in the days of Samuel and of Elijah and of the prophets, in the days of David and of the kings, in the days of Esther and Mordecai, in the days of Judith, in the days of Judas Maccabeus and his brethren, and in our days hast Thou assisted us by Thy great High Priest, Jesus Christ Thy Son. For He has delivered us from the sword, and hath freed us from famine, and sustained us; has delivered us from sickness, has preserved us from an evil tongue. For all which things do we give Thee thanks through Christ, who has given us an articulate voice to confess withal, and added to it a suitable tongue as an instrument to modulate withal, and a proper taste, and a suitable touch, and a sight for contemplation, and the hearing of sounds, and the smelling of vapours, and hands for work, and feet for walking. And all these members dost Thou form from a little drop in the womb; and after the formation dost Thou bestow on it an immortal soul, and producest it into the light as a rational creature, even man. Thou hast instructed him by Thy laws, improved him by Thy statutes; and when Thou bringest on a dissolution for a while, Thou hast promised a resurrection. Wherefore what life is sufficient, what length of ages will be long enough, for men to be thankful? To do it worthily it is impossible, but to do it according to our ability is just and right. For Thou hast delivered us from the impiety of polytheism, and from the heresy of the murderers of Christ; Thou hast delivered us from error and ignorance; Thou hast sent Christ among men as a man, being the only begotten God; Thou hast made the Comforter to inhabit among us; Thou hast set angels over us; Thou hast put the devil to shame; Thou hast brought us into being when we were not. Thou takest care of us when made; Thou measurest out life to us; Thou affordest us food; Thou hast promised repentance. Glory and worship be to Thee for all these things, through Jesus Christ,35253525     One V. ms. reads, “with Christ and the Holy Spirit.”   now and ever, and through all ages. Amen. Meditate on these things, brethren; and the Lord be With you upon earth, and in the kingdom of His Father, who both sent Him, and has “delivered us by Him from the bondage of corruption into His glorious liberty;”35263526     Rom. viii. 21.   and has promised life to those who through Him have believed in the God of the whole world.  


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