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247Chapter VIII.—Christ’s Word, Seek, and Ye Shall Find, No Warrant for Heretical Deviations from the Faith. All Christ’s Words to the Jews are for Us, Not Indeed as Specific Commands, But as Principles to Be Applied.

I come now to the point which (is urged both by our own brethren and by the heretics). Our brethren adduce it as a pretext for entering on curious inquiries,19301930    Curiositatem. and the heretics insist on it for importing the scrupulosity (of their unbelief).19311931    Scrupulositatem, “hair-splitting.” It is written, they say, “Seek, and ye shall find.”19321932    Matt. vii. 7. Let us remember at what time the Lord said this. I think it was at the very outset of His teaching, when there was still a doubt felt by all whether He were the Christ, and when even Peter had not yet declared Him to be the Son of God, and John (Baptist) had actually ceased to feel assurance about Him.19331933    See our translation of the Anti-Marcion, iv. 18 (infra), and Tertullian’s treatise, de Bapt. x. With good reason, therefore, was it then said, “Seek, and ye shall find,” when inquiry was still be to made of Him who was not yet become known. Besides, this was said in respect of the Jews. For it is to them that the whole matter19341934    Sermo. of this reproof19351935    Suggillationis. pertains, seeing that they had (a revelation) where they might seek Christ.

“They have,” says He, “Moses and Elias,”19361936    Luke xvi. 29.—in other words, the law and the prophets, which preach Christ; as also in another place He says plainly, “Search the Scriptures, in which ye expect (to find) salvation; for they testify of me;”19371937    John v. 39. which will be the meaning of “Seek, and ye shall find.” For it is clear that the next words also apply to the Jews: “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”19381938    Matt. vii. 7. The Jews had formerly been in covenant with19391939    Penes. God; but being afterwards cast off on account of their sins, they began to be19401940    Or, “were for the first time.” without God. The Gentiles, on the contrary, had never been in covenant with God; they were only as “a drop from a bucket,” and “as dust from the threshing floor,”19411941    Isa. xl. 15. and were ever outside the door. Now, how shall he who was always outside knock at the place where he never was? What door does he know of, when he has passed through none, either by entrance or ejection?  Is it not rather he who is aware that he once lived within and was thrust out, that (probably) found the door and knocked thereat? In like manner, “Ask, and ye shall receive,”19421942    Matt. vii. 7. is suitably said19431943    Competit. to one who was aware from whom he ought to ask,—by whom also some promise had been given; that is to say, “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.” Now, the Gentiles knew nothing either of Him, or of any of His promises. Therefore it was to Israel that he spake when He said, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”19441944    Matt. xv. 24. Not yet had He “cast to the dogs the children’s bread;”19451945    Ver. 26. not yet did He charge them to “go into the way of the Gentiles.”19461946    Matt. x. 5. It is only at the last that He instructs them to “go and teach all nations, and baptize them,”19471947    Matt. xxviii. 19. when they were so soon to receive “the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, who should guide them into all the truth.”19481948    John xvi. 13. And this, too, makes towards the same conclusion. If the apostles, who were ordained19491949    Destinati. to be teachers to the Gentiles, were themselves to have the Comforter for their teacher, far more needless19501950    Multo magis vacabat. was it to say to us, “Seek, and ye shall find,” to whom was to come, without research,19511951    Ultro. our instruction19521952    Doctrina. by the apostles, and to the apostles themselves by the Holy Ghost. All the Lord’s sayings, indeed, are set forth for all men; through the ears of the Jews have they passed on to us. Still most of them were addressed to Jewish persons;19531953    In personas, i.e., Judæorum (Oehler). they therefore did not constitute instruction properly designed19541954    Proprietatem admonitionis. for ourselves, but rather an example.19551955    “That is, not a specific command” primarily meant for us, but a principle “to be applied by us” (Dodgson).


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