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Faustus states his objections to the morality of the law and the prophets, and Augustin seeks by the application of the type and the allegory to explain away the moral difficulties of the Old Testament.
1. Faustus said: You ask why we blaspheme the law and the prophets. We are so far from professing or feeling any hostility to the law and the prophets, that we are ready, if you will allow us, to declare the falsehood of all the writings which make the law and the prophets appear objectionable. But this you refuse to admit, and by maintaining the authority of your writers, you bring a perhaps unmerited reproach upon the prophets; you slander the patriarchs, and dishonor the law. You are so unreasonable as to deny that your writers are false, while you uphold the piety and sanctity of those who are described in these writings as guilty of the worst crimes, and as leading wicked lives. These opinions are inconsistent; for either these were bad characters, or the writers were untruthful.
2. Supposing, then, that we agree in condemning the writers, we may succeed in vindicating the law and the prophets. By the law must be understood not circumcision, or Sabbaths, or sacrifices, or the other Jewish observances, but the true law, viz., Thou shall not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not bear false witness, and so on. To this law, promulgated throughout the world, that is, at the commencement of the present constitution of the world, the Hebrew writers did violence, by infecting it with the pollution of their disgusting precepts about circumcision and sacrifice. As a friend of 273the law, you should join with me in condemning the Jews for injuring the law by this mixture of unsuitable precepts. Plainly, you must be aware that these precepts are not the law, or any part of the law, since you claim to be righteous, though you make no attempt to keep the precepts. In seeking to lead a righteous life, you pay great regard to the commandments which forbid sinful actions, while you take no notice of the Jewish observances; which would be unjustifiable if they were one and the same law. You resent as a foul reproach being called negligent of the precept, "Thou shalt not kill," or "Thou shall not commit adultery." And if you showed the same resentment at being called uncircumcised, or negligent of the Sabbath, it would be evident that you considered both to be the law and the commandment of God. In fact, however, you consider the honor and glory of keeping the one no way endangered by disregard of the other. It is plain, as I have said, that these observances are not the law, but a disfigurement of the law. If we condemn them, it is not as being genuine, but as spurious. In this condemnation there is no reproach of the law, or of God its author, but only of those who published their shocking superstitions under these names. If we sometimes abuse the venerable name of law in attacking the Jewish precepts, the fault is yours, for refusing to distinguish between Hebrew observances and the law. Only restore to the law its proper dignity, by removing these foul Israelitish blots; grant that these writers are guilty of disfiguring the law, and you will see at once that we are the enemies not of the law, but of Judaism. You are misled by the word law; for you do not know to what that name properly belongs.
3. For my part, I see no reason for your thinking that we blaspheme your prophets and patriarchs. There would indeed be some ground for the charge, if we had been directly or remotely the authors of the account given of their actions. But as this account is written either by themselves, in a criminal desire to be famous for their misdeeds, or by their companions and coevals, why should you blame us? You condemn them in abhorrence of the wicked actions of which they have voluntarily declared themselves guilty, though there was no occasion for such a confession. Or if the narrative is only a malicious fiction, let its authors be punished, let the books be condemned, let the prophetic name be cleared from this foul reproach, let the patriarchs recover the respect due to their simplicity and purity of managers.
4. These books, moreover, contain shocking calumnies against God himself. We are told that he existed from eternity in darkness, and admired the light when he saw it; that he was so ignorant of the future, that he gave Adam a command, not foreseeing that it would be broken; that his perception was so limited that he could not see Adam when, from the knowledge of his nakedness, he hid himself in a corner of Paradise; that envy made him afraid lest his creature man should taste of the tree of life, and live for ever; that afterwards he was greedy for blood, and fat from all kinds of sacrifices, and jealous if they were offered to any one but himself; that he was enraged sometimes against his enemies, sometimes against his friends; that he destroyed thousands of men for a slight offense, or for nothing; that he threatened to come with a sword and spare nobody, righteous or wicked. The authors of such bold libels against God might very well slander the men of God. You must join with us in laying the blame on the writers if you wish to vindicate the prophets.
5. Again, we are not responsible for what is said of Abraham, that in his irrational craving to have children, and not believing God, who promised that his wife Sara should have a son, he defiled himself with a mistress, with the knowledge of his wife, which only made it worse;781781 Gen. xvi. 2-4. or that, in sacrilegious profanation of his marriage, he on different occasions, from avarice and greed, sold his wife Sara for the gratification of the kings Abimelech and Pharas, telling them that she was his sister, because she was very fair.782782 Gen. xii. 13, and xx. 2. The narrative is not ours, which tells how Lot, Abraham’s brother, after his escape from Sodom, lay with his two daughters on the mountain783783 Gen. xix. 33, 35. (better for him to have perished in the conflagration of Sodom, than to have burned with incestuous passion); or how Isaac imitated his father’s conduct, and called his wife Rebecca his sister, that he might gain a shameful livelihood by her;784784 Gen. xxvi. 7. or how his son Jacob, husband of four wives—two full sisters, Rachel and Leah, and their handmaids—led the life of a goat among them, so that there was a daily strife among his women who should be the first to lay hold of him when he came from the field, ending sometimes in their hiring him from one another for the night;785785 Gen. xxix. and xxx. or, again, how his son Judah slept with his daughter-in-law Tamar, after she had been married to two of his sons, deceived, we are told, by the harlot’s dress which Tamar put on, knowing that her father-in-law was in the 274habit of associating with such characters;786786 Gen. xxxviii. or how David, after having a number of wives, seduced the wife of his soldier Uriah, and caused Uriah himself to be killed in the battle;787787 2 Sam. xi. 4, 15. or how his son Solomon had three hundred wives, and seven hundred concubines, and princesses without number;788788 1 Kings xi. 1-3. or how the first prophet Hosea got children from a prostitute, and, what is worse, it is said that this disgraceful conduct was enjoined by God;789789 Hos. i. 2, 3. or how Moses committed murder,790790 Ex. ii. 12. and plundered Egypt,791791 Ex. xii. 35, 36. and waged wars, and commanded, or himself perpetrated, many cruelties.792792 Ex. xvii. 9. And he too was not content with one wife. We are neither directly nor remotely the authors of these and similar narratives, which are found in the books of the patriarchs and the prophets. Either your writers forged these things, or the fathers are really guilty. Choose which you please; the crime in either case is detestable, for vicious conduct and falsehood are equally hateful.
6. Augustin replied: You understand neither the symbols of the law nor the acts of the prophets, because you do not know what holiness or righteousness means. We have repeatedly shown at great length, that the precepts and symbols of the Old Testament contained both what was to be fulfilled in obedience through the grace bestowed in the New Testament, and what was to be set aside as a proof of its having been fulfilled in the truth now made manifest. For in the love of God and of our neighbor is secured the accomplishment of the precepts of the law, while the accomplishment of its promises is shown in the abolition of circumcision, and of other typical observances formerly practised. By the precept men were led, through a sense of guilt to desire salvation; by the promise they were led to find in the typical observances the assurance that the Saviour would come. The salvation desired was to be obtained through the grace bestowed on the appearance of the New Testament; and the fulfillment of the expectation rendered the types no longer necessary. The same law that was given by Moses became grace and truth in Jesus Christ. By the grace in the pardon of sin, the precept is kept in force in the case of those supported by divine help. By the truth the symbolic rites are set aside, that the promise might, in those who trust in the divine faithfulness, be brought to pass.
7. Those, accordingly, who, finding fault with what they do not understand, call the typical institutions of the law disfigurements and excrescences, are like men displeased with things of which they do not know the use. As if a deaf man, seeing others move their lips in speaking, were to find fault with the motion of the mouth as needless and unsightly; or as if a blind man, on hearing a house commended, were to test the truth of what he heard by passing his hand over the surface of the wall, and on coming to the windows were to cry out against them as flaws in the level, or were to suppose that the wall had fallen in.
8. How shall I make those whose minds are full of vanity understand that the actions of the prophets were also mystical and prophetic? The vanity of their minds is shown in their thinking that we believe God to have once existed in darkness, because it is written, "Darkness was over the deep."793793 Gen. i. 2. As if we called the deep God, where there was darkness, because the light did not exist there before God made it by His word. From their not distinguishing between the light which is God, and the light which God made, they imagine that God must have been in darkness before He made light, because darkness was over the deep before God said, "Let there be light, and there was light." In the New Testament both these things are ascribed to God. For we read, "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all;"794794 1 John i. 5. and again, "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts."795795 2 Cor. iv. 6. So also, in the Old Testament, the name "Brightness of eternal light"796796 Wisd. vii. 26. is given to the wisdom of God, which certainly was not created, for by it all things were made; and of the light which exists only as the production of this wisdom it is said, "Thou wilt light my candle, O Lord; my God, Thou wilt enlighten my darkness."797797 Ps. xviii. 28. In the same way, in the beginning, when darkness was over the deep, God said, "Let there be light, and there was light," which only the light-giving light, which is God Himself, could have made.
9. For as God is His own eternal happiness, and is besides the bestower of happiness, so He is His own eternal light, and is also the bestower of light. He envies the good of none, for He is Himself the source of happiness to all good beings; He fears the evil of none, for the loss of all evil beings is in their being abandoned by Him. He can neither be benefited by those on whom He Himself bestows happiness, nor is He afraid of those whose misery is the doom awarded by His own judgment. Very different, O Manichæus, is the object of your worship. 275You have departed from God in the pursuit of your own fancies, which of all kinds have increased and multiplied in your foolish roving hearts, drinking in through the sense of sight the light of the heavenly bodies. This light, though it too is made by God, is not to be compared to the light created in the minds of the pious, whom God brings out of darkness into light, as He brings them out of sinfulness into righteousness. Still less can it be compared to that inaccessible light from which all kinds of light are derived. Nor is this light inaccessible to all; for "blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."798798 Matt. v. 8. "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all;" but the wicked shall not see light, as is said in Isaiah.799799 Isa. viii. 20. To them the light-giving light is inaccessible. From the light comes not only the spiritual light in the minds of the pious, but also the material light, which is not denied to the wicked, but is made to rise on the evil and on the good.
10. So, when darkness was over the deep, He who was light said, "Let there be light." From what light this light came is clear; for the words are, "God said." What light is that which was made, is not so clear. For there has been a friendly discussion among students of the sacred Scriptures, whether God then made the light in the minds of the angels, or, in other words, these rational spirits themselves, or some material light which exists in the higher regions of the universe beyond our ken. For on the fourth day He made the visible luminaries of heaven. And it is also a question whether these bodies were made at the same time as their light, or were somehow kindled from the light made already. But whoever reads the sacred writings in the pious spirit which is required to understand them, must be convinced that whatever the light was which was made when, at the time that darkness was over the deep, God said, "Let there be light," it was created light, and the creating Light was the maker of it.
11. Nor does it follow that God, before He made light, abode in darkness, because it is said that darkness was over the deep, and then that the Spirit of God moved on the waters. The deep is the unfathomable abyss of the waters. And the carnal mind might suppose that the Spirit abode in the darkness which was over the deep, because it is said that He moved on the waters. This is from not understanding how the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not, till by the word of God those who were darkness are made light, and it is said to them, "Ye were once darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord."800800 Eph. v. 8. But if rational minds which are in darkness through a sinful will cannot comprehend the light of the wisdom of God, though it is present everywhere, because they are separated from it not in place, but in disposition: why may not the Spirit of God have moved on the darkness of the waters, when He moved on the waters, though at an immeasurable distance from it, not in place, but in nature?
12. In all this I know I am singing to deaf ears; but the Lord, from whom is the truth which we speak, can open some ears to catch the strain. But what shall we say of those critics of the Holy Scriptures who object to God’s being pleased with His own works, and find fault with the words, "God saw the light that it was good," as if this meant that God admired the light as something new? God’s seeing His works that they were good, means that the Creator approved of His own works as pleasing to Himself. For God cannot be forced to do anything against His will, so that He should not be pleased with His own work; nor can He do anything by mistake, so that He should regret having done it. Why should the Manichæans object to our God seeing His work that it was good, when their god placed a covering before himself when he mingled his own members with the darkness? For instead of seeing his work that it is good, he refuses to look at it because it is evil.
13. Faustus speaks of our God as astonished, which is not said in Scripture; nor does it follow that one must be astonished when he sees anything to be good. There are many good things which we see without being astonished, as if they were better than we expected; we merely approve of them as being what they ought to be. We can, however, give an instance of God being astonished, not from the Old Testament, which the Manichæans assail with undeserved reproach, but from the New Testament, which they profess to believe in order to entrap the unwary. For they acknowledge Christ as God, and use this as a bait to entice Christ’s followers into their snares. God, then, was astonished when Christ was astonished. For we read in the Gospel, that when Christ heard the faith of a certain centurion, He was astonished, and said to His disciples, "Verily I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."801801 Matt. viii. 10. We have already given our explanation of the words, "God saw that it was good." Better men may give a better explanation. Mean276while let the Manichæans explain Christ’s being astonished at what He foresaw before it happened, and knew before He heard it. For though seeing a thing to be good is quite different from being astonished at it, in this case there is some resemblance, for Jesus was astonished at the light of faith which He Himself had created in the heart of the centurion; for Jesus is the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world.
14. Thus an irreligious Pagan might bring the same reproaches against Christ in the Gospel, as Faustus brings against God in the Old Testament. He might say that Christ lacked foresight, not only because He was astonished at the faith of the centurion, but because He chose Judas as a disciple who proved disobedient to His commands; as Faustus objects to the precept given in Paradise, which, as it turned out, was not obeyed. He might also cavil at Christ’s not knowing who touched Him, when the woman suffering from an issue of blood touched the hem of His garment; as Faustus blames God for not knowing where Adam had hid himself. If this ignorance is implied in God’s saying, "Where art thou, Adam?"802802 Gen. iii. 9. the same may be said of Christ’s asking, "Who touched me?"803803 Luke viii. 44, 45. The Pagans also might call Christ timid and envious, in not wishing five of the ten virgins to gain eternal life by entering into His kingdom, and in shutting them out, so that they knocked in vain in their entreaty to have the door opened, as if forgetful of His own promise, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you;"804804 Matt. vii. 7. as Faustus charges God with fear and envy in not admitting man after his sin to eternal life. Again, he might call Christ greedy of the blood, not of beasts, but of men, because he said, "He that loseth his life for my sake, shall keep it unto life eternal;"805805 Matt. x. 39. as Faustus reproaches God in reference to those animal sacrifices which prefigured the sacrifice of blood-shedding by which we are redeemed. He might also accuse Christ of jealousy, because in narrating His driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple, the evangelist quotes as applicable to Him the words, "The jealousy of Thine house hath eaten me up;"806806 John ii. 17. as Faustus accuses God of jealousy in forbidding sacrifices to be offered to other gods. He might say that Christ was angry with both His friends and His enemies: with His friends, because He said, "The servant that knows his lord’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes;" and with His enemies, because He said, "If any one shall not receive you, shake off against him the dust of your shoes; verily I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment than for that city;"807807 Matt. x. 14, 15. as Faustus accuses God of being angry at one time with His friends, and at another with His enemies; both of whom are spoken of thus by the apostle: "They that have sinned without law shall perish without law, and they that have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law."808808 Rom. ii. 12. Or he might say that Christ shed the blood of many without mercy, for a slight offense or for nothing. For to a Pagan there would appear to be little or no harm in not having a wedding garment at the marriage feast, for which our King in the Gospel commanded a man to be bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness;809809 Matt. xxii. 11, 15. or in not wishing to have Christ for a king, which is the sin of which Christ says, "Those that would not have me to reign over them, bring hither and slay before me;"810810 Luke xix. 27. as Faustus blames God in the Old Testament for slaughtering thousands of human beings for slight offenses, as Faustus calls them, or for nothing. Again, if Faustus finds fault with God’s threatening to come with the sword, and to spare neither the righteous nor the wicked, might not the Pagan find as much fault with the words of the Apostle Paul, when he says of our God," He spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all;"811811 Rom. viii. 32. or of Peter, when, in exhorting the saints to be patient in the midst of persecution and slaughter, he says, "It is time that judgment begin from the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that believe not the gospel of the Lord? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?"812812 1 Pet. iv. 17, 18. What can be more righteous than the Only-Begotten, whom nevertheless the Father did not spare? And what can be plainer than that the righteous also are not spared, but chastised with manifold afflictions, as is clearly implied in the words, "If the righteous scarcely are saved"? As it is said in the Old Testament, "Whom the Lord loveth He correcteth, and chastiseth every son whom He receiveth;"813813 Prov. iii. 12. and, "If we receive good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not also receive evil?"814814 Job ii. 10. So we read also in the New Testament, "Whom I love I rebuke and chasten;"815815 Rev. iii. 19. and, "If we judge ourselves, we shall not be judged of the Lord; but when we are judged, we are corrected of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world."816816 1 Cor. xi. 31, 32. If a Pagan were 277to make such objections to the New Testament, would not the Manichæans try to answer them, though they themselves make similar objections to the Old Testament? But supposing them able to answer the Pagan, how absurd it would be to defend in the one Testament what they find fault with in the other! But if they could not answer the objections of the Pagan, why should they not allow in both Testaments, instead of in one only, that what appears wrong to unbelievers, from their ignorance, should be believed to be right by pious readers even when they also are ignorant?
15. Perhaps our opponents will maintain that these parallel passages quoted from the New Testament are themselves neither authoritative nor true: for they claim the impious liberty of holding and teaching, that whatever they deem favorable to their heresy was said by Christ and the apostles; while they have the profane boldness to say, that whatever in the same writings is unfavorable to them is a spurious interpolation. I have already at some length, as far as the intention of the present work required, exposed the unreasonableness of this assault upon the authority of the whole of Scripture.
16. At present I would call attention to the fact, that when the Manichæans, although they disguise their blasphemous absurdities under the name of Christianity, bring such objections against the Christian Scriptures, we have to defend the authority of the divine record in both Testaments against the Manichæans as much as against the Pagans. A Pagan might find fault with passages in the New Testament in the same way as Faustus does with what he calls unworthy representations of God in the Old Testament; and the Pagan might be answered by the quotation of similar passages from his own authors, as in Paul’s speech at Athens.817817 Acts xvii. 28. Even in Pagan writings we might find the doctrine that God created and constructed the world, and that He is the giver of light, which does not imply that before light was made He abode in darkness; and that when His work was finished He was elated with joy, which is more than saying that He saw that it was good; and that He made a law with rewards for obedience, and punishments for disobedience, by which they do not mean to say that God was ignorant of the future, because He gave a law to those by whom it was to be broken. Nor could they make asking questions a proof of a want of foresight even in a human being; for in their books many questions are asked only for the purpose of using the answers for the conviction of the persons addressed: for the questioner knows not only what answer he desires, but what will actually be given. Again, if the Pagan tried to make out God to be envious of any one, because He will not give happiness to the wicked, he would find many passages in the writings of his own authors in support of this principle of the divine government.
17. The only objection that a Pagan would make on the subject of sacrifice would refer to our reason for finding fault with Pagan sacrifices, when in the Old Testament God is described as requiring men to offer sacrifice to Him. If I were to reply at length on this subject, I might prove to him that sacrifice is due only to the one true God, and that this sacrifice was offered by the one true Priest, the Mediator of God and man; and that it was proper that this sacrifice should be pre-figured by animal sacrifices, in order to foreshadow the flesh and blood of the one sacrifice for the remission of sins contracted by flesh and blood, which shall not inherit the kingdom of God: for the natural body will be endowed with heavenly attributes, as the fire in the sacrifice typified the swallowing up of death in victory. Those observances properly belonged to the people whose kingdom and priesthood were prophetic of the King and Priest who should come to govern and to consecrate believers in all nations, and to lead them into the kingdom of heaven, and the holy society of angels and eternal life. And as this true sacrifice was piously set forth in the Hebrew observances, so it was impiously caricatured by the Pagans, because, as the apostle says, what they offer they offer to devils, and not to God.818818 1 Cor. x. 20. The typical rite of blood-shedding in sacrifice dates from the earliest ages, pointing forward from the outset of human history to the passion of the Mediator. For Abel is mentioned in the sacred Scripture as the first who offered such sacrifices.819819 Gen. iv. 4. We need not therefore wonder that fallen angels who occupy the air, and whose chief sins are pride and falsehood, should demand from their worshippers by whom they wished to be considered as gods what they knew to be due to God only. This deception was favored by the folly of the human heart, especially when regret for the dead led to the making of likenesses, and so to the use of images.820820 Wisd. xiv. 15. By the increase of this homage, divine honors came to be paid to the dead as dwelling in heaven, while devils took their place on earth as the objects of worship, 278and required that their deluded and degraded votaries should present sacrifices to them. Thus the nature of sacrifice as due only to God appears not only when God righteously claims it, but also when a false god proudly arrogates it. If the Pagan was slow to believe these things, I should argue from the prophecies, and point out that, though uttered long ago, they are now fulfilled. If he still remained in unbelief, this is rather to be expected than to be wondered at; for the prophecy itself intimates that all would not believe.
18. If the Pagan, in the next place, were to find fault with both Testaments as attributing jealousy to God and Christ, he would only show his own ignorance of literature, or his forgetfulness. For though their philosophers distinguish between desire and passion, joy and gratification, caution and fear, gentleness and tender-heartedness, prudence and cunning, boldness and daring, and so on, giving the first name in each pair to what is good, and the second to what is bad, their books are notwithstanding full of instances in which, by the abuse of these words, virtues are called by the names which properly belong to vices; as passion is used for desire, gratification for joy, fear for caution, tender-heartedness for gentleness, cunning for prudence, daring for boldness. The cases are innumerable in which speech exhibits similar inaccuracies. Moreover, each language has its own idioms. For in religious writings I remember no instance of the word tender-heartedness being used in a bad sense. And common usage affords examples of similar peculiarities in the use of words. In Greek, one word stands for two distinct things, labor and pain; while we have a separate name for each. Again, we use the word in two senses, as when we say of what is not dead, that it has life; and again, of any one that he is a man of good life, whereas in Greek each of these meanings has a word of its own. So that, apart from the abuse of words which prevails in all languages, it may be an Hebrew idiom to use jealousy in two senses, as a man is called jealous when he suffers from a diseased state of mind caused by distress on account of the faithlessness of his wife, in which sense the word cannot be applied to God; or as when diligence is manifested in guarding conjugal chastity, in which sense it is profitable for us not only unhesitatingly to admit, but thankfully to assert, that God is jealous of His people when He calls them His wife, and warns them against committing adultery with a multitude of false gods. The same may be said of the anger of God. For God does not suffer perturbation when He visits men in anger; but either by an abuse of the word, or by a peculiarity of idiom, anger is used in the sense of punishment.
19. The slaughter of multitudes would not seem strange to the Pagan, unless he denied the judgment of God, which Pagans do not; for they allow that all things in the universe, from the highest to the lowest, are governed by God’s providence. But if he would not allow this, he would be convinced either by the authority of Pagan writers, or by the more tedious method of demonstration; and if still obstinate and perverse, he would be left to the judgment which he denies. Then, if he were to give instances of the destruction of men for no offense, or for a very slight one, we should show that these were offenses, and that they were not slight. For instance, to take the case already referred to of the wedding garment, we should prove that it was a great crime in a man to attend the sacred feast, seeking not the bridegroom’s glory, but his own, or whatever the garment may be found on better interpretation to signify. And in the case of the slaughter before the king of those who would not have him to reign over them, we might perhaps easily prove that, though it may be no sin in a man to refuse to obey his fellow-man, it is both a fault and a great one to reject the reign of Him in whose reign alone is there righteousness, and happiness, and continuance.
20. Lastly, as regards Faustus’ crafty insinuation, that the Old Testament misrepresents God as threatening to come with a sword which will spare neither the righteous nor the wicked, if the words were explained to the Pagan, he would perhaps disagree neither with the Old Testament nor with the New; and he might see the beauty of the parable in the Gospel, which people who pretend to be Christians either misunderstand from their blindness, or reject from their perversity. The great husbandman of the vine uses his pruning-hook differently in the fruitful and in the unfruitful branches; yet he spares neither good nor bad, pruning one and cutting off the other.821821 John xv. 1-3. There is no man so just as not to require to be tried by affliction to advance, or to establish, or to prove his virtue. Do the Manichæans not reckon Paul as righteous, who, while confessing humbly and honestly his past sins, still gives thanks for being justified by faith in Jesus Christ? Was Paul then spared by Him whom fools misunderstand, when He says, "I will spare neither the righteous nor the sinner"? Hear the 279apostle himself: "Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelation, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me. For this I besought the Lord thrice, that He would remove it from me; and He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for strength is perfected in weakness."822822 2 Cor. xii. 7-9. Here a just man is not spared that his strength might be perfected in weakness by Him who had given him an angel of Satan to buffet him. If you say that the devil gave this angel, it follows that the devil sought to prevent Paul’s being exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelation, and to perfect his strength. This is impossible. Therefore He who gave up this righteous man to be buffeted by the messenger of Satan, is the same as He who, through Paul, gave up to Satan himself the wicked persons of whom Paul says: "I have delivered them to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme."823823 1 Tim. i. 20. Do you see now how the Most High spares neither the righteous nor the wicked? Or is it the sword that frightens you? For to be buffeted is not so bad as to be put to death. But did not the thousands of martyrs suffer death in various forms? And could their persecutors have had this power against them except it had been given them by God, who thus spared neither the righteous nor the wicked? For the Lord Himself, the chief martyr, says expressly to Pilate: "Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above."824824 John xix. 11. Paul also, besides recording his own experience, says that the afflictions and persecutions of the righteous exhibit the judgment of God.825825 2 Thess. i. 5. This truth is set forth at length by the Apostle Peter in the passage already quoted, where he says: "It is time that judgment should begin at the house of the Lord. And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of those that believe not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely are saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"826826 1 Pet. iv. 17, 18. Peter also explains how the wicked are not spared, for they are branches broken off to be burnt; while the righteous are not spared, because their purification is to be brought to perfection. He ascribes these things to the will of Him who says in the Old Testament, I will spare neither the righteous nor the wicked; for he says: "It is better, if the will of the Spirit of God be so, that we suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing."827827 1 Pet. iii. 17. So, when by the will of the Spirit of God men suffer for well-doing, the righteous are not spared; when they suffer for evil-doing, the wicked are not spared. In both cases it is according to the will of Him who says: I will spare neither the righteous nor the wicked; correcting the one as a son, and punishing the other as a transgressor.
21. I have thus shown, to the best of my power, that the God we worship did not abide from eternity in darkness, but is Himself light, and in Him is no darkness at all; and in Himself dwells in light inaccessible; and the brightness of this light is His coeternal wisdom. From what we have said, it appears that God was not taken by surprise by the unexpected appearance of light, but that light owes its existence to Him as its Creator, as its owes its continued existence to His approval. Neither was God ignorant of the future, but the author of the precept as well as the punisher of disobedience; that by showing His righteous anger against transgression, He might provide a restraint for the time, and a warning for the future. Nor does He ask questions from ignorance, but by His very inquiry declares His judgment. Nor is He curious or timid, but excludes the transgressor from eternal life, which is the just reward of obedience. Nor is He greedy for blood and fat; but by requiring from a carnal people sacrifices, suited to their character, He by certain types prefigures the true sacrifice. Nor is His jealousy an emotion of pale anxiety, but of quiet benevolence, in desire to keep the soul, which owes chastity to the one true God, from being defiled and prostituted by serving many false gods. Nor is He enraged with a passion similar to human anger, but is angry, not in the sense of desiring vengeance, but in the peculiar sense of giving full effect to the sentence of a righteous retribution. Nor does He destroy thousands of men for trifling offenses, or for nothing, but manifests to the world the benefit to be obtained from fearing Him, by the temporal death of those already mortal. Nor does He punish the righteous and sinners indiscriminately, but chastises the righteous for their good, in order to perfect them, and gives to sinners the punishment justly due to them. Thus, ye Manichæans, do your suspicions lead you astray, when, by misunderstanding our Scriptures, or by hearing bad interpreters, you form a mistaken judgment of Catholics. Hence you leave sound doctrine, and turn to impious fables; and in your perversity and estrangement from the society of saints, you reject the instruction of the New Testament, which, as we have shown, contains statements similar to those which you condemn in the Old Testament. So we are 280obliged to defend both Testaments against you as well as against the Pagans.
22. But supposing that there is some one so deluded by carnality as to worship not the God whom we worship, who is one and true, but the fiction of your suspicions or your slanders, whom you say we worship, is not even this god better than yours? Observe, I beseech you, what must be plain to the feeblest understanding; for here there is no need of great perspicacity. I address all, wise and unwise. I appeal to the common sense and judgment of all alike. Hear, consider, judge. Would it not have been better for your god to have remained in darkness from eternity, than to have plunged the light coeternal with him and cognate to him into darkness? Would it not have been better to have expressed admiration in surprise at the appearance of a new light coming to scatter the darkness, than to have been unable to baffle the assault of darkness except by the concession of his own light? Unhappy if he did this in alarm, and cruel if there was no need of it. Surely it would have been better to see light, made by himself, and to admire it as good, than to make the light begotten by himself evil; better than that his own light should become hostile to himself in repelling the forces of darkness. For this will be the accusation against those who will be condemned for ever to the mass of darkness, that they suffered themselves to lose their original brightness, and became the enemies of sacred light. If they did not know from eternity that they would be thus condemned, they must have suffered the darkness of eternal ignorance; or if they did know, the darkness of eternal fear. Thus part of the substance of your god really did remain from eternity in its own darkness; and instead of admiring new light on its appearance, it only met with another and a hostile darkness, of which it had always been in fear. Indeed, God himself must have been in the darkness of fear for this part of himself, if he was dreading the evil coming upon it. If he did not foresee the evil, he must have been in the darkness of ignorance. If he foresaw it, and was not in fear, the darkness of such cruelty is worse than the darkness either of ignorance or of fear. Your god appears to be destitute of the quality which the apostle commends in the body, which you insanely believe to be made not by God, but by Hyle: "If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it."828828 1 Cor. xii. 26. But suppose he did suffer; he foresaw, he feared, he suffered, but he could not help himself. Thus he remained from eternity in the darkness of his own misery; and then, instead of admiring a new light which was to drive away the darkness, he came in contact, to the injury of his own light, with another darkness which he had always dreaded. Again, would it not have been much better, I say, not to have given a commandment like God, but even to have received a commandment like Adam, which he would be rewarded for keeping and punished for breaking, acting either way by his own free-will, than to be forced by inevitable necessity to admit darkness into his light in spite of himself? Surely it would have been better to have given a precept to human nature, not knowing that it would become sinful, than to have been driven by necessity to sin contrary to his own divine nature. Think for a moment, and say how darkness could be conquered by one who was himself conquered by necessity. Conquered already by this greater enemy, he fought under his conqueror’s orders against a less formidable opponent. Would it not have been better not to know where Adam had hid himself, than to have been himself destitute of any means of escape, first from a hard and hateful necessity, and then from a dissimilar and hostile race? Would it not have been better to grudge eternal life to human nature, than to consign to misery the divine nature; to desire the blood and fat of sacrifices, than to be himself slaughtered in so many forms, on account of his mixture with the blood and fat of every victim; to be disturbed by jealousy at these sacrifices being offered to other gods as well as to himself, than to be himself offered on all altars to all devils, as mixed up not only with all fruits, but also with all animals? Would it not have been much better to be affected even with human anger, so as to be enraged against both his friends and his enemies for their sins, than to be himself influenced by fear as well as by anger wherever these passions exist, or than to share in all the sin that is committed, and in all punishment that is suffered? For this is the doom of that part of your god which is in confinement everywhere, condemned to this by himself, not as guilty, but in order to conquer his dreaded enemy. Doomed himself to such a fatal necessity, the part of himself which he has given over to condemnation might pardon him, if he were as humble as he is miserable. But how can you pretend to find fault with God for His anger against both friends and enemies when they sin, when the god of your fancies first under compulsion compels his own members to go to be devoured by sin, and then condemns them to remain in dark281ness? Though he does this, you say that it will not be in anger. But will he not be ashamed to punish, or to appear to punish, those from whom he should ask pardon in words such as these: "Forgive me, I beseech you. You are my members; could I treat you thus, except from necessity? You know yourselves, that you were sent here because a formidable enemy had arisen; and now you must remain here to prevent his rising again"? Again, is it not better to slay thousands of men for trifling faults, or for nothing, than to cast into the abyss of sin, and to condemn to the punishment of eternal imprisonment, God’s own members, his substance—in fact, God himself? It cannot properly be said of the real substance of God that it has the choice of sinning or not sinning, for God’s substance is absolutely unchangeable. God cannot sin, as He cannot deny Himself. Man, on the contrary, can sin and deny God, or he can choose not to do so. But suppose the members of your god had, like a rational human soul, the choice of sinning or not sinning; they might perhaps be justly punished for heinous offenses by confinement in the mass of darkness. But you cannot attribute to these parts a liberty which you deny to God himself. For if God had not given them up to sin, he would have been forced to sin himself, by the prevalence of the race of darkness. But if there was no danger of being thus forced, it was a sin to send these parts to a place where they incurred this danger. To do so, indeed, from free choice is a crime deserving the torment which your god unnaturally inflicts upon his own parts, more than the conduct of these parts in going by his command to a place where they lost the power of living in righteousness. But if God himself was in danger of being forced to sin by invasion and capture, unless he had secured himself first by the misconduct and then by the punishment of his own parts, there can have been no free-will either in your god or in his parts. Let him not set himself up as judge, but confess himself a criminal. For though he was forced against his own will, he professes to pass a righteous sentence in condemning those whom he knows to have suffered evil rather than done it; making this profession that he may not be thought of as having been conquered; as if it could do a beggar any good to be called prosperous and happy. Surely it would have been better for your god to have spared neither righteous nor wicked in indiscriminate punishment (which is Faustus’ last charge against our God), than to have been so cruel to his own members,—first giving them up to incurable contamination, and then, as if that was not enough, accusing them falsely of misconduct. Faustus declares that they justly suffer this severe and eternal punishment, because they allowed themselves to be led astray from their original brightness, and became hostile to sacred light. But the reason of this, as Faustus says, was that they were so greedily devoured in the first assault of the princes of darkness, that they were unable to recover themselves, or to separate themselves from the hostile principle. These souls, therefore, did no evil themselves, but in all this were innocent sufferers. The real agent was he who sent them away from himself into this wretchedness. They suffered more from their father than from their enemy. Their father sent them into all this misery; while their enemy desired them as something good, wishing not to hurt them, but to enjoy them. The one injured them knowingly, the other in ignorance. This god was so weak and helpless that he could not otherwise secure himself first against an enemy threatening attack, and then against the same enemy in confinement. Let him, then, not condemn those parts whose obedience defended him, and whose death secures his safety. If he could not avoid the conflict, why slander his defenders? When these parts allowed themselves to be led astray from their original brightness, and became hostile to sacred light, this must have been from the force of the enemy; and if they were forced against their will, they are innocent; while, if they could have resisted had they chosen, there is no need of the origin of evil in an imaginary evil nature, since it is to be found in free-will. Their not resisting, when they could have done so, is plainly their own fault, and not owing to any force from without. For, supposing them able to do a thing, to do which is right, while not to do it is great and heinous sin, their not doing it is their own choice. So, then, if they choose not to do it, the fault is in their will not in necessity. The origin of sin is in the will; therefore in the will is also the origin of evil, both in the sense of acting against a just precept, and in the sense of suffering under a just sentence. There is thus no reason why, in your search for the origin of evil, you should fall into so great an evil as that of calling a nature so rich in good things the nature of evil, and of attributing the terrible evil of necessity to the nature of perfect good, before any commixture with evil. The cause of this erroneous belief is your pride, which you need not have unless you choose; but in your wish to defend at all hazards the error into which you have fallen, 282you take away the origin of evil from free-will, and place it in a fabulous nature of evil. And thus you come at last to say, that the souls which are to be doomed to eternal confinement in the mass of darkness became enemies to sacred light not from choice, but by necessity; and to make your god a judge with whom it is of no use to prove, in behalf of your clients. that they were under compulsion, and a king who will make no allowance for your brethren, his own sons and members, whose hostility against you and against himself you ascribe not to choice, but to necessity. What shocking cruelty! unless you proceed in the next place to defend your god, as also acting not from choice, but by necessity. So, if there could be found another judge free from necessity, who could decide the question on the principles of equity, he would sentence your god to be bound to this mass, not by being fastened on the outside, but by being shut up inside along with the formidable enemy. The first in the guilt of necessity ought to be first in the sentence of condemnation. Would it not be much better, then, in comparison with such a god as this, to choose the god whom we indeed do not worship, but whom you think or pretend to think we worship? Though he spares not his servants, whether righteous or sinful, making no proper separation, and not distinguishing between punishment and discipline, is he not better than the god who spares not his own members though innocent, if necessity is no crime, or guilty from their obedience to him, if necessity itself is criminal; so that they are condemned eternally by him, along with whom they should have been released, if any liberty was recovered by the victory, while he should have been condemned along with them if the victory reduced the force of necessity even so far as to give this small amount of force to justice? Thus the god whom you represent us as worshipping, though he is not the one true God whom we really worship, is far better than your god. Neither, indeed, has any existence; but both are the creatures of your imaginations. But, according to your own representations, the one whom you call ours, and find fault with, is better than the one whom you call your own, and whom you worship. 829829 [Augustin certainly makes it appear that the God in the Old Testament is not so bad as the God of the Manichæans, yet he cannot be said to reach a complete theodicy.—A.H.N.]
23. So also the patriarchs and prophets whom you cry out against are not the men whom we honor, but men whose characters are drawn from your fancy, prompted by ill-will. And yet even thus as you paint them, I will not be content with showing them to be superior to your elect, who keep all the precepts of Manichæus, but will prove their superiority to your god himself. Before proving this, however, I must, with the help of God, defend our holy fathers the patriarchs and prophets against your accusations, by a clear exposition of the truth as opposed to the carnality of your hearts. As for you Manichæans, it would be enough to say that the faults you impute to our fathers are preferable to what you praise in your own, and to complete your shame by adding that your god can be proved far inferior to our fathers as you describe them. This would be a sufficient reply for you. But as, even apart from your perversities, some minds are of themselves disturbed when comparing the life of the prophets in the Old Testament with that of the apostles in the New,—not discerning between the manner of the time when the promise was under a veil, and that of the time when the promise is revealed,—I must first of all reply to those who either have the boldness to pride themselves as superior in temperance to the prophets, or quote the prophets in defence of their own bad conduct.
24. First of all, then, not only the speech of these men, but their life also, was prophetic; and the whole kingdom of the Hebrews was like a great prophet, corresponding to the greatness of the Person prophesied. So, as regards those Hebrews who were made wise in heart by divine instruction, we may discover a prophecy of the coming of Christ and of the Church, both in what they said and in what they did; and the same is true as regards the divine procedure towards the whole nation as a body. For, as the apostle says, "all these things were our examples."
25. Those who find fault with the prophets, accusing them of adultery for instance, in actions which are above their comprehension, are like those Pagans who profanely charge Christ with folly or madness because He looked for fruit from a tree out of the season;830830 Matt. xxi. 19. or with childishness, because He stooped down and wrote on the ground, and, after answering the people who were questioning Him, began writing again.831831 John viii. 6-8. Such critics are incapable of understanding that certain virtues in great minds resemble closely the vices of little minds, not in reality, but in appearance. Such criticism of the great is like that of boys at school, whose learning consists in the important rule, that if the nominative is in the singular, the verb must also be in the singular; and so they find fault with the best Latin 283author, because he says, Pars in frusta secant. 832832 Æn. i. 212. He should have written, say they, secat. And again, knowing that religio is spelt with one l, they blame him for writing relligio, when he says, Relligione patrum.833833 Æn. ii. 715. Hence it may with reason be said, that as the poetical usage of words differs from the solecisms and barbarisms of the unlearned, so, in their own way, the figurative actions of the prophets differ from the impure actions of the vicious. Accordingly, as a boy guilty of a barbarism would be whipped if he pled the usage of Virgil; so any one quoting the example of Abraham begetting a son from Hagar, in defence of his own sinful passion for his wife’s handmaid, ought to be corrected not by caning only, but by severe scourging, that he may not suffer the doom of adulterers in eternal punishment. This indeed is a comparison of great and important subjects with trifles; and it is not intended that a peculiar usage in speech should be put on a level with a sacrament, or a solecism with adultery. Still, allowing for the difference in the character of the subjects, what is called learning or ignorance in the proprieties and improprieties of speech, resembles wisdom or the want of it in reference to the grand moral distinction between virtue and vice.834834 [This comparison of the objectors to the Old Testament to blundering school-boys is very fine.—A.H.N.]
26. Instead of entering on the distinctions between the praiseworthy and the blameworthy, the criminal and the innocent, the dangerous and the harmless, the guilty and the guiltless, the desirable and the undesirable, which are all illustrations of the distinction between sin and righteousness, we must first consider what sin is, and then examine the actions of the saints as recorded in the holy books, that, if we find these saints described as sinning, we may if possible discover the true reason for keeping these sins in memory by putting them on record. Again, if we find things recorded which, though they are not sins, appear so to the foolish and the malevolent, and in fact do not exhibit any virtues, here also we have to see why these things are put into the Scriptures which we believe to contain wholesome doctrine as a guide in the present life, and a title to the inheritance of the future. As regards the examples of righteousness found among the acts of the saints, the propriety of recording these must be plain even to the ignorant. The question is about those actions the mention of which may seem useless if they are neither righteous nor sinful, or even dangerous if the actions are really sinful, as leading people to imitate them, because they are not condemned in these books, and so may be supposed not to be sinful, or because, though they are condemned, men may copy them from the idea that they must be venial if saints did them.
27. Sin, then, is any transgression in deed, or word, or desire, of the eternal law. And the eternal law is the divine order or will of God, which requires the preservation of natural order, and forbids the breach of it. But what is this natural order in man? Man, we know, consists of soul and body; but so does a beast. Again, it is plain that in the order of nature the soul is superior to the body. Moreover, in the soul of man there is reason, which is not in a beast. Therefore, as the soul is superior to the body, so in the soul itself the reason is superior by the law of nature to the other parts which are found also in beasts; and in reason itself, which is partly contemplation and partly action, contemplation is unquestionably the superior part. The object of contemplation is the image of God, by which we are renewed through faith to sight. Rational action ought therefore to be subject to the control of contemplation, which is exercised through faith while we are absent from the Lord, as it will be hereafter through sight, when we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.835835 1 John iii. 2. Then in a spiritual body we shall by His grace be made equal to angels, when we put on the garment of immortality and incorruption, with which this mortal and corruptible shall be clothed, that death may be swallowed up of victory, when righteousness is perfected through grace. For the holy and lofty angels have also their contemplation and action. They require of themselves the performance of the commands of Him whom they contemplate, whose eternal government they freely because sweetly obey. We, on the other hand, whose body is dead because of sin, till God quicken also our mortal bodies by His Spirit dwelling in us, live righteously in our feeble measure, according to the eternal law in which the law of nature is preserved, when we live by that faith unfeigned which works by love, having in a good conscience a hope of immortality and incorruption laid up in heaven, and of the perfecting of righteousness to the measure of an inexpressible satisfaction, for which in our pilgrimage we must hunger and thirst, while we walk by faith and not by sight.
28. A man, therefore, who acts in obedience to the faith which obeys God, restrains all mortal affections, and keeps them within the natural limit, regulating his desires so as to 284put the higher before the lower. If there was no pleasure in what is unlawful, no one would sin. To sin is to indulge this pleasure instead of restraining it. And by unlawful is meant what is forbidden by the law in which the order of nature is preserved. It is a great question whether there is any rational creature for which there is no pleasure in what is unlawful. If there is such a class of creatures, it does not include man, nor that angelic nature which abode not in the truth. These rational creatures were so made, that they had the potentiality of restraining their desires from the unlawful; and in not doing this they sinned. Great, then, is the creature man, for he is restored by this potentiality, by which, if he had so chosen, he would not have fallen. And great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, who created man. For He created also inferior natures which cannot sin, and superior natures which will not sin. Beasts do not sin, for their nature agrees with the eternal law from being subject to it, without being in possession of it. And again, angels do not sin, because their heavenly nature is so in possession of the eternal law that God is the only object of its desire, and they obey His will without any experience of temptation. But man, whose life on this earth is a trial on account of sin, subdues to himself what he has in common with beasts, and subdues to God what he has in common with angels; till, when righteousness is perfected and immortality attained, he shall be raised from among beasts and ranked with angels.
29. The exercise or indulgence of the bodily appetites is intended to secure the continued existence and the invigoration of the individual or of the species. If the appetites go beyond this, and carry the man, no longer master of himself, beyond the limits of temperance, they become unlawful and shameful lusts, which severe discipline must subdue. But if this unbridled course ends in plunging the man into such a depth of evil habits that he supposes that there will be no punishment of his sinful passions, and so refuses the wholesome discipline of confession and repentance by which he might be rescued; or, from a still worse insensibility, justifies his own indulgences in profane opposition to the eternal law of Providence; and if he dies in this state, that unerring law sentences him now not to correction, but to damnation.
30. Referring, then, to the eternal law which enjoins the preservation of natural order and forbids the breach of it, let us see how our father Abraham sinned, that is, how he broke this law, in the things which Faustus has charged him with as highly criminal. In his irrational craving to have children, says Faustus, and not believing God, who promised that his wife Sara should have a son, he defiled himself with a mistress. But here Faustus, in his irrational desire to find fault, both discloses the impiety of his heresy, and in his error and ignorance praises Abraham’s intercourse with the handmaid. For as the eternal law—that is, the will of God the Creator of all—for the preservation of the natural order, permits the indulgence of the bodily appetite under the guidance of reason in sexual intercourse, not for the gratification of passion, but for the continuance of the race through the procreation of children; so, on the contrary, the unrighteous law of the Manichæans, in order to prevent their god, whom they bewail as confined in all seeds, from suffering still closer confinement in the womb, requires married people not on any account to have children, their great desire being to liberate their god. Instead, therefore, of an irrational craving in Abraham to have children, we find in Manichæus an irrational fancy against having children. So the one preserved the natural order by seeking in marriage only the production of a child; while the other, influenced by his heretical notions, thought no evil could be greater than the confinement of his god.
31. So, again, when Faustus says that the wife’s being privy to her husband’s conduct made the matter worse, while he is prompted only by the uncharitable wish to reproach Abraham and his wife, he really, without intending it, speaks in praise of both. For Sara did not connive at any criminal action in her husband for the gratification of his unlawful passions; but from the same natural desire for children that he had, and knowing her own barrenness, she warrantably claimed as her own the fertility of her handmaid; not consenting with sinful desires in her husband, but requesting of him what it was proper in him to grant. Nor was it the request of proud assumption; for every one knows that the duty of a wife is to obey her husband. But in reference to the body, we are told by the apostle that the wife has power over her husband’s body, as he has over hers;836836 1 Cor. vii. 4. so that, while in all other social matters the wife ought to obey her husband, in this one matter of their bodily connection as man and wife their power over one another is mutual,—the man over the woman, and the woman over the man. So, when Sara could not have children of her own, she wished to have them by her handmaid, and of the same seed from 285which she herself would have had them, if that had been possible. No woman would do this if her love for her husband were merely an animal passion; she would rather be jealous of a mistress than make her a mother. So here the pious desire for the procreation of children was an indication of the absence of criminal indulgence.
32. Abraham, indeed, cannot be defended, if, as Faustus says, he wished to get children by Hagar, because he had no faith in God, who promised that he should have children by Sara. But this is an entire mistake: this promise had not yet been made. Any one who reads the preceding chapters will find that Abraham had already got the promise of the land with a countless number of inhabitants,837837 Gen. xii. 3. but that it had not yet been made known to him how the seed spoken of was to be produced, whether by generation from his own body, or from his choice in the adoption of a son, or, in the case of its being from his own body, whether it would be by Sara or another. Whoever examines into this will find that Faustus has made either an imprudent mistake or an impudent misrepresentation. Abraham, then, when he saw that he had no children, though the promise was to his seed, thought first of adoption. This appears from his saying of his slave, when speaking to God, "This is mine heir;" as much as to say, As Thou hast not given me a seed of my own, fulfill Thy promise in this man. For the word seed may be applied to what has not come out of a man’s own body, else the apostle could not call us the seed of Abraham: for we certainly are not his descendants in the flesh; but we are his seed in following his faith, by believing in Christ, whose flesh did spring from the flesh of Abraham. Then Abraham was told by the Lord "This shall not be thine heir; but he that cometh out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir."838838 Gen. xv. 3, 4. The thought of adoption was thus removed; but it still remained uncertain whether the seed which was to come from himself would be by Sara or another. And this God was pleased to keep concealed, till a figure of the Old Testament had been supplied in the handmaid. We may thus easily understand how Abraham, seeing that his wife was barren, and that she desired to obtain from her husband and her handmaid the offspring which she herself could not produce, acted not in compliance with carnal appetite, but in obedience to conjugal authority, believing that Sara had the sanction of God for her wish; because God had already promised him an heir from his own body, but had not foretold who was to be the mother. Thus, when Faustus shows his own infidelity in accusing Abraham of unbelief, his groundless accusation only proves the madness of the assailant. In other cases, Faustus’ infidelity has prevented him from understanding; but here, in his love of slander, he has not even taken time to read.
33. Again, when Faustus accuses a righteous and faithful man of a shameless profanation of his marriage from avarice and greed, by selling his wife Sara at different times to the two kings Abimelech and Pharaoh, telling them that she was his sister, because she was very fair, he does not distinguish justly between right and wrong, but unjustly condemns the whole transaction. Those who think that Abraham sold his wife cannot discern in the light of the eternal law the difference between sin and righteousness; and so they call perseverance obstinacy, and confidence presumption, as in these and similar cases men of wrong judgment are wont to blame what they suppose to be wrong actions. Abraham did not become partner in crime with his wife by selling her to others: but as she gave her handmaid to her husband, not to gratify his passion, but for the sake of offspring, in the authority she had consistently with the order of nature, requiring the performance of a duty, not complying with a sinful desire; so in this case, the husband, in perfect assurance of the chaste attachment of his wife to himself, and knowing her mind to be the abode of modest and virtuous affection, called her his sister, without saying that she was his wife, lest he himself should be killed, and his wife fall into the hands of strangers and evil-doers: for he was assured by his God that He would not allow her to suffer violence or disgrace. Nor was he disappointed in his faith and hope; for Pharaoh, terrified by strange occurrences, and after enduring many evils on account of her, when he was informed by God that Sara was Abraham’s wife, restored her with honor uninjured. Abimelech also did the same, after learning the truth in a dream.
34. Some people, not scoffers and evil-speakers like Faustus, but men who pay due honor to the Scriptures, which Faustus finds fault with because he does not understand them, or which he fails to understand because of his fault-finding, in commenting on this act of Abraham, are of opinion that he stumbled from weakness of faith, and denied his wife from fear of death, as Peter denied the Lord. If this is the correct view, we must allow that Abraham sinned; but the sin should 286not cancel or obliterate all his merits, any more than in the case of the apostle. Besides, to deny his wife is not the same as to deny the Saviour. But when there is another explanation, why not abide by it, instead of giving blame without cause, since there is no proof that Abraham told a lie from fear? He did not deny that Sara was his wife in answer to any question on the subject; but when asked who she was, he said she was his sister, without denying her to be his wife: he concealed part of the truth, but said nothing false.
35. It is waste of time to observe Faustus’ remark, that Abraham falsely called Sara his sister; as if Faustus had discovered the family of Sara, though it is not mentioned in Scripture. In a matter which Abraham knew, and we do not, it is surely better to believe the patriarch when he says what he knows, than to believe Manichæus when he finds fault with what he knows nothing about. Since, then, Abraham lived at that period in human history, when, though marriage had become unlawful between children of the same parents, or of the same father or mother, no law or authority interfered with the custom of marriage between the children of brothers, or any less degree of consanguinity, why should he not have had as wife his sister, that is, a woman descended from his father? For he himself told the king, when he restored Sara, that she was his sister by his father, and not by his mother. And on this occasion he could not have been led to tell a falsehood from fear, for the king knew that she was his wife, and was restoring her with honor, because he had been warned by God. We learn from Scripture that, among the ancients, it was customary to call cousins brothers and sisters. Thus Tobias says in his prayer to God, before having intercourse with his wife, "And now, O Lord, Thou knowest that not in wantonness I take to wife my sister;"839839 Tob. viii. 9. though she was not sprung immediately from the same father or the same mother, but only belonged to the same family. And Lot is called the brother of Abraham, though Abraham was his uncle.840840 Gen. xiii. 8, and xi. 31. And, by the same use of the word, those called in the Gospel the Lord’s brothers are certainly not children of the Virgin Mary, but all the blood relations of the Lord.841841 Matt. xii. 46.
36. Some may say, Why did not Abraham’s confidence in God prevent his being afraid to confess his wife? God could have warded off from him the death which he feared, and could have protected both him and his wife while among strangers, so that Sara, although very fair, should not have been desired by any one, nor Abraham killed on account of her. Of course, God could have done this; it would be absurd to deny it. But if, in reply to the people, Abraham had told them that Sara was his wife, his trust in God would have included both his own life and the chastity of Sara. Now it is part of sound doctrine, that when a man has any means in his power, he should not tempt the Lord his God. So it was not because the Saviour was unable to protect His disciples that He told them, "When ye are persecuted in one city, flee to another."842842 Matt. x. 23. And He Himself set the example. For though He had the power of laying down His own life, and did not lay it down till He chose to do so, still when an infant He fled to Egypt, carried by His parents;843843 Matt. ii. 14. and when He went up to the feast, He went not openly, but secretly, though at other times He spoke openly to the Jews, who in spite of their rage and hostility could not lay hands on Him, because His hour was not come,844844 John vii. 10, 30. —not the hour when He would be obliged to die, but the hour when He would consider it seasonable to be put to death. Thus He who displayed divine power by teaching and reproving openly, without allowing the rage of his enemies to hurt Him, did also, by escaping and concealing Himself, exhibit the conduct becoming the feebleness of men, that they should not tempt God when they have any means in their power of escaping threatened danger. So also in the apostle, it was not from despair of divine assistance and protection, or from loss of faith, that he was let down over the wall in a basket, in order to escape being taken by his enemies:845845 Acts ix. 25. not from want of faith in God did he thus escape, but because not to escape, when this escape was possible, would have been tempting God. Accordingly, when Abraham was among strangers, and when, on account of the remarkable beauty of Sara, both his life and her chastity were in danger, since it was in his power to protect not both of these, but one only,—his life, namely,—to avoid tempting God he did what he could; and in what he could not do, he trusted to God. Unable to conceal his being a man, he concealed his being a husband, lest he should be put to death; trusting to God to preserve his wife’s purity.
37. There might also be a difference of opinion on the nice point whether Sara’s chastity would have been violated even if some one had intercourse with her, since she submitted to this to save her husband’s life, 287both with his knowledge and by his authority. In this there would be no desertion of conjugal fidelity or rebellion against her husband’s authority; in the same way as Abraham was not an adulterer, when, in submission to the lawful authority of his wife, he consented to be made a father by his wife’s handmaid. But, from the nature of the relationship, for a wife to have two husbands, both in life, is not the same thing as for a man to have two wives: so that we regard the explanation already given of Abraham’s conduct as the most correct and unobjectionable; that our father Abraham avoided tempting God by taking what measures he could for the preservation of his own life, and that he showed his hope in God by entrusting to Him the chastity of his wife.
38. But a pleasure which all must feel is obtained from this narrative so faithfully recorded in the Holy Scriptures, when we examine into the prophetic character of the action, and knock with pious faith and diligence at the door of the mystery, that the Lord may open, and show us who was prefigured in the ancient personage, and whose wife this is, who, while in a foreign land and among strangers, is not allowed to be stained or defiled, that she may be brought to her own husband without spot or wrinkle. Thus we find that the righteous life of the Church is for the glory of Christ, that her beauty may bring honor to her husband, as Abraham was honored on account of the beauty of Sara among the inhabitants of that foreign land. To the Church, to whom it is said in the Song of Songs, "O thou fairest among women,"846846 Cant. i. 7. kings offer gifts in acknowledgment of her beauty; as king Abimelech offered gifts to Sara, admiring the grace of her appearance; all the more that, while he loved, he was not allowed to profane it. The holy Church, too is in secret the spouse of the Lord Jesus Christ. For it is secretly, and in the hidden depths of the Spirit, that the soul of man is joined to the word of God, so that they two are one flesh; of which the apostle speaks as a great mystery in marriage, as referring to Christ and the Church.847847 Eph. v. 31, 32. Again, the earthly kingdom of this world, typified by the kings which were not allowed to defile Sara, had no knowledge or experience of the Church as the spouse of Christ, that is, of how faithfully she maintained her relation to her Husband, till it tried to violate her, and was compelled to yield to the divine testimony borne by the faith of the martyrs, and in the person of later monarchs was brought humbly to honor with gifts the Bride whom their predecessors had not been able to humble by subduing her to themselves. What, in the type, happened in the reign of one and the same king, is fulfilled in the earlier monarchs of this era and their successors.
39. Again, when it is said that the Church is the sister of Christ, not by the mother but by the father, we learn the excellence of the relation, which is not of the temporary nature of earthly descent, but of divine grace, which is everlasting. By this grace we shall no longer be a race of mortals when we receive power to be called and to become sons of God. This grace we obtain not from the synagogue, which is the mother of Christ after the flesh, but from God the Father. And when Christ calls us into another life where there is no death, He teaches us, instead of acknowledging, to deny the earthly relationship, where death soon follows upon birth; for He says to His disciples, "Call no man your father upon earth; for you have one Father, who is in heaven."848848 Matt. xxiii. 9. And He set us an example of this when He said, "Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And stretching forth His hand to His disciples, He said, These are my brethren." And lest any one should think that He referred to an earthly relationship, He added, "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother;"849849 Matt. xii. 48-50. as much as to say, I derive this relationship from God my Father, not from the Synagogue my mother; I call you to eternal life, where I have an immortal birth, not to earthly life, for to call you away from this life I have taken mortality.
40. As for the reason why, though it is concealed among strangers whose wife the Church is, it is not hidden whose sister she is, it is plainly because it is obscure and hard to understand how the human soul and the Word of God are united or mingled, or whatever word may be used to express this connection between God and the creature. It is from this connection that Christ and the Church are called bridegroom and bride, or husband and wife. The other relationship, in which Christ and all the saints are brethren by divine grace and not by earthly consanguinity, or by the father and not by the mother, is more easily expressed in words, and more easily understood. For the same grace makes all the saints to be also brethren of one another; while in their society no one is the bridegroom of all the rest. So also, notwithstanding the surpassing justice and wisdom 288of Christ, His manhood was much more plainly and readily recognized by strangers, who, indeed, were not wrong in believing Him to be man, but they did not understand His being God as well as man. Hence Jeremiah says: "He is both a man, and who shall know Him?"850850 Jer. xvii. 9. He is a man, for it is made manifest that He is a brother. And who shall know Him? for it is concealed that He is a husband. This must suffice as a defense of our father Abraham against Faustus’ impudence and ignorance and malice.
41. Lot also, the brother of Abraham, was just and hospitable in Sodom, and was found worthy to escape the conflagration which prefigured the future judgment; for he was free from all participation in the corruption of the people of Sodom. He was a type of the body of Christ, which in the person of all the saints both groans now among the ungodly and wicked, to whose evil deeds it does not consent, and will at the end of the world be rescued from their society, when they are doomed to the punishment of eternal fire. Lot’s wife was the type of a different class of men,—of those, namely, who, when called by the grace of God, look back, instead of, like Paul, forgetting the things that are behind, and looking forward to the things that are before.851851 Phil. iii. 13. The Lord Himself says: "No man that putteth his hand to the plough, and looketh back, is fit for the kingdom of Heaven."852852 Luke ix. 62. Nor did He omit to mention the case of Lot’s wife; for she, for our warning, was turned into a pillar of salt, that being thus seasoned we might not trifle thoughtlessly with this danger, but be on our guard against it. So, when the Lord was admonishing every one to get rid of the things that are behind by the most strenuous endeavor to reach the things that are before, He said, "Remember Lot’s wife."853853 Luke xvii. 32. And, in addition to these, there is still a third type in Lot, when his daughters lay with him. For here Lot seems to prefigure the future law; for those who spring from the law, and are placed under the law, by misunderstanding it, stupefy it, as it were, and bring forth the works of unbelief by an unlawful use of the law. "The law is good" says the apostle, "if a man use it lawfully."854854 1 Tim. i. 8.
42. It is no excuse for this action of Lot or of his daughters that it represented the perversity which was afterwards in certain cases to be displayed. The purpose of Lot’s daughters is one thing, and the purpose of God is another, in allowing this to happen that He might make some truth manifest; for God both pronounces judgment on the actions of the people of those times, and arranges in His providence for the prefigurement of the future. As a part of Scripture, this action is a prophecy; as part of the history of those concerned, it is a crime.
43. At the same time there is in this transaction no reason for the torrent of abuse which Faustus’ blind hostility discharges on it. By the eternal law which requires the preservation of the order of nature and condemns its violation, the judgment in this case is not what it would have been if Lot had been prompted by a criminal passion to commit incest with his daughters, or if they had been inflamed with unnatural desires. In justice, we must ask not only what was done, but with what motive, in order to obtain a fair view of the action as the effect of that motive. The resolution of Lot’s daughters to lie with their father was the effect of the natural desire for offspring in order to preserve the race; for they supposed that there were no other men to be found, thinking that the whole world had been consumed in that conflagration, which, for all they knew, had left no one alive but themselves. It would have been better for them never to have been mothers, than to have become mothers by their own father. But still, the fulfillment of a desire like this is very different from the accursed gratification of lust.
44. Knowing that their father would condemn their design, Lot’s daughters thought it necessary to fulfill it without his knowledge. We are told that they made him drunk, so that he was unaware of what happened. His guilt therefore is not that of incest, but of drunkenness. This, too, is condemned by the eternal law, which allows meat and drink only as required by nature for the preservation of health. There is, indeed, a great difference between a drunk man and an habitual drunkard; for the drunkard is not always drunk, and a man may be drunk on one occasion without being a drunkard. However, in the case of a righteous man, we require to account for even one instance of drunkenness. What can have made Lot consent to receive from his daughters all the cups of wine which they went on mixing for him, or perhaps giving him unmixed? Did they feign excessive grief, and did he resort to this consolation in their loneliness, and in the loss of their mother, thinking that they were drinking too, while they only pretended to drink? But this does not seem a proper method for a righteous man to take in consoling his friends when in trouble. Had the daughters learned in Sodom some vile art which enabled them to intoxicate their father 289with a few cups, so that in his ignorance he might sin, or rather be sinned against? But it is not likely that the Scripture would have omitted all notice of this, or that God would have allowed His servant to be thus abused without any fault of his own.
45. But we are defending the sacred Scriptures, not man’s sins. Nor are we concerned to justify this action, as if our God had either commanded it or approved of it; or as if, when men are called just in Scripture, it meant that they could not sin if they chose. And as, in the books which those critics find fault with, God nowhere expresses approval of this action, what thoughtless folly it is to bring a charge from this narrative against these writings, when in other places such actions are condemned by express prohibitions! In the story of Lot’s daughters the action is related, not commended. And it is proper that the judgment of God should be declared in some cases, and concealed in others, that by its manifestation our ignorance may be enlightened, and that by its concealment our minds may be improved by the exercise of recalling what we already know, or our indolence stimulated to seek for an explanation. Here, then, God, who can bring good out of evil, made nations arise from this origin, as He saw good, but did not bring upon His own Scriptures the guilt of man’s sin. It is God’s writing, but not His doing; He does not propose these things for our imitation, but holds them up for our warning.
46. Faustus’ effrontery appears notably in his accusing Isaac also, the son of Abraham of pretending that his wife Rebecca was his sister.855855 Gen. xxvi. 7. For as regards the family of Rebecca Scripture is not silent, and it appears that she was his sister in the well-known sense of the word. His concealing that she was his wife is not surprising, nor is it insignificant, if he did it in imitation of his father, so that he can be justified on the same grounds. We need only refer to the answer already given to Faustus’ charge against Abraham, as being equally applicable to Isaac. Perhaps, however some inquirer will ask what typical significance there is in the foreign king discovering Rebecca to be the wife of Isaac by seeing him playing with her; for he would not have known, had he not seen Isaac playing with Rebecca as it would have been improper to do with a woman not his wife. When holy men act thus as husbands, they do it not foolishly, but designedly: for they accommodate themselves to the nature of the weaker sex in words and actions of gentle playfulness; not in effeminacy, but in subdued manliness. But such behavior towards any woman except a wife would be disgraceful. This is a question in good manners, which is referred to only in case some stern advocate of insensibility should find fault with the holy man even for playing with his wife. For if these men without humanity see a sedate man chatting playfully with children that he may adapt himself to the childish understanding with kindly sympathy, they think that he is insane; forgetting that they themselves were once children, or unthankful for their maturity. The typical meaning, as regards Christ and His Church, which is to be found in this great patriarch playing with his wife, and in the conjugal relation being thus discovered, will be seen by every one who, to avoid offending the Church by erroneous doctrine, carefully studies in Scripture the secret of the Church’s Bridegroom. He will find that the Husband of the Church concealed for a time in the form of a servant the majesty in which He was equal to the Father, as being in the form of God, that feeble humanity might be capable of union with Him, and that so He might accommodate Himself to His spouse. So far from being absurd, it has a symbolic suitableness that the prophet of God should use a playfulness which is of the flesh to meet the affection of his wife, as the Word of God Himself became flesh that He might dwell among us.
47. Again, Jacob the son of Isaac is charged with having committed a great crime because he had four wives. But here there is no ground for a criminal accusation: for a plurality of wives was no crime when it was the custom; and it is a crime now, because it is no longer the custom. There are sins against nature, and sins against custom, and sins against the laws. In which, then, of these senses did Jacob sin in having a plurality of wives? As regards nature, he used the women not for sensual gratification, but for the procreation of children. For custom, this was the common practice at that time in those countries. And for the laws, no prohibition existed. The only reason of its being a crime now to do this, is because custom and the laws forbid it. Whoever despises these restraints, even though he uses his wives only to get children, still commits sin, and does an injury to human society itself, for the sake of which it is that the procreation of children is required. In the present altered state of customs and laws, men can have no pleasure in a plurality of wives, except from an excess of lust; and so the mistake arises of supposing that no one could ever have had many 290wives but from sensuality and the vehemence of sinful desires. Unable to form an idea of men whose force of mind is beyond their conception, they compare themselves with themselves, as the apostle says,856856 2 Cor. x. 12. and so make mistakes. Conscious that, in their intercourse though with one wife only, they are often influenced by mere animal passion instead of an intelligent motive, they think it an obvious inference that, if the limits of moderation are not observed where there is only one wife, the infirmity must be aggravated where there are more than one.
48. But those who have not the virtues of temperance must not be allowed to judge of the conduct of holy men, any more than those in fever of the sweetness and wholesomeness of food. Nourishment must be provided not by the dictates of the sickly taste, but rather by the judgment and direction of health, so as to cure the sickness. If our critics, then, wish to attain not a spurious and affected, but a genuine and sound moral health, let them find a cure in believing the Scripture record, that the honorable name of saint is given not without reason to men who had several wives; and that the reason is this, that the mind can exercise such control over the flesh as not to allow the appetite implanted in our nature by Providence to go beyond the limits of deliberate intention. By a similar misunderstanding, this criticism, which consists rather in dishonest slander than in honest judgment, might accuse the holy apostles too of preaching the gospel to so many people, not from the desire of begetting children to eternal life, but from the love of human praise. There was no lack of renown to these our fathers in the gospel, for their praise was spread in numerous tongues through the churches of Christ. In fact, no greater honor and glory could have been paid by men to their fellow-creatures. It was the sinful desire for this glory in the Church which led the reprobate Simon in his blindness to wish to purchase for money what was freely bestowed on the apostles by divine grace.857857 Acts viii. 18-20. There must have been this desire of glory in the man whom the Lord in the Gospel checks in his desire to follow Him, saying, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His Head."858858 Matt. viii. 20. The Lord saw that his mind was darkened by false appearances and elated by sudden emotion, and that there was no ground of faith to afford a lodging to the Teacher of humility; for in Christ’s discipleship the man sought not Christ’s grace, but his own glory. By this love of glory those were led away whom the Apostle Paul characterizes as preaching Christ not sincerely, but of contention and envy; and yet the apostle rejoices in their preaching, knowing that it might happen that, while the preachers gratified their desire for human praise, believers might be born among their hearers,—not as the result of the envious feeling which made them wish to rival or surpass the fame of the apostles, but by means of the gospel which they preached, though not sincerely; so that God might bring good out of their evil. So a man may be induced to marry by sensual desire, and not to beget children; and yet a child may be born, a good work of God, due to the natural power, not to the misconduct of the parent. As, therefore, the holy apostles were gratified when their doctrine met with acceptance from their hearers, not because they were greedy for praise, but because they desired to spread the truth; so the holy patriarchs in their conjugal intercourse were actuated not by the love of pleasure, but by the intelligent desire for the continuance of their family. Thus the number of their hearers did not make the apostles ambitious; nor did the number of their wives make the patriarchs licentious. But why defend the husbands, to whose character the divine word bears the highest testimony, when it appears that the wives themselves looked upon their connection with their husbands only as a means of getting sons? So, when they found themselves barren, they gave their handmaids to their husbands; so that while the handmaids had the fleshly motherhood, the wives were mothers in intention.
49. Faustus makes a most groundless statement when he accuses the four women of quarreling like abandoned characters for the possession of their husband. Where Faustus read this I know not, unless it was in his own heart, as in a book of impious delusions, in which Faustus himself is seduced by that serpent with regard to whom the apostle feared for the Church, which he desired to present as a chaste virgin to Christ; lest, as the serpent had deceived Eve by his subtlety, so he should also corrupt their minds by turning them away from the simplicity of Christ.859859 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. The Manichæans are so fond of this serpent, that they assert that he did more good than harm. From him Faustus must have got his mind corrupted with the lies instilled into it, which he now reproduces in these infamous calumnies, and is even bold enough to put 291down in writing. It is not true that one of the handmaids carried off Jacob from the other, or that they quarreled about possessing him. There was arrangement, because there was no licentious passion; and the law of conjugal authority was all the stronger that there was none of the lawlessness of fleshly desire. His being hired by one of his wives proves what is here said, in plain opposition to the libels of the Manichæans. Why should one have hired him, unless by the arrangement he was to have gone in to the other? It does not follow that he would never have gone in to Leah unless she had hired him. He must have gone to her always in her turn, for he had many children by her; and in obedience to her he had children by her hand-maid, and afterwards, without any hiring, by herself. On this occasion it was Rachel’s turn, so that she had the power so expressly mentioned in the New Testament by the apostle, "The husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife."860860 1 Cor. vii. 4. Rachel had a bargain with her sister, and, being in her sister’s debt, she referred her to Jacob, her own debtor. For the apostle uses this figure when he says, "Let the husband render unto the wife what is due."861861 1 Cor. vii. 3. Rachel gave what was in her power as due from her husband, in return for what she had chosen to take from her sister.
50. If Jacob had been of such a character as Faustus in his incurable blindness supposes, and not a servant of righteousness rather than of concupiscence, would he not have been looking forward eagerly all day to the pleasure of passing the night with the more beautiful of his wives, whom he certainly loved more than the other, and for whom he paid the price of twice seven years of gratuitous service? How, then, at the close of the day, on his way to his beloved, could he have consented to be turned aside, if he had been such as the ignorant Manichæans represent him? Would he not have disregarded the wish of the women, and insisted upon going to the fair Rachel, who belonged to him that night not only as his lawful wife, but also as coming in regular order? He would thus have used his power as a husband, for the wife also has not power over her own body, but the husband; and having on this occasion the arrangement in their obedience in favor of the gratification of his love of beauty, he might have enforced his authority the more successfully. In that case it would be to the credit of the women, that while he thought of his own pleasure they contended about having a son. As it was, this virtuous man, in manly control of sensual appetite, thought more of what was due from him than to him, and instead of using his power for his own pleasure, consented to be only the debtor in this mutual obligation. So he consented to pay the debt to the person to whom she to whom it was due wished him to pay it. When, by this private bargain of his wives, Jacob was suddenly and unexpectedly forced to turn from the beautiful wife to the plain one, he did not give way either to anger or to disappointment, nor did he try to persuade his wives to let him have his own way; but, like a just husband and an intelligent parent, seeing his wives concerned about the production of children, which was all he himself desired in marriage, he thought it best to yield to their authority, in desiring that each should have a child: for, since all the children were his, his own authority was not impaired. As if he had said to them: Arrange as you please among yourselves which is to be the mother; it matters not to me, since in any case I am the father. This control over the appetites, and simple desire to beget children, Faustus would have been clever enough to see and approve, unless his mind had been corrupted by the shocking tenets of his sect, which lead him to find fault with everything in the Scripture, and, moreover, teach him to condemn as the greatest crime the procreation of children, which is the proper design of marriage.
51. Now, having defended the character of the patriarch, and refuted an accusation arising from these detestable errors, let us avail ourselves of the opportunity of searching out the symbolical meaning, and let us knock with the reverence of faith, that the Lord may open to us the typical significance of the four wives of Jacob, of whom two were free, and two slaves. We see that, in the wife and bond-slaves of Abraham, the apostle understands the two Testaments.862862 Gal. iv. 22-24. But there, one represents each; here, the application does not suit so well, as there are two and two. There, also, the son of the bond-slave is disinherited; but here the sons of the slaves receive the land of promise along with the sons of the free women: so that this type must have a different meaning.
52. Supposing that the two free wives point to the New Testament, by which we are called to liberty, what is the meaning of there being two? Perhaps because in Scripture, as the attentive reader will find, we are said to have two lives in the body of Christ,—one 292temporal, in which we suffer pain, and one eternal, in which we shall behold the blessedness of God. We see the one in the Lord’s passion, and the other in His resurrection. The names of the women point to this meaning: It is said that Leah means Suffering, and Rachel the First Principle made visible, or the Word which makes the First Principle visible. The action, then, of our mortal human life, in which we live by faith, doing many painful tasks without knowing what benefit may result from them to those in whom we are interested, is Leah, Jacob’s first wife. And thus she is said to have had weak eyes. For the purposes of mortals are timid, and our plans uncertain. Again, the hope of the eternal contemplation of God, accompanied with a sure and delightful perception of truth, is Rachel. And on this account she is described as fair and well-formed. This is the beloved of every pious student, and for this he serves the grace of God, by which our sins, though like scarlet, are made white as snow.863863 Isa. i. 18. For Laban means making white; and we read that Jacob served Laban for Rachel.864864 Gen. xxix. 17. No man turns to serve righteousness, in subjection to the grace of forgiveness, but that he may live in peace in the Word which makes visible the First Principle, or God; that is, he serves for Rachel, not for Leah. For what a man loves in the works of righteousness is not the toil of doing and suffering. No one desires this life for its own sake; as Jacob desired not Leah, who yet was brought to him, and became his wife, and the mother of children. Though she could not be loved of herself, the Lord made her be borne with as a step to Rachel; and then she came to be approved of on account of her children. Thus every useful servant of God, brought into His grace by which his sins are made white, has in his mind, and heart, and affection, when he thus turns to God, nothing but the knowledge of wisdom. This we often expect to attain as a reward for practising the seven precepts of the law which concern the love of our neighbor, that we injure no one: namely, Honor thy father and mother; Thou shall not commit adultery; Thou shall not kill; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shall not bear false witness; Thou shalt not desire thy neighbor’s wife; Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s property. When a man has obeyed these to the best of his ability, and, instead of the bright joys of truth which he desired and hoped for, finds in the darkness of the manifold trials of this world that he is bound to painful endurance, or has embraced Leah instead of Rachel, if there is perseverance in his love, he bears with the one in order to attain the other; and as if it were said to him, Serve seven other years for Rachel, he hears seven new commands,—to be poor in spirit, to be meek, to be a mourner, to hunger and thirst after righteousness, to be merciful, pure, and a peacemaker.865865 Matt. v. 3-9. A man would desire, if it were possible, to obtain at once the joys of lovely and perfect wisdom, without the endurance of toil in action and suffering; but this is impossible in mortal life. This seems to be meant, when it is said to Jacob: "It is not the custom in our country to marry the younger before the elder."866866 Gen. xxix. 26. The elder may very well mean the first in order of time. So, in the discipline of man, the toil of doing the work of righteousness precedes the delight of understanding the truth.
53. To this purpose it is written: "Thou hast desired wisdom; keep the commandments, and the Lord shall give it thee."867867 Ecclus. i. 33. The commandments are those concerning righteousness, and the righteousness is that which is by faith, surrounded with the uncertainty of temptations; so that understanding is the reward of a pious belief of what is not yet understood. The meaning I have given to these words, "Thou hast desired wisdom; keep the commandments, and the Lord shall give it thee," I find also in the passage, "Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand;"868868 Isa. vii. 9, Vulg. showing that as righteousness is by faith, understanding comes by wisdom. Accordingly, in the case of those who eagerly demand evident truth, we must not condemn the desire, but regulate it, so that beginning with faith it may proceed to the desired end through good works. The life of virtue is one of toil; the end desired is unclouded wisdom. Why should I believe, says one, what is not clearly proved? Let me hear some word which will disclose the first principle of all things. This is the one great craving of the rational soul in the pursuit of truth. And the answer is, What you desire is excellent, and well worthy of your love; but Leah is to be married first, and then Rachel. The proper effect of your eagerness is to lead you to submit to the right method, instead of rebelling against it; for without this method you cannot attain what you so eagerly long for. And when it is attained, the possession of the lovely form of knowledge will be in this world accompanied with the toils of righteousness. For however clear and true our perception in this life may be of the unchangeable good, 293the mortal body is still a weight on the mind and the earthly tabernacle is a clog on the intellect in its manifold activity. The end then, is one, but many things must be gone through for the sake of it.
54. Thus Jacob has two free wives; for both are daughters of the remission of sins, or of whitening, that is, of Laban. One is loved, the other is borne. But she that is borne is the most and the soonest fruitful, that she may be loved, if not for herself, at least for her children. For the toil of the righteous is specially fruitful in those whom they beget for the kingdom of God, by preaching the gospel amid many trials and temptations; and they call those their joy and crown869869 Phil. iv. 1. for whom they are in labors more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths often,870870 2 Cor. xi. 23. —for whom they have fightings without and fears within.871871 2 Cor. vii. 5. Such births result most easily and plentifully from the word of faith, the preaching of Christ crucified, which speaks also of His human nature as far as it can be easily understood, so as not to hurt the weak eyes of Leah. Rachel, again, with clear eye, is beside herself to God,872872 2 Cor. v. 13. and sees in the beginning the Word of God with God, and wishes to bring forth, but cannot; for who shall declare His generation? So the life devoted to contemplation, in order to see with no feeble mental eye things invisible to flesh, but understood by the things that are made, and to discern the ineffable manifestation of the eternal power and divinity of God, seeks leisure from all occupation, and is therefore barren. In this habit of retirement, where the fire of meditation burns bright, there is a want of sympathy with human weakness, and with the need men have of our help in their calamities. This life also burns with the desire for children (for it wishes to teach what it knows, and not to go with the corruption of envy873873 Wisd. vi. 23. ), and sees its sister-life fully occupied with work and with bringing forth; and it grieves that men run after that virtue which cares for their wants and weaknesses, instead of that which has a divine imperishable lesson to impart. This is what is meant when it is said, "Rachel envied her sister."874874 Gen. xxx. 1. Moreover, as the pure intellectual perception of that which is not matter, and so is not the object of the bodliy sense, cannot be expressed in words which spring from the flesh, the doctrine of wisdom prefers to get some lodging for divine truth in the mind by whatever material figures and illustrations occur, rather than to give up teaching these things; and thus Rachel preferred that her husband should have children by her handmaid, rather than that she should be without any children. Bilhah, the name of her handmaid, is said to mean old; and so, even when we speak of the spiritual and unchangeable nature of God, ideas are suggested relating to the old life of the bodily senses.
55. Leah, too, got children by her handmaid, from the desire of having a numerous family. Zilpah, her handmaid, is, interpreted, an open mouth. So Leah’s handmaid represents those who are spoken of in Scripture as engaging in the preaching of the gospel with open mouth, but not with open heart. Thus it is written of some: "This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me."875875 Isa. xxix. 13. To such the apostle says: "Thou that preachest that a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery?"876876 Rom. ii. 21, 22. But that even by this arrangement the free wife of Jacob, the type of labor or endurance, might obtain children to be heirs of the kingdom, the Lord says: "What they say, do; but do not after their works."877877 Matt. xxiii. 3. And again, the apostolic life, when enduring imprisonment, says: "Whether Christ is preached in pretence or in truth, I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."878878 Phil. i. 18. It is the joy of the mother over her numerous family, though born of her handmaid.
56. In one instance Leah owed her becoming a mother to Rachel, who, in return for some mandrakes, allowed her husband to give her night to her sister. Some, I know, think that eating this fruit has the effect of making barren women productive, and that Rachel, from her desire for children, was thus bent on getting the fruit from her sister. But I should not agree to this, even had Rachel conceived at the time. As Leah then conceived, and, besides, had two other children before God opened Rachel’s womb, there is no reason for supposing any such quality in the mandrake, without any experience to prove it. I will give my explanation; those better able than I may give a better. Though this fruit is not often met with, I had once, to my great satisfaction, on account of its connection with this passage of Scripture, an opportunity of seeing it. I examined the fruit as carefully as I could, not with the help of any recondite knowledge of the nature of roots or the virtues of plants, but only as to what I or any one might learn from the sight, and smell, and taste. I thought it a nice-looking fruit, and sweet-smelling, but in294sipid; and I confess it is hard to say why Rachel desired it so much, unless it was for its rarity and its sweet smell. Why the incident should be narrated in Scripture, in which the fancies of women would not be mentioned as important unless it was intended that we should learn some important lesson from them, the only thing I can think of is the very simple idea that the fruit represents a good character; not the praise given a man by a few just and wise people, but popular report, which bestows greatness and renown on a man, and which is not desirable for its own sake, but is essential to the success of good men in their endeavors to benefit their fellow-men. So the apostle says, that it is proper to have a good report of those that are without;879879 1 Tim. iii. 7. for though they are not infallible, the lustre of their praise and the odor of their good opinion are a great help to the efforts of those who seek to benefit them. And this popular renown is not obtained by those that are highest in the Church, unless they expose themselves to the toils and hazards of an active life. Thus the son of Leah found the mandrakes when he went out into the field, that is, when walking honestly towards those that are without. The pursuit of wisdom, on the other hand, retired from the busy crowd, and lost in calm meditation, could never obtain a particle of this public approval, except through those who take the management of public business, not for the sake of being leaders, but in order to be useful. These men of action and business exert themselves for the public benefit, and by a popular use of their influence gain the approval of the people even for the quiet life of the student and inquirer after truth; and thus through Leah the mandrakes come into the hands of Rachel. Leah herself got them from her first-born son, that is, in honor of her fertility, which represents all the useful result of a laborious life exposed to the common vicissitudes; a life which many avoid on account of its troublesome engagements, because, although they might be able to take the lead, they are bent on study, and devote all their powers to the quiet pursuit of knowledge, in love with the beauty of Rachel.
57. But as it is right that this studious life should gain public approval by letting itself be known, while it cannot rightly gain this approval if it keeps its follower in retirement, instead of using his powers for the management of ecclesiastical affairs, and so prevents his being generally useful; to this purpose Leah says to her sister, "Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son’s mandrakes also?" 880880 Gen. xxx. 15. The husband represents all those who, though fit for active life, and able to govern the Church, in administering to believers the mystery of the faith, from their love of learning and of the pursuit of wisdom, desire to relinquish all troublesome occupations, and to bury themselves in the classroom. Thus the words, "Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son’s mandrakes also?" mean, "Is it a small matter that the life of study keeps in retirement men required for the toils of public life? and does it ask for popular renown as well?"
58. To get this renown justly, Rachel gives her husband to her sister for the night; that is, those who, by a talent for business, are fitted for government, must for the public benefit consent to bear the burden and suffer the hardships of public life; lest the pursuit of wisdom, to which their leisure is devoted, should be evil spoken of, and should not gain from the multitude the good opinion, represented by the fruit, which is necessary for the encouragement of their pupils. But the life of business must be forced upon them. This is clearly shown by Leah’s meeting Jacob when coming from the field, and laying hold of him, saying, "Thou shalt come in to me; for I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes."881881 Gen. xxx. 16. As if she said, Dost thou wish the knowledge which thou lovest to be well thought of? Do not shirk the toil of business. The same thing happens constantly in the Church. What we read is explained by what we meet with in our own experience. Do we not everywhere see men coming from secular employments, to seek leisure for the study and contemplation of truth, their beloved Rachel, and intercepted mid-way by ecclesiastical affairs, which require them to be set to work, as if Leah said to them, You must come in to me? When such men minister in sincerity the mystery of God, so as in the night of this world to beget sons in the faith, popular approval is gained also for that life, in love for which they were led to abandon worldly pursuits, and from the adoption of which they were called away to undertake the benevolent task of government. In all their labors they aim chiefly at this, that their chosen way of life may have greater and wider renown, as having supplied the people with such leaders; as Jacob consents to go with Leah, that Rachel may obtain the sweet-smelling and good-looking fruit. Rachel, 295too, in course of time, by the mercy of God, brings forth a child herself, but not till after some time; for it seldom happens that there is a sound, though only partial, apprehension, without fleshly ideas, of such sacred lessons of wisdom as this: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."882882 John i. 1.
59. This must suffice as a reply to the false accusations brought by Faustus against the three fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, from whom the God whom the Catholic Church worship was pleased to take His name. This is not the place to discourse on the merits and piety of these three men, or on the dignity of their prophetic character, which is beyond the comprehension of carnal minds. It is enough in this treatise to defend them against the calumnious attacks of malevolence and falsehood, in case those who read the Scriptures in a carping and hostile spirit should fancy that they have proved anything against the sacredness and the profitableness of these books, by their attempts to blacken the character of men who are there mentioned so honorably.
60. It should be added that Lot, the brother, that is the blood relation, of Abraham, is not to be ranked as equal to those of whom God says, "I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob;" nor does he belong to those testified to in Scripture as having continued righteous to the end, although in Sodom he lived a pious and virtuous life, and showed a praiseworthy hospitality, so that he was rescued from the fire, and a land was given by God to his seed to dwell in, for the sake of his uncle Abraham. On these accounts he is commended in Scripture—not for intemperance or incest. But when we find bad and good actions recorded of the same person, we must take warning from the one, and example from the other. As, then, the sin of Lot, of whom we are told that he was righteous previous to this sin, instead of bringing a stain on the character of God, or the truth of Scripture, rather calls on us to approve and admire the record in its resemblance to a faithful mirror, which reflects not only the beauties and perfections, but also the faults and deformities, of those who approach it; still more, in the case of Judah, who lay with his daughter-in-law, we may see how groundless are the reproaches cast on the narrative. The sacred record has an authority which raises it far above not merely the cavils of a handful of Manichæans, but the determined enmity of the whole Gentile world; for, in confirmation of its claims, we see that already it has brought nearly all people from their idolatrous superstitions to the worship of one God, according to the rule of Christianity. It has conquered the world, not by violence and warfare, but by the resistless force of truth. Where, then, is Judah praised in Scripture? Where is anything good said of him, except that in the blessing pronounced by his father he is distinguished above the rest, because of the prophecy that Christ would come in the flesh from his tribe? 883883 Gen. xlix. 8-12.
61. Judah, as Faustus says, committed fornication; and besides that, we can accuse him of selling his brother into Egypt. Is it any disparagement to light, that in revealing all things it discloses what is unsightly? So neither is the character of Scripture affected by the evil deeds of which we are informed by the record itself. Undoubtedly, by the eternal law, which requires the preservation of natural order, and forbids the transgression of it, conjugal intercourse should take place only for the procreation of children, and after the celebration of marriage, so as to maintain the bond of peace. Therefore, the prostitution of women, merely for the gratification of sinful passion, is condemned by the divine and eternal law. To purchase the degradation of another, disgraces the purchaser; so that, though the sin would have been greater if Judah had knowingly lain with his daughter-in-law (for if, as the Lord says, man and wife are no more two, but one flesh,884884 Matt. xix. 6. a daughter-in-law is the same as a daughter); still, it is plain that, as regards his own intention, he was disgraced by his intercourse with an harlot. The woman, on the other hand, who deceived her father-in-law, sinned not from wantonness, or because she loved the gains of iniquity, but from her desire to have children of this particular family. So, being disappointed in two of the brothers, and not obtaining the third, she succeeded by craft in getting a child by their father; and the reward which she got was kept, not as an ornament, but as a pledge. It would certainly have been better to have remained childless than to become a mother without marriage. Still, her desire to have her father-in-law as the father of her children was very different from having a criminal affection for him. And when, by his order, she was brought out to be killed, on her producing the staff and necklace and ring, saying that the father of the child was the man who had given her those pledges, Judah acknowledged them, and said, "She hath been more righteous than I"296—not praising her, but condemning himself. He blamed her desire to have children less than his own unlawful passion, which had led him to one whom he thought to be an harlot. In a similar sense, it is said of some that they justified Sodom;885885 Ezek. xvi. 52. that is, their sin was so great, that Sodom seemed righteous in comparison. And even allowing that this woman is not spoken of as comparatively less guilty, but is actually praised by her father-in-law, while, on account of her not observing the established rites of marriage, she is a criminal in the eye of the eternal law of right, which forbids the transgression of natural order, both as regards the body, and first and chiefly as regards the mind, what wonder though one sinner should praise another?
62. The mistake of Faustus and of Manichæism generally, is in supposing that these objections prove anything against us, as if our reverence for Scripture, and our profession of regard for its authority, bound us to approve of all the evil actions mentioned in it; whereas the greater our homage for the Scripture, the more decided must be our condemnation of what the truth of Scripture itself teaches us to condemn. In Scripture, all fornication and adultery are condemned by the divine law; accordingly, when actions of this kind are narrated, without being expressly condemned, it is intended not that we should praise them, but that we should pass judgment on them ourselves. Every one execrates the cruelty of Herod in the Gospel, when, in his uneasiness on hearing of the birth of Christ, he commanded the slaughter of so many infants.886886 Matt. ii. 16. But this is merely narrated without being condemned. Or if Manichæan absurdity is bold enough to deny the truth of this narrative, since they do not admit the birth of Christ, which was what troubled Herod, let them read the account of the blind fury of the Jews, which is related without any expression of reproach, although the feeling of abhorrence is the same in all.
63. But, it is said, Judah, who lay with his daughter-in-law, is reckoned as one of the twelve patriarchs. And was not Judas, who betrayed the Lord, reckoned among the twelve apostles? And was not this one of them, who was a devil, sent along with them to preach the gospel?887887 John vi. 70, 71. In reply to this, it will be said that after his crime Judas hanged himself, and was removed from the number of the apostles; while Judah, after his evil conduct, was not only blessed along with his brethren, but got special honor and approval from his father, who is so highly spoken of in Scripture. But the main lesson to be learned from this is, that this prophecy refers not to Judah, but to Christ, who was foretold as to come in the flesh from his tribe; and the very reason for the mention of this crime of Judah is to be found in the desirableness of teaching us to look for another meaning in the words of his father, which are seen not to be applicable to him in his misconduct, from the praise which they express.
64. Doubtless, the intention of Faustus’ calumnies is to damage this very assertion, that Christ was born of the tribe of Judah. Especially, as in the genealogy given by Matthew we find the name of Zara, whom this woman Tamar bore to Judah. Had Faustus wished to reproach Jacob’s family merely, and not Christ’s birth, he might have taken the case of Reuben the first-born, who committed the unnatural crime of defiling his father’s bed, of which fornication the apostle says, that it was not so much as named among the Gentiles.888888 1 Cor. v. 1. Jacob also mentions this in his blessing, charging his son with the infamous deed. Faustus might have brought up this, as Reuben seems to have been guilty of deliberate incest, and there was no harlot’s disguise in this case, were it not that Tamar’s conduct in desiring nothing but to have children is more odious to Faustus than if she had acted from criminal passion, and did he not wish to discredit the incarnation, by bringing reproach on Christ’s progenitors. Faustus unhappily is not aware that the most true and truthful Saviour is a teacher, not only in His words, but also in His birth. In His fleshly origin there is this lesson for those who should believe on Him from all nations, that the sins of their fathers need be no hindrance to them. Besides, the Bridegroom, who was to call good and bad to His marriage,889889 Matt. xxii. 10. was pleased to assimilate Himself to His guests, in being born of good and bad. He thus confirms as typical of Himself the symbol of the Passover, in which it was commanded that the lamb to be eaten should be taken from the sheep or from the goats—that is, from the righteous or the wicked.890890 Ex. xii. 3-5. Preserving throughout the indication of divinity and humanity, as man He consented to have both bad and good as His parents, while as God He chose the miraculous birth from a virgin.
65. The impiety, therefore, of Faustus’ attacks on Scripture can injure no one but himself; for what he thus assails is now deservedly the object of universal reverence. As has been said already, the sacred record, like a faithful mirror, has no flattery in its 297portraits, and either itself passes sentence upon human actions as worthy of approval or disapproval, or leaves the reader to do so. And not only does it distinguish men as blameworthy or praiseworthy, but it also takes notice of cases where the blameworthy deserve praise, and the praiseworthy blame. Thus, although Saul was blameworthy, it was not the less praiseworthy in him to examine so carefully who had eaten food during the curse, and to pronounce the stern sentence in obedience to the commandment of God.891891 1 Sam. xiv. So, too, he was right in banishing those that had familiar spirits and wizards out of the land.892892 1 Sam. xxviii. 3. And although David was praiseworthy, we are not called on to approve or imitate his sins, which God rebukes by the prophet. And so Pontius Pilate was not wrong in pronouncing the Lord innocent, in spite of the accusations of the Jews;893893 John xix. 4, 6. nor was it praiseworthy in Peter to deny the Lord thrice; nor, again, was he praiseworthy on that occasion when Christ called him Satan because, not understanding the things of God, he wished to withhold Christ from his passion, that is, from our salvation. Here Peter, immediately after being called blessed, is called Satan.894894 Matt. xvi. 17, 22, 23. Which character most truly belonged to him, we may see from his apostleship, and from his crown of martyrdom.
66. In the case of David also, we read of both good and bad actions. But where David’s strength lay, and what was the secret of his success, is sufficiently plain, not to the blind malevolence with which Faustus assails holy writings and holy men, but to pious discernment, which bows to the divine authority, and at the same time judges correctly of human conduct. The Manichæans will find, if they read the Scriptures, that God rebukes David more than Faustus does.895895 2 Sam. xii. But they will read also of the sacrifice of his penitence, of his surpassing gentleness to his merciless and bloodthirsty enemy, whom David, pious as he was brave, dismissed unhurt when now and again he fell into his hands.896896 1 Sam. xxiv. and xxvi. They will read of his memorable humility under divine chastisement, when the kingly neck was so bowed under the Master’s yoke, that he bore with perfect patience bitter taunts from his enemy, though he was armed, and had armed men with him. And when his companion was enraged at such things being said to the king, and was on the point of requiting the insult on the head of the scoffer, he mildly restrained him, appealing to the fear of God in support of his own royal order, and saying that this bad happened to him as a punishment from God, who had sent the man to curse him.897897 2 Sam. xvi. They will read how, with the love of a shepherd for the flock entrusted to him, he was willing to die for them, when, after he had numbered the people, God saw good to punish his sinful pride by lessening the number he boasted of. In this destruction, God, with whom there is no iniquity, in His secret judgment, both took away the lives of those whom He knew to be unworthy of life, and by this diminution cured the vainglory which had prided itself on the number of the people. They will read of that scrupulous fear of God in his regard for the emblem of Christ in the sacred anointing, which made David’s heart smite him with regret for having secretly cut off a small piece of Saul’s garment, that he might prove to him that he had no wish to kill him, when he might have done it. They will read of his judicious behavior as regards his children, and also of his tenderness toward them—how, when one was sick, he entreated the Lord for him with many tears and with much self-abasement, but when he died, an innocent child, he did not mourn for him; and again, how, when his youthful son was carried away with unnatural hostility to an infamous violation of his father’s bed, and in a parricidal war, he wished him to live, and wept for him when he was killed; for he thought of the eternal doom of a soul guilty of such crimes, and desired that he should live to escape this doom by being brought to submission and repentance. These, and many other praiseworthy and exemplary things, may be seen in this holy man by a candid examination of the Scripture narrative, especially if in humble piety and unfeigned faith we regard the judgment of God, who knew the secrets of David’s heart, and who, in His infallible inspection, so approves of David as to commend him as a pattern to his sons.
67. It must have been on account of this inspection of the depths of David’s heart by the Spirit of God that, when on being reproved by the prophet, he said, I have sinned, he was considered worthy to be told, immediately after this brief confession, that he was pardoned—that is, that he was admitted to eternal salvation. For he did not escape the correction of the fatherly rod, of which God spoke in His threatening, that, while by his confession he obtained eternal exemption, he might be tried by temporal chastisement. And it is a remarkable evidence of the strength of David’s faith, and of his meek and submissive spirit, that, when 298he had been told by the prophet that God had forgiven him, although the threatened consequences were still permitted to follow, he did not accuse the prophet of having deluded him, or murmur against God as having mocked him with a declaration of forgiveness. This deeply holy man, whose soul was lifted up unto God, and not against God, knew that had not the Lord mercifully accepted his confession and repentance, his sins would have deserved eternal punishment. So when, instead of this, he was made to smart under temporal correction, he saw that, while the pardon remained good, wholesome discipline was also provided. Saul, too, when he was reproved by Samuel, said, I have sinned.898898 1 Sam. xv. 24. Why, then, was he not considered fit to be told, as David was, that the Lord had pardoned his sin? Is there acceptance of persons with God? Far from it. While to the human ear the words were the same, the divine eye saw a difference in the heart. The lesson for us to learn from these things is, that the kingdom of heaven is within us,899899 Luke xvii. 28. and that we must worship God from our inmost feelings, that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth may speak, instead of honoring Him with our lips, like the people of old, while our hearts are far from Him. We may learn also to judge of men, whose hearts we cannot see, only as God judges, who sees what we cannot, and who cannot be biased or misled. Having, on the high authority of sacred Scripture, the plainest announcement of God’s opinion of David, we may regard as absurd or deplorable the rashness of men who hold a different opinion. The authority of Scripture, as regards the character of these men of ancient times, is supported by the evidence from the prophecies which they contain, and which are now receiving their fulfillment.
68. We see the same thing in the Gospel, where the devils confess that Christ is the Son of God in the words used by Peter, but with a very different heart. So, though the words were the same, Peter is praised for his faith, while the impiety of the devils is checked. For Christ, not by human sense, but by divine knowledge, could inspect and infallibly discriminate the sources from which the words came. Besides, there are multitudes who confess that Christ is the Son of the living God, without meriting the same approval as Peter—not only of those who shall say in that day, "Lord, Lord," and shall receive the sentence, "Depart from me," but also of those who shall be placed on the right hand. They may probably never have denied Christ even once; they may never have opposed His suffering for our salvation; they may never have forced the Gentiles to do as the Jews;900900 Gal. ii. 14. and yet they shall not be honored equally with Peter, who, though he did all these things, will sit on one of the twelve thrones, and judge not only the twelve tribes, but the angels. So, again, many who have never desired another man’s wife, or procured the death of the husband, as David did, will never reach the place which David nevertheless held in the divine favor. There is a vast difference between what is in itself so undesirable that it must be utterly rejected, and the rich and plenteous harvest which may afterwards appear. For farmers are best pleased with the fields from which, after weeding them, it may be, of great thistles, they receive an hundred-fold; not with fields which have never had any thistles, and hardly bear thirty-fold.
69. So Moses, too, who was so faithful a servant of God in all his house; the minister of the holy, just, and good law; of whose character the apostle speaks in the words here quoted;901901 Heb. iii. 5. the minister also of the symbols which, though not conferring salvation, promised the Saviour, as the Saviour Himself shows, when He says, "If ye believed Moses, ye would also believe me, for he wrote of me,"—from which passage we have already sufficiently answered the presumptuous cavils of the Manichæans;—this Moses, the servant of the living, the true, the most high God, that made heaven and earth, not of a foreign substance, but of nothing—not from the pressure of necessity, but from plenitude of goodness—not by the suffering of His members, but by the power of His word;—this Moses, who humbly put from him this high ministry, but obediently accepted it, and faithfully kept it, and diligently fulfilled it; who ruled the people with vigilance, reproved them with vehemence, loved them with fervor, and bore with them in patience, standing for his subjects before God to receive His counsel, and to appease His wrath;—this great and good man is not to be judged of from Faustus’ malicious representations, but from what is said by God, whose word is a true expression of His true opinion of this man, whom He knew because He made him. For the sins of men are also known to God, though He is not their author; but He takes notice of them as a judge in those who refuse to own them, and pardons them as a father in those who make confession. His servant Moses, as thus described, we love and ad299mire and to the best of our power imitate, coming indeed far short of his merits, though we have killed no Egyptian, nor plundered any one, nor carried on any war; which actions of Moses were in one case prompted by the zeal of the future champion of his people, and in the other cases commanded by God.
70. It might be shown that, though Moses slew the Egyptian, without being commanded by God, the action was divinely permitted, as, from the prophetic character of Moses, it prefigured something in the future. Now however, I do not use this argument, but view the action as having no symbolical meaning. In the light, then, of the eternal law, it was wrong for one who had no legal authority to kill the man, even though he was a bad character, besides being the aggressor. But in minds where great virtue is to come, there is often an early crop of vices, in which we may still discern a disposition for some particular virtue, which will come when the mind is duly cultivated. For as farmers, when they see land bringing forth huge crops, though of weeds, pronounce it good for corn; or when they see wild creepers, which have to be rooted out, still consider the land good for useful vines; and when they see a hill covered with wild olives, conclude that with culture it will produce good fruit: so the disposition of mind which led Moses to take the law into his own hands, to prevent the wrong done to his brother, living among strangers, by a wicked citizen of the country from being unrequited, was not unfit for the production of virtue, but from want of culture gave signs of its productiveness in an unjustifiable manner. He who afterwards, by His angel, called Moses on Mount Sinai, with the divine commission to liberate the people of Israel from Egypt, and who trained him to obedience by the miraculous appearance in the bush burning but not consumed, and by instructing him in his ministry, was the same who, by the call addressed from heaven to Saul when persecuting the Church, humbled him, raised him up, and animated him; or in figurative words, by this stroke He cut off the branch, grafted it, and made it fruitful. For the fierce energy of Paul, when in his zeal for hereditary traditions he persecuted the Church, thinking that he was doing God service, was like a crop of weeds showing great signs of productiveness. It was the same in Peter, when he took his sword out of its sheath to defend the Lord, and cut off the right ear of an assailant, when the Lord rebuked him with something like a threat, saying, "Put up thy sword into its sheath; for he that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword."902902 Matt. xxvi. 51, 52. To take the sword is to use weapons against a man’s life, without the sanction of the constituted authority. The Lord, indeed, had told His disciples to carry a sword; but He did not tell them to use it. But that after this sin Peter should become a pastor of the Church was no more improper than that Moses, after smiting the Egyptian, should become the leader of the congregation. In both cases the trespass originated not in inveterate cruelty, but in a hasty zeal which admitted of correction. In both cases there was resentment against injury, accompanied in one case by love for a brother, and in the other by love, though still carnal, of the Lord. Here was evil to be subdued or rooted out; but the heart with such capacities needed only, like good soil, to be cultivated to make it fruitful in virtue.
71. Then, as for Faustus’ objection to the spoiling of the Egyptians, he knows not what he says. In this Moses not only did not sin, but it would have been sin not to do it. It was by the command of God,903903 Ex. iii. 21, 22; xi. 2; xii. 35, 36. who, from His knowledge both of the actions and of the hearts of men, can decide on what every one should be made to suffer, and through whose agency. The people at that time were still carnal, and engrossed with earthly affections; while the Egyptians were in open rebellion against God, for they used the gold, God’s creature, in the service of idols, to the dishonor of the Creator, and they had grievously oppressed strangers by making them work without pay. Thus the Egyptians deserved the punishment, and the Israelites were suitably employed in inflicting it. Perhaps, indeed, it was not so much a command as a permission to the Hebrews to act in the matter according to their own inclinations; and God, in sending the message by Moses, only wished that they should thus be informed of His permission. There may also have been mysterious reasons for what God said to the people on this matter. At any rate, God’s commands are to be submissively received, not to be argued against. The apostle says, "Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor?"904904 Rom. xi. 34. Whether, then, the reason was what I have said, or whether in the secret appointment of God, there was some unknown reason for His telling the people by Moses to borrow things from the Egyptians, and to take them away with them, this remains certain, that this was said for some good reason, and that Moses could not lawfully have done otherwise than God told 300him, leaving to God the reason of the command, while the servant’s duty is to obey.
72. But, says Faustus, it cannot be admitted that the true God, who is also good, ever gave such a command. I answer, such a command can be rightly given by no other than the true and good God, who alone knows the suitable command in every case, and who alone is incapable of inflicting unmerited suffering on any one. This ignorant and spurious goodness of the human heart may as well deny what Christ says, and object to the wicked being made to suffer by the good God, when He shall say to the angels, "Gather first the tares into bundles to burn them." The servants, however, were stopped when they wished to do this prematurely: "Lest by chance, when ye would gather the tares, ye root up the wheat also with them."905905 Matt. xiii. 29, 30. Thus the true and good God alone knows when, to whom, and by whom to order anything, or to permit anything. In the same way, this human goodness, or folly rather, might object to the Lord’s permitting the devils to enter the swine, which they asked to be allowed to do with a mischievous intent,906906 Matt. viii. 31, 32. especially as the Manichæans believe that not only pigs, but the vilest insects, have human souls. But setting aside these absurd notions, this is undeniable, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the only son of God, and therefore the true and good God, permitted the destruction of swine belonging to strangers, implying loss of life and of a great amount of property, at the request of devils. No one can be so insane as to suppose that Christ could not have driven the devils out of the men without gratifying their malice by the destruction of the swine. If, then, the Creator and Governor of all natures, in His superintendence, which, though mysterious, is ever just, indulged the violent and unjust inclination of those lost spirits already doomed to eternal fire, why should not the Egyptians, who were unrighteous oppressors, be spoiled by the Hebrews, a free people, who would claim payment for their enforced and painful toil, especially as the earthly possessions which they thus lost were used by the Egyptians in their impious rites, to the dishonor of the Creator? Still, if Moses had originated this order, or if the people had done it spontaneously, undoubtedly it would have been sinful; and perhaps the people did sin, not in doing what God commanded or permitted, but in some desire of their own for what they took. The permission given to this action by divine authority was in accordance with the just and good counsel of Him who uses punishments both to restrain the wicked and to educate His own people; who knows also how to give more advanced precepts to those able to bear them, while He begins on a lower scale in the treatment of the feeble. As for Moses, he can be blamed neither for coveting the property, nor for disputing, in any instance, the divine authority.
73. According to the eternal law, which requires the preservation of natural order, and forbids the transgression of it, some actions have an indifferent character, so that men are blamed for presumption if they do them without being called upon, while they are deservedly praised for doing them when required. The act, the agent, and the authority for the action are all of great importance in the order of nature. For Abraham to sacrifice his son of his own accord is shocking madness. His doing so at the command of God proves him faithful and submissive. This is so loudly proclaimed by the very voice of truth, that Faustus, eagerly rummaging for some fault, and reduced at last to slanderous charges, has not the boldness to attack this action. It is scarcely possible that he can have forgotten a deed so famous, that it recurs to the mind of itself without any study or reflection, and is in fact repeated by so many tongues, and portrayed in so many places, that no one can pretend to shut his eyes or his ears to it. If, therefore, while Abraham’s killing his son of his own accord would have been unnatural, his doing it at the command of God shows not only guiltless but praiseworthy compliance, why does Faustus blame Moses for spoiling the Egyptians? Your feeling of disapproval for the mere human action should be restrained by a regard for the divine sanction. Will you venture to blame God Himself for desiring such actions? Then "Get thee behind me, Satan, for thou understandest not the things which be of God, but those which be of men." Would that this rebuke might accomplish in you what it did in Peter, and that you might hereafter preach the truth concerning God, which you now, judging by feeble sense, find fault with! as Peter became a zealous messenger to announce to the Gentiles what he objected to at first, when the Lord spoke of it as His intention.
74. Now, if this explanation suffices to satisfy human obstinacy and perverse misinterpretation of right actions of the vast difference between the indulgence of passion and presumption on the part of men, and obedience to the command of God, who knows what to permit or to order, and also the time and the persons, and the due action or suffering in 301each case, the account of the wars of Moses will not excite surprise or abhorrence, for in wars carried on by divine command, he showed not ferocity but obedience; and God in giving the command, acted not in cruelty, but in righteous retribution, giving to all what they deserved, and warning those who needed warning. What is the evil in war? Is it the death of some who will soon die in any case, that others may live in peaceful subjection? This is mere cowardly dislike, not any religious feeling. The real evils in war are love of violence, revengeful cruelty, fierce and implacable enmity, wild resistance, and the lust of power, and such like; and it is generally to punish these things, when force is required to inflict the punishment, that, in obedience to God or some lawful authority, good men undertake wars, when they find themselves in such a position as regards the conduct of human affairs, that right conduct requires them to act, or to make others act in this way. Otherwise John, when the soldiers who came to be baptized asked, What shall we do? would have replied, Throw away your arms; give up the service; never strike, or wound, or disable any one. But knowing that such actions in battle were not murderous but authorized by law, and that the soldiers did not thus avenge themselves, but defend the public safety, he replied, "Do violence to no man, accuse no man falsely, and be content with your wages."907907 Luke iii. 14. But as the Manichæans are in the habit of speaking evil of John, let them hear the Lord Jesus Christ Himself ordering this money to be given to Cæsar, which John tells the soldiers to be content with. "Give," He says, "to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s."908908 Matt. xxii. 21. For tribute-money is given on purpose to pay the soldiers for war. Again, in the case of the centurion who said, "I am a man under authority, and have soldiers under me: and I say to one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it," Christ gave due praise to his faith;909909 Matt. viii. 9, 10. He did not tell him to leave the service. But there is no need here to enter on the long discussion of just and unjust ways.
75. A great deal depends on the causes for which men undertake wars, and on the authority they have for doing so; for the natural order which seeks the peace of mankind, ordains that the monarch should have the power of undertaking war if he thinks it advisable, and that the soldiers should perform their military duties in behalf of the peace and safety of the community. When war is undertaken in obedience to God, who would rebuke, or humble, or crush the pride of man, it must be allowed to be a righteous war; for even the wars which arise from human passion cannot harm the eternal well-being of God, nor even hurt His saints; for in the trial of their patience, and the chastening of their spirit, and in bearing fatherly correction, they are rather benefited than injured. No one can have any power against them but what is given him from above. For there is no power but of God,910910 Rom. xiii. 1. who either orders or permits. Since, therefore, a righteous man, serving it may be under an ungodly king, may do the duty belonging to his position in the State in fighting by the order of his sovereign,—for in some cases it is plainly the will of God that he should fight, and in others, where this is not so plain, it may be an unrighteous command on the part of the king, while the soldier is innocent, because his position makes obedience a duty,—how much more must the man be blameless who carries on war on the authority of God, of whom every one who serves Him knows that He can never require what is wrong?
76. If it is supposed that God could not enjoin warfare, because in after times it was said by the Lord Jesus Christ, "I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but if any one strike thee on the right cheek, turn to him the left also,"911911 Matt. v. 39. the answer is, that what is here required is not a bodily action, but an inward disposition. The sacred seat of virtue is the heart, and such were the hearts of our fathers, the righteous men of old. But order required such a regulation of events, and such a distinction of times, as to show first of all that even earthly blessings (for so temporal kingdoms and victory over enemies are considered to be, and these are the things which the community of the ungodly all over the world are continually begging from idols and devils) are entirely under the control and at the disposal of the one true God. Thus, under the Old Testament, the secret of the kingdom of heaven, which was to be disclosed in due time, was veiled, and so far obscured, in the disguise of earthly promises. But when the fullness of time came for the revelation of the New Testament, which was hidden under the types of the Old, clear testimony was to be borne to the truth, that there is another life for which this life ought to be disregarded, and another kingdom for which the opposition of all earthly kingdoms should be patiently borne. Thus the name martyrs, 302which means witnesses, was given to those who, by the will of God, bore this testimony, by their confessions, their sufferings, and their death. The number of such witnesses is so great, that if it pleased Christ—who called Saul by a voice from heaven, and having changed him from a wolf to a sheep, sent him into the midst of wolves—to unite them all in one army, and to give them success in battle, as He gave to the Hebrews, what nation could withstand them? what kingdom would remain unsubdued? But as the doctrine of the New Testament is, that we must serve God not for temporal happiness in this life, but for eternal felicity hereafter, this truth was most strikingly confirmed by the patient endurance of what is commonly called adversity for the sake of that felicity. So in fullness of time the Son of God, made of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem them that were under the law, made of the seed of David according to the flesh sends His disciples as sheep into the midst of wolves, and bids them not fear those that can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul, and promises that even the body will be entirely restored, so that not a hair shall be lost.912912 Matt. x. 16, 28, 30. Peter’s sword He orders back into its sheath, restoring as it was before the ear of His enemy that had been cut off. He says that He could obtain legions of angels to destroy His enemies, but that He must drink the cup which His Father’s will had given Him.913913 Matt. xxvi. 52, 53; Luke xxii. 42, 51; John xviii. 11. He sets the example of drinking this cup, then hands it to His followers, manifesting thus, both in word and deed, the grace of patience. Therefore God raised Him from the dead, and has given Him a name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and of things in earth, and of things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.914914 Phil. ii. 9-11. The patriarchs and prophets, then, have a kingdom in this world, to show that these kingdoms, too, are given and taken away by God: the apostles and martyrs had no kingdom here, to show the superior desirableness of the kingdom of heaven. The prophets, however, could even in those times die for the truth, as the Lord Himself says, "From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zacharia;915915 Matt. xxiii. 35. and in these days, since the commencement of the fulfillment of what is prophesied in the psalm of Christ, under the figure of Solomon, which means the peacemaker, as Christ is our peace,916916 Eph. ii. 14. "All kings of the earth shall bow to Him, all nations shall serve Him,"917917 Ps. lxxii. 11. we have seen Christian emperors, who have put all their confidence in Christ, gaining splendid victories over ungodly enemies, whose hope was in the rites of idolatry and devil-worship. There are public and undeniable proofs of the fact, that on one side the prognostications of devils were found to be fallacious, and on the other, the predictions of saints were a means of support; and we have now writings in which those facts are recorded.
77. If our foolish opponents are surprised at the difference between the precepts given by God to the ministers of the Old Testament, at a time when the grace of the New was still undisclosed, and those given to the preachers of the New Testament, now that the obscurity of the Old is removed, they will find Christ Himself saying one thing at one time, and another at another. "When I sent you," He says, "without scrip, or purse, or shoes, did ye lack anything? And they said, Nothing. Then saith He to them, But now, he that hath a scrip, let him take it, and also a purse; and he that hath not a sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." If the Manichæans found passages in the Old and New Testaments differing in this way, they would proclaim it as a proof that the Testaments are opposed to each other. But here the difference is in the utterances of one and the same person. At one time He says, "I sent you without scrip, or purse, or shoes, and ye lacked nothing;" at another, "Now let him that hath a scrip take it, and also a purse; and he that hath a tunic, let him sell it and buy a sword." Does not this show how, without any inconsistency, precepts and counsels and permissions may be changed, as different times require different arrangements? If it is said that there was a symbolical meaning in the command to take a scrip and purse, and to buy a sword, why may there not be a symbolical meaning in the fact, that one and the same God commanded the prophets in old times to make war, and forbade the apostles? And we find in the passage that we have quoted from the Gospel, that the words spoken by the Lord were carried into effect by His disciples. For, besides going at first without scrip or purse, and yet lacking nothing, as from the Lord’s question and their answer it is plain they did, now that He speaks of buying a sword, they say, "Lo, here are two swords;" and He replied, "It is enough." Hence we find Peter with a weapon when he cut off the assailant’s ear, on which occasion 303his spontaneous boldness was checked, because, although he had been told to take a sword, he had not been told to use it.918918 Luke xxii. 35-38, 50, 51. Doubtless, it was mysterious that the Lord should require them to carry weapons, and forbid the use of them. But it was His part to give the suitable precepts, and it was their part to obey without reserve.
78. It is therefore mere groundless calumny to charge Moses with making war, for there would have been less harm in making war of his own accord, than in not doing it when God commanded him. And to dare to find fault with God Himself for giving such a command, or not to believe it possible that a just and good God did so, shows, to say the least, an inability to consider that in the view of divine providence, which pervades all things from the highest to the lowest, time can neither add anything nor take away; but all things go, or come, or remain according to the order of nature or desert in each separate case, while in men a right will is in union with the divine law, and ungoverned passion is restrained by the order of divine law; so that a good man wills only what is commanded, and a bad man can do only what he is permitted, at the same time that he is punished for what he wills to do unjustly. Thus, in all the things which appear shocking and terrible to human feebleness, the real evil is the injustice; the rest is only the result of natural properties or of moral demerit. This injustice is seen in every case where a man loves for their own sake things which are desirable only as means to an end, and seeks for the sake of something else things which ought to be loved for themselves. For thus, as far as he can, he disturbs in himself the natural order which the eternal law requires us to observe. Again, a man is just when he seeks to use things only for the end for which God appointed them, and to enjoy God as the end of all, while he enjoys himself and his friend in God and for God. For to love in a friend the love of God is to love the friend for God. Now both justice and injustice, to be acts at all, must be voluntary; otherwise, there can be no just rewards or punishments; which no man in his senses will assert. The ignorance and infirmity which prevent a man from knowing his duty, or from doing all he wishes to do, belong to God’s secret penal arrangement, and to His unfathomable judgments, for with Him there is no iniquity. Thus we are informed by the sure word of God of Adam’s sin; and Scripture truly declares that in him all die, and that by him sin entered into the world, and death by sin.919919 Rom. v. 12, 19. And our experience gives abundant evidence, that in punishment for this sin our body is corrupted, and weighs down the soul, and the clay tabernacle clogs the mind in its manifold activity;920920 Wisd. ix. 15. and we know that we can be freed from this punishment only by gracious interposition. So the apostle cries out in distress, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord."921921 Rom. vii. 24, 25. So much we know; but the reasons for the distribution of divine judgment and mercy, why one is in this condition, and another in that, though just, are unknown. Still, we are sure that all these things are due either to the mercy or the judgment of God, while the measures and numbers and weights by which the Creator of all natural productions arranges all things are concealed from our view. For God is not the author, but He is the controller of sin; so that sinful actions, which are sinful because they are against nature, are judged and controlled, and assigned to their proper place and condition, in order that they may not bring discord and disgrace on universal nature. This being the case, and as the judgments of God and the movements of man’s will contain the hidden reason why the same prosperous circumstances which some make a right use of are the ruin of others, and the same afflictions under which some give way are profitable to others, and since the whole mortal life of man upon earth is a trial,922922 Job vii. 4. who can tell whether it may be good or bad in any particular case—in time of peace, to reign or to serve, or to be at ease or to die—or in time of war, to command or to fight, or to conquer or to be killed? At the same time, it remains true, that whatever is good is so by the divine blessing, and whatever is bad is so by the divine judgment.
79. Let no one, then, be so daring as to make rash charges against men, not to say against God. If the service of the ministers of the Old Testament, who were also heralds of the New, consisted in putting sinners to death, and that of the ministers of the New Testament, who are also interpreters of the Old, in being put to death by sinners, the service in both cases is rendered to one God, who, varying the lesson to suit the times, teaches both that temporal blessings are to be sought from Him, and that they are to be forsaken for Him, and that temporal distress is both sent by Him and should be endured for Him. There was, therefore, no cruelty in the command, or in the action of Moses, 304when, in his holy jealousy for his people, whom he wished to be subject to the one true God, on learning that they had fallen away to the worship of an idol made by their own hands, he impressed their minds at the time with a wholesome fear, and gave them a warning for the future, by using the sword in the punishment of a few, whose just punishment God, against whom they had sinned, appointed in the depth of His secret judgment to be immediately inflicted. That Moses acted as he did, not in cruelty, but in great love, may be seen from the words in which he prayed for the sins of the people: "If Thou wilt forgive their sin, forgive it; and if not, blot me out of Thy book."923923 Ex. xxxii. 32. The pious inquirer who compares the slaughter with the prayer will find in this the clearest evidence of the awful nature of the injury done to the soul by prostitution to the images of devils, since such love is roused to such anger. We see the same in the apostle, who, not in cruelty, but in love, delivered a man up to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.924924 1 Cor. v. 5. Others, too, he delivered up, that they might learn not to blaspheme.925925 1 Tim. i. 20. In the apocryphal books of the Manichæans there is a collection of fables, published by some unknown authors under the name of the apostles. The books would no doubt have been sanctioned by the Church at the time of their publication, if holy and learned men then in life, and competent to determine the matter, had thought the contents to be true. One of the stories is, that the Apostle Thomas was once at a marriage feast in a country where he was unknown, when one of the servants struck him, and that he forthwith by his curse brought a terrible punishment on this man. For when he went out to the fountain to provide water for the guests, a lion fell on him and killed him, and the hand with which he had given a slight blow to the apostle was torn off, in fulfillment of the imprecation, and brought by a dog to the table at which the apostle was reclining. What could be more cruel than this? And yet, if I mistake not, the story goes on to say, that the apostle made up for the cruelty by obtaining for the man the blessing of pardon in the next world; so that, while the people of this strange country learned to fear the apostle as being so dear to God, the man’s eternal welfare was secured in exchange for the loss of this mortal life. It matters not whether the story is true or false. At any rate, the Manichæans, who regard as genuine and authentic books which the canon of the Church rejects, must allow, as shown in the story, that the virtue of patience, which the Lord enjoins when He says, "If any one smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him thy left also," may be in the inward disposition, though it is not exhibited in bodily action or in words. For when the apostle was struck, instead of turning his other side to the man, or telling him to repeat the blow, he prayed to God to pardon his assailant in the next world, but not to leave the injury unpunished at the time. Inwardly he preserved a kindly feeling, while outwardly he wished the man to be punished as an example. As the Manichæans believe this, rightly or wrongly, they may also believe that such was the intention of Moses, the servant of God, when he cut down with the sword the makers and worshippers of the idol; for his own words show that he so entreated for pardon for their sin of idolatry as to ask to be blotted out of God’s book if his prayer was not heard. There is no comparison between a stranger being struck with the hand, and the dishonor done to God by forsaking Him for an idol, when He had brought the people out of the bondage of Egypt, had led them through the sea, and had covered with the waters the enemy pursuing them. Nor, as regards the punishment, is there any comparison between being killed with the sword and being torn in pieces by wild beasts. For judges in administering the law condemn to exposure to wild beasts worse criminals than are condemned to be put to death by the sword.
80. Another of Faustus’ malicious and impious charges which has to be answered, is about the Lord’s saying to the prophet Hosea, "Take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms."926926 Hos. i. 2. As regards this passage, the impure mind of our adversaries is so blinded that they do not understand the plain words of the Lord in His gospel, when He says to the Jews, "The publicans and harlots shall go into the kingdom of heaven before you."927927 Matt. xxi. 31. There is nothing contrary to the mercifulness of truth, or inconsistent with Christian faith, in a harlot leaving fornication, and becoming a chaste wife. Indeed, nothing could be more unbecoming in one professing to be a prophet than not to believe that all the sins of the fallen woman were pardoned when she changed for the better. So when the prophet took the harlot as his wife, it was both good for the woman to have her life amended, and the action symbolized a truth of which we shall speak 305presently. But it is plain what offends the Manichæans in this case; for their great anxiety is to prevent harlots from being with child. It would have pleased them better that the woman should continue a prostitute, so as not to bring their god into confinement, than that she should become the wife of one man, and have children.
81. As regards Solomon, it need only be said that the condemnation of his conduct in the faithful narrative of holy Scripture is much more serious than the childish vehemence of Faustus’ attacks. The Scripture tells us with faithful accuracy both the good that Solomon had at first, and the evil actions by which he lost the good he began with; while Faustus, in his attacks, like a man closing his eyes, or with no eyes at all, seeks no guidance from the light, but is prompted only by violent animosity. To pious and discerning readers of the sacred Scriptures evidence of the chastity of the holy men who are said to have had several wives is found in this, that Solomon, who by his polygamy gratified his passions, instead of seeking for offspring, is expressly noted as chargeable with being a lover of women. This, as we are informed by the truth which accepts no man’s person, led him down into the abyss of idolatry.
82. Having now gone over all the cases in which Faustus finds fault with the Old Testament, and having attended to the merit of each, either defending men of God against the calumnies of carnal heretics, or, where the men were at fault, showing the excellence and the majesty of Scripture, let us again take the cases in the order of Faustus’ accusations, and see the meaning of the actions recorded, what they typify, and what they foretell. This we have already done in the case of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of whom God said that He was their God, as if the God of universal nature were the God of none besides them; not honoring them with an unmeaning title, but because He, who could alone have a full and perfect knowledge, knew the sincere and remarkable charity of these men; and because these three patriarchs united formed a notable type of the future people of God, in not only having free children by free women, as by Sarah, and Rebecca, and Leah, and Rachel, but also bond children, as of this same Rebecca was born Esau, to whom it was said, "Thou shalt serve thy brother;"928928 Gen. xxvii. 40. and in having by bond women not only bond children, as by Hagar, but also free children, as by Bilhah and Zilphah. Thus also in the people of God, those spiritually free not only have children born into the enjoyment of liberty, like those to whom it is said, "Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ,"929929 1 Cor. iv. 16. but they have also children born into guilty bondage, as Simon was born of Philip.930930 Acts viii. 13. Again, from carnal bondmen are born not only children of guilty bondage, who imitate them, but also children of happy liberty, to whom it is said, "What they say, do; but do not after their works."931931 Matt. xxiii. 3. Whoever rightly observes the fulfillment of this type in the people of God, keeps the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, by continuing to the end in union with some, and in patient endurance of others. Of Lot, also, we have already spoken, and have shown what the Scripture mentions as praiseworthy in him, and what as blameworthy and the meaning of the whole narrative.
83. We have next to consider the prophetic significance of the action of Judah in lying with his daughter-in-law. But, for the sake of those whose understanding is feeble, we shall begin with observing, that in sacred Scripture evil actions are sometimes prophetic not of evil, but of good. Divine providence preserves throughout its essential goodness, so that, as in the example given above, from adulterous intercourse a man-child is born, a good work of God from the evil of man, by the power of nature, and not due to the misconduct of the parents; so in the prophetic Scriptures, where both good and evil actions are recorded, the narrative being itself prophetic, foretells something good even by the record of what is evil, the credit being due not to the evil-doer, but to the writer. Judah, when, to gratify his sinful passion, he went in to Tamar, had no intention by his licentious conduct to typify anything connected with the salvation of men, any more than Judas, who betrayed the Lord, intended to produce any result connected with the salvation of men. So then if from the evil deed of Judas the Lord brought the good work of our redemption by His own passion, why should not His prophet, of whom He Himself says "He wrote of me," for the sake of instructing us make the evil action of Judah significant of something good? Under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophet has compiled a narrative of actions so as to make a continuous prophecy of the things he designed to foretell. In foretelling good, it is of no consequence whether the typical actions are good or bad. If it is written in red ink that the Ethiopians are black, or in black ink that the Gauls are white, this circumstance does 306not affect the information which the writing conveys. No doubt, if it was a painting instead of a writing, the wrong color would be a fault; so when human actions are represented for example or for warning much depends on whether they are good or bad. But when actions are related or recorded as types, the merit or demerit of the agents is a matter of no importance, as long as there is a true typical relation between the action and the thing signified. So in the case of Caiaphas in the Gospel as regards his iniquitous and mischievous intention, and even as regards his words in the sense in which he used them, that a just man should be put to death unjustly, assuredly they were bad; and yet there was a good meaning in his words which he did not know of when he said, "It is expedient that one man should die for the people and that the whole nation perish not." So it is written of Him, "This he spake not of himself; but being the high priest, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the people."932932 John xi. 50, 51. In the same way the action of Judah was bad as regards his sinful passion, but it typified a great good he knew nothing of. Of himself he did evil while it was not of himself that he typified good. These introductory remarks apply not only to Judah, but also to all the other cases where in the narrative of bad actions is contained a prophecy of good.
84. In Tamar, then, the daughter-in-law of Judah, we see the people of the kingdom of Judah, whose kings, answering to Tamar’s husbands, were taken from this tribe. Tamar means bitterness; and the meaning is suitable, for this people gave the cup of gall to the Lord.933933 Matt. xxvii. 34. The two sons of Judah represent two classes of kings who governed ill—those who did harm and those who did no good. One of these sons was evil or cruel before the Lord; the other spilled the seed on the ground that Tamar might not become a mother. There are only those two kinds of useless people in the world—the injurious and those who will not give the good they have but lose it or spill it on the ground. And as injury is worse than not doing good, the evil-doer is called the elder and the other the younger. Er, the name of the elder, means a preparer of skins, which were the coats given to our first parents when they were punished with expulsion from paradise.934934 Gen. iii. 21. Onan, the name of the younger, means, their grief; that is, the grief of those to whom he does no good, wasting the good he has on the earth. The loss of life implied in the name of the elder is a greater evil than the want of help implied in the name of the younger. Both being killed by God typifies the removal of the kingdom from men of this character. The meaning of the third son of Judah not being joined to the woman, is that for a time the kings of Judah were not of that tribe. So this third son did not become the husband of Tamar; as Tamar represents the tribe of Judah, which continued to exist, although the people received no king from it. Hence the name of this son, Selom, means, his dismission. None of those types apply to the holy and righteous men who, like David, though they lived in those times, belong properly to the New Testament, which they served by their enlightened predictions. Again, in the time when Judah ceased to have a king of its own tribe, the elder Herod does not count as one of the kings typified by the husbands of Tamar; for he was a foreigner, and his union with the people was never consecrated with the holy oil. His was the power of a stranger, given him by the Romans and by Cæsar. And it was the same with his sons, the tetrarchs, one of whom, called Herod, like his father, agreed with Pilate at the time of the Lord’s passion.935935 Luke xxiii. 12. So plainly were these foreigners considered as distinct from the sacred monarchy of Judah, that the Jews themselves, when raging against Christ, exclaimed openly, "We have no king but Cæsar."936936 John xix. 15. Nor was Cæsar properly their king, except in the sense that all the world was subject to Rome. The Jews thus condemned themselves, only to express their rejection of Christ, and to flatter Cæsar.
85. The time when the kingdom was removed from the tribe of Judah was the time appointed for the coming of Christ our Lord, the true Saviour, who should come not for harm, but for great good. Thus was it prophesied, "A prince shall not fail from Judah, nor a leader from his loins, till He come for whom it is reserved: He is the desire of nations."937937 Gen. xlix. 10. Not only the kingdom, but all government, of the Jews had ceased, and also, as prophesied by Daniel, the sacred anointing from which the name Christ or Anointed is derived. Then came He for whom it was reserved, the desire of nations; and the holy of holies was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows.938938 Dan. ix. 24, and Ps. xlv. 7. Christ was born in the time of the elder Herod, and suffered in the time of Herod the tetrarch. He who thus came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel was typified by Judah when he went to shear his sheep in Thamna, which means, failing. For then the prince had failed from Judah, 307with all the government and anointing of the Jews, that He might come for whom it was reserved. Judah, we are told, came with his Adullamite shepherd, whose name was Iras; and Adullamite means, a testimony in water. So it was with this testimony that the Lord came, having indeed greater testimony than that of John;939939 John v. 36. but for the sake of his feeble sheep he made use of the testimony in water. The name Iras, too, means, vision of my brother. So John saw his brother, a brother in the family of Abraham, and from the relationship of Mary and Elisabeth; and the same person he recognised as his Lord and his God, for, as he himself says, he received of His fullness.940940 John i. 6. On account of this vision, among those born of woman, there has arisen no greater than he;941941 Matt. xi. 11. because, of all who foretold Christ, he alone saw what many righteous men and prophets desired to see and saw not. He saluted Christ from the womb;942942 Luke i. 44. he knew Him more certainly from seeing the dove; and therefore, as the Adullamite, he gave testimony by water. The Lord came to shear His sheep, in releasing them from painful burdens, as it is said in praise of the Church in the Song of Songs, that her teeth are like a flock of sheep after shearing.943943 Cant. iv. 2.
86. Next, we have Tamar changing her dress; for Tamar also means changing. Still, the name of bitterness must be retained—not that bitterness in which gall was given to the Lord, but that in which Peter wept bitterly.944944 Matt. xxvi. 75. For Judah means confession; and bitterness is mingled with confession as a type of true repentance. It is this repentance which gives fruitfulness to the Church established among all nations. For "it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead, and that repentance and the remission of sins be preached among all nations in His name, beginning at Jerusalem."945945 Luke xxiv. 46, 47. In the dress Tamar put on there is a confession of sins; and Tamar sitting in this dress at the gate of Ænan or Ænaim, which means fountain, is a type of the Church called from among the nations. She ran as a hart to the springs of water, to meet with the seed of Abraham; and there she is made fruitful by one who knows her not, as it is foretold, "A people whom I have not known shall serve me."946946 Ps. xviii. 43. Tamar received under her disguise a ring, a bracelet, a staff; she is sealed in her calling, adorned in her justification, raised in her glorification. For "whom He predestinated, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified."947947 Rom. viii. 30. This was while she was still disguised, as I have said; and in the same state she conceives, and becomes fruitful in holiness. Also the kid promised is sent to her as to a harlot. The kid represents rebuke for sin, and it is sent by the Adullamite already mentioned, who, as it were, uses the reproachful words, "O generation of vipers!"948948 Matt. iii. 7. But this rebuke for sin does not reach her, for she has been changed by the bitterness of confession. Afterwards, by exhibiting the pledges of the ring and bracelet and staff, she prevails over the Jews, in their hasty judgment of her, who are now represented by Judah himself; as at this day we hear the Jews saying that we are not the people of Christ, and have not the seed of Abraham. But when we exhibit the sure tokens of our calling and justification and glorification, they will immediately be confounded, and will acknowledge that we are justified rather than they. I should enter into this more particularly, taking, as it were, each limb and joint separately, as the Lord might enable me, were it not that such minute inquiry is prevented by the necessity of bringing this work to a close, for it is already longer than is desirable.
87. As regards the prophetic significance of David’s sin, a single word must suffice. The names occurring in the narrative show what it typifies. David means, strong of hand, or desirable; and what can be stronger than the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who has conquered the world, or more desirable than He of whom the prophet says, "The desire of all nations shall come?"949949 Hag. ii. 8. Bersabee means, well of satisfaction, or seventh well: either of these interpretations will suit our purpose. So, in the Song of Songs, the spouse, who is the Church, is called a well of living water;950950 Cant. iv. 15. or again, the number seven represents the Holy Spirit, as in the number of days in Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came from heaven. We learn also from the book of Tobit, that Pentecost was the feast of seven weeks.951951 Tob. ii. 1. To forty-nine, which is seven times seven, one is added to denote unity. To this effect is the saying of the apostle: "Bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."952952 Eph. iv. 2, 3. The Church becomes a well of satisfaction by this gift of the Spirit, the number seven denoting its spirituality; for it is in her a fountain of living water springing up unto everlasting life, and he who has it shall never thirst.953953 John iv. 13, 14. Uriah, Bersabee’s husband, must, 308from the meaning of his name, be understood as representing the devil. It is in union to the devil that all are bound whom the grace of God sets free, that the Church without spot or wrinkle may be married to her true Saviour. Uriah means, my light of God; and Hittite means, cut off, referring either to his not abiding in the truth, when he was cut off on account of his pride from the celestial light which he had of God, or to his transforming himself into an angel of light, because after losing his real strength by his fall, he still dares to say, My light is of God. The literal David, then, was guilty of a heinous crime, which God by the prophet condemned in the rebuke addressed to David, and which David atoned for by his repentance. On the other hand, He who is the desire of all nations loved the Church when washing herself on the roof, that is, when cleansing herself from the pollution of the world, and in spiritual contemplation mounting above her house of clay, and trampling upon it; and after commencing an acquaintance, He puts to death the devil, whom He first entirely removes from her, and joins her to Himself in perpetual union. While we hate the sin, we must not overlook the prophetical significance; and while we love, as is His due, that David who in His mercy has freed us from the devil, we may also love the David who by the humility of his repentance healed the wound made by his transgression.
88. Little need be said of Solomon, who is spoken of in Holy Scripture in terms of the strongest disapproval and condemnation, while nothing is said of his repentance and restoration to the divine favor. Nor can I find in his lamentable fall even a symbolical connection with anything good. Perhaps the strange women he lusted after may be thought to represent the Churches chosen from among the Gentiles. This idea might have been admissible, if the women had left their gods for Solomon’s sake to worship his God. But as he for their sakes offended his God and worshipped their gods, it seems impossible to think of any good meaning. Doubtless, something is typified, but it is something bad, as in the case already explained of Lot’s wife and daughters. We see in Solomon a notable pre-eminence and a notable fall. Now, this good and evil which we see in him at different periods, first good and then evil, are in our day found together in the Church. What is good in Solomon represents, I think, the good members of the Church; and what was bad in him represents the bad members. Both are in one man, as the bad and the good are in the chaff and grain of one floor, or in the tares and wheat of one field. A closer inquiry into what is said of Solomon in Scripture might disclose, either to me or to others of greater learning and greater worth, some more probable interpretation. But as we are now engaged on a different subject, we must not allow this matter to break the connection of our discourse.
89. As regards the prophet Hosea, it is unnecessary for me to explain the meaning of the command, or of the prophet’s conduct, when God said to him, "Go and take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and produce children of whoredoms," for the Scripture itself informs us of the origin and purpose of this direction. It proceeds thus: "For the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Judah, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel. And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name No-mercy: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen. Now when she had weaned No-mercy, she conceived, and bare a son. Then said God, Call his name Not-my-people: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured for multitude; and it shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Israel and the children of Judah be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel. Say ye unto your brethren, My people; and to your sister, She hath found mercy."954954 Hos. i. 2-ii. 1. Since the typical meaning of the command and of the prophet’s conduct is thus explained in the same book by the Lord Himself, and since the writings of the apostles declare the fulfillment of this prophecy in the preaching of the New Testament, every one must accept the explanation thus given of the command 309and of the action of the prophet as the true explanation. Thus it is said by the Apostle Paul, "That He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. As He saith also in Hosea, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there shall they be called the children of the living God."955955 Rom. ix. 23-26. Here Paul applies the prophecy to the Gentiles. So also Peter, writing to the Gentiles, without naming the prophet, borrows his expressions when he says, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye might show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." 956956 1 Pet. ii. 9, 10. From this it is plain that the words of the prophet, "And the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured for multitude," and the words immediately following, "And it shall be that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there they shall be called the children of the living God," do not apply to that Israel which is after the flesh, but to that of which the apostle says to the Gentiles, "Ye therefore are the seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise."957957 Gal. iii. 29. But, as many Jews who were of the Israel after the flesh have believed, and will yet believe; for of these were the apostles, and all the thousands in Jerusalem of the company of the apostles, as also the churches of which Paul speaks, when he says to the Galatians, "I was unknown by face to the churches of Judæa which were in Christ;"958958 Gal. i. 22. and again, he explains the passage in the Psalms, where the Lord is called the cornerstone,959959 Ps. cxviii. 22. as referring to His uniting in Himself the two walls of circumcision and uncircumcision, "that He might make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and that He might come and preach peace to them that are far off, and to them that are nigh," that is, to the Gentiles and to the Jews; "for He is our peace, who hath made of both one;"960960 Eph. ii. 11-22. to the same purpose we find the prophet speaking of the Jews as the children of Judah, and of the Gentiles as children of Israel, where he says, "The children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and shall make to themselves one head, and shall go up from the land." Therefore, to speak against a prophecy thus confirmed by actual events, is to speak against the writings of the apostles as well as those of the prophets; and not only to speak against writings, but to impugn in the most reckless manner the evidence clear as noonday of established facts. In the case of the narrative of Judah, it is perhaps not so easy to recognize, under the disguise of the woman called Tamar, the harlot representing the Church gathered from among the corruption of Gentile superstition; but here, where Scripture explains itself, and where the explanation is confirmed by the writings of the apostles, instead of dwelling longer on this, we may proceed at once to inquire into the meaning of the very things to which Faustus objects in Moses the servant of God.
90. Moses killing the Egyptian in defending one of his brethren reminds us naturally of the destruction of the devil, our assailant in this land of strangers, by our defender the Lord Christ. And as Moses hid the dead body in the sand, even so the devil, though slain, remains concealed in those who are not firmly settled. The Lord, we know, builds the Church on a rock; and those who hear His word and do it, He compares to a wise man who builds his house upon a rock, and who does not yield or give way before temptation; and those who hear and do not, He compares to a foolish man who builds on the sand, and when his house is tried its ruin is great.961961 Matt. vii. 24-27.
91. Of the prophetic significance of the spoiling of the Egyptians, which was done by Moses at the command of the Lord his God, who commands nothing but what is most just, I remember to have set down what occurred to me at the time in my book entitled On Christian Doctrine;962962 ii. sec. 40. to the effect that the gold and silver and garments of the Egyptians typified certain branches of learning which may be profitably learned or taught among the Gentiles. This may be the true explanation; or we may suppose that the vessels of gold and silver represent the precious souls, and the garments the bodies, of those from among the Gentiles who join themselves to the people of God, that along with them they may be freed from the Egypt of this world. Whatever the true interpretation may be, the pious student of the Scriptures will feel certain 310that in the command, in the action, and in the narrative there is a purpose and a symbolic meaning.
92. It would take too long to go through all the wars of Moses. It is enough to refer to what has already been said, as sufficient for the purpose in this reply to Faustus of the prophetic and symbolic character of the war with Amalek.963963 L. xii. sec. 30. There is also the charge of cruelty made against Moses by the enemies of Scriptures, or by those who have never read anything. Faustus does not make any specific charge, but speaks of Moses as commanding and doing many cruel things. But, knowing the things they are in the habit of bringing forward and of misrepresenting, I have already taken a particular case and have defended it, so that any Manichæans who are willing to be corrected, and all other ignorant and irreligious people, may see that there is no ground for their accusations. We must now inquire into the prophetic significance of the command, that many of those who, while Moses was absent, made an idol for themselves should be slain without regard to relationship. It is easy to see that the slaughter of these men represents the warfare against the evil principles which led the people into the same idolatry. Against such evil we are commanded to wage war in the words of the psalm, "Be ye angry and sin not."964964 Ps. iv. 4. And a similar command is given by the apostle, when he says, "Mortify your members which are on earth fornication, uncleanness, luxury, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry."965965 Col. iii. 5.
93. It requires closer examination to see the meaning of the first action of Moses in burning the calf in fire, and grinding it to powder, and sprinkling it in the water for the people to drink. The tables given to him, written with the finger of God, that is, by the agency of the Holy Spirit, he may have broken, because he judged the people unworthy of having them read to them; and he may have burned the calf, and ground it, and scattered it so as to be carried away by the water, in order to let nothing of it remain among the people. But why should he have made them drink it? Every one must feel anxious to discover the typical significance of this action. Pursuing the inquiry, we may find that in the calf there was an embodiment of the devil, as there is in men of all nations who have the devil as their head or leader in their impious rites. The calf is gold, because there is a semblance of wisdom in the institution of idolatrous worship. Of this the apostle says, "Knowing God, they glorified Him not as God, nor were thankful; but they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise they became foolish, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of corruptible man, and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things."966966 Rom. i. 21-23. From this so-called wisdom came the golden calf, which was one of the forms of idolatry among the chief men and professed sages of Egypt. The calf, then, represents every body or society of Gentile idolaters. This impious society the Lord Christ burns with that fire of which He says in the Gospel, "I am come to send fire on the earth;"967967 Luke xii. 49. for, as there is nothing hid from His heat,968968 Ps. xix. 6. when the Gentiles believe in Him they lose the form of the devil in the fire of divine influence. Then all the body is ground, that is, after the dissolution of the combination in the membership of iniquity comes humiliation under the word of truth. Then the dust is sprinkled in the water, that the Israelites, that is, the preachers of the gospel, may in baptism admit those formerly idolaters into their own body, that is, the body of Christ. To Peter, who was one of those Israelites, it was said of the Gentiles, "Kill, and eat."969969 Acts x. 13. To kill and eat is much the same as to grind and drink. So this calf, by the fire of zeal, and the keen penetration of the word, and the water of baptism, was swallowed up by the people, instead of their being swallowed up by it.
94. Thus, when the very passages on which the heretics found their objections to the Scriptures are studied and examined, the more obscure they are the more wonderful are the secrets which we discover in reply to our questions; so that the mouths of blasphemers are completely stopped, and the evidence of the truth so stifles them that they cannot even utter a sound. The unhappy men who will not receive into their hearts the sweetness of the truth must feel its force as a gag in their mouths. All those passages speak of Christ. The head now ascended into heaven along with the body still suffering on earth is the full development of the whole purpose of the authors of Scripture, which is well called Sacred Scripture. Every part of the narrative in the prophetical books should be viewed as having a figurative meaning, except what serves merely as a framework for the literal or figurative predictions of this king and of his people. For as in harps and other musical instruments the musical sound does not come from all parts of the instrument, but from the strings, and the rest is 311only for fastening and stretching the strings so as to tune them, that when they are struck by the musician they may give a pleasant sound; so in these prophetical narratives the circumstances selected by the prophetic spirit either predict some future event, or if they have no voice of their own, they serve to connect together other significant utterances.
95. Should the heretics reject our exposition of those allegorical narratives, or even insist on understanding them only in a literal sense, to dispute about such a difference of understanding would be as useless as to dispute about a difference of taste. Only, the fact that the divine precepts have either a moral and religious character or a prophetic meaning must be believed, whether intelligently or not. Moreover, the figurative interpretations must all be in the interest of morality and religion. So, if the Manichæans or any others disagree with our interpretation, or differ from us in method or in any particular opinion, suffice it that the character of the fathers whom God commends for their conduct and obedience to His precepts is vindicated on a principle which all but those inveterate in their hostility will acknowledge to be true; and that the purity and dignity of the Scriptures are maintained in reference to those passages which the enemies of the truth find fault with, where certain actions are either praised or blamed, or merely narrated for us to form a judgment of them.
96. In fact, nothing could have been devised more likely to instruct and benefit the pious reader of sacred Scripture than that, besides describing praiseworthy characters as examples, and blameworthy characters as warnings, it should also narrate cases where good men have gone back and fallen into evil, whether they are restored to the right path or continue irreclaimable; and also where bad men have changed, and have attained to goodness, whether they persevere in it or relapse into evil; in order that the righteous may be not lifted up in the pride of security, nor the wicked hardened in despair of cure. And even those passages in Scripture which contain no examples or warnings are either required for connection, so as to pass on to essential matters, or, from their very appearance of superfluity, indicate the presence of some secret symbolical meaning. For in the books we speak of, so far from there being a want or a scarcity of prophetical announcements, such announcements are numerous and distinct; and now that the fulfillment has actually taken place, the testimony thus borne to the divine authority of the books is irresistibly strong, so that it is mere madness to suppose that there can be any useless or unmeaning passages in books to which all classes of men and of minds do homage, and which themselves predict what we see thus actually coming to pass.
97. If, then, any one reading of the action of David, of which he repented when the Lord rebuked and threatened him, find in the narrative an encouragement to sin, is Scripture to be blamed for this? Is not the man’s own guilt in proportion to the abuse which he makes for his own injury or destruction of what was written for his recovery and release? David is set forth as a great example of repentance, because men who fall into sin either proudly disregard the cure of repentance, or lose themselves in despair of obtaining salvation or of meriting pardon. The example is for the benefit of the sick, not for the injury of those in health. If madmen destroy themselves, or if evil-doers destroy others, with surgical instruments, it is not the fault of surgery.
98. Even supposing that our fathers the patriarchs and prophets, of whose devout and religious habits so good a report is given in that Scripture which every one who knows it, and has not lost entirely the use of his reason, must admit to have been provided by God for the salvation of men, were as lustful and cruel as the Manichæans falsely and fanatically allege, they might still be shown to be superior not only to those whom the Manichæans call the Elect, but also to their god himself. Is there in the licentious intercourse of man with woman anything so bad as the self-abasement of unclouded light by mixture with darkness? Here, is a man prompted by avarice and greed to pass off his wife as his sister and sell her to her lover; but worse still and more shocking, that one should disguise his own nature to gratify criminal passion, and submit gratuitously to pollution and degradation. Why, even one who knowingly lies with his own daughters is not equally criminal with one who lets his members share in the defilement of all sensuality as gross as this, or grosser. And is not the Manichæan god a partaker in the contamination of the most atrocious acts of uncleanness? Again, if it were true, as Faustus says, that Jacob went from one to another of his four wives, not desiring offspring, but resembling a he-goat in licentiousness, he would still not be sunk so low as your god, who must not only have shared in this degradation, from his being confined in the bodies of Jacob and his wives so as to be mixed up with all their movements, but also, in union with this very he-goat of Faustus’ coarse comparison, must have endured all the pains of animal appetite, 312incurring fresh defilement at every step, as partaking in the passion of the male, the conception of the female, and the birth of the kid. And, in the same way, supposing Judah to have been guilty not only of fornication, but of incest, a share in the heats and impurities of this incestuous passion would also belong to your god. David repented of his sin in loving the wife of another, and in ordering the death of her husband; but when will your god repent of giving up his members to the wanton passion of the male and female chiefs of the race of darkness, and of putting to death not the husband of his mistress, but his own children, whom he confines in the members of the very demons who were his own lovers? Even if David had not repented, nor been thus restored to righteousness, he would still have been better than your god. David may have been defiled by this one act, or to the extent to which one man is capable of such defilement; but your god suffers the pollution of his members in all such actions by whomsoever committed. The prophet Hosea, too, is accused by Faustus: and, supposing him to have taken the harlot to wife because he had a criminal affection for her, if he is licentious and she a prostitute, their souls, according to your own assertion, are parts and members of your god and of his nature. In plain language, the harlot herself must be your god. You cannot pretend that your god is not confined in the contaminated body, or that he is only present, while preserving entire the purity of his own nature; and you acknowledge that the members of your god are so defiled as to require a special purification. This harlot, then, for whom you venture to find fault with the man of God, even if she had not been changed for the better by becoming a chaste wife, would still have been your god; at least you must admit her soul to have been a part, however small, of your god. But one single harlot is not so bad as your god, for he on account of his mixture with the race of darkness shares in every act of prostitution; and wherever such impurities are perpetrated, he goes through the corresponding experiences of abandonment, of release, and of confinement, and this from generation to generation, till this most corrupt part reaches its final state in the mass of darkness, like an irreclaimable harlot. Such are the evils and such the shameful abominations which your god could not ward off from his members, and to which he was brought irresistibly by his merciless enemy; for only by the sacrifice of his own subjects, or rather his own parts, could he effect the destruction of his formidable assailant. Surely, there was nothing so bad as this in killing an Egyptian so as to preserve uninjured a fellow-countryman. Yet Faustus finds fault with this most absurdly, while with amazing infatuation he overlooks the case of his own god. Would it not have been better for him to have carried off the gold and silver vessels of the Egyptians, than to let his members be carried off by the race of darkness? And yet the worshippers of this unfortunate god find fault with the servant of our God for carrying on wars, in which he with his followers were always victorious, so that, under the leadership of Moses, the children of Israel carried captive their enemies, men and women, as your god would have done too, if he had been able. You profess to accuse Moses of doing wrong, while in fact you envy his success. There was no cruelty in punishing with the sword those who had sinned grievously against God. Indeed, Moses entreated pardon for this sin, even offering to bear himself in their stead the divine anger. But even had he been cruel instead of compassionate, he would still have been better than your god. For if any of his followers had been sent to break the force of the enemy and had been taken captive, he would never, if victorious, have condemned him when he had done no wrong, but acted in obedience to orders. And yet this is what your god is to do with the part of himself which is to be fastened in the mass of darkness, because it obeyed orders, and advanced at the risk of its own life in defence of his kingdom against the body of the enemy. But, says the Manichæan, this part, after mixture and combination with evil during the course of ages, has not been obedient. But why? If the obedience was voluntary, the guilt is real, and the punishment just. But from this it would follow that there is no nature opposed to sin; otherwise it would not sin voluntarily; and so the whole system of Manichæism falls at once. If, again, this part suffers from the power of this enemy against whom it was sent, and is subdued by a force it was unable to resist, the punishment is unjust, and flagrantly cruel. The god who is defended on the plea of necessity is a fit object of worship to those who refuse to worship the one true God. Still, it must be allowed that, however debasing the worship of this god may be, the worshippers are so far better than their deity, that they have an existence, while he is nothing more than a fabulous invention. Proceed we now to the rest of Faustus’ vagaries. 970970 [This book is one of the most unsatisfactory parts of the entire treatise. We have here some of the worst specimens of perverse Scripture interpretation.—A.H.N.]
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