CHAP. XXX.--PARABLES OF THE MUSTARD-SEED, AND OF THE LEAVEN. TRANSITION TO THE SOLEMN EXCLUSION WHICH WILL ENSUE WHEN THE MASTER OF THE HOUSE HAS SHUT THE DOOR. THIS JUDICIAL EXCLUSION WILL BE ADMINISTERED BY CHRIST, WHO IS SHOWN THEREBY TO POSSESS THE ATTRIBUTE OF THE CREATOR.
When the question was again raised concerning a cure performed on the Sabbath-day, how did He discuss it: "Doth not each of you on the Sabbath loose his ass or his ox from the stall, and lead him away to watering?"(1) When, therefore, He did a work according to the condition prescribed by the law, He affirmed, instead of breaking, the law, which commanded that no work should be done, except what might be done for any living being;(2) and if for any one, then how much more for a human life? In the case of the parables, it is allowed that I(3) everywhere require a congruity.
"The kingdom of God," says He, "is like a grain of mustard-seed which a man took and cast into his garden." Who must be understood as meant by the man? Surely Christ, because (although Marcion's) he was called "the Son of man." He received from the Father the seed of the kingdom, that is, the word of the gospel, and sowed it in his garden--in the world, of course(4)--in man at the present day, for instance.(5) Now, whereas it is said, "in his garden," but neither the world nor man is his property, but the Creator's, therefore He who sowed seed in His own ground is shown to be the Creator. Else, if, to evade this snare,(6) they should choose to transfer the person of the man from Christ to any person who receives the seed of the kingdom and sows it in the garden of his own heart, not even this meaning(7) would suit any other than the Creator. For how happens it, if the kingdom belong to the most lenient god, that it is closely followed up by a fervent judgment, the severity of which brings weeping?(8) With regard, indeed, to the following similitude, I have my fears lest it should somehow(9) presage the kingdom of the rival god! For He compared it, not to the unleavened bread which the Creator is more familiar with, but to leaven.(10)
Now this is a capital conjecture for men who are begging for arguments. I must, however, on my side, dispel one fond conceit by another,"(11) and contend with even leaven is suitable for the kingdom of the Creator, because after it comes the oven, or, if you please,(12) the furnace of hell. How often has He already displayed Himself as a Judge, and in the Judge the Creator? How often, indeed, has He repelled, and in the repulse condemned? In the present passage, for instance, He says, "When once the master of the house is risen up;"(13) but in what sense except that in which Isaiah said, "When He ariseth to shake terribly the earth?"(14) "And hath shut to the door," thereby shutting out the wicked, of course; and when these knock, He will answer, "I know you not whence ye are;" and when they recount how "they have eaten and drunk in His presence," He will further say to them, "Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."(15) But where? "Outside", no doubt, when they shall have been excluded with the door shut on them by Him. There will therefore be punishment inflicted by Him who excludes for punishment, when they shall behold the righteous entering the kingdom of God, but themselves detained without. By whom detained outside? If by the Creator, who shall be within receiving the righteous into the kingdom? The good God. What, therefore, is the Creator about,(16) that He should detain outside for punishment those whom His adversary shut out, when He ought rather to have kindly received them, if they must come into His hands,(17) for the greater irritation of His rival? But when about to exclude the wicked, he must, of course, either be aware that the Creator would detain them for punishment, or not be aware. Consequently either the wicked will be detained by the Creator against the will of the excluder, in which case he will be inferior to the Creator, submitting to Him unwillingly; or else, if the process is carried out with his will, then he himself has judicially determined its execution; and then he who is the very originator of the Creator's infamy, will not prove to be one whit better than the Creator. Now, if these ideas be incompatible with reason--of one being supposed to punish, and the other to liberate--then to one only power will appertain both the judgment and the kingdom and while they both belong to one, He who executeth judgment can be none else than the Christ of the Creator.
CHAP. XXXI.--CHRIST'S ADVICE TO INVITE THE POOR IN ACCORDANCE WITH ISAIAH. THE PARABLE OF THE GREAT SUPPER A PICTORIAL SKETCH OF THE CREATOR'S OWN DISPENSATIONS OF MERCY AND GRACE. THE REJECTIONS OF THE INVITATION PARALLELED BY QUOTATIONS FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT MARCION'S CHRIST COULD NOT FULFIL THE CONDITIONS INDICATED IN THIS PARABLE THE ABSURDITY OF THE MARCIONITE INTERPRETATION.
What kind of persons does He bid should be invited to a dinner or a supper?(1) Precisely such as he had pointed out by Isaiah: "Deal thy bread to the hungry man; and the beggars--even such as have no home--bring in to thine house,"(2) because, no doubt, they are "unable to recompense" your act of humanity. Now, since Christ forbids the recompense to be expected now, but promises it "at the resurrection," this is the very plan(3) of the Creator, who dislikes those who love gifts and follow after reward. Consider also to which deity(4) is better suited the parable of him who issued invitations: "A certain man made a great supper, and bade many."(5) The preparation for the supper is no doubt a figure of the abundant provision(6) of eternal life. I first remark, that strangers, and persons unconnected by ties of relationship, are not usually invited to a supper; but that members of the household and family are more frequently the favoured guests. To the Creator, then, it belonged to give the invitation, to whom also appertained those who were to be invited --whether considered as men, through their descent from Adam, or as Jews, by reason of their fathers ; not to him who possessed no claim to them either by nature or prerogative. My next remark is,(7) if He issues the invitations who has prepared the supper, then, in this sense the supper is the Creator's, who sent to warn the guests. These had been indeed previously invited by the fathers, but were to be admonished by the prophets. It certainly is not the feast of him who never sent a messenger to warn--who never did a thing before towards issuing an invitation, but came down himself on a sudden--only then(8) beginning to be known, when already(9) giving his invitation; only then inviting, when already compelling to his banquet; appointing one and the same hour both for the supper and the invitation. But when invited, they excuse themselves? And fairly enough, if the invitation came from the other god, because it was so sudden; if, however, the excuse was not a fair one, then the invitation was not a sudden one. Now, if the invitation was not a sudden one, it must have been given by the Creator--even by Him of old time, whose call they had at last refused. They first refused it when they said to Aaron, "Make us gods, which shall go before us;(10) and again, afterwards, when "they heard indeed with the ear, but did not understand"(11) their calling of God. In a manner most germane(12) I to this parable, He said by Jeremiah: "Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and ye shall walk in all my ways, which I have commanded you."(13) This is the invitation of God. "But," says He, "they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear."(14) This is the refusal of the people. "They departed, and walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart."(15) "I have bought a field--and I have bought some oxen--and I have married a wife."(16) And still He urges them: "I have sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early even before day-light."(17) The Holy Spirit is here meant, the admonisher of the guests. "Yet my people hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck."(18) This was reported to the Master of the family. Then He was moved (He did well to be moved; for, as Marcion denies emotion to his god, He must be therefore my God), and commanded them to invite out of "the streets and lanes of the city."(19) Let us see whether this is not the same in purport as His words by Jeremiah: "Have I been a wilderness to the house of Israel, or a land left uncultivated?"(20) That is to say: "Then have I none whom I may call to me; have I no place whence I may bring them?" "Since my people have said, We will come no more unto thee."(21) Therefore He sent out to call others, but from the same city.(22) My third remark is this,(23) that although the place abounded with people, He yet commanded that they gather men from the highways and the hedges. In other words, we are now gathered out of the Gentile strangers; with that jealous resentment, no doubt, which He expressed in Deuteronomy: "I will hide my face from them, and I will show them what shall happen in the last days(1) (how that others shall possess their place); for they are a froward generation, children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy by that which is no god, and they have provoked me to anger with. their idols; and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people: I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation"(2)--even with us, whose hope the Jews still entertain.(3) But this hope the Lord says they should not realize;(4) "Sion being left as a cottages(5) in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers,"(6) since the nation rejected the latest invitation to Christ. (Now, I ask,) after going through all this course of the Creator's dispensation and prophecies, what there is in it which can possibly be assigned to him who has done all his work at one hasty stroke,(7) and possesses neither the Creator's(8) course nor His dispensation in harmony with the parable? Or, again in what will consist his first invitation,(9) and what his admonition(10) at the second stage? Some at first would surely decline; others afterwards must have accepted."(11) But now he comes to invite both parties promiscuously out of the city,(12) out of the hedges,(13) contrary to the drift(14) of the parable. It is impossible for him now to condemn as scorners of his invitation(15) those whom he has never yet invited, and whom he is approaching with so much earnestness. If, however, he condemns them beforehand as about to reject his call, then beforehand he also predicts(16) the election of the Gentiles in their stead. Certainly(17) he means to come the second time for the very purpose of preaching to the heathen. But even if he does mean to come again, I imagine it will not be with the intention of any longer inviting guests, but of giving to them their places. Meanwhile, you who interpret the call to this supper as an invitation to a heavenly banquet of spiritual satiety and pleasure, must remember that the earthly promises also of wine and oil and corn, and even of the city, are equally employed by the Creator as figures of spiritual things.
CHAP. XXXII.--A SORT OF SORITES, AS THE LOGICIANS CALL IT, TO SHOW THAT THE PARABLES OF THE LOST SHEEP AND THE LOST DRACHMA HAVE NO SUITABLE APPLICATION TO THE CHRIST OF MARCION.
Who sought after the lost sheep and the lost piece of silver?(18) Was it not the loser? But who was the loser? Was it not he who once possessed(19) them? Who, then, was that? Was it not he to whom they belonged?(20) Since, then, man is the property of none other than the Creator, He possessed Him who owned him; He lost him who once possessed him; He sought him who lost him; He found him who sought him; He rejoiced who found him. Therefore the purport(21) of neither parable has anything whatever to do with him(22) to whom belongs neither the sheep nor the piece of silver, that is to say, man. For he lost him not, because he possessed him not; and he sought him not, because he lost him not; and he found him not, because he sought him not; and he rejoiced not, because he found him not. Therefore, to rejoice over the sinner's repentance--that is, at the recovery of lost man--is the attribute of Him who long ago professed that He would rather that the sinner should repent and not die.
CHAP. XXXIII.--THE MARCIONITE INTERPRETATION OF GOD AND MAMMON REFUTED. THE PROPHETS JUSTIFY CHRIST'S ADMONITION AGAINST COVETOUSNESS AND PRIDE. JOHN BAPTIST THE LINK BETWEEN THE OLD AND THE NEW DISPENSATIONS OF THE CREATOR. SO SAID CHRIST--BUT SO ALSO HAD ISAIAH SAID LONG BEFORE. ONE ONLY GOD, THE CREATOR, BY HIS OWN WILL CHANGED THE DISPENSATIONS.NO NEW GOD HAD A HAND IN THE CHANGE
What the two masters are who, He says, cannot be served,(23) on the ground that while one is pleased(24) the other must needs be displeased,(25) He Himself makes clear, when He mentions God and mammon. Then, if you have no interpreter by you, you may learn again from Himself what He would have understood by mammon.(1) For when advising us to provide for ourselves the help of friends in worldly affairs, after the example of that steward who, when removed from his office,(2) relieves his lord's debtors by lessening their debts with a view to their recompensing him with their help, He said, "And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness," that is to say, of money, even as the steward had done. Now we are all of us aware that money is the instigator(3) of unrighteousness, and the lord of the whole world. Therefore, when he saw the covetousness of the Pharisees doing servile worship(4) to it, He hurled(5) this sentence against them, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon."(6) Then the Pharisees, who were covetous of riches, derided Him, when they understood that by mammon He meant money. Let no one think that under the word mammon the Creator was meant, and that Christ called them off from the service of the Creator. What folly! Rather learn therefrom that one God was pointed out by Christ. For they were two masters whom He named, God and mammon--the Creator and money. You cannot indeed serve God--Him, of course whom they seemed to serve--and mammon to whom they preferred to devote themselves.(7) If, however, he was giving himself out as another god, it would not be two masters, but three, that he had pointed out. For the Creator was a master, and much more of a master, to be sure,(8) than mammon, and more to be adored, as being more truly our Master. Now, how was it likely that He who had called mammon a master, and had associated him with God, should say nothing of Him who was really the Master of even these, that is, the Creator? Or else, by this silence respecting Him did He concede that service might be rendered to Him, since it was to Himself alone and to mammon that He said service could not be (simultaneously) rendered? When, therefore, He lays down the position that God is one, since He would have been sure to mention(9) the Creator if He were Himself a rival(10) to Him, He did (virtually) name the Creator, when He refrained from insisting"(11) that He was Master alone, without a rival god. But when the Pharisees "justified themselves before men," 16) and placed their hope of reward in man, He censured them in the sense in which the pr ophet Jeremiah said, "Cursed is the man that trust-eth in man." (17) Since the prophet went on to say, "But the Lord knoweth your hearts,"(18) he magnified the power of that God who declared Himself to be as a lamp, "searching the reins and the heart."(19) When He strikes at pride in the words: "That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God,"(20) He recalls Isaiah: "For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is arrogant and lifted up, and they shall be brought low."(21) I can now make out why Marcion's god was for so long an age concealed. He was, I suppose, waiting until he had learnt all these things from the Creator. He continued his pupillage up to the time of John, and then proceeded forthwith to announce the kingdom of God, saying: "The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is proclaimed."(1) Just as if we also did not recognise in John a certain limit placed between the old dispensation and the new, at which Judaism ceased and Christianity began--without, however, supposing that it was by the power of another god that there came about a cessation(2) of the law and the prophets and the commencement of that gospel in which is the kingdom of God, Christ Himself. For although, as we have shown, the Creator foretold that the old state of things would pass away and a new state would succeed, yet, inasmuch as John is shown to be both the forerunner and the prepater of the ways of that Lord who was to introduce the gospel and publish the kingdom of God, it follows from the very fact that John has come, that Christ must be that very Being who was to follow His harbinger John. So that, if the old course has ceased and the new has begun, with John intervening between them, there will be nothing wonderful in it, because it happens according to the purpose of the Creator; so that you may get a better proof for the kingdom of God from any quarter, however anomalous,(3) than from the conceit that the law and the prophets ended in John, and a new state of things began after him. "More easily, therefore, may heaven and earth pass away--as also the law and the prophets--than that one tittle of the Lord's words should fail."(4) "For," as says Isaiah: "the word of our God shall stand for ever."(5) Since even then by Isaiah it was Christ, the Word and Spirit(6) of the Creator, who prophetically described John as "the voice of one crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord,"(7) and as about to come for the purpose of terminating thenceforth the course of the law and the prophets; by their fulfilment and not their extinction, and in order that the kingdom of God might be announced by Christ, He therefore purposely added the assurance that the elements would more easily pass away than His words fail; affirming, as He did, the further fact, that what He had said concerning John had not fallen to the ground. CHAP. XXXIV.--MOSES, ALLOWING DIVORCE, AND CHRIST PROHIBITING IT, EXPLAINED. JOHN BAPTIST AND HEROD. MARCION'S ATTEMPT TO DISCOVER AN ANTITHESIS IN THE PARABLE OF THE RICH MAN AND THE POOR MAN IN HADES CONFUTED. THE CREATOR'S APPOINTMENT MANIFESTED IN BOTH STATES. But Christ prohibits divorce, saying, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, also committeth adultery."(8) In order to forbid divorce, He makes it unlawful to marry a woman that has been put away. Moses, however, p ermitted repudiation in Deuteronomy: "When a man hath taken a wife, and hath lived with her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found unchastity in her; then let him write her a bill of divorcement and give it in her hand, and send her away out of his house."(9) You see, therefore, that there is a difference between the law and the gospel- between Moses and Christ?(10) To be sure there is!(11) But then you have rejected that other gospel which witnesses to the same verity and the same Christ.(12) There, while prohibiting divorce, He has given us a solution of this special question respecting it: "Moses," says He, "because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to give a bill of divorcement; but from the beginning it was not so"(13)--for this reason, indeed, because He who had "made them male and female" had likewise said, "They twain shall become one flesh; what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."(14) Now, by this answer of His (to the Pharisees), He both sanctioned the provision of Moses, who was His own (servant), and restored to its primitive purpose(15) the institution of the Creator, whose Christ He was. Since, however, you are to be refuted out of the Scriptures which you have received, I will meet you on your own ground, as if your Christ were mine. When, therefore, He prohibited divorce, and yet at the same time represented(16) the Father, even Him who united male and female, must He not have rather exculpated(17) than abolished the enactment of Moses? But, observe, if this Christ be yours when he teaches contrary to Moses and the Creator, on the same principle must He be mine if I can show that His teaching is not contrary to them. I maintain, then, that there was a condition in the prohibition which He now made of divorce; the case supposed being, that a man put away his wife for the express purpose of(1) marrying another. His words are: "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, also committeth adultery,"(2)--"put away," that is, for the reason wherefore a woman ought not to be dismissed, that another wife may be obtained. For he who marries a woman who is unlawfully put away is as much of an adulterer as the man who marries one who is un-divorced. Permanent is the marriage which is not rightly dissolved; to marry,(3) therefore, whilst matrimony is undissolved, is to commit adultery. Since, therefore, His prohibition of divorce was a conditional one, He did not prohibit absolutely; and what He did not absolutely forbid, that He permitted on some occasions,(4) when there is an absence of the cause why He gave His prohibition. In very deed(5) His teaching is not contrary to Moses, whose precept He partially(6) defends, I will not(7) say confirms. If, however, you deny that divorce is in any way permitted by Christ, how is it that you on your side(8) destroy marriage, not uniting man and woman, nor admitting to the sacrament of baptism and of the eucharist those who have been united in marriage anywhere else,(9) unless they should agree together to repudiate the fruit of their marriage, and so the very Creator Himself? Well, then, what is a husband to do in your sect,(10) if his wife commit adultery? Shall he keep her? But your own apostle, you know,(11) does not permit "the members of Christ to be joined to a harlot."(12) Divorce, therefore, when justly deserved,(13) has even in Christ a defender. So that Moses for the future must be considered as being confirmed by Him, since he prohibits divorce in the same sense as Christ does, if any unchastity should occur in the wife. For in the Gospel of Matthew he says, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery."(14) He also is deemed equally guilty of adultery, who marries a woman put away by her husband. The Creator, however, except on account of adultery, does not put asunder what He Himself joined together, the same Moses in another passage enacting that he who had married after violence to a damsel, should thenceforth not have it in his power to put away his wife.(15) Now, if a compulsory marriage contracted after violence shall be permanent, how much rather shall a voluntary one, the result of agreement! This has the sanction of the prophet: "Thou shalt not forsake the wife of thy youth."(16) Thus you have Christ following spontaneously the tracks of the Creator everywhere, both in permitting divorce and in for-bidding it. You find Him also protecting marriage, in whatever direction you try to escape. He prohibits divorce when He will have the marriage inviolable; He permits divorce when the marriage is spotted with unfaithfulness. You should blush when you refuse to unite those whom even your Christ has united; and repeat the blush when you disunite them without the good reason why your Christ would have them separated. I have(17) now to show whence the Lord derived this decision(18) of His, and to what end He directed it. It will thus become more fully evident that His object was not the abolition of the Mosaic ordinance(19) by any suddenly devised proposal of divorce; because it was not suddenly proposed, but had its root in the previously mentioned John. For John reproved Herod, because he had illegally married the wife of his deceased brother, who had a daughter by her (a union which the law permitted only on the one occasion of the brother dying childless,(20) when it even prescribed such a marriage, in order that by his own brother, and from his own wife,(21) seed might be reckoned to the deceased husband),(22) and was in consequence cast into prison, and finally, by the same Herod, was even put to death. The Lord having therefore made mention of John, and of course of the occurrence of his death, hurled His censure(23) against Herod in the form of unlawful marriages and of adultery, pronouncing as an adulterer even the man who married a woman that had been put away from her husband. This he said in order the more severely to load Herod with guilt, who had taken his brother's wife, after she had been loosed from her husband not less by death than by divorce; who had been impelled thereto by his lust, not by the prescription of the (Levirate) law--for, as his brother had left a daughter, the marriage with the widow could not be lawful on that very account;(1) and who, when the prophet asserted against him the law, had therefore put him to death.