Thursday, April 25, 2019

I WOULD RATHER BE . . .

I would rather live my life with a heavy heart, knowing God, my only joy and fulfillment being bound up in His, than to have an undisturbed happiness rooted in ignorance.
I would rather be misunderstood, falsely accused and persecuted for righteousness' sake for the glory and honor of the Lamb, than to prefer the world and its lovers.
I would rather gird myself first, then afterwards sit down to meat (Luke 17).
I would rather glory in the cross of Christ than in my shame! (Philippians 3:17-19)
I would rather be hated by this vile world and be a friend of God; to be a friend of the Crucified than His enemy; to love the Lamb than to be received by the world which crucified Him.
I would rather to truly seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, than to pretend, only to realize on the last Day that I deceived myself.
I would rather waste my life on Christ than on the fleeting and foolish ambitions and desires of the dead. I speak as a fool.
I would rather my life make sense in light of the glorious Gospel and eternal hope I have been promised than to contradict it.
I would rather be a fool for Christ and let the world be wise!
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in tents of wickedness (Psalm 84:10). I would rather be crucified together with Christ than to live without Him.
I would rather choose the cross than to deny Christ; to let His Word kill me than to destroy its meaning so I can feel better about myself.
In the end, nothing else will matter to me. In the end, what will define me and you: The Golden Rule or Fool's Gold?

Monday, April 22, 2019

"The Weightier Matters"

Have you ever wondered what the weightier matters were which Jesus said the Pharisees neglected? The following video will help you understand:


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Thankfully we successfully delivered the drilling rig to Ixiamas, Bolivia!

It took three days, crossed three rivers and slept in the back of the truck with the rig, but we dropped the rig off at our contacts home! We hope to drill at least ten water wells this summer. We interviewed some folks last fall and look forward to meeting their needs!


Sunday, March 24, 2019

CONCERNING WORLDLY MUSIC

We cannot be in love with our Savior and relish the lyrics of the world for which He was crucified. If our feet were pierced with His they would not be leading us down the broad path of worldly music. If our hands were nailed together with His we would never use them to labor for anything of the world for which His hands were pierced. The pain He experienced for us, through faith, mortifies within us the sins for which  those sufferings atoned. If we were truly crucified together with Him and dead, then all of our desires for worldly music and pleasures would be dead also; we would be new creatures in reality: alive to His holy purposes, will and mind alone.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Lay up treasures in heaven!

What is meant by the words of Christ, "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal"? Shall we lay up gold there though the streets are said to have been paved with gold? Shall we equate the currency of heaven with earthly treasures? How then shall heaven be of greater value than earth? What is more valuable than the blood of Christ? What greater treasures are there than God Himself and all that He is and has? What did the priceless blood of Christ purchase? What treasure ought we to lay up? Souls and the good works which flow from a heart sanctified by the grace of God NO DOUBT!

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Do we love what God loves? If so, do we love what God loves the way that He loved through Christ who is the brightness of such love and the perfect expression of it? Is our value system one with Christ's? Is there any opposition or distance between our value system and God's in thought or application?

The thoughts and ways of God are higher than ours as the heavens are above the Earth. However, the thought, mind, Word or Logos of God descended years ago to seed us earthen vessels that we may yield the fruit which is in accord with His holy will. This Seed is the promised Seed: Christ.

The love of God requires faith. Without faith, such love will appear unsound, unjust, unfair, unreasonable, overbearing, heavy and hard. For it is through faith that we receive this love in all of its inner workings and that the branches of its understanding outwardly flourishes and prospers through our lives. For to love those who love us is common to all; but to love those who do not only not return love, but instead return our love with hatred is quite another: to turn the other cheek until death ensues, to forsake the vain pleasures of this life to afford to help as many as possible, to be faithful to your spouse regardless of their choices, to be hated unjustly for simply living the teachings of Christ as Jesus and His apostles lived them is scary to many, yet this is the ONLY RATIONAL CONCLUSION TO THE NEW CREATURE WHO HAS THE MIND OF CHRIST.

For the first few centuries of Christianity, the love of God in the early church seemed scary. For it was, as it were, multitudes possessed of a strange spirit as soon as they believed. Pagans were instantly converted and transformed by the power of God through faith. Their reasoning, perspective, habits, pursuits, vision, hopes, dreams, goals, desires were all transformed in little time. Whether rich or poor, all used what they had to provide for other believers and even unbelievers. Many parted with all of their wealth and gave it to others to distribute. Racists experienced a love without borders. They went from a manifold purpose of life to a singular; they only lived for and devoted themselves to WHAT WAS WRITTEN UPON THEIR HEARTS! Unity was not as difficult to attain; for they experienced a common salvation through a common faith in their common Head.

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Is your heart one with God's? Is your heart where God's heart is? Does your treasure on earth witness against your Christian confession? What does it testify of those who lay up for themselves SOME treasure in heaven but not all? A little here and a little there; a little hot and a little cold; to ignorantly do this is one thing, but to voluntarily prefer the vanity of this life to the blessedness of the Promise cannot be reconciled with the mind of Christ.

Now laying up treasure on earth is not laying up what is useful to the kingdom of God and for real personal necessities. It is laying up for OURSELVES those things along with many others. Each needs to be honest and examine the sincerity of their love for God and where their heart is in reality.

Consider jewelry: If Christ commanded His followers to lay not treasures on earth, but to lay up treasure in heaven how can one buy jewelry? Jewelry is dead. It has no life, no eternal soul. It is never hungry, thirsty, lonely, sick, lost or needy and yet, hundreds of thousands of men and women invest in jewelry! A gold necklace or helping the poor? Jesus would never do both! Both would mean that part of His heart, soul, mind and strength is invested in lifeless ornaments and not in the living God! Both would mean five souls may be ministered unto while other five suffer on account of His gold necklace. Jesus didn't die for your gold necklace. The value of your gold necklace is but dung when compared to the priceless value of the living souls of men for whom Christ shed His precious blood. It is impossible to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength when part of it is placed around your neck, fingers, toes, wrists, ears, noses, hair, and other various places.

As Christians, we do not only teach PRINCIPLES, but we should also teach the APPLICATION of the principles in word and deed. For what good is the principle, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself", if one believes they are correctly applying that principle while using their time and resources to go skydiving, parasailing, on a Caribbean cruise for fun, golfing, while purchasing needless and useless decorations, knick knacks, collectibles, hobbies, and worthless entertainments? The whole WORLD agrees with the above principle. What is important however, DOES THE CHRIST AGREE WITH YOUR APPLICATION? Is there not a cause more worthy of our time and resources, or are we so selfish and blinded by our pride that we cannot see the spiritually lost, those suffering from thirst, nakedness, and hunger? DEAR FRIENDS CHRIST WAS NOT CRUCIFIED SO YOU CAN ENJOY THE WORLD. THE CHRIST WAS CRUCIFIED THAT YOU MIGHT BE DEAD TO THE WORLD. For all that is in the world: the lusts of flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world (1 John 2:15-17).
All resistance and reluctance to obeying the will of God ought to have been destroyed when the Roman scourge, crown of thorns and the cross destroyed the body of Christ. Our desires for sin should have died when Christ died. For the nails which fastened Him to cross fastened our sins with Him, so that when He died the power of sin within us, through faith, died with Him. If one has truly experienced the love and grace of the Christ who loved them so completely, such a one could never be satisfied with a partial obedience. For the heart of the new creature has no joy, peace or contentment apart from full and final surrender to God; it is ever longing and laboring to fully please the One who made them whole. Therefore, to refuse any wish of their Savior would then be their own undoing of the "completeness" which came through Him.

So, how do we get from "I have to obey" to "I want to obey"? From duty to desire? From craving the things we ought to have long ago parted with! Our "has to obey" was crucified with Christ. Through His sacrifice, our, "has to obey" has been transformed into we WANT TO FOLLOW IN HIS STEPS! We with the Psalmist ought to say, "For great is Thy mercy towards me; Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell" (Psalm 86).

Friday, December 28, 2018

EARLY CHRISTIAN LIFE: Quotes from Origen Against Celsus, Book V, 250 A.D.


IT is not, my reverend Ambrosius, because we seek after many words—a thing which is forbidden, and in the indulgence of which it is impossible to avoid sin (Chapter 1).

For that sensible light of theirs is the work of the Creator of all things, while that rational light is derived perhaps from the principle of free-will within them (Chapter 10).

From what has been said, it will be manifest to intelligent hearers how we have to answer the following: “All the rest of the race will be completely burnt up, and they alone will remain.” It is not to be wondered at, indeed, if such thoughts have been entertained by those amongst us who are called in Scripture the “foolish things” of the world, and “base things,” and “things which are despised,” and “things which are not,” because “by the foolishness of preaching it pleased God to save them that believe on Him, after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God,”—because such individuals are unable to see distinctly the sense of each particular passage, or unwilling to devote the necessary leisure to the investigation of Scripture, notwithstanding the injunction of Jesus, “Search the Scriptures.” The following, moreover, are his ideas regarding the fire which is to be brought upon the world by God, and the punishments which are to befall sinners. And perhaps, as it is appropriate to children that some things should be addressed to them in a manner befitting their infantile condition, to convert them, as being of very tender age, to a better course of life; so, to those whom the word terms “the foolish things of the world,” and “the base,” and “the despised,” the just and obvious meaning of the passages relating to punishments is suitable, inasmuch as they cannot receive any other mode of conversion than that which is by fear and the presentation of punishment, and thus be saved from the many evils (which would befall them). The Scripture accordingly declares that only those who are unscathed by the fire and the punishments are to remain,—those, viz., whose opinions, and morals, and mind have been purified to the highest degree; while, on the other hand, those of a different nature—those, viz., who, according to their deserts, require the administration of punishment by fire—will be involved in these sufferings with a view to an end which it is suitable for God to bring upon those who have been created in His image, but who have lived in opposition to the will of that nature which is according to His image. And this is our answer to the statement, “All the rest of the race will be completely burnt up, but they alone are to remain” (Chapter 16).

But since he has ridiculed at great length the doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh, which has been preached in the Churches, and which is more clearly understood by the more intelligent believer; and as it is unnecessary again to quote his words, which have been already adduced, let us, with regard to the problem (as in an apologetic work directed against an alien from the faith, and for the sake of those who are still “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”), state and establish to the best of our ability a few points expressly intended for our readers. Neither we, then, nor the holy Scriptures, assert that with the same bodies, without a change to a higher condition, “shall those who were long dead arise from the earth and live again;” for in so speaking, Celsus makes a false charge against us. For we may listen to many passages of Scripture treating of the resurrection in a manner worthy of God, although it may suffice for the present to quote the language of Paul from the first Epistle to the Corinthians, where he says: “But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain; but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body.” Now, observe how in these words he says that there is sown, “not that body that shall be;” but that of the body which is sown and cast naked into the earth (God giving to each seed its own body), there takes place as it were a resurrection: from the seed that was cast into the ground there arising a stalk, e.g., among such plants as the following, viz., the mustard plant, or of a larger tree, as in the olive, or one of the fruit-trees (Chapter 18).

The learned among the Egyptians, moreover, hold similar views, and yet they are treated with respect, and do not incur the ridicule of Celsus and such as he; while we, who maintain that all things are administered by God in proportion to the relation of the free-will of each individual, and are ever being brought into a better condition, so far as they admit of being so, and who know that the nature of our free-will admits of the occurrence of contingent events (for it is incapable of receiving the wholly unchangeable character of God), yet do not appear to say anything worthy of a testing examination (Chapter 21).

Let no one, however, suspect that, in speaking as we do, we belong to those who are indeed called Christians, but who set aside the doctrine of the resurrection as it is taught in Scripture. For these persons cannot, so far as their principles apply, at all establish that the stalk or tree which springs up comes from the grain of wheat, or anything else (which was cast into the ground); whereas we, who believe that that which is “sown” is not “quickened” unless it die, and that there is sown not that body that shall be (for God gives it a body as it pleases Him, raising it in incorruption after it is sown in corruption; and after it is sown in dishonour, raising it in glory; and after it is sown in weakness, raising it in power; and after it is sown a natural body, raising it a spiritual),—we preserve both the doctrine of the Church of Christ and the grandeur of the divine promise, proving also the possibility of its accomplishment not by mere assertion, but by arguments; knowing that although heaven and earth, and the things that are in them, may pass away, yet His words regarding each individual thing, being, as parts of a whole, or species of a genus, the utterances of Him who was God the Word, who was in the beginning with God, shall by no means pass away. For we desire to listen to Him who said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Chapter 22).

We, therefore, do not maintain that the body which has undergone corruption resumes its original nature, any more than the grain of wheat which has decayed returns to its former condition. But we do maintain, that as above the grain of wheat there arises a stalk, so a certain power is implanted in the body, which is not destroyed, and from which the body is raised up in incorruption. The philosophers of the Porch, however, in consequence of the opinions which they hold regarding the unchangeableness of things after a certain cycle, assert that the body, after undergoing complete corruption, will return to its original condition, and will again assume that first nature from which it passed into a state of dissolution, establishing these points, as they think, by irresistible arguments. We, however, do not betake ourselves to a most absurd refuge, saying that with God all things are possible; for we know how to understand this word “all” as not referring either to things that are “non-existent” or that are inconceivable. But we maintain, at the same time, that God cannot do what is disgraceful, since then He would be capable of ceasing to be God; for if He do anything that is disgraceful, He is not God. Since, however, he lays it down as a principle, that “God does not desire what is contrary to nature,” we have to make a distinction, and say that if any one asserts that wickedness is contrary to nature, while we maintain that “God does not desire what is contrary to nature,”—either what springs from wickedness or from an irrational principle,—yet, if such things happen according to the word and will of God, we must at once necessarily hold that they are not contrary to nature. Therefore things which are done by God, although they may be, or may appear to some to be incredible, are not contrary to nature. And if we must press the force of words, we would say that, in comparison with what is generally understood as “nature,” there are certain things which are beyond its power, which God could at any time do; as, e.g., in raising man above the level of human nature, and causing him to pass into a better and more divine condition, and preserving him in the same, so long as he who is the object of His care shows by his actions that he desires (the continuance of His help) (Chapter 23).

Moreover, as we have already said that for God to desire anything unbecoming Himself would be destructive of His existence as Deity, we will add that if man, agreeably to the wickedness of his nature, should desire anything that is abominable, God cannot grant it. And now it is from no spirit of contention that we answer the assertions of Celsus; but it is in the spirit of truth that we investigate them, as assenting to his view that “He is the God, not of inordinate desires, nor of error and disorder, but of a nature just and upright,” because He is the source of all that is good. And that He is able to provide an eternal life for the soul we acknowledge; and that He possesses not only the “power,” but the “will.” In view, therefore, of these considerations, we are not at all more worthless than dung;” and yet, with reference even to this, one might say that dung, indeed, ought to be cast out, while the dead bodies of men, on account of the soul by which they were inhabited, especially if it had been virtuous, ought not to be cast out. For, in harmony with those laws which are based upon the principles of equity, bodies are deemed worthy of sepulture, with the honours accorded on such occasions, that no insult, so far as can be helped, may be offered to the soul which dwelt within, by casting forth the body (after the soul has departed) like that of the animals. Let it not then be held, contrary to reason, that it is the will of God to declare that the grain of wheat is not immortal, but the stalk which springs from it, while the body which is sown in corruption is not, but that which is raised by Him in incorruption. But according to Celsus, God Himself is the reason of all things, while according to our view it is His Son, of whom we say in philosophic language, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;” while in our judgment also, God cannot do anything which is contrary to reason, or contrary to Himself (Chapter 24).

Let us next notice the statements of Celsus, which follow the preceding, and which are as follow: “As the Jews, then, became a peculiar people, and enacted laws in keeping with the customs of their country, and maintain them up to the present time, and observe a mode of worship which, whatever be its nature, is yet derived from their fathers, they act in these respects like other men, because each nation retains its ancestral customs, whatever they are, if they happen to be established among them. And such an arrangement appears to be advantageous, not only because it has occurred to the mind of other nations to decide some things differently, but also because it is a duty to protect what has been established for the public advantage; and also because, in all probability, the various quarters of the earth were from the beginning allotted to different superintending spirits, and were thus distributed among certain governing powers, and in this manner the administration of the world is carried on. And whatever is done among each nation in this way would be rightly done, wherever it was agreeable to the wishes (of the superintending powers), while it would be an act of impiety to get rid of the institutions established from the beginning in the various places.” By these words Celsus shows that the Jews, who were formerly Egyptians, subsequently became a “peculiar people,” and enacted laws which they carefully preserve. And not to repeat his statements, which have been already before us, he says that it is advantageous to the Jews to observe their ancestral worship, as other nations carefully attend to theirs. And he further states a deeper reason why it is of advantage to the Jews to cultivate their ancestral customs, in hinting dimly that those to whom was allotted the office of superintending the country which was being legislated for, enacted the laws of each land in co-operation with its legislators. He appears, then, to indicate that both the country of the Jews, and the nation which inhabits it, are superintended by one or more beings, who, whether they were one or more, co-operated with Moses, and enacted the laws of the Jews (Chapter 25).

“We must,” he says, “observe the laws, not only because it has occurred to the mind of others to decide some things differently, but because it is a duty to protect what has been enacted for the public advantage, and also because, in all probability, the various quarters of the earth were from the beginning allotted to different superintending spirits, and were distributed among certain governing powers, and in this manner the administration of the world is carried on.” Thus Celsus, as if he had forgotten what he had said against the Jews, now includes them in the general eulogy which he passes upon all who observe their ancestral customs, remarking: “And whatever is done among each nation in this way, would be rightly done whenever agreeable to the wishes (of the superintendents).” And observe here, whether he does not openly, so far as he can, express a wish that the Jew should live in the observance of his own laws, and not depart from them, because he would commit an act of impiety if he apostatized; for his words are: “It would be an act of impiety to get rid of the institutions established from the beginning in the various places.” Now I should like to ask him, and those who entertain his views, who it was that distributed the various quarters of the earth from the beginning among the different superintending spirits; and especially, who gave the country of the Jews, and the Jewish people themselves, to the one or more superintendents to whom it was allotted? Was it, as Celsus would say, Jupiter who assigned the Jewish people and their country to a certain spirit or spirits? And was it his wish, to whom they were thus assigned, to enact among them the laws which prevail, or was it against his will that it was done? You will observe that, whatever be his answer, he is in a strait. But if the various quarters of the earth were not allotted by some one being to the various superintending spirits, then each one at random, and without the superintendence of a higher power, divided the earth according to chance; and yet such a view is absurd, and destructive in no small degree of the providence of the God who presides over all things (Chapter 26).

Any one, indeed, who chooses, may relate how the various quarters of the earth, being distributed among certain governing powers, are administered by those who superintend them; but let him tell us also how what is done among each nation is done rightly when agreeable to the wishes of the superintendents. Let him, for example, tell us whether the laws of the Scythians, which permit the murder of parents, are right laws; or those of the Persians, which do not forbid the marriages of sons with their mothers, or of daughters with their own fathers. But what need is there for me to make selections from those who have been engaged in the business of enacting laws among the different nations, and to inquire how the laws are rightly enacted among each, according as they please the superintending powers? Let Celsus, however, tell us how it would be an act of impiety to get rid of those ancestral laws which permit the marriages of mothers and daughters; or which pronounce a man happy who puts an end to his life by hanging, or declare that they undergo entire purification who deliver themselves over to the fire, and who terminate their existence by fire; and how it is an act of impiety to do away with those laws which, for example, prevail in the Tauric Chersonese, regarding the offering up of strangers in sacrifice to Diana, or among certain of the Libyan tribes regarding the sacrifice of children to Saturn. Moreover, this inference follows from the dictum of Celsus, that it is an act of impiety on the part of the Jews to do away with those ancestral laws which forbid the worship of any other deity than the Creator of all things. And it will follow, according to his view, that piety is not divine by its own nature, but by a certain (external) arrangement and appointment. For it is an act of piety among certain tribes to worship a crocodile, and to eat what is an object of adoration among other tribes; while, again, with others it is a pious act to worship a calf, and among others, again, to regard the goat as a god. And, in this way, the same individual will be regarded as acting piously according to one set of laws, and impiously according to another; and this is the most absurd result that can be conceived! (Chapter 27).

It is probable, however, that to such remarks as the above, the answer returned would be, that he was pious who kept the laws of his own country, and not at all chargeable with impiety for the non-observance of those of other lands; and that, again, he who was deemed guilty of impiety among certain nations was not really so, when he worshipped his own gods, agreeably to his country’s laws, although he made war against, and even feasted on, those who were regarded as divinities among those nations which possessed laws of an opposite kind. Now, observe here whether these statements do not exhibit the greatest confusion of mind regarding the nature of what is just, and holy, and religious; since there is no accurate definition laid down of these things, nor are they described as having a peculiar character of their own, and stamping as religious those who act according to their injunctions. If, then, religion, and piety, and righteousness belong to those things which are so only by comparison, so that the same act may be both pious and impious, according to different relations and different laws, see whether it will not follow that temperance also is a thing of comparison, and courage as well, and prudence, and the other virtues, than which nothing could be more absurd! What we have said, however, is sufficient for the more general and simple class of answers to the allegations of Celsus. But as we think it likely that some of those who are accustomed to deeper investigation will fall in with this treatise, let us venture to lay down some considerations of a profounder kind, conveying a mystical and secret view respecting the original distribution of the various quarters of the earth among different superintending spirits; and let us prove to the best of our ability, that our doctrine is free from the absurd consequences enumerated above (Chapter 28).

The remarks which we have made not only answer the statements of Celsus regarding the superintending spirits, but anticipate in some measure what he afterwards brings forward, when he says: “Let the second party come forward; and I shall ask them whence they come, and whom they regard as the originator of their ancestral customs. They will reply, No one, because they spring from the same source as the Jews themselves, and derive their instruction and superintendence from no other quarter, and notwithstanding they have revolted from the Jews.” Each one of us, then, is come “in the last days,” when one Jesus has visited us, to the “visible mountain of the Lord,” the Word that is above every word, and to the “house of God,” which is “the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” And we notice how it is built upon “the tops of the mountains,” i.e., the predictions of all the prophets, which are its foundations. And this house is exalted above the hills, i.e., those individuals among men who make a profession of superior attainments in wisdom and truth; and all the nations come to it, and the “many nations” go forth, and say to one another, turning to the religion which in the last days has shone forth through Jesus Christ: “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in them.” For the law came forth from the dwellers in Sion, and settled among us as a spiritual law. Moreover, the word of the Lord came forth from that very Jerusalem, that it might be disseminated through all places, and might judge in the midst of the heathen, selecting those whom it sees to be submissive, and rejecting the disobedient, who are many in number. And to those who inquire of us whence we come, or who is our founder, we reply that we are come, agreeably to the counsels of Jesus, to “cut down our hostile and insolent ‘wordy’ swords into ploughshares, and to convert into pruning-hooks the  spears formerly employed in war.” For we no longer take up “sword against nation,” nor do we “learn war any more,” having become children of peace, for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader, instead of those whom our fathers followed, among whom we were “strangers to the covenant,” and having received a law, for which we give thanks to Him that rescued us from the error (of our ways), saying, “Our fathers honoured lying idols, and there is not among them one that causeth it to rain.” Our Superintendent, then, and Teacher, having come forth from the Jews, regulates the whole world by the word of His teaching. And having made these remarks by way of anticipation, we have refuted as well as we could the untrue statements of Celsus, by subjoining the appropriate answer (Chapter 33).

As there are, then, generally two laws presented to us, the one being the law of nature, of which God would be the legislator, and the other being the written law of cities, it is a proper thing, when the written law is not opposed to that of God, for the citizens not to abandon it under pretext of foreign customs; but when the law of nature, that is, the law of God, commands what is opposed to the written law, observe whether reason will not tell us to bid a long farewell to the written code, and to the desire of its legislators, and to give ourselves up to the legislator God, and to choose a life agreeable to His word, although in doing so it may be necessary to encounter dangers, and countless labours, and even death and dishonour. For when there are some laws in harmony with the will of God, which are opposed to others which are in force in cities, and when it is impracticable to please God (and those who administer laws of the kind referred to), it would be absurd to contemn those acts by means of which we may please the Creator of all things, and to select those by which we shall become displeasing to God, though we may satisfy unholy laws, and those who love them. But since it is reasonable in other matters to prefer the law of nature, which is the law of God, before the written law, which has been enacted by men in a spirit of opposition to the law of God, why should we not do this still more in the case of those laws which relate to God? Neither shall we, like the Ethiopians who inhabit the parts about Meroe, worship, as is their pleasure, Jupiter and Bacchus only; nor shall we at all reverence Ethiopian gods in the Ethiopian manner; nor, like the Arabians, shall we regard Urania and Bacchus alone as divinities; nor in any degree at all deities in which the difference of sex has been a ground of distinction (as among the Arabians, who worship Urania as a female, and Bacchus as a male deity); nor shall we, like all the Egyptians, regard Osiris and Isis as gods; nor shall we enumerate Athena among these, as the Saïtes are pleased to do. And if to the ancient inhabitants of Naucratis it seemed good to worship other divinities, while their modern descendants have begun quite recently to pay reverence to Serapis, who never was a god at all, we shall not on that account assert that a new being who was not formerly a god, nor at all known to men, is a deity. For the Son of God, “the First-born of all creation,” although He seemed recently to have become incarnate, is not by any means on that account recent. For the holy Scriptures know Him to be the most ancient of all the works of creation; for it was to Him that God said regarding the creation of man, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness” (Chapter 37).

You ought to have said that “laws are kings of all men,” for in every nation some law is king of all. But if you mean that which is law in the proper sense, then it is this which is by nature “king of all things;” although there are some individuals who, having like robbers abandoned the law, deny its validity, and live lives of violence and injustice. We Christians, then, who have come to the knowledge of the law which is by nature “king of all things,” and which is the same with the law of God, endeavour to regulate our lives by its prescriptions, having bidden a long farewell to those of an unholy kind (Chapter 40).

As Celsus, however, is of opinion that it matters nothing whether the highest being be called Jupiter, or Zen, or Adonai, or Sabaoth, or Ammoun (as the Egyptians term him), or Pappæus (as the Scythians entitle him), let us discuss the point for a little, reminding the reader at the same time of what has been said above upon this question, when the language of Celsus led us to consider the subject. And now we maintain that the nature of names is not, as Aristotle supposes, an enactment of those who impose them. For the languages which are prevalent among men do not derive their origin from men, as is evident to those who are able to ascertain the nature of the charms which are appropriated by the inventors of the languages differently, according to the various tongues, and to the varying pronunciations of the names, on which we have spoken briefly in the preceding pages, remarking that when those names which in a certain language were possessed of a natural power were translated into another, they were no longer able to accomplish what they did before when uttered in their native tongues. And the same peculiarity is found to apply to men; for if we were to translate the name of one who was called from his birth by a certain appellation in the Greek language into the Egyptian or Roman, or any other tongue, we could not make him do or suffer the same things which he would have done or suffered under the appellation first bestowed upon him. Nay, even if we translated into the Greek language the name of an individual who had been originally invoked in the Roman tongue, we could not produce the result which the incantation professed itself capable of accomplishing had it preserved the name first conferred upon him. And if these statements are true when spoken of the names of men, what are we to think of those which are transferred, for any cause whatever, to the Deity? For example, something is transferred from the name Abraham when translated into Greek, and something is signified by that of Isaac, and also by that of Jacob; and accordingly, if any one, either in an invocation or in swearing an oath, were to use the expression, “the God of Abraham,” and “the God of Isaac,” and to their powers, since even demons are vanquished and become submissive to him who pronounces these names; whereas if we say, “the god of the chosen father of the echo, and the god of laughter, and the god of him who strikes with the heel,” the mention of the name is attended with no result, as is the case with other names possessed of no power. And in the same way, if we translate the word “Israel” into Greek or any other language, we shall produce no result; but if we retain it as it is, and join it to those expressions to which such as are skilled in these matters think it ought to be united, there would then follow some result from the pronunciation of the word which would accord with the professions of those who employ such invocations. And we may say the same also of the pronunciation of “Sabaoth,” a word which is frequently employed in incantations; for if we translate the term into “Lord of hosts,” or “Lord of armies,” or “Almighty” (different acceptation of it having been proposed by the interpreters), we shall accomplish nothing; whereas if we retain the original pronunciation, we shall, as those who are skilled in such matters maintain, produce some effect. And the same observation holds good of Adonai. If, then, neither “Sabaoth” nor “Adonai,” when rendered into what appears to be their meaning in the Greek tongue, can accomplish anything, how much less would be the result among those who regard it as a matter of indifference whether the highest being be called Jupiter, or Zen, or Adonai, or Sabaoth! (Chapter 45)

It was for these and similar mysterious reasons, with which Moses and the prophets were acquainted, that they forbade the name of other gods to be pronounced by him who bethought himself of praying to the one Supreme God alone, or to be remembered by a heart which had been taught to be pure from all foolish thoughts and words. And for these reasons we should prefer to endure all manner of suffering rather than acknowledge Jupiter to be God. For we do not consider Jupiter and Sabaoth to be the same, nor Jupiter to be at all divine, but that some demon, unfriendly to men and to the true God, rejoices under this title. And although the Egyptians were to hold Ammon before us under threat of death, we would rather die than address him as God, it being a name used in all probability in certain Egyptian incantations in which this demon is invoked. And although the Scythians may call Pappæus the supreme God, yet we will not yield our assent to this; granting, indeed, that there is a Supreme Deity, although we do not give the name Pappæus to Him as His proper title, but regard it as one which is agreeable to the demon to whom was allotted th desert of Scythia, with its people and its language. He, however, who gives God His title in the Scythian tongue, or in the Egyptian or in any language in which he has been brought up, will not be guilty of sin (Chapter 46).

But neither do the Jews pride themselves upon abstaining from swine’s flesh, as if it were some great thing; but upon their having ascertained the nature of clean and unclean animals, and the cause of the distinction, and of swine being classed among the unclean. And these distinctions were signs of certain things until the advent of Jesus; after whose coming it was said to His disciple, who did not yet comprehend the doctrine concerning these matters, but who said, “Nothing that is common or unclean hath entered into my mouth,” “What God hath cleansed, call not thou common.” It therefore in no way affects either the Jews or us that the Egyptian priests abstain not only from the flesh of swine, but also from that of goats, and sheep, and oxen, and fish. But since it is not that “which entereth into the mouth that defiles a man,” and since “meat does not commend us to God,” we do not set great store on refraining from eating, nor yet are we induced to eat from a gluttonous appetite. And therefore, so far as we are concerned, the followers of Pythagoras, who abstain from all things that contain life may do as they please; only observe the different reason for abstaining from things that have life on the part of the Pythagoreans and our ascetics. For the former abstain on account of the fable about the transmigration of souls, as the poet says:—
“And some one, lifting up his beloved son,
Will slay him after prayer; O how foolish he!”
We, however, when we do abstain, do so because “we keep under our body, and bring it into subjection,” and desire “to mortify our members that are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence;” and we use every effort to “mortify the deeds of the flesh” (Chapter 49).

We, however, have to the best of our ability defended ourselves at great length in the preceding pages on the subject of the honour which we render to our Jesus, pointing out that we have found the better part; and that in showing that the truth which is contained in the teaching of Jesus Christ is pure and unmixed with error, we are not commending ourselves, but our Teacher, to whom testimony was borne through many witnesses by the Supreme God and the prophetic writings among the Jews, and by the very clearness of the case itself, for it is demonstrated that He could not have accomplished such mighty works without the divine help (Chapter 51).

That we are not refuted, however, on the subject of our great Saviour, although the accuser may appear to refute us, will be manifest to those who peruse in a spirit of truth-loving investigation all that is predicted and recorded of Him. And, in the next place, since he considers that he makes a concession in saying of the Saviour, “Let him appear to be really an angel,” we reply that we do not accept of such a concession from Celsus; but we look to the work of Him who came to visit the whole human race in His word and teaching, as each one of His adherents was capable of receiving Him. And this was the work of one who, as the prophecy regarding Him said, was not simply an angel, but the “Angel of the great counsel:” for He announced to men the great counsel of the God and Father of all things regarding them, (saying) of those who yield themselves up to a life of pure religion, that they ascend by means of their great deeds to God; but of those who do not adhere to Him, that they place themselves at a distance from God, and journey on to destruction through their unbelief of Him. He then continues: “If even the angel came to men, is he the first and only one who came, or did others come on former occasions?” And he thinks he can meet either of these dilemmas at great length, although there is not a single real Christian who asserts that Christ was the only being that visited the human race. For, as Celsus says, “If they should say the only one,” there are others who appeared to different individuals (Chapter 53).

Proceeding immediately after to mix up and compare with one another things that are dissimilar, and incapable of being united, he subjoins to his statement regarding the sixty or seventy angels who came down from heaven, and who, according to him, shed fountains of warm water for tears, the following: “It is related also that there came to the tomb of Jesus himself, according to some, two angels, according to others, one;” having failed to notice, I think, that Matthew and Mark speak of one, and Luke and John of two, which statements are not contradictory. For they who mention “one,” say that it was he who rolled away the stone from the sepulchre; while they who mention “two,” refer to those who appeared in shining raiment to the women that repaired to the sepulchre, or who were seen within sitting in white garments. Each of these occurrences might now be demonstrated to have actually taken place, and to be indicative of a figurative meaning existing in these “phenomena,” (and intelligible) to those who were prepared to behold the resurrection of the Word. Such a task, however, does not belong to our present purpose, but rather to an exposition of the Gospel (Chapter 56).

If, however, it be necessary to express ourselves with precision in our answer to Celsus, who thinks that we hold the same opinions on the matters in question as do the Jews, we would say that we both agree that the books (of Scripture) were written by the Spirit of God, but that we do not agree about the meaning of their contents; for we do not regulate our lives like the Jews, because we are of opinion that the literal acceptation of the laws is not that which conveys the meaning of the legislation. And we maintain, that “when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart,” because the meaning of the law of Moses has been concealed from those who have not welcomed the way which is by Jesus Christ. But we know that if one turn to the Lord (for “the Lord is that Spirit”), the veil being taken away, “he beholds, as in a mirror with unveiled face, the glory of the Lord” in those thoughts which are concealed in their literal expression, and to his own glory becomes a participator of the divine glory; the term “face” being used figuratively for the “understanding,” as one would call it without a figure, in which is the face of the “inner man,” filled with light and glory, flowing from the true comprehension of the contents of the law (Chapter 60).

After the above remarks he proceeds as follows: “Let no one suppose that I am ignorant that some of them will concede that their God is the same as that of the Jews, while others will maintain that he is a different one, to whom the latter is in opposition, and that it was from the former that the Son came.” Now, if he imagine that the existence of numerous heresies among the Christians is a ground of accusation against Christianity, why, in a similar way, should it not be a ground of accusation against philosophy, that the various sects of philosophers differ from each other, not on small and indifferent points, but upon those of the highest importance? Nay, medicine also ought to be a subject of attack, on account of its many conflicting schools. Let it be admitted, then, that there are amongst us some who deny that our God is the same as that of the Jews: nevertheless, on that account those are not to be blamed who prove from the same Scriptures that one and the same Deity is the God of the Jews and of the Gentiles alike, as Paul, too, distinctly says, who was a convert from Judaism to Christianity, “I thank my God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience.” And let it be admitted also, that there is a third class who call certain persons “carnal,” and others “spiritual,”—I think he here means the followers of Valentinus,—yet what does this avail against us, who belong to the Church, and who make it an accusation against such as hold that certain natures are saved, and that others perish in consequence of their natural constitution? And let it be admitted further, that there are some who give themselves out as Gnostics, in the same way as those Epicureans who call themselves philosophers: yet neither will they who annihilate the doctrine of providence be deemed true philosophers, nor those true Christians who introduce monstrous inventions, which are disapproved of by those who are the disciples of Jesus. Let it be admitted, moreover, that there are some who accept Jesus, and who boast on that account of being Christians, and yet would regulate their lives, like the Jewish  multitude, in accordance with the Jewish law,—and these are the twofold sect of Ebionites, who either acknowledge with us that Jesus was born of a virgin, or deny this, and maintain that He was begotten like other human beings,—what does that avail by way of charge against such as belong to the Church, and whom Celsus has styled “those of the multitude?” He adds, also, that certain of the Christians are believers in the Sibyl, having probably misunderstood some who blamed such as believed in the existence of a prophetic Sibyl, and termed those who held this belief Sibyllists (Chapter 61).

“Moreover,” he continues, “these persons utter against one another dreadful blasphemies, saying all manner of things shameful to be spoken; nor will they yield in the slightest point for the sake of harmony, hating each other with a perfect hatred.” Now, in answer to this, we have already said that in philosophy and medicine sects are to be found warring against sects. We, however, who are followers of the word of Jesus, and have exercised ourselves in thinking, and saying, and doing what is in harmony with His words, “when reviled, bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat;” and we would not utter “all manner of things shameful to be spoken” against those who have adopted different opinions from ours, but, if possible, use every exertion to raise them to a better condition through adherence to the Creator alone, and lead them to perform every act as those who will (one day) be judged. And if those who hold different opinions will not be convinced, we observe the injunction laid down for the treatment of such: “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” Moreover, we who know the maxim, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and this also, “Blessed are the meek,” would not regard with hatred the corrupters of Christianity, nor term those who had fallen into error Circes and flattering deceivers (Chapter 63).

But since he asserts that “you may hear all those who differ so widely saying, ‘The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world,’” we shall show the falsity of such a statement. For there are certain heretical sects which do not receive the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, as the two sects of Ebionites, and those who are termed Encratites. Those, then, who do not regard the apostle as a holy and wise man, will not adopt his language, and say, “The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world.” And consequently in this point, too, Celsus is guilty of falsehood. He continues, moreover, to linger over the accusations which he brings against the diversity of sects which exist, but does not appear to me to be accurate in the language which he employs, nor to have carefully observed or understood how it is that those Christians who have made progress in their studies say that they are possessed of greater knowledge than the Jews; and also, whether they acknowledge the same Scriptures, but interpret them differently, or whether they do not recognise these books as divine. For we find both of these views prevailing among the sects. He then continues: “Although they have no foundation for the doctrine, let us examine the system itself; and, in the first place, let us mention the corruptions which they have made through ignorance and misunderstanding, when in the discussion of elementary principles they express their opinions in the most absurd manner on things which they do not understand, such as the following.” And then, to certain expressions which are continually in the mouths of the believers in Christianity, he opposes certain others from the writings of the philosophers, with the object of making it appear that the noble sentiments which Celsus supposes to be used by Christians have been expressed in better and clearer language by the philosophers, in order that he might drag away to the study of philosophy those who are caught by opinions which at once evidence their noble and religious character. We shall, however, here terminate the fifth book, and begin the sixth with what follows (Chapter 65).

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Quotes from some Martyrs


Early Christian Life
(Quotes from some early and later Christian Martyrs)

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).

“Instantly two executioners came forward, who tore her [Eulalia’s] tender limbs, and with cutting hooks or claws cut open her sides to the very ribs. Eulalia, counting and recounting the gashes on her body, said, "Behold, Lord Jesus Christ! Thy name is being written on my body; what great delight it affords me to read these letters, because they are signs of Thy victory! Behold, my purple blood confesses Thy holy name” (Martyr’s Mirror).

“My dear Jesus, my Savior, is so deeply written in my heart, that I feel confident, that if my heart were to be cut open and chopped to pieces, the name of Jesus would be found written on every piece”, “The crucified Christ is my only and entire love”, “Suffer me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality it will be granted me to attain to God. I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my tomb, and may leave nothing of my body; so that when I have fallen asleep [in death], I may be no trouble to any one. Then shall I truly be a disciple of Christ, when the world shall not see so much as my body. Entreat Christ for me, that by these instruments I may be found a sacrifice [to God]. I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you. They were apostles; I am but a condemned man: they were free, while I am, even until now, a servant. But when I suffer, I shall be the freed-man of Jesus, and shall rise again emancipated in Him” (Ignatius of Antioch).

“The proconsul then said to him, “I have wild beasts at hand; to these will I cast thee, except thou repent.” But he answered, “Call them then, for we are not accustomed to repent of what is good in order to adopt that which is evil;  and it is well for me to be changed from what is evil to what is righteous.” But again the proconsul said to him, “I will cause thee to be consumed by fire, seeing thou despisest the wild beasts, if thou wilt not repent.” But Polycarp said, “Thou threatenest me with fire which burneth for an hour, and after a little is extinguished, but art ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why tarriest thou? Bring forth what thou wilt” (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, chapter 11).

“I have greatly rejoiced with you in our Lord Jesus Christ, because ye have followed the example of true love [as displayed by God], and have accompanied, as became you, those who were bound in chains, the fitting ornaments of saints, and which are indeed the diadems of the true elect of God and our Lord” (Polycarp to the Ephesians, chapter 1).

“As for us, we are convinced that you can inflict no lasting evil on us. We can only do it to ourselves by proving to be wicked people. You can kill us—but you cannot harm us” (Justin Martyr 1st Apology).


Dirk Willems, after saving his enemy from drowning, his enemy handed him over to the authorities to be executed. On the day of his martyrdom there was, “A strong east wind blowing that day, [so that] the kindled fire was much driven away from the upper part of his body, as he stood at the stake; in consequence of which this good man suffered a lingering death, insomuch that in the town of Leerdam, towards which the wind was blowing, he was heard to exclaim over seventy times, "O my Lord; my God".
In a letter she wrote to her son from prison before her martyrdom, Anna instructs him with the following words, “Observe that which the Lord commands you, and sanctify your body to His service, that His name may be sanctified, praised, and made glorious and great in you. Be not ashamed to confess Him before men; do not fear men; rather, give up your life, than to depart from the truth. If you lose your body, which is earthly, the Lord your God has prepared you a better one in heaven. "Therefore, my child, strive for righteousness unto death, and arm yourself with the armor of God. Be a pious Israelite, trample under foot all unrighteousness, the world and all that is in it, and love only that which is above” (Anna of Rotterdam).

“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:10-23).

“The Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:23-24).

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).

“All the martyrdoms, then, were blessed and noble which took place according to the will of God. For it becomes us who profess greater piety than others, to ascribe the authority over all things to God. And truly, who can fail to admire their nobleness of mind, and their patience, with that love towards their Lord which they displayed?—who, when they were so torn with scourges, that the frame of their bodies, even to the very inward veins and arteries, was laid open, still patiently endured, while even those that stood by pitied and bewailed them. But they reached such a pitch of magnanimity, that not one of them let a sigh or a groan escape them; thus proving to us all that those holy martyrs of Christ, at the very time when they suffered such torments, were absent from the body, or rather, that the Lord then stood by them, and communed with them. And, looking to the grace of Christ, they despised all the torments of this world, redeeming themselves from eternal punishment by [the suffering of] a single hour. For this reason the fire of their savage executioners appeared cool to them. For they kept before their view escape from that fire which is eternal and never shall be quenched, and looked forward with the eyes of their heart to those good things which are laid up for such as endure; things “which ear hath not heard, nor eye seen, neither have entered into the heart of man,” but were revealed by the Lord to them, inasmuch as they were no longer men, but had already become angels. And, in like manner, those who were condemned to the wild beasts endured dreadful tortures, being stretched out upon beds full of spikes, and subjected to various other kinds of torments, in order that, if it were possible, the tyrant might, by their lingering tortures, lead them to a denial [of Christ]”  (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Chapter 2).

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Second Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians 1st Century

(The original translators of this document were Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. This work is in the public domain, being that it was published first before January 1, 1923, and the author died at least one hundred years ago)


Chapter I
BRETHREN, it is fitting that you should think of Jesus Christ as of God,—as the Judge of the living and the dead. And it does not become us to think lightly of our salvation; for if we think little of Him, we shall also hope but to obtain little [from Him]. And those of us who hear carelessly of these things, as if they were of small importance, commit sin, not knowing whence we have been called, and by whom, and to what place, and how much Jesus Christ submitted to suffer for our sakes. What return, then, shall we make to Him, or what fruit that shall be worthy of that which He has given to us? For, indeed, how great are the benefits which we owe to Him! He has graciously given us light; as a Father, He has called us sons; He has saved us when we were ready to perish. What praise, then, shall we give to Him, or what return shall we make for the things which we have received? We were deficient in understanding, worshipping stones and wood, and gold, and silver, and brass, the works of men’s hands; and our whole life was nothing else than death. Involved in blindness, and with such darkness before our eyes, we have received sight, and through His will have laid aside that cloud by which we were enveloped. For He had compassion on us, and mercifully saved us, observing the many errors in which we were entangled, as well as the destruction to which we were exposed, and that we had no hope of salvation except it came to us from Him. For He called us when we were not, and willed that out of nothing we should attain a real existence.

Chapter II
“Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for she that is desolate hath many more children than she that hath an husband.” In that He said, “Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not,” He referred to us, for our church was barren before that children were given to her. But when He said, “Cry out, thou that travailest not,” He means this, that we should sincerely offer up our prayers to God, and should not, like women in travail, show signs of weakness. And in that He said, “For she that is desolate hath many more children than she that hath an husband,” [He means] that our people seemed to be outcast from God, but now, through believing, have become more numerous than those who are reckoned to possess God. And another Scripture saith, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” This means that those who are perishing must be saved. For it is indeed a great and admirable thing to establish not the things which are standing, but those that are falling. Thus also did Christ desire to save the things which were perishing, and has saved many by coming and calling us when hastening to destruction.

Chapter III
Since, then, He has displayed so great mercy towards us, and especially in this respect, that we who are living should not offer sacrifices to gods that are dead, or pay them worship, but should attain through Him to the knowledge of the true Father, whereby shall we show that we do indeed know Him, but by not denying Him through whom this knowledge has been attained? For He himself declares, “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father.”
This, then, is our reward if we shall confess Him by whom we have been saved. But in what way shall we confess Him? By doing what He says, and not transgressing His commandments, and by honouring Him not with our lips only, but with all our heart and all our mind. For He says in
Isaiah, “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

Chapter IV
Let us, then, not only call Him Lord, for that will not save us. For He saith, “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall be saved, but he that worketh righteousness.” Wherefore, brethren, let us confess Him by our works, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, or speaking evil of one another, or cherishing envy; but by being continent, compassionate, and good. We ought also to sympathize with one another, and not be avaricious. By such works let us confess Him, and not by those that are of an opposite kind. And it is not fitting that we should fear men, but rather God. For this reason, if we should do such [wicked] things, the Lord hath said, “Even though ye were gathered together to me in my very bosom, yet if ye were not to keep my commandments, I would cast you off, and say unto you, Depart from me; I know you not whence ye are, ye workers of iniquity.”

Chapter V
Wherefore, brethren, leaving [willingly] our sojourn in this present world, let us do the will of Him that called us, and not fear to depart out of this world. For the Lord saith, “Ye shall be as lambs in the midst of wolves.” And Peter answered and said unto Him, “What, then, if the wolves shall tear in pieces the lambs?” Jesus said unto Peter, “The lambs have no cause after they are dead to fear the wolves; and in like manner, fear not ye them that kill you, and can do nothing more unto you; but fear Him who, after you are dead, has power over both soul and body to cast them into hell-fire.” And consider, brethren, that the sojourning in the flesh in this world is but brief and transient, but the promise of Christ is great and wonderful, even the rest of the kingdom to come, and of life everlasting. By what course of conduct, then, shall we attain these things, but by leading a holy and righteous life, and by deeming these worldly things as not belonging to us, and not fixing our desires upon them? For if we desire to possess them, we fall away from the path of righteousness.

Chapter VI
Now the Lord declares, “No servant can serve two masters.” If we desire, then, to serve both God and mammon, it will be unprofitable for us. “For what will it profit if a man gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” This world and the next are two enemies. The one urges to adultery and corruption, avarice and deceit; the other bids farewell to these things. We cannot, therefore, be the friends of both; and it behoves us, by renouncing the one, to make sure of the other. Let us reckon that it is better to hate the things present, since they are trifling, and transient, and corruptible; and to love those [which are to come,] as being good and incorruptible. For if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; otherwise, nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we disobey His commandments. For thus also saith the Scripture in Ezekiel, “If Noah, Job, and Daniel should rise up, they should not deliver their children in captivity.” Now, if men so eminently righteous are not able by their righteousness to deliver their children, how can we hope to enter into the royal residence of God unless we keep our baptism holy and undefiled? Or who shall be our advocate, unless we be found possessed of works of holiness and righteousness?

Chapter VII
Wherefore, then, my brethren, let us struggle with all earnestness, knowing that the contest is [in our case] close at hand, and that many undertake long voyages to strive for a corruptible reward; yet all are not crowned, but those only that have laboured hard and striven gloriously. Let us therefore so strive, that we may all be crowned. Let us run the straight course, even the race that is incorruptible; and let us in great numbers set out for it, and strive that we may be crowned. And should we not all be able to obtain the crown, let us at least come near to it. We must remember that he who strives in the corruptible contest, if he be found acting unfairly, is taken away and scourged, and cast forth from the lists. What then think ye? If one does anything unseemly in the incorruptible contest, what shall he have to bear? For of those who do not preserve the seal [unbroken], [the Scripture] saith, “Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be a spectacle to all flesh.”

Chapter VIII
As long, therefore, as we are upon earth, let us practise repentance, for we are as clay in the hand of the artificer. For as the potter, if he make a vessel, and it be distorted or broken in his hands, fashions it over again; but if he have before this cast it into the furnace of fire, can no longer find any help for it: so let us also, while we are in this world, repent with our whole heart of the evil deeds we have done in the flesh, that we may be saved by the Lord, while we have yet an opportunity of repentance. For after we have gone out of the world, no further power of confessing or repenting will there belong to us. Wherefore, brethren, by doing the will of the Father, and keeping the flesh holy, and observing the commandments of the Lord, we shall obtain eternal life. For the Lord saith in the Gospel, “If ye have not kept that which was small, who will commit to you the great? For I say unto you, that he that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much.” This, then, is what He means: “Keep the flesh holy and the seal undefiled, that ye may receive eternal life.”

Chapter IX
And let no one of you say that this very flesh shall not be judged, nor rise again. Consider ye in what [state] ye were saved, in what ye received sight, if not while ye were in this flesh. We must therefore preserve the flesh as the temple of God. For as ye were called in the flesh, ye shall also come [to be judged] in the flesh. As Christ the Lord who saved us, though He was first a Spirit became flesh, and thus called us, so shall we also receive the reward in this flesh. Let us therefore love one another, that we may all attain to the kingdom of God. While we have an opportunity of being healed, let us yield ourselves to God that healeth us, and give to Him a recompense. Of what sort? Repentance out of a sincere heart; for He knows all things beforehand, and is acquainted with what is in our hearts. Let us therefore give Him praise, not with the mouth only, but also with the heart, that He may accept us as sons. For the Lord has said, “Those are my brethren who do the will of my Father.”

Chapter X
Wherefore, my brethren, let us do the will of the Father who called us, that we may live; and let us earnestly follow after virtue, but forsake every wicked tendency which would lead us into transgression; and flee from ungodliness, lest evils overtake us. For if we are diligent in doing good, peace will follow us. On this account, such men cannot find it [i.e. peace] as are influenced by human terrors, and prefer rather present enjoyment to the promise which shall afterwards be fulfilled. For they know not what torment present enjoyment incurs, or what felicity is involved in the future promise. And if, indeed, they themselves only did such things, it would be [the more] tolerable; but now they persist in imbuing innocent souls with their pernicious doctrines, not knowing that they shall receive a double condemnation, both they and those that hear them.

Chapter XI
Let us therefore serve God with a pure heart, and we shall be righteous; but if we do not serve Him, because we believe not the promise of God, we shall be miserable. For the prophetic word also declares, “Wretched are those of a double mind, and who doubt in their heart, who say, All these things have we heard even in the times of our fathers; but though we have waited day by day, we have seen none of them [accomplished]. Ye fools! compare yourselves to a tree; take, for instance, the vine. First of all it sheds its leaves, then the bud appears; after that the sour grape, and then the fully-ripened fruit. So, likewise, my people have borne disturbances and afflictions, but afterwards shall they receive their good things.” Wherefore, my brethren, let us not be of a double mind, but let us hope and endure, that we also may obtain the reward. For He is faithful who has promised that He will bestow on every one a reward according to his works. If, therefore, we shall do righteousness in the sight of God, we shall enter into His kingdom, and shall receive the promises, which “ear hath not heard, nor eye seen, neither have entered into the heart of man.”

Chapter XII
Let us expect, therefore, hour by hour, the kingdom of God in love and righteousness, since we know not the day of the appearing of God. For the Lord Himself, being asked by one when His kingdom would come, replied, “When two shall be one, that which is without as that which is within, and the male with the female, neither male nor female.” Now, two are one when we speak the truth one to another, and there is unfeignedly one soul in two bodies. And “that which is without as” that which is within meaneth this: He calls the soul “that which is within,” and the body “that which is without.” As, then, thy body is visible to sight, so also let thy soul be manifest by good works. And “the male, with the female, neither male nor female,” this He saith, that brother seeing sister may have no thought concerning her as female, and that she may have no thought concerning him as male. “If ye do these things,” saith He, “the kingdom of my Father shall come.”

Chapter XIII
Brethren, then, let us now at length repent, let us soberly turn to that which is good; for we are full of abundant folly and wickedness. Let us wipe out from us our former sins, and repenting from the heart be saved; and let us not be men-pleasers, nor be willing to please one another only, but also the men without, for righteousness sake, that the name may not be, because of us, blasphemed. For the Lord saith, “Continually my name is blasphemed among all nations,” and “Wherefore my name is blasphemed; blasphemed in what? In your not doing the things which I wish.” For the nations, hearing from our mouth the oracles of God, marvel at their excellence and worth; thereafter learning that our deeds are not worthy of the words which we speak,—receiving this occasion they turn to blasphemy, saying that they are a fable and a delusion. For, whenever they hear from us that God saith, “No thank have ye, if ye love them which love you, but ye have thank, if ye love your enemies and them which hate you”—whenever they hear these words, they marvel at the surpassing measure of their goodness; but when they see, that not only do we not love those who hate, but that we love not even those who love, they laugh us to scorn, and the name is blasphemed.

Chapter XIV
So, then, brethren, if we do the will of our Father God, we shall be members of the first church, the spiritual,—that which was created before sun and moon; but if we shall not do the will of the Lord, we shall come under the Scripture which saith, “My house became a den of robbers.” So, then, let us elect to belong to the church of life, that we may be saved. I think not that ye are ignorant that the living church is the body of Christ (for the Scripture, saith, “God created man male and female;” the male is Christ, the female the church,) and that the Books and the Apostles teach that the church is not of the present, but from the beginning. For it was spiritual, as was also our Jesus, and was made manifest at the end of the days in order to save you. The church being spiritual, was made manifest in the flesh of Christ, signifying to us that if any one of us shall preserve it in the flesh and corrupt it not, he shall receive it in the Holy Spirit. For this flesh is the type of the spirit; no one, therefore, having corrupted the type, will receive afterwards the antitype. Therefore is it, then, that He saith, brethren, “Preserve ye the flesh, that ye may become partakers of the spirit.” If we say that the flesh is the church and the spirit Christ, then it follows that he who shall offer outrage to the flesh is guilty of outrage on the church. Such an one, therefore, will not partake of the spirit, which is Christ. Such is the life and immortality, which this flesh may afterwards receive, the Holy Spirit cleaving to it; and no one can either express or utter what things the Lord hath prepared for His elect.

Chapter XV
I think not that I counted trivial counsel concerning continence; following it, a man will not repent thereof, but will save both himself and me who counselled. For it is no small reward to turn back a wandering and perishing soul for its salvation. For this recompense we are able to render to the God who created us, if he who speaks and hears both speak and hear with faith and love. Let us, therefore, continue in that course in which we, righteous and holy, believed, that with confidence we may ask God who saith, “Whilst thou art still speaking, I will say, Here I am.” For these words are a token of a great promise, for the Lord saith that He is more ready to give than he who asks. So great, then, being the goodness of which we are partakers, let us not grudge one another the attainment of so great blessings. For in proportion to the pleasure with which these words are fraught to those who shall follow them, in that proportion is the condemnation with which they are fraught to those who shall refuse to hear.

Chapter XVI
So, then, brethren, having received no small occasion to repent, while we have opportunity, let us turn to God who called us, while yet we have One to receive us. For if we renounce these indulgences and conquer the soul by not fulfilling its wicked desires, we shall be partakers of the mercy of Jesus. Know ye that the day of judgment draweth nigh like a burning oven, and certain of the heavens and all the earth will melt, like lead melting in fire; and then will appear the hidden and manifest deeds of men. Good, then, is alms as repentance from sin; better is fasting than prayer, and alms than both; “charity covereth a multitude of sins,” and prayer out of a good conscience delivereth from death. Blessed is every one that shall be found complete in these; for alms lightens the burden of sin.

Chapter XVII
Let us, then, repent with our whole heart, that no one of us may perish amiss. For if we have commands and engage in withdrawing from idols and instructing others, how much more ought a soul already knowing God not to perish. Rendering, therefore, mutual help, let us raise the weak also in that which is good, that all of us may be saved and convert one another and admonish. And not only now let us seem to believe and give heed, when we are admonished by the elders; but also when we take our departure home, let us remember the commandments of the Lord, and not be allured back by worldly lusts, but let us often and often draw near and try to make progress in the Lord’s commands, that we all having the same mind may be gathered together for life. For the Lord said, “I come to gather all nations [kindreds] and tongues.” This means the day of His appearing, when He will come and redeem us—each one according to his works. And the unbelievers will see His glory and might, and, when they see the empire of the world in Jesus, they will be surprised, saying, “Woe to us, because Thou wast, and we knew not and believed not and obeyed not the elders who show us plainly of our salvation.” And “their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be a spectacle unto all flesh.” It is of the great day of judgment He speaks, when they shall see those among us who were guilty of ungodliness and erred in their estimate of the commands of Jesus Christ. The righteous, having succeeded both in enduring the trials and hating the indulgences of the soul, whenever they witness how those who have swerved and denied Jesus by words or deeds are punished with grievous torments in fire unquenchable, will give glory to their God and say, “There will be hope for him who has served God with his whole heart.”

Chapter XVIII
And let us, then, be of the number of those who give thanks, who have served God, and not of the ungodly who are judged. For I myself, though a sinner every whit and not yet fleeing temptation but continuing in the midst of the tools of the devil, study to follow after righteousness, that I may make, be it only some, approach to it, fearing the judgment to come.

Chapter XIX
So then, brothers and sisters, after the God of truth I address to you an appeal that ye may give heed to the words written, that ye may save both yourselves and him who reads an address in your midst. For as a reward I ask of you repentance with the whole heart, while ye bestow upon yourselves salvation and life. For by so doing we shall set a mark for all the young who wish to be diligent in godliness and the goodness of God. And let not us, in our folly, feel displeasure and indignation, whenever any one admonishes us and turns us from unrighteousness to righteousness. For there are some wicked deeds which we commit, and know it not, because of the double-mindedness and unbelief present in our breasts, and our understanding is darkened by vain desires. Let us, therefore, work righteousness, that we may be saved to the end. Blessed are they who obey these commandments, even if for a brief space they suffer in this world, and they will gather the imperishable fruit of the resurrection. Let not the godly man, therefore, grieve; if for the present he suffer affliction, blessed is the time that awaits him there; rising up to life again with the fathers he will rejoice for ever without a grief.

Chapter XX
But let it not even trouble your mind, that we see the unrighteous possessed of riches and the servants of God straitened. Let us, therefore, brothers and sisters, believe; in a trial of the living God we strive and are exercised in the present life, that we may obtain the crown in that which is to come. No one of the righteous received fruit speedily, but waiteth for it. For if God tendered the reward of the righteous in a trice, straightway were it commerce that we practised, and not godliness. For it were as if we were righteous by following after not godliness but gain; and for this reason the divine judgment baffled the spirit that is unrighteous and heavily weighed the fetter.

To the only God, invisible, Father of truth, who sent forth to us the Saviour and Author of immortality, through whom He also manifested to us the truth and the heavenly life, to Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.