Welcome to this series of posts giving a survey of what the early church fathers have written about Justification and works of law with reference to Paul. Click this link to go to the first post with the contents of the whole.
In today’s post we look at Eusebius of Caesarea (c.e. 260-340). Also known as Eusebius Pamphili, he was a Roman historian, exegete, and Christian polemicist of Greek descent. He became the bishop of Caesarea about c.e. 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon and is regarded as an extremely well learned Christian of his time. (González, Justo, “14 – Official Theology: Eusebius of Caesarea”, The Story of Christianity, p129)
Be warned, it’s a long post with lots of quotes. What he says about the law of Moses, the gospel and the ‘pre-Mosaic Saints’ however is quite interesting.
I will be quoting from Eusebius’ ‘Proof of the Gospel’. The entire work can be found with the following link.
As I have done previously I will quote the series of chapter headings in order to help us understand the overall context of the detailed quotations.
CHAPTER 1: The Object and Contents of the Work.
This first chapter gives an understanding of why Eusebius is writing. He is explaining how the law and the prophets predicted the gospel. Passages such as Rom 1.1-4 (‘promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures’) and 1 Cor 15.3-5 (‘in accordance with the scriptures’) should come to mind as he argues for the gospel using the Old Covenant.
IT seems now time to say what I consider to be desirable at present to draw from the prophetic writings for the proof of the Gospel.
They said that Christ, (Whom they named) the Word of God, and Himself both God and Lord, and Angel of Great Counsel, would one day dwell among men, and would become for all the nations of the world, both Greek and Barbarian, a teacher of true knowledge of God, and of such duty to God the Maker of the Universe, as the preaching of the Gospel includes.
They said that He would become a little child, and would be called the Son of Man, as born of the race of Mankind. They foretold the wondrous fashion of His birth from a Virgin, and—strangest of all—they did not omit to name Bethlehem the place of His birth, which is to-day so famous that men still hasten from the ends of the earth to see it, but shouted it out with the greatest clearness. As if they stole a march on history these same writers proclaimed the very time of His appearance, the precise period of His sojourn on earth.
It is possible for you, if you care to take the trouble, to see with your eyes, comprehended in the prophetic writings, all the wonderful miracles of our Saviour Jesus Christ Himself, that are witnessed to by the heavenly Gospels, and to hear His divine and perfect teaching about true holiness.
How it must move our wonder, when they unmistakably proclaim the new ideal of religion preached by Him to all men, the call of His disciples, and the teaching of the new Covenant.
Yes, and in addition to all this they foretell the Jews’ disbelief in Him, and disputing, the plots of the rulers, the envy of the Scribes, the treachery of one of His disciples, the schemes of enemies, the accusations of false witnesses, the condemnations of His judges, the shameful violence, unspeakable scourging, ill-omened abuse, and, crowning all, the death of shame. They portray Christ’s wonderful silence, His gentleness and fortitude, and the unimaginable depths of His forbearance and forgiveness.
The most ancient Hebrew oracles present all these things definitely about One Who would come in the last times, and Who would undergo such sufferings among men, and they clearly tell the source of their foreknowledge. They bear witness to the Resurrection from the dead of the Being Whom they revealed, His appearance to His disciples, His gift of the Holy Spirit to them, His return to heaven, His establishment as King on His Father’s throne and His glorious second Advent yet to be at the consummation of the age.
In addition to all this you can hear the wailings and lamentations of each of the prophets, wailing and lamenting characteristically over the calamities which will overtake the Jewish people because of their impiety to Him Who had been foretold. How their kingdom, that had continued from the days of a remote ancestry to their own, would be utterly destroyed after their sin against Christ; how their fathers’ Laws would be abrogated, they themselves deprived of their ancient worship, robbed of the independence of their forefathers, and made slaves of their enemies, instead of free men; how their royal metropolis would be burned with fire, their venerable and holy altar undergo the flames and extreme desolation, their city be inhabited no longer by its old possessors but by races of other stock, while they would be dispersed among the Gentiles through the whole world, with never a hope of any cessation of evil, or breathing-space from troubles.
And it is plain even to the blind, that what they saw and foretold is fulfilled in actual facts from the very day the Jews laid godless hands on Christ, and drew down on themselves the beginning of the train of sorrows.
But the prophecies of these inspired men did not begin and end in gloom, nor did their prescience extend no further than the reign of sorrow. They could change their note to joy, and proclaim a universal message of good tidings to all men in the coming of Christ: they could preach the good news that though one race were lost every nation and race of men would know God, escape from the daemons, cease from ignorance and deceit and enjoy the light of holiness: they could picture the disciples of Christ filling the whole world with their teaching, and the preaching of their gospel introducing among all men a fresh and unknown ideal of holiness: they could see churches of Christ established by their means among all nations, and Christian people throughout the whole world bearing one common name: they could give assurance that the attacks of rulers and kings from time to time against the Church of Christ will avail nothing to cast it down, strengthened as it is by God.
If so many things were proclaimed by the Hebrew divines, and if their fulfilment is so clear to us all to-day, who would not marvel at their inspiration? Who will not agree that their religious and philosophic teaching and beliefs must be sure and true, since their proof is to be found not in artificial arguments, not in clever words, or deceptive syllogistic reasoning, but in simple and straightforward teaching, whose genuine and sincere character is attested by the virtue and knowledge of God evident in these inspired men? Men who were enabled not by human but by divine inspiration to see from a myriad ages back what was to happen long years after, may surety claim our confidence for the belief which they taught their pupils.
Now I am quite well aware, that it is usual in the case of all who have been properly taught that our Lord and Saviour Jesus is truly the Christ of God to persuade themselves in the first place that their belief is strictly in agreement with what the prophets witness about Him. And secondly, to forewarn all those, with whom they may enter on an argument, that it is by no means easy to establish their position by definite proofs. And this is why in attacking this subject myself I must of course endeavour, with God’s help, to supply a complete treatment of the Proof of the Gospel from these Hebrew theologians.
And the importance of my writing does not lie in the fact that it is, as might be suggested, a polemic against the Jews. Perish the thought, far from that! For if they would fairly consider it, it is really on their side. For as it establishes Christianity on the basis of the antecedent prophecies, so it establishes Judaism from the complete fulfilment of its prophecies.
To the Gentiles too it should appeal, if they would fairly consider it, because of the extraordinary foreknowledge shown in the prophetic writers, and of the actual events that occurred in agreement with their prophecies. It should convince them of the inspired and certain nature of the truth we hold: it should silence the tongues of false accusers by a more logical method of proof, which slanderers contend that we never offer, who in their daily arguments with us keep pounding away with all their might with the implication forsooth that we are unable to give a logical demonstration of our case, but require those who come to us to rest on faith alone.
My present work ought to have something to say to a calumny like this, as it will assuredly rebut the empty lies and blasphemy of godless heretics against the holy prophets by its exposition of the agreement of the new with the old. My argument will dispense with a longer systematic interpretation of the prophecies, and will leave such a task to any who wish to make the study, and are able to expound such works. And I shall take as my teacher the sacred command which says “sum up many things in few words,” and aspire to follow it. I shall only offer such help in regard to the texts, and to the points which bear on the subject under consideration, as is absolutely necessary for their clear interpretation.
But I will now cease my Introduction and begin my Proof. As we have such a mob of slanderers flooding us with the accusation that we are unable logically to present a clear demonstration of the truth we hold, and think it enough to retain those who come to us by faith alone, and as they say that we only teach our followers like irrational animals to shut their eyes and staunchly obey what we say without examining it at all, and call them therefore “the faithful” because of their faith as distinct from reason, I made a natural division of the calumnies of our position in my “Preparation” of the subject as a whole.
On the one side I placed the attacks of the polytheistic Gentiles, who accuse us of apostasy from our ancestral gods, and make a great point of the implication, that in recognizing the Hebrew oracles we honour the work of Barbarians more than those of the Greeks.
And on the other side I set the accusation of the Jews, in which they claim to be justly incensed against us,
because we do not embrace their manner of life, though we make use of their sacred writings.
Such being the division, I met the first so far as I could in my Preparation for the Gospel by allowing that we were originally Greeks, or men of other nations who had absorbed Greek ideas, and enslaved by ancestral ties in the deceits of polytheism.
But I went on to say that our conversion was due not to emotional and unexamined impulse, but to judgment and sober reasoning, and that our devotion to the oracles of the Hebrews thus had the support of judgment and sound reason.
And now I have to defend myself against the second class of opponents, and to embark on the investigation it requires. It has to do with those of the Circumcision, it has not yet been investigated, but I hope in time to dispose of it in the present work on the Proof of the Gospel. And so now with an invocation of the God of Jews and Greeks alike in our Saviour’s Name we will take as our first object of inquiry, what is the character of the religion set before Christians. And in this same inquiry we shall record the solutions of all the points investigated.
Eusebius is giving a proof of the gospel from the Hebrew prophets and scriptures.
Note he uses the expression ‘faith alone’ a couple of times.
He says the Jews were ‘incensed against’ the Gentile Christians (‘we were originally Greeks, or men of other nations’), because they ‘do not embrace their manner of life’ (i.e. the Jewish law) even though the Gentile Christians constantly referred to their sacred writings (Justin Martyr encountered the same).
CHAPTER 2: The Character of the Christian Religion.
In this chapter Eusebius argues the law of Moses was for the Jews only and was never required of the Gentiles who would believe in God.
I HAVE already laid down in my Preparation that Christianity is neither a form of Hellenism, nor of Judaism, but that it is a religion with its own characteristic stamp, and that this is not anything novel or original, but something of the greatest antiquity, something natural and familiar to the godly men before the times of Moses who are remembered for their holiness and justice.
But now let us consider the nature of Hellenism and Judaism, and inquire under which banner we should find these pre-Mosaic saints, whose godliness and holiness is attested by Moses himself.
Judaism would be correctly defined as the polity constituted according to the Law of Moses, dependent on the one, omnipotent God. Hellenism you might summarily describe as the worship of many Gods according to the ancestral religions of all nations.
What then would you say about the pre-Mosaic and pre-Judaic saints, whose lives are recorded by Moses, Enoch for instance, of whom he says:
“And Enoch pleased God.” (cf. Gen 5.24)
Or Noah, of whom he says again:
“And Noah was a man RIGHTEOUS in his generation ” (Gen 6.9)
Or Seth, and Japheth, of whom he writes:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Seth (Shem), . . . and may God make room for Japheth.”
Add to these Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, include as is right the patriarch Job, and all the rest who lived according to the ideals of these men; they must, you may think, have been either Jews or Greeks.
But yet they could not properly be called Jews, inasmuch as the system of Moses’ Law had not yet been brought into being.
For if (as we have admitted) Judaism is only the observance of Moses’ Law, and Moses did not appear until long after the date of the men named, it is obvious that those whose holiness he records who lived before him, were not Jews.
Neither can we regard them as Greeks, inasmuch as they were not under the dominion of polytheistic superstition. For it is recorded of Abraham that he left his father’s house and his kindred altogether, and cleaved to the One God alone, Whom he confesses when he says:
“I will stretch out (my hand) to the most-high God, who created the heaven and the earth.” (Gen 14.22)
And Jacob is recorded by Moses as saying to his house and all his people:
“2. Remove the strange gods from your midst, 3. and let us arise and go to Bethel, and make there an altar to the Lord that heard me in the day of affliction, who was with me, and preserved me in the way wherein I went. 4. And they gave to Jacob the strange gods, which were in their hands, and the ear-rings in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the terebinth that is in Shechem, and destroyed them to this day.” (Gen 35.2-4)
These men, then, were not involved in the errors of idolatry, moreover they were outside the pale of Judaism; yet, though they were neither Jew nor Greek by birth, we know them to have been conspicuously pious, holy, and JUST.
This compels us to conceive some other ideal of religion, by which they must have guided their lives. Would not this be exactly that third form of religion midway between Judaism and Hellenism, which I have already deduced, as the most ancient and most venerable of all religions, and which has been preached of late to all nations through our Saviour.
Christianity would therefore be not a form of Hellenism nor of Judaism, but something between the two, the most ancient organization for holiness, and the most venerable philosophy, only lately codified as the law for all mankind in the whole world.
The convert from Hellenism to Christianity does not land in Judaism, nor does one who rejects the Jewish worship become ipso facto a Greek. From whichever side they come, whether it be Hellenism or Judaism, they find their place in that intermediate law of life preached by the godly and holy men of old lime, which our Lord and Saviour has raised up anew after its long sleep, in accordance with Moses’ own prophecies, and those of the other prophets on the point.
Yes, Moses himself writes prophetically in the oracles addressed to Abraham, that in days to come not only Abraham’s descendants, his Jewish seed, but all the tribes and nations of the earth will be counted worthy of God’s blessing on the common basis of a piety like Abraham’s.
“1. And the Lord said to Abram, Go forth out of thy land, and from thy kindred, and from the house of thy father, and come hither into the land which I shall shew thee. 2. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and magnify thy name, and thou shalt be blessed, 3. and I will bless those that bless thee, and I will curse those that curse thee, and in thee all the tribes of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12.1-3)
And again God said:
“Shall I hide from Abraham my servant that I shall do? For Abraham shall become a great and numerous nation, and in him all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 18.17-18)
How could all the nations and families of the earth be blessed in Abraham, if there was no connection between him and them, either of spiritual character or physical kinship? There was assuredly no physical kinship between Abraham and the Scythians, or the Egyptians, or the Aethiopians, or the Indians, or the Britons, or the Spaniards: such nations and others more distant than they could not surely hope to receive any blessing because of any physical kinship to Abraham. It was quite as unlikely that all the nations would have any common claim to share the spiritual blessings of Abraham.
For some of them practised marriage with mothers and incest with daughters, some of them unmentionable vice. The religion of others lay in slaughter, and the deification of animals, idols of lifeless wood, and superstitions of deceiving spirits. Others burned their old men alive, and commended as holy and good the customs of delivering their dearest to the flames, or feasting on dead bodies. Men brought up in such savage ways could not surely share in the blessing of the godly, unless they escaped from their savagery, and embraced a way of life similar to the piety of Abraham.
For even he, a foreigner and a stranger to the religion which he afterwards embraced, is said to have changed his life, to have cast away his ancestral superstition, to have left his home and kindred and father’s customs, and the manner of life in which he was born and reared, and to have followed God, Who gave him the oracles which are preserved in the Scriptures.
If Moses then, who came after Abraham and established a polity for the Jewish race on the basis of the law which he gave them, had laid down the kind of laws which were the guide of godly men before his own time, and such as it was possible for all nations to adopt, so that it should be possible for all the tribes and nations of the world to worship according to Moses’ enactments; which is the same as saying that the oracles foretold that through Moses’ lawgiving men of all nations would worship God and follow Judaism, being brought to it by the law, and would be blessed with the blessing of Abraham— then it would have been right for us to be keeping the enactments of Moses.
But if the’ polity of Moses was not applicable to the other nations, but only to the Jews and not to all of them, but only to the inhabitants of Judaea, then it was altogether necessary to set up another kind of religion different from the law of Moses, that all the nations of the world might take it as their guide with Abraham, and receive an equal share of blessing with him.
Reference to the ‘pre-Mosaic saints (Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Jacob) whose godliness and holiness is attested by Moses himself’ before the time of the law.
When a person adopts Christianity they adopt the same ancient religion of these men. The same religion that our ‘Lord and Saviour raised up anew after its long sleep, in accordance with Moses’ own prophecies’.
Eusebius says the law of Moses was established only for the Jews and not for the other nations who would adopt Christianity.
CHAPTER 3: That the System of Moses was not Suitable for All Nations.
Eusebius now goes into a lengthy explanation as to why the law of Moses could only be kept by the Jews who lived close to Jerusalem and was virtually impossible for others around the world.
THAT the enactments of Moses, as I said, were only applicable to the Jews, but not to all of them, and certainly not to the dispersed (among the Gentiles), only in fact to the inhabitants of Palestine, will be plain to you if you reflect thus. For the law of Moses says:
“Thrice in the year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God.” (Ex 23.17)
And it defines more exactly at what place they should all meet, when it says:
“Three times in the year shall thy males appear before the Lord, thy God, in the place which the Lord shall choose.” (Dt 16.16)
You see that it does not bid them meet in each city, or in any indefinite place, but
“in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose.” (Dt 16.16)
There thrice a year it enacts that they must assemble together, and it determines the times, when they must meet at the place where the rites of the worship there are to be celebrated. One season is that of the Passover, the second,’ fifty days later, is called the Feast of Pentecost, and the third is in the seventh month after the Passover, on the Day of Atonement, when all the Jews still perform their fast.
And a curse is laid on all who do not obey what is enacted.
It is plain that all who were to meet at Jerusalem thrice in the year and perform their rites would not be able to live far from Judaea: but they live all round its boundaries. If then it would be impossible even for the Jews whose home is the farthest from Palestine to obey their law,
it would be absurd to hold that it could be applicable to all nations and to men in the uttermost parts of the earth.
Hear now in what way women after childbirth are bidden by the same Lawgiver to go and present their offerings to God, as follows:
“And the Lord spake to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them, Whatsoever woman shall have conceived and borne a male-child shall be unclean seven days.” (Lev 12.1-2)
And he adds after saying something else:
“6. And when the days of her purification shall have been fulfilled for a son or a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of a year old without blemish for a whole burnt-offering, and a young pigeon or a turtle-dove for a sin-offering to the door of the tabernacle of witness to the priest, 7. she shall present [them] before the Lord. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and shall purify her from the issue of her blood; this is the law of her who bears a male or a female.” (Lev 12.6-7)
Again, in addition to this the same law bids those who have contracted defilement by mourning or touching a corpse only to be purified by the ashes of an heifer, and to abstain from their accustomed work for seven days. This is what it says:
“10. And it shall be a perpetual statute to the children of Israel and to the proselytes in the midst of them. 11. He that touches the dead body of any soul of man shall be unclean seven days, 12. shall be purified on the third day and shall be made clean on the seventh day. And if he be not purified on the third day, and on the seventh day, he shall not be clean. 13. Everyone who touches the dead body of a soul of a man, if he shall have died, and he be not purified, he has defiled the tabernacle of the witness of the Lord. That soul shall be cut off from Israel, because the water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on him. He is unclean, uncleanness is on him.
14. And this is the law: if a man die in a house, everyone that goeth into that house, and all the things that are in the house, are unclean seven days. 15. And every open vessel which is not bound with a fastening, shall be unclean; 16. and every one who shall touch on the face any man slain by the sword, or a corpse, or a human bone, or a sepulchre, shall be unclean seven clays. 17. And they shall take for the unclean of the burnt ashes of purification, and shall pour it into a vessel, 18. and shall take hyssop. And a clean man shall clip it, and sprinkle it on the house and the furniture and the souls that are therein, and on him that has touched the human bone, or the slain man, or the dead, or the sepulchre. 19. And the clean man shall sprinkle it on the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day, and he shall wash his garments, and shall wash [his body] with water, and shall be unclean until the evening. 20. And a man, if he be defiled, and not purified, that soul shall be cast out of the congregation, because the water of purification has not been sprinkled on him; and this shall be a perpetual law to you.” (Num 19.10-20)
When Moses made this law he even determined the ritual of the sprinkling with water. He said that a red heifer without spot must be completely burnt, and that a portion of its ashes must be cast into the water, with which those who had been defiled by a corpse were to be purified. Where the heifer is to be burnt, where the woman is to bring her offerings after childbirth, where she is to celebrate the other rites, is not in doubt. It is not to be done indifferently in every place, but only in that place which he defines. This is plain from his enactment, when he says:
“And there shall be a place, which the Lord your God shall choose, in which his name shall be called upon, there shall ye bear whatsoever I bid you today.” (Dt 12.5)
And he explains in accurate order, adding:
“13. Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy whole burnt-offerings in any place, which thou mayst see, 14. but in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, in one of thy cities; there shall thou offer thy whole burnt-offerings, and there shall thou do whatsoever I bid you today.” (Dt 12.14)
And he makes this addition:
“17. Thou shall not be able to eat in all thy cities the tenth of thy corn and wine and oil, the firstborn of thy herd and thy flock, and all thy vows whatsoever thou hast vowed, and thy thank-offerings, and the firstfruits of thine hands. 18. But before the Lord shall thou eat it in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose for himself, thou and thy sons and thy daughter, and thy servant, and thy maid, and the stranger that is in thy cities.” (Dt 12.17-18)
And proceeding he confirms the statement, where he says:
“But thou shall take thy holy things, if thou hast any, and thy vows, and shall come to the place, which the Lord thy God shall choose for himself.” (Dt 12)
“Thou shall tithe a tenth of all the produce of thy seed, the produce of thy field year by year. And thou shall eat it in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to have his name called on there.” (Dt 12)
And then in considering what ought to be done if the place designated by him were far off, and the yield of fruit large, how the year’s fruits for the whole burnt-offering could be carried to the place of God, he lays down the following law:
“23. And if the journey be too far for thee, and thou art not able to bring them, because the place is far from thee, which the Lord your God shall choose to have his name called on there, because the Lord thy God shall bless thee; 24. and thou shall sell them for money, and shall take the money in thy hands, and shall go to the place which the Lord thy God shall choose. 25. And thou shall give the money for whalsoever thy soul desireth for oxen or sheep, or wine, or slrong drink, or for whalsoever thy soul desireth and thou shall consume it there before the Lord.” (Dt 12.23-25)
And he again sets his seal on the actual place, when he says:
“19. Every firstborn that shall be born of thy kine and sheep, thou shall offer the males to the Lord thy God; thou shall not work with thy firstborn calf, and thou shall not shear thy firstborn sheep: 20. thou shall eat it before the Lord year by year, in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou and thy house.” (Dt 15.19)
Next notice how he arranges the celebration of the feasts, not anywhere in the land, but only in the appointed place. For he says:
“Observe the month of new corn, and thou shall keep the Passover lo the Lord thy God, sheep and bulls, in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose.” (Dt 16.2)
And he again reminds them, saying:
“5. Thou shall not be able to sacrifice the passover in any of the cities which the Lord thy God gives thee; 6. But in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, to have his name called on there, thou shall sacrifice the passover at even at the setting of the sun at the time when them earnest out of Egypt. 7. And thou shalt boil and eat it in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose.” (Dt 16.5-7)
Such, then, is the law of the Feast of the Passover. Hear that of Pentecost:
“9. Seven weeks in full shalt thou number to thyself, from when thou beginnest to put the sickle in the corn, 10. and thou shalt keep a feast of weeks to the Lord thy God, according as thy hand has power in whatsoever things the Lord thy God gives thee to bless thee. 11. And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou and thy son, and thy daughter, thy servant, and thy maid, and the Levite that is in thy cities, and the proselyte; and the orphan, and the widow that is among you, in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose for himself, to have his name called on there.” (Dt 16.9-11)
And hear where he commands the third feast to be celebrated:
“13. And thou shalt keep the feast of tabernacles when thou gatherest in from thy corn-floor and from thy wine-press, 14. and shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy servant, and thy maid, and the widow, in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose for himself.”
As he is so insistent on the selected place, and says so many times that they are to meet there in all their tribes and in all their families, the law could hardly apply to those living even a little way from Judaea, and still less to the nations of the whole world, especially as he allows no pardon to those who transgress his ordinances, and invokes a curse on those who do not carry them all out to the minutest detail, in the following words:
“Cursed is he who continueth not in all things written in this law to do them.” (Dt 27.26)
Consider, again, other instances of the impossibility of all men following the law of Moses. He makes a distinction between voluntary transgressions and those hard to evade, and after assigning penalties to sins which deserve the severest punishment, he provides laws by which those who sin unwittingly are to receive different treatment. One of these runs as follows:
“27. And if a soul of the people of the land shall sin unwittingly by doing anything contrary to the commandments of the Lord that ought not to be done, and shall transgress, 28. and his sin shall be known to him, wherein he hath sinned [in it], then shall he bring [his gift] a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, he shall bring it for his sin that he hath sinned 29. in the place where they slay the whole burnt-offerings, 30. and the priest shall take of the blood.” (Lev 4.27-30)
You see here how one who has sinned unintentionally is required to present himself at the place where the whole burnt-offerings are sacrificed. And this is the place the law has already so often mentioned, when it says:
“The place which the Lord thy God shall choose.” (Dt 16.5)
But, indeed, the Lawgiver himself perceived the impossibility for all mankind to carry out the law, and clearly noted it by not promulgating his law universally for all, but with this limitation:
“If a soul sin unwittingly of the people of the land.” (Lev 4.27)
And he lays down a second law which says:
“And if a soul hear the voice of the swearing of an oath, and he is a witness or has seen or been conscious of it, if he do not report it, he shall bear the iniquity.” (Lev 5.1)
What is he to do? He is to take the victim in his hands and go with all speed to the purification. And of course that must take place where the whole burnt-offerings are sacrificed.
And once more a third law:
“2. The soul, it says, which shall touch any unclean thing, or carcases of unclean cattle, and should take from it, he also himself is defiled and transgresses, 3. or if he touch the uncleanness of a man, and by all the uncleanness that he touches be defiled, and know it not, and afterwards should know it and transgress.”
Here the only thing necessary for the polluted person is for him to go once more to the sacred place, and offer for the sin which he has sinned a female animal from his flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for his sin. And the law was the same in the case of a soul, which shall “swear pronouncing with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; and when he knoweth of it and is guilty in one of those things, and shall confess the sin that he hath sinned:”he too, the law says, taking the same offering, is to go with all speed to the sacred place, and the priest is to pray on his behalf for the sin, and his sin shall be forgiven. And another law besides those I have quoted makes this provision:
“The soul which shall be really unconscious, and shall sin unwittingly in any of the holy things of the Lord, even he shall bear a ram for his transgression to the Lord. [And he shall bear it again to the high-priest to the place, that is to say the chosen place.”
And he adds a sixth law in these words:
“And the soul which shall sin and do one thing against the commandments of the Lord, which it is not right to do, and hath not known it, and shall have transgressed and contracted guilt, he shall even bring a ram to the High Priest, and the priest shall make atonement for his trespass of ignorance, and he knew it not, and it shall be forgiven him.”
The following is a seventh, law:
“2. The soul which shall have sinned and surely overlooked the commandments of the Lord, and shall deal falsely in the affairs of his neighbour in the matter of a deposit, or concerning association (in business), or plunder, or has in any way wronged his neighbour, 3. or has found that which was lost, and has lied concerning it, and shall have sworn unjustly concerning any one of all the things, whatsoever a man may do, so as to sin thereby; 4. it shall come to pass, whenever he so hath sinned and transgressed, that he shall restore the plunder he has seized, or redress the injustice he has committed, or restore the deposit which was entrusted to him, 5. or the lost article he has found of any kind, about which he swore unjustly, he shall even restore it in full, and shall add to it the fifth part.”
Here, again, after confession and reparation the transgressor had to go with all speed, putting everything else on one side, to the place, which the Lord our God should choose, and offer for his sin an unblemished ram, and the priest was to pray for him before the Lord, and he would be forgiven.
In this careful way our wonderful Moses distinguished sins done unwittingly and ignorantly from intentional offences, on which in the government of his people he set rigorous penalties. For he that would not pardon the unwitting offender before he had confessed his offence, exacted a small penalty from him in the sacrifice ordained, by requiring him to repair with all speed to the sacred place fostered both the religious spirit and watchfulness of those who worshipped God by his rule, and of course restrained even more the desires of willing offenders.
What, then, must be our conclusion from all this, when, as we have said, we find Moses summing up his whole system with a curse, where he says:
“Cursed is everyone, who shall not remain in all the things written in this law. to do them “? (Dt 27.26)
Was it, then, meant that Moses’ future disciples from the ends of the earth must do all these things, if they were to escape the curse and receive the blessing promised to Abraham?
Were they to go thrice a year to Jerusalem, and were the female worshippers of all nations, fresh from the pangs of childbirth, to undertake so long a journey, to offer the sacrifice ordained by Moses for each one of their children?
Were those who had touched a dead body, or had forsworn themselves, or had sinned against their will, to come from the ends of the earth, to run and hasten to the purification that was required by the law, in order to escape the visitation of the curse?
Of course it is clear to you that it was hard enough to follow Moses’ rule of life for those who lived round Jerusalem, or only inhabited Judaea, and that it was quite out of the question for the other nations to fulfil it.
Eusebius makes the same point repeatedly quoting scripture after scripture to make his point. It would be impossible for people of every nation to keep the law of Moses because they could not possibly get to the temple of the LORD. The place he has chosen.
Now he turns to what Jesus says in the gospel.
Hence, of course, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Son of God, said to His disciples after His Resurrection:
“Go and make disciples of all the nations,” and added: “Teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Mt 28)
For He did not bid them to teach the laws of Moses to all nations, but whatsoever He Himself had commanded: that is to say, the contents of the Gospels.
And agreeably to this His disciples and apostles in considering the requirements of the Gentiles decided that Moses’ enactments were unsuitable to their needs, since neither they themselves nor their fathers had found them easy to be kept. As St. Peter says in the Acts:
“Now therefore why do ye attempt to lay a yoke upon the necks of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (Acts 15.10)
And agreeably to this Moses himself for this very reason said that another prophet would be raised up “like unto him”; and publishes the good news that he should be a lawgiver for all the nations. He speaks of Christ in a riddle. He orders his followers to obey him in these prophetic words.
“15. A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up to you from your brethren, like unto me, ye shall hear him [whatsoever he saith unto you]. 19. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cast out of its race.” (Dt 18.15,19)
And that this prophet, who is clearly the Christ, should come forth from the Jews and rule all nations, he proclaims again when he says:
“5. How fair are thy dwellings, O Jacob, and thy tents, O Israel, 6. as shady groves, and as a garden by a river, and as tents which God pitched. 7. There shall come a man out of his seed, and he shall rule over many nations, and his kingdom shall be exalted.” (Num 24.5-7)
He makes it clear from which tribe of all the twelve that comprised the Hebrew race, namely the tribe of Judah, Christ the Lawgiver of the Gentiles according to the prophecy should arise. He is clear as to the date, for it would be after the cessation of the Jewish monarchy which had been handed down from their forefathers.
“A ruler shall not fail from Judah, nor a prince from his loins, until there come the things stored up for him; and he is the expectation of the nations.”
What “expectation” could this be, but that expressed in the promise to Abraham that in him all the families of the earth should be blessed?
Moses has, therefore, made it quite plain from his own words that he was quite well aware of the failure of the law he had laid down to apply to all nations, and that another prophet would be necessary for the fulfilment of the oracles given to Abraham. And this was He, of Whom his prophecy proclaimed the good news that one should arise from the tribe of Judah and rule all nations.
Eusebius says the coming of the Christ and his rule would be for all nations and shows this from the Hebrew scriptures.
CHAPTER 4: Why it is we reject the Jews’ Way of Life, though we accept their Writings.
THESE, then, are the reasons why we have accepted and loved as belonging to ourselves the sacred books of the Hebrews, including as they do prophecies relating to us Gentiles. And the more so, since it was not Moses only who foretold the coming of the Lawgiver of the Gentiles after him, but really the whole succession of the prophets, who proclaimed the same truth with one voice, as David, when he said:
“Appoint, O Lord, a Lawgiver over them: let the nations know that they are but men.” (Ps 9.19-20)
See how he too speaks of a second Lawgiver of the nations. And in the same spirit in another (psalm) he calls on the Gentiles to sing, not the ancient song of Moses, but a new song, when he says:
“1. Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all the whole earth: 3. proclaim among the nations his glory, among all peoples his wonders: 4. For great is the Lord, and very worthy to be praised, he is terrible above all gods. 5. For all the gods of the nations are demons, but it is the Lord that made the heavens. 7. Bring to the Lord ye families of the nations; 8. bring to the Lord glory to his name.” (Ps 96)
And again: .
“10. Say among the nations, The Lord is King. For he has established the world, that it shall not be shaken.” (Ps 96.10)
“1. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvellous things, 2. The Lord hath made known his salvation; Before the nations he hath revealed RIGHTEOUSNESS. 3. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” (Ps 98)
And notice how he ordains the new song not for the Jewish race only; the ancient song of Moses suited them, but for all the nations. This new song is called by Jeremiah, another Hebrew prophet, “a new covenant” where he says:
“31. Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32. not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt: for they abode not in my covenant, and I disregarded them, saith the Lord. 33. For this is my, covenant which I will make with the house of Israel, saith the Lord, I will put my laws in their minds, and on their hearts I will write (them), and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer 31)
You see here that he distinguishes two covenants, the old and the new, and says that the new would not be like the old which was given to the fathers. For the old covenant was given as a law to the Jews, when they had fallen from the religion of their forefathers, and had embraced the manners and life of the Egyptians, and had declined to the errors of polytheism, and the idolatrous superstitions of the Gentiles. It was intended to raise up the fallen, and to set on their feet those who were lying on their faces, by suitable teaching.
“For the law, it is said, is not for the RIGHTEOUS, but for the unjust and disorderly, for the UNRIGHTEOUS and for sinners, and for those like them.” (1 Tim 1.9)
But the new covenant leads those who, through our Saviour by the grace and gift of God are raised up, to a rapid march into the kingdom promised by God. It summons all men equally to share together the same good things. This “new covenant” Isaiah, another of the Hebrew prophets, calls the “new law,” when he says:
“3. For out of Sion shall go forth a law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And all the nations shall go, and all the peoples shall be gathered together, and shall say, Let us go up to the Mount of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob.” (Mic 4)
This law going forth from Sion, different from the law enacted in the desert by Moses on Mount Sinai, what can it be but the word of the Gospel, “going forth from Sion” through our Saviour Jesus Christ, and going through all the nations?
For it is plain that it was in Jerusalem and Mount Sion adjacent thereto, where our Lord and Saviour for the most part lived and taught, that the law of the new covenant began and from thence went forth and shone upon all, according to the commands which He gave his disciples when He said:
“Go ye, and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Mt 28)
What could He mean but the teaching and discipline of the new covenant? Since, then, I have proved my facts, let us proceed to investigate together the character of the new covenant, and the new song and the new law that were foretold.
Eusebius shows from scripture how the new covenant and law would be inaugurated by God for all nations.
CHAPTER 5: The Character of the New Covenant of Christ.
Eusebius continues to draw the point that the religion of the pre-Mosaic Saints and Christianity are one and the same.
I HAVE now proved that the old covenant and the law given by Moses was only applicable to the Jewish race, and only to such of them as lived in their own land. It did not apply to other nations of the world nor to Jews inhabiting foreign soil. And I have shown that the ideal of the new covenant must be helpful to the life of all nations: the members of its kingdom are to be restricted in no way whatever. Considerations of country, race or locality, or anything else are not to affect them in any way at all.
The law and life of our Saviour Jesus Christ shows itself to be such, being a renewal of the ancient pre-Mosaic religion, in which Abraham, the friend of God, and his forefathers are shown to have lived. And if you cared to compare the life of Christians and the worship introduced among all nations by Christ with the lives of the men who with Abraham are witnessed to by Scripture as holy and RIGHTEOUS, you would find one and the same ideal.
For they too turned their backs on the errors of polytheism, they relinquished idolatrous superstition, they looked beyond the whole of the visible creation and deified neither sun nor moon, nor any part of the whole. They raised themselves to the Supreme God, Himself the Highest, the Creator of heaven and earth. And Moses himself bears this out in his history of ancient times when he records Abraham’s saying:
“I will stretch forth my hand unto God most high, who hath created the heaven and the earth.” (Gen 14.22)
And when, before this, he introduces Melchizedek, whom he calls the priest of the Most High God, blessing Abraham as follows:
“Blessed be Abraham by God most high, who hath created the heaven and the earth.” (Gen 14.19)
And you would find that Enoch and Noah were reckoned JUST and well pleasing to God in the same way as Abraham.
Job, a just, true, blameless, devout man, averse from everything evil, is recorded as pre-Mosaic. He underwent a trial of his utter devotion to the God of the Universe when he lost everything he had, and left the greatest example of holiness to posterity, when he spoke these philosophic words:
“21. I myself came forth naked from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I depart. The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away. As the Lord pleased, so it came to pass. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1.21)
That he said this as a worshipper of the God of the universe is made quite clear when he goes on to say:
“4. For he is wise in mind and mighty and great; 6. Who shakes the (earth) under heaven from its foundation and its pillars totter. 7. Who commands the sun and it rises not, and he seals up the stars; 8. Who alone has stretched out the heaven.” (Job 9.4,6-8)
If then the teaching of Christ has bidden all nations now to worship no other God but Him whom the men of old and the pre-Mosaic saints believed in, we are clearly partakers of the religion of these men of old time. And if we partake of their religion we shall surely share their blessing. Yes, and equally with us they knew and bore witness to the Word of God, Whom we love to call Christ. They were thought worthy in very remarkable ways of beholding His actual presence and theophany.
Remember how Moses calls the Being, Who appeared to the patriarchs, and often delivered to them the oracles afterwards written down in Scripture, sometimes God and Lord, and sometimes the Angel of the Lord. He clearly implies that this was not the Omnipotent God, but a secondary Being, rightly called the God and Lord of holy men, but the Angel of the Most High His Father. Thus he says:
“10. And Jacob went forth … to Charran, 11. and came to a certain place, and he slept there. . . . And he took of the stones of the place, and put it at his head, and lay down to sleep in that place, 12. and he dreamed: and behold, a ladder fixed on the earth whose top reached to heaven, and the angels of God ascended and descended on it. 13. And the Lord stood upon it, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: fear not, the earth, the land on which thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed: 14 and thy seed shall be as the sand of the earth.” (Gen 28.10-14)
To which he adds:
“And Jacob arose in the morning, and took the stone, which he had put under his head, and set it up as a pillar.” (Gen 28.18)
Then further on he calls this God and Lord Who appeared to him the Angel of God. For Jacob says:
“For the Angel of God said to me in a dream, Jacob. And I said, What is it? ” (Gen 31.11)
“12. I have seen, he says, all that Laban does to thee. I am the God that was seen by thee in the place of God, where thou anointedst for me there a pillar, and thou vowedst to me there a vow.” (Gen 31.12-13)
This same being who appeared to Abraham is called Lord and God. He teaches the saint mysteriously of His Father’s rule, and speaks some things, as it were, of another God, which I will examine in their place. Then, again, it is impious to suppose that the Being who answered Job after his severe trial was the same. For when He shows Himself first in the whirlwind and the clouds He reveals Himself as the God of the Universe, but He goes on to reveal Himself in a way which makes Job say:
“4. Hear me, O Lord, and I will speak. 5. I heard of thee before by the hearing of the ears, but now mine eye hath seen thee.” (Job 42.4-5)
And if it is not possible for the Most High God, the Invisible, the Uncreated, and the Omnipotent to be said to be seen in mortal form, the Being Who was seen must have been the Word of God, Whom we call Lord as we do the Father. But it is needless for me to labour the point, since it is possible to find instances in Holy Scripture. These I will collect at leisure in connection with my present work to prove that He Who was seen by the patriarchal saints was none other than the Word of God.
Therefore besides the conception of the Creator of the Universe, we and they have inherited also the conception of Christ in common. Hence you can find instances of the pre-Mosaic saints being called “Christs,” just as we are called Christians. Hear what the oracle in the Psalms says about them:
“12. When they were few in numbers, very few, and strangers in the land, 13. and they went from nation to nation, from (one) kingdom to another people: 14. He suffered no man to wrong them, and he reproved kings for their sakes, saying: 15. ‘Touch not my Christs, and do no evil to my prophets.'” (Ps 105.12-15)
The whole context shows that this must be referred to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: they therefore shared the name of Christ with us.
Eusebius says the ‘teaching of Christ has bidden all nations now to worship’ the one true God. This is the same kind of worship as the pre-Mosaic saints Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Job who were reckoned just (righteous).
CHAPTER 6: The Nature of the Life according to the New Covenant proclaimed to All Men by Christ.
Eusebius relates how the pre-Mosaic saints were described as just and righteous before the law of Moses was given. The same system of holiness is preached by Christ in the gospel.
JUST as a life of virtue and a system of holiness is through the teaching of Christ preached to all nations without any reference to the Mosaic legislation, so by these men of old time the same independent ideal of holiness was upheld.
They cared nothing for circumcision, nor do we.
They did not abstain from eating certain beasts, neither do we.
For instance, Moses introduces Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God, uncircumcised, not anointed with prepared ointment according to Moses, knowing naught of the Sabbath, paying no heed whatever to the commandments afterwards given by Moses to the whole Jewish race, but living exactly according to the Gospel of Christ.
And yet Moses says he was the priest of the Most High God, and the superior of Abraham. For he is introduced as blessing Abraham.
Such too was Noah, a JUST man in his generation, whom as a kindling seed of the human race Almighty God preserved in the destruction by the flood when all men on earth were destroyed. He again was quite ignorant of Jewish customs, he was uncircumcised, he did not follow the Mosaic law in any point, yet he is recognized as conspicuously JUST.
And Enoch before him, who is said to have pleased God, and to have been translated, so that his death was not seen, was another like person, uncircumcised, with no part or lot in the law of Moses, living a distinctly Christian rather than a Jewish life.
And Abraham himself, coming later than those already named, being younger than they according to the age men reached in those times, though an old man in reality, was the first to receive circumcision as a seal, for the sake of his descendants, and he left it to those who should be born of him according to the flesh as a sign of their descent from him.
He too before he had a son, and before he was circumcised, by his rejection of idolatry, and his confession of the one omnipotent God, yea, by his virtuous life alone is shown to be one who lived as a Christian, not as a Jew. For he is represented as having kept the commandments and the precepts and the ordinances of God before the enactments of Moses.
That is why God giving the oracle to Isaac says:
“And I will give to thy seed all this land, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Because Abraham thy father heard my voice, and kept my commandments, and my laws, and my judgments, and my statutes.” (Gen 26.4-5)
So there were before the Mosaic law other commandments of God, and ordinances not like those of Moses, other laws and precepts of Christ, by which they were JUSTIFIED. Moses clearly shews that these were not the same as his own enactments, when he says to the people:
“Hear, Israel, the ordinances and the judgments, all that I speak in your ears this day, and ye shall learn them, and observe to do them. The Lord your God made a covenant with you in horeb; the Lord did not make this covenant with your fathers, but with you.” (Dt 5.1-3)
See how distinctly he alludes to this covenant, when he says God did not give the same covenant to their fathers. For if he had said that absolutely no covenant was given to their fathers it would have been a false statement. For Holy Scripture testifies that a covenant of some kind was given both to Abraham and Noah.
And so Moses adds that one “not the same” was given to their fathers, implying that other greater and glorious covenant, by which they were shown forth as friends of God. So Moses records that Abraham by his faith in Almighty God attained RIGHTEOUSNESS when he says:
“Abraham believed in God, and it was counted unto him for RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Gen 15.6)
This text shews clearly that he received the sign of circumcision after his attainment of RIGHTEOUSNESS and after the witness to his holiness, and that this added nothing at all to his JUSTIFICATION.
Eusebius says, ‘there were before the Mosaic law other commandments of God, and ordinances not like those of Moses, other laws and precepts of Christ, by which they were justified’. Thereby implying in some sense justification by works.
However afterwards he relates Abraham being counted as righteous in Genesis 15.6. The context describes this as part of the ‘greater and glorious covenant by which they were shown as friends of God’.
It also describes the incident as the time when Abraham ‘attained’ righteousness. implying in some sense he was not considered righteous before Gen 15.6.
Again, you would find Joseph in pre-Mosaic times in the palaces of the Egyptians living in freedom not burdened by Judaism. Moses himself, the leader and lawgiver of the Jews, lived from his babyhood with the daughter of the King of Egypt, and partook of the Egyptian food without question.
What is to be said of Job the thrice-blessed, the true, the blameless, the just, the holy, what was the cause of his holiness and justice, was it Moses’ commandments? Certainly not. Was it the keeping of the Sabbath, or any other Jewish observance? How could that be, if Job was earlier than the time of Moses and his legislation? For Moses was seventh from Abraham, and Job fifth, preceding him by two generations. And if you regard his life, you will see it was untouched by the Mosaic legislation, but not foreign to the teaching of our Saviour. Thus in reviewing his life in his apology to his friends he says:
“12. For I saved the poor from the hand of the powerful, and I helped the orphan who had no helper.The mouth of the widow blessed me, 14. and I was clad in RIGHTEOUSNESS. I put on judgment as a cloak, 15. an eye was I to the blind, a foot to the lame, 16. I was a father of the weak.” (Job 29.12-16)
This surely is exactly the same teaching which is preached to us all in the Gospel. Then again as one well acquainted with the words, “Weep with those that weep,” and “Blessed are they that weep, for they shall laugh”; and “If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it,” which are included in the Gospel teaching, he shews his sympathy for the miserable by saying:
“25. And I wept for every weak one—I groaned when I saw a man in difficulties.” (Job 30.25)
Then, again, this holy man forestalls the Gospel teaching, which forbids unseemly laughter, when he says:
“5. But if I had gone with scorners, and if my foot has hasted to deceit 6. For I am weighed in a just balance, and the Lord knows my innocence.” (Job 31.5-6)
And where the Mosaic law says “Thou shall not commit adultery,”and assigns death as the punishment of adulterers, He who draws out the law of the Gospel teaching, says:
“It was said to them of old time, Thou shall not commit adultery; but I say unto you, thou shall not desire at all.” (Mt 7.27-28)
Look well at the man of whom we are speaking; he was so good a Christian in his life that he restrained even his looks when they were wayward, and made it his boast so to do— for he says:
“9. And if my heart has followed my eye for the wife of another man.” (Job 31.9)
And he gives the reason, as he continues:
“11. For the spirit of a man is not to be stayed, in the case of defiling another man’s wife. 12. For it is a fire burning on every side, and where it enters, it utterly destroys.” (Job 31.11-12)
Here he shows his incorruptibility:
“7. If, too, I have touched gifts with my hands; 8. then let me sow, and others eat, and let me be uprooted from the earth.” (Job 31.7-8)
How he treated his servants we may learn from his teaching here:
“13. And if I have trifled with the cause of my servant, or handmaiden, when they pleaded with me.” (Job 31.13)
And again he gives the reason:
“14. What, then, should I do, if the Lord should try me? … 15. Were not they also formed as I was in the womb? Yea, we were formed in the same womb.” (Job 31.14-15)
“16. I did not cause the eye of the widow to fail. 17. And if I did eat my morsel alone, and did not share it with the orphan, … 19. and if I saw the naked perishing, and did not clothe him.” (Job 31.16-17,19)
And again he proceeds:
“24. And if I trusted in a precious stone, 25. and if I rejoiced when my wealth was great, and if I laid my hand on unnumbered (treasures).” (Job 31.24-25)
And again he gives the reason:
“26. Do we not see the sun waxing and waning, and the moon eclipsed? ” (Job 31.26)
So, again, whereas the teaching of the Gospel says:
“43. It was said to them of old time, Thou shall love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies”: (Mt 5.43)
Job wonderfully anticipating the command by his own original teaching actually carried it out, for he says:
“29. And if I, too, was glad at the fall of my enemies, and said in my heart, It is well—30. then let my ear hear my curse.” (Job 31.29)
And he adds:
“But the stranger did not remain outside, and my door was opened to all that came,” (Job 31.32)
showing himself no stranger in spirit to Him, who said, “I was a stranger, and ye took me in.”Then hear what he says about offences done unintentionally:
“33. Or if too, having sinned unintentionally, I hid my sin. 34. For I did not stand in awe of a great multitude, so as not to speak boldly before them. And if I did not let the poor depart (from my door) with an empty bosom . . . 35. And if I had not feared the hand of the Lord. And as to the written charge which I had against any . . . 37. I did not rend it and return it, taking nothing from the debtor.” (Job 31.33-37)
So and in such ways the pre-Mosaic saints (for from the record of one we may imagine the life of all), waged their renowned contests for good, and were reckoned friends of God, and prophets.
What need had they of the commandments of Moses, which were given to weak and sinful men?
From all this it is abundantly proved that the Word of God announced to all nations the ancient form of their ancestors’ religion, as the new covenant does not differ from the form of holiness, which was very ancient even in the time of Moses, so that it is at the same time both old and new. It is, as I have shown, very, very old; and, on the other hand, it is new through having been as it were hidden away from men through a long period between, and now come to life again by the Saviour’s teaching.
And it was in this intermediate period, while the ideal of the new covenant was hidden from men, and as it were asleep, that the law of Moses was interposed in the interval. It was like a nurse and governess of childish and imperfect souls. It was like a doctor to heal the whole Jewish race, worn away by the terrible disease of Egypt. As such it offered a lower and less perfect way of life to the children of Abraham, who were too weak to follow in the steps of their forefathers.
For through their long sojourn in Egypt, after the death of their godly forefathers, they adopted Egyptian customs, and, as I said, fell into idolatrous superstition. They aimed no higher than the Egyptians, they became in all respects like them, both in worshipping idols, and in other matters. Moses tore them from their godless polytheism, he led them back to God, the Creator of all things; he drew them up as it were from an abyss of evil, but it was natural for him to build first this step of holiness at the threshold and entrance of the Temple of the more Perfect.
Eusebius compares the religion of old, in particular Job’s practice with the commands of Jesus in the gospel. Arguing their are the same.
He defines the law of Moses occupying the intermediate period and given to weak and sinful men.
I’ve skipped ahead to the next chapter. Most of his argumentation describes the predicament of the Jews regarding observance of the law of Moses in the event they are dispersed from Jerusalem. And then more discussion of the gospel being the new covenant open to all nations.
CHAPTER 7: How Christ, having first fulfilled the Law of Moses, became the Introducer of a New and Fresh System.
AND now having lived in all ways according to the Law of Moses, He made use of His Apostles as ministers of the new legislation, on the one hand teaching them that they must not consider the Law of Moses either foreign or unfriendly to their own religion, on the other as being the author and introducer of a legislation new and salutary for all men, so that He did not in any way break Moses’ enactments, but rather crowned them, and was their fulfilment, and then passed on to the institution of the Gospel Law. Hear Him speaking in this strain:
“I have not come to destroy the law but to fulfil it.” (Mt 5.17)
For if He had been a transgressor of the Law of Moses, He would reasonably have been considered to have rescinded it and given a contrary law:
and if He had been wicked and a law-breaker He could not have been believed to be the Christ.
And if He had rescinded Moses’ Law, He could never have been considered to be One foretold by Moses and the prophets. Nor would His new Law have had any authority. For He would have had to embark on a new Law, in order to escape the penalty of breaking the old.
But as a matter of fact He has rescinded nothing whatever in the Law, but fulfilled it. It is, as one might say, Mosaically perfect.
Yet since it was no longer possible for the causes I have stated already to accommodate the Law of Moses to the needs of the other nations, and it was necessary, thanks to the love of God the All-good,
“that all men should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth,” (1 Tim 2.4)
He laid down a law suitable and possible for all. Nor did He forbid His Apostles to preach Moses’ Law to all men, except when it was likely to be a stumbling-block to them, as the apostle says:
“For that which was impossible by the law, in that it was weak, God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh,” etc. (Rom 8.3)
And it was “impossible “for all the nations to go up thrice a year to Jerusalem as the Law of Moses required, for a woman after childbirth to hasten there from the ends of the earth to pay the fees of her purification, and in many other ways, which you can arrive at for yourselves at your leisure. Since then it was not possible for the nations living outside Judaea to keep these things even if they wished, our Lord and Saviour could hardly be said to have rescinded them, but was the fulfilment of the Law, and gave a proof to those who could see, that He was indeed the Christ of God foretold by the old Jewish prophets. This He did, when He gave to all nations through His own disciples enactments that suited them.
And, therefore, we reject Jewish customs, on the ground that they were not laid down for us, and that it is impossible to accommodate them to the needs of the Gentiles, while we gladly accept the Jewish prophecies as containing predictions about ourselves.
Thus the Saviour on the one side is our teacher, and on the other the fulfilment of the Law of Moses, and of the prophets who followed him.
For since as yet the prophecies lacked the fulfilment of their conclusions and of their words, He must necessarily fulfil them. As for example the prophecy in Moses says:
“A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up to you like unto me, him shall ye hear in all things, whatsoever that prophet shall speak to you.” (Dt 18.15)
He fulfilled what remained to be fulfilled in this prophecy, appearing as the second Lawgiver after Moses, giving to men the Law of the Supreme God’s true holiness. For Moses does not say simply “a prophet,”but adds “like unto me”: (“For a prophet,” he says, “shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me. Him shall ye hear”), and this can only menu that He who was foretold would be equal to Moses. And Moses was the giver of the Law of holiness of the Supreme God. So He that was foretold, to be like Moses, would probably be like him in being a Lawgiver. And though there were many prophets in later days, none of them is recorded to have been “like Moses.”
For they all referred their hearers to him. Even Scripture bears witness that “a prophet has not arisen like Moses”: neither Jeremiah, nor Isaiah, nor any other of the prophets was like him, because not one of them was a Lawgiver. When the expectation was that a prophet who was also a Lawgiver like Moses should arise, Jesus Christ came giving a Law to all nations, and accomplishing what the Law could not. As He said:
“it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, Thou shalt not desire to.” (Mt 5.27-28)
“It was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill, but I say unto you, Thou shalt not be angry.” (Mt 5.21-22)
“No more in Jerusalem, but in every place must you worship.” (Jn 4.21)
“Worship not with incense and sacrifices, but in spirit and in truth.” (Jn 4.24)
And all such things that are recorded of His teaching are surely the laws of a Lawgiver very wise and very perfect.
Wherefore Holy Scripture says His hearers were “astounded,” because He taught them “as one having authority, and not as the Scribes and the Pharisees” (Mk 1.22) —an oracle which supplied what was lacking to the fulfilment of the prophecy of Moses. And the same can be said of the other prophecies about Him, and the calling of the Gentiles. He was, therefore, the fulfiller of the Law and the prophets since He brought the predictions referring to Himself to a conclusion.
He ordained that the former Law should stand till He came, and He was revealed as the originator of the second Law of the new covenant preached to all nations, as being responsible for the Law and influence of the two religions, I mean Judaism and Christianity. And it is wonderful that divine prophecy should accord:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone, choice, a cornerstone; precious, and he that believes on him shall not be ashamed.” (Isa 28.16)
Who could be the corner-stone but He, the living and precious stone Who supports by His teaching two buildings and makes them one? For He set up the Mosaic building, which was to last till His day, and then fitted on to one side of it our building of the Gospel. Hence He is called the corner-stone. And it is said in the Psalms:
“22. The stone which the builders refused, the same is become the head of the corner. 23. This is of the Lord, and it is marvellous in our eyes.” (Ps 118.22-23)
This oracle too indubitably indicates the Jewish conspiracy against the subject of the prophecy, how He has been set at naught by the builders of the old wall, meaning the Scribes and Pharisees, the High-Priests and all the rulers of the Jews. And it prophesied that though He should be despised and cast out He would become the head of the corner, regarding Him as the originator of the new covenant, according to the above proofs.
So then we are not apostates from Hellenism who have embraced Judaism, nor are we at fault in accepting the law of Moses and the Hebrew Prophets, and we do not live as Jews, but according to the system of the men of God who lived before Moses.
Nay, we claim that in this we authenticate Moses and the succeeding prophets, in that we accept the Christ foretold by them, and obey His laws, and endeavour prayerfully to tread in the steps of His teaching, for so we do what Moses himself would approve. For he says, in foretelling that God will raise up a prophet like himself, “and every soul which doth not hear that prophet shall be cast out from its race.”
Therefore the Jews, because they rejected the prophet, and did not hearken to His holy words, have suffered extreme ruin according to the prediction. For they neither received the law of Christ of the new covenant,
nor were they able to keep the commands of Moses without some breach of his law; and so they fell under the curse of Moses, in not being able to carry out what was ordained by him,
being exiled as they were from their mother-city, which was destroyed, where alone it was allowed to celebrate the Mosaic worship. Whereas we, who accept Him that was foretold by Moses and the prophets, and endeavour to obey Him prayerfully, must surely be fulfilling the prophecy of Moses, where he said:
“And every soul, which doth not hear that prophet, shall be cast out from its race.”
And we heard just now what the ordinances of the prophet were, which we must obey, their wisdom, perfection and heavenliness, which he thought fit to inscribe, not on tables of stone like Moses, nor yet with ink and parchment, but on the hearts of his pupils, purified and open to reason. On them he wrote the laws of the new covenant, and actually fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah.
“I will make a new covenant, not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers. For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel, I will give my laws into their mind, and upon their heart I will write them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jer 31)
Eusebius relates some of the commands of the gospel. Showing how the Christ was predicted by the Old Testament and warning against rejecting him. He explains the Jews were under a curse for failing to observe the law of Moses.
In the next post we look at the Romans Commentary written by someone called ‘Ambrosiaster’. His true identity is not known. The commentary was written during the papacy of Pope Damasus I (c.e. 366-384).
McGrath says about the work,
“The earliest known Latin commentary upon the Pauline epistles is that of Ambrosiaster. Most modern commentators on this important work recognise that its exposition of the doctrine of justification by faith is grounded in the contrast between Christianity and Judaism; there is no trace of a more universal interpretation of justification by faith meaning freedom from a law of works – merely freedom from the Jewish ceremonial law. The Pauline doctrine of freedom from the works of the law is given a specific historical context by Ambrosiaster, in the Jewish background ground to Christianity. ” (p36, Alister E. McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification)
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