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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol I:
MATHETES: Chapter IX.—Why the Son was sent so...

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IX.—Why the Son was sent so late.

As long then as the former time 309 endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, 310 so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, 311 punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how 312 the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, 313 He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors! 314 Having therefore convinced us in the former time 315 that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Saviour who is able to save even those things which it was [formerly] impossible to save, by both these facts He desired to lead us to trust in His kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counsellor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honour, Glory, Power, and Life, so that we should not be anxious 316 concerning clothing and food.



Otto refers for a like contrast between these two times to Rom. iii. 21-26, Rom. v. 20 and Gal. iv. 4. [Comp. Acts xvii. 30.]


The reading and sense are doubtful.


Both the text and rendering are here somewhat doubtful, but the sense will in any case be much the same.


Many variations here occur in the way in which the lacuna of the mss. is to be supplied. They do not, however, greatly affect the meaning.


In the ms. “saying” is here inserted, as if the words had been regarded as a quotation from Isa. liii. 11.


[See Bossuet, who quotes it as from Justin Martyr (Tom. iii. p. 171). Sermon on Circumcision.]


That is, before Christ appeared.


Comp. Matt. vi. 25, etc. [Mathetes, in a single sentence, expounds a most practical text with comprehensive views.]

Next: Chapter X.—The blessings that will...

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