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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 57

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 57 [XXXV.]—Turn to Neither Hand.

Let us hold fast, then, the confession of this faith, without faltering or failure. One alone is there who was born without sin, in the likeness of sinful flesh, who lived without sin amid the sins of others, and who died without sin on account of our sins. “Let us turn neither to the right hand nor to the left.” 640 For to turn to the right hand is to deceive oneself, by saying that we are without sin; and to turn to the left is to surrender oneself to one’s sins with a sort of impunity, in I know not how perverse and depraved a recklessness. “God indeed knoweth the ways on the right hand,” 641 even He who alone is without sin, and is able to blot out our sins; “but the ways on the left hand are perverse,” 642 in friendship with sins. Of such inflexibility were those youths of twenty years, 643 who foretokened in figure God’s new people; they entered the land of promise; they, it is said, turned neither to the right hand nor to the left. 644 Now this age of twenty is not to be compared with the age of children’s innocence, but if I mistake not, this number is the shadow and echo of a mystery. For the Old Testament has its excellence in the five books of Moses, while the New Testament is most refulgent in the authority of the four Gospels. These numbers, when multiplied together, reach to the number twenty: four times five, or five times four, are twenty. Such a people (as I have already said), instructed in the kingdom of heaven by the two Testaments—the Old and the New—turning neither to the right hand, in a proud assumption of righteousness, nor to the left hand, in a reckless delight in sin, shall enter into the land of promise, where we shall have no longer either to pray that sins may be forgiven to us, or to fear that they may be punished in us, having been freed from them all by that Redeemer, who, not being “sold under sin,” 645 “hath redeemed Israel out of all his iniquities,” 646 whether committed in the actual life, or derived from the original transgression.



Prov. iv. 27.


Same verse [in the Latin and Septuagint; the clause does not occur in the Hebrew].


[See the last note.]


Num. 14:29, 31.


Josh. 23:6, 8.


Rom. vii. 14.


Ps. xxv. 22.

Next: Chapter 58

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