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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Spirit and the Letter.: Chapter 46

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 46.—How the Passage of the Law Agrees with that of the Prophet.

If therefore the apostle, when he mentioned that the Gentiles do by nature the things contained in the law, and have the work of the law written in their hearts, 935 intended those to be understood who believed in Christ,—who do not come to the faith like the Jews, through a precedent law,—there is no good reason why we should endeavour to distinguish them from those to whom the Lord by the prophet promises the new covenant, telling them that He will write His laws in their hearts, 936 inasmuch as they too, by the grafting which he says had been made of the wild olive, belong to the self-same olive-tree, 937 —in other words, to the same people of God. There is therefore a good agreement of this passage of the apostle with the words of the prophet so that belonging to the new testament means having the law of God not written on tables, but on the heart,—that is, embracing the righteousness of the law with innermost affection, where faith works by love. 938 Because it is by faith that God justifies the Gentiles; and the Scripture foreseeing this, preached the gospel before to Abraham, saying, “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed,” 939 in order that by this grace of promise the wild olive might be grafted into the good olive, and believing Gentiles might be made children of Abraham, “in Abraham’s seed, which is Christ,” 940 by following the faith of him who, without receiving the law written on tables, and not yet possessing even circumcision, “believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” 941 Now what the apostle attributed to Gentiles of this character,—how that “they have the work of the law written in their hearts;” 942 must be some such thing as what he says to the Corinthians: “not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” 943 For thus do they become of the house of Israel, when their uncircumcision is accounted circumcision, by the fact that they do not exhibit the righteousness of the law by the excisp. 103 ion of the flesh, but keep it by the charity of the heart. “If,” says he, “the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?” 944 And therefore in the house of the true Israel, in which is no guile, 945 they are partakers of the new testament, since God puts His laws into their mind, and writes them in their hearts with his own finger, the Holy Ghost, by whom is shed abroad in them the love 946 which is the” fulfilling of the law.” 947


Footnotes

102:935

Rom. 2:14, 15.

102:936

Jer. xxxii. 32.

102:937

Rom. xi. 24.

102:938

Gal. v. 6.

102:939

Gal. 3:8, Gen. 22:18.

102:940

Gal. iii. 16.

102:941

Gen. 15:6, Rom. 4:2.

102:942

Rom. ii. 15.

102:943

2 Cor. iii. 3.

103:944

Rom. ii. 26.

103:945

See John i. 47.

103:946

Rom. v. 5.

103:947

Rom. xiii. 10.


Next: Chapter 47

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