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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter II. None can ascend to heaven without faith; in any case, he who hath so ascended thither will be cast out wherefore, faith must be zealously preserved. We ourselves each have a heaven within, the gates whereof must be opened and be raised by confession of the Godhead of Christ, which gates are not raised by Arians, nor by those who seek the Son amongst earthly things, and who must therefore, like the Magdalene, be sent back to the apostles, against whom the gates of hell shall not prevail. Scriptures are cited to show that the servant of the Lord must not diminish aught of his Master's honour.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter II.

None can ascend to heaven without faith; in any case, he who hath so ascended thither will be cast out wherefore, faith must be zealously preserved. We ourselves each have a heaven within, the gates whereof must be opened and be raised by confession of the Godhead of Christ, which gates are not raised by Arians, nor by those who seek the Son amongst earthly things, and who must therefore, like the Magdalene, be sent back to the apostles, against whom the gates of hell shall not prevail. Scriptures are cited to show that the servant of the Lord must not diminish aught of his Master’s honour.

15. What shall we do, then? How shall we ascend unto heaven? There, powers are stationed, principalities drawn up in order, who keep the doors of heaven, and challenge him who ascends. Who shall give me passage, unless I proclaim that Christ is Almighty? The gates are shut,—they are not opened to any and every one; not every one who will shall enter, unless he also believes according to the true Faith. The Sovereign’s court is kept under guard.

16. Suppose, however, that one who is unworthy hath crept up, hath stolen past the principalities who keep the gates of heaven, hath sat down at the supper of the Lord; when the Lord of the banquet enters, and sees one not clad in the wedding garment of the Faith, He will cast him into outer darkness, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth, 2337 if he keep not the Faith and peace.

17. Let us, therefore, keep the wedding garment which we have received, and not deny Christ that which is His own, Whose omnipotence angels announce, prophets foretel, apostles witness to, even as we have already shown above. 2338

18. Perchance, indeed, the prophet hath spoken of His entering in not only with regard to the gates of the universal heaven; for there be other heavens also whereinto the Word of God passeth, whereof it is said: “We have a great Priest, a High Priest, Who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.” 2339 What are those heavens, but even the heavens whereof the prophet sayeth that “the heavens declare the glory of God”? 2340

19. For Christ standeth at the door of thy soul. Hear Him speaking. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man open to Me, I will come in to him, and I will sup with him, and he with Me.” 2341 And the Church saith, speaking of Him: “The voice of my brother soundeth at the door.” 2342

20. He stands, then—but not alone, for before Him go angels, saying: “Lift up the gates, O ye the princes.” What gates? Even those of the which the Psalmist sings in another place also: “Open to me the gates of righteousness.” 2343 Open, then, thy gates to Christ, that He may come into thee—open the gates of righteousness, the gates of chastity, the gates of courage and wisdom.

21. Believe the message of the angels: “Be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in, the Lord of Sabaoth.” Thy gate is the loud confession made with faithful voice; it is the door of the Lord, which the Apostle desires to have opened for him, as he says: “That a door of the word may be opened for me, to proclaim the mystery of Christ.” 2344

22. Let thy gate, then, be opened to Christ, and let it be not only opened, but lifted up, if, indeed, it be eternal and not condemned to ruin; for it is written: “And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors.” The lintel was lift up for Isaiah, when the seraph touched his lips and he saw the Lord of Sabaoth.

23. Thy gates shall be lifted up, then, if thou believest the Son of God to be eternal, omnipotent, above and beyond all praise and understanding, knowing all things, both past and to come, whilst if thou judgest Him to be of limited power and knowledge, and subordinate, thou liftest not up the everlasting doors.

24. Be thy gates lifted up, then, that Christ may come in unto thee, not such a Christ as the Arians take Him to be—petty, and weak, and menial—but Christ in the form of God, Christ with the Father; that He may enter such as He is, exalted above the heaven and all things; and that He may send forth upon thee His Holy Spirit. It is expedient p. 265 for thee that thou shouldst believe that He hath ascended and is sitting at the right hand of the Father, for if in impious thought thou detain Him amongst things created and earthly, if He depart not for thee, ascend not for thee, then to thee the Comforter shall not come, even as Christ Himself hath told us: “For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” 2345

25. But if thou shouldst seek Him amongst earthly beings, even as Mary of Magdala sought Him, take heed lest He say to thee, as unto her: “Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended unto My Father.” 2346 For thy gates are narrow—they give me no passage—they cannot be lifted up, and therefore I cannot come in.

26. Go thy way, therefore, to my brethren—that is, to those everlasting doors, which, as soon as they see Jesus, are lifted up. Peter is an “everlasting door,” against whom the gates of hell shall not prevail. 2347 John and James, the sons of thunder, to wit, 2348 are “everlasting doom.” Everlasting are the doors of the Church, where the prophet, desirous to proclaim the praises of Christ, says: “That I may tell all thy praises in the gates of the daughter of Sion.” 2349

27. Great, therefore, is the mystery of Christ, before which even angels stood amazed and bewildered. For this cause, then, it is thy duty to worship Him, and, being a servant, thou oughtest not to detract from thy Lord. Ignorance thou mayest not plead, for to this end He came down, that thou mayest believe; if thou believest not, He has not come down for thee, has not suffered for thee. “If I had not come,” saith the Scripture, “and spoken with them, they would have no sin: but now have they no excuse for their sin. He that hateth Me, hateth My Father also.” 2350 Who, then, hates Christ, if not he who speaks to His dishonour?—for as it is love’s part to render, so it is hate’s to withdraw honour. 2351 He who hates, calls in question; he who loves, pays reverence.


Footnotes

264:2337

S. Matt. xxii. 11.

264:2338

Bk. II. iv.

264:2339

Heb. iv. 14.

264:2340

Ps. xix. 1.

264:2341

Rev. iii. 20.

264:2342

Song of Solomon v. 2.

264:2343

Ps. cxviii. 19.

264:2344

Col. iv. 3.

265:2345

S. John xvi. 7.

265:2346

S. John xx. 17.

265:2347

S. Matt. xvi. 18.

265:2348

S. Mark iii. 17.

265:2349

Ps. ix. 14.

265:2350

S. John 15:22, 23.

265:2351

Orig. “derogare.Derogare was a Roman law-term, meaning to repeal a law in part, to restrict or modify it—hence it came to be used generally of diminishing or taking away from anything already established.


Next: Chapter III. The words, “The head of every man is Christ…and the head of Christ is God” misused by the Arians, are now turned back against them, to their confutation. Next, another passage of Scripture, commonly taken by the same heretics as a ground of objection, is called in to show that God is the Head of Christ, in so far as Christ is human, in regard of His Manhood, and the unwisdom of their opposition upon the text, “He who planteth and He who watereth are one,” is displayed. After which explanations, the meaning of the doctrine that the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, and that the faithful are in Both, is expounded.

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