Chapter XXIV.—On the Mission of the Seventy Disciples, and Christs Charge to Them. Precedents Drawn from the Old Testament. Absurdity of Supposing that Marcions Christ Could Have Given the Power of Treading on Serpents and Scorpions.
He chose also seventy other missionaries 4415 besides the twelve. Now why, if the twelve followed the number of the twelve fountains of Elim, 4416 should not the seventy correspond to the like number of the palms of that place? 4417 Whatever be the Antitheses of the comparison, it is a diversity in the causes, not in the powers, which has mainly produced them. But if one does not keep in view the diversity of the causes, 4418 he is very apt to infer a difference of powers. 4419 When the children of Israel went out of Egypt, the Creator brought them forth laden with their spoils of gold and silver vessels, and with loads besides of raiment and unleavened dough; 4420 whereas Christ commanded His disciples not to carry even a staff 4421 for their journey. The former were thrust forth into a desert, but the latter were sent into cities. Consider the difference presented in the occasions, 4422 and you will understand how it was one and the same power which arranged the mission 4423 of His people according to their poverty in the one case, and their plenty in the other. He cut down 4424 their supplies when they could be replenished through the cities, just as He had accumulated 4425 them when exposed to the scantiness of the desert. Even shoes He forbade them to carry. For it was He under whose very protection the people wore not out a shoe, 4426 even in the wilderness for the space of so many years. “No one,” says He, “shall ye salute by the way.” 4427 What a destroyer of the prophets, forsooth, is Christ, seeing it is from them that He received his precept also! When Elisha sent on his servant Gehazi before him to raise the Shunammites son from death, I rather think he gave him these instructions: 4428 “Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; 4429 and if any salute thee, answer him not again.” 4430 For what is a wayside blessing but a mutual salutation as men meet? So also the Lord commands: “Into whatsoever house they enter, let them say, Peace be to it.” 4431 Herein He follows the very same example. For Elisha enjoined upon his servant the same salutation when he met the Shunammite; he was to say to her: “Peace to thine husband, peace to thy child.” 4432 Such will be rather our Antitheses; they compare Christ with, instead of sundering Him from, the Creator. “The labourer is worthy of his hire.” 4433 Who could better pronounce such a sentence than the Judge? For to decide that the workman deserves his wages, is in itself a judicial act. There is no award which consists not in a process of judgment. The law of the Creator on this point also presents us with a corroboration, for He judges that labouring oxen are as labourers worthy of their hire: “Thou shalt not muzzle,” says He, “the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” 4434 Now, who is so good to man 4435 as He who is also merciful to cattle? Now, when Christ pronounced labourers to be worthy of their hire, He, in fact, exonerated from blame that precept of the Creator about depriving the Egyptians of their gold and silver vessels. 4436 For they who had built for the Egyptians their houses and cities, were surely workmen worthy of their hire, and were not instructed in a fraudulent act, but only set to claim compensation for their hire, which they were unable in any other way to exact from their masters. 4437 That the kingdom of God was neither new nor unheard of, He in this way affirmed, whilst at the same time He bids them announce that it was near at hand. 4438 Now it is that which p. 388 was once far off, which can be properly said to have become near. If, however, a thing had never existed previous to its becoming near, it could never have been said to have approached, because it had never existed at a distance. Everything which is new and unknown is also sudden. 4439 Everything which is sudden, then, first receives the accident of time 4440 when it is announced, for it then first puts on appearance of form. 4441 Besides it will be impossible for a thing either to have been tardy 4442 all the while it remained unannounced, 4443 or to have approached 4444 from the time it shall begin to be announced.
He likewise adds, that they should say to such as would not receive them: “Notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” 4445 If He does not enjoin this by way of a commination, the injunction is a most useless one. For what mattered it to them that the kingdom was at hand, unless its approach was accompanied with judgment?—even for the salvation of such as received the announcement thereof. How, if there can be a threat without its accomplishment, can you have in a threatening god, one that executes also, and in both, one that is a judicial being? 4446 So, again, He commands that the dust be shaken off against them, as a testimony,—the very particles of their ground which might cleave 4447 to the sandal, not to mention 4448 any other sort of communication with them. 4449 But if their churlishness 4450 and inhospitality were to receive no vengeance from Him, for what purpose does He premise a testimony, which surely forbodes some threats? Furthermore, when the Creator also, in the book of Deuteronomy, forbids the reception of the Ammonites and the Moabites into the church, 4451 because, when His people came from Egypt, they fraudulently withheld provisions from them with inhumanity and inhospitality, 4452 it will be manifest that the prohibition of intercourse descended to Christ from Him. The form of it which He uses—“He that despiseth you, despiseth me” 4453 —the Creator had also addressed to Moses: “Not against thee have they murmured, but against me.” 4454 Moses, indeed, was as much an apostle as the apostles were prophets. The authority of both offices will have to be equally divided, as it proceeds from one and the same Lord, (the God) of apostles and prophets. Who is He that shall bestow “the power of treading on serpents and scorpions?” 4455 Shall it be He who is the Lord of all living creatures or he who is not god over a single lizard? Happily the Creator has promised by Isaiah to give this power even to little children, of putting their hand in the cockatrice den and on the hole of the young asps without at all receiving hurt. 4456 And, indeed, we are aware (without doing violence to the literal sense of the passage, since even these noxious animals have actually been unable to do hurt where there has been faith) that under the figure of scorpions and serpents are portended evil spirits, whose very prince is described 4457 by the name of serpent, dragon, and every other most conspicuous beast in the power of the Creator. 4458 This power the Creator conferred first of all upon His Christ, even as the ninetieth Psalm says to Him: “Upon the asp and the basilisk shalt Thou tread; the lion and the dragon shalt Thou trample under foot.” 4459 So also Isaiah: “In that day the Lord God shall draw His sacred, great, and strong sword” (even His Christ) “against that dragon, that great and tortuous serpent; and He shall slay him in that day.” 4460 But when the same prophet says, “The way shall be called a clean and holy way; over it the unclean thing shall not pass, nor shall be there any unclean way; but the dispersed shall pass over it, and they shall not err therein; no lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; it shall not be found there,” 4461 he points out the way of faith, by which we shall reach to God; and then to this way of faith he promises this utter crippling 4462 and subjugation of all noxious animals. Lastly, you may discover the suitable times of the promise, if you read what precedes the passage: “Be strong, ye weak hands and ye feeble knees: then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be articulate.” 4463 When, therefore, He proclaimed the benefits of His cures, then also did He put the scorpions and the p. 389 serpents under the feet of His saints—even He who had first received this power from the Father, in order to bestow it upon others and then manifested it forth conformably to the order of prophecy. 4464
See 2 Kings iv. 29.387:4429 387:4430 387:4431 387:4432
2 Kings iv. 26. He reads the optative instead of the indicative.387:4433 387:4434 387:4435 387:4436 387:4437 387:4438 388:4439 388:4440 388:4441 388:4442 388:4443 388:4444 388:4445 388:4446 388:4447 388:4448 388:4449 388:4450 388:4451 388:4452 388:4453 388:4454 388:4455 388:4456 388:4457 388:4458 388:4459 388:4460
Isa. xxvii. 1, Sept.388:4461 388:4462 388:4463 389:4464
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