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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
On Christian Doctrine: Chapter 41

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 41.—What Kind of Spirit is Required for the Study of Holy Scripture.

62.  But when the student of the Holy Scriptures, prepared in the way I have indicated, shall enter upon his investigations, let him constantly meditate upon that saying of the apostle’s, “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” 1825   For so he will feel that, whatever may be the riches he brings with him out of Egypt, yet unless he has kept the passover, he cannot be safe.  Now Christ is our passover sacrificed for us, 1826 and there is nothing the sacrifice of Christ more clearly teaches us than the call which He himself addresses to those whom He sees toiling in Egypt under Pharaoh:  “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 1827   To whom is it light but to the meek and lowly in heart, whom knowledge doth not puff up, but charity edifieth?  Let them remember, then, that those who celebrated the passover at that time in type and shadow, when they were ordered to mark their door-posts with the blood of the lamb, used hyssop to mark them with. 1828   Now this is a meek and lowly herb, and yet nothing is stronger and more penetrating than its roots; that being rooted and grounded in love, we may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, 1829 —that is, to comprehend the cross of our Lord, the breadth of which is indicated by the transverse wood on which the hands are stretched, its length by the part from the ground up to the cross-bar on which the whole body from the head downwards is fixed, its height by the part from the crossbar to the top on which the head lies, and its depth by the part which is hidden, being fixed in the earth.  And by this sign of the cross all Christian action is symbolized, viz., to do good works in Christ, to cling with constancy to Him, to hope for heaven, and not to desecrate the sacraments.  And purified by this Christian action, we shall be able to know even “the love of Christ which passeth knowledge,” who is equal to the Father, by whom all things, were made, “that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.” 1830  There is besides in hyssop a purgative virtue, that the breast may not be swollen with that knowledge which puffeth up, nor boast vainly of the riches brought out from Egypt.  “Purge me with hyssop,” the psalmist says, 1831 “and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Make me to hear joy and gladness.”  Then he immediately adds, to show that it is purifying from pride that is indicated by hyssop, “that the bones which Thou hast broken 1832 may rejoice.”


Footnotes

555:1825

1 Cor. 8.1.

555:1826

1 Cor. 5.7.

555:1827

Matt. 11.28-30.

555:1828

Ex. 12.22.

555:1829

Eph. 3:17, 18.

555:1830

Eph. 3.19.

555:1831

Ps. 51:7, 8.

555:1832

Ossa humiliata, Vulgate.


Next: Chapter 42

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