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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Spirit and the Letter.: Chapter 29

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 29 [XVII.]—A Comparison of the Law of Moses and of the New Law.

Now, amidst this admirable correspondence, there is at least this very considerable diversity in the cases, in that the people in the earlier instance were deterred by a horrible dread from approaching the place where the law was given; whereas in the other case the Holy Ghost came upon them who were gathered together in expectation of His promised gift. There it was on tables of stone that the finger of God operated; here it was on the hearts of men. There the law was given outwardly, so that the unrighteous might be terrified; 831 here it was given inwardly, so that they might be justified. 832 For this, “Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment,”—such, of course, as was written on those tables,—“it is briefly comprehended,” says he, “in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” 833 Now this was not written on the tables of stone, but “is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.” 834 God’s law, therefore, is love. “To it the carnal mind is not subject, neither indeed can be;” 835 but when the works of love are written on tables to alarm the carnal mind, there arises the law of works and “the letter which killeth” the transgressor; but when love itself is shed abroad in the hearts of believers, then we have the law of faith, and the spirit which gives life to him that loves.



Exod. 19:12, 16.


Acts ii. 1-47.


Rom. 13:9, 10.


Rom. v. 5.


Rom. viii. 7.

Next: Chapter 30

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