22 November, 2009

Law and Gospel

Both testaments belong to God, who says, "I kill, and I make alive,; I wound and I heal" (Deut 32:39). We have already made good the Creator's claim to this twofold character of judgment and goodness, "killing in the letter" through the law, and "quickening in the Spirit" through the Gospel (2 Cor 3:6).
Tertullian, Antei-Nicene Fathers, 3:452-453

The Gospel's promise is distinguished from the law, and since it is different it cannot be mixed with the Law, for a condition invalidates the promise.
Ticonius (d.circa 390AD), Book of Rules. Ticonius is one of the first Christian theologians to treat hermeneutics, or the science of biblical interpretation, as a subject in itself. His work influenced Augustine.

Therefore, whenever you hear sinners cursed in Scripture, understand it concerning the proud, as I said, that is, those who defend their sins. Likewise, as often as you hear the poor praised, do not consider it with regard to all the poor, but only those Christians who are meek and humble of heart. Of these it is written: 'Upon whom shall my spirit rest, but upon the humble and meek, upon him that trembleth at my words?'
Caesarius of Arles, Homily 48

In the Law, he that has sin is punished,; here, he that has sins comes and is baptised and is made righteous, and being made righteous, he lives, being delivered from the death that sin brings. The Law, if it lay hold of a murderer, puts him to death; the Gospel, if it lay hold on a murderer, enligtens,a nd gives him life.
John Chrysostom, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, I, 12:307

Paul's words are, "The righteousness of God is shown forth..."This is witnessed by the law and the prophets; in other words, the law and the prophest each testify about it. The law, indeed, does this by issuing its commands and threats,a nd by justifying no-one. It shows well enough that it is by God's gift, through the help of the Spirit, that a person is justified.
Augustine, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, I, 5:88-89.

If God has commanded that His precepts should be diligently kept (Ps 119:4) it is in order that, seeing our constant imperfection and our inability to fulfill the duty that we ought to do, we may fly to His mercy, and say, "Your steadfast love is better than life" (Psalm 63:3a). And not being able to appear clad in innocence or righteousness, we may at last be covered in the robe of confession.
Bernard of Clairvaux, Advent and Christmas Sermons.

You were sinning, O man, in darkness and in the shadow of death through ignorance of truth. You were sitting bound by the chains of sin. He came down to your prison not to torture you, but to rescue you from the power of darkness. And first the Teacher of truth dispelled the darkness of ignorance by the light of His wisdom. Then by the righteousness of faith he loosed the bonds of sin, freely justifying the sinner." Bernard, Canticles ch.XV


Ah! From what great bitterness of soul have you often delivered me, O Good Jesus, coming to me!... How often has prayer taken me on the brink of despair, and then restored to me the state of soul of one exulting in joy and confident forgiveness. Those who are afflicted in this way, behold they know that the Lord Jesus is truly a Physician Who healeth the broken of heart and bindeth up their bruses"
Bernard, Canticles ch.XX
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