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  • On the Mission of the Seventy Disciples, and Christ's Charge to Them. Precedents Drawn from the Old Testament. Absurdity of Supposing that Marcion's Christ Could Have Given the Power of Treading on Serpents and Scorpions.

    Chapter XXIV.—On the Mission of the Seventy Disciples, and Christ’s Charge to Them.  Precedents Drawn from the Old Testament.  Absurdity of Supposing that Marcion’s Christ Could Have Given the Power of Treading on Serpents and Scorpions.

    He chose also seventy other missionaries4415

    4415 Apostolos: Luke x. i.

    besides the twelve. Now why, if the twelve followed the number of the twelve fountains of Elim,4416

    4416 Compare above, book iv. chap. xiii. p. 364.

    should not the seventy correspond to the like number of the palms of that place?4417

    4417 Ex. xv. 27 and Num. xxxiii. 9.

    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

    4418 Causarum: “occasions” or circumstances.

    he is very apt to infer a difference of powers.4419

    4419 Potestatum. In Marcionite terms, “The Gods of the Old and the New Testaments.”

    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

    4420 Consparsionum. [Punic Latin.] Ex. xii. 34, 35.

    whereas Christ commanded His disciples not to carry even a staff4421

    4421 Virgam, Luke x. 4; and Matt x. 10.

    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

    4422 Causarum offerentiam.

    and you will understand how it was one and the same power which arranged the mission4423

    4423 Expeditionem, with the sense also of “supplies” in the next clause.

    of His people according to their poverty in the one case, and their plenty in the other. He cut down4424

    4424 Circumcidens.

    their supplies when they could be replenished through the cities, just as He had accumulated4425

    4425 Struxerat.

    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

    4426 Deut. xxix. 5.

    even in the wilderness for the space of so many years. “No one,” says He, “shall ye salute by the way.”4427

    4427 Luke x. 4.

    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 Shunammite’s son from death, I rather think he gave him these instructions:4428

    4428 See 2 Kings iv. 29.

    “Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not;4429

    4429 Literally, “bless him not, i.e., salute him not.”

    and if any salute thee, answer him not again.”4430

    4430 Literally, “answer him not, i.e., return not his salvation.”

    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

    4431 Luke x. 5.

    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

    4432 2 Kings iv. 26. He reads the optative instead of the indicative.

    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

    4433 Luke x. 7.

    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

    4434 Deut. xxv. 4.

    Now, who is so good to man4435

    4435 Compare above, book ii. chap. 17, p. 311.

    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

    4436 See this argued at length above, in book ii. chap. 20, p. 313.

    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

    4437 Dominatoribus.

    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

    4438 Luke x. 9.

    Now it is that which 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

    4439 Subitum.

    Everything which is sudden, then, first receives the accident of time4440

    4440 Accipit tempus.

    when it is announced, for it then first puts on appearance of form.4441

    4441 Inducens speciem.

    Besides it will be impossible for a thing either to have been tardy4442

    4442 Tardasse.

    all the while it remained unannounced,4443

    4443 The announcement (according to the definition) defining the beginning of its existence in time.

    or to have approached4444

    4444 Appropinquasse.

    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

    4445 Luke x. 11.

    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

    4446 Et judicem in utroque.

    So, again, He commands that the dust be shaken off against them, as a testimony,—the very particles of their ground which might cleave4447

    4447 Hærentia.

    to the sandal, not to mention4448

    4448 Nedum.

    any other sort of communication with them.4449

    4449 Luke x. 11.

    But if their churlishness4450

    4450 Inhumanitas.

    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

    4451 Ecclesiam. There is force in thus using Christian terms for Jewish ordinances, full as he is of the identity of the God of the old with Him of the new covenant.

    because, when His people came from Egypt, they fraudulently withheld provisions from them with inhumanity and inhospitality,4452

    4452 Deut. xxiii. 3.

    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

    4453 Luke x. 16.

    —the Creator had also addressed to Moses:  “Not against thee have they murmured, but against me.”4454

    4454 Num. xiv. 27.

    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

    4455 Luke x. 19.

    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

    4456 Isa. xi. 8, 9.

    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 described4457

    4457 Deputetur.

    by the name of serpent, dragon, and every other most conspicuous beast in the power of the Creator.4458

    4458 Penes Creatorem.

    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

    4459 Ps. xci. 13.

    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

    4460 Isa. xxvii. 1, Sept.

    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

    4461 Isa. xxxv. 8, 9, Sept.

    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 crippling4462

    4462 Evacuationem.

    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

    4463 Isa. xxxv. 3, 5, 6, Sept.

    When, therefore, He proclaimed the benefits of His cures, then also did He put the scorpions and the 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

    4464 Secundum ordinem prædicationis.


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