Monday, December 29, 2014

Origen on Miracles and the Two Possible Ways They Affect Our Hearts in 225CE

If the sun had a voice, it might say, “I both liquefy and dry up.” Although liquefying and drying are opposite things, the sun would not speak falsely on this point. For wax is melted and mud is dried up by the same heat. In the same way, the operation performed through the instrumentality of Moses, on the one hand, hardened Pharaoh (because of his own wickedness), and it softened the mixed Egyptian multitude, who departed with the Hebrews. …

Now suppose that the words the apostle addressed to sinners had been addressed to Pharaoh. Then, the announcements made to him will be understood to have been made with particular application. It is as to one who – according to his hardness and unrepentant heart – was treasuring up wrath for himself. For his hardness would not have been demonstrated nor made manifest unless miracles had been performed, particularly miracles of such magnitude and importance.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Cyprian on Materialism in 250CE

Those whom you consider rich add forests to forests. They exclude the poor from their neighborhoods and stretch out their fields far and wide into space without any limits. They possess immense heaps of silver and gold, as well as mighty sums of money. … Such a person enjoys no security either in his food or in his sleep. In the middle of the banquet he sighs, although he drinks from a jeweled goblet. …

He does not realize, poor wretch, that these things are merely gilded torments. He is held in bondage by his gold. He is the slave, not the master, of his luxury and wealth. … His possession amounts to this only; that he can keep others from possessing it. …

Whom He [God] has made rich, none will make poor. For, in fact, there can be no poverty to him whose breast has once been supplied with heavenly food. Ceilings enriched with gold, and houses adorned with mosaics of costly marble will seem crude to you now that you know that it is you yourself who are to be perfected instead. … Let us embellish this “house” with the colors of innocence; let us enlighten it with the light of justice.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Justin Martyr on Free Will and Foreknowledge in 160CE

In the beginning, He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God. … Lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever occurs happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain.  We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, chastisements, and good rewards are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions.

Now, if this is not so, but all things happen by fate, then neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it is predetermined that this man will be good, and this other man will be evil, neither is the first one meritorious nor the latter man to be blamed. And again, unless the human race has the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions. … Those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God’s fault. Rather, each man is what he will appear to be through his own fault.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Irenaeus on the Gifts of the Spirit in 180CE

The Lord raised the dead, and the apostles did so by the means of prayer, and this has been frequently done in the brotherhood on account of some necessity. When the entire church in that particular locality entreated God with much fasting and prayer, the spirit of the dead man has returned, and he has been bestowed in answer to the prayers of the saints. … Those who are truly His disciples, receiving grace from Him, … perform [works] in His name, in order to promote the welfare of others, according to the gift that each one has received from Him.

Some truly and certainly cast out devils. The result is that those who have been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe and join themselves to the church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come. They see visions, and they utter prophetic expressions. Still others heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and the sick are made whole. What is more, as I have said, even the dead have been raised up and remained among us for many years.

What more can I say? It is not possible to name the number of the gifts which the church throughout the whole world has received from God, in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and which she exerts day by day for the benefit of the Gentiles, neither practicing deception upon any, nor taking any reward from them. For, just as she has received without charge from God, so does she minister without charge. … Calling upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, she has worked miracles for the benefit of mankind, and not to lead them into error. The name of our Lord Jesus Christ even now confers benefits. It cures thoroughly and effectively all who anywhere believe on Him.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hippolytus on What Happens When People Die in 205CE

Now we must speak of Hades, in which the souls both of the righteous and the unrighteous are detained. Hades is a place in the created system, rude, a locality beneath the earth, in which the light of the world does not shine. And since the sun does not shine in this place, there is necessarily perpetual darkness there. This place has been destined to be, as it were, a guardhouse for souls. The angels are stationed there as guards distributing temporary punishments for characters, according to each one’s deeds. And in this locality there is a certain place set apart by itself, a lake of unquenchable fire, into which we suppose no one has ever yet been cast. …

But the righteous (who will obtain the incorruptible and unfading kingdom) are indeed presently detained in Hades, but not in the same place with the unrighteous. For to this locality there is one descent, at the gate of which we believe an archangel is stationed with an army. And when those who are conducted by the angels who are appointed unto the souls have passed through this gate, they do not all proceed down one and the same path. Rather, the righteous are conducted in the light toward the right.

And being hymned by the angels stationed at the place, they are brought to a locality full of light. And there all the righteous persons from the beginning dwell. They are not ruled by any necessity. Rather, they perpetually enjoy the contemplation of the blessings that are in their view. Also, they delight themselves with the expectation of other blessings, ever new. In fact, they consider the new blessings as ever better than the first ones. And that place brings no labors for them. In that locale, there are neither fierce heat, cold, nor thorns. But the faces of the fathers and the righteous are seen to be always smiling, as they wait for the rest and eternal revival in heaven that follow this location. And we call this place by the name of “Abraham’s bosom.”

However, the unrighteous are dragged toward the left by angels, who are ministers of punishment. These souls no longer go of their own accord. Rather, they are dragged as prisoners by force. And the angels appointed over them hurry them along, reproaching them and threatening them with an eye of terror, forcing them down into the lower parts. And when the souls are brought there, those appointed to that task drag them on to the vicinity of Gehenna.

And those who are so near [to Gehenna] hear incessantly its agitation, and they feel the hot smoke. And when that vision is so near, as they see the terrible, and excessively glowing spectacle of the fire, they shudder in horror at the expectation of the future judgment, already feeling the power of their punishment. And again, when they see the place of the fathers and the righteous, they also suffer punishment merely from seeing this. For a deep and vast abyss is set there in the midst, so that neither can any of the righteous in sympathy think to cross it, nor do any of the unrighteous dare to cross it.