Matt. 5:1-12 (Part 5)

ORIGEN: For ourselves, we hold that not God alone is unspeakable, but other things also which are inferior to Him. Such are the things which Paul labors to express when he says, “I heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter,” where the word “heard” is used in the sense of “understood;” as in the passage, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” We also hold that it is a hard matter to see the Creator and Father of the universe; but it is possible to see Him in the way thus referred to, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;” and not only so, but also in the sense of the words of Him “who is the image of the invisible God;” “He who has seen Me has seen the Father who sent Me.” . . . Moreover, that these words, “He that has seen Me, has seen the Father who sent Me,” are not to be taken in their grosser sense, is plain from the answer which He gave to Philip, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet you do not know Me, Philip?” after Philip had asked, “Show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” He, then, who perceives how these words, “The Word was made flesh,” are to be understood of the only begotten Son of God, the firstborn of all creation, will also understand how, in seeing the image of the invisible God, we see “the Creator and Father of the universe.” Against Celsus, 4.628.

ORIGEN: Those who bear the hope of seeing this glory, then, are the ones of whom it has been said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” At that time when pain and sadness and sighing flee and when things which are now seen in a mirror and in a riddle are set aside, those things which are face to face remain. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

ARCHELAUS: For what, indeed, can it profit a man to circumcise himself, if nevertheless he cherishes the worst of thoughts against his neighbor? He desired, accordingly, rather to open up to us the ways of the fullest life by a brief path, lest perhaps, after we had traveled across long courses of our own, we should find our day prematurely closing upon us in night, and lest, while outwardly indeed we might appear splendid to men’s view, we should inwardly be comparable only to ravening wolves, or be likened to whited sepulchers. For far above any person of that type of character is to be placed the man who, although clothed only in dirty and tattered attire, keeps no evil hidden in his heart against his neighbor. For it is only the circumcision of the heart that brings salvation; and that merely carnal circumcision can be of no advantage to men, unless they happen also to be fortified with the spiritual circumcision. Listen also to what Scripture has to say on this subject: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” The Disputation of Archelaus and Manes, 6.217.

NOVATIAN: If Christ Himself had been the Father, why did He promise as future, a reward which He had already granted and given? For that He says, “Blessed are they of a pure heart, for they shall see God,” it is understood to promise the contemplation and vision of the Father; therefore He had not given this; for why should He promise if He had already given? For He had already given if He was the Father: for He was seen, and He was touched. But since, when Christ Himself is seen and touched, He still promises, and says that he who is of a pure heart shall see God, He proves by this very saying that He who was then present was not the Father, seeing that He was seen, and yet promised that whoever should be of a pure heart should see the Father. It was therefore not the Father, but the Son, who promised this, because He who was the Son promised that which had yet to be seen; and His promise would have been superfluous unless He had been the Son. For why did He promise to the pure in heart that they should see the Father, if already they who were then present saw Christ as the Father? But because He was the Son, not the Father, rightly also He was then seen as the Son, because He was the image of God; and the Father, because He is invisible, is promised and pointed out as to be seen by the pure in heart. Treatise Concerning the Trinity, 5.639-640.

5:9 IRENAEUS: [On the disagreement in Asia about the celebration of Pascha:] For the controversy is not merely as regards the day, but also as regards the form itself of the fast. For some consider themselves bound to fast one day, others two days, others still more, while others do so during forty: the daily and the nightly hours they measure out together as their fasting day. And this variety among the observers of the fasts had not its origin in our time, but long before in that of our predecessors, some of whom probably, being not very accurate in their observance of it, handed down to posterity the custom as it had, through simplicity or private fancy, been introduced among them. And yet nevertheless all these lived in peace one with another, and we also keep peace together.

Thus, in fact, the difference in observing the fast establishes the harmony of our common faith. And the presbyters preceding Soter in the government of the Church which you now rule—I mean, Anicetus and Pius, Hyginus and Telesphorus, and Sixtus—did neither themselves observe it after that fashion, nor permit those with them to do so. Notwithstanding this, those who did not keep the feast in this way were peacefully disposed towards those who came to them from other dioceses in which it was so observed although such observance was felt in more decided contrariety as presented to those who did not fall in with it; and none were ever cast out of the Church for this matter.

On the contrary, those presbyters who preceded you, and who did not observe this custom, sent the Eucharist to those of other dioceses who did observe it. And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points, they were at once well inclined towards each other with regard to the matter in hand, not willing that any quarrel should arise between them upon this head. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance in his own way, inasmuch as these things had been always so observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep the observance in his way, for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect; so that they parted in peace one from the other, maintaining peace with the whole Church, both those who did observe this custom and those who did not. Fragment, 1.568-569.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Truly “blessed are the peacemakers,” who instructing those who are at war in their life and errors here, lead them back to the peace which is in the Word. The Stromata, 2.300.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: “Blessed, then, are the peacemakers,” who have subdued and tamed the law which wars against the disposition of the mind, the menaces of anger, and the baits of lust, and the other passions which war against the reason; who, having lived in the knowledge both of good works and true reason, shall be reinstated in adoption, which is dearer. It follows that the perfect peacemaking is that which keeps unchanged in all circumstances what is peaceful; calls Providence holy and good; and has its being in the knowledge of divine and human affairs, by which it deems the opposites that are in the world to be the fairest harmony of creation. They also are peacemakers, who teach those who war against the stratagems of sin to have recourse to faith and peace. The Stromata, 2.416.

TERTULLIAN: He marks “the peacemakers” . . . and names them “sons of God.” Do the impatient have any affinity with “peace?” Even a fool may perceive that. Of Patience, 3.714.

CYPRIAN: The Holy Spirit warns us, and says, “What man is he that desires to live, and would see good days? Refrain your tongue from evil, and your lips that they speak no guile. Abstain from evil, and do good; seek peace, and follow it.” The son of peace ought to seek peace and follow it. He who knows and loves the bond of charity, ought to refrain his tongue from the evil of dissension. Among His divine commands and beneficial teachings, the Lord, when He was now very near to His passion, added this one, saying, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” He gave this to us as an heritage; He promised all the gifts and rewards of which He spoke through the preservation of peace. If we are fellow-heirs with Christ, let us abide in the peace of Christ; if we are sons of God, we ought to be peacemakers. “Blessed,” says He, “are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the sons of God.” It behooves the sons of God to be peacemakers, gentle in heart, simple in speech, agreeing in affection, faithfully linked to one another in the bonds of unanimity. The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.429.

LACTANTIUS: The just man is neither at enmity with any human being, nor desires anything at all which is the property of another. For why should he take a voyage, or what should he seek from another land, when his own is sufficient for him? Or why should he carry on war, and mix himself with the passions of others, when his mind is engaged in perpetual peace with men? The Divine Institutes, 7.153.

5:10ff ANONYMOUS: All the martyrdoms, then, were blessed and noble which took place according to the will of God. For it becomes us who profess greater piety than others, to ascribe the authority over all things to God. And truly, who can fail to admire their nobleness of mind, and their patience, with that love towards their Lord which they displayed?—who, when they were so torn with scourges, that the frame of their bodies, even to the very inward veins and arteries, was laid open, still patiently endured, while even those that stood by pitied and bewailed them. But they reached such a pitch of magnanimity, that not one of them let a sigh or a groan escape them; thus proving to us all that those holy martyrs of Christ, at the very time when they suffered such torments, were absent from the body, or rather, that the Lord then stood by them, and communed with them. And, looking to the grace of Christ, they despised all the torments of this world, redeeming themselves from eternal punishment by the suffering of a single hour. For this reason the fire of their savage executioners appeared cool to them. For they kept before their view escape from that fire which is eternal and never shall be quenched, and looked forward with the eyes of their heart to those good things which are laid up for such as endure; things “which ear has not heard, nor eye seen, neither have entered into the heart of man,” but were revealed by the Lord to them, inasmuch as they were no longer men, but had already become angels. And, in like manner, those who were condemned to the wild beasts endured dreadful tortures, being stretched out upon beds full of spikes, and subjected to various other kinds of torments, in order that, if it were possible, the tyrant might, by their lingering tortures, lead them to a denial of Christ. The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 1.39.

© OTR 2023