The Five Books Against Marcion by Tertullian
Chapter XXVIII.--Examples from the Old Testament, Balaam, Moses, and Hezekiah, to Show How Completely the Instruction and Conduct of Christ Are in Keeping with the Will and Purpose of the Creator.
Justly, therefore, was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees displeasing to Him, loving God as they did with their lips, but not with their heart. |Beware,| He says to the disciples, |of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy,| not the proclamation of the Creator. The Son hates those who refused obedience to the Father; nor does He wish His disciples to show such a disposition towards Him -- not (let it be observed) towards another god, against whom such hypocrisy indeed might have been admissible, as that which He wished to guard His disciples against. It is the example of the Pharisees which He forbids. It was in respect of Him against whom the Pharisees were sinning that (Christ) now forbade His disciples to offend. Since, then, He had censured their hypocrisy, which covered the secrets of the heart, and obscured with superficial offices the mysteries of unbelief, because (while holding the key of knowledge) it would neither enter in itself, nor permit others to enter in, He therefore adds, |There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hid, which shall not be known,| in order that no one should suppose that He was attempting the revelation and the recognition of an hitherto unknown and hidden god. When He remarks also on their murmurs and taunts, in saying of Him, |This man casteth out devils only through Beelzebub,| He means that all these imputations would come forth to the light of day, and be in the mouths of men in consequence of the promulgation of the Gospel. He then turns to His disciples with these words, |I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them which can only kill the body, and after that have no more power over you.| They will, however, find Isaiah had already said, |See how the just man is taken away, and no man layeth it to heart.| |But I will show you whom ye shall fear: fear Him who, after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell| (meaning, of course, the Creator); |yea, I say unto you, fear Him.| Now, it would here be enough for my purpose that He forbids offence being given to Him whom He orders to be feared; and that He orders Him to be respected whom He forbids to be offended; and that He who gives these commands belongs to that very God for whom He procures this fear, this absence of offence, and this respect. But this conclusion I can draw also from the following words: |For I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before God.| Now they who shall confess Christ will have to be slain before men, but they will have nothing more to suffer after they have been put to death by them. These therefore will be they whom He forewarns above not to be afraid of being only killed; and this forewarning He offers, in order that He might subjoin a clause on the necessity of confessing Him: |Every one that denieth me before men shall be denied before God| -- by Him, of course, who would have confessed him, if he had only confessed God. Now, He who will confess the confessor is the very same God who will also deny the denier of Himself. Again, if it is the confessor who will have nothing to fear after his violent death, it is the denier to whom everything will become fearful after his natural death. Since, therefore, that which will have to be feared after death, even the punishment of hell, belongs to the Creator, the denier, too, belongs to the Creator. As with the denier, however, so with the confessor: if he should deny God, he will plainly have to suffer from God, although from men he had nothing more to suffer after they had put him to death. And so Christ is the Creator's, because He shows that all those who deny Him ought to fear the Creator's hell. After deterring His disciples from denial of Himself, He adds an admonition to fear blasphemy: |Whosoever shall speak against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him.| Now, if both the remission and the retention of sin savour of a judicial God, the Holy Ghost, who is not to be blasphemed, will belong to Him, who will not forgive the blasphemy; just as He who, in the preceding passage, was not to be denied, belonged to, Him who would, after He had killed, also cast into hell. Now, since it is Christ who averts blasphemy from the Creator, I am at a loss to know in what manner His adversary could have come. Else, if by these sayings He throws a black cloud of censure over the severity of Him who will not forgive blasphemy and will kill even to hell, it follows that the very spirit of that rival god may be blasphemed with impunity, and his Christ denied; and that there is no difference, in fact, between worshipping and despising him; but that, as there is no punishment for the contempt, so there is no reward for the worship, which men need expect. When |brought before magistrates,| and examined, He forbids them |to take thought how they shall answer;| |for,| says He, |the Holy Ghost shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say.| If such an injunction as this comes from the Creator, the precept will only be His by whom an example was previously given. The prophet Balaam, in Numbers, when sent forth by king Balak to curse Israel, with whom he was commencing war, was at the same moment filled with the Spirit. Instead of the curse which he was come to pronounce, he uttered the blessing which the Spirit at that very hour inspired him with; having previously declared to the king's messengers, and then to the king himself, that he could only speak forth that which God should put into his mouth. The novel doctrines of the new Christ are such as the Creator's servants initiated long before! But see how clear a difference there is between the example of Moses and of Christ. Moses voluntarily interferes with brothers who were quarrelling, and chides the offender: |Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?| He is, however, rejected by him: |Who made thee a prince or a judge over us?| Christ, on the contrary, when requested by a certain man to compose a strife between him and his brother about dividing an inheritance, refused His assistance, although in so honest a cause. Well, then, my Moses is better than your Christ, aiming as he did at the peace of brethren, and obviating their wrong. But of course the case must be different with Christ, for he is the Christ of the simply good and non-judicial god. |Who,| says he, |made me a judge over you?| No other word of excuse was he able to find, without using that with which the wicked, man and impious brother had rejected the defender of probity and piety! In short, he approved of the excuse, although a bad one, by his use of it; and of the act, although a bad one, by his refusal to make peace between brothers. Or rather, would He not show His resentment at the rejection of Moses with such a word? And therefore did He not wish in a similar case of contentious brothers, to confound them with the recollection of so harsh a word? Clearly so. For He had Himself been present in Moses, who heard such a rejection -- even He, the Spirit of the Creator. I think that we have already, in another passage, sufficiently shown that the glory of riches is condemned by our God, |who putteth down the mighty from their throne, and exalts the poor from the dunghill.| From Him, therefore, will proceed the parable of the rich man, who flattered himself about the increase of his fields, and to Whom God said: |Thou fool, this night shall they require thy soul of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?| It was just in the like manner that the king Hezekiah heard from Isaiah the sad doom of his kingdom, when he gloried, before the envoys of Babylon, in his treasures and the deposits of his precious things.