Matt. 5:33-37 (Part 2)

JUSTIN MARTYR: And with regard to our not swearing at all, and always speaking the truth, He enjoined as follows: “Do not swear at all; but let your yes be yes, and your no no; for whatsoever is more than these comes of evil.” The First Apology, 1.168.

IRENAEUS: No doubt, if anyone is unwilling to follow the Gospel itself, it is in his power to reject it, but it is not expedient. For it is in man’s power to disobey God, and to forfeit what is good; but such conduct brings no small amount of injury and mischief. And on this account Paul says, “All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient” referring both to the liberty of man, in which respect “all things are lawful,” God exercising no compulsion in regard to him; and by the expression “not expedient” pointing out that we “should not use our liberty as a cloak of maliciousness” for this is not expedient. And again he says, “Every man speak truth with his neighbor.” And, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor vulgarity, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”11 And, “For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord; walk honestly as children of the light, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in anger and jealousy. And such were some of you; but you have been washed, but you have been sanctified in the name of our Lord.” If then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things, and to abstain from others? But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by means of obedience to God. Against Heresies, 1.519.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Whoever sells or buys anything should not name two prices for what he buys or sells; but stating the net price, and studying to speak the truth, if he does not get his price, he gets the truth, and is rich in the possession of righteousness. But, above all, let an oath on account of what is sold be far from you; and let swearing, too, on account of other things be banished. The Instructor, 2.290.

TERTULLIAN: Of false swearing I am silent, since even swearing is not lawful. On Idolatry, 3.67.

TERTULLIAN: [Hypothetically speaking:] Let us grant that it is possible for any one to succeed in moving, in whatsoever public office, under the mere name of the office, neither sacrificing nor lending his authority to sacrifices; not farming out victims; not assigning to others the care of temples; not looking after their tributes; not giving spectacles at his own or the public charge, or presiding over the giving them; making proclamation or edict for no solemnity; not even taking oaths: moreover what comes under the head of power, neither sitting in judgment on any one’s life or character, for you might bear with his judging about money; neither condemning nor fore-condemning; binding no one, imprisoning or torturing no one—if it is credible that all this is possible. On Idolatry, 3.72.

TERTULLIAN: Christ prescribes that there is to be no swearing. On Idolatry, 3.75.

ORIGEN: And with respect to the precepts enjoined in the Gospels, no doubt can be entertained that very many of these are to be literally observed, as, for example, when our Lord says, “But I say to you, do not swear at all.” De Principiis, 4.368.

ORIGEN: When this oath is required of us, let us remember him who taught us: “But I say unto you, Swear not at all.” Exhortation to Martyrdom.

CYPRIAN: You are constrained to curse, which the divine law forbids; you are compelled to swear, which is not lawful.
The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.470.

5:35 IRENAEUS: Concerning Jerusalem and the Lord, they venture to assert that, if it had been “the city of the great King,” it would not have been deserted. This is just as if any one should say, that if straw were a creation of God, it would never part company with the wheat; and that the vine twigs, if made by God, never would be lopped away and deprived of the clusters. But as these vine twigs have not been originally made for their own sake, but for that of the fruit growing upon them, which being come to maturity and taken away, they are left behind, and those which do not conduce to fructification are lopped off altogether; so also it was with Jerusalem, which had in herself borne the yoke of bondage (under which man was reduced, who in former times was not subject to God when death was reigning, and being subdued, became a fit subject for liberty), when the fruit of liberty had come, and reached maturity, and been reaped and stored in the barn, and when those which had the power to produce fruit had been carried away from Jerusalem, and scattered throughout all the world. Even as Isaiah says, “The children of Jacob shall strike root, and Israel shall flourish, and the whole world shall be filled with his fruit.” The fruit, therefore, having been sown throughout all the world, Jerusalem was deservedly forsaken, and those things which had formerly brought forth fruit abundantly were taken away; for from these, according to the flesh, were Christ and the apostles enabled to bring forth fruit. But now these are no longer useful for bringing forth fruit. For all things which have a beginning in time must of course have an end in time also. Against Heresies, 1.465-466.

IRENAEUS: Listen to Him when He says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who made a marriage for his son, and he sent forth his servants to call them who were bidden to the marriage.” And when they would not obey, He goes on to say, “Again he sent other servants, saying, Tell them that are bidden, Come, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and all the fatlings are killed, and everything is ready; come to the wedding. But they made light of it, and went their way, some to their farm, and others to their merchandise; but the remnant took his servants, and some they treated despitefully, while others they slew. But when the king heard this, he was angry, and sent his armies and destroyed these murderers, and burned up their city, and said to his servants, 'The wedding is indeed ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go out therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find, gather in to the marriage.' So the servants went out, and collected together as many as they found, bad and good, and the wedding was furnished with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man not having on a wedding garment; and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here, not having on a wedding garment?' But he was speechless. Then the king said to his servants, 'Take him away, hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Now, by these words of His, does the Lord clearly show that there is one King and Lord, the Father of all, of whom He had previously said, “Do not swear by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King;” and that He had from the beginning prepared the marriage for His Son, and used, with the utmost kindness, to call, by the instrumentality of His servants, the men of the former dispensation to the wedding feast; and when they would not obey, He still invited them by sending out other servants, yet that even then they did not obey Him, but even stoned and slew those who brought them the message of invitation. He accordingly sent forth His armies and destroyed them, and burned down their city; but He called together from all the highways, that is, from all nations, guests to the marriage feast of His Son. Against Heresies, 1.516-517.

5:36 CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: The more, then, a man endures to the end, the more truly venerable is he, having God alone as his senior, since He is the eternal aged One, He who is older than all things. Prophecy has called him the “Ancient of days; and the hair of His head was as pure wool,” says the prophet. “And none other,” says the Lord, “can make the hair white or black.” The Instructor, 2.275.

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