Matt. 7:13-14 (Part 3)

IRENAEUS: For one is the way leading upwards for all who see, lightened with heavenly light: but many and dark and contrary are the ways of them that do not see. This way leads to the kingdom of heaven, uniting man to God: but those ways bring down to death, separating man from God. Wherefore it is needful for you and for all who care for their own salvation to make your course unswerving, firm and sure by means of faith, that you do not falter, nor be retarded and detained in material desires, nor turn aside and wander from the right.
The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching.

TATIAN: Enter by the narrow gate; for the wide gate and the broad way lead to destruction, and many they be which go therein. How narrow is the gate and straitened the way leading to life! And few be they that find it. The Diatessaron, 9.60.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: David, too, and Moses before David, show the knowledge of the three precepts in the following words: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly;” as the fishes go down to the depths in darkness; for those which do not have scales, which Moses prohibits touching, feed at the bottom of the sea. “Nor stands in the way of sinners,” as those who, while appearing to fear the Lord, commit sin, like the sow, for when hungry it cries, and when full does not know its owner. “Nor sits in the chair of pestilences,” as birds ready for prey. And Moses enjoined not to eat the sow, nor the eagle, nor the hawk, nor the raven, nor any fish without scales. So far Barnabas.  And I heard one skilled in such matters say that “the counsel of the ungodly” was the heathen, and “the way of sinners” the Jewish persuasion, and explain “the chair of pestilence” of heresies. And another said, with more propriety, that the first blessing was assigned to those who had not followed wicked sentiments which revolt from God; the second to those who do not remain in the wide and broad road, whether they be those who have been brought up in the law, or Gentiles who have repented. The Stromata, 2.362.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: They have heard in the commandment that “the broad and wide way leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” The Stromata, 2.415.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: We ought not to gnaw and consume the soul by idleness and by vexation, on account of things which happen against our wishes. Wretched, accordingly, was the man whom Homer also says, wandering alone, “ate his own heart.” But again, seeing the Gospel supposes two ways—the apostles, too, similarly with all the prophets—and seeing they call that one “narrow and confined” which is circumscribed according to the commandments and prohibitions, and the opposite one, which leads to perdition, “broad and roomy,” open to pleasures and wrath, and say, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, and does not stand in the way of sinners.”  The Stromata, 2.451.

TERTULLIAN: Who, when so many incentives to evil were assailing him, would desire that good, which he could despise with impunity? Who, again, would take care of what he could lose without danger? You read how broad is the road to evil, how crowded it is in comparison with the opposite: would not all glide down that road if there were nothing in it to fear? We dread the Creator’s tremendous threats, and yet scarcely turn away from evil. What then, if He did not threaten? Will you call God's justice an evil, when it is all unfavorable to evil? Will you deny it to be a good, when it has its eye towards good? What sort of being ought you to wish God to be? Would it be right to prefer that He should be such, that sins might flourish under Him, and the devil make mock at Him? Would you suppose Him to be a good God, who should be able to make a man worse by security in sin? Who is the author of good, but He who also requires it? In like manner who is a stranger to evil, except Him who is its enemy? Who its enemy, besides Him who is its conqueror? Who else its conqueror, than He who is its punisher? Thus God is wholly good, because in all things He is on the side of good. Against Marcion, 3.307-308.

HIPPOLYTUS: For this, he says, is the gate of heaven; and this a house of God, where the Good Deity dwells alone. And into this gate, he says, no unclean person shall enter, nor one that is natural or carnal; but it is reserved for the spiritual only. And those who come near ought to receive their garments, and become all of them bridegrooms, emasculated through the virginal spirit. For this is the virgin who carries in her womb and conceives and brings forth a son, not animal, not corporeal, but blessed forevermore. Concerning these, it is said, the Savior has expressly declared that “straight and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there are that enter upon it; whereas broad and spacious is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are that pass through it.” The Refutation of All Heresies, 5.56.

HIPPOLYTUS: He who desires to partake of the water in the garden must renounce the broad gate, and enter by the strait and narrow.
Exegetical Fragments, 5.192.

ORIGEN: The book of the Shepherd declares . . . that each individual is attended by two angels; that whenever good thoughts arise in our hearts, they are suggested by the good angel; but when of a contrary kind, they are the instigation of the evil angel. The same is declared by Barnabas in his Epistle, where he says there are two ways, one of light and one of darkness, over which he asserts that certain angels are placed;—the angels of God over the way of light, the angels of Satan over the way of darkness. De Principiis, 4.332.

ORIGEN: He who considers what great evils men on earth are committing daily, and, with nearly all turning aside and having together become useless;  how they are walking down the broad and spacious road which leads to destruction, having disregarded the narrow road which leads to life, despite the fact that God lets his sun rise daily on all of them and serves them with rain;  and if one considers how much blasphemy against God they speak every day and how they stretch out their tongues against heaven;  this person is able to understand the riches of God's goodness. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. 

ORIGEN: But when our Lord and Savior came, he began to condemn their ways and to say, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees!”  and again, “Woe to you who are rich” and again, “Woe to you, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you.”  Moreover, by saying many things like this in his charges against them, he began to block the roads of their destruction and for them he became a stone of stumbling and a rock of scandal by not allowing them to travel the broad road that leads to death. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. 

CYPRIAN: According to Matthew: “How broad and spacious is the way which leads to death, and many there are who go in thereby: how straight and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there are that find it!” The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.534.

LACTANTIUS: There are two ways, O Emperor Constantine, by which human life must proceed—the one which leads to heaven, the other which sinks to hell. . . . We therefore speak better and more truly, who say that the two ways belong to heaven and hell, because immortality is promised to the righteous, and everlasting punishment is threatened to the unrighteous. The Divine Institutes, 7.164.

LACTANTIUS: There are two ways; but the one on the right hand, in which the just walk which leads to heaven, for they become immortal; the other on the left leads to Tartarus,  for the unjust are sentenced to eternal tortures. Therefore the way of justice, which leads to life, is to be held by us. The Epitome of the Divine Institutes, 7.247.

7:14 CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA:“For narrow,” in truth, “and strait is the way” of the Lord. And it is to the “violent that the kingdom of God belongs.”  The Stromata, 2.410.

ORIGEN: Now the way of the Lord is made straight in two fashions. First, in the way of contemplation, when thought is made clear in truth without any mixture of falsehood; and then in the way of conduct, after the sound contemplation of what ought to be done, when action is produced which harmonizes with sound theory of conduct. And that we may the more clearly understand the text, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” it will be well to compare with it what is said in the Proverbs, “Do not depart, either to the right hand or to the left.”  For he who deviates in either direction has given up keeping his path straight, and is no longer worthy of regard, since he has gone apart from the straightness of the journey, for “the Lord is righteous, and loves righteousness, and His face beholds straightness.”  Hence he who is the object of regard, and receives the benefit that comes from this oversight, says, “The light of Your countenance was shown upon us, O Lord.”  Let us stand, then, as Jeremiah exhorts, upon the ways, and let us see and ask after the ancient ways of the Lord, and let us see which is the good way, and walk in it.  Thus did the Apostles stand and ask for the ancient ways of the Lord; they asked the Patriarchs and the Prophets, enquiring into their writings, and when they came to understand these writings they saw the good way, namely, Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the way,”  and they walked in it. For it is a good way that leads the good man to the good father, the man who, from the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things, and who is a good and faithful servant. This way is narrow, indeed, for the many cannot bear to walk in it and are lovers of their flesh; but it is also hard-pressed by those who use violence to walk in it, for it is not called afflicting, but afflicted. Commentary on the Gospel of John, 9.360.

ORIGEN: Now, those who believe in Him are those who walk in the straight and narrow way, which leads to life, and which is found by few. Commentary on the Gospel of John, 9.408.

ORIGEN: “Strive to enter in by the narrow door, for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter in through the narrow door and shall not be able;”  and also that which is written in the Gospel of Matthew thus, “For narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leads to life, and few be they that find it.” Now, if you attend to the saying, “Many, I say to you, shall seek to enter in and shall not be able,”  you will understand that this refers to those who boast that they are of the church, but live weakly and contrary to the word. Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 9.457.

ORIGEN: The Word says that the agreeing of two on the earth is the same thing as the agreeing with Christ. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name.”  Therefore the two or three who are gathered together in the name of Christ are those who are in agreement on earth, not two only but sometimes also three. But he who has the power will consider whether this agreement and a congregation of this sort in the midst of which Christ is, can be found in more, since “narrow and straightened is the way that leads to life, and few be they that find it.” Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 9.494-495.

ORIGEN: “In afflictions” let us unfailingly walk upon the strait and narrow way that we may attain to life. If it is needful, let us also commend ourselves “by scourgings, by imprisonments, by riots, by labors, by watchings, and by fastings.” For behold the Lord is here with his reward in his hand to render to each man according to his works.”  Exhortation to Martyrdom.

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