Matt. 7:1-6 (Part 2)

ORIGEN: What will he suffer, who at first did not hear, but required witnesses, or even refused to hear these, but was brought to the church,34 God knows; for we do not declare it, according to the precept, “Judge not that you be not judged,” “until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” But, with reference to the seeming harshness in the case of those who have committed less sins, one might say that it is not possible for him who has not heard twice in succession to hear the third time, so as, on this account, no longer to be as a Gentile or a publican, or no longer to stand in need of the disapproval in presence of all the church. For we must bear in mind this, “So it is not the will of My Father in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”  For if “we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad,”  let each one with all his power do what he can so that he may not receive punishment for more evil things done in the body, even if he is going to receive back for all the wrongs which he has done; but it should be our ambition to procure the reward for a greater number of good deeds, since “with what measure we mete, it shall be measured to us,” and, “according to the works of our own hands shall it happen unto us.”  Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 9.493.

7:2 JUSTIN MARTYR: For though one should speak ten thousand words well, if there happen to be one little word displeasing to you, because not sufficiently intelligible or accurate, you make no account of the many good words, but lay hold of the little word, and are very zealous in setting it up as something impious and guilty; in order that, when you are judged with the very same judgment by God, you may have a much heavier account to render for your great audacities, whether evil actions, or bad interpretations which you obtain by falsifying the truth. For with what judgment you judge, it is righteous that you be judged all the same. Dialogue with Trypho, A Jew, 1.257.

TERTULLIAN: The Lord Himself demonstrates the manner in which He threatens such as judge: “For with what judgment you judge, judgment shall be given on you.”  Thus He has not prohibited judging, but taught how to do it. From which the apostle judges, and that in a case of fornication, that “such a man must be surrendered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh;” chiding them likewise because “brethren” were not “judged at the bar of the saints:” for he goes on and says, “To what purpose is it for me to judge those who are without?”  On Modesty, 4.76.41

7:3 HIPPOLYTUS: Since the great body of the heretics do not employ the counsel of the Lord, by having the beam in the eye, and announce that they see when in reality laboring under blindness, it seems to us expedient in no wise to be silent concerning the tenets of these.
The Refutation of all Heresies, 5.117.

7:5 IRENAEUS: Therefore, against men of this kind (namely, the heretics) the word of the Lord applies, which says: “You hypocrite, first cast the beam out of your eye, and then you shall see clearly to pull out the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Against Heresies, 1.503.

7:6 THE DIDACHE: Now concerning the Thanksgiving (Eucharist), thus give thanks. First, concerning the cup: “We thank You, our Father, for the holy vine of David Your servant, which You made known to us through Jesus Your Servant; to You be the glory forever.” And concerning the broken bread: “We thank You, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You made known to us through Jesus Your Servant; to You be the glory forever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Your kingdom; for Yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever.” But let no one eat or drink of your Thanksgiving (Eucharist), but they who have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, “Do not give that which is holy to the dogs.” 7.380.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Even now I fear, as it is said, “to cast the pearls before swine, or they will tread them under foot, and turn and rend us.” For it is difficult to exhibit the really pure and transparent words respecting the true light, to swinish and untrained hearers. For scarcely could anything which they could hear be more ludicrous than these to the multitude; nor any subjects on the other hand more admirable or more inspiring to those of noble nature. The Stromata, 2.312-313.

TERTULLIAN: I must not omit an account of the conduct also of the heretics— how frivolous it is, how worldly, how merely human, without seriousness, without authority, without discipline, as suits their creed. To begin with, it is doubtful who is a catechumen, and who a believer; they have all access alike, they hear alike, they pray alike—even heathens, if any such happen to come among them. “That which is holy they will cast to the dogs, and their pearls,” although (to be sure) they are not real ones, “they will fling to the swine.” . . . All are puffed up, all offer you knowledge. Their catechumens are perfect before they are full-taught. The very women of these heretics, how wanton they are! For they are bold enough to teach, to dispute, to enact exorcisms, to undertake cures—it may be even to baptize. Their ordinations, are carelessly administered, capricious, changeable. At one time they put novices in office; at another time, men who are bound to some secular employment; at another, persons who have apostatized from us, to bind them by vainglory, since they cannot by the truth. Nowhere is promotion easier than in the camp of rebels, where the mere fact of being there is a foremost service. And so it comes to pass that today one man is their bishop, tomorrow another; today he is a deacon who tomorrow is a reader; today he is a presbyter who tomorrow is a layman. For even on laymen do they impose the functions of priesthood. The Prescription Against Heretics, 3.263.

TERTULLIAN: But they whose office it is, know that baptism is not rashly to be administered. “Give to every one who begs you,”  has a reference of its own, appertaining especially to almsgiving. On the contrary, this precept is rather to be looked at carefully: “Do not give the holy thing to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine;” and, “Do not lay hands easily on any; do not share other men’s sins.”  If Philip so “easily” baptized the chamberlain, let us reflect that a manifest and conspicuous evidence that the Lord deemed him worthy had been interposed.  The Spirit had enjoined Philip to proceed to that road: the eunuch himself, too, was not found idle, nor as one who was suddenly seized with an eager desire to be baptized; but, after going up to the temple for prayer’s sake, being intently engaged on the divine Scripture, was thus suitably discovered—to whom God had, unasked, sent an apostle, which one, again, the Spirit bade adjoin himself to the chamberlain’s chariot. The Scripture which he was reading falls in opportunely with his faith: Philip, being requested, is taken to sit beside him; the Lord is pointed out; faith does not linger; water needs no waiting for; the work is completed, and the apostle snatched away. “But Paul too was, in fact, ‘speedily’ baptized:” for Simon,  his host, speedily recognized him to be “an appointed vessel of election.”  . . . If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay: sound faith is secure of salvation. On Baptism, 3.677-678.

ORIGEN: The Savior with a knowledge of the difference of pearls, of which some are in kind goodly and others worthless, said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man that is a merchant seeking goodly pearls;”  for, if some of the pearls had not been worthless, it would not have been said, “to a man seeking goodly pearls.” Now among the words of all kinds which profess to announce truth, and among those who report them, he seeks pearls. And let the prophets be, so to speak, the mussels which conceive the dew of heaven, and become pregnant with the word of truth from heaven, the goodly pearls which, according to the phrase here set forth, the merchantman seeks. And the leader of the pearls, on the finding of which the rest are found with it, is the very costly pearl, the Christ of God, the Word which is superior to the precious letters and thoughts in the law and the prophets, on the finding of which also all the rest are easily taken. And the Savior holds converse with all the disciples, as merchant men who are not only seeking the goodly pearls but who have found them and possess them, when He says, “Do not cast your pearls before swine.” Now it is manifest that these things were said to the disciples from that which is prefixed to His words, “And seeing the multitudes He went up into the mountain, and when He had sat down His disciples came to Him;”  for, in the course of those words, He said, “Do not give that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine.” Perhaps, then, he is not a disciple of Christ, who does not possess pearls or the very costly pearl, the pearls, I mean, which are goodly; not the cloudy, nor the darkened, such as the words of the heterodox, which are brought forth not at the sunrise, but at the sunset or in the north, if it is necessary to take also into the comparison those things on account of which we found a difference in the pearls which are produced in different places. And perhaps the muddy words and the heresies which are bound up with works of the flesh, are the darkened pearls, and those which are produced in the marshes, not goodly pearls.
Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 9.417-418

CYPRIAN: I had frequently, Demetrianus, treated with contempt your railing and noisy clamor with sacrilegious mouth and impious words against the one and true God, thinking it more modest and better, silently to scorn the ignorance of a mistaken man, than by speaking to provoke the fury of a senseless one. Neither did I do this without the authority of the divine teaching, since it is written, “Do not speak in the ears of a fool, lest when he hear you he should despise the wisdom of your words;”  and again, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.”51 And we are, moreover, bidden to keep what is holy within our own knowledge, and not expose it to be trodden down by swine and dogs, since the Lord speaks, saying, “Do not give that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, in case they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” For when you often used to come to me with the desire of contradicting rather than with the wish to learn, and preferred impudently to insist on your own views, which you shouted with noisy words, to patiently listening to mine, it seemed to me foolish to contend with you; since it would be an easier and slighter thing to restrain the angry waves of a turbulent sea with shouts, than to check your madness by arguments. Assuredly it would be both a vain and ineffectual labor to offer light to a blind man, discourse to a deaf one, or wisdom to a brute; since neither can a brute apprehend, nor can a blind man admit the light, nor can a deaf man hear. The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.458.

CYPRIAN: In Solomon, in the Proverbs: “Do not say anything in the ears of a foolish man; in case, when he hears it, he may mock at your wise words.” 

Also in the Gospel according to Matthew: “Do not give that which is holy to dogs; neither cast your pearls before the swine, in case perhaps they trample them down with their feet, and turn again and crush you.” The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.546.

ARCHELAUS: “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid in them that are lost.”  You see that it is hid in them that are lost. “For it is not proper to give the holy things to dogs.” And furthermore, is it only the God of the Old Testament that has blinded the minds of them who do not believe? No, has not Jesus Himself also said: “Therefore I speak to them in parables: that seeing, they may not see?”  Is it then because He hated them that He desired them not to see? Or is it not on account of their unworthiness, since they closed their own eyes? For wherever wickedness is a matter self-chosen, there too there is the absence of grace. “For unto him that has shall be given, but from him that does not have shall be taken away even that which he seems to have.”  The Disputation of Archelaus and Manes, 6.234.

METHODIUS: They insult the commandments, accomplishing the will of the spirits of evil, and cast holy things to dogs, and pearls before swine, in the same manner as those of whom the prophet says with indignation, “They read the law to those without;” for the Jews were not to read the law going forth out of the gates of Jerusalem or out of their houses; and for this reason the prophet blames them strongly, and cries that they were liable to condemnation, because, while they were transgressing the commandments, and acting impiously towards God, they were pretentiously reading the law, as if, indeed, they were piously observing its precepts; but they did not receive it in their souls, holding it firmly with faith, but rejected it, denying it by their works.  The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, 6.324.

METHODIUS: “Do not give that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine.” . . . If we must understand by pearls the glorious and divine teachings, and by swine those who are given up to impiety and pleasures, from whom are to be withheld and hidden the apostle’s teachings, which stir men up to piety and faith in Christ, see how you say that no Christians can be converted from their impiety by the teachings of the apostles. For they would never cast the mysteries of Christ to those who, through lack of faith, are like swine. Either, therefore, these things were cast before all the Greeks and other unbelievers, and were preached by the disciples of Christ, and converted them from impiety to the faith of Christ, as we believers certainly confess, and then the words, “Do not cast your pearls before swine,” can no longer mean what has been said; or meaning this, we must say that faith in Christ and deliverance from impiety have been accorded to none of the unbelievers, whom we compare to swine, by the apostolic instructions enlightening their souls like pearls. But this is blasphemous. Therefore the pearls in this place are not to be taken to mean the deepest doctrines, and the swine the impious; nor are we to understand the words, “Do not cast your pearls before swine,” as forbidding us to cast before the impious and unbelieving the deep and sanctifying doctrines of faith in Christ; but we must take the pearls to mean virtues, with which the soul is adorned as with precious pearls; and not to cast them before swine, as meaning that we are not to cast these virtues, such as chastity, temperance, righteousness, and truth, that we are not to cast these to impure pleasures, for these are like swine, lest they, fleeing from the virtues, cause the soul to live a swinish and a vicious life. Extracts from the Work on Things Created. 6.379.

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