A Sacred Vow (The Holy Ones Book 1)
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Having therefore the power of loosing, know thyself, and behave thyself in this world as becomes thy place, being aware that thou hast a great account to give. For their blemishes are to us both security and admonition, because we hence learn, when we have offended, that if we repent we shall have pardon. For it is written: "Who can boast that he has a clean heart? Do thou therefore labour to the utmost of thy power to be unblameable; and be solicitous of l all the parts of thy flock, lest any one be scandalized on thy account, and thereby perish. For the layman is solicitous only for himself, but thou for all, as having a greater burden, and carrying a heavier load.
For it is written: "And the Lord said unto Moses, Thou and Aaron shall bear the sins of the priesthood. Preserve those that are sound, admonish those that sin; and when thou hast afflicted them with fasting, give them ease by remission; and when with tears the offender begs readmission, receive him, and let the whole Church pray for him; and when by imposition of thy hand thou hast admitted him, give him leave to abide afterwards in the flock.
But for the drowsy and the careless, do thou endeavour to convert and confirm, and warn and cure them, as sensible how great a reward thou shalt have for doing so, and how great danger thou wilt incur if thou beest negligent therein. For Ezekiel speaks thus to those overseers who take no care of the people: "Woe unto the shepherds of lsrael, for they have fed themselves; the shepherds feed not the sheep, but themselves.
Ye eat the milk, and are clothed with the wool; ye slay the strong, ye do not feed the sheep. The weak have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but, violently ye chastised them with insult: and they, were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and they became meat to all the beasts of the forest. Seemed it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, and to have trodden down with your feet the residue of your pasture, and that the sheep have eaten what was trodden down with your feet?
Hear, O ye bishops; and hear, O ye of; the laity, how God speaks: "I will judge between ram and ram, and between sheep and sheep. For as that sheep that will not follow its good shepherd is exposed to the wolves, to its destruction; so that which follows a bad shepherd is also exposed to unavoidable death, since his shepherd will devour him.
Wherefore care must be had to avoid destructive shepherds. As to a good shepherd, let the lay person honour him, love him, reverence him as his lord, as his master, as the high priest of God, as a teacher of piety. For he that heareth him, heareth Christ; and he that rejecteth him, rejecteth Christ; and he who does not receive Christ, does not receive His God and Father: for, says He, "He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that rejecteth you, rejecteth me; and he that rejecteth me, rejecteth Him that sent me.
Bring again that which is driven away, that is, do not permit that which is in its sins, and is cast out by way of punishment, to continue excluded; but receiving it, and bringing it back, restore it to the flock, that is, to the people of the undefiled Church. Seek for that which is lost, that is, do not suffer that which desponds of its salvation, by reason of the multitude of its offences, utterly to perish.
Do thou search for that which is grown sleepy, drowsy, and sluggish, and that which is unmindful of its own life, through the depth of its sleep, and which is at a great distance from its own flock, so as to be in danger of falling among the wolves, and being devoured by them.
Bring it back by admonition, exhort it to be watchful; and insinuate hope, not permitting it to say that which was said by some: "Our impieties are upon us, and we pine away in them; how shall we then live? For "the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep; but he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, that is, the devil, and he leaveth the sheep, and fleeth, and the wolf seizes upon them. But he who has offended, and is unacquainted with this promise of God concerning repentance, and does not understand His long-suffering and forbearance, and besides is ignorant of the Holy Scriptures, which proclaim repentance, inasmuch as he has never learned them from you, perishes through his folly.
But do thou, like a compassionate shepherd, and a diligent feeder of the flock, search out, and keep an account of thy flock. Seek that which is wanting; 3 as the Lord God our gracious Father has sent His own Son, the good Shepherd and Saviour, our Master Jesus, and has commanded Him to "leave the ninety-nine upon the mountains, and to go in search after that which was lost, and when He had found it, to take it upon His shoulders, and to carry it into the flock, rejoicing that He had found that which was lost.
For by thee does our Saviour say to him who is discouraged under the sense of his sins, "Thy sins are forgiven thee: thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS OF CHRISTIANITY
As a skilful and compassionate physician, heal all such as have wandered in the ways of sin; for "they that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. For the Son of man came to save and to seek that which was lost. Cure them, heal them by all means possible; restore them sound to the Church. Feed the flock, "not with insolence and contempt, as lording it over them," 7 but as a gentle shepherd, "gathering the lambs into thy bosom, and gently leading those which are with young. Be gentle, gracious, mild, without guile, without falsehood; not rigid, not insolent, not severe, not arrogant, not unmerciful, not puffed up, not a man-pleaser, not timorous, not double-minded, not one that insults over the people that are under thee, not one that conceals the divine laws and the promises to repentance, not hasty in thrusting out and expelling, but steady, not one that delights in severity, not heady.
Do not admit less evidence to convict any one than that of three witnesses, and those of known and established reputation; inquire whether they do not accuse out of ill-will or envy: for there are many that delight in mischief, forward in discourse, slanderous, haters of the brethren, making it their business to scatter the sheep of Christ; whose affirmation if thou admittest without nice scanning the same, thou wilt disperse thy flock, and betray it to be devoured by wolves, that is, by demons and wicked men, or rather not men, but wild beasts in the shape of men--by the heathen, by the Jews, and by the atheistic heretics.
For those destroying wolves soon address themselves to any one that is cast out of the Church, and esteem him as a lamb delivered for them to devour, reckoning his destruction their own gain. For he that is "their father, the devil, is a murderer. For of such as these speaks the divine Scripture: "Their feet run to mischief; they are hasty to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known. The fear of God is not before their eyes.
Give, and it shall be given to you;" 2 that is, give remission of sins, and your offences shall be forgiven you. As also He instructed us by His prayer to say unto God: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Do not you rather bind yourselves faster, by pretending in your prayers to forgive, when you really do not forgive? Will you not be confronted with your own words, when you say you forgive and do not forgive?
For know ye, that he who casts out one who has not behaved himself wickedly, or who will not receive him that returns, is a murderer of his brother, and sheds his blood, as Cain did that of his brother Abel, and his "blood cries to God," 4 and will be required. For a righteous man unjustly slain by any one will be in rest with God for ever.
The same is the case of him who without cause is separated by his bishop. He who has cast him out as a pestilent fellow when he was innocent, is more furious than a murderer. Such a one has no regard to the mercy of God, nor is mindful of His goodness to those that are penitent, nor keeping in his eye the examples of those who, having been once great offenders, received forgiveness upon their repentance. Upon which account, he who casts off an innocent person is more cruel than he that murders the body.
In like manner, he who does not receive the penitent, scatters the flock of Christ, being really against Him. For as God is just in judging of sinners, so is He merciful in receiving them when they return. For David, the man after God's own heart, in his hymns ascribes both mercy and judgment to Him. It is also thy duty, O bishop, to have before thine eyes the examples of those that have gone before, and to apply them skilfully to the cases of those who want words of severity or of consolation. Besides, it is reasonable that in thy administration of justice thou shouldest follow the will of God; and as God deals with sinners, and with those who return, that thou shouldest act accordingly in thy judging.
Now, did not God by Nathan reproach David for his offence? And yet as soon as he said he repented, He delivered him from death, saying, "Be of good cheer; thou shalt not die. And when Hezekiah had been puffed up for a while, yet, as soon as he prayed with lamentation, He remitted his offence. But, O ye bishops, hearken to an instance useful upon this occasion. For it is written thus in the fourth book of Kings and the second book of Chronicles: "And Hezekiah died; and Manasseh his son reigned.
He was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Hephzibah. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord: he did not abstain from the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord destroyed from the face of the children of Israel. And Manasseh returned and built the high places which Hezekiah his father had overthrown; and he reared pillars for Baal, and set up an altar for Baal, and made groves, as did Ahab king of Israel.
And he made altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord spake to David and to Solomon his son, saying, Therein will I put my name. And Manas-seh set up altars, and by them served Baal, and said, My name shall continue for ever. And he sinned exceedingly in the eyes of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. And he set a molten and a graven image, the image of his grove, which he made in the house of the Lord, wherein the Lord had chosen to put His name in Jerusalem, the holy city, for ever, and had said, I will no more remove my foot from the land of Israel, which I gave to their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the precepts that my servant Moses commanded them.
And they hearkened not. And Manasseh seduced them to do more evil before the Lord than did the nations whom the Lord cast out from the face of the children of Israel. And the Lord spake concerning Manasseh and concerning His people by the hand of His servants the prophets, saying, Because Manasseh king of Judah has done all these wicked abominations in a higher degree than the Amorite did which was before him, and hath made Judah to sin with his idols, thus saith the Lord God of lsrael, Behold, I bring evils upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of them, both his ears shall tingle.
And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab; and I will blot out Jerusalem as a table-book is blotted out by wiping it. And I will turn it upside down; and I will give up the remnant of my inheritance, and will deliver them into the hands of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, because of all the evils which they have done in mine eyes, and have provoked me to anger from the day that I brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt even until this day. Moreover, Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, beside his sins wherewith he made Judah to sin in doing evil in the sight of the Lord.
And the Lord brought upon him the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, and they caught Manasseh in bonds, and they bound him in fetters of brass, and brought him to Babylon; and he was bound and shackled with iron all over in the house of the prison. And bread made of bran was given unto him scantily, and by weight, and water mixed with vinegar but a little and by measure, so much as would keep him alive; and he was in straits and sore affliction.
And when he was violently afflicted, he besought the face of the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the face of the Lord God of his fathers. And he prayed unto the Lord, saying, O Lord, almighty God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of their righteous seed, who hast made heaven and earth, with all the ornament thereof, who hast bound the sea by the word of Thy commandment, who hast shut up the deep, and sealed it by Thy terrible and glorious name, whom all men fear and tremble before Thy power; for the majesty of Thy glory cannot be borne, and Thine angry threatening towards sinners is insupportable.
But Thy merciful promise is unmeasurable and unsearchable; for Thou art the most high Lord, 1 of great compassion, long-suffering, very merciful, and repentest of the evils of men. Thou, O Lord, according to Thy great goodness, hast promised repentance and forgiveness to them that have sinned against Thee, and of Thine infinite mercy hast appointed repentance unto sinners, that they may be saved. Thou therefore, O Lord, that art the God of the just, has not appointed repentance to the just as to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, which have not sinned against Thee; but Thou hast appointed repentance unto me that am a sinner: for I have sinned above the number of the sands of the sea.
My transgressions, O Lord, are multiplied; my transgressions are multiplied, and I am not worthy to behold and see the height of heaven for the multitude of mine iniquity. I am bowed down with many iron bands; for I have provoked Thy wrath, and done evil before Thee, setting up abominations, and multiplying offences. Now, therefore, I bow the knee of mine heart, beseeching Thee of grace. I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I acknowledge mine iniquities; wherefore I humbly beseech Thee, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me, and destroy me not with mine iniquities.
Be not angry with me for ever, by reserving evil for me; neither condemn me into the lower part of the earth. For Thou art the God, even the God of them that repent, and in me Thou wilt show Thy goodness; for Thou wilt save me that am unworthy, according to Thy great mercy. Therefore I will praise Thee for ever all the days of my life; for all the powers of the heavens do praise Thee, and Thine is the glory for ever and ever.
And the Lord heard his voice, and had compassion upon him. And there appeared a flame of fire about him, and all the iron shackles and chains which were about him fell off; and the Lord healed Manasseh from his affliction, and brought him back to Jerusalem unto his kingdom: and Manasseh knew that the Lord He is God alone.
And he worshipped the Lord God alone with all his heart, and with all his soul, all the days of his life; and he was esteemed righteous. And he took away the strange gods and the graven image out of the house of the Lord, and all the altars which he had built in the house of the Lord, and all the altars in Jerusalem, and he cast them out of the city. And he repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon peace-offerings and thank-offerings.
And he slept in peace with his fathers; and Amon his son reigned in his stead. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord according to all things that Manasseh his father had done in the former part of his reign. And he provoked the Lord his God to anger. Ye have heard, our beloved children, how the Lord God for a while punished him that was addicted to idols, and had slain many innocent persons; and yet that He received him when he repented, and forgave him his offences, and restored him to his kingdom.
For He not only forgives the penitent, but reinstates them in their former dignity. There is no sin more grievous than idolatry, for it is an impiety against God: and yet even this sin has been forgiven, upon sincere repentance. But if any one sin in direct opposition, and on purpose to try whether God will punish the wicked or not, such a one shall have no remission, although he say with himself, "All is well, and I will walk according to the conversation of my evil heart. For the Scripture says: "And Amon reasoned an evil reasoning of transgression, and said, My father from his childhood was a great transgressor, and repented in his old age; and now I will walk as my soul lusteth, and afterwards I will return unto the Lord.
And he did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And the Lord God soon destroyed him utterly from His good land. And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house, and he reigned two years only. Take heed, therefore, ye of the laity, lest any one of you fix the reasoning of Amon in his heart, and be suddenly cut off, and perish. In the same manner, let the bishop take all the care he can that those which are vet innocent may not fall into sin; and let him heal and receive those which turn from their sins.
But if he is pitiless, and will not receive the repenting sinner, he will sin against the Lord his God, pretending to be more just than God's justice, and not receiving him whom He has received, through Christ; for whose sake He sent His Son upon earth to men, as a man; for whose sake God was pleased that He, who was the Maker of man and woman, should be born of a woman; for whose sake He did not spare Him from the cross, from death, and burial, but permitted Him to die, who by nature could not suffer, His beloved Son, God the Word, the Angel of His great council, that he might deliver those from death who were obnoxious to death.
Him do those provoke to anger who do not receive the penitent. For He was not ashamed of me, Matthew, who had been formerly a publican; and admitted of Peter, when he had through fear denied Him three times, but had appeased Him by repentance, and had wept bitterly; nay, He made him a shepherd to His own lambs. Moreover, He ordained Paul, our fellow-apostle, to be of a persecutor an apostle, and declared him a chosen vessel, even when he had heaped many mischiefs upon us before, and had blasphemed His sacred name.
He says also to another, a woman that was a sinner: "Thy sins, which are many, are forgiven, for thou lovest much. Let the bishop esteem such food and raiment sufficient as suits necessity and decency. Let him not make use of the Lord's goods as another's, but moderately; "for the labourer is worthy of his reward. Let him use those tenths and first-fruits, which are given according to the command of God, as a man of God; as also let him dispense in a right manner the free-will offerings which are brought in on account of the poor, to the orphans, the widows, the afflicted, and strangers in distress, as having that God for the examiner of his accounts who has committed the disposition to him.
Distribute to all those in want with righteousness, and yourselves use the things which belong to the Lord, but do not abuse them; eating of them, but not eating them all up by yourselves: communicate with those that are in want, and thereby show yourselves unblameable before God.
For if you shall consume them by yourselves, you will be reproached by God, who says to such unsatiable people, who alone devour all, "Ye eat up the milk, and clothe yourselves with the wool;" 1 and in another passage, "Must you alone live upon the earth? As, therefore, the ox that labours in the threshing-floor without a muzzle eats indeed, but does not eat all up; so do you who labour in the threshing-floor, that is, in the Church eat of the Church: which was also the case of the Levites, who served in the tabernacle of the testimony, which was in all things a type of the Church.
Nay, further, its very name implied that that tabernacle was fore-appointed for a testimony of the Church. Here, therefore, the Levites also, who attended upon the tabernacle partook of those things that were offered to God by all the people,--namely, gifts, offerings, and first-fruits, and tithes, and sacrifices, and oblations, without disturbance, they and their wives, and their sons and their daughters.
A Vow of Thorns (Blackest Gold, #3) by R. Scarlett
Since their employment was the ministration to the tabernacle, therefore they had not any lot or inheritance in the land among the children of lsrael, because the oblations of the people were the lot of Levi, and the inheritance of their tribe. You, therefore, O bishops, are to your people priests and Levites, ministering to the holy tabernacle, the holy Catholic Church; who stand at the altar of the Lord your God, and offer to Him reasonable and unbloody sacrifices through Jesus the great High Priest.
You are to the laity prophets, rulers, governors, and kings; the mediators between God and His faithful people, who receive and declare His word, well acquainted with the Scriptures. Ye are the voice of and witnesses of His will, who bear the sins of all, and intercede for all; whom, as you have heard, the word severely threatens if you hide the key of knowledge from men, who are liable to perdition if you do not declare His will to the people that are under you; who shall have a certain reward from God, and unspeakable honour and glory, if you duly minister to the holy tabernacle.
For as yours is the burden, so you receive as your fruit the supply of food and other. For you imitate Christ the Lord; and as He "bare the sins of us all upon the tree" at His crucifixion, the innocent for those who deserved punishment, so also you ought to make the sins of the people your own.
For concerning our Saviour it is said in Isaiah, "He bears our sins, and is afflicted for us. As, therefore, He is concerned for all, so be you for the laity under you. For do not thou imagine that the office of a bishop is an easy or light burden. As, therefore, you bear the weight, so have you a right to partake of the fruits before others, and to impart to those that are in want, as being to give an account to Him, who without bias will examine your accounts. For those who attend upon the Church ought to be maintained by the Church, as being priests, Levites, presidents, and ministers of God; as it is written in the book of Numbers concerning the priests: "And the Lord said unto Aaron, Thou, and thy sons, and the house of thy family, shall bear the iniquities of the holy things of priesthood.
This shall be yours out of the holy things, out of the oblations, and out of the gifts, and out of all the sacrifices, and out of every trespass-offering, and sin-offerings; and all that they render unto me out of all their holy things, they shall belong to thee, and to thy sons: in the sanctuary shall they eat them.
Passages for Further Study
Every first-born of man and of beast, clean and unclean, and of sacrifice, with the breast, and the right shoulder, all these appertain to the priests, and to the rest of those belonging to them, even to the Levites. Hear this, you of the laity also, the elect Church of God. For the people were formerly called "the people of God," 10 and "an holy nation. Hear attentively now what was said formerly: oblations and tithes belong to Christ our High Priest, and to those who minister to Him. Tenths of salvation are the first letter of the name of Jesus.
Hear, O thou Holy Catholic Church, who hast escaped the ten plagues, and hast received the ten commandments, and hast learned the law, and hast kept the faith, and hast believed in Jesus, and hast known the decad, and hast believed in the iota which is the first letter of the name of Jesus, 1 and art named after His name, and art established, and shinest in the consummation of His glory. Those which were then the sacrifices now are prayers, and intercessions, and thanksgivings. Those which were then first-fruits, and tithes, and offerings, and gifts, now are oblations, which are presented by holy bishops to the Lord God, through Jesus Christ, who has died for them.
For these are your high priests, as the presbyters are your priests, and your present deacons instead of your Levites; as are also your readers, your singers, your porters, your deaconesses, your widows, your virgins, and your orphans: but He who is above all these is the High Priest.
The bishop, he is the minister of the word, the keeper of knowledge, the medieator between God trod you in the several parts of your divine worship. He is the teacher of piety; and, next after God, he is your father, who has begotten you again to the adoption of sons by water and the Spirit. He is your ruler and governor; he is your king and potentate; he is, next after God, your earthly god, who has a right to be honoured by you. For concerning him, arid such as he, it is that God pronounces, "I have said, Ye are gods; and ye are all children of the Most High.
But let the deacon minister to him, as Christ does to His Father; 4 and let him serve him unblameably in all things, as Christ does nothing of Himself, but does always those things that please His Father. Let also the deaconess be honoured by you in the place of the Holy Ghost, and not do or say anything without the deacon; as neither does the Comforter say or do anything of Himself, but gives glory to Christ by waiting for His pleasure. And as we cannot believe on Christ without the teaching of the Spirit, so let not any woman address herself to the deacon or bishop without the deaconess.
Let the presbyters be esteemed by you to represent us the apostles, and let them be the teachers of divine knowledge; since our Lord, when He sent us, said, "Go ye, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. As, therefore, it was not lawful for one of another tribe, that was not a Levite, to offer anything, or to approach the altar without the priest, so also do you do nothing without the bishop; 6 for if any one does anything without the bishop, he does it to no purpose.
For it will not be esteemed as of any avail to him. For as Saul, when he had offered without Samuel, was told, "It will not avail for thee;" 7 so every person among the laity, doing anything without the priest, labours in vain. And as Uzziah the king, 8 who was not a priest, and yet would exercise the functions of the priests, was smitten with leprosy for his transgression; so every lay person shall not be unpunished who despises God, and is so mad as to affront His priests, and unjustly to snatch that honour to himself: not imitating Christ, "who glorified not Himself to be made an high priest;" 9 but waited till He heard from His Father, "The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.
Were not the followers of Corah, even though they were of the tribe of Levi, consumed with fire, because they rose up against Moses and Aaron, and meddled with such things as did not belong to them? And Dathan and Abiram went down quick into hell; and the rod that budded put a stop to the readiness of the multitude, and demonstrated who was the high priest ordained by God. For he knows who they are that are in affliction, and gives to every one as is convenient, that so one may not receive alms twice or oftener the same day, or the same week, while another has nothing at all.
For it is reasonable rather to supply the wants of those who really are in distress, than of those who only appear to be so. If any determine to invite eider women to an entertainment of love, or a feast, as our Saviour calls it, 1 let them most frequently send to such a one whom the deacons know to be in distress. But let what is the pastor's due, I mean the first-fruits, 2 be set apart in the feast for him, even though he be not at the entertainment, as being your priest, and in honour of that God who has entrusted him with the priesthood.
But as much as is given to every one of the eider women, let double so much be given to the deacons, in honour of Christ. Let also a double portion be set apart for the presbyters, as for such who labour continually about the word and doctrine, upon the account of the apostles of our Lord, whose place they sustain, as the counsellors of the bishop and the crown of the Church.
For they are the Sanhedrim and senate of the Church. If there be a reader there, let him receive a single portion, in honour of the prophets, and let the singer and the porter have as much. Let the laity, therefore, pay proper honours in their presents, and utmost marks of respect to each distinct order. But let them not on all occasions trouble their governor, but let them signify their desires by those who minister to him, that is, by the deacons, with whom they may be more free.
For neither may we address ourselves to Almighty God, but only by Christ. In the same manner, therefore, let the laity make known all their desires to the bishop by the deacon, and accordingly let them act as he shall direct them. For there was no holy thing offered or done in the temple formerly without the priest. And whatsoever he commands them, that they do, and without him they do nothing; and they honour him, their pretended priest, and esteem his name as venerable in honour of lifeless statues, and in order to the worship of wicked spirits.
If these heathens, therefore, who give glory to lying vanities, and place their hope upon nothing that is firm, endeavour to imitate the sacred rules, how much more reasonable is it that you, who have a most certain faith and undoubted hope, and who expect glorious, and eternal, and never-failing promises, should honour the Lord God in those set over you, and esteem your bishop to be the mouth of God! For if Aaron, because he declared to Pharaoh the words of God from Moses, is called a prophet; and Moses himself is called a god to Pharaoh, on account of his being at once a king and a high priest, as God says to him, "I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet;" 4 why do not ye also esteem the mediators of the word to be prophets, and reverence them as gods?
For now the deacon is to you Aaron, and the bishop Moses. If, therefore, Moses was called a god by the Lord, let the bishop be honoured among you as a god, and the deacon as his prophet. For as Christ does nothing without His Father, so neither does the deacon do anything without his bishop; and as the Son without His Father is nothing, so is the deacon nothing without his bishop; and as the Son is subject to His Father, so is every deacon subject to his bishop; and as the Son is the messenger and prophet of the Father, so is the deacon the messenger and prophet of his bishop.
Wherefore let all things that he is to do with any one be made known to the bishop, and be finally ordered by him. Let him not do anything at all without his bishop, nor give anything without his consent. For if he gives to any one as to a person in distress without the bishop's knowledge, he gives it so that it must tend to the reproach of the bishop, and he accuses him as careless of the distressed. But he that casts reproach on his bishop, either by word or deed, opposes God, not hearkening to what He says: "Thou shalt not speak evil of the gods.
If therefore, O deacon, thou knowest any one to be in distress, put the bishop in mind of him, and so give to him; but do nothing in a clandestine way, so as may tend to his reproach, lest thou raise a murmur against him; for the murmur will not be against him, but against the Lord God: and the deacon, with the rest, will hear what Aaron and Miriam heard, when they spake against Moses: "How is it that ye were not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
Acknowledge, O son, that right hand which was a mother to thee. Love him who, after God, is become a father to thee, and honour him. For if the divine oracle says, concerning our parents according to the flesh, "Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee;" 7 and, "He that curseth his father or his mother, let him die the death;" 8 how much more should the word exhort you to honour your spiritual parents, and to love them as your benefactors and ambassadors with God, who have regenerated you by water, and endued you with the fulness of the Holy Spirit, who have fed you with the word as with milk, who have nourished yon with doctrine, who have confirmed you by their admonitions, who have imparted to you the saving body and precious blood of Christ, who have loosed you from your sins, who have made you partakers of the holy and sacred eucharist, who have admitted you to be partakers and fellow-heirs of the promise of God!
Reverence these, and honour them with all kinds of honour; for they have obtained from God the power of life and death, in their judging of sinners, and condemning them to the death of eternal fire, as also of loosing returning sinners from their sins, and of restoring them to a new life. Account these worthy to be esteemed your rulers and your kings, and bring them tribute as to kings; for by you they and their families ought to be maintained. As Samuel made constitutions for the people concerning a king, 9 in the first book of Kings, and Moses did so concerning priests in Leviticus, so do we also make constitutions for you concerning bishops.
For if there the multitude distributed the inferior services in proportion to so great a king, ought not therefore the bishop much more now to receive of you those things which are determined by God for the sustenance of himself and of the rest of the clergy belonging to him? Regulations appropriate to each are then specified. The reason for the delay in making the offering was that the offerer was not able, at that moment to make the offering. The vow was made, promising to offer something to God if God would intervene on behalf of the individual, making the offering possible. In many instances, the vow was made in a time of great danger or need.
The Rabbis believed that the gifts which were vowed in Leviticus 27 were to be used for the maintenance of the Temple. Numerous examples of vows similar to those of Leviticus 27 can be found in the Bible. Jacob vowed to pay a tithe if God would bless and keep him Gen. The Nazarite vow is defined in Numbers chapter 6 and Samson Judg. When the Israelites fought the Canaanite king of Arad, they vowed to utterly destroy their cities if God gave them victory Num.
The most tragic vow is that of Jephthah, who vowed to offer to God the first thing to come from his tent to greet him, which proved to be his only daughter Judges Hannah vowed that if God gave her a son she would give him to the Lord all his life 1 Sam. Vows were also made by the heathen Jonah In the New Testament, we find that Paul continued to make vows and fulfill them Acts ; cf.
The vows of Leviticus chapter 27 were voluntary promises to offer a particular gift to God. Specifically in mind in our text are those vows which God knew men did not wish to keep. God anticipates that the vows which are made at one moment in time may be regretted later, and thus the offerer will attempt, in one way or another, to renege on them, to replace one offering for another, or to somehow reduce what was offered. Time will not permit a detailed analysis of each section of the chapter, but it is important to get a feel of some of the particular regulations which are laid down in this chapter.
We will therefore briefly survey each section of the text. Persons and well as property could be devoted to God, thus the first section of the chapter deals with the various categories of persons who might be vowed as an offering to God. It is assumed that these persons would either serve in ministry related to the tabernacle, or would at least serve the priests working the fields which might be dedicated?
Some commentators assume that the persons dedicated would not be given, but rather their worth would be donated as cash. I do not see it this way. I understand that the value of such persons is to be determined by the category into which they fall, corresponding to their age and sex. There is therefore no demeaning of women here, or of the young or elderly, but only a recognition of what value this person had in the market place. The value that is set on each person seems to be the price which would have to be paid to redeem that person.
The price was high enough that no additional penalty needed to be assessed. Verses lay down regulations regarding the gift of animals, both the clean animals, which could be offered to God vv. No animal which could be an offering could be redeemed, nor could it be exchanged for another. I can imagine a man changing his mind and wanting to offer a less valuable animal in place of the more desirable one.
To preclude this from happening, if a substitution were made, both animals are now holy, and will be used for sacrifices. Unclean animals, animals which could not be offered as a sacrifice, could be redeemed. It is not stated as such, but the house which is given here may be that which is not a part of the family estate, but another piece of property, which would not revert to the owner in the year of jubilee. One might also dedicate a portion of his family inheritance, that property which would revert to the owner or his heirs in the year of jubilee.
The value of this property was to be determined by the amount of seed it took to plant the field. To redeem the field, the donor would be required to pay 50 shekels of silver for every homer of barley seed required for planting. It would seem that this was 50 shekels for the 50 years till jubilee, and thus one shekel per year, per homer of barley seed used.
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If the man who dedicated this field attempts to negate his vow by selling this property to another apparently without the knowledge of the purchaser , the property would then revert to the Lord in the jubilee, and not to the original owner who devoted it to God by a vow. The property would then become the possession of the priest.
enter A man might purchase the fields of a fellow-Israelite and then devote these to God as an offering. If so, the priest would determine the value of this property, taking into account the number of years till the jubilee. When the year of jubilee arrived, the land would revert to its original owner and not to the donor v. No doubt some devious Israelite may have tried to pay off his debt to the Lord according to some other monetary standard, which was of a lesser value.
The shekel was to be twenty gerahs. No room for monetary manipulation here.
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Not only might some be tempted to pay their obligation to the Lord with money of a lesser value, but some would even be so bold as to devote something to God by a vow which was already His. These prohibited gifts are enumerated in the final verses of the chapter. The first born among the animals already belonged to God cf.
The person who was under the ban could not be redeemed, but must be put to death. The tithes which already belonged to the Lord could not be dedicated to the Lord as a vow, either vv. The tithe of the flock, however, could not be redeemed, and the selection of the tenth animal must not in any way be manipulated. To attempt to exchange an animal in place of the 10th animal constituted both animals to be an offering to the Lord. It is very clear in this chapter and from the context of Leviticus as a whole that the offerings which are vowed here are purely voluntary.
The vow-gifts are always set apart from the gifts which the Israelites were obligated to give their God. Not in Leviticus, nor elsewhere in the Bible, do we find any detailed instructions concerning the making of such vows other than the exhortation to make all vows cautiously and thoughtfully and then to keep them. This seems to be because vow-making was so common in the ancient Near East that this was unnecessary.
The regulations found in Leviticus 27 are those required by the breaking of vows. The values of each offering were precisely determined and the penalties for redeeming the offering were given so that an Israelite would know if he could renege on his vow and, if so, how he was to go about it primarily this involved how much he was to pay in penalties. In some instances, what was vowed could not be redeemed, and when it could be redeemed, the offerer would do so at a high price.
In instances where the Israelite would try to illegitimately avoid the penalty by substituting offerings, he would lose not only his offering, but the substitute as well. The regulations of Leviticus 27 assume that the Israelite who has vowed to make a certain freewill offering to God will very likely cool in his enthusiasm and will therefore attempt to break his vow or to lower the price or the quality of his offering. None of the regulations of chapter 27 would have been necessary if it were not for the fall of man and for his sin, which dampened his enthusiasm, minimized his generosity, and hindered his worship.
There are many Old Testament texts dealing with vows. It may have been a vow made sincerely at the time, but then was forgotten, regretted, or for some reason not fulfilled. It may even have been a vow which was never intended to be kept, even when it was made. In addition to warning against the making of false vows, the Old Testament was understood to teach that a vow which was made should be kept.
These words, repeated by our Lord, were merely a repetition of what the Old Testament had taught:. However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it, for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?
For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God Ecc.
While the teaching of Leviticus is consistent with that of the Old Testament as a whole, it makes some unique contributions. There are three principle lessons to be learned from the legislation of Leviticus 27, which set this chapter apart in its emphasis and methods. Let us consider each of these. Leviticus 27 teaches men to be cautious about the vows they make, but in a different way than elsewhere. There are three principle ways in which the people of God are cautioned about making vows hastily, and without due consideration.
First, there is the method of teaching. In the Law there are clear statements of warning and instruction about hasty vows, as we see above. Second, one can use examples and illustrations to teach. The Old Testament gives us several examples of men who made foolish vows, the most notable example being Jephthah, who vowed so generally that his daughter became the offering to the Lord Judg.
Thirdly, you can teach men to do what is right by making disobedience painful and costly. In Leviticus 27 the Israelites are taught the folly of hasty commitments by specifying that some vows cannot be reversed, and that in those cases which can be redemption of that which was vowed will be costly. Our government has learned that the most powerful and persuasive means of modifying the conduct of other nations is that of economic sanctions. Then, not willing that the upper world should be inactive, He saw fit to fill it with spirits, in order that no region should remain in immobility and inertia; and in the accomplishment of His work He used His sacred art.
For, taking of Himself such essence as was necessary, and mingling with it an intellectual flame, He combined with these other materials by unknown ways. And having achieved by secret formulas the union of these principles, He endowed with motion the universal combination. Gradually, in the midst of the protoplasm, glittered a substance more subtle, purer, more limpid, than the elements from which it was generated. It was transparent, and the Artist alone perceived it. Soon, it attained its perfection, being neither melted by the fire, nor chilled by the breath, but possessing the stability of a special combination, and having its proper type and constitution.
He bestowed on it a happy name, and, according to the similitude of its energies, He called it Self-Consciousness. Of this product he formed myriads of Souls, employing the choicest part of the mixture for the end which He had in view, proceeding with order and measure, according to His knowledge and His reason.
The souls were not necessarily different, but the choicest part, animated by the Divine motion, was not identical with the rest. The first layer was superior to the second, more perfect and pure; the second, inferior truly to the first, was superior to the third; and thus, until sixty degrees, was completed the total number. Only, God established this law, that all equally should be eternal, being of one essence, whose forms He alone determines.
He traced the limits of their sojourn on the heights. Then, having summoned to these splendid regions of ether the souls of every grade, He said to them: "O souls, beautiful children of my breath and of my care, you whom I have produced with my hands, in order to consecrate you to my universe, hear my words as a lawQuit not the place assigned to you by my will. The abode which awaits you is heaven, with its galaxy of stars and its thrones of virtue.
If you attempt any transgression against my decree, I swear by my sacred breath, by that elixir of which I formed you, and by my creative hands, that I will speedily forge for you chains and cast you into punishment. Having thus spoken, God, my Master, mingled together the rest of the congenial elements, earth and water, and pronouncing certain powerful and mystic words--albeit different from the first--He breathed into the liquid protoplasm motion and life, rendered it thicker and more plastic, and formed of it living beings of human shape.
That which remained He gave to the loftiest souls inhabiting the region of the Gods in the neighbourhood of the stars, who are called the Sacred Genii. I will give you models. Therewith He took the Zodiac and ordained the world in conformity with -vital movements, placing the animal signs after those of human form. And after having given forth the creative forces and generative breath for the whole range of beings yet to come, He. And Isis answeredThey took the mingled material, O my Son Horos, and began to reflect thereon, and to adore this combination, the work of the Father.
Next, they sought to discover of what it was composed, which, indeed, it was not easy to find. Then, fearing. Therefore, taking the upper portion of the protoplasm, that which was lightest, they created of it the race of birds. The compound having now become more compact and assuming a denser consistency, they formed of it the quadrupeds; while of the thickest part which needed a moist vehicle for its support, they made fishes. The remainder, being cold and heavy, was employed by the souls in the creation of reptiles. Forthwith, O my Son, proud of their work, they were not afraid to transgress the Divine law, and, in spite of the prohibition, they receded from their appointed limits.
Not willing to remain longer in the same abode, they moved ceaselessly, and repose seemed to them death. But, O my Son-- thus Hermes informed me --their conduct could not escape the eye of the Lord God of all things; He minded to punish them, and to prepare for them hard bonds. The Ruler and Master of the universe resolved then for the penance of the souls, to mould the human organism, and having called me to. How long shall the creation already produced continue inactive and without praise?
Bring hither before me all the Gods of heaven. Thus God spake, quoth Hermes, and all obeyed His decree. Straightway they looked, and understood the will of the Lord. And when He spoke to them of the creation of Man, asking of each what he could bestow upon the race about to be born, the Sun first replied"I will illumine mankind. Kronos announced that he had begotten Justice and Necessity. Zeus said, "In order to spare the future race perpetual wars, I have generated Fortune, Hope, and Peace. I will ever protect the mortal life of such men as are born under my signs, seeing that to me the Creator and Father has attributed in the Zodiac, signs of Knowledge and Intelligence; above all, when the movement.
He Who is Master of the world rejoiced at hearing these things, and decreed the production of the human race. As for me--said Hermes--I sought what material ought to be employed in the work, and invoked the Lord. He commanded the Souls to give up the residue of the protoplastic substance, which having taken, I found it entirely dried up. Therefore, I used a great excess of water wherewith to renew the combination of the substance, in such wise that the product might be resolvable, yielding, and feeble, and that Force should not be added therein to Intelligence.
When I had achieved my work it was beautiful, and I rejoiced in seeing it. And from below I called upon the Lord to behold what I had done. He saw it, and approved. Straightway He ordained that the Souls should be incorporated; and they were seized with horror on learning what should be their condemnation. These words, said Isis, struck me. Hearken, my son Horos, for I teach thee a mystery. The Souls were about to be imprisoned in bodies, whereat some sighed and lamented, as when some wild and free animal suddenly enchained, in the first moment of subjection to hard servitude and of severance from the beloved habits of the wilderness, struggles and revolts, refusing to follow its conqueror, and if occasion presents itself, slaying him.
Others, again, hissed like serpents, or gave vent to piercing cries and sorrowful words, glancing aimlessly from height to depth. Must we quit these vast, effulgent spaces, this sacred sphere, all these splendors of the empyrean and of the happy republic of the Gods, to be precipitated into these vile and miserable abodes?
What crime, O wretched ones, have we committed? How can we have merited, poor sinners that we are, the penalties which await us? Behold the sad future in store for us--to minister to the wants of a fluctuating and dissoluble body! No more may our eyes distinguish the souls divine! Hardly through these watery spheres shall we perceive, with sighs, our ancestral heaven; at intervals even we shall cease altogether to behold it. By this disastrous sentence direct vision is denied to us; we can see only by the aid of the outer light; these are but windows that we possess--not eyes.
Nor will our pain be less when we hear in the air the fraternal breathing of the winds with which no longer can we mingle our own, since that will have for its dwelling, instead of the sublime and open world, the narrow prison of the breast! But Thou, Who drivest us forth, and causest us from so.
O Master and Father, so quickly become indifferent to Thy handiwork, appoint a term to our penance, deign to bestow on us some last words, while yet we are able to behold the expanse of the luminous spheres! This prayer of the Souls was granted, my son Horos, for the Lord was present; and sitting upon the throne of Truth, thus He addressed them Souls, subjected to my sceptre which never fails, know that inasmuch as you remain stainless you shall inhabit the regions of the skies. If among you any be found to merit reproach, they shall inhabit abodes destined to them in mortal organisms.