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bavlng enqnired why the Law WIllI ever given, _Ing that Paul declares it to be Injurious: S. Ambrose replies tbat it would bave been useless, had we kept tbat natural law which Is written on our hearts, and Is found even In Inrants; but tbat, this being brokl'n, the former beI.'ame necessary, that It might take away all excuse by its manifestation of that sin which Willi afterwards removed by the grace of Christ.
AMBROSE TO IREN&US. 1. GREATLY, it would seem, have you been moved by the lesson from the Apostle, having heard read to-day, Because Rum. Iv. the Law worketh wrath; for where no law i" there is no 15. transgression. And therefore you have thought fit to ask why the Law was promulgated, if it profited nothing, nay rather, by working wrath and bringing in transgression, was injurious. 2. And indeed, according to the tenor of your question, it is certain that the Law, which was given by MOBes, was not necessary. For had men been able to keep the natural Law, which our God and Maker implante!I in the breast of each, there would have been no need of the Law, which, written on table, of stone, tended rather to entangle and fetter the infirmity of human nature, than to set at large and liberate it. Now that there is a natural Law written lb. U. 14. in our heart, the Apostle also teaches us, when he writes, that for the most part the Gentiles, which have not the Law, do by nature the things contained in the Law, and, though they have not read the Law, have yet the work. 01 the Law written in their heart,. 3. This law therefore is not written but innate; not acquired by reading, but flowing as from a natural fountain, it springs up in each breast, and men's minds drink it in. This Law we ought to have kept even from fear of a future . judgment, a witness whereof we have in our conscience, which shews itl!elf in those silent thoughts we have towards God, and whereby either our sin is reproved or our innocence justified. And thus that which has ever been
The written Law given when
78. manifest to the Lord, will be clearly revealed in the day of
judgment, when those secrets of the heart, which were thought to be concealed, will be called into account. Now the discovery of these things, these secrets, I mean, would do no harm, if the natural Law still remained in the human breast; for it is holy, free from craft or guile, the companion of justice, free from iniquity. 4. Moreover let us interrogate the age of childhood, let 'us consider whether any crime can be found therein, avarice, ambition, guile, rage, or insolence. It claims nothing for its own, assumes no honours to itself, never prefers itself to others, neither wishes or knows how to avenge itself. Its pure and simple mind cannot even comprehend the meaning of insolence. Oen. iii. 5. Adam broke this Law, seeking to assume to himself 6. that which he had not received, that thus he might become as it were his own maker and creator, and arrogate to himself divine honour. Thus by his disobedience he incurred guilt, and through arrogance fell into transgression. Had he not thus violated his allegiance, but been obedient to the commands of heaven, he would have preserved to his posterity the prerogative of nature and the innocence which he possessed at his birth. Wherefore as by disobedience the authority of the Law of Nature was corrupted and blotted out, the written law was found necessary; in order that man, having lost all, might at least regain a part; attaining by instruction to the knowledge of that which he had received at his birth, but had subsequently lost. Moreover, since the cause of his fall was pride, and pride arose from the dignity of innocence, it was needful that some law should be passed which should subdue and subRom. ject him to God. For without the Law he was ignorant 8. of sin, and thus his guilt was less because he knew it not. S. John Wherefore also the Lord says, If I had nol come and spokera xv. 22. to them they had not had ,in, but now they have no eZCfUt for their rin. 6. The Law then was published, first to take away all Rom. iii. excuse lest man should say, I knew not sin, because I 19. received no rule what to avoid. And next that all tAt world might become guilty 1 before God by the confession of
the natural Law 'lOa, broken by Bin.
For it made all subject; in that it was not only given TO to the Jews but also called the Gentiles; for proselytes IRENJEUI from the Gentiles were associated with them. Nor can he seem to be excepted, who after being called was found wanting, for the Law also bound those whom she called. And thus the fault of all worked subjection, subjection humility, humility obedience. And thus as pride had drawn after it transgression, so on the other hand, transgression produced obedience. And thus the written Law, which seemed superfluous, was rendered necessary, redeeming sin by sin. 7. But again, lest anyone should be deterred, and say that an increase of sin was caused by the Law, and that the Law not only did not profit but was even injurious, he has a consolation for his solicitude, because although by the Rom .... Law Bin abounded, grace did much more abound. And now 20. let us consider the meaning of this. 8. Sin abounded by the Law because by the Law u the Ib. ..n. 1. knowledge of Bin, and thus it began to be injurious to me to know that which through infirmity I could not avoid; it is good to foreknow in order to avoid, but if I cannot avoid, to have known was injurious. Thus the effect of the Law was changed to me into its opposite, yet by the very increase of sin it became useful to me, because I was humbled. Wherefore David also said, It iB good for me PI. cxix. that I have been humbled. For by my humiliation I have 11. broken those bonds of that ancient transgression, whereby Adam and Eve had bound the whole line of their posterity. Hence too the Lord (lame in obedience that He might loose the knot of disobedience and of man's transgression. And so, as by disobedience sin entered, so by obedience sin was remitted. Wherefore the Apostle also says, For Rom. v. a, by one man', diBobedience many were made Binner,,'o 19. by the obedience of one ,hall many be made righteoUB. 9. Here is one reason the Law on the one hand was superfluous and yet became necessary. It was superflous herein, that it would not have been needed could we have kept the natural Law, but as we kept it not, the law of Moses became needful for us, to the intent that it might teach us obedience and loose that knot of Adam's transF f 2
The Law convicts of sin, which grace forgives.
gression which has fettered his whole posterity. Guilt in· deed was increased by the Law, but pride, the author of this guilt, was overthrown by it, and this was profitable to me, for pride discovered the guilt, and this guilt brought grace. 10. Hear another reason. At first Moses' Law was not needed; it was introduced subsequently, and this appears to intimate that this introduction was in a sense clandestine and not of an ordinary kind, seeing that it succeeded in the place of the natural Law. Had this maintained its place, the written Law would never have entered in; but the natural Law being excluded by transgression and al. most blotted out of the human breast, pride reigned, and disobedience spread itself; and then this Law succeeded, that by its written precepts it might cite us before it, and Rom. m. every mouth be stopped, and all the world become guilty be19. fore God. Now the world becomes guilty before God by the Law, in that all are made amenable to its prescripts, but no man is ju·stified by its works. And since by the Law comes the knowledge of sin, but not the remission of guilt, the Law, which has made all sinners, would seem to have been injurious. 11. But when the Lord Jesus came, He forgave all men Col. Ii. that sin which none could escape, and blotted out the hand1(. writing against fU by the shedding of His own Blood. This Rom. v. then is the Apostle's meaning; sin abounded by the Law, 20. but grace abounded by Jesus; for after that the whole world became guilty, He took away the sin of the whole s. John world, as John bore witness, saying: Behold the Lamb of 1. 29. God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Wherefore let no man glory in works, for by his works no man shall be justified, for he that is just hath a free gift, for he is justified by the Bath. It is faith then which delivers by Rom. Iv. the blood of Christ, for Ble88ed i. the man to whom sin iI 7. remitted, and pardon granted. Farewell, my son; love me, for I also love you. .