Index Previous Next
'Have ye heard all?' said Jesus.
The disciples answered: 'Yea, Lord.'
Whereupon Jesus said: 'Lying is indeed a sin, but murder is a greater, because the lie is a sin that appertaineth to him that speaketh, but the murder, while it appertaineth to him that committeth it, is such that it destroyeth also the dearest thing that God hath here upon earth, that is, man. And lying can be remedied by saying the contrary of that which hath been said; whereas murder hath no remedy, seeing it is not possible to give life again to the dead. Tell me, then, did Moses the servant of God sin in slaying all whom he slew?'
The disciples answered: 'God forbid; God forbid that Moses should have sinned in obeying God who commanded him!'
Then said Jesus: 'And I say, God forbid that that angel should have sinned who deceived Ahab's false prophets with the lie; for even as God receiveth the slaughter of men as sacrifice, so received he the lie for praise. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that even as the child erreth which causeth its shoes to be made by the measure of a giant, even so erreth he who would subject God to the law, as he himself as man is subject to the law. When, therefore, ye shall believe that only to be sin which God willeth not, ye will find the truth, even as I have told you. Wherefore, because God is not composite nor changeable, so also is he unable to will and not will a single thing; for so would he have contradiction in himself, and consequently pain, and would not be infinitely blessed.'
Philip answered: 'But how is that saying of the prophet Amos to be understood, that "there is not evil in the city that God hath not done"?'
Jesus answered: 'Now here see, Philip, how great is the danger of resting in the letter, as do the Pharisees, who have invented for themselves the "predestination of God in the elect," in such wise that they come to say in fact that God is unrighteous, a deceiver and a liar and a hater of judgment (which shall fall upon them).
'Wherefore I say that here Amos the prophet of God speaketh of the evil which the world calleth evil: for if he had used the language of the righteous he would not have been understood by the world. For all tribulations are well, either for that they purge the evil that we have done, or are well because they restrain us from doing evil, or are well because they make man to know the condition of this life, in order that we may love and long for life eternal. Accordingly, had the prophet Amos said: "There is no good in the city but what God hath wrought it," he had given occasion for despair to the afflicted, as they beheld themselves in tribulation and sinners living in prosperity. And, what is worse, many, believing Satan to have such sovereignty over man, would have feared Satan and done him service, so as not to suffer tribulation. Amos therefore did as doth the Roman interpreter, who considereth not his words as one speaking in the presence of the high-priest, but considereth the will and the business of the Jew that knoweth not to speak the Hebrew tongue.