Not that this indeed is of the nature of a sign, nor is His "refusing the evil; "for this, too, is only a characteristic of infancy. But His destined capture of the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria before the king of Assyria is no doubt a wonderful sign. Keep to the measure of His age, and seek the purport of the prophecy, and give back also to the truth of the gospel what you have taken away from it in the lateness of your heresy, and the prophecy at once becomes intelligible and declares its own accomplishment. Let those eastern magi wait on the new-born Christ, presenting to Him, (although) in His infancy, their gifts of gold and frankincense; and surely an Infant will have received the riches of Damascus without a battle, and unarmed. For besides the generally known fact, that the riches of the East, that is to say, its strength and resources, usually consist of gold and spices, it is certainly true of the Creator, that He makes gold the riches of the other nations also. Thus He says by Zechariah: "And Judah shall also fight at Jerusalem and shall gather together all the wealth of the nations round about, gold and silver." Moreover, respecting that gift of gold, David also says: "And there shall be given to Him of the gold of Arabia; " and again: "The kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer to Him gifts." For the East generally regarded the magi as kings; and Damascus was anciently deemed to belong to Arabia, before it was transferred to Syrophoenicia on the division of the Syrias (by Rome). Its riches Christ then received, when He received the tokens thereof in the gold and spices; while the spoils of Samaria were the magi themselves. These having discovered Him and honoured Him with their gifts, and on beaded knee adored Him as their God and King, through the witness of the star which led their way and guided them, became the spoils of Samaria, that is to say, of idolatry, because, as it is easy enough to see, they believed in Christ. He designated idolatry under the name of Samaria, as that city was shameful for its idolatry, through which it had then revolted from God from the days of king Jeroboam. Nor is this an unusual manner for the Creator, (in His Scriptures) figuratively to employ names of places as a metaphor derived from the analogy of their sins. Thus He calls the Chief men of the Jews "rulers of Sodom," and the nation itself "people of Gomorrah." And in another passage He also says: "Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite," by reason of their kindred iniquity; although He had actually called them His sons: "I have nourished and brought up children."So likewise by Egypt is sometimes understood, in His sense, the whole world as being marked out by superstition and a curse By a similar usage Babylon also in our (St.) John is a figure of the city of Rome, as being like (Babylon) great and proud in royal power, and warring down the saints of God. Now it was in accordance with this style that He called the magi by the name of Samaritans, because (as we have said) they had practised idolatry as did the Samaritans. Moreover, by the phrase "before or against the king of Assyria," understand "against Herod; "against whom the magi then opposed themselves, when they refrained from carrying him back word concerning Christ, whom he was seeking to destroy. [Tertullian Adv Marc 3.13 .6, 8, 10 KROYMANN Aem., CCL 1 (1954), (p.526, l.26) BP1] Keep to the limit of (the infant's) age, and inquire into the sense of the prediction; nay, rather, repay to truth what you are unwilling to credit her with, and the prophecy becomes intelligible by the relation of its fulfilment. Let those Eastern magi be believed, dowering with gold and incense the infancy of Christ as a king; and the infant has received "the power of Damascus" without battle and arms. For, besides the fact that it is known to all that the "power"--for that is the "strength"--of the East is wont to abound in gold and odours, certain it is that the divine Scriptures regard "gold" as constituting the "power" also of all other nations; as it says through Zechariah: "And Judah keepeth guard at Jerusalem, and shall amass all the vigour of the surrounding peoples, gold and silver." For of this gift of "gold" David likewise says, "And to Him shall be given of the gold of Arabia; " and again, "The kings of the Arabs and Saba shall bring Him gifts." For the East, on the one hand, generally held the magi (to be) kings; and Damascus, on the other hand, used formerly to be reckoned to Arabia before it was transferred into Syrophoenicia on the division of the Syrias: the "power" whereof Christ then "received" in receiving its ensigns,--gold, to wit, and odours. "The spoils," moreover, "of Samaria" (He received in receiving) the magi themselves, who, on recognising Him, and honouring Him with gifts, and adoring Him on bonded knee as Lord and King, on the evidence of the guiding and indicating star, became "the spoils of Samaria," that is, of idolatry--by believing, namely, on Christ. [Tertullian Adv Iud 9 .12 KROYMANN Aem., CCL 2 (1954), (p.1368, l.88) BP1]
Saturday, November 22, 2014
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