12 June 2007

Ambrosian Joys

Spent part of today studying St. Ambrose's fine little work on Repentance. It's in two books. Finished the first. He's writing against the Novatians. The gleanings are pretty danged rich, so thought I'd through them out for any who collect such things:


Consider, too, the point that he who has received the Holy Ghost has also received the power of forgiving and of retaining sin. For thus it is written: "Receive the Holy Spirit: whosesoever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." John 20:22-23 So, then, he who has not received power to forgive sins has not received the Holy Spirit. The office of the priest is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and His right it is specially to forgive and to retain sins. How, then, can they claim His gift who distrust His power and His right? – Repentance, Book I, par. 8

For we men are all born under sin, and our very origin is in evil, as we read in the words of David: "For lo, I was conceived in wickedness, and in sin did my mother bring me forth." -- Repentance, Book I, par 13

Is it not evident that the Lord Jesus is angry with us when we sin in order that He may convert us through fear of His indignation? His indignation, then, is not the carrying out of vengeance, but rather the working out of forgiveness, for these are His words:"If you shall turn and lament, you shall be saved." He waits for our lamentations here, that is, in time, that He may spare us those which shall be eternal. He waits for our tears, that He may pour forth His goodness. So in the Gospel, having pity on the tears of the widow, He raised her son. He waits for our conversion, that He may Himself restore us to grace, which would have continued with us had no fall overtaken us. But He is angry because we have by our sins incurred guilt, in order that we may be humbled; we are humbled, in order that we may be found worthy rather of pity than of punishment. – Repentance Book I, par 22

He does not bring down the sinner even to the earth with His whole heart Who raises the poor even from the dust and the needy from the dunghill. For He brings not down with His whole heart Who reserves the intention of forgiving. –Repentance Book I, par 23

Your Church does not excuse herself from Your supper, Novatian makes excuse. Your family says not, "I am whole, I need not the physician," but it says: "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved." The likeness of Your Church is that woman who went behind and touched the hem of Your garment, saying within herself: "If I do but touch His garment I shall be whole." Matthew 9:21 So the Church confesses her wounds, but desires to be healed. Repentance Book I, par 31

[David Schütz, this next is for you!]

And this confession is indeed rightly made by them, for they have not the succession of Peter, who hold not the chair of Peter, which they rend by wicked schism; and this, too, they do, wickedly denying that sins can be forgiven even in the Church, whereas it was said to Peter: "I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven." Matthew 16:19 – Repentance, Book I, par 33

do you say, "I am clean," when, as it is written, not even an infant of a day old is pure? – Repentance, Book I, par 38

Do you see that the same God Who requires repentance promises forgiveness? Repentance, Book I, par 46

If, then, you wish to reclaim any one of the lapsed, do you exhort him to believe, or not to believe? Undoubtedly you exhort him to believe. But, according to the Lord's words, he who believes shall have everlasting life. Repentance, Book I, par 48

He then who has faith has life, and he who has life is certainly not shut out from pardon; "that every one," it is said, "that believes in Him should not perish." Since it is said, Every one, no one is shut out, no one is excepted, for He does not except him who has lapsed, if only afterwards he believes effectually. Repentance, Book I, par 48

Therefore it is said: "That every one that believes in Him should not perish." Let no one, that is, of whatever condition, after whatever fall, fear that he will perish. Repentance, Book I, par. 51

Let us consider another similar passage: "He that believes in the Son has eternal life, but he that believes not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." John 3:36 That which abides has certainly had a commencement, and that from some offence, viz., that first he not believe. When, then, any one believes, the wrath of God departs and life comes. To believe, then, in Christ is to gain life, for "he that believes in Him is not judged." John 3:18. Repentance, Book I, par. 53

And that you may not think that it is only our arguments which press you, consider the decision of Christ, Who said: "If the servant knew his Lord's will and did it not, he shall be beaten with many stripes, but if he knew it not, he shall be beaten with few stripes." Luke 12:47-48 Each, then, if he believes, is received, for God "chastens every son whom He receives," Hebrews 12:6 and him whom He chastens He does not give over unto death, for it is written: "The Lord has chastened me sore, but He has not given me over unto death." Repentance, Book I, par 58

For this is the sentence of condemnation on the serpent: "Dust shall be your food." Genesis 3:14 What dust? Surely that of which it is said: "Dust you are, and into dust shall you return." Genesis 3:19 Repentance, Book I, par. 67

1 comment:

Schütz said...

I just had a "Monty Python's Life of Brian" moment.

[On the run from Roman soldiers, Brain lands on a public stage prophets. Brian quickly decides to disgues himself as one]
Brian: Don't... pass judgement... on other people, or you might be judged yourself.
Passer-by: What?
Brian: I said, dont pass judgement on others or you might be judged yourself.
Passer-by: Who me? Oh, Thank you very much!

Except it went like this:

[Instead of working as the Church pays him to do, Schütz is reading Weedon's blog. His attention is grabbed by this:]
Weedon: David Schütz, this next is for you!
Schütz: Who me? What?
Weedon: [quoting Ambrose]"And this confession is indeed rightly made by them, for they have not the succession of Peter, who hold not the chair of Peter, which they rend by wicked schism."
Schütz: Oh, thank you very much!

Indeed! You will see that I have solved my little Cyprian problem over on my blog (see the long comment--turns out that the "interpolations" are from Cyprian too), and I note that Cyprian is fond of the phrase "Chair of Peter" also. Gets one thinking, don't it?