De Moor on God's Essential Vindicatory Righteousness: The Testimony of Conscience, Part 3



But the testimonies of the Ancients are now to be esteemed so much the greater, since Divine authority agrees: thus Paul bears witness concerning the very Gentiles, whom God did not deem worthy of the revelation of His own Oracles, Romans 2:14, 15, ὅταν γὰρ ἔθνη τὰ μὴ νόμον ἔχοντα φύσει τὰ τοῦ νόμου ποιῇ, οὗτοι, νόμον μὴ ἔχοντες, ἑαυτοῖς εἰσι νόμος· οἵτινες ἐνδείκνυνται τὸ ἔργον τοῦ νόμου γραπτὸν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν, συμμαρτυρούσης αὐτῶν τῆς συνειδήσεως, καὶ μεταξὺ ἀλλήλων τῶν λογισμῶν κατηγορούντων ἢ καὶ ἀπολογουμένων, for when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts (behold, the first act of Conscience, συντήρησιν/synteresis;[1] συνείδησις/syneidesis,[2] follows), their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. Unto which passage of the Apostle those comments of ORIGEN have regard, book I contra Celsum, page 6, Cambridge edition, Πρὸς τοῦτο δὲ λεκτέον, ὅτι τοῖς εἰσάγουσι κρίσιν δικαίαν Θεοῦ ἀποκέκλειστο ἂν ἡ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἁμαρτανομένοις δίκη, μὴ πάντων ἐχόντων κατὰ τὰς κοινὰς ἐννοίας πρόληψιν ὑγιῆ περὶ ἠθικοῦ τόπου· διόπερ οὐδὲν θαυμαστὸν, τὸν αὐτὸν Θεὸν, ἅπερ ἐδίδαξε διὰ τῶν προφητῶν καὶ τοῦ Σωτῆρος, ἐγκατεσπαρκέναι ταῖς ἁπάντων ἀνθρώπων ψυχαῖς· ἵν᾽ ἀναπολόγητος ἐν τῇ θείᾳ κρίσει πᾶς ἄνθρωπος ᾖ, ἔχων τὸ βούλημα (in the margin, τὸ ἔργον) τοῦ νόμου γραπτὸν ἐν τῇ ἑαυτοῦ καρδιᾳ, etc., To this it is to be replied, that to those setting forth (namely, Christians, whose doctrine this is) the righteous judgment of God, unless all men had according to common notions sound preconceptions of morality, the doctrine of the punishment of sinners would have been excluded: It is not therefore strange that the same God should have sown in the hearts of all men those truths that He taught by the prophets and the Saviour, so that at the divine judgment every man may be without excuse, having the intention (in the margin, the work) of the law written upon his heart, etc. And that συνειδήσεως κατηγορία, accusation of conscience, was rendered all the more vexatious by the awareness of the Law of the Divine Judge, which they also had indited from their birth, with the same Paul as witness in Romans 1:32, οἵτινες τὸ δικαίωμα τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐπιγνόντες, ὅτι οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντες ἄξιοι θανάτου εἰσίν, who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death. Hence that judgment of the barbarians of Malta concerning Paul, Acts 28:3, 4, and when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire (they were evidently sitting at the fire because of the cold, verse 2), there came a viper out of the heat, and fasted on his hand: But when the barbarians saw the beast hanging from his hand, some said to the others, Πάντως φονεύς ἐστιν ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος, ὃν διασωθέντα ἐκ τῆς θαλάσσης ἡ δίκη ζῇν οὐκ εἴασεν, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. Where some interpret δίκην simply concerning Divine Vengeance or Justice: others maintain that the inhabitants of Malta here had regard to that Divine Being, Dike, mentioned above, among whom is the Most Illustrious BOCHART, de Animalibus Sacræ Scripturæ, book III, part II, chapter II, entitled, de Vipera Pauli, etc., in which the AUTHOR according to his vast erudition relates many excellent things making for the illustration of this passage: teaching at the same time that, even if Dike was a Goddess of the Greeks, nevertheless she was at least able to be known by the inhabitants of this Island, although Phœnicians for the most part; since the government of it, before it was occupied by the Romans, alternated between the Greeks and Phœnicians, in such a way that now the latter, and now the former, were in possession of it. And so rashly and ignorantly does Pseudo-Clement in Apostolic Constitutions, book II, chapter LII, assert concerning the Judges of the Heathen: Καίτοι ὄντες ἐθνικοὶ, καὶ οὐ γινώσκοντες θειότητα, ἢ τὴν εἰς αὐτοὺς ἀπὸ Θεοῦ ἄμυναν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀναιτίως κατακριθέντων, ἀποφεύγουσιν, And they being heathens, and not knowing the Deity, nor the vengeance which will fall upon them from God on account of those unjustly condemned, they escape. Thus, both by contradicting native testimonies and the perpetual voice of the Nations themselves, and by manifestly overly breaking in upon Paul, through the denial to the Heathen of all knowledge of Divine Justice together with Deity, both of which the Great Teacher of the Gentiles[3] clearly asserted; that birth brings forth openly its own νοθείαν/bastard, so that even hence these Διατάξεις/Constitutions, named after the Apostles, are deservedly proscribed from the number of their writings.

[1] That is, the internal repository of the laws of right and wrong.


[2] That is, consciousness of right or wrong doing.


[3] See 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11.

ABOUT US

Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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