And he that shall swear by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him who sits thereon.
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Augustine of Hippo
Quaest. Ev., i, 34: The temple and altar we may also understand of Christ Himself; the gold and the gifts, of the praise and sacrifice of prayer which weoffer in Him and through Him. For not He by them, but they by Him, are sanctified.
Non occ.: And lest their infatuation should go so far, that they should affirm that the gold was more holy than the temple, and the gift than the altar, He argues on another ground, that in the oath which is sworn by the temple and the altar is contained the oath by the gold or by the gift.
ord.: For whoso swears by the creature that is subject, swears by the Divinity that rules over the creation. The altar is the human heart, which is the chief thing in man. The offerings and gifts that are bid upon the altar, are every thing which are done in the heart, as to pray, to sing, to do alms, tofast. Every offering of a man then is sanctified by his heart, by which the offering is made. There cannot therefore be a more honourable offering than the heart of man, out of which the offering proceeds. If then one’s conscience does not smite him, he has confidence towards God, not by reason of his gifts, butso to speak because be has rightly ordered the altar of his heart. Thirdly, we may say tha...
For since Christ is come, reliance upon the Law is vain; for not Christ by the Law, but the Law by Christ, is sanctified, in whom it rests as on a seat or throne; so are they fools and blind, who, overlooking the sanctifier, pay honour to the things sanctified.
Again, if one swore by the altar, none held him guilty of perjury; but if be swore by the gift or the victims or the other things which are offered to God upon the altar, this they exacted most rigorously. And all this they did not out of fear of God, but out of covetousness. Thus the Lord charges them with both folly and fraud, inasmuch as the altar is much greater than the victims which are sanctified by the altar.
The temple pertains to God’s glory, and to man’s spiritual salvation, but the gold of the temple though it pertains to the glory of God, yet does it more soto the delight of man, and the profit of the Priests. The Jews then pronounced the gold which delighted them, and the gifts which fed them, to be more holy than the temple, that they might make men more disposed to offer gifts, than top our out prayers in the temple. Whence the Lord suitably reproves them in thesewords.Yet have some Christians at present anequally foolish notion. See, they say, in any suit if one swear by God, it seems nought; but if one swear by the Gospel, he seems to have done some great thing. To whom we shall say in like manner, “Ye fools and blind!” the Scriptures were written because of God, God is not because of the Scriptures. Greater therefore is God, than what is hallowed by Him.
He calls them blind for not wanting to teach what was right, but instead valuing what was of lesser importance, and giving second place to that which was worthy of honor. For they valued the gold in the temple, the images of the Cherubim and the golden urn, more highly than they did the temple itself. Therefore they taught the people that it was of no consequence to swear by the temple, and instead they taught them to swear by the gold which is in the temple. This gold, however, was precious precisely because it was in the temple. And the Pharisees said that the gifts placed on the altar were more valuable than the altar itself. So the Pharisees even taught that if someone swore by the golden vessel, or the ox, or the sheep brought for sacrifice, and then broke his oath, he was sentenced to pay an equal amount. The Pharisees put a higher value on the gift upon the altar because of the profit they derived from sacrifices. But if some one swore by the temple and then broke his oath, he w...