The Nestorians and their Rituals/Volume 2/Chapter 11

CHAPTER XI.

OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

"The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, Who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. "Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called Moral."—Article VII.

§ 1. On the two pieces of silver given by the Samaritan in behalf of the man who was plundered between Jerusalem and Jericho, the author of the Warda writes: "One denarius is the Old Testament, and the other the New Testament, and when He Cometh in His glory, He will reward all those who have profited thereby." From the Warda, on "the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho."

§ 2. "… In order that it might be known, that Prophets and Apostles,—the two Testaments, New and Old,—all teach one truth, and that one Spirit from the one God whom they worshipped, and whom they preached, spake in and through them all." From the twenty-seventh of the Apostolical Canons contained in the Sinhadòs. For the connection in which this extract is found see under Article XXXIV.

§ 3. "Thou didst receive the inhabitants of Nineveh when they knocked at Thy door with fasting and prayer, with contrition and true penitence, and Thou didst turn away Thine anger from them, and didst not destroy them. Thou didst rescue their life from the jaws of death, and in pity and in mercy didst heal their rebellion; and hereby Thou didst prefigure to coming generations the restoration of the Gentiles, and their salvation through faith in Jesus Christ." Collect for the fifth Sunday in Lent, from the Aboo Haleem.

See also Appendix B., Part II. chap. 3 and 4.

REMARKS.

The above declarations clearly prove that the Nestorians believe the "old Fathers" to have looked for other than mere "transitory promises," and to have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ; and the extracts adduced under Article III. are corroborative on this point. These, as we have already seen, represent the righteous departed before the advent of the Saviour as abiding under the dominion of the grave until, after His death, He descended into hades, and gave liberty to the captives. Moreover it is clear that they hold the ceremonies and rites of the Mosaical dispensation, to have been but figures of that great salvation which was promised through Him, who was to be a Light unto the Gentiles, and the Glory of His people Israel. Thus in § 6, par. r, t, quoted under Art. II., Abraham, Moses, and David, in their wonderful actions and lives, are said to be types of the Great Antitype, the Son of God. "Abraham through the lamb, Moses through the fire, and the illustrious David in all his actions, ministered to the mystery of Him." And, again: "The legal shadow has now passed away, and the light has broken forth in the renewing of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. The grace of the Father has appeared in the Wonderful Begotten One, teaching us, as it is written, to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. On this day the bark of prophecy has reached the shore; in this Begotten One all the types are fulfilled."

"The disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof" is clearly declared by Mar Abd Yeshua in Appendix B., referred to in the quotations: "And in Moses began the Jewish dispensation, which like a child who has not yet attained to perfect knowledge, was taught to read in the Old Law, which enjoined that good should be done towards relations, and towards the good, and evil to evil doers and enemies. It moreover represented God after the similitude of man, with bodily members, as dwelling at Jerusalem, as abiding on Mount Sion, and among the congregation of the faithful. It makes no mention of hell, or of the kingdom of heaven; but it threatens the transgressors of its laws with corporal punishments, such as submission to enemies, the being scattered among the heathen, with drought, famine, poverty, and barrenness; whilst, on the other hand, the good are rewarded with earthly and temporal rewards. All the prophets who succeeded Moses followed and confirmed this way, and for it they submitted to every species of trial and persecution."

The same writer in his chapter on the Priesthood declares the imperfection of the Old Testament in this respect also. His words are as follows: "The priesthood is divided into imperfect, as was that of the Law; and perfect as is that of the Church. … The old Priesthood was one of generation, was not irrespective of family, and did not depend upon the will of those who succeeded to it. But the new Priesthood, handed down from the Apostles, and imparted in the Church through the laying on of hands, is committed to those who are deemed worthy of it. … Therefore the perfection of this and the imperfection of that Priesthood is evident. … Moreover the former Priesthood was conferred by material oil; but this latter by the immaterial unction of the Spirit, through the laying on of hands."

See Appendix B. Part IV. chap. ii.

The ten commandments of the Moral Law are judged to be binding upon all Christians by the Nestorians, and their strict observance of the fourth is remarkable.[1]

  1. On the observance of the Lord's Day, see some excellent remarks in Appendix B. Part V. chap. 3.