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The Philocalia Of Origen -Origen

That we must seek the nourishment supplied by all inspired Scripture, and not turn from the passages troubled by heretics with ill-advised difficulties, nor slight them; we ought rather to have our share in them without the confusion which attaches to unbelief. From Volume XX. on Ezekiel. “Thus saith the Lord God: Behold 1 judge between sheep and sheep, as well the rams as the he-goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have fed upon the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture? and to have drunk of the clear waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? And as for my sheep they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet, and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet?”

After giving his views respecting sheep that are rams, and sheep that are goats, and showing that it is the practice of Scripture sometimes to class sheep and goats together, he thus proceeds:—

1. Now let us do our best to discover what truths are shadowed out in these words. Every good pasture, and the pool of clear water, represent, I suppose, the oracles of the sacred Scriptures as a whole. The next thought is that inasmuch as certain persons approve of some portions as profitable, and reject others as having no saving power, they may be said to feed upon the good pasture of the passages they choose, drink the clear water of what they judge to be the best, and then tread down the residue of the pasture, and foul the residue of the water with their feet. These, I say, are they who approve the New Testament, but reject the Old; these are they who maintain that certain parts of the ancient writings exhibit more of the Divine power and are highly spiritual, and make others to be deficient in these respects. But the Shepherd calls them His own sheep who do not disdain what has been trodden by the feet, and who do not despise the water fouled by the feet, of the blameworthy sheep, perhaps more correctly named goats and kids; for they would not be sheep worthy of the rams upon the right hand.

2. For ourselves, then, who profess to be sheep of the Shepherd, let us never be shy at feeding on those passages which, taken literally, do not look like Scripture, and on account of their verbal incongruity are trodden down by men who are neither able nor willing to use the whole pasture. Even supposing that some water has been fouled by their feet, suppose, I mean, they have mingled with the pure word of the Scripture shameful unheard-of objections, let us not, because of the confusion they have introduced into the Word, be deterred from drinking that which has been fouled by their feet. And carefully observe that they who foul the water and tread down the pasture, are reminded of better sheep in the words, “And as for my sheep, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet, and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.” Furthermore, let us never tread down the pasture of the Prophets, nor foul the water of the Law; and while there are some who err in respect of the Gospel pasture and the apostolic water, so that they tread down certain portions of the Gospel field and feed on others as on good pasture, either rejecting the whole apostolic pasture, or approving some parts and rejecting others, let us feed on the whole of the Gospels and not tread down any part of them, and while we drink of all the apostolic waters, clear water as far as we can make it such, let us guard the fountains, and in no wise foul them through unbelief, which is wont to confuse the minds of men who cannot understand what is said.

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