Sermon on Law and Grace by St. Hilarion, Metropolitan of Kiev [+1055AD]


Concerning: the Law given by Moses and the Grace and Truth which came by Jesus Christ.  And: how the Law departed, and Grace and Truth filled all the Earth, and Faith spread forth to all nations, even unto our nation of Rus’.  And: an encomium to our kagan Volodimer, by whom we were Baptized.  And: a prayer to God from all our land.


O Lord, give us your blessing, father!

(1)  Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, the God of Christians, for He has visited and redeemed His people, for He has not abandoned His creatures to remain until the end in the grip of the darkness of idolatry and to perish in the worship of demons.  For first He justified the tribe of Abraham through the tables and the Law; then through His Son He redeemed all the nations; through the Gospel and through Baptism He brought them to regeneration, to rebirth unto life eternal.  Let us therefore praise Him and glorify Him unceasingly, as He is praised unceasingly by the Angels; and let us worship Him constantly, as He is worshiped constantly by the Cherubim and the Seraphim; for in His watchfulness He has watched over His people.

(2) He Himself saved us: neither an envoy nor a messenger.  He visited Earth not as a vision, but Truly in the Flesh, He Suffered for us even unto the grace, and He Resurrected us together with Himself.  To the people who lived on Earth He came Clothed in Flesh; and to those who abided in Hades He descended through His Crucifixion and the Sepulcher where He lay: so that both the living and the dead might know of His Visitation and of the Coming of the Lord; so that they might understand that He is indeed a Strong and Mighty God, so Strong and Mighty both for the living and for the dead.

(3)  For who is so great as our God?  He is the One that doeth wonders; He is the One that established the Law in preparation for Truth and Grace, so that humankind might decline the deities of idolatry, and might incline to belief in the One God; so that, cleansed with the Law and with circumcision like a fouled vessel cleansed with water, mankind might receive the milk of Grace and Truth.  For as the Law was the servant and precursor of Grace and Truth, so Truth and Grace is the servant of the age to come, of life incorruptible.  For as the Law brought to the Grace of Baptism those who abided in the Law, so Baptism brings its sons to eternal life.  And as Moses and the Prophets told of the Coming of Christ, so Christ and His Apostles told of the resurrection and of the age to come.

(4) Yet it is superfluous, verging even on vanity, to recall in this work either the preaching of the Prophets concerning Christ or the teaching of the Apostles concerning the age to come.  It is a type of presumptuousness and vaingloriousness to set forth here that which is written in other books and is known to you.  For we do not write for the ignorant, but for them that have feasted to fulfillment on the sweetness of books!  Not for the heterodox, not for the enemies of God, but for His very sons!  Not for strangers, but for the heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven!

(5) This discourse, therefore, concerns the Law given by Moses, and the Grace and Truth which came by Jesus Christ.

(6)  What was attained by the Law, and what has been attained by Grace? First there was the Law, then there was Grace: first the shadow, then the Truth.  As a figure of Law and Grace, consider the women Hagar and Sarah: Hagar the bondswoman, and Sarah the free woman; first the bondsowman, and then the free woman.  And whoso readeth, let him understand.

(7) From his youth Abraham took to wife Sarah, a free woman, not a bondswoman: thus before the ages God deigned and designed to send into the world His Son, that through Him Grace might be made manifest.

(8) But Sarah was barren, and she did not bear children.  And yet she was not barren; rather she was restrained from bearing by Divine Providence, that she might bear a child in her old age.  Thus the secret and hidden things of God’s wisdom were concealed from Angels and men.  Yet they were not eternally sealed, but merely concealed, to be revealed at the end of the age.

(9) And Sarah said to Abraham: “Behold, the Lord has restrained me from bearing; go, therefore, to Hagar my maid, and you will obtain children by her”: thus Grace said to God, “If it is not the time for me to descend to earth and to save the world, then You descend to Mount Sinai and establish the Law.”

(10) And Abraham hearkened to the voice of Sarah and went in to her bondswoman Hagar: and God hearkened to the worlds of Grace and descended to Sinai.

(11) And Hagar the bondswoman bore to Abraham a son, a son of bondage, and Abraham called the name of his son Ishmael: and Moses bore down from Mount Sinai the Law, but not Grace; the shadow, but not the Truth.

(12) And after these things, when Abraham and Sarah were already aged, God appeared to Abraham by the oak of Mamre as he sat by the door of his tent at noon.  And Abraham ran to meet Him and did obeisance to the ground before Him and received Him into his tent: so as this age was approaching its end, the Lord visited mankind and descended from Heaven and entered the Womb of the Virgin, and the Virgin received Him with obeisance into the tent of the Flesh, without pain; and she said to the Angel, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word.”

(13) And when the Lord visited Sarah, He loosened her loins and she conceived and bore Isaac, the free son of hte free mother; so when the Lord visited mankind, the secret and hidden things were made manifest.  And this was the Birth not of Law but of Grace and Truth, not of the bondsman but of the Son.

(14)  And when the youth Isaac was weaned and grew strong, then Abraham made a great feast on the day that his son Isaac was weaned: so when Christ was on Earth, Grace had not yet grown strong but was suckled for thirty years, and for these thirty years Christ was concealed; but when Grace was weaned and had grown strong, then the Grace of God that bringeth salvation was made manifest to all men in the river Jordan; and God made a great feast and rejoicing with the fatted calf of the age, with His Beloved Son Jesus Christ, having joined in one rejoicing the things which are in Heaven and which are on Earth, having enjoined Angels and men to gather together as one.

(15) After these things, when Sarah saw Ishamel the son of Hagar sporting with her son Isaac and saw Isaac being mocked by Ishmael, then she said to Abraham, “Cast out this bondswoman and her son, for the son of the bondswoman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman”:  so after the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, when the Disciples and others who had come to believe in Christ were in Jerusalem, and when both Jews and Christians lived side by side, then the Grace which came to Baptism was mocked by the Law which came of circumcision; for the Christian Church in Jerusalem refused to accept any uncircumcised bishop; and those of the circumcision, on the pretext of their seniority, oppressed Christians–the sons of bondage oppressed the sons of the free–and there was much discord and dissension between them.  So when Grace saw her sons the Christians being mocked by the Jews–by the sons of the bondage of the Law–she cried out to God: “Cast out the Jews and their Law! Scatter them among the nations! For what communion is there between the shadow and the Truth, between Jewry and Christianity?”

(16) Hagar the bondswoman was cast out with her son Ishamel, and Isaac the son of the free woman became heir to his father Abraham: so the Jews were cast out and scattered among the nations, and the Christian sons of Grace became heirs to God and the Father.

(17)  As moonlight departs when the sun shines forth, so the Law departed when Grace was made manifest, and the night’s cold waned as the sun’s warmth warmed the Earth.  And man is no longer constrained in the Law, but moves freely in Grace.  In the candlelight of the Law the Jews maintained their justification, but in the Sunlight of Grace Christians attain salvation.  With the shadow and the Law Jesus were justified but not saved; with the Truth and Grace Christians have salvation: for justification is in this world, but salvation is in the age to come.  Jews rejoiced in the things which are on Earth; but Christians rejoiced in the things which are in Heaven.  The Jews’ justification was grudging and jealous, for Judea alone, not extending to the nations; but the Christians’ salvation is generous and beneficent, extending to all corners of the Earth.

(18)  For the Jews the blessing of Manasseh was fulfilled, [but for Christians the blessing of Ephraim. Manasseh,] the elder son, was blessed by Jacob’s left hand, while Ephraim, the younger son, was blessed by Jacob’s right hand.  Though Manasseh was older than Ephraim, yet in Jacob’s blessing he became as the younger.  Thus though Jewry came earlier, yet in Christ’s Grace Christians became greater.

(19)  Thus when Joseph said to Jacob, “Father, lay thine right hand upon [Manasseh], for he is the elder”, Jacob answered, “I know it, son, I know it; he also shall be a people, and he shall be exalted, but his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.”  And so it came to pass: the Law came earlier and was exalted a while and departed; but the Christian Faith, though revealed later, became greater than that which came earlier, and it was multiplied to the multitude of nations, and the Grace of Christ embraced all the Earth and covered it like the waters of the seas.

(20) Through Jewish jealousy the ancient things grew decrepit and so were cast aside, and  now all hold to the new.  It is as Isaiah prophesied: “The ancient things have passed, and I announce to you new things, sing a new hymn to the Lord, and glorified is His Name from the ends of the Earth, ye that go down to the sea and sail upon it, and all the islands.”  And Isaiah also writes: “My servants shall be called by a new name, which shall be blessed upon the Earth, for they shall bless the True God.”

(21) Previously in Jerusalem alone was the place where men ought to worship (Jn. 4:20), but now it extends over all the Earth. As Gideon said to God: “If Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, let there be dew on the fleece only, and drought all over the Earth.” (Judg. 6:36-38)  And it was so: first here was drought over all the Earth–the nations were held in the grip of idolatrous delusion, and did not receive the dew of Grace, and only in Judea was God known, and in Israel His Name was great, and only in Jerusalem was God praised. (Ps. 75:1)

(22) But Gideon spoke to God again: “Let now the drought be upon the fleece only, and let there be dew over all the Earth.”  And it was so: the drought was on the fleece–Jewry ran dray and the Law departed, the unacceptable sacrifices and the ark and the tablets and the mercy seat were removed.  And the dew over all the Earth–faith spread over all the Earth, and the rain of Grace sprinkled its dew, and the Baptismal font of regeneration wrapped its sons in incorruption.

(23) As Our Saviour said to the woman of Samaria: “The hour cometh, and now is, when ye shall neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father, but there will be true worshipers who shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him”:  that is, He seeks those who would worship Him together with the Son and the Holy Spirit.  And so it is: the Holy Trinity is praised over all the Earth, worshiped by all creation: all, from the smallest to the greatest, praised God.

(24) Thus it was foretold: “And they shall not teach every man his neighbour and every man his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord’; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.”  As Christ Our Saviour said to the Father: I confess Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy Sight.”  And so great was the Good Lord’s Mercy to mankind that by Baptism and good works men of flesh are become sons of God and partakers in Christ.  “As many as received Him,” said the Evangelist, “to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His Name; who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,”[Jn. 1:12-13] by the Holy Spirit in the Holy Font of Baptism.  All that Our God willed in Heaven and on the Earth, He did. (Ps. 134:6)

(25) Who, therefore, would not glorify, who would not praise, who would not worship the greatness of His Glory?  And who would not marvel at His Boundless Love for mankind?  Born of the Father before the ages, Ruling with the Father on One Throne: of One Essence with the Father, yet He Descended to Earth as does the light of the sun; He visited His people, yet was not separated from the Father; and He became Flesh from a Maiden Pure, Virgin, and Undefiled, having entered her as only He knows.  And, clothed in Flesh, He departed as He had entered: One of the Trinity, in Two Natures, Divine and Human.  He was Fully Human, becoming Man not merely in appearance; yet not merely man, for in His Divinity He was also Fully God.

(26) In His Life He showed both His Natures, Divine and Human.  As Man He grew in His Mother’s Womb, and as God He departed it without staining her Virginity.  As Man He sucked His Mother’s milk, and as God He se the Angels to sing amongst the Shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest!”  As Man He was wrapped in swaddling clothes (Lk. 2:7-14), and as God He led the Magi with a star (Matt. 2:9-10).  As Man He lay in a Manger.  As Man He fled into Egypt, and the graven images of Egypt worshiped Him as God.  As Man He came to be Baptized, and the Jordan feared Him as God and turned back.  As Man He bared Himself and entered the water, and the Father testified that He was God, saying: ” This is My Beloved Son.”  As Man He fasted forty days and thirsted, and as God He defeated the tempter.  As Man He went to the marriage in Cana of Galilee, and as God He turned the water into wine.  As Man He slept on the ship, and as God He rebuked the wind and the sea and they heeded Him.  As Man He wept for Lazarus, and as God He resurrected him from the dead.  As man He sat upon the ass, and as to God they cried out to Him: “Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.”  As Man He was Crucified, and as God by His Power He admitted to Paradise the man who was crucified with Him.  As Man He tasted of the vinegar and yield up the spirit, and as God He darkened the sun and shook the Earth.  As Man He was laid in the Sepulchre, and as God He destroyed Hades and set free the souls.  As Man He was sealed in the Sepulchre, and as God He went forth, leaving the seals unbroken.  And as He was Man the Jews tried to conceal His Resurrection by bribing the guards, but as God He was recognized and became known to all the ends of the Earth.

(27) Truly we say: “Who is a great God as Our God? He is the God that doeth wonders.”  He has wrought salvation in the midst of the Earth by the Cross and by His Passion on Golgotha.  He tasted the vinegar and the gall, that in tasting the bitterness He might purge the sin of Adam, who had sinned in tasting the sweet fruit of the tree.

(28)  And what of those who did this to Him?  They stumbled as if on a stone and were broken. As the Lord said: “Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will break him.”  For to them He had come, fulfilling the prophesies prophesied about Him.  As He said: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel”; and also: “I am not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it.”  And to the woman of Canaan, of another nation, who came beseeching Him to heal her daughter, He said: “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to the dogs.”  And yet they called Him a deceiver, a child of adultery, who casts out devils by Beelzebub.  Christ gave sight to their blind, cleansed their lepers, straightened their cripples, cured the possessed, strengthened the palsied, resurrected the dead.  Yet they tortured Him as a criminal and nailed Him to the Cross. And so they were broken: for this reason God’s ultimate Wrath came upon them.

(29)  Indeed, they themselves bore witness to their own destruction: when Our Saviour told the Parable of the vineyard and the husbandmen and asked, “What will the lord of the vineyard do unto those husbandmen?”  they answered, “He will miserably destroy those miserable men, and will let out the vineyard unto other husbandmen, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.”  Thus they themselves came to the Prophets of their own destruction.

(30) For He came to Earth to visit them, yet they received Him not, for their deeds were dark, and they loved not the light, lest their deeds be made manifest, He beheld the city and wept over it, saying: “If thou hadst known in this thy day the things which belong unto thy peace!  But now they are hid from thine eyes.  For the days shall come upon thee, and thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall dash thee to the ground, and thy children within thee, because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”  And also: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the Prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”  And so it came to pass: for the Romans came and captured Jerusalem and destroyed it to its foundations. And thenceforth Jewry decreased, and thenceforth the Law declined, like the evening dusk, and the Jews were dispersed among the lands, that the evil might be dissolved.  Thus the Saviour came and was not received by Israel.  In the words of the Evangelist: “He came into His Own, and His Own received Him not.”

(31)  But He was received by the nations [of the gentiles].  As Jacob said: “And He is the Expectation of nations.”  So, even at His Birth, Magi from the nations were the first to worship Him, while the Jews sought to murder Him, wherefore they murdered also the infants.  It was as Our Saviour foretold: “That many shall come from the east and the west, and shall lie with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven; but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast into the outer darkness, and the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to the lands bring forth fruits therefore.”

(32)  To these lands He sent His Disciples, saying: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is Baptized, shall be saved”; and: “Go ye, therefore, and make Disciples of all the nations, Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

(33) Thus it was meet that Grace and Truth should shine forth upon new people.  In the words of the Lord: “Men do not pour new wine”–the teaching of Grace–“into old skins”–Jewry, old and decrepit–“else the skins will burst and the wine will spill over.”  Since the Jews were unable to preserve even the shadow which is the Law (for they frequently worshiped idols), then how would they be able to conserve the teaching of the Truth which is Grace?  No: the new wine is the new teaching, the new skins are the new nations, and both shall persevere.

(34) And so it is.  The Grace of Faith has spread over all the Earth: and it has reached our nation of Rus’.  The lake of the Law dried up, but the Stream from the Gospel swelled and flowed over to all the Earth.  And the Stream flowed to us: for behold how we too, with all Christians, glorify the Holy Trinity, while Judea is silent.  Christ is glorified, and the Jews are vilified.  The nations are gathered, and the Jews are scattered.  As the Prophet Malachi pronounced: “I have no pleasure in the sons of Israel, and I will not accept a sacrifice at their hands.  For from the east even to the west My Name is glorified among the gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My Name, for My Name is great among the Gentiles.”  And according to David: “All the Earth shall worship Thee, and sing unto Thee”; and: “Lord, Our Lord, how Wonderful is Thy Name in all the Earth.”

(35)  Now we are called Christians, no longer idolater; no longer the hopeless, but longing with hope for eternal life.  No longer do we build pagan shrines, for now we construct Christ’s Churches. No longer do we slay one another as offering for demons, for now Christ is ever slain and segmented for us an offering to God and the Father.  No longer do we imbibe the blood of the offering and perish, for now we imbibe the Pure Blood of Christ and are saved.  We were saved by the Will of the Lord, Who extended His Mercy to all the nations, and thus He neglected us not, as He brought us unto the knowledge of the Truth.

(36)  We were thirsty: when our land was parched and desolate, when the swelter of idolatry had desiccated it, then of a sudden the Stream of the Gospels flowed and slaked the thirst of all our land.  As Isaiah foretold: “Water shall burst forth for those that walk in the wilderness, and the waterless land shall become pools, and a stream shall spring in a thirsty land.”

(37) We were blind: not knowing the True Light, we strayed in the false light of idolatry.  And we were deaf: deaf to the teaching of salvation.  Yet God had Mercy upon us, and the Light of understanding shone forth upon us, that we might know Him.  As was foretold in the Prophecy: “Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear.”

(38)  We were lame: we stumbled in snares of perdition, pursuing the demons, not knowing the pathway to life.  And we stuttered: our tongues stammered prayers to the idols and not to Our God and Creator.  Yet God’s Love for mankind came upon us: we chase after demons no longer, but plainly and clearly we glorify Christ Our God.  As is foretold in the prophecy: “Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerers shall speak plainly.”

(39)  We were as the beasts and as the cattle, not knowing our right hand or our left hand, caring only for the things which are on Earth, not caring at all for the things which are in Heaven.  but then God sen His Commandments to us, which lead to the life eternal.  As Hosea foretold: “And it shall come to pas in that day, saith the Lord, that I will make for them a covenant with the birds of the sky and with the beasts of the Earth, and I will say to that which was not my people, ‘Thou art My people,’ and thy shall say to me, ‘Thou art the Lord Our God.'”

(40) And thus: we, who had been strangers, were called God’s people; we, who had been His enemies, were called His sons.  We do not blaspheme Him, as do the Jews, but rather as Christians we bless Him.  We do not take counsel so as to crucify Him, but rather worship Him as the Crucified.  We d o not nail Our Saviour’s Hands to the Cross, but rather we stretch out our own hands to Him.  We do not pierce His Sides, but rather we drink from Them the Source of Immortality.  We do not extract for Him thirty pieces of silver, but rather entrust to Him each other and all our sustenance.  We do not conceal His Resurrection, but rather proclaim in all our houses: “Christ is Risen from the dead!”  We do not say that He was stolen from the Sepulchre, but rather that He Ascended up where He was before.  We do not lack Faith, but rather we say to Him, like Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”; and with Thomas, “Thou art Our Lord and God”; and with the robber, “Lord, remember us when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.”  And thus, keeping Faith in Him, and maintaining the Tradition of the Seven Councils of the Holy Fathers, we pray God again and again to help us and guide us in the way of His Commandments.

(41)  What was prophesied about us, the nations, has been fulfilled: “And the Lord shall reveal His Holy Arm in the sight of all the nations; and all the ends of the Earth shall see the salvation that comes from Our God.”  And: “‘As I live,’ saith the Lord, ‘every knee shall bow to Me, and every nation shall confess to God.'”  And from Isaiah: “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and all the crooked ways shall become straight, and the rough places plain. And the Glory of the Lord shall appear, and all the Flesh shall see the salvation of Our God.”  And from Daniel: “And all nations, tribes, and tongues shall serve Him.”  And from David: “Let the people confess to Thee, O God, let all the people confess to Thee.  Let the nations rejoice and exult. Clap your hands, all ye nations; shout to God with a voice of exultation. For the Lord Most High is Terrible; He is a Great King over all the Earth.”  And David continues: “Sing praises to Our God, sing praises: sing praises to Our King, sing praises.  For God is King of all the Earth; sing praises with understanding.  God Reigns over the nations.”  And: “Let all the Earth worship Thee and sing to Thee; let it sing to Thy Name, Most High.”  And: “Praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise Him, all ye peoples.”  And: “From the east to the west the Name of the Lord is praised. The Lord is High above all the nations; His Glory is above the Heavens.”  And: “According to Thy Name, O God, so also is Thy praise to the ends of the Earth. Hearken to us, O God Our Saviour; the Hope of all the ends of the Earth, and of them that are on the sea afar off.”  And: “May we know Thy Way on the Earth, and Thy salvation among all nations.”  And: “Kings of the Earth, and all peoples, princes, and all judges of the earth, young men and virgins, old men with youths: let them praise the Name of the Lord.”  And from Isaiah: ” ‘Hear me, my people,’ saith the Lord, ‘and ye kings hearken to Me, for a Law shall proceed from Me, and My Judgment is a Light unto the nations. Mine Righteousness speedily draws nigh, and My Salvation shall go forth as Light. The isles shall wait for Me, and on Mine Arms shall the Gentiles’ trust.’ ”