Metropolitan Hilarion, Sermon on Law and Grace


Blessed be the God of Israel, the God of Christianity who visited his people and brought them salvation. He did not disdain his creation which was for ages possessed by pagan darkness and by worship of the devil, but he enlightened the Children of Abraham by giving them his Law tablets, and later he saved all nations, sending them his Son, his Gospel, and his baptism, and by giving them resurrection to eternal life.

Law was the precursor and the servant of Grace and Truth. Grace and Truth were the servants of the future life and immortal life. Law led its people of the Old Testament toward the blessing of baptism, and baptism led its sons to the life eternal. Moses and the prophets announced the coming of Christ, but Christ and the Apostles announced resurrection and the future age.

And what could the Law achieve? And what could Grace achieve? First was the Law and then Grace. Hagar and Sarah are the pictures of Law and Grace: Hagar was a handmaid and Sarah was free. First comes the handmaiden and then the free woman may come. And he who reads (the Bible) must understand this. Abraham, since his youth, had Sarah for his wife and she was free and not a slave, and so God decided before all ages to send his Son into the world that Grace might appear through him (but sent him to man only later). But Sarah was restrained from bearing children, since she was unfruitful. But she was not actually unfruitful, but was chosen by divine Providence to bear in her old age. The wisdom of God was not revealed to anyone, but concealed from both angels and men. This wisdom was not shown, but was concealed to be revealed at the end of the age.

It was Sarah who said unto Abraham: "Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my maid; it may be that I shall obtain children by her."

And so the divine Grace (of the Son) announced to God, the Father:

"It is not yet my time for descending to the earth and to save the world. Descend to Mount Sinai and give them the Law."

And, just as Abraham did as Sarah told him and went into Hagar, so God, the Father, did as he was told by the divine Grace and descended to Mount Sinai.

And Hagar, the handmaid, bore from Abraham a servant (not a truly free man), and Abraham gave him the name Ishmael. And Moses brought from Mount Sinai the Law and not the Grace, the shade and not the Truth.

When Abraham and Sarah were old, God appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. And he ran to meet him, and bowing low to the earth, he hastened into the tent (to Sarah). And so, when the end of the age was nearing, God appeared to humankind, descended to the earth, and blessed the womb of the Virgin. And he was received by the Immaculate Virgin into the tent of the flesh.

And the Virgin said to the angel:

"Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

Once the Lord gave Sarah to bear a child, and she begat Isaac, and the free woman begat a free son. And, when once more our Lord visited humankind, he appeared unknown and hidden from men and then was born Grace and Truth, but not the Law. And now it was the Son and not the servant.

And the child grew up and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. And when Christ was upon the earth Grace did not reveal Itself and Christ was hiding himself until he was thirty. And when he had grown and was weaned, then there, in the river Jordan, Grace was revealed by a man. And our Lord invited many and made a great feast and offered up the fatted calf of the age, His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and God then called to this feast many of heaven and earth and they the angels and men into one (Church). This blessed faith spreads now over the entire earth, and finally it reached the Russian nation. And, whereas the lake of the Law dried up, the fount of the Gospel became rich in water and overflowed upon our land and reached us. And now, together with all Christians, we glorify the Holy Trinity, while Judea remains silent.


Rome with voices panegyrical, praises Peter and Paul through whom they came to believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God:
Asia, Ephesus and Patmos praise John the Theologian;
India praises Thomas;
Egypt, Mark.

All lands, cities and men honour and glorify their teacher who brought them the Orthodox Faith. Thus let us, through our own strength, humbly praise our teacher and mentor, the great Kagan of our land Vladimir, the grandson of lgor of yore and son of glorious Sviatoslav, who ruled in their day with courage and valour, becoming famed in many lands for their victories and fortitude. And they did not reign in a poor and unknown land, but in Russia, which is known and celebrated by all to the ends of the earth.

A good attestation of your devotion, blessed one, is the Holy Church of the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God, which you build on the orthodox foundation and where your valorous body now lays at rest and awaits the archangel's trumpet. A good and certain attestation is your son, George [Iaroslav's Christian name], whom God has made the heir to your throne,

who does not destroy your laws, but confirms them,
who does not diminish works of piety, but extends them,
who does not undo, but strengthens,
who finishes that which you have left unfinished
even as Solomon finished the works begun by David;
who has built a great and holy temple to God's omniscience
that it may hallow your city;
who has embellished with all manner of things beautiful,
with gold and silver and precious stones
and with sacred vessels;
so that the church is a wonder to all surrounding lands
and so that the like cannot be found in all the northern land,
nor in the east nor the west;
who has given your famous city of Kiev the crown of glory,
who has turned your city and its people
to all-glorious Mother of God,
who is always ready to succour Christians
and for whom he has built a church with doors of gold
in the name of the first holy day of the Lord of the Annunciation,
that the veneration, which the archangel will offer to the Virgin,
may also be upon this city.
To her he speaks, saying:
"Rejoice, Blessed One, the Lord is with you!"
And to the city he speaks, saying:
"Rejoice, faithful city, the Lord is with you!"

Arise from your grave, venerated prince,
Arise and shake off your sleep.
You are not dead,
but only sleep until the day of resurrection of all.
Arise! You are not dead,
for it is not right that you should die,
for you have believed in Christ, the Sustainer of the whole world.
Shake off your deep sleep
and lift up your eyes
that you might see what honour the Lord has granted you,
and you still live upon this earth,
unforgotten through your sons.
Arise! Behold your child George,
Look upon your beloved one,
whom God has brought forth from your loins.
Behold him embellishing the throne of your land.
Rejoice and be of good cheer!
Behold the pious wife of your son, Irina.
Behold your grandchildren
and your great-grandchildren.
Behold how they live and how they are cared for by God.
Behold how they preserve devotion in your tradition,
how they partake of the Sacraments of the Holy Church,
how they glorify Christ,
how they venerate before his Holy Name.
Behold your city radiant with grandeur.
Behold your blossoming churches,
Behold Christianity flourishing.
Behold your city gleaming,
adorned with holy icons and
fragrant with thyme,
praising God and filling the air with sacred songs.
And beholding all this, rejoice and be of good cheer, and praise the Lord, the Creator of all which you have seen.

Source: Pamiatniki dukhovnoi literatury vremeni velikogo kniazia Iaroslava I-ogo, Moscow, 1844.