On the Law given by Moses, and on the Grace and Truth revealed by Jesus Christ, and how the Law passed, and Grace and Truth filled the whole earth, and faith spread throughout all nations up to our Russian people; and praise to our great prince Vladimir, to whom we were baptized; and prayer to God from all our land
The monument is a speech, a festive sermon. The main themes of the work are indicated in the title. This is the superiority of “grace” over “the law”, which is interpreted in the sermon as New and Old Testaments, or Christianity and Judaism; the spread of Christian teaching among the “new” peoples, including the Russian; praise the baptizer of Rus Prince Vladimir.
After the rhetorical introduction, where Hilarion says that he addresses not to the ignorant, but to the “satiated with the sweetness of the book” and, accordingly, to like-minded people, the Russian speaker proceeds directly to unfold parallel images
from the Scriptures and interpret them in the context of his theme. The author calls Hagar and Sarah the image of the Law and Grace.
According to the book of Genesis, Abraham and Sarah had no children. Then Sarah suggests that Abraham “enter” to the slave Hagar and give birth to her. Retelling the biblical story, Hilarion continues from himself: so Grace tells God that it is not time for her to come to earth and save the world, first let the Law be laid. Abraham gives birth to the son of Ishmael from Hagar, and God descends to Sinai and gives Moses the Law, which the author calls “shadow, not truth.” One day at noon God is to Abraham, and Abraham receives Him. With this image, Hilarion also connects others: the Lord descended into the womb of the Maiden, and she received Him. God “broke the womb” of Sarah, and she gives birth to Isaac’s son. A free woman gives birth to a free child. This is the type of Grace. Grace is already the truth, not the Law, not the shadow. After a while, Sarah notices, that Ishmael offends Isaac. She asked Abraham to drive Hagar and her son away.
So the Jews were banished from their country, the light of the moon gave way to sunlight, and the Law fell back before grace.
Further, Hilarion, using biblical and evangelical images, holds one more important idea about the inclusion of Russia in the family of Christian peoples, about the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. The final part of the “Lay” is dedicated to the praise of Prince Vladimir. Vladimir, according to Hilarion, miraculously came to Christianity and brought his whole people to him.
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