Fathers of the Church
Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles: Homilies 1-10
by John Chrysostom in Unknown (between 398-404) | translated by Translated By Rev. J. Walker, M.A., of Brasenose College, Rev. J. sheppard, M.A., of Oriel College, Oxford, and Rev. H. Browne, M.A., of corpus Christi College, Cambridge; Revised By George B. Stevens, Ph.d., d.d., Professor in Yale University
"The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, concerning all things which Jesus began both to do and to teach, until the day on which, having given charge to the Apostles, whom He had chosen, by the Holy Spirit, He was taken up."
To many persons this Book is so little known, both it and its author, that they are not even aware that there is such a book in existence. For this reason especially I have taken this narrative for my subject, that I may draw to it such as do not know it, and not let such a treasure as this remain hidden out of sight. For indeed it may profit us no less than even the Gospels; so replete is it with Christian wisdom and sound doctrine, especially in what is said concerning the Holy Ghost. Then let us not hastily pass by it, but examine it closely. Thus, the predictions which in the Gospels Christ utters, here we may see these actually come to pass; and note in the very facts the bright evidence of Truth which shines in them, and the mighty change which is taking place in the disciples now that the Spirit has come upon them. For example, they heard Christ say, "Who-so believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall hero "(John xiv. 12): and again, when He foretold to the disciples, that they should be brought before rulers and kings, and in their synagogues they should scourge them, and that they should suffer grievous things, and overcome all (Matt. x. 18): and that the Gospel should be preached in all the world (Ib. xxiv. 14): now all this, how it came to pass exactly as it was said, may be seen in this Book, and more besides, which He told them while yet with them. Here again you will see the Apostles themselves, speeding their way as on wings over land and sea; and those same men, once so timorous and void of understanding, on the sudden become quite other than they were; men despising wealth, and raised above glory and passion and concupiscence, and in short all such affections: moreover, what unanimity there is among them now; nowhere any envying as there was before, nor any of the old hankering after the preeminence, but all virtue brought in them to its last finish, and shining through all, with surpassing lustre, that charity, concerning which the Lord had given so many charges saying, "In this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye love one another." (John xiii. 35.) And then, besides, there are doctrines to be found here, which we could not have known so surely as we now do, if this Book had not existed, but the very crowning point of our salvation would be hidden, alike for practice of life and for doctrine.
The greater part, however, of this work is occupied with the acts of Paul, who "laboured more abundantly than they all." (1. Cor. xv. 10.) And the reason is, that the author of this Book, that is, the blessed Luke, was his companion: a man, whose high qualities, sufficiently visible in many other instances, are especially shown in his firm adherence to his Teacher, whom he constantly followed.(*) Thus at a time when all had forsaken him, one gone into Galatia, another into Dalmatia, hear what he says of this disciple: "Only Luke is with me." (2 Tim. iv. 10.) And giving the Corinthians a charge concerning him, he Says, "Whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches." (2 Cor. viii. 18.) Again, when he says, "He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve," and, "according to the Gospel which ye received" (1 Cor. xv. 5, 1), he means the Gospel of this Luke.(t) So that there can be no mistake in attributing this work to him: and when I say, to him, I mean, to Christ. And why then did he not relate every thing, seeing he was with Paul to the end? We may answer, that what is here written, was sufficient for those who would attend, and that the sacred writers ever addressed themselves to the matter of immediate importance, whatever it might be at the time it was no object with them to be writers of books: in fact, there are many things which they have delivered by unwritten tradition. Now while all that is contained in this Book is worthy of admiration, so is especially the way the Apostles have of coming down to the wants of their hearers: a condescension suggested by the Spirit who has so ordered it, that the subject on which they chiefly dwell is that which pertains to Christ as man. For so it is, that while they discourse so much about Christ, they have spoken but little concerning His Godhead; it was mostly of the Manhood that they discoursed, and of the Passion, and the Resurrection, and the Ascension. For the thing required in the first instance was this, that it should be believed that He was risen, and ascended into heaven. As then the point on which Christ himself most. insisted was, to have it known that He was come from the Father, so is it this writer's principal object to declare, that Christ was risen from the dead, and was received up into Heaven, and that He went to God, and came from God. For, if the fact of His coming from God were not first believed, much more, with the Resurrection and Ascension added thereto, would the Jews have found the entire doctrine incredible. Wherefore gently and by degrees he leads them on to higher truths. Nay, at Athens Paul even calls Him man simply, without saying more (Acts xvii. 31). For if, when Christ Himself spoke of His equality with the Father, they often attempted to stone Him, and called Him a blasphemer for this reason, it was little to be expected that they would receive this doctrine from the fishermen, and that too, with the Cross coming before it.
But why speak of the Jews, seeing that even the disciples often upon hearing the more sublime doctrines were troubled and offended? Therefore also He told them, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." (John xvi. 12.) If those could not, who had been so long time with Him, and had been admitted to so many secrets, and had seen so many wonders, how was it to be expected that men, but newly dragged away from altars, and idols, and sacrifices, and cats, and crocodiles (for such did the Gentiles worship), and from the rest of their evil ways, should all at once receive the more sublime matters of doctrine? And how in particular should Jews, hearing as they did every day of their lives, and having it ever sounded in their ears, "The Lord thy God is one Lord, and beside Him is none other" (Deut. vi. 4): who also had seen Him hanging nailed on the Cross, nay, had themselves crucified and buried Him, and not seen Him even risen: when they were told that this same person was God and equal with the Father, how should they, of all men, be otherwise than shocked and revolted? Therefore it is that gently and little by little they carry them on, with much consideration and forbearance letting themselves down to their low attainments, themselves the While enjoying in more plentiful measure the grace of the Spirit, and doing greater works in Christ's name than Christ Himself did, that they may at once raise them up from their grovelling apprehensions, and confirm the saying, that Christ was raised from the dead. For this, in fact, is just what this Book is: a Demonstration of the Resurrection:(*) this being once believed the rest would come in due course. The subject then and entire scope of this Book, in the main, is just what I have said. And now let us hear the Preface itself.
"The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach." (v. 1.) Why does he put him in mind of the Gospel? To intimate how strictly he may be depended upon. For at the outset of the former work he says, "It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order." (Luke i. 3.) Neither is he content with his own testimony-but refers the whole matter to the Apostles. saying, "Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word." (Luke, i. 2.) Having then accredited his account in the former instance, he has no need to put forth his credentials afresh for this treatise, seeing his disciple has been once for all satisfied, and by the mention of that former work he has reminded him of the strict reliance to be placed in him for the truth. For if a person has shown himself competent and trustworthy to write of things which he has heard, and moreover has obtained our confidence, much more will he have a right to our confidence when he has composed an account, not of things which he has received from others, but of things which he has seen and heard. For thou didst receive what relates to Christ; much more wilt thou receive what concerns the Apostles.
What then, (it may be asked), is it a question only of history, with which the Holy Spirit has nothing to do? Not so. For, if "those delivered it unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of 'the word;" then, what he says, is theirs. And why did he not say, ' As they who were counted worthy of the Holy Spirit delivered them unto us;' but "Those who were eyewitnesses?" Because, in matter of belief, the very thing that gives one a right to be believed, is the having learned from eyewitnesses: whereas the other appears to foolish persons mere parade and pretension. And therefore John also speaks thus: "I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God." (John. i. 34.) And Christ expresses Himself in the same way to Nicodemus, while he was dull of apprehension, "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and no one receiveth our witness," (Ib. iii. 11.) Accordingly, He gave them leave to rest their testimony in many particulars on the fact of their having seen them, when He said, "And do ye bear witness concerning Me, because ye have been with Me from the beginning." (John xv. 27.) The Apostles themselves also often speak in a similar manner; "We are witnesses, and the Holy Spirit which God hath given to those that obey Him." (Acts ii. 32); and on a subsequent occasion, Peter, still giving assurance of the Resurrection, said, "Seeing we did eat and drink with Him." (Acts x. 41.) For they more readily received the testimony of persons who had been His companions, because the notion of the Spirit was as yet very much beyond them. Therefore John also at that time, in his Gospel, speaking of the blood and water, said, he himself saw it, making the fact of his having seen it equivalent, for them, to the highest testimony, although the witness of the Spirit is more certain than the evidence of sight, but not so with unbelievers. Now that Luke was a partaker of the Spirit, is abundantly clear, both from the miracles which even now take place; and from the fact that in those times even ordinary persons were gifted with the Holy Ghost; and again from the testimony of Paul, in these words, "Whose praise is in the Gospel" (2 Cor. viii. 18); and from the appointment to which he was chosen: for having said this, the Apostle adds, "But also appointed of the Churches to travel with us with this grace which is administered by us." (*)
Now mark how unassuming he is. He does not say, The former Gospel which I preached, but, "The former treatise have I made;" accounting the title of Gospel to be too great for him; although it is on the score of this that the Apostle dignifies him: "Whose praise," he says, "is in the Gospel." But he himself modestly says, "The former treatise have I made—O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach:" not simply "of all," but from the beginning to the end; "until the day," he says, "in which He was taken up." And yet John says, that it was not possible to write all: for "were they written, I suppose," says he, "that even the world itself could not contain the books written." (John xxi. 25.) How then does the Evangelist here say, "Of all?" He does not say "all," but "of all," as much as to say, "in a summary way, and in the gross;" and "of all that is mainly and pressingly important." Then he tells us in what sense he says all, when he adds, "Which Jesus began both to do and to teach;" meaning His miracles and teaching; and not only so, but implying that His doing was also a teaching.
But now consider the benevolent and Apostolic feelings of the writer: that for the sake of a single individual he took such pains as to write for him an entire Gospel. "That thou mightest have," he says, "the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed." (Luke i. 4.) In truth, he had heard Christ say, "It is not the will of My Father that one of these little ones should perish." (Matt. xviii. 14.) And why did he not make one book of it, to send to one man Theophilus, but has divided it into two subjects? For clearness, and to give the brother a pause for rest. Besides, the two treatises are distinct in their subject-matter.
But consider how Christ accredited his words by His deeds. Thus He saith, "Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." (Ib. xi. 29.) He taught men to be poor,(*) and exhibited this by His actions: "For the Son of Man," He says, "hath not where to lay His head." (Ib. viii. 20.) Again, He charged men to love their enemies; and He taught the same lesson on the Cross, when He prayed for those who were crucifying Him. He said, "If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also" (lb. v. 40): now He not only gave His garments, but even His blood. In this way He bade others teach. Wherefore Paul also said, "So as ye have us for an example." (Philip. iii. 17.) For nothing is more frigid than a teacher who shows his philosophy only in words: this is to act the part not of a teacher, but of a hypocrite. Therefore the Apostles first taught by their conduct, and then by their words; nay rather they had no need of words, when their deeds spoke so loud. Nor is it wrong to speak of Christ's Passion as action, for in suffering all He performed that great and wonderful act, by which He destroyed death, and effected all else that He did for us.
"Until the day in which He was taken up, after that He, through the Holy Spirit, had given commandments unto the Apostles whom He had chosen. After He had given commandments through the Spirit" (v. 2); i.e. they were spiritual words that He spake unto them, nothing human; either this is the meaning, or, that it was by the Spirit that He gave them commandments.(t) Do you observe in what low terms he still speaks of Christ, as in fact Christ had spoken of Himself? "But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils" (Matt. xii. 28); for indeed the Holy Ghost wrought in that Temple. Well, what did He command? "Go ye therefore," He says, "make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into 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." (Ib. xxviii. 19, 20.) A high encomium this for the Apostles; to have such a charge entrusted to them, I mean, the salvation of the world! words full of the Spirit! And this the writer hints at in the expression, "through the Holy Ghost" (and, "the words which I spake unto you," saith the Lord, "are Spirit") (John vi. 63); thus leading the hearer on to a desire of learning what the commands were, and establishing the authority of the Apostles, seeing it is the words of the Spirit they are about to speak, and the commandments of Christ. "After He had given commandments," he says, "He was taken up." He does not say, 'ascended;' he still speaks as concerning a man. It appears then that He also taught the Disciples after His resurrection, but of this space of time no one has related to us the whole in detail. St. John indeed, as also does the present writer, dwells at greater length on this subject than the others; but none has clearly related every thing (for they hastened to something else); however, we have learnt these things through the Apostles, for what they heard, that did they tell. "To whom also He shewed Himself alive." Having first spoken of the Ascension, he adverts to the Resurrection; for since thou hast been told that "He was taken up," therefore, test thou shouldest suppose Him to have been taken up by others, he adds, "To whom He shewed Himself alive." For if He shewed Himself in the greater, surely He did in the minor circumstance. Seest thou, how casually and unperceived he drops by the way the seeds of these great doctrines? (*)
"Being seen of them during forty days." He was not always with them now, as He was before the Resurrection. For the writer does not say "forty days," but, "during forty days." He came, and again disappeared; by this leading them on to higher conceptions, and no longer permitting them to stand affected towards Him in the same way as before, but taking effectual measures to secure both these objects, that the fact of His Resurrection should be believed, and that He Himself should be ever after apprehended to be greater than man. At the same time, these were two opposite things; for in order to the belief in His Resurrection, much was to be. done of a human character, and for the other: object, just the reverse. Nevertheless, both results have been effected, each when the fitting time arrived.
But why did He appear not to all, but to the Apostles only?t Because to the many it would have seemed a mere apparition, inasmuch as they understood not the secret of the mystery For if the disciples themselves were at first incredulous and were troubled, and needed the evidence of actual touch with the hand, and of His eating with them, how would it have fared in all likelihood with the multitude? For this reason therefore by the miracles [wrought by the Apostles] He renders the evidence of His Resurrection unequivocal, so that not only the men of those times—this is what would come of the ocular proof—but also all men thereafter, should be certain of the fact, that He was risen. Upon this ground also we argue with unbelievers. For if He did not rise again, but remains dead, how did the Apostles perform miracles in His name? But they did not, say you, perform miracles? How then was our religion e'thnos instituted? For this certainly they will not controvert nor impugn what we see with our eyes: so that when they say that no miracles took place, they inflict a worse stab upon themselves. For this would be the greatest of miracles, that without any miracles, the whole world should have eagerly come to be taken in the nets of twelve poor and illiterate men. For not by wealth of money, not by wisdom of words, not by any thing else of this kind, did the fishermen prevail; so that objectors must even against their will acknowledge that there was in these men a Divine power, for no human strength could ever possibly effect such great results. For this He then remained forty days on earth, furnishing in this length of time the sure evidence of their seeing Him in His own proper Person, that they might not suppose that what they saw was a phantom. And not content with this, He added also the evidence of eating with them at their board: as to signify this, the writer adds, "And being at, table a with them, He commanded."(*) (v. 4.) And this circumstance the Apostles themselves always put forth as an fallible token of the Resurrection; as where they say," Who did eat and drink with Him." (Acts x,-41.)
And what did He, when appearing unto them those forty days? Why, He conversed with them, says the writer, "concerning the kingdom of God." (v. 3.) For, since the disciples both had been distressed and troubled at the things which already had taken place, and were about to go forth to encounter great difficulties, He recovered them by His discourses concerning the future. "He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father." (v. 4.) First, He led them out to Galilee, afraid and trembling, in order that they might listen to His words in security. Afterwards, when they had heard, and had passed forty days with Him, "He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem." Wherefore? Just as when soldiers are to charge a multitude, no one thinks of letting them issue forth until they have armed themselves, or as horses are not suffered to start from the barriers until they have got their charioteer; so Christ did not suffer these to appear in the field before the descent of the Spirit, that they might not be in a condition to be easily defeated and taken captive by the many. Nor was this the only reason, but also there were many in Jerusalem who should believe. And then again that it might not be said, that leaving their own acquaintance, they had gone to make a parade among strangers, therefore among those very men who had put Christ to death do they exhibit the proofs of His Resurrection, among those who had crucified and buried Him, in the very town in which the iniquitous deed had been perpetrated; thereby stopping the mouths of all foreign objectors. For when those even .who had crucified Him appear as believers, clearly this proved both the fact of the crucifixion and the iniquity of the deed, and afforded a mighty evidence of the Resurrection. Furthermore, lest the Apostles should say, How shall it be possible for us to live among wicked and bloody men, they so many in number, we so few and contemptible, observe how He does away their fear and distress, by these words, "But wait for the promise of the Father, which ye have heard of Me." (v. 4.) You will say, When had they heard this? When He said, "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you." (John xvi. 7.) And again, "I will pray the Father, and He shall send you another Comforter, that He may abide with you." (ib. xiv. 16.)
But why did the Holy Ghost come to them, not while Christ was present, nor even immediately after his departure, but, whereas Christ ascended on the fortieth day, the Spirit descended "when the day of Pentecost," that is, the fiftieth, "was fully come?" (Acts ii. 1.) And how was it, if the Spirit had not yet come, that He said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost?" (John xx. 22.) In order to render them capable and meet for the reception of Him. For if Daniel fainted at the sight of an Angel (Dan. viii. 17), much more would these when about to receive so great a grace. Either this then is to be said, or else that Christ spoke of what was to come, as if come already; as when He said, "Tread ye upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the devil." (Luke x. 19.) But why had the Holy Ghost not yet come? It was fit that they should first be brought to have a longing desire for that event, and so receive the grace. For this reason Christ Himself departed, and then the Spirit descended. For had He Himself been there, they would not have expected the Spirit so earnestly as they did. On this account neither did He come immediately after Christ's Ascension, but after eight or nine days. It is the same with us also; for our desires towards God are then most raised, when we stand in need: Accordingly, John chose that time to send his disciples to Christ when they were likely to feel their need of Jesus, during his own imprisonment. Besides, it was fit that our nature should be seen in heaven, and that the reconciliation should be perfected, and then the Spirit should come, and the joy should be unalloyed. For, if the Spirit being already come, Christ had then departed, and the Spirit remained; the consolation would not have been so great as it was. For in fact they clung to Him, and could not bear to part with Him; wherefore also to comfort them He said, "It is expedient for you that I go away." (John xvi. 7.) On this account He also waits during those intermediate days, that they might first despond for awhile, and be made, as I said, to feel their need of Him. and then reap a full and unalloyed delight. But if the Spirit were inferior to the Son, the consolation would not have been adequate; and how could He have said, "It is expedient for you?" For this reason the greater matters of teaching were reserved for the Spirit, that the disciples might not imagine Him inferior.
Consider also how necessary He made it for them to abide m Jerusalem, by promising that the Spirit should be granted them. For lest they should again flee away after His Ascension, by this expectation, as by a bond, He keeps them to that spot. But having said, "Wait for the promise of the Father, which ye have heard of Me," He then adds, "For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." (v. 4, 5.) For now indeed He gives them to see the difference there was betwixt Him and John, plainly, and not as heretofore in obscure hints; for in fact He had spoken very obscurely, when He said, "Notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he:" but now He says plainly, "John baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost." (Matt. xi. 11.) And he no longer uses the testimony, but merely adverts to the person of John, reminding the disciples of what he had said, and shows them that they are now become greater than John; seeing they too are to baptize with the Spirit. Again, He did not say, I baptize you with the Holy Ghost, but, "Ye shall be baptized:" teaching us humility. For this was plain enough from the testimony of John, that it was Christ Himself Who should baptize: "He it is that shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (Luke iii. 16.); wherefore also He made mention of John.
The Gospels, then, are a history of what Christ did and said; but the Acts, of what that "other Comforter" said and did. Not but that the Spirit did many things in the Gospels also; even as Christ here in the Acts still works in men as He did in the Gospels only then the Spirit wrought through the Temple, now through the Apostles: then, He came into the Virgin's womb, and fashioned the Temple; now, into Apostolic souls: then in the likeness of a dove; now, in the likeness of fire. And wherefore? Showing there the gentleness of the Lord, but here His taking vengeance also, He now puts them in mind of the judgment likewise. For, when need was to forgive, need was there of much gentleness; but now we have obtained the gift, it is henceforth a time for judgment and examination.
But why does Christ say, "Ye shall be baptized," when in fact there was no water in the upper room? Because the more essential part of Baptism is the Spirit, through Whom indeed the water has its operation; in the same manner our Lord also is said to be anointed, not that He had ever been anointed with oil, but because He had received the Spirit. Besides, we do in fact find them receiving a baptism with water [and a baptism with the Spirit], and these at different moments. In our case both take place under one act, but then they were divided. For in the beginning they were baptized by John; since, if harlots and publicans went to that baptism, much rather would they who thereafter were to be baptized by the Holy Ghost. Then, that the Apostles might not say, that they were always having it held out to them in promises (John xiv. 15, 16), (for indeed Christ had already discoursed much to them concerning the Spirit, that they should not imagine It to be an impersonal Energy or Operation, ene'rgeian anupo'staton that they might not say this, then, He adds, "not many days hence." And He did not explain when, that they might always watch: but, that it would soon take place, He told, them, that they might not faint; yet the exact time He refrained from adding, that they might always be vigilant. Nor does He assure them by this alone; I mean, by the shortness of the time, but withal by saying, "The promise which ye have heard of Me." For this is not, saith He, the only time I have told you, but already I have promised what I shall certainly perform. What wonder then that He does not signify the day of the final consummation, when this day which was so near He did not choose to reveal? And with good reason; to the end they may be ever wakeful, and in a state of expectation and earnest heed.
For it cannot, it cannot be, that a man should enjoy the benefit of grace except he watch. Seest thou not what Elias saith to his disciple? "If thou see me when I am taken up" (2 Kings ii. 10), this that thou askest shall be done for thee. Christ also was ever wont to say unto those that came unto Him, "Believest thou?" For if we be not appropriated and made over to the thing given, neither do we greatly feel the benefit. So it was also in the case of Paul; grace did not come to him immediately, but three days intervened, during which he was blind; purified the while, and prepared by fear. For as those who dye the purple first season with other ingredients the cloth that is to receive the dye, that the bloom may not be fleeting' so in this instance God first takes order that the soul shall be thoroughly in earnest, and then pours forth His grace. On this account also, neither did He immediately send the Spirit, but on the fiftieth day. Now if any one ask, why we also do not baptize at that season of Pentecost? we may answer, that grace is the same now as then; but the mind becomes more elevated now, by being prepared through fasting. And the season too of Pentecost furnishes a not unlikely reason. What may that be? Our fathers held Baptism to be just the proper curb upon evil concupiscence, and a powerful lesson for teaching to be sober-minded even in a time of delights.
As if then we were banquetting with Christ Himself, and partaking of His table, let us do nothing at random, but let us pass our time in fastings, and prayers, and much sobriety of mind, For if a man who is destined to enter upon some temporal government, prepares himself all his life long, and that he may obtain some dignity, lays out his money, spends his time, and submits to endless troubles what shall we deserve, who draw near to the kingdom of heaven with such negligence, and both show no earnestness before we have received, and after having received are again negligent? Nay, this is the very reason why we are negligent after having received, that we did not watch before we had received. Therefore many, after they have received, immediately have returned to their former vomit, and have become more wicked, and drawn upon themselves a more severe punishment; when having been delivered from their former sins, herein they have more grievously provoked the Judge, that having been delivered from so great a disease, still they did not learn sobriety, but that has happened unto them, which Christ threatened to the paralytic man, saying, "Behold thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (John v. 14): and which He also predicted of the Jews, that "the last state shall be worse than the first." (Matt. xii. 45.) For if, saith He, showing that by their ingratitude they should bring upon them the worst of evils, "if I had not come, and spoken unto them, they had not had sin" (John xv, 22); so that the guilt of sins committed after these benefits is doubled and quadrupled, in that, after the honour put upon us, we show ourselves ungrateful and wicked. And the Layer of Baptism helps not a whir to procure for us a milder punishment. And consider: a man has gotten grievous sins by committing murder or adultery, or some other crime: these were remitted through Baptism. For there is no sin, no impiety, which does not yield and give place to this gift; for the Grace is Divine. A man has again committed adultery and murder; the former adultery is indeed done away, the murder forgiven, and not brought up again to his charge, "for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Rom. xi. 29); but for those committed after Baptism he suffers a punishment as great as he would if both the former sins were brought up again, and many worse than these. For the guilt is no longer simply equal, but doubled and tripled.(*) Look: in proof that the penalty of these sins is greater, hear what St. Paul says: "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy, under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" (Heb. x. 28, 29.)
Perhaps we have now deterred many from receiving baptism. Not however with this intention have we so spoken, but on purpose that having received it, they may continue in temperance and much moderation. 'But I am afraid,' says one. If thou wert afraid, thou wouldest have received and guarded it. 'Nay,' saith he, 'but this is the very reason why I do not receive it,— that I am frightened.' And art thou not afraid to depart thus? 'God is merciful,' saith he. Receive baptism then, because He is merciful and ready to help. But thou, where to be in earnest is the thing required, dost not allege this mercifulness; thou thinkest of this only where thou hast a mind to do so. And yet that was the time to resort to God's mercy, and we shall then be surest of obtaining it, when we do our part. For he that has cast the whole matter upon God, and, after his baptism, sins, as being man it is likely, he may, and repents, shall obtain mercy; whereas he that prevaricates with God's mercy, and departs this life with no portion in that grace, shall have his punishment without a word to be said for him. 'But how if he depart,' say you, 'after having had the grace vouchsafed to him?' He will depart empty again of all good works. For it is impossible, yes, it is in my opinion impossible, that the man who upon such hopes dallied with baptism should have effected ought generous and good. And why dost thou harbor such fear, and presume upon the uncertain chance of the future? Why not convert this fear into labor and earnestness, and thou shalt be great and admirable? Which is best, to fear or to labor? Suppose some one to have placed thee, having nothing to do, in a tottering house, saying, Look for the decaying roof to fall upon thy head: for perhaps it will fall perhaps not; but if thou hadst rather it should not, then work and inhabit the more secure apartment: which wouldest thou have rather chosen, that idle condition accompanied with fear, or this labor with confidence? Why then, act now in the same way. For the uncertain future is like a decayed house, ever threatening to fall; but this work, laborious though it be, ensures safety.
Now God forbid that it should happen to us to fall into so great straits as to sin after baptism. However, even if aught such should happen, God is merciful, and has given us many ways of obtaining remission even after this. But just as those who sin after baptism are punished for this reason more severely than the Catechumens, so again, those who know that there are medicines in repentance, and yet will not make use of them, will undergo a more grievous chastisement. For by how much the mercy of God is enlarged, by so much does the punishment increase, if we do not duly profit by that mercy. What sayest thou, O man? When thou wast full of such grievous evils, and given over, suddenly thou becamest a friend, and wast exalted to the highest honor, not by labors of thine own, but by the gift of God: thou didst again return to thy former misconduct; and though thou didst deserve to be sorely punished, nevertheless, God did not turn away, but gave unnumbered opportunities of salvation, whereby thou mayest yet become a friend: yet for all this, thou hast not the will to labor. What forgiveness canst thou deserve henceforth? Will not the Gentiles with good reason deride thee as a worthless drone? For if there be power in that doctrine of yours, say they, what means this multitude of uninitiated persons? If the mysteries be excellent and desirable, let none receive baptism at his last gasp. For that is not the time for giving of mysteries but for making of wills; the time for mysteries is in health of mind and soundness of soul. For, if a man would not prefer to make his will in such a condition; and if he does so make it, he gives a handle for subsequent litigation (and this is the reason why testators premise these words: "Alive, in my senses, and in health, I make this disposal of my property:"), how should it be possible for a person who is no longer master of his senses to go through the right course of preparation for the sacred mysteries? For if in the affairs of this life, the laws of the world would not permit a man who was not perfectly sound in mind to make a will, although it be in his own affairs that he would lay down the law; how, when thou art receiving instruction concerning the kingdom of heaven, and the unspeakable riches of that world, shall it be possible for thee to learn all clearly, when very likely too thou art beside thyself through the violence of thy malady? And when wilt thou say those words to Christ, in the act of being buried with Him when at the point to depart hence? For indeed both by works and by words must we show our good will towards Him. (Rom. vi. 4.) Now what thou art doing is all one, as if a man should want to be enlisted as a soldier, when the war is just about to break up; or to strip for the contest in the arena, just when the spectators have risen from their seats. For thou hast thine arms given thee, not that thou shouldest straightway depart hence, but that being equipped therewith, thou mayest raise a trophy over the enemy. Let no one think that it is out of season to discourse on this subject, because it is not Lent now. Nay, this it is that vexes me, that ye look to a set time in such matters. Whereas that Eunuch, barbarian as he was and on a journey, yea on the very highway, he did not seek for a set time (Acts viii. 27); no, nor the jailer, though he was in the midst of a set of prisoners, and the teacher he saw before him was a man scourged and in chains, and whom he was still to have in his custody. (ib. xvi. 29.) But here, not being inmates of a jail, nor out on a journey, many are putting off their baptism even to their last breath.
Now if thou still questionest that Christ is God, stand away from the Church: be not here, even as a hearer of the Divine Word, and as one of the catechumens: but if thou art sure of this, and knowest clearly this truth, why delay? Why shrink back and hesitate? For fear, say you, lest I should sin. But dost thou not fear what is worse, to depart for the next world with such a heavy burden? For it is not equally excusable, not to have gotten a grace set before you, and to have failed in attempting to live uprightly. If thou be called to account, Why didst thou not come for it? what wilt thou answer? In the other case thou mayest allege the burden of thy passions, and the difficulty of a virtuous life: but nothing of the kind here. For here is grace, freely conveying liberty. But thou fearest lest thou shouldest sin? Let this be thy language after Baptism: and then entertain this fear, in order to hold fast the liberty thou hast received; not now, to prevent thy receiving such a gift. Whereas now thou art wary before baptism, and negligent after it. But thou art waiting for Lent: and why? Has that season any advantage? Nay, it was not at the Passover that the Apostles received the grace, but at another season; and then three thousand (Luke says,)and five thousand were baptized: (ch. ii. 41; iv. 4, and ch. x.) and again Cornelius. Let us then not wait for a set time, lest by hesitating and putting off we depart empty, and destitute of so great gifts. What do you suppose is my anguish when I hear that any person has been taken away unbaptized, while I reflect upon the intolerable punishments of that life, the inexorable doom! Again, how I am grieved to behold others drawing near to their last gasp, and not brought to their right mind even then. Hence too it is that scenes take place quite unworthy of this gift. For whereas there ought to be joy, and dancing, and exultation, and wearing of garlands, when another is christened; the wife of the sick man has no sooner heard that the physician has ordered this, than she is overcome with grief, as if it were some dire calamity; she sets up the greatest lamentation, and nothing is heard all over the house but crying and wailing, just as it is when condemned criminals are led away to their doom. The sick man again is then more sorely grieved; and if he recovers from his illness, is as vexed as if some great harm had been done to him. For since he had not been prepared for a virtuous life, he has no heart for the conflicts which are to follow, and shrinks at the thought of them. Do you see what devices the devil contrives, what shame, what ridicule? Let us rid ourselves of this disgrace; let us live as Christ has enjoined. He gave us Baptism, not that we should receive and depart, but that we should show the fruits of it in our after life. How can one say to him who is departing and broken down, Bear fruit? Hast thou not heard that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace?" (Gal. v. 22.) How comes it then that the very contrary takes place here? For the wife stands there mourning, when she ought to rejoice; the children weeping, when they ought to be glad together; the sick man himself lies there in darkness, and surrounded by noise and tumult, when he ought to be keeping high festival; full of exceeding despondency at the thought of leaving his children orphans, his wife a widow, his house desolate. Is this a state in which to draw near unto mysteries? answer me; is this a state in which to approach the sacred table? Are such scenes to be tolerated? Should the Emperor send letters and release the prisoners in the jails, there is joy and gladness: God sends down the Holy Ghost from Heaven to remit not arrears of money, but a whole mass of sins, and do ye all bewail and lament? Why, how grossly unsuitable is this! Not to mention that sometimes it is upon the dead that the water has been poured, and holy mysteries flung upon the ground. However, not we are to blame for this, but men who are so perverse. I exhort you then to leave all, and turn and draw near to Baptism with all alacrity, that having given proof of great earnestness at this present time, we may obtain confidence for that which is to come; whereunto that we may attain, may it be granted unto us all by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
"When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?"
When the disciples intend to ask anything, they approach Him together, that by dint of numbers they may abash Him into compliance. They well knew that in what He had said previously, "Of that day knoweth no man" (Matt. xxiv. 36), He had merely declined telling them: therefore they again drew near, and put the question. They would not have put it had they been truly satisfied with that answer. For having heard that they were about to receive the Holy Ghost, they, as being now worthy of instruction, desired to learn. Also they were quite ready for freedom: for they had no mind to address themselves to danger; what they wished was to breathe freely again; for they were no light matters that had happened to them, but the utmost peril had impended over them. And without saying any thing to Him of the Holy Ghost, they put this question: "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" They did not ask, when? but whether "at this time." So eager were they for that day. Indeed, to me it appears that they had not any clear notion of the nature of that kingdom; for the Spirit had not yet instructed them.(*) And they do not say, When shall these things be? but they approach Him with greater honour, saying, "Wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom," as being now already fallen. For there they were still affected towards sensible objects, seeing they were not vet become better than those who were before them; here they have henceforth high conceptions concerning Christ. Since then their minds are elevated, He also speaks to them in a higher strain. For He no longer tells them, "Of that day not even the Son of Man knoweth" (Mark xiii. 32); but He says, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power" (Acts i. 7.) Ye ask things greater than your capacity, He would say. And yet even now they learned things that were much greater than this. And that you may see that this is strictly the case, look how many things I shall enumerate. What, I pray you, was greater than their having learned what they did learn? Thus, they learned that there is a Son of God, and that God has a Son equal with Himself in dignity (John v. 17—20); they learned that there will be a resurrection (Matt. xvii. 9); that when He ascended He sat on the right hand of God (Luke xxii. 69); and what is still more stupendous, that Flesh is seated in heaven, and adored by Angels, and that He will come again (Mark xvi. 19); they learned what is to take place in the judgment (Matt. xvi. 27); learned that they shall then sit and judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke xxi. 27); learned that the Jews would be cast out, and in their stead the Gentiles should come in (Matt. xix. 28). For, tell me, which is greater? to learn that a person will reign, or to learn the time when? (Luke xxi. 24). Paul learned "things which it is not
lawful for a man to utter" (2 Cor. xii. 4); things that were before the world was made, he learned them all. Which is the more difficult, the beginning or the end? Clearly to learn the beginning. This, Moses learned, and the time when, and how long ago: and he enumerates the years. And the wise Solomon saith, "I will make mention of things from the beginning of the world." And that the time is at hand, they do know: as Paul saith, "The Lord is at hand, be careful for nothing." (Phil. iv. 5). These things they knew not [then], and yet He mentions many signs (Matt. ch. xxiv). But, as He has just said, "Not many days hence," wishing them to be vigilant, and did not openly declare the precise moment, so is it here also. However, it is not about the general Consummation that they now ask Him, but, "Wilt Thou at this time," say they, "restore the kingdom to Israel?" And not even this did He reveal to them. They also asked this [about the end of the world] before: and as on that occasion He answered by leading them away from thinking that their deliverance was near and, on the contrary, cast them into the midst of perils, so likewise on this occasion but more mildly. For, that they may not imagine themselves to be wronged, and these things to be mere pretences, hear what He says: He immediately gives them that at which they rejoiced: for He adds: "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts i. 8.) Then, that they may make no more enquiries, straightway He was received up. Thus, just as on the former occasion He had darkened their minds by awe, and by saying, "I know not;" here also He does so by being taken up. For great was their eagerness on the subject, and they would not have desisted; and yet it was very necessary that they should not learn this. For tell me, which do the Gentiles most disbelieve? that there will be a consummation of the world, or that God is become man, and issued from the Virgin? But I am ashamed of dwelling on this point, as if it were about some difficult matter. Then again, that the disciples might not say, Why dost thou leave the matter in suspense? He adds, "Which the Father hath put in His own power." And yet He declared the Father's power and His to be one: as in the saying, "For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will." (John v. 21.) If where need is to work, Thou actest with the same power as the Father; where it behooves to know, dost Thou not know with the same power? Yet certainly to raise up the dead is much greater than to learn the day. If the greater be with power, much more the other.
But just as when we see a child crying, and pertinaciously wishing to get something from us that is not expedient for him, we hide the thing, and show him our empty hands, and say, "See, we have it not:" the like has Christ here done with the Apostles. But as the child, even when we show a him [our empty hands], persists with his crying, conscious he has been deceived, and then we leave him, and depart, saying, "Such an one calls me:" and we give him something else instead, in order to divert him from his desire, telling him it is a much liner thing than the other, and then hasten away; in like manner Christ acted.(*) The disciples asked to have something, and He said He had it not. And on the first occasion he frightened them. Then again they asked to have it now: He said He had it not; and He did not frighten them now, but after having shown [the empty hands], He has done this, and gives them a plausible reason: "Which the Father," He says, "hath put in his own power." What? Thou not know the things of the Father! Thou knowest Him, and not what belongs to Him! And yet Thou hast said, "None knoweth the Father but the Son" (Luke x. 25); and, "The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Cor. ii. 10); and Thou not know this! But they feared to ask Him again, test they should hear Him say, "Are ye also without understanding?" (Matt. xv. 26.) For they feared Him now much more than before. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." As in the former instance He had not answered their question (for it is the part of a teacher to teach not what the disciple chooses, but what is expedient for him to learn), so in this, He tells them beforehand, for this reason, what they ought to know, that they may not be troubled. In truth, they were yet weak. But to inspire them with confidence, He raised up their souls, and concealed what was grievous. Since he was about to leave them very shortly, therefore in this discourse He says nothing painful. But how? He extols as great the things which would be painful: all but saying," 'Fear not': for ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria." For since he had said, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not" (Matt. x. 5), what there He left unsaid, He here adds "And to the uttermost part of the earth;" and having spoken this, which was more fearful than all the rest, then that they may not again question Him, He held His peace. "And having this said, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight" (v. 9). Seest thou that they did preach and fulfil the Gospel? For great was the gift He had bestowed on them. In the very place, He says, where ye are afraid, that is, in Jerusalem, there preach ye first, and afterwards unto the uttermost part of the earth. Then for assurance of what He had said, "While they beheld, He was taken up." Not "while they beheld" did He rise from the dead, but "while they beheld, He was taken up." Inasmuch, however, as the sight of their eyes even here was not all- sufficient; for in the Resurrection they saw the end, but not the beginning, and in the Ascension they saw the beginning, but not the end: because in the former it had been superfluous to have seen the beginning, the Lord Himself Who spake these things being present, and the sepulchre showing clearly that He is not there; but in the latter, they needed to be informed of the sequel by word of others: inasmuch then as their eyes do not suffice to show them the height above, nor to inform them whether He is actually gone up into heaven, or only seemingly into heaven, see then what follows. That it was Jesus Himself they knew from the fact that He had been conversing with them (for had they seen only from a distance, they could not have recognized Him by sight), but that He is taken up into Heaven the Angels themselves inform them. Observe how it is ordered, that not all is done by the Spirit, but the eyes also do their part. But why did "a cloud receive Him?" This too was a sure sign that He went up to Heaven. Not fire, as in the case of Elijah, nor fiery chariot but "a cloud received Him;" which was a symbol of Heaven, as the Prophet says; "Who maketh the clouds His chariot" (Ps. civ. 3); it is of the Father Himself that this is said. Therefore he says, "on a cloud;" in the symbol, he would say, of the Divine power, for no other Power is seen to appear on a cloud. For hear again what another Prophet says: "The Lord sitteth upon a light cloud" (Is. xix. 1). For it was while they were listening with great attention to what He was saying, and this in answer to a very interesting question, and with their minds fully aroused and quite awake, that this thing took place. Also on the mount [Sinai] the cloud was because of Him: since Moses also entered into the darkness, but the cloud there was not because of Moses. And He did not merely say, "I go," lest they should again grieve, but He said, "I send the Spirit" John xvi. 5, 7); and that He was going away into heaven they saw with their eyes. O what a sight they were granted! "And while they looked stedfastly," it is said, "toward heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is g taken up from you into heaven"—they used the expression "This" demonstratively, saying, "this Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall thus"—demonstratively, "in this way"—"come in like manner as ye have seen Him going into heaven." (v. 10, 11.) Again, the outward appearance is cheering ["in white apparel"]. They were Angels, in the form of men. And they say, "Ye men of Galilee:" they showed themselves to be trusted by the disciples, by saying, "Ye men of Galilee." For this was the meaning: else, what needed they to be told of their country, who knew it well enough? By their appearance also they attracted their regard, and shewed that they were from heaven. But wherefore does not Christ Himself tell them these things, instead of the Angels? He had beforehand told them all things; [" What if ye shall see the Son of Man] going up where He was before?" (John vi. 62).
Moreover the Angels did not say, 'whom you have seen taken up,' but, "going into heaven:" ascension is the word, not assumption; the expression "taken up," belongs to the flesh. For the same reason they say, "He which is taken up from you shall thus come," not, "shall be sent," but, "shall come. He that ascended, the same is he also that descended" (Eph. iv. 10). So again the expression, "a cloud received Him:" for He Himself mounted upon the cloud. Of the expressions, some are adapted to the conceptions of the disciples, some agreeable with the Divine Majesty. Now, as they behold, their conceptions are elevated: He has given them no slight hint of the nature of His second coming. For this, "Shall thus come," means, with the body; which thing they desired to hear; and, that he shall come again to judgment "thus" upon a cloud. "And, behold, two men stood by them." Why is it said, "men?" Because they had fashioned themselves completely as such, that the beholders might not be overpowered. "Which also said:" their words moreover were calculated for soothing: "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" They would not let them any longer wait there for Him. Here again, these tell what is greater, and leave the less unsaid. That "He will thus come," they say, and that "ye must look for Him from heaven." For the rest, they called them off from that spectacle to their saying, that they might not, because they could not see Him, imagine that He was not ascended, but even while they are conversing, would be present ere they were aware. For if they said on a former occasion, "Whither goest Thou?" (John xiii. 36) much more would they have said it now.
"Wilt Thou at this time," say they, "restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Recapitulation). They so well knew his mildness, that after His Passion also they ask Him, "Wilt thou restore?" And yet He had before said to them, "Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, but the end is not yet," nor shall Jerusalem be taken. But now they ask Him about the kingdom, not about the end. And besides, He does not speak at great length with them after the Resurrection. They address then this question, as thinking that they themselves would be in high honor, if this should come to pass. But He (for as touching this restoration, that it was not to be, He did not openly declare; for what needed they to learn this? hence they do not again ask, "What is the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?" for they are afraid to say that: but, "Wilt Thou restore the kingdom to Israel?" for they thought there was such a kingdom), but He, I say, both in parables had shown that the time was not near, and here where they asked, and He answered thereto, "Ye shall receive power," says He, "when the Holy Ghost is come upon you. Is come upon you," not, "is sent," [to shew the Spirit's coequal Majesty. How then darest thou, O opponent of the Spirit, to call Him a creature?]. "And ye shall be witnesses to Me." He hinted at the Ascension. ["And when he had spoken these things.] Which they had heard before, and He now reminds them of. ["He was taken up."] Already it has been shown, that He went up into heaven. ["And a cloud, etc."] "Clouds and darkness are under His feet," (Ps. xviii. 9; xcvii. 2) saith the Scripture: for this is declared by the expression, "And a cloud received Him:" the Lord of heaven, it means. For as a king is shown by the royal chariot, so was the royal chariot sent for Him. ["Behold, two men, etc.] That they may vent no sorrowful exclamations, and that it might not be with them as it was with Elisha, (2 Kings ii. 12) who, when his master was taken up, rent his mantle. And what say they? "This Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall thus come." And, "Behold, two men stood by them." (Matt. xviii. 16.) With good reason: for "in the mouth of two witnesses shall every word be established" (Deut. xvii. 6): and these utter the same things. And it is said, that they were "in white apparel." In the same manner as they had already seen an Angel at the sepulchre, who had even told them their own thoughts; so here also an Angel is the preacher of His Ascension; although indeed the Prophets had frequently foretold it, as well as the Resurrection.
Everywhere it is Angels as at the Nativity, "for that which is conceived in her," saith one, "is by the Holy Ghost" (Matt. i. 20): and again to Mary, "Fear not, Mary." (Luke i. 30.) And at the Resurrection: "He is not here; He is risen, and goeth before you." (ib. xxiv. 6.) "Come, and see!" (Matt. xxviii. 6.) And at the Second Coming. For that they may not be utterly in amaze, therefore it is added, "Shall thus come." (ib. xxv. 31.) They recover their breath a little; if indeed He shall come again, if also thus come, and not be unapproachable! And that expression also, that it is "from them" He is taken up, is not idly added. And of the Resurrection indeed Christ Himself bears witness (because of all things this is, next to the Nativity, nay even above the Nativity, the most wonderful: His raising Himself to life again): for, "Destroy," He says, "this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John ii. 19.) "Shall thus come," say they. If any therefore desires to see Christ; if any grieves that he has not seen Him: having this heard, let him show forth an admirable life, and certainly he shall see Him, and shall not be disappointed. For Christ will come with greater glory, though "thus," in this manner, with a body(*); and much more wondrous will it be, to see Him descending from heaven. But for what He will come, they do not add.
["Shall thus come," etc.] This is a confirmation of the Resurrection; for if he was taken up with a body, much rather must He have risen again with a body. Where are those who disbelieve the Resurrection? Who are they, I pray? Are they Gentiles, or Christians? for I am ignorant. But no, I know well: they are Gentiles, who also disbelieve the work of Creation. For the two denials go together: the denial that God creates any thing from nothing, and the denial that He raises up what has been buried. But then, being ashamed to be thought such as "know not the power of God" (Matt. xxii. 29), that we may not impute this to them, they allege: We do not say it with this meaning, but because there is no need of the body. Truly it may be seasonably said, "The fool will speak foolishness." (Is. xxxii. 6.) Are you not ashamed not to grant, that God can create from nothing? If he creates from matter already existing, wherein does He differ from men? But whence, you demand, are evils? Though you should not know whence, ought you for that to introduce another evil in the knowledge of evils? Hereupon two absurdities follow. For if you do not grant, that from things which are not, God made the things which are, much more shall you be ignorant whence are evils: and then, again, you introduce another evil, the affirming that Evil (th`n kaki'an) is uncreated. Consider now what a thing it is, when you wish to find the source of evils, to be both ignorant of it, and to add another to it. Search after the origin of evils, and do not blaspheme God. And how do I blaspheme? says he. When you make out that evils have a power equal to God's; a power uncreated. For, observe what Paul says; "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made." (Rom. i. 20.) But the devil would have both to be of matter, that there may be nothing left from which we may come to the knowledge of God. For tell me, whether is harder: to take that which is by nature evil (if indeed there be ought such; for I speak upon your principles, since there is no such thing as evil by nature), and make it either good, or even coefficent of good? or, to make of nothing? Whether is easier (I speak of quality); to induce the non- existent quality; or to take the existing quality, and change it into its contrary? where them is no house, to make the house; or where it is utterly destroyed, to make it identically exist again? Why, as this is impossible, so is that: to make a thing into its opposite. Tell me, whether is harder; to make a perfume, or to make filth have the effect of perfume? Say, whether of these is easier (since we subject God to our reasonings: nay, not we, but ye); to form eyes, or to make a blind man to see continuing blind, and yet more sharp-sighted, than one who does see? To make blindness into sight, and deafness into hearing? To me the other seems easier. Say then do you grant God that which is harder, and not grant the easier? But souls also they affirm to be of His substance. Do you see what a number of impieties and absurdities are here! In the first place, wishing to show that evils are from God, they bring in another thing more impious than this, that they are equal with Him in majesty, and God prior in existence to none of them, assigning this great prerogative even to them! In the next place, they affirm evil to be indestructible: for if that which is uncreated can be destroyed, ye see the blasphemy! So that it comes to this, either that nothing is of God if not these; or that these are God! Thirdly, what I have before spoken of, in this point they defeat themselves, and prepare against themselves fresh indignation. Fourthly, they affirm unordered matter to possess such inherent (epithdeio'thta) power. Fifthly, that evil is the cause of the goodness of God, and that without this the Good had not been good. Sixthly, they bar against us the ways of attaining unto the knowledge of God. Seventhly, they bring God down into men, yea plants and logs. For if our soul be of the substance of God, but the process of its transmigration into new bodies brings it at last into cucumbers, and melons, and onions, why then the substance of God will pass into cucumbers! And if we say, that the Holy Ghost fashioned the Temple For our Lord's body] in the Virgin, they laugh us to scorn: and if, that He dwelt in that spiritual Temple, again they laugh; while they themselves are not ashamed to bring down God's substance into cucumbers, and melons, and flies, and caterpillars, and asses, thus excogitating a new fashion of idolatry: for let it not be as the Egyptians have it, "The onion is God;" but let it be, "God in the onion"! Why dost thou shrink from the notion of God's entering into a body? 'It is shocking,' says he. Why then this is much more shocking. But, a forsooth, it is not shocking—how should it be?—this same thing which is so, if it be into us! 'But thy notion is indeed shocking.' Do ye see the filthiness of their impiety?—But why do they not wish the body to be raised? And why do they say the body is evil? By what then, tell me, dost thou know God? by what hast thou the knowledge of existing things? The philosopher too: by means of what is he a philosopher, if the body does nothing towards it? Deaden the senses, and then learn something of the things one needs to know! What would be more foolish than a soul, if from the first it had the senses deadened? If the deadening of but a single part, I mean of the brain, becomes a marring of it altogether; if all the rest should be deadened, what would it be good for? Show me a soul without a body. Do you not hear physicians say, The presence of disease sadly enfeebles the soul? How long will ye put off hanging yourselves? Is the body material? tell me. "To be sure, it is." Then you ought to hate it. Why do you feed, why cherish it? You ought to get quit of this prison. But besides: "God cannot overcome matter, unless he (sumplakh^) implicate himself with it: for he cannot issue orders to it (O feebleness!) until he close with it, and (stathh^) take his stand (say you) through the whole of it!" And a king indeed does all by commanding; but God, not by commanding the evil! In short, if it were unparticipant of all good, it could not subsist at all. For Evil cannot subsist, unless it lay hold upon somewhat of the accidents of Virtue: so that if it had been heretofore all unmixed with virtue, it would have perished long ago: for such is the condition of evils. Let there be a profligate man, let him put upon himself no restraint whatever, will he live ten days? Let there be a robber, and devoid of all conscience in his dealings with every one, let him be such even to his fellow-robbers, will he be able to live? Let there be a thief, void of all shame, who knows not what blushing is, but steals openly in public. It is not in the nature of evils to subsist, unless they get some small share at least in good. So that hereupon, according to these men, God gave them their subsistence. Let there be a city of wicked men; will it stand? But let them be wicked, not only with regard to the good, but towards each other. Why, it is impossible such a city should stand. Truly, "professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." (Rom. i. 22.) If bodily substance be evil, then all things visible exist idly, and in vain, both water and earth, and sun, and air; for air is also body, though not solid. It is in point then to say, "The wicked have told me foolish things." (Ps. cxix. 85.) But let not us endure them, let us block up our ears against them. For there is, yea, there is, a resurrection of bodies. This the sepulchre which is at Jerusalem declares, this the pillar to which He was bound, when He was scourged. For, "We did eat and drink with Him," it is said. Let us then believe in the Resurrection, and do things worthy of it, that we may attain to the good things which are to come, through Christ Jesus our Lord, with Whom to the Father, and the Holy Ghost together, be power, honor, now and for ever, world Without end. Amen.
"Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.”
"Then returned they," it is said: namely, when they had heard. For they could not have borne it, if the angel had not (hupere'theto) referred them to another Coming. It seems to me, that it was also on a sabbath-day that these things took place; for he would not thus have specified the distance, saying, "from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey," unless they were then going on the sabbath-day a certain definite distance. "And when they were come in," it says, "they went up into an upper room, where they were making their abode:" so they then remained in Jerusalem after the Resurrection: "both Peter, and James, and John :" no longer is only the latter together with his brother mentioned, but together with Peter the two: "and Andrew, and Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, and James (the son) of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas, (the brother) of James."(*) (v. 13.) He has done well to mention the disciples: for since one had betrayed Christ, and another had been unbelieving, he thereby shows that, except the first, all of them were preserved.
"These were all continuing with one accord in prayer together with the women." (v. 14.) For this is a powerful weapon in temptations; and to this they had been trained. ["Continuing with one accord."] Good. (kalw^s). Besides, the present temptation directed them to this: for they exceedingly feared the Jews. "With the women," it is said: for he had said that they had followed Him: "and with Mary the mother of Jesus." (Luke xxiii. 55.) How then [is it said, that "that disciple"] took her to his own home" (John xix. 26), at that time? But then the Lord had brought them together again, and so returned. "And with His brethren." (John xvii. 5.) These also were before unbelieving.
"And in those days," it says, "Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said." (v. 15.) Both as being ardent, and as having been put in trust by Christ with the flock, and as having precedence in honor, he always begins the discourse. ("The number of the names together were about an hundred and twenty.) Men and brethren," he says, "this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spake before," [etc.] (v. 16.) Why did he not ask Christ to give him some one in the room of Judas? It is better as it is. For in the first place, they were engaged in other things; secondly, of Christ's presence with them, the greatest proof that could be given was this: as He had chosen when He was among them, so did He now being absent. Now this was no small matter for their consolation. But observe how Peter does everything with the common consent; nothing imperiously. And he does not speak thus without a meaning. But observe how he consoles them concerning what had passed. In fact, what had happened had caused them no small consternation. For if there are many now who canvass this circumstance, what may we suppose they had to say then?
"Men and brethren," says Peter. For if the Lord called them brethren, much more may he. ["Men," he says]: they all being present. See the dignity of the Church, the angelic condition! No distinction there, "neither male nor female." I would that the Churches were such now! None there had his mind full of some worldly matter, none was anxiously thinking about household concerns. Such a benefit are temptations, such the advantage of afflictions!
"This Scripture," says he, "must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spake before." Always he comforts them by the prophecies. So does Christ on all occasions. In the very same way, he shows here that no strange thing had happened, but what had already been foretold. "This Scripture must needs have been fulfilled," he says, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before." He does not say, David, but the Spirit through him. See what kind of doctrine the writer has at the very outset of the book. Do you see, that it was not for nothing that I said in the beginning of this work, that this book is the Polity of the Holy Spirit? "Which the Holy Ghost spake before by the mouth of David." Observe how he appropriates (oikeiou^tai) him; and that it is an advantage to them, that this was spoken by David, and not by some other Prophet. "Concerning Judas," he says, "which was guide." Here again mark the philosophical temper of the man: how he does not mention him with scorn, nor say, "that wretch," "that miscreant:" but simply states the fact; and does not even say, "who betrayed Him," but does what he can to transfer the guilt to others: nor does he animadvert severely even on these: "Which was guide," he says, "to them that took Jesus." Furthermore, before he declares where David had spoken, he relates what had been the case with Judas, that from the things present he may fetch assurance of the things future, and show that this man had already received his due. "For he was numbered," says he, "with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man acquired a field out of the reward of iniquity." (v. 17, 18.) He gives his discourse a moral turn, and covertly mentions the cause of the wickedness, because it carried reproof with it. And he does not say, The Jews, but, "this man,
acquired" it. For since the minds of weak persons do not attend to things future, as they do to things present, he discourses of the immediate punishment inflicted. "And falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst." He does well to dilate not upon the sin, but upon the punishment. "And," he says, "all his bowels gushed out." This brought them consolation. "And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue Aceldama, that is to say, the field of blood." (v. 19). Now the Jews gave it this name, not on this account, but because of Judas; here, however, Peter makes it to have this reference, and when he brings forward the adversaries as witnesses, both by the fact that they named it, and by saying, "in their proper tongue," this is what he means.
Then after the event, he appositely brings m the Prophet, saying, "For it is written in the Book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein" (v. 20) (Ps. lxix. 25): this is said of the field and the dwelling: "And his bishopric let another take; that is, his office, his priesthood. So that this, he says, is not my counsel, but His who hath foretold these things. For, that he may not seem to be undertaking a great thing, and just such as Christ had done, he adduces the Prophet as a witness. "Wherefore it behooves of these men which have companied with us all the time." (v. 21.) Why does he make it their business too? That the matter might not become an object of strife, and they might not fall into contention about it. For if the Apostles themselves once did this, much more might those. This he ever avoids. Wherefore at the beginning he said, "Men and brethren. It behooves" to choose from among you. He defers the decision to the whole body, thereby both making the elected objects of reverence and himself keeping clear of all invidiousness with regard to the rest. For such occasions always give rise to great evils. Now that some one must needs be appointed, he adduces the prophet as witness: but from among what persons: "Of these," he says, "which have companied with us all the time." To have said, the worthy must present themselves, would have been to insult the others; but now he refers the matter to length of time; for he says not simply, "These who have companied with us," but, "all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection" (v. 22): that their college (ho choro`s) might not be left mutilated. Then why did it not rest with Peter to make the election himself: what was the motive? This; that he might not seem to bestow it of favor. And besides, he was not yet endowed with the spirit. "And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabus, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias." (v. 23.) Not he appointed them: but it was he that introduced the proposition to that effect, at the same time pointing out that even this was not his own, but from old time by prophecy; so that he acted as expositor, not as preceptor. "Joseph called Barsabus, who was surnamed Justus." Perhaps both names are given, because there were others of the same name, for among the Apostles also there were several names alike; as James, and James (the son) of Alphaeus; Simon Peter, and Simon Zelotes; Judas (the brother) of James, and Judas Iscariot. The appellation, however, may have arisen from a change of life, and very likely also of the moral character. "They appointed two," it is said, "Joseph called Barsabus, who was surnamed. Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said; Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and Apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place." (v. 24, 25.) They do well to mention the sin of Judas, thereby showing that it is a witness they ask to have; not increasing the number, but not suffering it to be diminished. "And they gave forth their lots "(for the spirit was not yet sent), "and the lot fell upon Matthias: and he was numbered with the eleven Apostles." (v. 26.)
"Then," it says, "returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet (Recapitulation), ["which is nigh to Jerusalem, at the distance of a sabbath-day's journey:"] so that there was no long way to go, to be a cause of alarm to them while yet trembling and fearful. "And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room." They durst not appear in the town. They also did well to go up into an upper room, as it became less easy' to arrest them at once. "And they continued," it is said, "with one accord in prayer." Do you see how watchful they were? "Continuing in prayer," and "with one accord," as it were with one soul, continuing therein: two things reported in their praise. ["Where they were abiding," etc., to, "And Mary the Mother of Jesus and His brethren."] Now Joseph perhaps was dead: for it is not to be supposed that when the brethren had become believers, Joseph believed not; he who in fact had believed before any. Certain it is that we nowhere find him looking upon Christ as man merely. As where His mother said, [" Thy father and I did seek thee sorrowing." (Luke ii. 48.) And upon another occasion, it was said,] "Thy mother and thy brethren seek thee." (Matt. xiii. 47.) So that Joseph knew this before all others. And to them [the brethren] Christ said, "The world cannot hate you, but Me it hateth. (John vii. 7.)
Again, consider the moderation of James. He it was who received the Bishopric of Jerusalem, and here he says nothing. Mark also the great moderation of the other Apostles, how they concede the throne to him, and no longer dispute with each other. For that Church was as it were in heaven: having nothing to do with this world's affairs: and resplendent not with wails, no, nor with numbers, but with the zeal of them that formed the assembly. They were "about an hundred and twenty," it says. The seventy perhaps whom Christ Himself had chosen, and other of the more earnest- minded disciples, as Joseph and Matthias. (v. 14.) There were women, he says, many, who followed Him. (Mark xv. 41.) ["The number of the names together.] Together" they were on all occasions.
[" Men and brethren," etc.] Here is forethought for providing a teacher; here was the first who ordained a teacher. He did not say, 'We are sufficient.' So far was he beyond all vain-glory, and he looked to one thing alone. And yet he had the same power to ordain as they all collectively. But well might these things be done in this fashion, through the noble spirit of the man, and because prelacy then was not an affair of dignity, but of provident care for the governed. This neither made the elected to become elated, for it was to dangers that they were called, nor those not elected to make a grievance of it, as if they were disgraced. But things are not done in this fashion now; nay, quite the contrary.—For observe, they were an hundred and twenty, and he asks for one out of the whole body with good right, as having been put in charge of them: for to him had Christ said, "And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Luke xxii. 32, Ben.)
"For he was numbered with us," (prw^tos tou^ pra'gmatos auqthntei^ absent from A.B.C.) says Peter. On this account it behooves to propose another; to be a witness in his place. And see how he imitates his Master, ever discoursing from the Scriptures, and saying nothing as yet concerning Christ; namely, that He had frequently predicted this Himself. Nor does he mention where the Scripture speaks of the treachery of Judas; for instance, "The mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me" (Ps. cix. 1.); but where it speaks only of his punishment; for this was most to their advantage. It shows again the benevolence of the Lord: "For he was numbered with us" (tou^to ga`r autou`s ma'lista wphe'lei: Dei'knusi pa'lin A.B.C.), he says, "and obtained his lot of this ministry." He calls it everywhere "lot," showing that the whole is from God's grace and election, and reminding them of the old times, inasmuch as God chose him into His own lot or portion, as of old He took the Levites. He also dwells upon the circumstances respecting Judas, showing that the reward of the treachery was made itself the herald of the punishment. For he "acquired." he says, "a field out of the reward of the iniquity." Observe the divine economy in the event. "Of the iniquity," he says. For there are many iniquities, but never was anything more iniquitous than this: so that the affair was one of iniquity. Now not only to those who were present did the event become known, but to all thereafter, so that without meaning or knowing. what they were about, they gave it a name; just as Caiaphas had prophesied unconsciously. God compelled them to call the field in Hebrew "Aceldama." (Matt. xxvi. 24.) By this also the evils which were to come upon the Jews were declared: and Peter shows the prophecy to have been so far in part fulfilled, which says, "It had been good for that man if he had not been born." We may with propriety apply this same to the Jews likewise; for if he who was guide suffered thus, much more they Thus far however Peter says nothing of this. Then, showing that the term, "Aceldama," might well be applied to his fate, he introduces the prophet, saying, "Let his habitation be desolate." For what can be worse desolation than to become a place of burial? And the field may well be called his. For he who cast down the price, although others were the buyers, has a right to be himself reckoned owner of a great desolation. This desolation was the prelude to that of the Jews, as will appear on looking closely into the facts. For indeed they destroyed themselves by famine, and killed many, and the city became a burial-place of strangers, of soldiers, for as to those, they would not even have let them be buried, for in fact they were not deemed worthy of sepulture.
"Wherefore of these men which have companied with us," continues Peter. Observe how desirous he is they should be eye-witnesses. It is true indeed that the Spirit would shortly come; and yet great care is shown with regard to this circumstance. "Of these men," he says, "which have companied with us, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us." He shows that they had dwelt with Christ, not simply been present as disciples. In fact, from the very beginning there were many that then followed Him. Observe, for instance, how this appears in these words: "One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Jesus.—All the time," he says, "that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John." (John i. 40.) True! for no one knew what preceded that event, though they did learn it by the Spirit. "Unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection."(*) He said not, a witness of the rest of his actions, but a witness of the resurrection alone. For indeed that witness had a better right to be believed, who was able to declare, that He Who ate and drank, and was crucified, the same rose again. Wherefore it was needed that he should be a witness, not only of the time preceding this event, nor only of what followed it, and of the miracles; the thing required was, the resurrection. For the other matters were manifest and acknowledged, but the resurrection took place in secret, and was manifest to these only. And they do not say, Angels have told us; but, We have seen. For this it was that was most needful at that time: that they should be men having a right to be believed, because they had seen.
"And they appointed two," it is said.(+) Why not many? That the feeling of disappointment might not reach further, extending to many. Again, it is not without reason that he puts Matthias last; he would show, that frequently he that is honourable among men, is inferior before God. And they all pray in common saying, "Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show. Thou," not "We." And very seasonably they use the epithet, "heart-knowing:" for by Him Who is this must the choice be made. So confident were they, that assuredly one of them must be appointed. They said not, Choose, but, "Show the chosen one;" knowing that all things were foreordained of God; "Whom Thou didst choose: one of these two," say they, "to have his lot in this ministry and apostleship." For there was besides another ministry (diakoni'a). "And they gave them their lots." For they did not yet consider themselves to be worthy to be informed by some sign. And besides, if in a case where neither prayer was made, nor men of worth were the agents, the casting of lots so much availed, because it was done of a right intention, I mean in the case of Jonah (Jonah i. 7); much more did it here. Thus, did he, the designated, fill up the company, complete the order: but the other candidate was not annoyed; for the apostolic writers would not have concealed [that or any other] failings of their own, seeing they have told of the very chief Apostles, that on other occasions they had indignation (Matt. xx. 24; xxvi. 8), and this not once only, but again and again.
Let us then also imitate them. And now I address no longer every one, but those who aim at preferment. If thou believest that the election is with God, be not displeased. (Mark x. 14, 21; xiv. 4.) For it is with Him thou art displeased, and with Him thou art exasperated: it is He who has made the choice; thou doest the very thing that Cain did; because, forsooth, his brother's, sacrifice was preferred, he was indignant, when he ought to have felt compunction. However, that is not what I mean here; but this, that God knows how to dispense things for the best. In many cases, thou art in point of disposition more estimable than the other but not the fit person. Besides, on the other hand, thy life is irreproachable, and thy habits those of a well-nurtured man, but in the Church this is not all that is wanted. Moreover, one man is adapted for one thing, another for another. Do you not observe, how much discourse the holy Scripture has made on this matter? But let me say why it is that the thing has become a subject of competition: it is because we come to the Episcopate not as unto a work of governing and superintending the brethren, but as to a post of dignity and repose. Did you but know that a Bishop is bound to belong to all, to bear the burden of all; that others, if they are angry, are pardoned, but he never; that others, if they sin, have excuses made for them, he has none; you would not be eager for the dignity, would not run after it. So it is, the Bishop is exposed to the tongues of all, to the criticism of all, whether they be wise or fools. He is harassed with cares every day, nay, every night. He has many to hate him, many to envy him. Talk not to me of those who curry favor with all, of those who desire to sleep, of those who advance to this office as for repose. We have nothing to do with these; we speak of those who watch for your souls, who consider the safety and welfare of those under them before their own. Tell me now: suppose a man has ten children, always living with him, and constantly under his control; yet is he solicitous about them; and a bishop, who has such numbers, not living under the same roof with him, but owing obedience to his authority— what does he not need to be! But he is honored, you will say. With what sort of honor, indeed! Why, the paupers and beggars abuse him openly in the market-place. And why does he not stop their mouths then? Yes, very proper work, this, for a bishop, is it not? Then again, if he do not give to all, the idle and the industrious alike, lo! a thousand complaints on all sides. None is afraid to accuse him, and speak evil of him. In the case of civil governors, fear steps in; with bishops, nothing of the kind. As for the fear of God, it does not influence people, as regards them, in the least degree. Why speak of the anxiety connected with the word and doctrine? the painful work in Ordinations? Either, perhaps, I am a poor wretched incompetent creature, or else, the case is as I say. The soul of a Bishop is for all the world like a vessel in a storm: lashed from every side, by friends, by foes, by one's own people, by strangers. Does not the Emperor rule the whole world, the Bishop a single city? Yet a Bishop's anxieties are as much beyond those of the emperor, as the waters of a river simply moved, by the wind are surpassed in agitation by the swelling and raging sea. And why? because in the one case there are many to lend a hand, for all goes on by law and by rule; but in the other there is none of this, nor is there authority to command; but if one be greatly moved, then he is harsh; if the contrary, then he is cold! And in him these opposites must meet, that he may neither be despised, nor be hated. Besides, the very demands of business preoccupy him: how many is he obliged to offend, whether he will or not! How many to be severe with! I speak not otherwise than it is, but as I find it in my own actual experience. I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish: and the reason is, that it is an affair that requires a great mind. Many are the exigencies which throw a man out of his natural temper; and he had need have a thousand eyes on all sides. Do you not see what a number of qualifications the Bishop must have? to be apt to teach, patient, holding fast the faithful word in doctrine (see 1 Tim. iii. 2-9. Tit. i. 7-9). What trouble and pains does this require! And then, others do wrong, and he bears all the blame. To pass over every thing else: if one soul depart unbaptized, does not this subvert all his own prospect of salvation? The loss of one soul carries with it a penalty which no language can represent. For if the salvation of that soul was of such value, that the Son of God became man, and suffered so much, think how sore a punishment must the losing of it bring! And if in this present life he who is cause of an- other's destruction is worthy of death, much more in the next world. Do not tell me, that the presbyter is in fault, or the deacon. The guilt of all these comes perforce upon the head of those who ordained them. Let me mention another instance. It chances, that a bishop has inherited from his predecessor a set of persons of indifferent character. What measures is it proper to take in respect of bygone transgressions (for here are two precipices) so as not to let the offender go unpunished, and not to cause scandal to the rest? Must one's first step be to cut him off? There is no actual present ground for that. But is it right to let him go unmarked? Yes, say you; for the fault rests with the bishop Who ordained him. Well then? must one refuse to ordain him again, and to raise him to a higher degree of the ministry? That would be to publish it to all men, that he is a person of indifferent character, and so again one would cause scandal in a different way. But is one to promote him to a higher degree? That is much worse.
If then there were only the responsibility of the office itself for people to run after in the episcopate, none would be so quick to accept it. But as things go, we run after this, just as we do after the dignities of the world. That we may have glory with men, we lose ourselves with God. What profit in such honor? How self-evident its nothingness is! When you covet the episcopal rank, put in the other scale, the account to be rendered after this life. Weigh against it, the happiness of a life free from toil, take into account the different measure of the punishment. I mean, that even if you have sinned, but in your own person merely, you will have no such great punishment, nothing like it: but if you have sinned as bishop, you are lost. Remember what Moses endured, what wisdom he displayed, what good deeds he exhibited: but, for committing one sin only, he was bitterly punished; and with good reason; for this fault was attended with injury to the rest. Not m regard that the sin was public, but because it was the sin of a spiritual Ruler (hiere'ws, cf. S.); for in truth we do not pay the same penalty for public and for hidden faults. (Aug in Ps. xcix. 6.) The sin may be the same, but not the (zhmi'a) harm of it; nay, not the sin itself; for it is not the same thing to sin in secret and unseen, and to sin openly. But the bishop cannot sin unobserved. Well for him if he escape reproach, though he sin not; much less can he think to escape notice, if he do sin. Let him be angry, let him laugh, or let him but dream of a moment's relaxation, many are they that scoff, many that are offended, many that lay down the law, many that bring to mind he former bishops, and abuse the, present one; not that they wish to sound the praise of those; no, it is only to carp at him that they bring up the mention of fellow-bishops, of presbyters. Sweet, says the proverb, is war to the inexperienced; but it may rather be said now, that even after one has come out of it, people in general have seen nothing of it: for in their eyes it is not war, but like those shepherds in Ezekiel, we slay and devour. (Ezek. xxxiv. 2.) Which of us has it in his power to show that he has taken as much care for the flocks of Christ, as Jacob did for Laban's? (Gen. xxxi. 40.) Which of us can tell of the frost of the night? For talk not to me of vigils, and all that parade. The contrary plainly is the fact. Prefects, and governors (u'parchoi kai` topa'rchai) Of provinces, do not enjoy such honour as he that governs the Church. If he enter the palace, who but he is first? If he go to see ladies, or visit the houses of the great, none is preferred to him. The whole state of things is ruined and corrupt. I do not speak thus as wishing to put us bishops to shame, but to repress your hankering after the office. For with what conscience, (even should you succeed in becoming a bishop, having made interest for it either in person or by another), with what eyes will you look the man in the face who worked with you to that end? What will you have to plead for your excuse? For he that unwillingly, by compulsion and not with his own consent, was raised to the office, may have something to say for himself, though for the most part even such an one has no pardon to expect, and yet truly he so far has something to plead in excuse. Think how it fared with Simon Magus. What signifies it that you give not money, if, in place of money, you pay court, you lay many plans, you set engines to work? "Thy money perish with thee!" (Acts viii. 20.) Thus was it said to him, and thus will it be said to these: your canvassing perish with you, because you have thought to purchase the gift of God by human intrigue! But there is none such here? And God forbid there should be! For it is not that I wish any thing of what I have been saying to be applicable to you: but just now the connexion has led us on to these topics. In like manner when we talk against covetousness, we are not preaching at you, no, nor against any one man personally. God grant it may be the case, that these remedies were prepared by us without necessity. The wish of the physician is, that after all his pains, his drugs may be thrown away because not wanted: and this is just what we desire, that our words may not have been needed, and so have been spoken to the wind, so as to be but words. I am ready to submit to anything, rather than be reduced to the necessity of using this language. But if you like, we are ready to leave off; only let our silence be without bad effects. No one, I imagine, though he were ever so vainglorious, would wish to make a display of severity, when there is nothing to call for it. I will leave the teaching to you: for that is the best teaching, which teaches by actions. For indeed the best physicians, although the sickness of their patients brings them in fees, would rather their friends were well. And so we too wish all to be well. (2 Cor. xiii. 7.) It is not that we desire to be approved, and you reproved. I would gladly manifest, if it were possible, with my very eyes, the love which I bear to you: for then no one would be able to reproach me, though my language were ever so rough. "For speech of friends, yea, were it insult, can be borne;" more "faithful are the wounds of a friend, rather than the ready kisses of an enemy. (Prov. xxvii. 6.) There nothing I love more than you, no, not even light itself. I would gladly have my eyes put out ten thousand times over, if it were possible by this means to convert your souls; so much is your salvation dearer to me than light itself. For what profit to me in the rays of the sun, when despondency on your account makes it all thick darkness before my eyes? Light is good when it shines in cheerfulness, to a sorrowful heart it seems even to be a trouble. How true this is, may you never learn by experience! However, if it happen to any of you to fall into sin, just stand by my bedside, when I am laid down to rest and should be asleep; see whether I am not like a palsied man, like one beside himself, and, in the language of the prophet, "the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. (Ps. xxxviii. 10.) For where is our hope, if you do not make progress? where our despondency, if you do excellently? I seem to have wings, when I hear any thing good of you. "Fulfil ye my joy." (Phil. ii. 2.) This one thing is the burden of my prayers, that I long for your advancement. But that in which I strive with all is this, that I love you, that I am wrapped up in you, that you are my all, father, mother, brethren, children. Think not then that any thing that has been said was said in a hostile l spirit, nay, it is for your amendment. It is written "A brother assisted by his brother is as a strong city." (Prov. xviii. 19.) Then do not take it in disdain: for neither do I undervalue what you have to say. I should wish even to be set right by you. For all (Edd. 'all we') [ye are brethren, and One is our Master: yet even among brothers it is for one to direct, while the others obey. Then disdain it not, but let us do all to the glory of God, for to Him belongs glory for ever and ever. Amen.
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven."
Dost thou perceive the type? What is this Pentecost? The time when the sickle was to be put to the harvest, and the ingathering was made. See now the reality, when the time was come to put in the sickle of the word: for here, as the sickle, keen-edged, came the Spirit down. For hear the words of Christ: "Lift up your eyes," He said, "and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest." (John iv. 35.) And again, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few." (Matt. ix. 38.) But as the first- fruits of this harvest, He himself took [our nature], and bore it up on high. Himself first put in the sickle. Therefore also He calls the Word the Seed. "When," it says, "the day of Pentecost was fully come" (Luke viii. 5, 11): that is, when at the Pentecost, while about it, in short. For it was essential that the present events likewise should take place during the feast, that those who had witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, might also behold these. "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven." (v. 2.) Why did this not come to pass without sensible tokens? For this reason. If even when the fact was such, men said, "They are full of new wine," what would they not have said, had it been otherwise? And it is not merely, "there came a sound," but, "from heaven." And the suddenness also startled them, and brought all together to the spot. "As of a rushing mighty wind:" this betokens the exceeding vehemence of the Spirit. "And it filled all the house:" insomuch that those present both believed, and (Edd. tou'tous) in this manner were shown to be worthy. Nor is this all; but what is more awful still, "And there appeared unto them," it says, "cloven tongues like as of fire." (v. 3.) Observe how it is always, "like as;" and rightly: that you may have no gross sensible notions of the Spirit. Also, "as it were of a blast:" therefore it was not a wind. "Like as of fire." For when the Spirit was to be made known to John, then it came upon the head of Christ as in the form of a dove: but now, when a whole multitude was to be converted, it is "like as of fire. And it sat upon each of them." This means, that it remained and rested upon them." For the sitting is significant of settledness and continuance.
Was it upon the twelve that it came? Not so; but upon the hundred and
twenty. For Peter would not have quoted to no purpose the testimony of the prophet, saying, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord God, I will pour out of My spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams." (Joel if. 28.) "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." (v. 4.) For, that the effect may not be to frighten only, therefore is it both "with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. And began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."' (Matt. iii. 11.) They receive no other sign, but this first; for it was new to them, and there was no need of any other sign. "And it sat upon each of them," says the writer. Observe now, how there is no longer any occasion for that person to grieve, who was not elected as was Matthias, "And they were all filled," he says; not merely received the grace of the Spirit, but "were filled. And began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." It would not have been said, All, the Apostles also being there present, unless the rest also were partakers. For were it not so having above made mention of the Apostles distinctively and by name, he
would not now have put them all in one with the rest. For if, where it was only to be mentioned that they were present, he makes mention of the Apostles apart, much more would he have done so in the case here supposed. Observe, how when one is continuing in prayer, when one is in charity, then it is that the Spirit draws near. It put them in mind also of another vision: for as fire did He appear also in the bush. "As the Spirit gave them utterance, apophthe'ggesthai." (Exod. ii. 2.) For the things spoken by them were apophthe'gmata profound utterances. "And," it says, "there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men." (v. 5.) The fact of their dwelling there was a sign of piety: that being of so many nations they should have left country, and home, and relations, and be abiding there. For, it says, "There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded. (v. 6.) Since the event had taken place in a house, of course they came together from without. The multitude was confounded: was all in commotion. They marvelled; "Because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were amazed," it says, "and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?" (v. 7-13.) They immediately turned their eyes towards the Apostles. "And how" (it follows) "hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene:" mark how they run from east to west: "and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And, they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine." O the excessive folly! O the excessive malignity! Why it was not even the season for that; for it was Pentecost. For this was what made it worse: that when those were confessing—men that were Jews, that were Romans, that were proselytes, yea perhaps that had crucified Him- -yet these, after so great signs, say, "They are full of new wine!"
But let us look over what has been said from the beginning. (Recapitulation.) "And when the day of Pentecost," etc. "It filled," he says, "the house." That wind pnoh` was a very pool of water. This betokened the copiousness, as the fire did the vehemence. This nowhere happened in the case of the Prophets: for to uninebriated souls such accesses are not attended with much disturbance; but "when they have well drunken," then indeed it is as here, but with the Prophets it is otherwise. (Ez. iii. 3.) The roll of a book is given him, and Ezekiel ate what he was about to utter. "And it became in his mouth," is is said, "as honey for sweetness." (And again the hand of God touches the tongue of another Prophet; but here it is the Holy Ghost Himself: (Jer. i. 9) so equal is He in honor with the Father and the Son.) And again, on the other hand, Ezekiel calls it "Lamentations, and mourning, and woe." (Ez. ii. 10.) To them it might well be in the form of a book; for they still needed similitudes. Those had to deal with only one nation, and with their own people; but these with the whole world, and with men whom they never knew. Also Elisha receives the grace through the medium of a mantle (2 Kings xiii.); another by oil, as David (2 Sam. xvi. 13); and Moses by fire, as we read of him at the bush. (Exod. iii. 2.) But in the present case it is not so; for the fire itself sat upon them. (But wherefore did the fire not appear so as to fill the house? Because they would have been terrified.) But the story shows, that it is the same here as there. For you are not to stop at this, that "there appeared unto them cloven tongues" but note that they were "of fire." Such a fire as this is able to kindle infinite fuel. Also, it is well said, Cloven, for they were from one root; that you may learn, that it was an operation sent from the Comforter.[*]
But observe how those men also were first shown to be worthy, and then received the Spirit as worthy. Thus, for instance, David: what he did among the sheepfolds, the same he did after his victory and trophy; that it might be shown how simple and absolute was his faith. Again, see Moses despising royalty, and forsaking all, and after forty years taking the lead of the people (Exod. ii. 11); and Samuel occupied there in the temple (1 Sam. iii. 3); Elisha leaving all (1 Kings xix. 21); Ezekiel again, made manifest by what happened thereafter. s In this manner, you see, did these also leave all that they had. They learnt also what human infirmity is, by what they suffered; they learnt that it was not in vain they had done these good works. (1 Sam. ix. and xi. 6.) Even Saul, having first obtained witness that he was good, thereafter received the Spirit. But in the same manner as here did none of them receive. Thus Moses was the greatest of the Prophets, yet he, when others were to receive the Spirit, himself suffered diminution. But here it is not so; but just as fire kindles as many flames as it will, so here the largeness of the Spirit was shown, in that each one received a fountain of the Spirit; as indeed He Himself had foretold, that those who believe in Him, should have "a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John iv. 14.) And good reason that it should be so. For they did not go forth to argue with Pharaoh, but to wrestle with the devil. But the wonder is this, that when sent they made no objections; they said not, they were "weak in voice, and of a slow tongue." (Exod. iv. 10.) For Moses had taught them better. They said not, they were too young. (Jer. i. 6.) Jeremiah had made them wise. And yet they had heard of many fearful things, and much greater than were theirs of old time; but they feared to object.—And because they were angels of light, and ministers of things above ["Suddenly there came from heaven," etc.] To them of old, no one "from heaven" appears, while they as yet follow after a vocation on earth; but now that Man has gone up on high,. the Spirit also descends mightily from on high. "As it were a rushing mighty wind;" making it manifest by this, that nothing shall be able to withstand them, but they shall blow away all adversaries like a heap of dust. "And it filled all the house." The house also was a symbol of the world. "And it sat upon each of them," [etc.] and "the multitude came together, and were confounded." Observe their piety; they pronounce no hasty judgment, but are perplexed: whereas those reckless ones pronounce at once, saying, "These men are full of new wine." Now it was in order that they might have it in their power, in compliance with the Law, to appear thrice in the year in the Temple, that they dwelt there, these "devout men from all nations." Observe here, the writer has no intention of flattering them. For he does not say that they pronounced any opinion: but what? "Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded." And well they might be; for they supposed the matter was now coming to an issue against them, on account of the outrage committed against Christ. Conscience also agitated their souls, the very blood being yet upon their hands, and every thing alarmed them. "Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?" For indeed this was confessed. ["And how hear we"] so much did the sound alarm them. [" Every man in our own tongue," etc.] for it found the greater part of the world assembled there. ["Parthians and Medes," etc.] This nerved the Apostles: for, what it was to speak in the Parthian tongue, they knew not but now learnt from what those said. Here is mention made of nations that were hostile to them, Cretans, Arabians, Egyptians, Persians: and that they would conquer them all was here made manifest. But as to their being in those countries, they were there in captivity, many of them: or else, the doctrines of the Law had become disseminated [among] the Gentiles in those countries. So then the testimony comes from all quarters: from citizens, from foreigners, from proselytes. "We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." For it was not only that they spoke (in their tongues), but the things they spoke were wonderful.[*] Well then might they be in doubt: for never had the like occurred. Observe the ingenuousness of these men. They were amazed and were in doubt, saying, "What meaneth this?" But "others mocking said, 'These men are full of new wine'" (John viii. 48), and therefore mocked. O the effrontery! And what wonder is it? Since even of the Lord Himself, when casting out devils, they said that He had a devil! For so it is; wherever impudent assurance exists, it has but one object in view, to speak at all hazards, it cares not what; not that the man should say something real and relevant to the matter of discourse, but that he should speak no matter what. [" They are full of new wine."] Quite a thing of course (is no, it?), a that men in the midst of such dangers, and dreading the worst, and in such despondency, have the courage to utter such things! And observe: since this was unlikely; because they Would not have been drinking much [at that early hour], they ascribe the whole matter to the quality (of the wine), and say, "They are full" of it. "But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them." In a former place you saw his provident forethought, here you see his manly courage. For if they were astonished and amazed, was it not as wonderful that he should be able in the midst of such a multitude to find language, he, an unlettered and ignorant man? If a man is troubled when he speaks among friends, much more might he be troubled among enemies and bloodthirsty men. That they are not drunken, he shows immediately by his very voice, that they are not beside themselves, as the soothsayers: and this too, that they were not constrained by some compulsory force. What is meant by, "with the eleven?" They expressed themselves through one common voice, and he was the mouth of all. The eleven stood by as witnesses to what he said. "He lifted up his voice," it is said. That is, he spoke with great confidence, that they might perceive the grace of the Spirit. He who had not endured the questioning of a poor girl, now in the midst of the people, all breathing murder, discourses with such confidence, that this very thing becomes an unquestionable proof of the Resurrection: in the midst of men who could deride and make a joke of such things as these! What effrontery, think you, must go to that! what impiety, what shamelessness! For wherever the Holy Spirit is present, He makes' men of gold out of men of clay. Look, I pray you, at Peter now examine well that timid one, and devoid of understanding; as Christ said, "Are ye also yet without understanding?" (Matt. xv. 16) the man, who after that marvellous confession was called "Satan." (Ib. xvi. 23.) Consider also the unanimity of the Apostles. They themselves ceded to him the office of speaking; for it was not necessary that all should speak. "And he lifted up his voice," and spoke out to them with great boldness. Such a thing it is to be a spiritual man I Only let us also bring ourselves into a state meet for the grace from above, and all becomes easy. For as a man of fire falling into the midst of straw would take no harm, but do it to others: not he could take any harm, but they, in assailing him, destroy themselves. For the case here was just as if one carrying hay should attack one bearing fire: even so did the Apostles encounter these their adversaries with great boldness.
For what did it harm them, though they were so great a multitude? Did they not spend all their rage? did they not turn the distress upon themselves? Of all mankind were ever any so possessed with both rage and terror, as those became possessed? Were they not in an agony, and were dismayed, and trembled? For hear what they say, "Do ye wish to bring this man's blood upon us?" (Acts v. 28.) Did they (the Apostles) not fight against poverty and hunger: against ignominy and infamy (for they were accounted deceivers): did they not fight. against ridicule and wrath and mockery?—for in their case the contraries met: some laughed at them, others punished them;—were they not made a mark for the wrathful passions, and for the merriment, of whole cities? exposed to factions and conspiracies: to fire, and sword, and wild beasts? Did not war beset them from every quarter, in ten thousand forms? And were they any more affected in their minds by all these things, than they would have been at seeing them in a dream or in a picture? With bare body they took the field against all the armed, though against them all men had arbitrary power [against them, were]: terrors of rulers, force of arms, in cities and strong walls: without experience, without skill of the tongue, and in the condition of quite ordinary men, matched against juggling conjurors, against impostors, against the whole throng of sophists, of rhetoricians, of philosophers grown mouldy in the Academy and the walks of the Peripatetics, against all these they fought the battle out. And the man whose occupation bad been about lakes, so mastered them, as if it cost him not so much ado as even a contest with dumb fishes: for just as if the opponents he had to outwit were indeed more mute than fishes, so easily did he get the better of them! And Plato, that talked a deal of nonsense in his day, is silent now, while this man utters his voice everywhere; not among his own countrymen alone, but also among Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and in India, and in every part of the earth, and to the extremities of the world. Where now is Greece, with her big pretentions? Where the name of Athens? Where the ravings of the philosophers? He of Galilee, he of Bethsaida, he, the uncouth rustic, has overcome them all. Are you not ashamed—confess it—at the very name of the country of him who has defeated you? But if you hear his own name too, and learn that he was called Cephas, much more will you hide your faces. This, this has undone you quite; because you esteem this a reproach, and account glibness of tongue a praise, and want of glibness a disgrace. You have not followed the road you ought to have chosen, but leaving the royal road, so easy, so smooth, you have trodden one rough, and steep, and laborious. And therefore you have not attained unto the kingdom of heaven.
Why then, it is asked, did not Christ exercise His influence upon Plato, and upon Pythagoras? Because the mind of Peter was much more philosophical than their minds. They were in truth children shifted about on all sides by vain glory; but this man was a philosopher, one apt to receive grace. If you laugh at these words, it is no wonder; for those aforetime laughed, and said, the men were full of new wine. But afterwards, when they suffered those bitter Calamities, exceeding all others in misery; when they saw their city falling in ruins, and the fire blazing, and the walls hurled to the ground, and those manifold frantic horrors, which no one can find words to express, they did not laugh then. And you will laugh then, if you have the mind to laugh, when the time of hell is close at hand, when the fire is kindled for your souls. But why do I speak of the future? Shall I show you. what Peter is, and what Plato, the philosopher? Let us for the present examine their respective habits, let us see what were the pursuits of each. The one wasted his time about a set of idle and useless dogmas, and philosophical, as he says, that we may learn that the soul of our philosopher becomes a fly.[*] Most truly said, a fly! not indeed changed into one, Gut a fly must have entered upon possession of the soul which dwelt in Plato; for what but a fly is worthy of such ideas! The man was full of irony, and of jealous feelings against every one else, as if he made it his ambition to introduce nothing useful, either out of his own head or other people's. Thus he adopted the metempsychosis from another, and from himself produced the Republic, in which he enacted those laws full of gross turpitude. Let the women, he says, be in common, and let the virgins go naked, and let them wrestle before the eyes of their lovers, and let there also be common fathers, and let the children begotten be common. But with us, not nature makes common fathers, but the philosophy of Peter does this; as for that other, it made away with all paternity. For Plato's system only tended to make the real father next to unknown, while the false one was introduced. It plunged the soul into a kind of intoxication and filthy wallowing. Let all, he says, have intercourse with the women without fear. The reason why I do not examine the maxims of poets, is, that I may not be charged with ripping up fables. And yet I am speaking of fables much more ridiculous than even those. Where have the poets devised aught so portentous as this? But (not to enter into the discussion of his other maxims), what say you to these—when he equips the females with arms, and helmets, and greaves, and says that the human race has no occasion to differ from the canine! Since dogs, he says, the female and the male, do just the same things in common, so let the women do the same works as the men, and let all be turned upside down. For the devil has always endeavored by their means to show that our race is not more honorable than that of brutes; and, in fact, some have gone to such a pitch of (kenodoxi'as) absurdity, as to affirm that the irrational creatures are endued with reason. And see in how many various ways he has run riot in the minds of those men! For whereas their leading men affirmed that our soul passes into flies, and dogs, and brute creatures; those who came after them, being ashamed of this, fell into another kind of turpitude, and invested the brute creatures with all rational science, and made out that the creatures—which were called into existence on our account—are in all respects more honorable than we! They even attribute to them foreknowledge and piety. The crow, they say, knows God, and the raven likewise, and they possess gifts of prophecy, and foretell the future; there is justice among them, and polity, and laws. Perhaps you do not credit the things I am telling you. And well may you not, nurtured as you have been with sound doctrine; since also, if a man were fed with this fare, he would never believe that there exists a human being who finds pleasure in eating dung. The dog also among them is jealous, according to Plato. But when we tell them that these things are fables, and are full of absurdity, 'You do not enter (enoh'sate) into the higher meaning,' say they. No, we do not enter into this your surpassing nonsense, and may we never do so: for it requires (of course!) an excessively profound mind, to inform me, what all this impiety and confusion would be at. Are you talking, senseless men, in the language of crows, as the children are wont (in play)? For you are in very deed children, even as they. But Peter never thought of saying any of these things: he uttered a voice, like a great light shining out in the dark, a voice which scattered the mist and darkness of the whole world. Again, his deportment, how gentle it was, how considerate (epieike`s); how far above all vainglory; how he looked towards heaven without all self- elation, and this, even when raising up the dead! But if it had come to be in the power of any one of those senseless people (in mere fantasy of course) to do anything like it, would he not straightway have looked for an altar and a temple to be reared to him, and have wanted to be equal with the gods? since in fact when no such sign is forthcoming, they are forever indulging such fantastic conceits. And what, pray you, is that Minerva of theirs, and Apollo, and Juno? They are different kinds of demons among them. And there is a king of theirs, who thinks fit to die for the mere purpose of being accounted equal with the gods. But not so the men here: no, just the contrary. Hear how they speak on the occasion of the lame man's cure. "Ye men of Israel, why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made him to walk? (ch. iii. 12.) We also are men of like passions with you. (Ibid. xiv. 14.) But with those, great is the self-elation, great the bragging; all for the sake of men's honors, nothing for the pure love of truth and virtue. (philosophi'as e'neken) For where an action is done for glory, all is worthless. For though a man possess all, yet if he have not the mastery over this (lust), he forfeits all claim to true philosophy, he is in bondage to the more tyrannical and shameful passion. Contempt of glory; this it is that is sufficient to teach all that is good, and to banish from the soul every pernicious passion. I exhort you therefore to use the most strenuous endeavors to pluck out this passion by the very roots; by no other means can you have good esteem with God, and draw down upon you the benevolent regard of that Eye which never sleepeth. Wherefore, let us use all earnestness to obtain the enjoyment of that heavenly influence, and thus both escape the trial of present evils, and attain unto the future blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, honor, now and ever, and to all ages. Amen.
"Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words."
["Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem,"] whom the writer above described as strangers. Here he directs his discourse to those others, the mockers, and while he seems to reason with those, he sets these right. For indeed it was divinely ordered that "some mocked," that he might have a starting-point for his defence, and by means of that defence, might teach. ["And all ye that dwell in Jerusalem."] It seems they accounted it a high encomium to dwell in Jerusalem too. "Be this," says he, "known unto you, and hearken unto my words." In the first instance he made them more disposed to attend to him. "For not as ye suppose," says he, "are these drunken." Do you observe the mildness of his defence? (v. 15.) Although having the greater part of the people on his side, he reasons with those others gently; first he removes the evil surmise, and then he establishes his apology. On this account, therefore, he does not say, "as ye mock," or, "as ye deride," but, "as ye suppose;" wishing to make it appear that they had not said this in earnest, and for the present taxing them with ignorance rather than with malice. "For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day." And why this? Is it not possible at the third hour to be drunken? But he did not insist upon this to the letter; for there was nothing of the kind about them; the others said it only in mockery.(*) Hence we learn that on unessential points one must not spend many words. And besides, the sequel is enough to bear him out on this point: so now the discourse is for all in common. "But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord God. (v. 16. 17. Joel ii. 28.) Nowhere as yet the name of Christ, nor His promises but the promise is that of the Father. Observe the wisdom: observe the considerate forbearance. (sugkata'basin.) He did not pass on to speak at once of the things relating to Christ; that He had promised this after His Crucifixion; truly that would have been to upset all. And yet, you will say, here was sufficient to prove His divinity. True, it was, if believed (and the very point was that it should be believed); but if not believed, it would have caused them to be stoned. "And I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh." He offers even to them excellent hopes, if they would have them. And so far, he does not leave it to be regarded as the exclusive advantage of himself and his company; which would have made them be looked upon with an evil eye; thus cutting off all envious feeling. "And your sons shall prophesy." And yet, he says, not yours this achievement, this distinction; the gift has passed over to your children. Himself and his company he calls their sons, and those [whom he is addressing] he calls his and their fathers. "And your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy." So far he shows that he and his have found favor, in that they had received (kataxiwthe'ntas) [the Spirit]; not so they whom he is addressing; for that they had crucified [the Lord]. So Christ also, willing to mitigate their wrath, said, "By whom do your sons cast out devils?" (Matt. xii. 27.) He did not say, My disciples; for indeed it seemed a flattering mode of expression. And so Peter also did not say, 'They are not drunk, but speak by the Spirit:' but he takes refuge with the prophet, and under shelter of him, so speaks. As for the accusation [of drunkenness], he cleared himself of that by his own assertion; but for the grace, he fetches the prophet as witness. "I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh." ["And your sons," etc.] To some the grace was imparted through dreams, to others it was openly poured forth. For indeed by dreams the prophets saw, and received revelations.
Then he goes on with the prophecy, which has in it also something terrible. "And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs" ["in the earth beneath"]. (v. 19.) In these words he speaks both of the judgment to come, and of the taking of Jerusalem. "Blood and fire, and vapor of smoke." Observe how he describes the capture. "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood." (v. 20.) This results from the (diathe'sews) internal affection of the sufferers. It is said, indeed, that many such phenomena actually did occur in the sky, as Josephus attests. At the same time the Apostle strikes fear into them, by reminding them of the darkness which had lately occurred, and leading them to expect things to come. "Before that great and notable day of the Lord come." For be not confident, he means to say, because at present you sin with impunity. For these things are the prelude of a certain great and dreadful day. Do you see how he made their souls to quake and melt within them, and turned their laughter into pleading for acquittal? For if these things are the prelude of that day, it follows that the extreme of danger is impending. But what next? He again lets them take breath, adding, "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved." (Rom. x. 13.) This is said concerning Christ, as Paul affirms, but Peter does not venture as yet to reveal this.
Well, let us look over again what has been said. It is well managed, that as against men laughing and mocking, he starts up and begins with, "Be this known unto you all and hearken unto my words." But he begins by saying, "Ye men of Judea." By the expression Ioudai^oi, I take him to mean those that lived in Judea.—And, if you please, let us compare those expressions in the Gospel, that you may learn what a sudden change has taken place in Peter. "A damsel," it is written, "came out unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth." And, says he, "I know not the Man." And being again questioned, "he began to curse and to swear." (Matt. xxvi. 69-72.) But see here his boldness, and his great freedom of speech.—He did not praise those who had said, "We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God;" but by his severity towards those others, he made these more earnest, and at the same time his address is clear from all appearance of adulation. And it is well to remark, on all occasions, however the Apostles may condescend to the level of their hearers (sugkata'basis), their language is clear from all appearance both of adulation and of insolence: which is a difficult point to manage.
Now that these things should have occurred at "the third hour," was not without cause. For the brightness of this fire is shown at the very time when people are not engaged in their works, nor at dinner; when it is bright day, when all are in the market-place. Do you observe also the freedom which fills his speech? "And hearken to my words." And he added nothing, but, "This," says he, "is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days." He shows, in fact, that the consummation is nigh at hand, and the words, "In the last days," have a kind of emphasis. ["I will pour out," etc.] And then, that he may not seem to limit the privilege to the sons only, he subjoins, "And your old men shall dream dreams." Mark the sequence. First sons; just as David said, "Instead of thy fathers, were begotten thy sons." (Ps. xlv. 17.) And again Malachi; "They shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. And on my handmaidens, and on my servants." (Mal. iv. 6.) This also is a token of excellence, for we have become His servants, by being freed from sin. And great is the gift, since the grace passes over to the other sex also, not as of old, it was limited to just one or two individuals, as Deborah and Huldah. He did not say that it was the Holy Ghost, neither did he expound the words of the prophet; but he merely brings in the prophecy to fight its own battle. As yet also he has said nothing about Judas; and yet it was known to all what a doom and punishment he had undergone; for nothing was more forcible than to argue with them from prophecy: this was more forcible even than facts. For when Christ performed miracles, they often contradicted Him. But when Christ brought forward the prophet, saying, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand," they were silent, and "no man," we read, "was able to answer Him a word." (Ps. xc. 1.) And on all occasions He Himself also appealed to the Scriptures; for instance, "If he called them gods to whom the word of God came." (John x. 35.) And in many places one may find this. On this account here also Peter says, "I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh;" that is, upon the Gentiles also. But he does not yet reveal this, nor give interpretations; indeed, it was better not to do so (as also this obscure saying, "I will show wonders in heaven above," put them the more in fear because it was obscure.) And it would have been more an offence, had it been interpreted from the very first. Then besides, even as plain, he passes over it, wishing to make them regard it as such. But after all, he does interpret to them anon, when he discourses to them upon the resurrection, and after he has paved the way by his discourse. (infra v. 39.) For since the good things were not sufficient to allure them, [it is added, "And I will show wonders, etc."]. Yet this has never been fulfilled. For none escaped then [in that former judgment], but now the faithful did escape, in Vespasian's time. And this it is that the Lord speaks of, "Except those days had been shortened, not all flesh should be saved."—["Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke."] (Matt. xxiv. 22.) The worst to come first; namely, the inhabitants to be taken, and then the city to be razed and burnt. Then he dwelt upon the metaphor, bringing before the eyes of the hearers the overthrow and the taking. "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood." What means, the moon turned into blood? It denotes the excess of the slaughter. The language is fraught with helpless dismay. (supra p. 32.) "And it shall come to pass, every one who shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Every one," he says: though he be priest (but he does not vet reveal the meaning), though bond, though free. For there is no male nor female in Christ Jesus, no bond, no free. (Gal. iii. 28.) Well may it be so, for all these are but shadow. For if in king's palaces there is no high-born nor low-born, but each appears according to his deeds; and in art, each is shown by his works; much more in that school of wisdom (philosophi'a). "Every one who shall invoke." Invoke: not any how, for it is written, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord:" but with (diathe'sews) inward earnest affection, with a life more than commonly good, with the confidence which is meet. Thus far, however, he makes the discourse light, by introducing that which relates to faith, and that terrible which relates to the punishment. For in the invocation is the salvation.
What, I pray you, is this you say? Do you talk of salvation for them after the Cross? Bear with me a little. Great is the mercy of God. And this very fact does, no less than the resurrection, prove him to be God, yea, no less than His miracles—the fact that He calls these to Him. For surpassing goodness is, above all things, peculiarly God's own. Therefore also He says, "None is good save one, that is, God." (Luke xviii. 19.) Only let us not take this goodness for an occasion of negligence. For He also punishes as God. In fact, the very punishments here spoken of, He brought them to pass, even He who said, "Every one who shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be saved." I speak of the fate of Jerusalem;(*) that intolerable punishment: of which I will tell you some few of the particulars, useful to us in our contest, both with the Marcionites and many other heretics. For, since they distinguish between Christ a good God, and that evil God [of the Old Testament], let us see who it was that effected these things. The evil God, taking vengeance for Christ? or not so? How then alien to Him? But was it the good God? Nay, but it is demonstrated that both the Father and the Son did these things. The Father in many places; for instance, when He says in the parable of the vineyard, ["He will miserably destroy those wicked husbandmen" (Matt. xxi. 41); again in the parable of the marriage feast, the King is said] to send His armies (ib. xxii. 7): and the Son, when He says, "But those Mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before Me." (Luke xix. 27.) * * * . And they sent, saying, We will not have Thee to reign over us. Would you like then to hear the things which actually came to pass? Moreover, Christ Himself also speaks of the future tribulations, than which never any thing more dreadful came to pass; never any thing more ruthless, my beloved, than the deeds then done! And He Himself declared it. For what could you wish to see more grievous than these? * * *—probed them with their daggers! * * * But shall I relate to you the shocking case of the woman, that tragic tale? * * * (Joseph. B. J. vi. 3. 4. Did not the actual events cast all misery into the shade? But shall I tell you of famines and pestilences? One might speak of horrors without number: nature was unknown; law unknown; they outdid wild beasts in ferocity. True, these miseries came by the fate of wars; but because God, because Christ so willed it to be. These facts will apply both against the Marcionites and against those who do not believe that there is a hell: for they are sufficient to silence their impudence. Are not these calamities more severe than the Babylonian? Are not these sufferings more grievous than the famines of that time? Yes, for ["never was the like from the beginning of the world"] "no, nor ever shall be such." (Matt. xxiv. 21.) And this was Christ's own declaration. In what sense then, think ye, is it said that Christ remitted them their sin? Perhaps it seems a commonplace question: but do ye solve it.—It is not possible to show anywhere, even in fiction, any thing like what the reality was here. And had it been a Christian that wrote this history, the matter might be regarded with suspicion: but if he was a Jew, and a Jewish zealot, and after the Gospel, how can the meaning of the facts be otherwise than palpable to all men? For you will see the man, how, everywhere, he always extols the concerns of the Jews.—There is therefore a hell, O man! and God is good.—Aye, did you shudder at hearing these horrors? But these, which take place here, are nothing in comparison with what shall be in that world. Once more I am compelled to seem harsh, disagreeable, stern. But what can I do? I am set to this: just as a severe schoolmaster is set to be hated by his scholars: so are we. For would it not be strange indeed, that, while those who have a certain post assigned them by kings do that which is appointed them, however disagreeable the task may be, we, for fear of your censure, should leave our appointed task undone? Another has a different work. Of you, many have it for their work, to show mercy, to act humanely, to be pleasant and agreeable to the persons to whom you are benefactors. But to those to whom we do good, we seem stern and severe, troublesome and disagreeable. For we do good, not by the pleasure we give, but by the pain we inflict. So it is also with the physician: though he indeed is not excessively disagreeable, for the benefit afforded by his art is had immediately; ours hereafter. So again the magistrate is odious to the disorderly and seditious; so the legislator is vexatious to them for whom he makes laws. But not so he that invites to enjoyment, not so he that prepares public festivities and entertainments, and puts all the people in garlands: no, these are men that win acceptance, feasting, as they do, whole cities with all sorts of spectacles; contributing largely, bearing all the cost. And therefore those whom they have treated, requite them for these enjoyments with words of welcome and benediction, with hanging (parapeta'smata) of tapestries, and a blaze of lamps, and with wreaths, and boughs, and brilliant garments. Whereas, at the sight of the physician, the sick become sad and downcast: at sight of the magistrate, the rioters become subdued: no running riot then, no gambolling, except when he also goes over into their ranks. Let us see, then, which render the best service to their cities; those who provide these festivities, and banquetings, and expensive entertainments, and manifold rejoicings; or those who restrain all those doings, bearing before them stocks, scourges, executioners, dreaded soldiers, and a voice fraught with much terror: and issuing orders, and making men hang down their heads, and with the rod dispersing the idlers in the market-place. Let us see, I say; these are the disagreeable, those the beloved: let us see where the gain rests. (lh'lei.) What comes then of your pleasure-givers? A kind of frigid enjoyment, lasting till the evening, and to-morrow vanished; mirth ungoverned, words unseemly and dissolute. And what of these? Awe, sobriety, subdued thoughts; reasonableness of mind, an end of idleness; a curb on the passions within; a wall of defence, next to God, against assailants from without. It is by means of these we have each our property but by those ruinous festivities we dissipate it. Robbers indeed have not invaded it, but vainglory together with pleasure acts the part of robber. Each sees the robber carrying off everything before his eyes, and is delighted at it! A new fashion of robbery, this, to induce people to be glad when one is plundering them! On the other part, there is nothing of the kind: but God, as the common Father, has secured us as by a wall against all [depredators], both seen and unseen. For, "Take heed," saith He, "that ye do not your alms before men." (Matt. vi. 1.) The soul learns from the one, [excess; from the other] to flee injustice. For injustice consists not merely in grasping at more wealth than belongs to us, but in giving to the belly more than its needful sustenance, in carrying mirth beyond its proper bounds, and causing it to run into frantic excesses. From the one, it learns sobriety; from the other, unchastity. For it is unchastity, not merely to have carnal intercourse with women, but even to look upon a woman with unchaste eyes. From the one, it learns modesty; from the other, conceited self-importance. For, "All things," says the Apostle, "are lawful for me, but not all things expedient." (1 Cor. vi. 12.) From the one, decent behavior; from the other unseemliness. For, as to the doings in the theatres, I pass these. But to let you see that it is not even a pleasure either, but a grief, show me, but a single day after the festival, both those who spent their money in giving it, and those who were feasted with spectacles: and you shall see them all looking dejected enough, but most of all him, your (ekei^non) famous man that has spent his money for it. And this is but fair: for, the day before, he delighted the common man, and the common man indeed was in high good humor and enjoyment, and rejoiced indeed in the splendid garment, but then not having the use of it, and seeing himself stripped of it, he was grieved and annoyed; and wanted to be the great man, seeing even his own enjoyment to be small compared with his. Therefore, the day after, they change places, and now he, the great man, gets the larger share in the dejection.
Now if in worldly matters, amusements are attended with such dissatisfaction, while disagreeable things are so beneficial, much more does this hold in things spiritual. Why is it that no one quarrels with the laws, but on the contrary all account that matter a common benefit? For indeed not strangers from some other quarter, nor enemies of those for whom the laws are made, came and made these orders, but the citizens themselves, their patrons, their benefactors: and this very thing, the making of laws, is a token of beneficence and good-will. And yet the laws are full of punishment and restraint, and there is no such thing as law without penalty and coercion. Then is it not unreasonable, that while the expositors of those laws are called deliverers, benefactors, and patrons, we are considered troublesome and vexatious if we speak of the laws of God? When we discourse about hell, then we bring forward those laws: just as in the affairs of the world, people urge the laws of murder, highway robbery, and the like, so do we the penal laws: laws, which not man enacted, but the Only-Begotten Son of God Himself. Let him that hath no mercy, He says, be punished (Matt. xviii. 23); for such is the import of the parable. Let him that remembereth injuries, pay the last penalty. Let him that is angry without cause, be cast into the fire. Let him that reviles, receive his due in hell. If you think these laws which you hear strange, be not amazed. For if Christ was not intended to make new laws, why did He come? Those other laws are manifest to us; we know that the murderer and adulterer ought to be punished. If then we were meant only to be told the same things over again, where was the need of a heavenly Teacher? Therefore He does not say, Let the adulterer be punished, but, whoso looketh on with unchaste eyes. And where, and when, the man will receive punishment, He there tells us. And not in fine public monuments, nor yet somewhere out of sight, did He deposit His laws; not pillars of brass did He raise up, and engrave letters thereon, but twelve souls raised He up for us, the souls of the Apostles, and in their minds has He by the Spirit inscribed this writing. This cite we to you. If this was authorized to Jews, that none might take refuge in the plea of ignorance, much more is it to us. But should any say, "I do not hear, therefore have no guilt," on this very score he is most liable to punishment. For, were there no teacher, it would be possible to take refuge in this plea; but if there be, it is no longer possible. Thus see how, speaking of Jews, the Lord deprives them of all excuse; "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin:" (John xv. 22): and Paul again, "But I say, have they not heard? Nay, but into all the earth went forth their sound." (Rom. x. 18.) For then there is excuse, when there is none to tell the man; but when the watchman sits there, having this as the business of his life, there is excuse no longer. Nay, rather, it was the will of Christ, not that we should look only upon these written pillars, but that we should ourselves be such. But since we have made ourselves unworthy of the writing, at least let us look to those. For just as the pillars threaten others, but are not themselves obnoxious to punishment, nor yet the laws, even so the blessed Apostles. And observe; not in one place only stands this pillar, but its writing is carried round about in all the world. Whether you go among the Indians, you shall hear this: whether into Spain, or to the very ends of the earth, there is none without the hearing, except it be of his own neglect. Then be not offended, but give heed to the things spoken, that ye may be able to lay hold upon the works of virtue, and attain unto the eternal blessings in Christ Jesus our Lord, with Whom to the Father and Holy Ghost together be glory, power, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
"Ye men of Israel, hear these my words."
["YE men of Israel"]: it is not for flattery that he uses this term; but, as he has borne hard upon them, he relaxes a little, and puts them in mind of their great ancestor [Israel]. Here again he begins with an introduction, that they may not become excited, now that he is going to make express mention to them of Jesus: for in what preceded, there was no reason why they should be excited, while the Prophet was the subject of discourse: but the name of Jesus would have given offence at the very outset.—And he does not say, "Do as I bid you," but, Hear; as being not at all exacting. And observe how he forbears to speak of the high matters, and begins with the very low: "Jesus," he says: and then straightway mentions the place He belonged to, being one which was held in mean estimation: "Jesus of Nazareth": and does not say anything great about Him, nor even such as one would say about a Prophet, so far: "Jesus," he says, "of Nazareth, a man proved (to be) from God among you." Observe; what great matter was this, to say that He was sent from God? For this was the point which on all occasions both He and John and the Apostles were studious to show. Thus hear John saying: "The same said unto me On whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding on him, this is He." (John i. 33.) But Christ Himself does this to an extreme; Of Myself I am not come, He sent Me. (ib. vii. 28.) And everywhere in the Scriptures this seems the point most studiously insisted upon. Therefore also this holy leader of the blessed company, the lover of Christ, the good shepherd, the man put in trust with the keys of heaven, the man who received the Spiritual Wisdom, when he has first subdued the Jews by fear; and has shown what great things have been vouchsafed to the disciples, and what a right they have to be believed, then first proceeds to speak concerning Him. Only think what boldness it was to say it, in the midst of the murderers—that He is risen! And yet he does not all at once say, He is risen; but what?—" He came," says he, "from God: this is manifest by the signs which"—he does not yet say, Jesus Himself wrought: but what?—"which God wrought by Him in the midst of you." He calls themselves as witnesses. "A man proved (to be sent) from God among you, by miracles and wonders and signs, which God wrought by him in the midst of you, as also ye yourselves know." Then, having fallen upon the mention of that their sacrilegious outrage, observe how he endeavors to quit them of the crime: "Him," he says, "being by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God delivered up": (v. 23) [adding however,] "ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:" for though it was predetermined, still they were murderers. ["By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God:"] all but using the same words as Joseph did; just as he said to his brethren; "Be not angry one with another by the way: God sent me hither." (Gen. xlv. 5, 24.) It is God's doing. "What of us, then?" (it might be said,) "it was even well done on our part." That they may not say this, therefore it is that he adds, "By wicked hands ye have crucified and slain."(*) Here then he hints at Judas; while at the same time he shows them that it was not from any strength of theirs, and would not have been, if He had not Himself permitted it: it was God that delivered Him up. He has transferred the evil entire upon the head of Judas, now already parted from them; for he it was that delivered Him over to them by the kiss. Or, "By wicked hands," refers to the soldiers: for neither is it simply, "Ye have slain," but, By wicked men ye have done this. And observe how everywhere they make it of great importance that the Passion should first be confessed. WHOM GOD RAISED UP (v. 24), says he. This was the great thing; and observe how he sets it in the middle of his discourse: for the former matters had been confessed; both the miracles and the signs and the slaying—"Whom God," says he, "raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be kept in its power." It is something great and sublime that he has hinted at here. For the expression, "It was not possible," even itself is that of one assigning something. It shows that death itself in holding Him had pangs as in travail, and was sore bestead:(*) whereas, by pains, or, travail- pangs, of death, the Old Testament means danger and disaster: and that He so rose as never more to die. For the assertion, "Seeing that it was not possible that He should be holden of it," means this, that His rising was not common to the rest. Then, however, before their thoughts can enter at all into his meaning, he brings David upon them, an authority which sets aside all human reasoning. "For David saith (with reference) to Him." (v. 25.) And observe how, once more, the testimony is lowly. For therefore he begins the citation further up, with the matters of lowlier import therefore was death not in the number of grievous things [because], says he, "I foresaw the Lord always before my face, that He is on my right hand that I should not be moved:" (v. 25-27) and," that Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell." Then, having finished the citation from the Prophet, he adds; "Men and brethren." (v. 29.) When he is about to say anything great, he uses this opening address, to rouse and to conciliate them. "Let me be allowed," he says, "to speak freely to you of the patriarch David." Remarkable lowliness, in a case where he was giving no hurt, nor was there any reason why the hearers should be angry. For he did not say, This is not said concerning David, but concerning the Christ. But in another point of view: by his reverential expression towards the blessed David, he awed them; speaking of an acknowledged fact as if it were a bold thing to say, and therefore begging them to pardon him for saying it. And thereupon his expression is not simply "concerning David," but "concerning the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried:" he does not also say, "and is not risen again," but in another way (though this too would have been no great thing to say), "And his sepulchre is with us unto this day," he has said what comes to the same thing. Then—and even so he does not come to the mention of Christ, but what next?—he goes on with his encomium upon David, "Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that with an oath God had sworn unto him." (v. 30.) But this he says, that were it but on account of the honor shown to David, and the descent from him, they may accept what is said concerning Christ's resurrection, as seeing that it would be an injury to the prophecy, and a derogating from (th^s eis autou`s timh^s) their honor, if this were not the fact. "And knowing," he says, "that with an oath God had sworn unto him"—he does not say simply "promised"—"of the fruit of his loins after the flesh to raise up Christ, to seat Him upon his throne." Observe how he has again only hinted at what is sublime. For now that he has soothed them with his expression, he confidently adds this: The prophet [saith it] "of His resurrection, that neither was His soul left in hell, nor did His flesh see corruption." (v. 31.) This again is wonderful: it shows that His resurrection was not like that of other men. For though death laid hold on Him, yet it did not its own work then.—And, as regards the sin, he has spoken of that, covertly and darkly; of the punishment, he forbore to add anything; but that they had slain Him, this he has spoken out; for the rest he now comes to the sign given by God. And when it is once proved, that He, the slain, was just, was dear to God, then, though thou be silent of the punishment, be sure that he which did the sin will condemn himself more than ever thou canst condemn him: So then, that he refers all to the Father, is in order that they may receive what is said: and that assertion, "Not possible," he fetches in from the prophecy. Well then, let us again look over what has been said.
"Jesus of Nazareth, a man proved (to be sent) from God unto you." (Recapitulation of v. 22-31): one, of whom, by reason of His works, there can be no doubt; but who, on the contrary, is demonstrated. Thus also Nicodemus said, "No man can do these miracles which Thou doest—By miracles, and wonders, and signs which God wrought by Him in the midst of you" (John iii. 2): not secretly. Setting out from facts notorious to those whom he was addressing, he then comes to things hidden. Thereupon [in saying, "By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,"] (v. 23) he shows that it was not because they had the power to do it, and that there was a wisdom and a Divine arrangement in the event, seeing it was from God He rapidly passes over the unpleasant part, [adding, "Whom God raised up," etc.] (v. 24). For it is always a point of great importance with them to show that He was once dead. Though ye should deny it, says he, (ekei^noi) those (present) will bear witness to the fact. ["Having loosed the pangs of death."] He that gives Death trouble, may much more give trouble to them that crucified Him: however, nothing of the kind is here said, as that He had power to slay you. Meanwhile, let us also learn thus to hold. For one that is in pain like a woman in travail, does not hold the thing held, and is not active but passive; and makes haste to cast it off. And it is well said: "For David saith in reference to him" (v. 25); that you may not refer that saying to the Prophet.—["Therefore being a Prophet, and knowing," etc.] (v. 30, 31.) Do you observe how he now interprets the prophecy, and does not give it bare of comment? How did He "seat Him upon" David's "throne?" For the kingdom after the Spirit is in heaven. Observe how, along with the resurrection, he has also declared the kingdom in the fact of His rising again. He shows that the Prophet was under constraint: for the prophecy was concerning Him. Why does he say, not, Concerning His kingdom (it was a great matter), but "Concerning His resurrection?" And how did He seat Him upon his (David's) throne? Why, He reigns as King over Jews also, yea, what is much more, over them that crucified Him. "For His flesh saw no corruption." This seems to be less than resurrection, but it is the same thing.
"This Jesus"—observe how he does not call Him otherwise—"hath God raised up; whereof all we are witnesses. Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted" (v. 33, 34): again he takes refuge with the Father, and yet it had been enough to say what precedes: but he knows what a great point this is. Here he has hinted at the Ascension also, and that Christ is in heaven: but neither does he say this openly. "And having received," says he, "the promise of the Holy Ghost." Observe how, in the beginning of his discourse, he does not say that Jesus Himself had sent It, but the Father: now, however, that he has mentioned His signs and the things done to Him by the Jews, and has spoken of His resurrection, he boldly introduces what he has to say about these matters, again adducing themselves as witnesses by both senses: ["He hath shed forth this, which ye do see and hear."] And of the resurrection he has made continual mention, but of their outrageous deed he has spoken once for all. "And having received the promise of the Holy Ghost," This again is great. "The promise," he says; because [promised] before His Passion. Observe how he now makes it all His ["He hath poured forth this"], covertly making a great point. For if it was He that poured it forth, it is of Him that the Prophet has spoken above, "In the last days I. will pour forth of My Spirit on My Servants, and on Mine handmaids, and I will do wonders in the heaven above. (supra, v. 17.) Observe what he secretly puts into it! But then, because it was a great thing, he again veils it with the expression of "His having received of the Father." He has spoken of the good things fulfilled, of the signs; has said, that He is king, the point that touched them; has said, that it is He that gives the Spirit. (Arist. Rhet. 1, 3.) (For, however much a person may say, if it does not issue in something advantageous, he speaks to no purpose.) Just as John: "The same," says he, "shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost." (Matt. iii. 11.) And it shows that the Cross not only did not make Him less, but rendered Him even more illustrious, seeing that of old God promised it to Him, but now has given it. Or fit may be], "the promise" which He promised to us. He so foreknew it about to be, and has given it to us greater after the resurrection. And, "hath poured it out," he says; not requiring worthiness: and not simply gave, but with abundance. Whence does this appear? Henceforth after the mention of His giving the Spirit, he confidently speaks also of His ascension into heaven; and not only so, but again adducing the witness, and reminding them of that Person concerning Whom Christ once spake. (Matt. xxii. 43) "For not David," says he "ascended into the heavens. (v. 34.) Here he no longer speaks in lowly phrase, having the confidence which results from the things said nor does he say, "Be it permitted me to speak," or the like: "But he saith himself; The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." Now if He be David's Lord, much more shall they not disdain Him. "Sit thou on My right hand;" he has set the whole matter here; "until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool:" here also he has brought upon them a great terror, just as in the beginning he showed what He does to His friends, what to his enemies. And again, as to the act of subjugation, not to provoke unbelief, he ascribes it to the Father. Since then these are great things that he has uttered, he again brings his discourse down to lowly matters. "Let therefore," he says, "the whole house of Israel know assuredly: i.e. question ye not, nor doubt ye: then also in the tone of command it follows; "that God hath made Him both Lord—" this he says from David— "and Christ," (v. 36), this from the Psalm: For when it would have been rightly concluded, "Let therefore the whole house of Israel know assuredly that" He sitteth on the right hand of God, this, which would have been great, he forbears, and brings in a different matter which is much more humble, and the expression "Hath made;" i.e. hath ordained: so that there is nothing about (ousi'wsis) communication of substance here, but the expression relates to this which has been mentioned. "Even this Jesus, Whom ye crucified." He does well to end with this, thereby agitating their minds. For when he has shown how great it is,
he has then exposed their daring deed, so as to show it to be greater, and to possess them with terror. For men are not so much attracted by benefits as they are chastened by fear.(*)
But the admirable and great ones, and beloved of God, need none of these motives: men, such as was Paul: not of the kingdom, not of hell, made he account. For this is indeed to love Christ, this to be no hireling, nor to reckon it a matter of trafficking and trading, but to be indeed virtuous, and to do all for the love of God. (Rom. ix. 3.) Then what tears does it not deserve, when, owing so large a measure, we do not even like traders seek the kingdom of heaven! He promises us so great things, and not even so is He worthy to be heard? What can come up to this enmity! And yet, they are mad after money-making, though it be with enemies, though it be with slaves, though it be with persons most hostile to them, that they come in contact, though it be with persons utterly evil, if only they expect that they shall be enabled by their means to make money, they will do everything, will flatter, and be obsequious, and make themselves slaves, and will esteem them more to be revered than all men, to get some advantage out of them: for the hope of money does not allow them to give a thought to any such considerations as these. But the Kingdom is not so powerful as money is; nay, rather, not in the smallest proportion as powerful. For it is no ordinary Being that promises: but this is greater than even the Kingdom itself that we receive it from such a Giver! But now the case is the same as if a king, wishing, after ten thousand other benefits, to make us his heirs and coheirs with his son [should be despised]: while some captain of a band of robbers, who has done ten thousand wrongs to us and to our parents, and is himself fraught with ten thousand wickednesses, and has utterly marred our honor and our welfare, should, on presenting a single penny, receive our worship. God promises a Kingdom, and is despised: the Devil helps us to hell, and he is honored! Here God, there Devil. But let us see the difference of the tasks enjoined. For if there were none of these considerations in the case: if it were not, here God, there Devil; not, here one helping to a kingdom, there to a hell: the nature itself of the tasks enjoined were sufficient to induce us to comply with the former For what does each enjoin? The one, the things which make glorious; the other the things which put to shame: one, the things which involve in ten thousand calamities and disgraces; the other, the things which have with them abundant refreshment. For look: the one saith, "Learn ye of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matt. xi. 29): the other saith, Be thou savage, and ungentle, and passionate, and wrathful, and more a wild beast than a man. Let us see which is more useful, which, I pray you, more profitable. "Speak not of this," say you. * * * But consider that he is the devil: above all indeed, if that be shown: there is need also to undergo toils, and, on the other hand, the prize of victory will be greater. For not he that enjoins easy tasks is the kind (khdemw`n)benefactor, but he that enjoins what is for our good. Since fathers also enjoin disagreeable tasks; but for this they are fathers: and so again do masters to slaves: but kidnappers and destroyers (lumew^nes) on the other hand, do just the reverse. And yet that the commands of Christ are attended with a pleasure, is manifest from that saying. For to what sort do you take the passionate man to belong, and to what the forbearing and meek? Does not the soul of the (ekei'nou) one seem to be in a kind of solitary retreat, enjoying exceeding quiet; while that of (tou'tou) the other is like a market-place and tumult and the midst of cities, where great is the clamor of those :going out, the noise of camels, mules, asses: of men shouting loud to those that meet them, that they may not be trodden under foot: and again, of silver-beaters, of braziers, of men thrusting and pushing this way and that and some overborne, some overbearing? But the soul of (tou'tou) the former is like some mountain-top, with its delicate air, its pure sunshine, its limpid gushing fountains, its multitude of charming flowers, while the vernal meads and gardens put on their plumage of shrubs and flowers, and glance with rifling waters: and if any sound is heard there, it is sweet, and calculated to affect the ear with a sense of much delight. For either the warbling birds perch on the outermost spray of the branching trees, and cicadas, nightingales and swallows, blended in one harmony, perform a kind of concerted music; or the zephyr gently stirring the leaves, draws whistling tones from pines and firs, resembling oft the notes of the swan: and roses, violets, and other flowers, gently swayed, and (kuani'zonta) dark-dimpling, show like a sea just rippled over with gentle undulations. Nay, many are the images one might find. Thus, when one looks at the roses, one shall fancy that he beholds in them the rainbow; in the violets a waving sea; in the lilies, the sky. But not by the spectacle alone, and the beholding, does such an one then cause delight: but also in the very body of him that looks to the meadow, rather it refreshes him, and causes him to breathe freely, so that he thinks himself more in heaven than on earth. There is withal a sound of a different kind, when water from the mountain-steep, borne by its own force through ravines gently plashes over its pebbly bed with lulling noise, and so relaxes our frame with the pleasurable sensations, as quickly to draw over our eyes the soft languor of slumber. You have heard the description with pleasure: perhaps also it has made you enamored of solitude. But sweeter far than this solitude is the soul * * of the long-suffering. For it was not for the sake of describing a meadow, nor for the sake of making a display of language, that we have broached this similitude: but the object was, that, seeing how great is the delight of the long suffering, and how, by converse with a long suffering man, one would be far more both delighted and benefited, than by frequenting such spots, ye may follow after such men. For when not even a breath of violence proceeds from such a soul, but mild and engaging words, then indeed does that gentle softness of the zephyr find its counterpart: entreaties also, devoid of all arrogance, but forming the resemblance to those winged warblers,—how is not this far better? For not the body is fanned by the soft breeze of speech; no, it refreshes our souls heated and glowing. A physician, by ever so great attention, could not so speedily rid a man of the fever, as a patient man would cool, by the breath of his own words, a person who was passionate and burning with wrath. And why do I speak of a physician? Not even iron, made red-hot and dipped into water, so quickly parts with its heat, as does the passionate man when he comes in contact with the soul of the long-suffering. But as, if it chance that singing birds find their way into the market, they go for nothing there, just so is it with our precepts when they light upon souls addicted to wrathful passions. Assuredly, sweeter is gentleness than bitterness and frowardness. —Well, but the one was God's bidding, the other the devil's. Do you see that it was not for nothing that I said, even if there were no devil or God in the case, the things enjoined would be enough in themselves to (aposth'sai) revolt us? For the one is both agreeable to himself, and serviceable to others, the other displeasing to himself, and hurtful to others. Nothing is more unpleasant than a man in a passion, nothing more noisome, more odious, more shocking, as also nothing more pleasing than one who knows not what it is to be in a passion. Better dwell with a wild beast than with a passionate man. For the beast, when once tamed, abides by its law; but the man, no matter how often you have tamed him, again turns wild, unless however he should of himself settle down into some such habit (of gentleness). For as a bright sunny day and winter with all its gloom, so are the soul of the angry and that of the gentle. However, let us at present look not to the mischievous consequences resulting to others, but to those which affect the persons themselves: though indeed it is also no slight mischief (to one's self) to cause ill to another, for the present, however, let that be the consideration. What executioner with his lash can so lacerate the ribs, what red-hot lancets (obeli'skoi) ever so pierced the body, what madness can so dispossess a man of his natural reason, as anger and rage do,? I know many instances of persons engendering diseases by giving loose to anger: and the worst of fevers are precisely these. But if they so injure the body, think of the soul. For do not argue that you do not see the mischief, but rather consider, if that which is the recipient of the malignant passion is so hurt, what must be the hurt sustained by that which engenders it! Many have lost their eyes, many have fallen into most grievous disease. Yet he that bears bravely, shall endure all things easily. But, however, both such are the troublesome tasks the devil enjoins, and the wages he assigns us for these is hell. He is both devil and foe to our salvation, and we rather do his bidding than Christ's, Saviour as He is, and Benefactor and Defender, and speaking as He does such words, which are both sweeter, and more reverend, and more profitable and beneficial, and are both to ourselves and to those who live in our company the greatest of blessings. Nothing worse than anger, my beloved, nothing worse than unseasonable wrath. It will not have any long delay; it is a quick, sharp passion. Many a time has a mere word been blurted out in anger, which needs for its curing a whole lifetime, and a deed been done which was the ruin of the man for life. For the worst of it is this, that in a little moment, and by one act, and by a single word, full oft has it cast us out from the possession of eternal good, and brought to nought a world of pains. Wherefore I beseech you to do all you can to curb this savage beast. Thus far, however, I have spoken concerning meekness and wrath; if one should take in hand to treat of other opposites, as covetousness and the mad passion for glory, contrasted with contempt of wealth and of glory; intemperance with sobriety; envy with benevolence; and to marshal them each against its opposite, then one would know how great the difference. Behold how from the very things enjoined it is plainly shown, that the one master is God, the other the devil! Why then, let us do God's bidding, and not cast ourselves into bottomless pits; but while there is time, let us wash off all that defiles the soul, that we may attain unto the eternal blessings, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and Holy Ghost together be glory, power, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"Now when they heard these words (E. V. 'this,') they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
Do you see what a great thing gentleness is? More than any vehemence, it pricks our hearts, inflicts a keener wound. For as in the case of bodies which have become callous the man that strikes upon them does not affect the sense so powerfully, but if he first mollify them and make them tender, then he pierces them effectually; so in this instance also, it is necessary first to mollify. But that which softens, is not wrath, not vehement accusation, not personal abuse; it is gentleness. The former indeed rather aggravate the callousness, this last alone removes it. If then you are desirous to reprove any delinquent, approach him with all possible mildness. For see here; he gently reminds them of the outrages they have committed, adding no comment; he declares the gift of God, he goes on to speak of the grace which bore testimony to the event, and so draws out his discourse to a still greater length. So they stood in awe of the gentleness of Peter, in that he, speaking to men who had crucified his Master, and breathed murder against himself and his companions, discoursed to them in the character of an affectionate father and teacher. Not merely were they persuaded; they even condemned themselves, they came to a sense of their past behavior. For he gave no room for their anger to be roused, and darken their judgment, but by means of humility he dispersed, as it were, the mist and darkness of their indignation, and then pointed out to them the daring outrage they had committed. For so it is; when we say of ourselves that we are injured, the opposite party endeavor to prove that they have not done the injury; but when we say, we have not been injured, but have rather done the wrong, the others take the contrary line. If, therefore, you wish to place your enemy (eis agw^na) in the wrong, beware of accusing him; nay (agw'nisai), plead for him, he will be sure to find himself guilty. There is a natural spirit of opposition in man. Such was the conduct of Peter. He did not accuse them harshly; on the contrary, he almost endeavored to plead for them, as far as was possible. And this was the very reason that he penetrated into their souls. You will ask, where is the proof that they were pricked? In their own words; for what say they? "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Whom they had called deceivers, they call "brethren:" not that hereby they put themselves on an equality with them, but rather by way of attracting their brotherly affection and kindness: and besides, because the Apostles had deigned to call them by this title. And, say they, "What shall we do?" They did not straightway say, Well then, we repent; but they surrendered themselves to the disciples. Just as a person on the point of shipwreck, upon seeing the pilot, or in sickness the physician, would put all into his hands, and do his bidding in everything; so have these also confessed that they are in extreme peril, and destitute of all hope of salvation. They did not say, How shall we be saved? but, "What shall we do?" Here again Peter, though the question is put to all, is the man to
answer. "Repent," says he, "and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ." (v. 38.) He does not yet say, Believe, but, "Be baptized every one of you." For this they received in baptism. Then he speaks of the gain; "For the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." If you are to receive a gift, if baptism conveys remission, why delay? He next gives a persuasive turn to his address, adding, "For the promise is unto you" (v. 39): for he had spoken of a promise above. "And to your children," he says: the gift is greater, when these are to be heirs of the blessings. "And to all," he continues, "that are afar off:" if to those that are afar off, much more to you that are near: "even as many as the
Lord our God shall call." Observe the time he takes for saying, "To those that are afar off." It is when he finds them conciliated and self-accusing. For when the soul pronounces sentence against itself, no longer can it feel envy. "And with many other words did he testify, and exhort, saying." (v. 40.) Observe how, throughout, the writer studies brevity, and how free he is from ambition and display. "He testified and exhorted, saying." This is the perfection of teaching, comprising something of fear and something of love. "Save yourselves from this untoward generation." He says nothing of the future, all is about the present, by which indeed men are chiefly swayed; he shows that the Gospel releases from present evils as well. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (v. 41.) Think you not this cheered the Apostles more than the miracle? "And they continued steadfastly and with one accord in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship."(*) (v. 42.) Here are two virtues, perseverance and concord. "In the Apostles' doctrine," he says: for they again taught them; "and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer." All in common, all with perseverance. "And fear came upon every soul" (v. 43): of those that believed. For they did not despise the Apostles, like common men, nor did they fix their regard on that which was visible merely. Verily, their thoughts were kindled into a glow. And as Peter had before spoken much, and declared the promises, and the things to come, well might they be beside themselves with fear. The wonders also bore witness to the words: "Many wonders and signs were done by the Apostles." As was the case with Christ; first there were signs, then teaching, then wonders; so was it now. "And all that believed were together, and had all things common." (v. 44.) Consider what an advance was here immediately! For the fellowship was not only in prayers, nor in doctrine alone, but also in (politei'a) social relations. "And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." See what fear was wrought in them! "And they parted them," he says, showing the (to` oikonomiko`n) wise management: "As every man had heed." Not recklessly, like some philosophers among the Greeks, of whom some gave up their land, others cast into the sea great quantities of money; but this was no contempt of riches, but only folly and madness. For universally the devil has made it his endeavor to disparage the creatures of God, as if it were impossible to make good use of riches. "And continuing daily with one accord in the temple" (v. 46), they enjoyed the benefit of teaching. Consider how these Jews did nothing else great or small, than assiduously attend at the temple. For, as having become more earnest, they had increased devotion also to the place. For the Apostles did not for the present pluck them away from this object, for fear of injuring them. "And breaking bread from house to house, did take their portion of food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people." (v. 47.) It seems to me that in mentioning "bread," he here signifies fasting and hard life; for they "took their portion of food," not of dainty fare. "With gladness," he says. Seest thou that not the dainty fare, but the (trophh^s ou truphh^s) food made the enjoyment. For they that fare daintily are under punishment and pain; but not so these. Do you see that the words of Peter contain this also, namely, the regulation of life? ["And singleness of heart."] For no gladness can exist where there is no simplicity. How had they "favor with all the people?" On account of their alms deeds. For do not look to the fact, that the chief priests for envy and spite rose up against them, but rather consider that "they had favor with the people."—"And the Lord added to the Church daily (epi` to` auto') [together] such as should be saved.—And all that believed were together." Once more, the unanimity, the charity, which is the cause of all good things!(*)
["Now when they heard this," etc. "Then Peter said unto them," etc.] (Recapitulation, v. 37.) What had been said was not enough. For those sayings indeed were sufficient to bring them to faith; but these are to show what things the believer behooves to do. And he said not, In the Cross, but, "In the name of Jesus Christ let every one of you be baptized." (v. 38.) And he does not put them continually in mind of the Cross, that he may not seem to reproach them, but he says simply, "Repent: and why? That we may be punished? No: "And let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins." And yet quite other is the law; of this world's tribunals: but in the case of the Gospel proclamation (khru'gmatos); when the delinquent has confessed, then is he saved! Observe how Peter does not instantly hurry over this, but he specifies also the conditions, and adds, "Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost;" an assertion accredited by the fact, that the Apostles themselves had received that gift. ["For the promise," etc.] (v. 39.) "The promise," i.e. the gift of the Holy Ghost. So far, he speaks of the easy part, and that which has with it a great gift; and then he leads them to practice: for it will be to them a ground of earnestness, to have tasted already of those so great blessings ["and with many other words did he testify," etc.] (v. 40). Since, however, the hearer would desire to learn what was the sum and, substance of these further words, he tells us this: ["Saying, save yourselves from this untoward generation."] ["They then, that gladly received his words," etc.] (v. 41) they approved of what had been said, although fraught with terror, and after their assent given, proceed at once to baptism. "And they continued" it is written, "steadfastly in the doctrine" (or, "teaching") "of the Apostles" (v. 42): for it was not for one day, no nor for two or three days that they were under teaching as being persons who had gone over to a different course of life. ["And they continued with one accord in the Apostles' doctrine," etc.] The expression is not, homou^ "together," but homothumado`n, "with one accord;" ("and daily," he says [afterwards], "they were continuing with one accord in the temple,") i. e. with one soul. And here again in his conciseness, he does not relate the teaching given; for as young children, the Apostles nourished them with spiritual food. "And fear came upon every soul" (v. 43): clearly, of those, as well, who did not believe; namely, upon seeing so great a change all at once effected, and besides in consequence of the miracles. ["And all that believed were together, and had all things in common," etc.] (v. 44.) They are all become angels on a sudden; all of them continuing in prayer and hearing, they saw that spiritual things are common, and no one there has more than other, and they speedily came together (epi` to` auto'), to the same thing in common, even to the imparting to all. "And all the believing" (v. 44), it says, were epi` to` auto': and to see that this does not mean that they were together in place, observe what follows ["And had all things common"]. "All," it says: not one with the exception of another. This was an angelic commonwealth, not to call anything of theirs their own. Forthwith the root of evils was cut out. By what they did, they showed what they had heard: this was that which he said, "Save yourselves from this untoward generation."— "And daily continuing with one accord in the temple." (v. 46.) Since they are become three thousand, they take them abroad now: and withal, the boldness imparted by the Spirit being great: and daily they went up as to a sacred place, as frequently we find Peter and John doing this: for at present they disturbed none of the Jewish observances. And this honor too passed over to the place; the eating in the house. In what house? In the Temple. Observe the increase of piety: They cast away their riches, and rejoiced, and had great gladness, for greater were the riches they, received without labor (a'pona Cat. al. agatha'). None reproached, none envied, none grudged; no pride, no contempt was there. As children they did indeed account themselves to be under teaching: as new born babes, such was their disposition. Yet why use this faint image? If you remember how it was when God shook our city with an earthquake, how subdued all men were. (Infra, Hom. xli. # 2.) Such was the case then with those converts. No knavery, no villany then: such is the effect of fear, of affliction! No talk of "mine" and "thine" then. Hence gladness waited at their table; no one seemed to eat of his own, or of another's;—I grant this may seem a riddle. Neither did they consider their brethren's property foreign to themselves; it was the property of a Master; nor again deemed they aught their own, all was the brethren's. The poor man knew no shame, the rich no haughtiness. This is gladness. The latter deemed himself the obliged and fortunate party; the others felt themselves as honored herein, and closely were they bound together. For indeed, because when people make doles of money, there are apt to be insults, pride, grudging; therefore says the Apostle, "Not grudgingly, or of necessity."—(2 Cor. ix. 7.) ["With gladness and simplicity of heart," etc.] See of how many things he bears witness to them! Genuine faith, upright conduct, perseverance in hearing, in prayers, in singleness, in cheerfulness. ["Praising God."] (v. 47.) Two things there were which might deject them; their abstemious living, and the loss of their property. Yet on both these accounts did they rejoice. ["And having favor with all the people."] For who but must love men of this character, as common fathers? They conceived no malice toward each other; they committed all to the grace of God. ["With all the people."] Fear there was none; yea, though they had taken their position in the midst of dangers. By singleness, however, he denotes their entire virtue, far surpassing their contempt of riches, their abstinence, and their preseverance in prayer. For thus also they offered pure praise to God: this is to praise God. But observe also here how they immediately obtain their reward. "Having favor with all the people." They were engaging, and highly beloved. For who would not prize and admire their simplicity of character; who would not be linked to one in whom was nothing underhand? To whom too does salvation belong, but to these? To whom those great marvels? Was it not to shepherds that the Gospel was first preached? and to Joseph, being a man of simple mind, insomuch that he did not let a suspicion of adultery frighten him into doing wrong? Did not God elect rustics, those artless men? For it is written, "Blessed is every simple soul." (Prov. xi. 25.) And again, "He that walketh simply, walketh surely." (Prov. x. 9.) "True," you will say, "but prudence also is needed." Why, what is simplicity, I pray you, but prudence? For when you suspect no evil, neither can you fabricate any: when you have no annoyances, neither can you remember injuries. Has any one insulted you? You were not pained. Has any one reviled you? You were nothing hurt. Has he envied you? Still you had no hurt. Simplicity is a high road to true philosophy. None so beautiful in soul as the simple. For as in regard of personal appearance, he that is sullen, and downcast, and reserved (su'nnous), even if he be good-looking, loses much of his beauty; while he that relaxes his countenance, and gently smiles, enhances his good looks; so in respect of the soul, he that is reserved, if he have ten thousand good points, disfigures them; but the frank and simple, just the reverse. A man of this last description may be safely made a friend, and when at variance easily reconciled. No need of guards and outposts, no need of chains and fetters with such an one; but great is his own freedom, and that of those who associate with him. But what, you will say, will such a man do if he fall among wicked people? God, Who has commanded us to be simple-minded, will stretch out His hand. What was more guileless than David? What more wicked than Saul? Yet who triumphed? Again, in Joseph's case; did not he in simplicity approach his master's wife, she him with wicked art? Yet what, I pray, was he the worse? Furthermore, what more simple than was Abel? what more malicious than Cain? And Joseph again, had he not dealt artlessly with his brethren? Was not this the cause of his eminence, that he spoke out unsuspiciously, while they received his word sin malice? He declared once and again his dreams unreservedly; and then again he set off to them carrying provisions; he used no caution; he committed all to God: nay, the more they held him in the light of an enemy, the more did he treat them as brothers. God had power not to have suffered him to fall into their hands; but that the wonder might be made manifest, how, though they do their worst, he shall be higher than they: though the blow do come upon him, it comes from another, not from himself. On the contrary, the wicked man strikes himself first, and none other than himself. "For alone," it is said, "shall he bear his troubles." (Prov. ix. 12.) Ever in him the soul is full of dejection, his thoughts being ever entangled: whether he must hear aught or say aught, he does all with complaints, with accusation. Far, very far from such do friendship and harmony make their abode: but fightings are there, and enmities, and all unpleasantness. They that are such suspect even themselves. To these not even sleep is sweet, nor anything else. And have they a wife also, lo, they are enemies and at war with all: what endless jealousies, what unceasing fear! Aye, the wicked, ponhro`s has his name from ponei^n, "to have trouble." And, indeed, thus the Scripture is ever calling "wickedness" by the name of labor; as, for instance, "Under his tongue is toil and labor;" and again, "In the midst of them is toil and labor." (Ps. x. 7; xc. 10; and lv. 11.)
Now if any one should wonder, whence those who had at first been of this last class, now are so different, let him learn that affliction was the cause, affliction, that school-mistress of heavenly wisdom, that mother of piety. When riches were done away with, wickedness also disappeared. True, say you, for this is the very thing I am asking about; but whence comes all the wickedness there is now? How is it that it came into the minds of those three thousand and five thousand straightway, to choose virtue, and that they simultaneously became Christian philosophers, whereas now hardly one is to be found? how was it that they then were in such harmony? What was it, that made them resolute and active? What was it that so suddenly inflamed them? The reason is, that they drew near with much piety; that honors were not so sought after as they are now; that they transferred their thoughts to things future, and looked for nothing of things present. This is the sign of an ardent mind, to encounter perils; this was their idea of Christianity. We take a different view, we seek our comfort here. The result is, that we shall not even obtain this, when the time is come. "What are we to do?" asked those men. We, just the contrary— "What shall we do?" What behooved to be done, they did. We, quite the reverse. Those men condemned themselves, despaired of saving themselves. This is what made them such as they were. They knew what a gift they had received. But how can you become like them, when you do everything in an opposite spirit? They heard, and were forthwith baptized. They did not speak those cold words which we do now, nor did they contrive delays (p. 47, note 3); and yet they had heard all the requirements: but that word, "Save yourselves from this generation," made them to be not sluggish; rather they welcomed the exhortation; and that they did welcome it, they proved by their deeds, they showed what manner of men they were. They entered at once the lists, and took off the coat; whereas we do enter, but we intend to fight with our coat on. This is the cause that our antagonist has so little trouble, for we get entangled in our own movements, and are continually thrown down. We do precisely the same thing as he who, having to cope with a man frantic, breathing fire; and seeing him, a professed wrestler, covered with dust, tawny, stripped, clotted with dirt from the sand and sun, and running down with sweat and oil and dirt; himself, smelling of perfumes, should put on his silken garments, and his gold shoes, and his robe hanging down to his heels, and his golden trinkets on the head, and so descend into the arena, and grapple with him. Such a one will not only be impeded, but being taken up with the sole idea of not staining or rending his fine clothes, will tumble at the very first onset, and withal will suffer that which he chiefly dreaded, the damage of those his fond delights. The time for the contest is come, and say, are you putting on your silks? It is the time of exercise, the hour of the race, and are you adorning yourself as for a procession? Look not to outward things, but to the inward. For by the thoughts about these things the soul is hampered on all sides, as if by strong cords, so that she cannot let you raise a hand, or contend against the adversary; and makes you soft and effeminate. One may think himself, even when released from all these ties, well off, to be enabled to conquer that impure power. And on this account Christ too did not allow the parting with riches alone to suffice, but what saith He? "Sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and come and follow Me." (Mark x. 21.) Now if, even when we cast away our riches, we are not yet in a safe position, but stand still in need of some further art and close practice; much more, if we retain them, shall we fail to achieve great things, and, instead thereof, become a laughing-stock to the spectators, and to the evil one himself. For even though there were no devil, though there were none to wrestle with us, yet ten thousand roads on all sides lead the lover of money to hell. Where now are they who ask why the devil was made (diati' ho d. ge'gonen;)? Behold here the devil has no hand in the work, we do it all ourselves. Of a truth they of the hills might have a right to speak thus, who after they had given proof of their temperance, their contempt of wealth and disregard of all such things, have infinitely preferred to abandon father, and houses, and lands, and wife, and children. Yet, they are the last to speak so: but the men who at no time ought to say it, these do say it. Those are indeed wrestlings with the devil; these he does not think worth entering into. You will say, But it is the devil who instils this same covetousness. Well, flee from it, do not harbor it, O man. Suppose now, you see one flinging out filth from some upper story, and at the same time a person seeing it thrown out, yet standing there and receiving it all on his head: you not only do not pity him, but you are angry, and tell him it serves him right; and, "Do not be a fool," everyone cries out to him, and lays the blame not so much on the other for shooting out the filth, as on him for letting it come on him. But now, you know that covetousness is of the devil; you know that it is the cause of ten thousand evils; you see him flinging out, like filth, his noisome imaginations; and do you not see that you are receiving on your bare head his nastiness, when it needed but to turn aside a little to escape it altogether? Just as our man by shifting his position would have escaped; so, do you refuse to admit such imaginations, ward off the lust. And how am I to do this? you will ask. Were you a Gentile, and had eyes for things present alone, the matter perhaps might be one of considerable difficulty, and yet even the Gentiles have achieved as much; but you—a man in expectation of heaven and heavenly bliss—and you to ask, "How am I to repel bad thoughts?" Were I saying the contrary, then you might doubt: did I say, covet riches, "How shall I covet riches," you might answer, "seeing such things as I do?" Tell me, if gold and precious stones were set before you, and I were to say, Desire lead, would there not be reason for hesitation? For you would say, How can I? But if I said, Do not desire it; this had been plainer to understand. I do not marvel at those who despise, but at those who despise not riches. This is the character of a soul exceeding full of stupidity, no better than flies and gnats, a soul crawling upon the earth, wallowing in filth, destitute of all high ideas. What is it you say? Are you destined to inherit eternal life; and do you say, how shall I despise the present life for the future? What, can the things be put in competition? You are to receive a royal vest; and say you, How shall I despise these rags? You are going to be led into the king's palace; and do you say, How shall I despise this present hovel? Of a truth, we ourselves are to blame in every point, we who do not choose to let ourselves be stirred up ever so little. For the willing have succeeded, and that with great zeal and facility. Would that you might be persuaded by our exhortation, and succeed too, and become imitators of those who have been successful, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, and power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"Now Peter and John went up together into the temple, at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour."
Everywhere we find these two Apostles in great harmony together. "To him Simon Peter beckoned." (John xiii. 24.) These two also "came together to the sepulchre. (Ib. xx. 3 et seq.) And concerning John, Peter said unto Christ, "And what shall this man do?" (Ib. xxi. 21.) Now as for the other miracles, the writer of this book omits them; but he mentions the miracle by which they were all put in commotion. Observe again that they do not come to them purposely; so clear were they of ambition, so closely did they imitate their Master. Why now did they go up to the temple? Did they still live as Jews? No, but for expediency (chrhsi'mws).[*] A miraculous sign again takes place, which both confirms the converts, and draws over the rest; and such, as they were a sign for having wrought. The disease was in the nature of the man, and baffled the art of medicine. He had been forty years lame (ch. iv. 20), as the writer says afterwards, and no one during all that time had cured him. And the most obstinate diseases are those which are born with men. It was a great calamity, insomuch that even to provide for himself his necessary sustenance was impossible for him. The man was conspicuous both from the place, and from his malady. Hear how the matter is related. "And a certain man, lame from his mother's womb, was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple." (v. 2.) He sought to receive alms, and he did not know who the men were. "Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said, Look on us." (v. 3, 4.) Yet, not even so were the man's thoughts elevated, but he persisted in his importunity. For such is poverty; upon a refusal, it compels people still to persist. Let this put us to shame who fall back in our prayers. But observe, I pray you, Peter's gentleness: for he said, "Look on us." So truly did their very bearing, of itself, betoken their character. "And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give thee." (v. 5, 6.) He did not say, I give thee something much better than silver or gold: but what? "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up." (v. 7.) Such was also the way of Christ. Often He healed by word, often by an act, often also He stretched forth the hand, where men were somewhat weak in faith, that the cure might not appear to be spontaneous. "And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up." This act made manifest the Resurrection, for it was an image of the Resurrection. "And immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked." (v. 8.) Perhaps it was by way of trying himself that he put it thus to further proof, whether perchance the thing done might not be to no purpose. His feet were weak; it was not that he had lost them. Some say that he did not even know how to walk. "And entered with them into the temple." Of a truth it was marvellous. The Apostles do not urge him; but of his own accord he follows, by the act of following pointing out his benefactors. "And leaping and praising God;" not admiring them, but God that wrought by them. The man was grateful.
["Now Peter and John went up together into the temple," etc.] You observe how they continued in prayer. "The ninth hour:" there they prayed together. ["And a certain man," etc.] The man was in the act of being carried at that instant. ["Whom they laid daily:"] (his bearers carried him away :) ["at the gate," etc.] just when people went into the temple. And that you may not suppose that they carried him for some other purpose, but that it was in order that he might receive alms, hear what the writer says: "so that he might receive alms of those entering into the temple." (Recapitulation of vv. 1-8.) And this is the reason why he also makes mention of the places, to give evidence of what he relates. "And how was it," you may ask, "that they did not present him to Christ?" Perhaps they were certain unbelieving men, that haunted the temple, as in fact neither did they present him to the Apostles, when they saw them entering, after having done such great miracles. "He asked," it is written, "to receive an alms." (v. 3.) Their bearing marked them as certain devout and righteous men. ["And Peter fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said," etc.] (v. 4, 5.) And observe how John is everywhere silent, while Peter makes excuse for him also; "Silver and gold," he says, "have I none." (v. 6.) He does not say, I have none here, as we are wont to speak, but absolutely, I have none. "What then?" he might say, "do you take no notice of me, your suppliant?" Not so, but of what I have, receive thou. Do you remark how unassuming Peter is, how he makes no display even to the object of his beneficence? ["In the name," etc. "And he took him by the hand," etc.] (v. 7.) And the mouth and the hand did all. Such sort of persons were the Jews; lame, and the right thing being to ask for health, these same ask for money, grovelling on the ground: for this it was that they beset the temple—to get money. What then does Peter? He did not despise him; he did not look about for some rich subject; he did not say, If the miracle is not done to some great one (eis ekei^non), nothing great is done: he did not look for some honor from him, no, nor heal him in the presence of people; for the man was at the entrance, not where the multitude were, that is, within. But Peter sought no such object; nor upon entering did he proclaim the matter: no, it was by his bearing that he attracted the lame man to ask. And the wonder is, that he believed so readily. For those who are set free from diseases of long standing, hardly believe their very eyesight. Once healed, he remains with the Apostles, giving thanks to God. "And he entered," it is said, "with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God." (v. 8.) Observe how restless he is, in the eagerness of his delight, at the same time shutting the mouths of the Jews. Also, that he leaped, was to prevent the suspicion of hypocrisy; for after all, this was beyond the possibility of deception. For if previously he was totally unable to walk, even when hunger pressed hard (and indeed he would not have chosen to share with his bearers the proceeds of his begging, if he had been able to manage for himself), this holds still more in the present ease. And how should he have feigned in behalf of those who had given him no alms? But the man was grateful, even after his recovery. And thus on either side his faith is shown, both by his thankfulness, and by the recent event.
He was so well known to all, that "they recognized him. And all the people," it says, "saw him walking and praising God; and they recognized (epegi'nwskon) that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple." (v. 9.) It is well said, "they recognized," inasmuch as he was one unknown now by reason of what had happened: for we use this term with regard to objects, which we find a difficulty in recognizing. ["And they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him."] Needs must it be believed that the name of Christ remits sins, seeing it produces even such effects as this. ("And as he held Peter and John, all the people came together at the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering." (v. 11.) From his good feelings and love towards the Apostles, the lame man would not leave them; perhaps he was thanking them openly, and praising them. "And all the people," it is said, "ran together unto them. And when Peter saw them, he answered." (v. 12.) Again it is he who acts, and addresses the people.
And in the former instance, it was the circumstance of the tongues that aroused them to hearing, now it was this miracle; then, he took occasion to speak from their accusations now, from their supposition. Let us then consider, in what this address differs from the former, and in what it agrees with that. The former was held in a house, before any one has come over, and before they themselves have wrought anything; this, when all are wondering, and the healed man is standing by; when none doubt, as in the other case where some said "These men are full of new wine." (Acts xii. 13.) At the one, he was surrounded by all the Apostles as he spoke; but at this, he has John alone; for by this time he is bold, and become more energetic. Such is the nature of virtue; once started, it advances, and never stops. Observe also how it was divinely ordered, that the miracle should take place in the temple, that others also might wax bold, while the Apostles work not in holes (eis katadu'seis) and corners, and in secret: though not in the interior of the temple either, where the greater number were. How then, I pray you, was it believed? The man himself who was healed proclaimed the benefit. For there was no reason why he should lie, nor why he should have joined a different set of people. Either then it was because of the spaciousness of the place, that he there wrought the miracle, or because the spot was retired. And observe the event. They went up for one object, and they accomplished another. Thus also did Cornelius: he prayed and fasted * * *. But hitherto they always call Him, "of Nazareth." "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth," said Peter, walk. For in the first instance, the thing required was, that He should be believed in.
Let us not, I pray you, give over at the beginning of the story: and if one has named some particular achievement of virtue, and then has dropped it for awhile, let us begin over again. If we get into the right mood (en e'xei), we shall soon arrive at the end, soon reach the summit. For earnestness, it is said, begets earnestness, and dulness begets dulness. He who has effected some little reformation, thereby receives encouragement to approach greater things, and thence again to go on something more than that; and just as it is with fire, the more wood it lays hold on, the more vehement it becomes, so likewise zeal, the more pious reflections it kindles, the more effectually is it armed against their opposites. As, for example: There are set in us, like so many thorns, perjury, falsehood hypocrisy, deceit, dishonesty, abusiveness, scoffing, buffoonery, indecency, scurrility; again under another head, covetousness, rapacity, injustice, calumny, insidiousness; again, wicked lust, uncleanness, lewdness, fornication, adultery; again, envy, emulation, anger, wrath, rancor, revenge, blasphemy, and numberless others. If we effect a reformation in the first instances, not only in them will the success have been achieved, but through them in the following cases also. For reason has then gained more strength to overthrow those other vices. For instance, if he, who has frequently sworn, once extirpates that satanic habit, he has not only gained this point, but a habit of piety in other respects will have been brought in. For no one, I suppose, averse to swearing would easily consent to do any other wicked act; he will feel a reverence for the virtue already acquired. Just as the man who wears a beautiful robe, will blush to roll himself in the mire; so is it also here. From this beginning he will come to learn not to be angry, not to strike, not to insult. For if once he has come right in little matters, the whole affair is done. Often, however, something of this sort takes place, that a person has once reformed, and then again through carelessness falls back into the old sins but too readily, so that the case becomes irremediable. For instance, we have made it a law to ourselves not to swear; we have got on well, for some three, or even four days; after that being hard put to it, we scattered away the whole of our collected gain; we then fall into indolence and recklessness. Still it is not right to give over; one must set to work zealously again. For it is said, he that has built up a house, and then sees his building pulled down, will have less spirit for building again. Yes, but for all this, one must not be dispirited, but must once more set to work zealously.
Let us then lay down daily laws for ourselves. For a time let us begin with the easier. Let us retrench all that superfluity of paths, and put a bridle on our tongues; let no one swear by God. Here is no outlay, here is no fatigue, here is no cost of time. It is sufficient to will, and all is done. It is a matter of habit. I beseech and entreat you, let us contribute thus much of zeal. Tell me, if I had bid you contribute your money, would not each one of you readily cast in according to his ability? If you saw me in extreme danger, would you not, if it had been possible, have cut off your own flesh to give me? Well, I am in danger now, and in great danger, such indeed that, were I withal confined to a dungeon, or had I received ten thousand stripes, or were a convict in the mines, I could not suffer more. Reach me then the hand. Consider how great is the danger, that I should not have been able to reform this which is least: I say "least" in regard to the labor required. What shall I have to say hereafter, when thus called to account? "Why did you not remonstrate? why did you not enjoin? why did you not lay the law before them? why did you not cheek the disobedient?" It will not be enough for me to say, that I did admonish. It will be answered, "You ought to have used more vehement rebuke; since Eli also admonished." (1 Sam. ii. 24.) But God forbid I should compare you with Eli's sons. Indeed, he did admonish them and say, "Nay, my sons, do not so; evil is the report that I hear of you." (1 Sam. iii. 13.) But subsequently the Scripture saith, that he did not admonish his sons: since he did not admonish them severely, or with threats. For is it not strange indeed, that in the synagogues of the Jews the laws are in such force, and whatever the teacher enjoins is performed; while here we are thus despised and rejected? It is not my own glory that I care for (my glory is your good report), but it is for your salvation. Every day we lift up our voice, and shout in your ears. But there is none to hear. Still we take no strong measures. I fear we shall have to give an account at the coming Day of this excessive and unseasonable leniency.
Wherefore, with a loud and clear voice, I proclaim to all and testify, that those who are notorious for this transgression, who utter words which come "of the evil one," (Matt. v. 37.) (for such is swearing,) shall not step over the threshold of the Church. Let this present month be the time allowed you for reforming in this matter. Talk not to me, "Necessity of business compels me to use oaths, else people do not believe me." To begin with this, retrench those oaths which come merely of habit. I know many will laugh, but it is better to be laughed at now, than wept for hereafter. They will laugh, who are mad. For who, I ask, in his right mind would laugh at the keeping of the commandment? But suppose they do; why, it will not be at us, but at Christ, that such men will laugh. You shudder at the word! I knew you would. Now if this law were of my making, at me would be the laughing; but if Another be the Lawgiver, the jeering passes over to Him. Yes, and Christ was once spit upon, and smitten with the palm, smitten upon the face. Now also He bears with this, and it is no wonder (oude`n apeiko`s)! For this, hell is prepared; for this, the worm that dieth not. Behold, again I say and testify; let him laugh that will, let him scoff that listeth. Hereunto are we set, to be laughed at and mocked, to suffer all things. We are "the offscouring" (1 Cor. iv. 13) or the world, as blessed Paul says. If any man refuse to conform to this order, that man I, by my word, as with a trumpet's blast, do prohibit to set foot over the Church's threshold, be he prince, be he even the crowned head. Either depose me from this station, or if I am to remain, expose me not to danger. I cannot bear to ascend this throne, without effecting Some great reformation. For if this be impossible, it is better to stand below. Nothing more wretched than a ruler who does his people no good. Do exert yourselves, and attend to this, I entreat you; and let us strive, and of a surety more will come of it. Fast, entreat God (and we will do the same with you) that this pernicious habit may be eradicated. It is no great matter, to become teachers to the world; no small honor to have it said everywhere, that really in this city there is not a man that swears. If this come to pass, you will receive the reward not only of your own good works; indeed what I am to you, this you will become to the world. Assuredly others also will emulate you; assuredly you will be a candle set upon a candlestick.
And is this, you will say, the whole matter? No, this is not all, but this is a beginning of other virtues. He who swears not, will certainly attain unto piety in other respects, whether he will or not, by dint of self-respect and awe. But you will urge that most men do not keep to it, but fall away. Well, better one man that doeth the will of the Lord, than ten thousand transgressors. In fact, hereby is everything subverted, everything turned upside down, I mean, because after the fashion of the Theatre we desire numbers not a select number. For what indeed will a multitude be able to profit? Would you learn that it is the saints, not the numbers, which make the multitude? Lead out to war ten hundred thousand men, and one saint, and let us see who achieves the most? Joshua the son of Nun went out to war, and alone achieved all; the rest were of no use. Wouldest thou see, beloved, that the great multitude, when it does not the will of God, is no better than a thing of naught? I wish indeed, and desire, and with pleasure would be torn in pieces, to adorn the Church with a multitude, yea, but a select multitude; yet if this be impossible, that the few should be select, is my desire. Do you not see, that it is better to possess one precious stone, than ten thousand farthing pieces? Do you not see that it is better to have the eye sound, than to be loaded with flesh, and yet deprived of sight? Do you not see that it is better to have one healthy sheep, than ten thousand with the murrain; that fine children, though few, are better than many children diseased withal; that in the Kingdom there will be few, but in hell many? What have I to do with a multitude? what profit therein? None. Rather they are a plague to the rest. It is as if one who had the option of ten healthy persons of ten thousand sick folks, should take to himself the latter in addition to the ten. The many who do nothing well, will avail us only for punishment hereafter, and disgrace for the time being. For no one will urge it as a point in our favor that we are many; we shall be blamed for being unprofitable. In fact, this is what men always tell us, when we say, We are many; "aye, but bad," they answer.
Behold again: I give warning, and proclaim with a loud voice, let no one think it a laughing matter: I will exclude and prohibit the disobedient; and as long as I sit on this throne, I will give up not one of its rights. If any one depose me from it, then I am no longer responsible; as long as I am responsible, I cannot disregard them; on account not of my own punishment, but of your salvation. For I do exceedingly long for your salvation. To advance it, I endure pain and vexation. But yield your obedience, that both here and hereafter you may receive a plentiful reward, and that we may in common reap eternal blessings; through the grace and mercy of the only-begotten Son of God; to Whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
"And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this, or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we have made this man to walk?"
There is greater freedom of speech in this harangue, than in the former. Not that he was afraid on the former occasion, but the persons whom he addressed there, being jesters and scoffers, would not have borne it. Hence in the beginning of that address he also bespeaks their attention by his preamble; "Be this known unto you, and hearken to my words." (ch. ii. 14.) But here there is no need of this management. (kataskeuh^s.) For his hearers were not in a state of indifference. The miracle had aroused them all; they were even full of fear and amazement. Wherefore also there was no need of beginning at that point, but rather with a different topic; by which, in fact, he powerfully conciliated them, namely, by rejecting the glory which was to be had from them. For nothing is so advantageous, and so likely to pacify the hearers, as to say nothing about one's self of an honorable nature, but, on the contrary, to obviate all surmise of wishing to do so. And, in truth, much more did they increase their glory by despising glory, and showing that what had just taken place was no human act, but a Divine work; and that it was their part to join with the beholders in admiration, rather than to receive it from them. Do you see how clear of all ambition he is, and how he repels the honor paid to him? In the same manner also did the ancient fathers; for instance, Daniel said, "Not for any wisdom that is in me." (Dan. ii. 30.) And again Joseph, "Do not interpretations belong to God?" (Gen. xi. 8.) And David, "When the lion and the bear came, in the name of the Lord I rent them with my hands." (1 Sam. xvii. 34.) And so likewise here the Apostles, "Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?" (v. 13.) Nay, not even this; for not by our own merit did we draw down the Divine influence. "The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers." See how assiduously he thrusts himself (eiswthei^) upon the fathers of old, lest he should appear to be introducing a new doctrine. In the former address he appealed to the patriarch David, here he appeals to Abraham and the rest. "Hath glorified His Servant Jesus." Again a lowly expression, like as in the opening address.
But at this point he proceeds to enlarge upon the outrage, and exalts the heinousness of the deed, no longer, as before, throwing a veil over it. This he does, wishing to work upon them more powerfully. For the more he proved them accountable, the better his purpose were effected. "Hath glorified," he says, 'His Servant Jesus, Whom ye delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go." The charge is twofold: Pilate was desirous to let Him go; you would not, when he was willing. "But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince (or Author) of Life: Whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses." (v. 14, 15.) Ye desired a robber instead of Him. He shows the great aggravation of the act. As he has them under his hand, he now strikes hard. "The Prince of Life," he says. In these words he establishes the doctrine of the Resurrection. "Whom God hath raised from the dead." (ch. ii. 56.) "Whence doth this appear?" He no longer refers to the Prophets, but to himself, inasmuch as now he has a right to be believed. Before, when he affirmed that He was risen, he adduced the testimony of David; now, having said it, he alleges the College of Apostles. "Whereof we are witnesses, he says.
"And His name, through faith in His name, hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all." Seeking to declare the matter (zhtw^n to` pra^gma eipei^n), he straightway brings forward the sign: "In the presence," he says, "of you all." As he hid borne hard upon them, and had shown that He Whom they crucified had risen, again he relaxes, by giving them the power of repentance; "And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers." (v. 17.) This is one ground of excuse. The second is of a different kind. As Joseph speaks to his brethren, "God did send me before you (Gen. xlv. 5); what in the former speech he had briefly said, in the words, "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken,"—this he here enlarges upon: "But what God before had showed by the mouth of all His Prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled." (v. 18.) At the same time showing, that it was not of their doing, if this be proved, that it took place after God's counsel. He alludes to those words with which they had reviled Him on the Cross, namely "Let Him deliver Him, if He will have Him; for He said, I am the Son of God. If He trust in God, let Him now come down from the cross." (Matt. xxvii. 42, 43.) O foolish men, were these idle words? It must needs so come to pass, and the prophets bear witness thereunto. Therefore if He descended not, it was for no weakness of His own that He did not come down, but for very power. And Peter puts this by way of apology for the Jews, hoping that they may also close with what he says. "He hath so fulfilled," he says. Do you see now how he refers everything to that source? "Repent ye therefore," he says, "and be converted." He does not add, "from your sins;" but, "that your sins, may be blotted out," means the same thing. And then he adds the gain: "So shall the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord." (v. 19.) This betokens them in a sad state, brought low by many wars. For it is to the case of one on fire, and craving comfort, that the expression applies. And see now how he advances. In his first sermon, he but slightly hinted at the resurrection, and Christ's sitting in heaven; but here he also speaks of His visible advent. "And He shall send Jesus the Christ ordained (for you), "Whom the heaven must (i.e. must of necessity) receive, until the times of the restitution of all things." The reason why He does not now come is clear. "Which God hath spoken," he continues, "by the mouths of His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you." Before, he had spoken of David, here he speaks of Moses. "Of all things," he says, "which He hath spoken." But he does not say, "which Christ," but, "which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." (v. 20, 21.) Then he betakes him to the ground of credibility, saying, "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things." And then the greatness of the punishment: "And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those that follow, after, as many as have spoken have likewise foretold of these days." (v. 23, 24.) He has done well to set the distinction here. For whenever he says anything great, he appeals to them of old. And he found a text which contained both truths; just as in the other discourse he said, "Until He put His foes under His feet." (ch. ii. 35.) The remarkable circumstance is, that the two things stand together; that is, subjection and disobedience, and the punishment. "Like unto me," he says. Then why are ye alarmed? "Ye are the children of the prophets" (v. 25): so that to you they spake, and for your sakes have all these things come to pass. For as they deemed that through their outrage they had become alienated (and indeed there is no parity of reason, that He Who now is crucified, should now cherish them as His own), he proves to them that both the one and the other are in accordance with prophecy. "Ye are the children," he says, "of the Prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, 'And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.' Unto you first," he continues, "God having raised up His Son (to'n Pai^da) sent Him." "To others indeed also, but to you first who crucified Him." "To bless you," he adds, "in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." (v. 26.)
Now let us consider again more minutely what has been read out. (Recapitulation.) In the first place, he establishes the point that the miracle was performed by them; saying, "Why marvel ye?" And he will not let the assertion be disbelieved: and to give it more weight, he anticipates their judgment. "Why look ye," he says, "so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?" (v. 12.) If this troubles and confounds you, learn Who was the Doer, and be not amazed. And observe how on all occasions when he refers to God, and says that all things are from Him, then he fearlessly chides them: as above where he said, "A man approved of God among you." (ch. ii. 22.) And on all occasions he reminds them of the outrage they had committed, in order that the fact of the Resurrection may be established. But here he also subjoins something else; for he no more says, "of Nazareth," but what? "The God of our fathers hath glorified His Servant Jesus." (v. 13.) Observe also the modesty. He reproached them not, neither did he say at once, "Believe then now: behold, a man that has been forty years lame, has been raised up through the name of Jesus Christ." This he did not say, for it would have excited opposition. On the contrary, he begins by commending them for admiring the deed, and again calls them after their ancestor: "Ye men of Israel." Moreover, he does not say, It was Jesus that healed him: but, "The God of our fathers hath glorified," etc. But then, lest they should say, How can this stand to reason—that God should glorify the transgressor? therefore he reminds them of the judgment before Pilate, showing that, would they but consider, He was no transgressor; else Pilate had not wished to release Him. And he does not say, "when Pilate was desirous," but, "was determined to let Him go." "But ye denied the Holy One," etc. (v. 13, 14.) Him who had killed others, ye asked to be released; Him Who quickeneth them that are killed, ye did not wish to have! And that they might not ask again, How should it be that God now glorifies Him, when before He gave no assistance? he brings forward the prophets, testifying that so it behooved to be. "But those things which God before had showed," etc., (infra v. 18.) Then, lest they should suppose that God's dispensation was their own apology, first he reproves them. Moreover, that the denying Him "to Pilate's face," was no ordinary thing; seeing that he wished to release Him. And that ye cannot deny this, the man who was asked in preference to Him is witness against you. This also is part of a deep dispensation. Here it shows their shamelessness and effrontery; that a Gentile, one who saw Him for the first time, should have discharged Him, though he had heard nothing striking; while they who had been brought up among His miracles, have done the very opposite! For, as be has said, "When he (Pilate) had determined to let Him go," that it may not be imagined that he did this of favor, we read, "And he said, It is a custom with you to release one prisoner: will ye therefore that [ release unto you this man? (Matt. xxvii. 15.) "But ye denied the Holy One and the Just." (Mark xv. 6.) He does not say, "Ye delivered up;" but everywhere, "Ye denied." For, said they, "We have no king but Caesar." (John xix. 15.) And he does not say only, Ye did not beg off the innocent, and," Ye denied" Him but, "Ye slew" Him. While they were hardened, he refrained from such language; but when their minds are most moved, then he strikes home, now that they are in a condition to feel it. For just as when men are drunk we say nothing to them, but when they are sober, and are recovered from their intoxication then we chide them; thus did Peter: when they were able to understand his words, then he also sharpened his tongue, alleging against them many charges; that, Whom God had glorified, they had delivered up; Whom Pilate would have acquitted they denied to his face; that they preferred the robber before Him.
Observe again how he speaks covertly concerning Christ's power, showing that He raised Himself: just as in his first discourse he had said, "Because it was not possible that He should be holden of it" (ch. ii. 24), so here he says, "And killed the Prince of Life." (v. 15.) It follows that the Life He had was not from another. The prince (or author) of evil would be he that first brought forth evil; the prince or author of murder, he who first originated murder; so also the Prince (or Author) of Life must be He Who has Life from Himself.[*] "Whom God raised up," he continues: and now that he has uttered this, he adds, "And his name, upon faith in his name, hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know; yea, the faith which is by Him hath given Him this perfect soundness. [The faith which is by Him hh di' autou^ pi'stis.] And yet it was hh eis auto`n pi'stis, "the faith which is in Him" (as its object) that did all. For the Apostles did not say, "By the name," but, "In the name," and it was in Him (eis auto`n) that the man believed. But they did not yet make bold to use the expression, "The faith which is in Him." For, that the phrase "By Him" should not be too low, observe that after saying, "Upon the faith of His name," he adds, "His name hath made him strong," and then it is that he says, "Yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness." Observe how he implies, that in the kai` ekei^no former expression also "Whom God raised up," he did but condescend to their low attainments. For that Person needed not Another's help for His rising again, Whose Name raised up a lame man, being all one as dead. Mark how on all occasions he adduces their own testimony. Thus above, he said, "As ye yourselves also know;" and, "In the midst of you :" and here again, "Whom ye see and know: in the presence of you all." (ch. ii. 22.) And yet that it was, " In His name," they knew not: but they did know that the man was lame, that he stands there whole. They that had wrought the deed themselves confessed, that it was not by their own power, but by that of Christ. And had this assertion been unfounded, had they not been truly persuaded themselves that Christ had risen again, they would not have sought to establish the honor of a dead man instead of their own, especially while the eyes of the multitude were upon them. Then, when their minds were alarmed, immediately he encourages them, by the appellation of Brethren, "And now, brethren, I wot, etc." For in the former discourse he foretold nothing, but only says concerning Christ, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly :" here he
adds an admonition. There he waited till the people spoke: here, he knew how much they had already effected, and that the present assembly was better disposed toward them. "That through ignorance ye did it." And yet the circumstances mentioned above were not to be put to the score of ignorance. To choose the robber, to reject Him Who had been adjudged to be acquitted, to desire even to destroy Him—how should this be referred to ignorance? Nevertheless, he gives them liberty to deny it, and to change their mind about what had happened. "Now this indeed, that you put to death the innocent, ye knew: but that you were killing "the Prince of Life," this, belike, ye did not know." And he exculpated not them alone, but also the chief contrivers of the evil, "ye and your rulers :" for doubtless it would have roused their opposition, had he gone off into accusation. For the evil-doer, when you accuse him of some wickedness that he has done, in his endeavor to exonerate himself, grows more vehement. And he no longer says, "Ye crucified," "Ye killed," but, "Ye did it;" leading them to seek for pardon. If those rulers did it through ignorance, much more did these present.[*] "But these things which God before had showed," etc. (v. 18.) But it is remarkable, that both in the first and in the second discourse, speaking to the same effect, that is, in the former, "By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God;" and in this, "God before had showed that Christ should suffer;" in neither does he adduce any particular text in proof. The fact is, that each one of such passages is accompanied with many accusations, and with mention of the punishment in store for them [as];" I will deliver up," says one, "the wicked in requital for His grave, and the rich in return for His death." (Is. liii. 9.) And again, * * * "Those things," he says, "which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled." It shows the greatness of that "counsel," in that all spoke of it, and not one only. It does not follow, because the event was through ignorance, that it took place irrespectively of God's ordinance. See how great is the Wisdom of God, when it uses the wickedness of others to bring about that which must be. "He hath fulfilled," he says: that they may not imagine that anything at all is wanting; for whatsoever Christ must needs suffer, has been fulfilled. But do not think, that, because the Prophets said this, and because ye did it through ignorance, this sufficeth to your exculpation. However, he does not express himself thus, but in milder terms says, "Repent ye therefore." (v. 19.) "Why? For either it was through ignorance, or by the dispensation of God." "That your sins may be blotted out." I do not mean the crimes committed at the Crucifixion; perhaps they were through ignorance; but so that your other sins may be blotted out: this only. "So shall the times of refreshing come unto you." Here he
speaks of the Resurrection, obscurely.[*] For those are indeed times of refreshing, which Paul also looked for, when he said, "We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burthened." (2 Cor. v. 4.) Then to prove that Christ is the cause of the days of refreshing, he says, "And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was for you ordained." (v. 20.) He said not, "That your sin may be blotter out," but, "your sins;" for he hints at that sin also. "He shall send." And whence? "Whom the heaven must receive." (v. 21.) Still ["must"] "receive?" And why not simply, Whom the heaven hath received? This, as if discoursing of old times: so, he says, it is divinely ordered, so it is settled: not a word yet of His eternal subsistence.—" For Moses indeed said unto the fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord raise up for you:" "Him shall ye hear in all things that He shall speak unto you:" and having said, "All things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy Prophets," (v. 22) now indeed he brings in Christ Himself. For, if He predicted many things and it is necessary to hear Him, one would not be wrong in saying that the Prophets have spoken these things. But, besides, he wishes to show that the Prophets did predict the same things. And, if any one will look closely into the matter, he will find these things spoken in the Old Testament, obscurely indeed, but nevertheless spoken. "Who was purposely designed," says he: in Whom there is nothing novel. Here he also alarms them, by the thought that much remains to be fulfilled. But if so, how says he, "Hath fulfilled?" (v. 18.) The things which it was necessary "that Christ should suffer," are fulfilled: the things which must come to pass, not yet. "A prophet shall the Lord God raise up for you from among your brethren, like unto me." This would most conciliate them. Do you observe the sprinkling of low matters and high, side by side,—that He Who was to go up into the heavens should be like unto Moses? And yet it was a great thing too. For in fact He was not simply like unto Moses, if so be that "every soul which will not hear shall be destroyed." And one might mention numberless other things which show that He was not like unto Moses; so that it is a mighty text that he has handled. "God shall raise Him up unto you," says Moses, "from among your brethren," etc.: consequently Moses himself threatens those that should not hear. "Yea, and all the prophets," etc.: all this is calculated to attract "Yea, and all the prophets," says the Apostle. "from Samuel." He refrains from enumerating them singly, not to make his discourse too long; but having alleged that decisive testimony of Moses, he passes by the rest. "Ye," he says, "are the children of the Prophets, and of the covenant which God made." (v. 25) "Children of the covenant;" that is, heirs. For test they should think that they received this offer from the favor of Peter, he shows, that of old it was due to them, in order that they may the rather believe that such also is the will of God. "Unto you first," he continues, '"God having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him. (v. 26.) He does not say simply, "Unto you He sent His Son," but also, after the resurrection, and when He had been crucified. For that they may not suppose that he himself granted them this favor, and not the Father, he says, "To bless you." For if He is your Brother, and blesses you, the affair is a promise. "Unto you first." That is, so far are you from having no share in these blessings, that He would have you become moreover promoters and authors of them to others. For you are not to feel like castaways. "Having raised up": again, the Resurrection. "In turning away," he says, "every one of you from his iniquities." In this way He blesses you: not in a general way. And what kind of blessing is this? A great one. For of course not the turning a man away from his iniquities is itself sufficient to remit them also. And if it is not sufficient to remit, how should it be to confer a blessing? For it is not to be supposed that the transgressor becomes forthwith also blessed; he is simply released from his sins. But this, "Like unto me," would no wise apply. "Hear ye Him," he says; and not this alone, but he adds, "And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." When he has shown them that they had sinned, and has imparted forgiveness to them, and promised good things, then indeed, then he says, "Moses also says the same thing." What sort of connection is this: "Until the times of the restitution;" and then to introduce Moses, saying, that all that Christ said shall come to pass? Then also, on the other hand, he says, as matter of encomium (so that for this reason also ye ought to obey): "Ye are the children of the prophets and of the covenant:" i.e. heirs. Then why do you stand affected towards that which is your own, as if it were another's? True, you have done deeds worthy of condemnation; still you may yet obtain pardon. Having said this, with reason he is now able to say, "Unto you God sent his Son Jesus to bless you." He says not, To save you, but what is greater; that the crucified Jesus blessed His crucifiers.
Let us then also imitate Him. Let us cast out that spirit of murder and enmity. It is not enough not to retaliate (for even in the Old Dispensation this was exemplified); but let us do all as we would for bosom-friends, as we would for ourselves so for those who have injured us. We are followers of Him, we are His disciples, who after being crucified, sets everything in action in behalf of his murderers, and sends out His Apostles to this end. And yet we have often suffered justly; but those acted not only unjustly, but impiously; for He was their Benefactor, He had done no evil, and they crucified Him. And for what reason? For the sake of their reputation. But He Himself made them objects of reverence. "The scribes and the pharisees sit in Moses' seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that do ye, but after their works do ye not." (Matt. xxiii. 2.) And again in another place, "Go thy way, show thyself to the priest." (ib. viii. 4.) Besides, when He might have destroyed them, He saves them. Let us then imitate Him, and let no one be an enemy, no one a foe, except to the devil.
Not a little does the habit of not swearing contribute to this end: I mean to the not giving way to wrath: and by not giving way to wrath, we shall not have an enemy either. Lop off the oaths of a man, and you have clipt the wings of his anger, you have smothered all his passion. Swearing, it is said, is as the wind to wrath. Lower the sails; no need of sails, when there is no wind. If then we do not clamor, and do not swear, we have cut the sinews of passion. And if you doubt this, just put it to experiment. Impose it as a law upon the passionate man that he shall never swear, and you will have no necessity of preaching moderation to hint. So the whole business is finished. For even though you do not forswear yourselves [yet], by swearing at all, do you not know in what absurd consequences you involve yourselves—binding yourselves to an absolute necessity and as with a cord, and putting yourselves to all manner of shifts, as men studying how to rescue their soul from an evil which there is no escaping, or, failing of that, obliged [by that self-imposed necessity] to spend your life thenceforth in vexation, in quarrels, and to curse your wrath? But all is in vain, and to no purpose. Threaten, be peremptory (dio'risai), do all, whatever it be, without swearing; [so]: it is in your power to reverse analu^sai) both what you have said and what you have done if you have the mind. Thus on the present day I must needs speak more gently to you. For since ye have heard me, and the greater part of the reformation is achieved by you, now then let us see for what purpose the taking of oaths was introduced, and why allowed to be. In relating to you their first origin, and when they were conceived, and how, and by whom we shall give you this account in requital for your obedience. For it is fit that he who has made his practice right, should be taught the philosophy of the matter, but he who is not yet doing the right, is not worthy to be told the history.
They made many covenants in Abraham's time, and slew victims, and offered sacrifices, and as yet oaths were not. Whence then did they come in? When evil increased, when all was confusion, upside down, when men had turned aside to idolatry: then it was, then, when men appeared no longer worthy to be believed, that they called God as witness, as if thereby giving an adequate surety for what they said. Such in fact is the Oath: it is a security where men's principles cannot be trusted. So that in the indictment of the swearer the first charge is this,—that he is not to be trusted without a surety, and a great surety too: for such is the exceeding faithlessness, that they ask not man as surety, but will needs have God! Secondly, the same charge lies against him who receives the oath: that, in a question of compact, he must drag in God for warranty, and refuse to be satisfied unless he get Him. O the excessive stupidity, the insolence of such conduct! Thou, a worm, earth and dust, and ashes, and vapor, to drag in thy Lord as the, surety, and to compel the other to drag Him in likewise! Tell me, if your servants were disputing with each other, and exchanging assurances with each other, and the fellow-servant should declare that for his part he would not be satisfied till he had their common master given him for surety, would he not have stripes given him without number, and be made to know that the master is for other purposes, and not to be put to any such use as this? Why do I speak of a fellow- servant? For should he choose any respectable person, would not that person consider it an affront? But I do not wish to do this, say you. Well: then do not compel the other to do so either: since where men only are in question, this is done—if your party says, "I give such an one as my surety," you do not allow him. "What then," say you, "am I to lose what I have given?" I am not speaking of this; but that you allow him to insult God. For which reason greater shall be the inevitable punishment to him who forces the oath upon another, than to him who takes it: the same holds with regard to him who gives an oath when no one asks him. And what makes it worse, is, that every one is ready to swear, for one farthing, for some petty item, for his own injustice. All this may be said, when there is no perjury; but if perjury follow in the train, both he that imposes and he that takes the oath have turned everything upside down. "But there are some things," you will say, "which are unknown." Well take these into account, and do nothing negligently; but, if you do act negligently, take the loss to yourself as your punishment. It is better to be the loser thus, than in a very different way. For tell me—you force a man to take an oath, with what expectation? That he will forswear himself? But this is utter insanity; and the judgment will fall upon your own head; better you should lose your money, than he be lost. Why act thus to your own detriment, and to the insulting of God? This is the spirit of a wild beast, and of an impious man. But you do this in the expectation that he will not forswear himself? Then trust him without the oath. "Nay, there are many," you reply, "who in the absence of an oath would presume to defraud; but, once the oath taken, would refrain." You deceive yourself, man. A man having once learnt to steal, and to wrong his neighbor, will presume full oft to trample upon his oath; if on the contrary he shrinks from swearing, he will much more shrink from injustice. "But he is influenced against his will." Well then, he deserves pardon.
But why am I speaking of this kind of oaths, while I pass over those in the market-place? For as regards these last, you can urge none of these pleas. For ten farthings you there have swearing and forswearing. In fact, because the thunderbolt does not actually fall from heaven, because all things are not overthrown, you stand holding God in your bonds: to get a few vegetables, a pair of shoes, for a little matter of money, calling Him to witness. What is the meaning of this? Do not let us imagine, that because we are not punished, therefore we do not sin; this comes of God's mercy; not of our merit. Let your oath be an imprecation upon your own child, upon your own self: say, "Else let the hangman lash my ribs." But
you dare not. Is God less valuable than thy ribs? is He less precious than thy pate? Say "Else let me be struck blind." But no. Christ so spares us, that He will not let us swear even by our own head; and yet we so little spare the honor of God, that on all occasions we must drag Him in! Ye know not what God is, and with what sort of lips he behooves to be invoked. Why, when we speak of any man of eminent worth, we say, "First wash your mouth, and then make mention of him:" and yet, that precious Name which is above every name, the Name which is marvellous in all the earth, the Name which devils hear and tremble, we haul about as we list! Oh! the force of habit! thereby has that Name become cheap. No doubt, if you impose on any one the necessity of coming into the sacred edifice to take his oath there, you feel that you have made the oath an awful one. And yet how is it that it seems awful in this way, but because we have been in the habit of using that at random, but not this? For ought not a shudder of awe to be felt when God is but named? But now, whereas among the Jews His Name was held to be so reverend, that it was written upon plates, and none was allowed to wear the characters except the high-priest alone: we bandy about His Name like any ordinary word. If simply to name God was not allowed to all; to call Him to witness, what audacity is it! nay, what madness! For if need were (rather than this)to fling away all that you have, ought you not readily to part with all? Behold, I solemnly declare and testify; reform these oaths of the forum, these superfluous oaths, and bring to me all those who wish to take them. Behold, in the presence of this assembly, I charge those who are set apart for the tending of the Houses of Prayer, I exhort and issue this order to them, that no person be allowed to take such oaths at his own discretion: or rather, that none be allowed to swear in any other way, but that the person be brought to me, whosoever he be, since even for these matters less will not serve but they must needs come before us, just as if one had to do with little children. May there be no occasion! It is a shame in some things still to need to be taught. Do you dare to touch the Holy Table, being a person unbaptized? No, but what is still worse, you the baptized dare to lay your hand upon the Holy Table, which not even all ordained persons are allowed to touch, and so to take your oath. Now you would not go and lay your hand upon the head of your child? and yet do you touch the Table, and not shudder, not feel afraid? Bring these men to me; I will judge, and send them away rejoicing, both the one and the other. Do what you choose; I lay it down as a law that there be no swearing at all. What hope of salvation, while we thus make all to have been done in vain? Is this the end of your bills, and your bonds, that you should sacrifice your own soul? What gain do you get so great as the loss? Has he forsworn himself? You have undone both him and yourself. But has he not? even so still you have undone (both), by forcing him to transgress the commandment. Let us cast out this disease from the soul: at any rate let us drive it out of the forum, out of our shops, out of our other work-places; our profits will but be the greater. Do not imagine that the success of your worldly plans is to be ensured by transgressions of the Divine laws. "But he refuses to trust me," say you; and in fact I have sometimes heard this said by some: "Unless I swear oaths without number, the man will not trust me." Yes, and for this you may thank yourself, because you are so off-hand with your oaths. For were it not so, but on the contrary were it clear to all men that you do not swear, take my word for it, you would be more readily believed upon your mere nod, than those are who swallow oaths by thousands. For look now: which do you more readily believe? me who do not swear, or those that do swear? "Yes," say you, "but then you are ruler and bishop." Then suppose I prove to you that it is not only for that reason? Answer me with truth, I beseech you; were I in the habit of perpetually swearing, would my office stand me in that stead? Not a whir. Do you see that it is not for this reason? And what do you gain at all? Answer me that. Paul endured hunger; do you then also choose to hunger rather than to transgress one of the commandments of God. Why are you so unbelieving? Here are you, ready to do and suffer all things for the sake of not swearing: and shall not He reward you? Shall He, Who sustains day by day both takers and breakers of oaths, give you over to hunger, when you have obeyed Him? Let all men see, that of those who assemble in this Church not one is a swearer. By this also let us become manifest, and not by our creed alone; let us have this mark also to distinguish us both from the Gentiles and from all men. Let us receive it as a seal from heaven, that we may everywhere be seen to be the King's own flock. By our mouth and tongue let us be known, in the first place, just as the barbarians are by theirs: even as those who speak Greek are distinguished from barbarians, so let us be known. Answer me: the birds which are said to be parrots, how are they known to be parrots? is it not by speaking like men? Let us then be known by speaking like the Apostles; by speaking like the Angels. If any one bid you swear tell him, "Christ has spoken, and I do not swear." This is enough to make a way for all virtue to come in. It is a gate to religion, a high road leading to the philosophy of piety; a kind of training-school. These things let us observe, that we may obtain also the future blessings, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, power and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
"And as they spake unto the people, there came unto them the priests, and the captain of the temple."
Ere yet their had time to take breath after their first trials, straightway they enter into others. And observe how the events are disposed. First, they were all mocked together; this was no small trial: secondly, they enter into dangers. And these two things do not take place in immediate succession; but when first the Apostles have won admiration by their two discourses, and after that have performed a notable miracle, thereupon it is that, after they are waxen bold, through God's disposal, they enter the lists. But I wish you to consider, how those same persons, who in the case of Christ must need look out for one to deliver Him up to them, now with their own hands arrest the Apostles, having become more audacious and more impudent since the Crucifixion. In truth, sin, while it is yet struggling to the birth, is attended with some sense of shame; but when once fully born, it makes those more shameless who practise it. "And the captain of the temple," it is said. The object again was to attach a public criminality to what was doing, and not to prosecute it as the act of private individuals: such in fact was constantly their plan of proceeding.
"Being grieved that they taught the people." (v. 2.) Not merely because they taught, but because they declared, not alone that Christ Himself was risen from the dead, but moreover, that we through Him do rise again. "Because they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead." So mighty was His Resurrection, that to others also He is the cause of a resurrection.[*] "And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day; for it was now eventide. (v. 3.) What impudence! They feared not the multitude; for this also the captain of the temple was with them: they had their hands still reeking with the blood of the former victim. "For it was now eventide," it is said. It was with the wish to abate their spirit that those men did this, and guarded them; but the delay only served to make the Apostles more intrepid. And consider who these are who are arrested. They are the chiefs of the Apostles, who are now become a pattern to the rest, that they should no longer crave each other's support, nor want to be together. "Howbeit, many having heard the word, believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand." (v. 4.) How was this? Did they see them in honor? Did they not behold them put in bonds? How then did they, believe? Do you see the evident efficacy? And yet even those that believed already might well have become weaker. But no, it is no longer so: for Peter's sermon had laid the seed deep into them, and had taken a hold upon their understandings. Therefore were [their enemies] incensed, that they did not fear them, that they made no account of their present troubles. For, say they, if He that was crucified effects such great things, and makes the lame to walk, we fear not these men either. This again is of God's ordering. For those who now believe were more numerous than the former. Therefore it was that in their presence they bound the Apostles, to make them also more fearful. But the reverse took place. And they examine them not before the people, but privately, that the hearers may not profit by their boldness.
"And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, and Annas the High Priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the High Priest, were gathered together at Jersualem." (v. 5, 6.) For now along with the other evils (of the times), the Law was no longer observed. And again they set off the business with the form of a tribunal, to constitute them guilty by their iniquitous sentence. "And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" (v. 7.) And yet they knew it well; for it was because they were "grieved that they preached through Jesus the resurrection" that they arrested them. Then for what purpose do they question them? They expected the numbers present would make them recant, and thought by this means to have put all right again. Observe then what they say: "And by what name have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them." (v. 8.) And now, I pray you, call to mind Christ's saying; "When they deliver you up unto the synagogues, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall speak; for it is the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Luke xii. 11, 14.) So that it was a mighty Power they enjoyed. What then says Peter? "Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel." Mark the Christian wisdom of the man; how full of confidence it is: he utters not a word of insult, but says with respect, "Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we be this day called to account of the good deed done to the impotent man." He takes them in hand right valiantly; by the opening of his speech he exposes them, and reminds them of the former things: that it is for a work of beneficence they are calling them to account. As if he had said, "In all fairness we ought to have been crowned for this deed, and proclaimed benefactors; but since "we are even put upon our trial for a good deed done to an impotent man," not a rich man, not powerful, not noble—and yet who would feel envy in a case like this?" It is a most forcible (apaggeli'a, al. epaggeli'a) way of putting the case; and he shows that they are piercing their own selves :—" By what means this man is made whole: be it known unto you all, and to all the people Israel; that by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth: "—this is what would vex them most. For this was that which Christ had told the disciples, "What ye hear in the ear that preach ye upon the housetops.—That in the name of Jesus Christ," he says, "of Nazareth, Whom ye crucified, Whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole." (v. 10). (Matt. x. 27.) Think not, he says that we conceal the country, or the nature of the death. "Whom ye crucified, Whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand before you whole." Again the death, again the resurrection. "This is the stone," he says, "which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner." (v. 11.) He reminds them also of a saying which was enough to frighten them. For it had been said, "Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. (Matt. xxi. 44.)—Neither is there salvation in any other, (v. 12.) Peter says. What wounds, think you, must these words inflict on them! "For there is none other name," he continues, "under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Here he utters also lofty words. For when the object is, not to carry some point successfully, but only to show boldness he does not spare; for he was not afraid of striking too deep. Nor does be say simply, "By another;" but, "Neither is there salvation in any other: that is, He is able to save us. In this way he subdued their threatening.
"Now when they saw the, boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." (v. 13.) The two unlearned men beat down with their rhetoric them and the chief priests. For it was not they that spake, but the grace of the Spirit. "And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it." (v. 14.) Great was the boldness of the man; that even in the judgment- hall he has not left them. For had they said that the fact was not so, there was he to refute them. "But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, What are we to do to these men?" (v. 15.) See the difficulty they are in, and how the fear of men again does everything. As in the case of Christ, they were not able (as the saying is) to undo what is done, nor to cast it into the shade, but for all their hindering, the Faith did but gain ground the more; so was it now. "What shall we do?" O the folly! to suppose that those who had tasted of the conflict, would now take fright at it: to expect, impotent as their efforts had proved in the beginning, to effect something new, after such a specimen of oratory as had been exhibited! The more they wished to hinder, the more the business grew upon their hands. But what say they? "For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straightly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all, nor teach, in the name of Jesus." (v. 16-18.) See what effrontery is shown by these, and what greatness of mind by the Apostles. "But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people." (v. 19-21.) The miracles shut their mouths: they would not so much as let them finish their speech, but cut them short in the middle, most insolently. "For all men glorified God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was showed." (v. 22.) But let us look over what has been said from the beginning.
"And as they spake unto the people, etc. Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead." (Recapitulation, v. 1, 2.) So then at first they did all for the sake of man's opinion (or glory): but now another motive was added: that they should not be thought guilty of murder, as they said subsequently, "Do ye wish to bring this man's blood on us?" (ch. v. 28.) O the folly! Persuaded that He was risen, and having received this proof of it, they expected that He Whom death could not hold, could be cast into the shade by their machinations! What can match the folly of this! Such is the nature of wickedness: it has no eyes for anything, but on all occasions it is thrown into perturbation. Finding themselves overborne, they felt like persons who have been outwitted: as is the case with people who have been forestalled and made a sport of in some matter. And yet they everywhere affirmed that it was God that raised Him: but it was "in the Name of Jesus" that they spake showing that Jesus was risen. "Through Jesus, the resurrection of the dead": for they themselves also held a resurrection: a cold and 'puerile doctrine, indeed, but still they held it. Why this alone, was it not sufficient to induce them to do nothing to them—I mean, that the disciples with such boldness bore themselves in the way they did? Say, wherefore, O Jew, dost thou disbelieve? Thou oughtest to have attended to the sign done, and to the words, not to the evil disposition of the many. "By their teaching the people." For already they were in ill repute with them by reason of what they had done to Christ; so that they were rather increasing their own obloquy. "And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold until the morrow; for it was now eventide." (v. 3.) In the case of Christ, however, they did not so; but having taken Him at midnight, they immediately led him away, and made no delay, being exceedingly in fear of the multitude: whereas in the case of the Apostles here, they were bold. And they no more take them to Pilate, being ashamed and blushing at the thought of the former affair, lest they should also be taken to task for that.
"And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes. were gathered together at Jerusalem." (v. 5.) Again in Jerusalem: and there it is that men's blood is poured out; no reverence for their city either; "And Annas, and Caiaphas," etc. (v. 6.) "And Annas," it says, "and Caiaphas." His maid-servant it was that questioned Peter, and he could not bear it: in his house it was that Peter denied, when Another was in bonds there: but now, when he has come into the midst of them all, see how he speaks! "'By what name have ye done this?" Why dost thou not speak it, what it is, but keepest that out of sight? "By what name have ye done this?" (v. 7.) And yet he affirmed, It was not we that did it. "Ye rulers of the people," etc. (v. 8.) Observe his wisdom: he does not say outright, "In the Name of Jesus we did it," but how? "In His Name this man "—He does not say, "was made whole by us;" but—" doth stand here before you whole." And again, "If we be examined concerning the good deed done to the impotent man." (v. 9.) He hits them hard, that they are always making a crime of such acts, finding fault with works of beneficence done to men: and he reminds them of their former doings, that they run to do murder, and not only so, but make a crime of doing good deeds. Do you observe too (in point of rhetoric) with what dignity they express themselves? Even in the use of words they were becoming expert by practice, and henceforth they were not to be beaten down.[*] "Be it known unto you all," etc. (v. 10.) Whereby he shows them that they rather do, in spite of themselves, preach Christ; themselves extol the doctrine, by their examining and questioning. O exceeding boldness—" Whom ye crucified! Whom God raised up"—this is bolder still! Think not that we hide what there is to be ashamed of. He says this all but tauntingly: and not merely says it, but dwells upon the matter. "This," says he, "is the Stone which was set at naught by you builders ;" and then he goes on to teach them, saying in addition, "Which is made the head of the corner" (v. 11.); that is to say, that the Stone is indeed approved! Great was the boldness they now had, in consequence of the miracle. And when there was need to teach, observe how they speak and allege many prophecies; but when the point was to use boldness of speech, then they only speak peremptorily. Thus "Neither," says he, "is there any other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." (v. 12.) It is manifest to all, he says, because not to us alone was that Name given; he cites even themselves as witnesses. For, since they asked, "In what name did ye it?" "In Christ's," says he: "there is none other name. How is it that ye ask? On all hands this is palpable. "For there exists not another name under heaven, whereby we must be saved." This is the language of a soul which has renounced (kategnwkui'as) this present life. His exceeding out-spokenness proves here, that when he speaks in lowly terms of Christ, he does it not of fear, but of wise forbearance (sugkatabai'nwn): but now that it was the fitting time, he speaks not in lowly terms: by this very thing intending to strike dismay into them. Behold another miracle not less than the former. "And beholding the boldness of Peter and John," etc. "And they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus." (v. 13.) Not without a meaning has the Evangelist set down this passage; but in saying, "they recognized them that they had been with Jesus," he means, in His Passion: for only these were [with Him] at that time, and then indeed they had seen them humble, dejected: and this it was that most surprised them: the greatness of the change. For in fact Annas and Caiaphas with their company were there, and these then also had stood by Him, and their boldness now amazed them. "And beholding the boldness." For not only their words; their very bearing showed it; that they should stand s there so intrepidly to be tried in a cause like t this, and with uttermost peril impending over them! Not only by their words, but by their t gesture also, and their look and voice, and, in short, by everything about them, they manifested the boldness with which they confronted the people. From the things they uttered, they marvelled, perhaps: "that they were unlearned and common men:" for one may be unlearned, yet not a common or private man, and a common man, yet not unlearned. "Having perceived," it says. Whence? From what they said? Peter does not draw out long speeches, but then by his very manner and method (th^s apaggeli'as kai` th^s sunthh'khs) he declares his confidence. "And they recognized them that they had been with Jesus." Which circumstance made them believe that it was from Him they had learned these things, and that they did all in the character of His disciples.(*) But not less than the voice of these, the miracle uttered a voice of its own: and that sign itself stopped their mouths. "And beholding the man," etc.] So that they would have been peremptory (epes'khpsan) with them, if the man had not been with them. "We cannot deny it." So that they would have denied it, if the thing had not been so: if the testimony had not been that of the people in general. "But that it spread no further among the people." (v. 17.) And yet it was palpable to all men! But such is the nature of wickedness: everywhere it is shamed. "Let us straitly threaten them." What sayest thou? Threaten? And expect ye to stop the preaching? And yet all beginnings are hard and trying. Ye slew the Master, and did not stop it: and now, if ye threaten, do ye expect to turn us back? The imprisonment did not prevail with us to speak submissively, and shall ye prevail? "And they called them, and commanded them," etc. (v. 18, 119.) It had been much better for them to let them go. "And Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye." When the terror was abated (for that command was tantamount to their being dismissed), then also the Apostles speak more mildly: so far were they from mere bravery: "Whether it be right," says he: and "We cannot [but speak]. Whether it be right in the sight of God to obey you rather than God." (v. 20.) Here [by "God"] they mean Christ, for he it was that commanded them. And once more they confirm the fact of His Resurrection. "For we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard:" so that we are witnesses who have a right to be believed. "So when they had further threatened them." (v. 21.) Again they threatened in vain. "They let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done." So then the people glorified God, but these endeavored to destroy them: such fighters against God were they! Whereby they made them more conspicuous and illustrious. "For My strength," it is said, "is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. xii. 9.)
Already these as martyrs have borne testimony: set in the battle against all, they said, "We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard." If the things we speak be false, reprehend them; if true, why hinderest thou? Such is philosophy! Those, in perplexity, these in gladness: those covered with exceeding shame, these doing all with boldness: those in fear, these in confidence. For who, I would ask, were the frightened? those who said, "That it spread no further among people," or these who said, "we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard?" And these had a delight, a freedom of speech, a joy surpassing all; those a despondency, a shame, a fear; for they feared the people. But these were not afraid of those; on the contrary, while these spake what they would, those did not what they would. Which were in chains and dangers? was it not these last?
Let us then hold fast to virtue; let not these words end only in delight, and in a certain elevation of the spirits. This is not the theatre, for singers (kitharw'dwn), and tragedians, and musicians (kitharistw^n), where the fruit consists only in the enjoyment and where the enjoyment itself passes with the passing day. Nay, would that it were enjoyment alone, and not mischief also with the enjoyment! But so it is: each man carries home with him much of what he has witnessed there, sticking to him like the infection of a plague: and one indeed, of the younger sort, having culled such snatches of song here and there of those satanic plays, as he could fix in his memory, goes singing them about the house: while another, a senior, and forsooth too staid for such levity, does not this indeed, but what is there spoken, both the preachments and the very words, he remembers it all; and another again, some filthy and absurd ditty. From this place you depart, taking nothing with you.—We have laid down a law—nay, not we: God forbid! for it is said, "Call no man your master upon the earth" (Matt. xxiii. 8); Christ has laid down a law that none should swear. Now, say, what has been done with regard to this law? For I will not cease speaking of it; "lest," as the Apostle saith, "if I come again, I must not spare." (2 Cor. xiii. 2.) I ask then, have you laid the matter to heart? have you thought of it seriously? have you been in earnest about it, or must we again take up the same subject? Nay, rather, whether you have or not, we will resume it, that you may think seriously about it, or, if you have laid it to heart, may again do this the more surely, and exhort others also. With what then, I pray you, with what shall we begin? Shall it be with the Old Testament? For indeed this also is to our shame, that the precepts of the Law, which we ought to surpass, we do not even thus observe! For we ought not to be hearing such matters as these: these are precepts adapted to the poor Jewish level (th^s Ioudai..kh^s eutelei'as: we ought to be hearing those counsels of perfection; "Cast away thy property, stand courageously, and give up thy life in behalf of the Gospel, scorn all the goods of earth, have nothing in common with this present life; if any wrong thee, do him good; if any defraud thee, bless him; if any revile thee, show him honor; be above everything." (S. Ambros. de Off. i. 2.) These and such as these are what we ought to be hearing. But here are we discoursing about swearing; and our case is just the same as if, when a person ought to be a philosopher, one should take him away from the great masters, and set him to spell syllables letter by letter! Just think now what a disgrace it would be for a man having a flowing beard, and with staff in hand, and cope on shoulders, to go to school with children, and be set the same tasks with them would it not be above measure ridiculous? And yet the ridicule which belongs to us is even greater. For not as the difference between philosophy and the spelling-lesson, so is that between the Jewish polity and ours: no indeed, but as the difference between angels and men. Say now, if one could fetch down an angel from heaven, and should bid him stand here and listen to our preaching, as one whose duty it is to conform himself thereto, would it not be shameful and preposterous? But if to be yet, like children, under teaching about these things be ridiculous; what must it be, not even to attend to these things: how great the condemnation, how great the shame To be Christians still, and to have to learn that it is not right to swear! However, let us put up with that, lest we incur even worse ridicule.
Well, then, let us speak to you to-day from the Old Testament. What does it tell us? "Accustom not thy mouth to swearing; neither use thyself to the naming of the Holy One." And why? "For as a servant that is continually beaten shall not be without a blue mark, so he that sweareth." (Ecclus. xxiii. 10.) See the discernment of this wise man. He did not say, "Accustom not to swearing" thy mind, but "thy mouth"; because being altogether an affair of the mouth, thus it is easily remedied. For at last it becomes a habit without intention; as for instance, there are many who entering the public baths, as soon as they have passed the threshold, cross (Hom. in 1 Cor. xi. 7) themselves (sphragi'zontai). This the hand has got to do, without any one's bidding, by force of habit. Again, at the lighting of a candle, often when the mind is intent on something else, the hand makes the sign. In the same way also the mouth, without concurrence of the mind, articulates the word, from mere habit, and the whole affair is in the tongue. "Neither use thyself," he says, "to the naming of the Holy One. For as a servant that is continually beaten shall not be without a blue mark, so he that sweareth." He speaks not here of false oaths, but he cuts down all oaths, and to them also assigns their punishment. Why then, swearing is a sin. For such in truth is the soul; full of all these ulcers, all these scars. But you do not see them? Yes, this is the mischief of it; and yet you might see if you wished; for God has given you eyes. With eyes of this kind did the Prophet see, when he said, "My wounds stink, and are corrupt, because of my foolishness." (Ps. xxxviii. 5.) We have despised God, we have hated that good Name, we have trodden Christ under foot, we have lost all reverence, none names the Name of God with honor. Yet if you love any one, even at his name you start to your feet; but God you thus continually invoke, and make nothing of it. Call upon Him for the benefit of your enemy; call upon Him for the salvation of your own soul; then he will be present, then you will delight Him; whereas now you provoke Him to anger. Call upon Him as Stephen did; "Lord," he said, "lay not this sin to their charge." (ch. vii. 59.) Call upon Him as did the wife of Elkanah, with tears and sobs, and prayers. (1 Sam. i. 10.) I prevent you not, rather I earnestly exhort you to it. Call upon him as Moses called upon Him, yea, cried, interceding for those who had driven him into banishment. For you to make mention at random of any person of consideration, is taken as an insult: and do you bandy God about in your talk, in season, out of season? I do not want to hinder you from keeping God always in your mind: nay, this I even desire and pray for, only that you should do this, so as to honor Him. Great good would this have done us, if we had called upon God only when we ought, and for what we ought. And why, I would ask, were such miracles wrought in the Apostles' times, and not in ours? And yet it is the same God, the same Name. But no, the case is not the same. For then they called upon Him only for those objects which I have mentioned; whereas we call upon Him not for these, but quite other purposes.—If a man refuse to believe you, and that is why you swear, say to him, "Believe me:" however, if you will needs make oath, swear by yourself. I say this, not to set up a law against Christ's law; God forbid; for it is said. "Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay (Matt. v. 37): but by way of coming down to your present level, that I may more easily lead you to the practice of this commandment, and divert you from this tyrannical habit. How many who have done well in other respects, have been undone by these practices! Shall I tell you why it was permitted the ancients to take oaths? (for to take false oaths, was not permitted to them either.) Because they swore by idols. But are you not ashamed to rest in laws, by which they in their infirmity were led on to something better? It is true, when I take a Gentile in hand, I do not immediately lay this injunction upon him, but in the first place I exhort him to know Christ; but if the believer, who has both learnt Him and heard Him, must needs crave the same forbearance with the Gentile, what is the use, what the gain (of his Christianity?)—But the habit is strong, and you cannot detach yourself from it? Well then, since the tyranny of habit is so great, transfer it into another channel. And how is this to be done? you will ask. What I have said often, I say also now; let there be many monitors (logistai`), let there be many examiners and censors (existastai`, dokimastai`). Say, if you chance to put on your mantle inside out, you allow your servant to correct your mistake, and are ashamed to learn of him, although there is much to be ashamed of in this; and here when you are getting hurt to your soul, are you ashamed to be taught better by another? You suffer your menial to put your dress in order, and to fasten your shoes, and will you not endure him that would put your soul in order? Let even your menial, your child, your wife, your friend, your kinsman, your neighbor, be your teachers on this point. For as when a wild beast is hunted down from all sides, it is impossible for it to escape; so he that has so many to watch him, so many to reprove him, who is liable to be struck at from all sides, cannot help being on his guard. The first day he will find it hard to put up with, and the second, and the third; but after that it will come easier, and, the fourth passed, there will not even be anything to do. Make the experiment, if you doubt me; take it into
consideration, I beseech you. It is not a trifling matter to be wrong in, nor yet to come fight in; on both sides it is great for evil and for good. May the good be effected, through the grace and loving-mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (PNPF I/XI, Schaff). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.