Fathers of the Church
Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles: Homilies 21-30
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
"And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the Apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way."
One may well be much at a loss here to understand how it is that, whereas in the Epistle to the Galatians Paul says, "I went not to Jerusalem," but "into Arabia" and" to Damascus," and, "After three years I went up to Jerusalem," and "to see Peter" (Gal. i. 17), (historh^sai Cat.) here the writer says the contrary. (There, Paul says,) "And none of the Apostles saw I; but here, it is said (Barnabas), brought him to the Apostles."—Well, then, either (Paul) means, "I went not up with intent to refer or attach myself to them (anathe'sthai)—for what saith he? "I referred not myself, neither went I to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me:" or else, that the laying await for him in Damascus was after his return from Arabia; or else, again, that the visit to Jerusalem was after he came from Arabia. Certainly of his own accord he went not to the Apostles, but "assayed to join himself unto the disciples "—as being a teacher, not a disciple—" I went not," he says, "for this purpose, that I should go to those who were Apostles before me: certainly, I learnt nothing from them." Or, he does not speak of this visit, but passes it by, so that the order is, "I went into Arabia, then I came to Damascus, then to Jerusalem, then to Syria :" or else, again, that he went up to Jerusalem, then was sent to Damascus, then to Arabia, then again to Damascus, then to Caesarea. Also, the visit "after fourteen years," probably, was when he brought up the [alms to the] brethren together with Barnabas: (Gal. ii. 1) or else he means a different occasion. (Acts xi. 30.) For the Historian for conciseness, often omits incidents, and condenses the times. Observe how unambitious the writer is, and how he does not even relate (related in c. xxii. 17-21) that vision, but passes it by. "He assayed," it says, "to join himself to the disciples. And they were afraid of him." By this again is shown the ardor of Paul's character: not (only) from the mouth of Ananias, and of those who wondered at him there, but also of those in Jerusalem: "they believed not that he was a disciple:" for truly that was beyond all human expectation. He was no longer a wild beast, but a man mild and gentle! And observe how he does not go to the Apostles, such is his forbearance, but to the disciples, as being a disciple. He was not thought worthy of credit. "But Barnabas"—" Son of Consolation" is his appellation, whence also he makes himself easy of access to the man: fox "he was a kind man" (ch. xi. 24), exceedingly, and this is proved both by the present instance, and in the affair of John (Mark)—" having taken him, brought him to the Apostles, and related to them how he had seen the Lord in the way." (xv. 39.) It is likely that at Damascus also he had heard all about him: whence he was not afraid but the others were, for he was a man whose glance inspired fear. "How," it says, "he had seen the Lord in the way, and that He had spoken unto him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem, and speaking boldly in the name of Jesus" (v. 28): these things were demonstrative of the former, and by his acts he made good what was spoken of him. "And he spake, and disputed with the Hellenists." (v. 29.) So then the disciples were afraid of him, and the Apostles did not trust him; by this therefore he relieves them of their fear. "With the Hellenists:" he means those who used the Greek tongue: and this he did, very wisely; for those others, those profound Hebrews had no mind even to see him. "But they," it says, "went about to slay him:" a token, this, of his energy, and triumphant victory, and of their exceeding annoyance at what had happened. Thereupon, fearing lest the issue should be the same as in the case of Stephen, they sent him to Caesarea. For it says, "When the brethren were aware of this, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus" (v. 30), at the same time to preach, and likely to be more in safety, as being in his own country. But observe, I pray you, how far it is from being the case that everything is done by (miraculous) grace; how, on the contrary, God does in many things leave them to manage for themselves by their own wisdom and in a human way; so to cut off the excuse of idle people for if it was so in the case of Paul, much more in theirs.[*] "Then, it says, "the Church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace (they), being edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and abounded in the comfort of the Holy Ghost." (v. 31.) He is about to relate that Peter goes down (from Jerusalem), therefore that you may not impute this to fear, he first says this. For while there was persecution, he was in Jerusalem, but when the affairs of the Church are everywhere in security, then it is that he leaves Jerusalem. See how fervent and energetic he is! For he did not think, because there was peace, therefore there was no need of his presence. Paul departed, and there was peace: there is no war nor disturbance. Them, they respected most, as having often stood by them, and as being held in admiration by the multitude: but him, they despised, and were more savage against him. See, how great a war, and immediately, peace! See what that war effected. It dispersed the peace-makers. In Samaria, Simon was put to shame: in Judea, the affair of Sapphira took place. Not that, because there was peace, therefore matters became relaxed, but such was the peace as also to need exhortation. "And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda." (v. 32.) Like the commander of an army, he went about, inspecting the ranks, what part was compact, what in good order, what needed his presence. See how on all occasions he goes about, foremost. When an Apostle was to be chosen, he was the foremost: when the Jews were to be told, that these were "not drunken," when the lame man was to be healed, when harangues to be made, he is before the rest: when the rulers were to be spoken to, he was the man; when Ananias, he (ch. i. 15; ii. 15; iii. 4-12; iv. 8; v. 3-15.): when healings were wrought by the shadow, still it was he. And look: where there was danger, he was the man, and where good management (was needed); but where all is calm, there they act all in common, and he demands no greater honor (than the others). When need was to work miracles, he starts forward, and here again he is the man to labor and toil. "And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And. he arose immediately." (v. 33-34.) And why did he not wait for the man's faith, and ask if he wished to be healed? In the first place, the miracle served for exhortation to many: hear then how great the gain. "And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord." (v. 35.) For the man was notable. "Arise, and make thy bed :" he does well to give a proof of the miracle: for they not only released men of their diseases, but in giving the health they gave the strength also. Moreover, at that time they had given no proofs of their power, so that the man could not reasonably have been required to show his faith, as neither in the case of the lame man did they demand it. (ch. iii. 6.) As therefore Christ in the beginning of His miracles did not demand faith, so neither did these. For in Jerusalem indeed, as was but reasonable, the faith of the parties was first shown; "they brought out their sick into the streets, but as Peter passed by, his shadow at least might fall upon some of them" (ch. v. 15); for many miracles had been wrought there; but here this is the first that occurs. For of the miracles, some were wrought for the purpose of drawing others (to faith); some for the comfort of them that believed. "Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms-deeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that be would not delay to come to them." (v. 36-38). Why did they wait till she was dead? Why was not Peter solicited (esku'lh) before this? So right-minded (philosophou^ntes) were they, they did not think it proper to trouble (sku'llein) the Disciples about such matters, and to take them away from the preaching: as indeed this is why it mentions that the place was near, seeing they asked this as a thing beside his mark, and not now in the regular course. "Not to delay to come unto them:" for she was a disciple. And Peter arose, and went with them. And when he was come, they led him into the upper chamber." (v. 39.) They do not beseech, but leave it to him to give her life (swthri'an.) See what a cheering inducement to alms is here! "And all the widows," it says, "stood round him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas had made
while she was with them." Peter went into the apartment, as one who took it calmly, but see what an accession came of it! It is not without a meaning that the Writer has informed us of the woman's name, but to show that the name she bore (pherw'numos h^n) matched her character; as active and wakeful was she as an antelope. For in many instances there is a Providence in the giving of names, as we have often told you. "She was full," it says, "of good works:" not only of alms, but "of good works," first, and then of this good work in particular. "Which," it says, "Dorcas made while she was with them." Great humility! Not as we do; but they were all together in common, and in company with them she made these things and worked. "But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up." (v. 40.) Why does he put them all out? That he may not be confused nor disturbed by their weeping. "And having knelt down, he prayed." Observe the intentness of his prayer. "And he gave her his hand." (v. 41.) So did Christ to. the daughter of Jairus: "And (says the Evangelist) having taken her by the hand." Mark severally, first the life, then the strength brought into her, the one by the word, the other by his hand—" And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive :" to some for comfort, because they received back their sister, and because they saw the miracle, and for kindly support (prostasi'an) to others. "And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner." (v. 42-43.) Mark the unassuming conduct, mark the moderation of Peter, how he does not make his abode with this lady, or some other person of distinction, but with a tanner: by all his acts leading men to humility, neither suffering the mean to be ashamed, nor the great to be elated! "Many days;" for they needed his instruction, who had believed through the miracles.—Let us look then again at what has been said.
"Assayed," it says, "to join himself to the disciples." (Recapitulation, v. 26.) He did not come up to them unabashed, but with a subdued manner. "Disciples " they were all called at that time by reason of their great virtue, for there was the likeness of the disciples plainly to be seen. "But they were all afraid of him." See how they feared the dangers, how the alarm was yet at its height in them. "But Barnabas," etc. (v. 27.)—it seems to me that Barnabas was of old a friend of his—" and related," etc.: observe how Paul says nothing of all this himself: nor would he have brought it forward to the others, had he not been compelled to do so. "And he was with them, coming in and going out at Jerusalem, and speaking boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus." (v. 28, 29.) This gave them all confidence. "But they went about to slay him: which when the brethren knew" etc. (v. 30.) Do you observe how both there (at Damascus), and here, the rest take care for him, and provide for him the means of departure, and that we nowhere find him thus far receiving (direct supernatural) aid from God? So the energy of his character is betokened. "To Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus:" so that, I suppose, he did not continue his journey by land, but sailed the rest of it. And this (departure) is Providentially ordered, that he might preach there also: and so likewise were the plots against him ordered by God's Providence, and his coming to Jerusalem, that the story about him might no longer be disbelieved. For there he was " speaking boldly," it says, "in the name of the Lord Jesus; and he spake and disputed against the Hellenists; and again, "he was with them coming in and going out.—So the Church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace" —i.e. it increased: and peace with itself, that peace which is peace indeed: for the war from without would have done them no harm —" they being edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and abounded in the consolation of the Holy Ghost." And the spirit consoled them both by the miracles and by the works, and independently of these in the person of each individual. "And it came to pass, etc. And Peter said unto him, Eneas," etc. (v. 32-34.) But before discourse, before exhortations, he says to the lame man himself, "Jesus Christ maketh thee whole." This word he believed in any wise, and was made whole. Observe how unassuming he is: for he said not, "In the Name," but rather as a sign he narrates the miracle itself, and speaks as its Evangelist. "And having seen him," it says, "all that dwelt in Lydda, and Saron, turned unto the Lord.—Now there was at Joppa," etc. (v. 35, 36.) Observe everywhere the signs taking place. But let us so believe them, as if we were now beholding them. It is not simply said, that Tabitha died, but that she died, having been in a state of weakness. And (yet) they did not call Peter until she died; then "they sent and told him not to delay to come unto them." Observe, they send and call him by others. And he comes: he did not think it a piece of disrespect, to be summoned by two men: for, it says, "they sent two men unto him." —Affliction, my beloved, is a great thing, and rivets our souls together. Not a word of wailing there, nor of mourning. See how thoroughly matters are cleansed! "Having washed her," it says, "they laid her in an upper chamber:" that is, they did all (that was right)for the dead body. Then Peter having come, "knelt down, and prayed; and turning him to the body, said, Tabitha, arise." (v. 40.) They did not perform all their miracles with the same ease. But this was profitable for them: for truly God took thought not only for the salvation of others, but for their own. He that healed so many by his very shadow, how is it that he now has to do so much first? There are cases also in which the faith of the applicants cooperated. This is the first dead person that he raises. Observe how he, as it were, awakes her out of sleep: first she opened her eyes: then upon seeing (Peter) she sat up: then from his hand she received strength. "And it was known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord." (v. 42.) Mark the gain, mark the fruit, that it was not for display. Indeed, this is why he puts them all out, imitating his Master in this also.
For where tears are—or rather, where miracles are, there tears ought not to be; not where such a mystery is celebrating. Hear, I beseech you: although somewhat of the like kind does not take place now, yet in the case of our dead likewise, a great mystery is celebrating. Say, if as we sit together, the Emperor were to send and invite some one of us to the palace, would it be right, I ask, to weep and mourn? Angels are present, commissioned from heaven and come from thence, sent from the King Himself to call their fellow servant, and say, dost thou weep? Knowest thou not what a mystery it is that is taking place, how awful, how dread, and worthy indeed of hymns and lauds? Wouldest thou learn, that thou mayest know, that this is no time for tears? For it is a very great mystery of the Wisdom of God. As if leaving her dwelling, the soul goes forth, speeding on her way to her own Lord, and dost thou mourn? Why then, thou shouldst do this on the birth of a child: for this in fact is also a birth, and a better than that. For here she goes forth to a very different light, is loosed as from a prison-house, comes off as from a contest. "Yes," say you, "it is all very well to say this, in the case of those of whose salvation we are assured." Then, what ails thee, O man, that even in the case of such, thou dost not take it in this way? Say, what canst thou have to condemn in the little child? Why dost thou mourn for it? What in the newly baptized? for he too is brought into. the same condition: why dose thou mourn for him? For as the sun arises clear and bright, so the soul, leaving the body with a pure conscience, shines joyously. Not such the spectacle of Emperor as he comes in state to take possession of the city (epibai'nonta po'lews), not such the hush of awe, as when the soul having quitted the body is departing in company with Angels. Think what the soul must then be! in what amazement, what wonder, what delight! Why mournest thou? Answer me.—But it is only in the case of sinners thou doest this? Would that it were so, and I would not forbid your mournings, would that this were the object! This lamentation were Apostolic, this were after the pattern of the Lord; for even Jesus wept over Jerusalem. I would that your mournings were discriminated by this rule. But when thou speakest the words of one that would call back (the dead), and speakest of thy long intimacy and his beneficence, it is but for this thou mournest (not because he was a sinner), thou dost but pretend to say it. Mourn, bewail the sinner, and I too will give a loose to tears; I, more than thou, the greater the punishment to which he is liable as such: I too will lament, with such an object. But not thou alone must lament him that is such; the whole city must do the same, and all that meet you on the way, as men bewail them that are led to be put to death. For this is a death indeed, an evil death, the death of sinners. But (with you) all is clean reversed. Such lamentation marks a lofty mind, and conveys much instruction; the other marks a littleness of soul. If we all lamented with this sort of lamentation, we should amend the persons themselves while yet living. For as, if it rested with thee to apply medicines which would prevent that bodily death, thou wouldest use them, just so now, if this death were the death thou lamentest, thou wouldest prevent its taking place, both in thyself and in him. Whereas now our behavior is a perfect riddle; that having it in our power to hinder its coming, we let it take place, and mourn over it when it has come. Worthy indeed of lamentations are they (when we consider), what time as they shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ, what words they shall then hear, what they shall suffer! To no purpose have these men lived: nay, not to no purpose, but to evil purpose! Of them too it may be fitly said, "It were good for them had they never been born." (Mark xiv. 21.) For what profit is it, I ask, to have spent so much time to the hurt of his own person? Had it been spent only to no purpose, were not that, I ask you, punishment enough! If one who has been an hired servant twenty years were to find that he has had all his labor in vain, would he not weep and lament, and think himself the most miserable of men? Why, here is a man who has lost all the labor of a whole life: not one day has he lived for himself, but to luxury, to debauchery, to covetousness, to sin, to the devil. Then, say, shall we not bewail this man? shall we not try to snatch him from his perils? For it is, yes, it is possible, if we will, to mitigate his punishment, if we make continual prayers for him, if for him we give alms. However unworthy he may be, God will yield to our importunity. For if Paul showed mercy on one (who had no claims on his mercy), and for the sake of others spared one (whom he would not have spared), much more is it right for us to do this. By means of his substance, by means of thine own, by what means thou wilt, aid him: pour in oil, nay rather, water. Has he no alms-deeds of his own to exhibit? Let him have at least those of his kindred. Has he none done by himself? At least let him have those which are done for him, that his wife may with confidence beg him off in that day, having paid down the ransom for him. The more sins he has to answer for, the greater need has he of alms, not only for this reason, but because the alms has not the. same virtue now, but far less: for it is not all one to have done it himself, and to have another do it for him; therefore, the virtue being less, let us by quantity make it the greatest. Let us not busy ourselves about monuments, not about memorials. This is the greatest memorial: set widows to stand around him. Tell them his name: bid them all make for him their prayers, their supplications: this will overcome God: though it have not been done by the man himself, yet because of him another is the author of the almsgiving. Even this pertains to the mercy of God: "widows standing around and weeping" know how to rescue, not indeed from the present death, but from that which is to come. Many have profited even by the alms done by others on their behalf: for even if they have not got perfect (deliverance), at least they have found some comfort thence. If it be not so, how are children saved? And yet there, the children themselves contribute nothing, but their parents do all: and often have women had their children given them, though the children themselves contributed nothing. Many are the ways God gives us to be saved, only let us not be negligent.
How then if one be poor? say you. Again I say, the greatness of the alms is not estimated by the quantity given, but by the purpose. Only give not less than thine ability, and thou hast paid all. How then, say you, if he be desolate and a stranger, and have none to care for him? And why is it that he has none, I ask you? In this very thing thou sufferest thy desert, that thou hast none to be thus thy friend, thus virtuous. This is so ordered on purpose that, though we be not ourselves virtuous, we may study to have virtuous companions and friends—both wife, and son, and friend—as reaping some good even through them, a slight gain indeed, but yet a gain. If thou make it thy chief object not to marry a rich wife, but to have a devout wife, and a religious daughter, thou shall gain this consolation; if thou study to have thy son not rich but devout, thou shall also gain this consolation. If thou make these thine objects then wilt thyself be such as they. This also is part of virtue, to choose such friends, and such a wife and children. Not in vain are the oblations made for the departed, not in vain the prayers, not in vain the almsdeeds: all those things hath the Spirit ordered, wishing us to be benefited one by the other. See: he is benefited, thou art benefited: because of him, thou hast despised wealth, being set on to do some generous act: both thou art the means of salvation to him, and he to thee the occasion of thine almsgiving. Doubt not that he shall get some good thereby. It is not for nothing that the Deacon cries, "For them that are fallen asleep in Christ, and for them that make the memorials for them." It is not the Deacon that utters this voice, but the Holy Ghost: I speak of the Gift. What sayest thou? There is the Sacrifice in hand, and all things laid out duly ordered: Angels are there present, Archangels, the Son of God is there: all stand with such awe, and in the general silence those stand by, crying aloud: and thinkest thou that what is done, is done in vain? Then is not the rest also all in vain both the oblations made for the Church, and those for the priests, and for the whole body? God forbid! but all is done with faith. What thinkest thou of the oblation made for the martyrs, of the calling made in that hour, martyrs though they be, yet even "for martyrs?" It is a great honor to be named in the presence of the Lord, when that memorial is celebrating, the dread Sacrifice, the unutterable mysteries. For just as, so long as the Emperor is seated, is the time for the petitioner to effect what he wishes to effect, but when he is risen, say what he will, it is all in vain, so at that time, while the celebration of the mysteries is going on, it is for all men the greatest honor to be held worthy of mention. For look: then is declared the dread mystery, that God gave Himself for the world: along with that mystery he seasonably puts Him in mind of them that have sinned. For as when the celebration of Emperors' victories is in progress, then, as many as had their part in the victory receive their meed of praise, while at the same time as many as are in bonds are set at liberty in honor of the occasion; but when the occasion is past, he that did not obtain this favor then, no longer gets any: so is it here likewise: this is the time of celebration of a victory. For, saith it, "so often as ye eat this bread, ye do show forth the Lord's death." Then let us not approach indifferently, nor imagine that these things are done in any ordinary sort. But it is in another sense that we make mention of martyrs, and this, for assurance that the Lord is not dead: and this, for a sign that death has received its death's blow, that death itself is dead. Knowing these things, let us devise what consolations we can for the departed, instead of tears, instead of laments, instead of tombs, our alms, our prayers, our oblations, that both they and we may attain unto the promised blessings, by the grace and loving-kindness of His only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
"There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God."
This man is not a Jew, nor of those under the Law, but he had already forestalled our manner of life.[*] Observe, thus far, two persons, both of high rank, receiving the faith, the eunuch at Gaza and this man; and the pains taken on behalf of these men. But do not imagine that this was because of their high rank: God forbid! it was because of their piety. For that the Scripture mentions their dignified stations, is to show the greatness of their piety; since it is more wonderful when a person being in a position of wealth and power is such as these were. What makes the praise of the former is, his undertaking so long a journey, and this when there was no (festival) season to require it, and his reading on his road, and while riding in his chariot, and his beseeching Philip, and numberless other points: and the great praise of the latter is, that he makes alms and prayers, and is a just man, holding such a command. The reason why the writer describes the man so fully, is, that none may say that the Scripture history relates falsehoods: "Cornelius," he says, "a centurion of the band called the Italian band." (v. 1.) A "band," spei^ra, is what we now call a "numerous." "A devout man," he says, "and one that feared God with all his house" (v. 2): that you may not imagine that it is because of his high station that these things are done.—When Paul was to be brought over, there is no angel, but the Lord Himself: and He does not send him to some great one, but to a very ordinary person: but here, on the contrary, He brings the chief Apostle (to these Gentiles), not sends them to him: herein condescending to their weakness, and knowing how such persons need to be treated. As indeed on many occasions we find Christ Himself hasting (to such), as being more infirm. Or (it may be) because (Cornelius) was not able himself to leave his home. But here again is a high commendation of alms, just as was there given by means of Tabitha. "A devout man," it says, "and one that feared God with all his house." Let us hear this, whoever of us neglect them of our own house, whereas this man was careful of his soldiers also. "And that gave alms," it says, "to all the people." Both his doctrines and his life were right. "He saw in a vision evidently, about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius." (v. 3.) Why does he see the angel? This also was in order to the full assurance of Peter, or rather, not of him, but of the others, the weaker ones. "At the ninth hour," when he was released from his cares and was at quiet, when he was engaged in prayers and compunction. "And when he looked on him, he was afraid." (v. 4.) Observe how what the angel speaks he does not speak immediately, but first rouses and elevates his mind. At the sight, there was fear, but a fear in moderation, just so far as served to fix his attention. Then also the words relieved him of his fear. The fear roused him: the praise mitigated what was unpleasant in the fear. "Thy prayers," saith he, "and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter. (v. 5.) Lest they should come to a different person, he designates the man not only by his surname, but by the place. "And the same," saith he, "is lodging with one Simon a tanner, who hath his house by the seaside." (v. 6.) Do you mark how the Apostles, for love of solitude and quiet, affected the retired quarters of the cities? "With one Simon a tanner:" how then if it chanced that there was another? Behold, there is another token, his dwelling by the seaside. All three tokens could not possibly coincide (elsewhere). He does not tell him for what purpose, that he may not take off the intense desire, but he leaves him to an eager and longing expectation of what he shall hear. "And when the Angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; and when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa." (v. 7, 8.) Do you see, that it is not without purpose that the writer says this? (it shows) that those also "who waited on him continually" were such as he. "And when he had declared the whole matter unto them:" observe the unassuming character of the man: for he does not say, Call Peter to me: but, in order also to induce him to come, he declared the whole matter:— this was so ordered by Providence;—for he did not choose to use the authority of his rank to fetch Peter to him; therefore "he declared the matter;" such was the moderation of the man: and yet no great notion was to be formed of one lodging with a tanner. "And on the morrow, as they journeyed, and drew nigh to the city" v. 9.—observe how the Spirit connects the times: no sooner than this, and no later, He Causes this to take place—" Peter about the sixth hour went up upon the housetop to pray:" that is, privately and quietly, as in an upper chamber. "And he became very hungry, and would have eaten; but while they made ready, there fell upon him a trance." (v. 10.) What means this expression, ekstasis , "trance?" Rather, there was presented to him a kind of spiritual view (thewri'a): the soul, so to say, was caused to be out of the body (exe'sth). "And saw heaven opened, and, knit at the four corners, a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven." (v. 11-16.) What is this? It is a symbol of the whole world. The man was uncircumcised: and —for he had nothing in common with the Jews—they would all accuse him as a transgressor: "thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them: (ch. xi. 3)." this was a thing altogether offensive to them: observe then what is providentially. managed. He himself also says, "I have never eaten:" not being himself afraid—far be the thought from us—but it is so contrived by the spirit, in order that he may have it to say in answer to those accusing him, that he did object: for it was altogether necessary for them to observe the Law. He was in the act of being sent to the Gentiles: therefore that these also may not accuse him, see how many things are contrived (by the Providence of God). For, that it may not seem to be a mere fancy, "this was done thrice. I said," saith he, "Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten aught common or unclean.— And the voice came unto him, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." (ch. xi. 8, with x. 14.) It seems indeed to be spoken to him, but the whole is meant for the Jews. For if the teacher is rebuked, much more these.[*] The earth then, this is what the linen sheet denotes, and the wild beasts in it, are they of the Gentiles, and the command, "Kill and eat," denotes that he must go to them also; and that this thing is thrice
done, denotes baptism. "What God hath cleansed," saith it, "call not thou common." Great daring! Wherefore did he object? That none may say that God was proving him, as in the case of Abraham, this is why he says, "Not so, Lord," etc. not gainsaying—just as to Philip also He said, "How many loaves have ye?" Not to learn, but tempting, or "proving him." And yet it was the same (Lord) that had discoursed above (in the Law) concerning things clean and unclean. But in that sheet were also all the four-footed beasts of the earth:" the clean with the unclean. And for all this, he knew not what it meant. "Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, and called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.-But while Peter," it says, "doubted in himself" (v. 17, 18), the men come at the right moment to solve his doubt: just as (the Lord) suffered Joseph first to be perturbed in mind, and then sends the Angel: for the soul with ease accepts the solution, when it has first been in perplexity. His perplexity neither lasts long (when it did occur), nor (did it occur) before this, but just at the moment when they "asked whether he were lodging there. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them." (supra, p. 142, and 145, note 7; v. 19, 20.) And this again is a plea for Peter in answer to the disciples, that he did doubt, and was instructed to doubt nothing. "For I," saith He, "have sent them." Great is the authority of the Spirit! What God doth, this the Spirit is said to do. Not so the Angel, but having first said, "Thy prayers and thine alms have ascended, for a memorial before God," to show that he is sent from thence, then he adds, "And now send men," etc.: the Spirit not so, but, "For I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee." (v. 21, 22.) They speak his praises, so as to persuade him that an Angel has in fact appeared unto him. "Then called he them in," (b) that they may suffer no harm, "and lodged them:" thenceforth he without scruple takes his meals with them. "And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Caesarea accompanied him. And the morrow after, they entered into Caesarea." (v. 23, 24.) The man was a person of note, and it was in a city of note that he then was.
(a) But let us look over again what has been said. "There was a certain man in Caesarea," etc. (Recapitulation, v. 1, 2.) Observe with whom the beginning of the Gentiles is made—with "a devout man," and one proved to be worthy by his works. For if, though the case be so, they are still offended, if this had not been the case, what would not have been the consequence! But mark the greatness of the assurance. (c) To this end all is done (in the way it is done), and the affair takes its beginning from Judea. (d) "He saw in a vision, evidently," etc. (v. 3). It was not in his sleep that the Angel appeared to him, but while he was awake, in the daytime, "about the ninth hour. He saw an Angel of God coming in unto him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid." So occupied was he with himself. Implying, that it was in consequence of the Angel's calling him by a voice that he saw him; as, had he not called him, he would not have seen him: so taken up was he with the act in which he was engaged. But the Angel says to him, "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God, and now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, who is called Peter." (v. 5.) So far, he signified that the sending for him would be for good consequences, but in what way good, he did not intimate. So, neither does Peter relate the whole matter, but everywhere, the narratives are in part only, for the purpose of making the hearers apply their minds to what is said. "Send and call for Simon:" in like manner the Angel only calls Philip. "And as they went on their journey, and drew nigh to the city" (v. 9): in order that Peter should not be in perplexity too long. "Peter went up upon the housetop," etc. Observe, that not even his hunger forced him to have recourse to the sheet. "Rise, Peter," saith the Voice, "kill and eat." (v. 13.) Probably he was on his knees when he saw the vision.—To me s it seems that this also denotes the Gospel (or, "the Preaching"). That the thing taking place was of God (the circumstances made evident, namely), both that he sees it (descending) from above, and that he is in a trance; and, that the voice comes from thence, and the thrice confessing that the creatures there were unclean, and its coming from thence, and being drawn back thither (all this), is a mighty token of the cleanness (imparted to them).- -But why is this done? For the sake of those thereafter, to whom he is about to relate it. For to himself it had been said, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles." (Matt. x. 5.)* * For if Paul needed both (to give) circumcision, and (to offer) sacrifice, much more (was some assurance needed) then, in the beginning of the Preaching, while they were as yet weaker. (Acts xvi. 3; xxi. 16.)—Observe too how he did not at once receive them. For, it says, they "called, and asked, whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodging there." (v. 18.) As it was a mean looking house, they asked below, they inquired of the neighbors. "And while Peter thought, the Spirit said unto him, Arise, get thee down, and go, nothing doubting, for I have sent them." (v. 19, 20.) And he does not say, For to this end did the vision appear unto thee; but, "I have sent them. Then Peter went down" (v. 21)—this is the way the Spirit must be obeyed, without demanding reasons. For it is sufficient for all assurance to be told by Him, This do, this believe: nothing more (is needed)—" Then Peter went down, and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?" He saw a soldier, saw a man: it was not that he was afraid, on the contrary, having first confessed that he was the person whom they sought, then he asks for the cause (of their coming); that it may not be supposed that the reason of his asking the cause, was, that he wished to hide himself: (he asks it) in order, that if it be immediately urgent, he may also go forth with them, but if not, may receive them as guests. "And they said, etc. into his house." (v. 22.) This he had ordered them. Do not think he has done this out of contempt: not as of contempt has he sent, but so he was ordered. "And Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends." (v. 24.) It was right that his kinsmen and friends should be gathered to him. But being there present, they would have heard from him (what had happened).
See how great the virtue of alms, both in the former discourse, and here! There, it delivered from death temporal; here, from death eternal; and opened the gates of heaven. Such are the pains taken for the bringing of Cornelius to the faith, that both an angel is sent, and the Spirit works, and the chief of the Apostles is fetched to him, and such a vision is shown, and, in short, nothing is left undone. How many centurions were there not besides, and tribunes, and kings, and none of them obtained what this man did! Hear, all ye that are in military commands, all ye that stand beside kings. "A just man," it says, "fearing God; devout (v. 2, and 22); and what is more than all, with all his house. Not as we (who): that our servants may be afraid of us, do everything. but not that they may be devout. And over the domestics too, so* *. Not so this man; but he was "one that feared God with all his house" (v. 2), for he was as the common father of those with him, and of all the others (under his command.) But observe what (the soldier) says himself. For, fearing * *, he adds this also: "well reported of by all the nation." For what if he was uncircumcised? Nay, but those give him a good report. Nothing like alms: great is the virtue of this practice, when the alms is poured forth from pure stores; for it is like a fountain discharging mud, when it issues froth unjust stores, but when from just gains, it is as a limpid and pure stream in a paradise, sweet to the sight, sweet to the touch, both light and cool, when given in the noon-day heat. Such is alms. Beside this fountain, not poplars and pines, nor cypresses, but other plants than these, and far better, of goodly stature: friendship with God, praise with men, glory to Godward, good-will from all; blotting out of sins, great boldness, contempt of wealth. This is the fountain by which the plant of love is nourished: for nothing is so wont to nourish love, as the being merciful: it makes its branches to lift themselves on high. This fountain is better than that in Paradise (Gen. ii. 10); a fountain, not dividing into four heads, but reaching unto Heaven itself: this gives birth to that river "which springeth up into eternal life" (John iv. 14): on this let Death light, and like a spark it is extinguished by the fountain: such, wherever it drops, are the mighty blessings it causes. This quenches, even as a spark, the river of fire: this so strangles that worm, as naught else can do. (Mark ix. 44.) He that has this, shall not gnash his teeth. Of the water of this, let there be dropped upon the chains, and it dissolves them: let it but touch the firebrands, it quenches all.—A fountain does not give out streams for a while and anon run dry,—else must it be no more a fountain,—but ever gushes: so let our fountain give out more copiously of the streams of mercy (in alms). This cheers him that receives: this is alms, to give out not only a copious, but a perennial, stream. If thou wouldest that God rain down His mercy upon thee as from fountains, have thou also a fountain. And yet there is no comparison (between God's fountain and thine): for if thou open the mouths of this fountain, such are the mouths of God's Fountain as to surpass every abyss. God does but seek to get an opportunity on our part, and pours forth from His storehouses His blessings. When He expends, when He lavishes, then is He rich, then is He affluent. Large is the mouth of that fountain: pure and limpid its water. If thou stop not up the fountain here, neither wilt thou stop up that fountain.—Let no unfruitful tree stand beside it, that it may not waste its spray. Hast thou wealth? Plant not poplars there: for such is luxury: it consumes much, and shows nothing for it in itself, but spoils the fruit. Plant not a pine-tree—such is wantonness in apparel, beautiful only to the sight, and useful for nothing—nor yet a fir-tree, nor any other of such trees as consume indeed, but are in no sort useful. Set it thick with young shoots: plant all that is fruitful, in the hands of the poor, all that thou wilt. Nothing richer than this ground. Though small the reach of the hand, yet the tree it plants starts up to heaven and stands firm. This it is to plant. For that which is planted on the earth will perish, though not now, at any rate a hundred years hence. Thou plantest many trees, of which thou shalt not enjoy the fruit, but ere thou canst enjoy it, death comes upon thee. This tree will give thee its fruit then, when thou art dead.—If thou plant, plant not in the maw of gluttony, that the fruit end not in the draught-house: but plant thou in the pinched belly, that the fruit may start up to heaven. Refresh the straightened soul of the poor, lest thou pinch thine own roomy soul.-See you not, that the plants which are overmuch watered at the root decay, but grow when watered in moderation? Thus also drench not thou thine own belly, that the root of the tree decay not: water that which is thirsty, that it may bear fruit. If thou water in moderation, the sun will not wither them, but if in excess, then it withers them: such is the nature of the sun. In all things, excess is bad; wherefore let us cut it off, that we also may obtain the things we ask for.—Fountains, it is said, rise on the most elevated spots. Let us be elevated in soul, and our alms will flow with a rapid stream: the elevated soul cannot but be merciful, and the merciful cannot but be elevated. For he that despises wealth, is higher than the root of evils.—Fountains are oftenest found in solitary places: let us withdraw our soul from the crowd, and alms will gush out with us. Fountains, the more they are cleaned, the more copiously they flow: so with us, the more we spend, the more all good grows.—He that has a fountain, has nothing to fear: then neither let us be afraid. For indeed this fountain is serviceable to us for drink, for irrigation, for building, for everything. Nothing better than this draught: it is not possible for this to inebriate. Better to possess such a fountain, than to have fountains running with gold. Better than all gold-bearing soil is the soul which bears this gold. For it advances us, not into these earthly palaces, but into those above. The gold becomes an ornament to the Church of God. Of this gold is wrought "the sword of the Spirit (Eph. vi. 17), the sword by which the dragon is beheaded. From this fountain come the precious stones which are on the King's head. Then let us not neglect so great wealth, but contribute our alms with largeness, that we may be found worthy of the mercy of God, by the grace and tender compassion of His only begotten Son, with Whom to the Father and Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
"Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends."
"He called them in, and lodged them." Good, that first he gives the men friendly treatment, after the fatigue of their journey, and makes them at home with him; "and on the morrow," sets out with them." And certain accompany him: this too as Providence ordered it, that they should be witnesses afterwards when Peter would need to justify himself. "And Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends." This is the part of a friend, this the part of a devout man, that where such blessings are concerned, he takes care that his near friends shall be made partakers of all. Of course (his "near" friends), those in whom he had ever full confidence; fearing, with such an interest at stake, to entrust the matter to others. In my opinion, it was by Cornelius himself that both friends and kinsmen had been brought to a better mind. "And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him." (v. 25.) This, both to teach the others, and by way of giving thanks to God, and showing his own humility: thereby making it plain, that though he had been commanded, yet in himself he had great piety. What then did Peter? "But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man." (v. 26.) Do you mark how, before all else (the Apostles) teach them this lesson, not to think great things of them? "And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." (v. 27, 28.) Observe, he straightway speaks of the mercy of God, and points out to them that it is a great grace that God has shown them. Observe also how while he utters great things, at the same time he speaks modestly. For he does not say, We, being men who do not deign to keep company with any (such), have come to you: but what says he? "Ye know" —God commanded this—" that it is against law to keep company with, or come Unto, one of another nation." Then he goes on to say, "And to me God has shown "— this he says, that none may account the thanks due to him —"that I should call no man"—that it may not look like obsequiousness to him, "no human being," says he—"common or unclean."[*] (v. 29.) "Wherefore also"—that they may not think the affair a breach of the law on his part, nor (Cornelius) suppose that because he was in a station of command therefore he had complied, but that they may ascribe all to God,—" wherefore also I came without gainsaying as soon as I was sent for:" (though) not only to keep company, but even to come unto (him) was not permitted. "I ask therefore, for what intent ye have sent for me." Already Peter had heard the whole matter from the soldiers also, but he wishes them first to confess, and to make them amenable to the Faith. What then does Cornelius? He does not say, Why, did not the soldiers tell thee? but observe again, how humbly he speaks. For he says, "From the fourth day I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And at the ninth hour," he says, "I was praying." (v. 30, 31.) It seems to me, that this man had also fixed for himself set times of a life under stricter rule, and on certain days) For this is why he says, "From the fourth day."[*] See how great a thing prayer is! When he advanced m piety, then the Angel appears to him. "From the fourth day:" i.e. of the week; not "four days ago." For, "on the morrow Peter went away with them, and on the morrow after they entered into Caesarea:" this is one day: and the day on which the persons sent came (to Joppa) one day: and on the third (the Angel) appeared: so that there are two days after that on which (Cornelius) had been praying. "And, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing:" he does not say, an Angel, so unassuming is he: "and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter: he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the seaside: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." (v. 31—33.) (b) See what faith, what piety! He knew that it was no word of man that Peter spake, when he said, "God hath shown me." Then says the man, "We are present to hear all things that are commanded thee of the Lord. (a) Therefore it was that Peter asked, "For what intent have ye sent for me?" on purpose that he might so speak these very words. (d) "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respector of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him." (v. 34, 35.) That is, be he uncircumcised or circumcised. (c) This also Paul declaring, saith, "For there is no respect of persons with God."[*] (Rom. ii. 11.) (e) What then? (it may be asked) is the man yonder in Persia acceptable to Him? If he be worthy, in this regard he is acceptable, that it should be granted him to be brought unto faith (tw(i)^ kataxiwthh^nai th^s pi'stews). The Eunuch from Ethiopia He overlooked not. "What shall one say then of the religious men who have been overlooked?" It is not the case, that any (such) ever was overlooked. But what he says is to this effect, that God rejects no man.(t) "In every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness:" (by righteousness) he means, all virtue. Mark, how he subdues all elation of mind in him. That (the Jews) may not seem to be in the condition of persons cast off (he adds), "The word which He sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all (v. 36): this he says also for the sake of those present (of the Jews), that He may persuade them also: this is why he forces Cornelius to speak. "He," saith he, "is Lord of ally But observe at the very outset, "The word," says he, "which He sent unto the children of Israel;" he gives them the preeminence. Then he adduces (these Gentiles) themselves as witnesses: "ye know," says he, "the matter which came to pass throughout all Judea, beginning at Galilee—then he confirms it from this also—" after the baptism which John preached (v. 37)—("even Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Ghost and with power." (v. 38.) He does not mean, Ye know Jesus, for they did not know Him, but he speaks of the things done by Him: "Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: by this he shows that many cases of lost senses or paralyzed limbs are the devil's work, and a wrench given to the body by him: as also Christ said. "For God was with Him." Again, lowly terms. "And we are witnesses of all things which He did, both in the country of the Jews, and in Jerusalem" (v. 39): both "we," saith he, and ye. Then the Passion, and the reason why they do not believe: "Whom also they slew, and hanged on a tree. Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses
chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead. (v. 40, 41.) This is a proof of the Resurrection. "And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead." (v. 42.) This is great. Then he adduces the testimony from the Prophets: "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name, whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins. (v. 43.) This is a proof of that which was about to be this is the reason why he here cites the Prophets.
But let us look over again what relates to Cornelius. (Recapitulation.) He sent, it says, to Joppa to fetch Peter. "He was waiting for him," etc; see how fully he believed that Peter would certainly come: (b) "and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him." (v. 24, 25.) (a) Mark how on every side it is shown how worthy he is! (So) the Eunuch there desired Philip to come up and sit in the chariot (ch. viii. 31), although not knowing who he was, upon no other introduction (epaggeli'as) than that given by the Prophet. But here Cornelius fell at his feet. (c) "Stand up, I myself also am a man." (v. 26.) Observe how free from adulation his speech is on all occasions, and how full of humility. "And conversing with him, he came in." (a) (v. 27.) Conversing about what? I suppose saying these words: "I myself also am a man." (e) Do you mark (Peter's) unassuming temper? He himself also shows that his coming is God's doing: "Ye know that it is unlawful for a man that is a Jew," etc. (v. 28.) And why did he not speak of the linen sheet? Observe Peter's freedom from all vainglory: but, that he is sent of God, this indeed he mentions; of the manner in which he was sent, he speaks not at present; when the need has arisen, seeing he had said, "Ye know that it is unlawful for a man that is a Jew to keep company with, or to come unto, one of another nation," he simply adds, "but to me God hath shown," etc. There is nothing of vainglory here. "All ye," he says, "know." He makes their knowledge stand surety for him. But Cornelius says, "We are present before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of the Lord" (v. 33): not, Before man, but, "Before God." This is the way one ought to attend to God's servants. Do you see his awakened mind? do you see how worthy he was of all these things? "And Peter," it says, "opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." (v. 34.) This he said also by way of justifying himself with the Jews then present. For, being at the point to commit the Word to these (Gentiles), he first puts this by way of apology. What then? Was He "a respecter of persons" beforetime? God forbid! For beforetime likewise it was just the same: "Every one," as he saith, "that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, would be acceptable to Him." As when Paul saith, "For when the Gentiles which have not the Law, do by nature the things of the Law." (Rom. ii. 14.) "That feareth God and worketh righteousness:" he assumes both doctrine and manner of life: is "accepted with Him;" for, if He did not overlook the Magi, nor the Ethiopian, nor the thief, nor the harlot, much more them that work righteousness, and are willing, shall He in anywise not overlook. "What say you then to this, that there are likely persons (epieikei^s), men of mild disposition, and yet they will not believe?" (Above, p. 149, note.) Lo, you have yourself named the cause: they will not. But besides the. likely person he here speaks of is not this sort of man, but the man "that worketh righteousness:" that is, the man who in all points is virtuous and irreproachable, when he has the fear of God as he ought to have it. But whether a person be such, God only knows. See how this man was acceptable: see how, as soon as he heard, he was persuaded. "Yes, and now too," say you, "every one would be persuaded, be who he may." But the signs that are now, are much greater than those, and more wonderful.—Then Peter commences his teaching, and reserves for the Jews the privilege of their birth. "The word," he says, "which He sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace (v. 36), not bringing judgment. He is sent to the Jews also: yet for all this He did not spare them. "Preaching peace through Jesus Christ. He is Lord of all." First he discourses of His being Lord and in exceeding elevated terms, seeing he had to deal with a soul more than commonly elevated, and that took all in with ardor. Then he proves how He was Lord of all, from the things which He achieved "throughout all Judea. For ye know," saith he, "the matter which came to pass throughout all Judea:" and, what is the wonderful part of it, "beginning at Galilee: after the baptism which John preached." (v. 37.) First he speaks of His success, and then again he says concerning Him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Why, what a stumbling-block, this birthplace! "How God anointed Him with the Holy Ghost and with power. (v. 38.) Then again the proof—how does that appear? —from the good that He did. "Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil:" and the greatness of the power shown when He overcomes the devil; and the cause, "Because God was with Him." Therefore also the Jews spake thus: "We know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for none can do these miracles except God be with him." (John iii. 2.) Then, when he has shown that He was sent from God, he next speaks of this, that He was slain: that thou mayest not imagine aught absurd. Seest thou how far they are from hiding the Cross out of view, nay, that together with the other circumstances they put also the manner? "Whom also," it says, "they slew by hanging on a tree. And gave Him," it is added, "to be made manifest not to all the people, but to witnesses before ordained of God, even unto us:" and yet it was (Christ) Himself that elected them; but this also he refers to God. "To the before- ordained," he says, "even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after that He was risen from the dead. (v. 39, 41.) See whence he fetches his assurance of the resurrection. What is the reason that being risen he did no sign, but only ate and drank? Because the Resurrection itself was a great sign, and of this nothing was so much s a sign as the eating and drinking. "To testify," saith he—in a manner calculated to alarm—that they may not have it in their power to fall back upon the excuse of ignorance: and he does not say, "that He is the Son of God," but, what would most alarm them, "that it is He which is ordained of God, to be the Judge of quick and dead." (v. 42.) "To him give all the Prophets witness," etc. (v. 43.) When by the terror he has agitated them, then he brings in the pardon, not spoken from himself but from the Prophets. And what is terrifying is from him, what is mild from the Prophets.
All ye that have received this forgiveness, all ye to whom it has been vouchsafed to attain unto faith, learn, I beseech you, the greatness of the Gift, and study not to be insolent to your Benefactor. For we obtained forgiveness, not that we should become worse, but to make us far better and more excellent. Let none say that God is the cause of our evil doings, in that He did not punish, nor take vengeance. If (as it is said) a ruler having taken a murderer, lets him go, say, is he (not) judged to be the cause of the murders afterwards committed? See then, how we expose God to the tongues of the wicked. For what do they not say, what leave unuttered? "(God) Himself," say they, "allowed them; for he ought to have punished them as they deserved, not to honor them, nor crown them, nor admit them to the foremost privileges, but to punish and take vengeance upon them: but he that, instead of this, honors them, has made them to be such as they are." Do not, I beseech and implore you, do not let any man utter such speech as far as we are concerned. Better to be buried ten thousand times over, than that God through us should be so spoken of! The Jews, we read, said to (Christ) Himself, "Thou that destroyest the Temple, and in three days buildest it up, come down from the Cross" (Matt. xxvii. 40): and again, "If Thou be the Son of God:" but the reproaches here are more grievous than those, that through us He should be called a teacher of wickedness! Let us cause the very opposite to be said, by having our conversation worthy of Him that calleth us, and (worthily) approaching to the baptism of adoption. For great indeed is the might of baptism (phwti'smatos): it makes them quite other men than they were, that partake of the gift; it does not let the men be men (and nothing more). Make thou the Gentile (to`n He'llhna), to believe that great is the might of the Spirit, that it has new-moulded, that it has fashioned thee anew. Why waitest thou for the last gasp, like a runaway slave, like a malefactor, as though it were not thy duty to live unto God? Why dost thou stand affected to Him, as if thou hadst in Him a ruthless, cruel Master? What can be more heartless (psuchro'teron), what more miserable, than those who make that the time to receive baptism? God made thee a friend, and vouchsafed thee all His good things, that thou mayest act the part of a friend. Suppose you had done some man the greatest of wrongs, had insulted him, and brought upon him disgraces without end, suppose you had fallen into the hands of the person wronged, and he, in return for all this, had honored you, made you partaker of all that he had, and in the assembly of his friends, of those in whose presence he was insulted, had crowned you, and declared that he would hold you as his own begotten son, and then straightway had died: say, would you not have bewailed him? would you not have deemed his death a calamity? would you not have said, Would that he were alive, that I might have it in my power to make the fit return, that I might requite him, that I might show myself not base to my benefactor? So then, where it is but man, this is how you would act; and where it is God, are you eager to be gone, that you may not requite your benefactor for so great gifts? Nay rather, choose the time for coming to Him so that you shall have it in your power to requite Him like for like. True, say you, but I cannot keep (the gift). Has God commanded impossibilities? Hence it is that all is clean reversed, hence that, all the world over, every thing is marred—because nobody makes it his mark to live after God. Thus those who are yet Catechumens, because they make this their object, (how they may defer baptism to the last,) give themselves no concern about leading an upright life: and those who have been baptized (phwtisthentes), whether it be because they received it as children, or whether it be that having received it in sickness, and afterwards recovered (anenegko'ntes), they had no hearty desire to live on (to the glory of God), so it is, that neither do these make an earnest business of it: nay, even such as received it in health, have little enough to show of any good impression, and warmly affected for the time, these also presently let the fire go out. Why do you flee? why do you tremble? what is it you are afraid of? You do not mean to say that you are not permitted to follow your business? I do not part you from your wife! No, it is from fornication that I bar you. I do not debar you from the enjoyment of your wealth? No, but from covetousness and rapacity. I do not oblige you to empty out all your coffers? No, but to give some small matter according to your means to them that lack, your superfluities to their need, and not even this unrewarded. We do not urge you to fast? We do but forbid you to besot yourselves with drunkenness and gormandizing. The things we would retrench are but the very things which bring you disgrace; things which even here, on this side of hell-fire, you yourselves confess to be things to be shunned and hated. We do not forbid you to be glad and to rejoice? Nay, only rejoice not with a disgraceful and unbecoming merriment. What is it you dread, why are you afraid, why do you tremble? Where marriage is, where enjoyment of wealth, where food in moderation, what matter of sin is there in these things? And yet, they that are without enjoin the opposites to these, and are obeyed, For they demand not according to thy means, but they say, Thou must give thus much: and if thou allege poverty, they will make no account of that. Not so Christ: Give, saith He, of what thou hast, and I inscribe thee in the first rank. Again those say, If thou wilt distinguish thyself, forsake father, mother, kindred, friends, and keep close attendance on the Palace, laboring, toiling, slaving, distracted, suffering miseries without number. Not so Christ; but keep thou, saith He, at home with thy wife, with thy children, and as for thy daily occupations reform and regulate them on the plan of leading a peaceable life, free from cares and from perils. True, say you, but the other promises wealth. Aye, but Christ a kingdom, and more, He promises wealth also with it. For, "Seek ye," saith He, "the kingdom of Heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. vi. 33): throwing in, by way of additional boon, what the other holds out as the main thing: and the Psalmist says, he has "never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread." (Ps. xxxvii. 25.) Let us set about practising virtue, let us make a beginning; let us only lay hold on it, and you shall see what the good will be. For surely in these (worldly) objects you do not succeed so without labor, that you should be so faint- hearted for these (higher) objects—that you should say, Those are to be had without labor, these only with toil. Nay,—what need to tell. you what is the true state of the case?—those are had only with greater labor. Let us not recoil from the Divine Mysteries, I beseech you. Look not at this, that one who was baptized before thee, has turned out ill, and has fallen from his hope: since among soldiers also we see some not doing their duty by the service, while we see others distinguishing themselves, and we do not look only at the idle ones, but we emulate these, the men who are successful. But besides, consider how many, after their baptism, have of men become angels! Fear the uncertainty of the future. "As a thief in the night," so death comes: and not merely as a thief, but while we sleep it sets upon us, and carries us off while we are idling. To this end has God made the future uncertain, that we may spend Our time in the practice of virtue, because of the uncertainty of expectation. But He is merciful, say you. How long shall we hear this senseless, ridiculous talk? I affirm not only that God is merciful, but that nothing can be more merciful than He, and that He orders all things concerning us for our good. How many all their life do you see afflicted with the worst form of leprosy! (en ele'phanti dia'gontas), "Elephantiasis,") how many blind from their earliest youth even to old age! others who have lost their eyesight, others in poverty, others in bonds, others again in the mines, others entombed (katachwsthe'ntas) together, others (slaughtered) in wars! These things say you, do not look like mercy. Say, could He not have prevented these things had He wished, yet He permits them? True, say you. Say, those who are blind from their infancy, why are they so? I will not tell you, until you promise me to receive baptism, and, being baptized, to live aright. It is not right to give you the solution of these questions. The preaching is not meant just for amusement. For even if I solve this, on the back of this follows another question: of such questions there is a bottomless deep. Therefore do not get into a habit of looking to have them solved for you: else we shall never stop questioning. For look, if I solve this, I do but lead the way to question upon question, numberless as the snowflakes. So that this is what we learn, rather to raise questions, not to solve the questions that are raised. For even if we do solve them, we have not solved them altogether, but (only) as far as man's reasoning goes. The proper solution of such questions is faith: the knowing that God does all things justly and mercifully and for the best: that to comprehend the reason of them is impossible. This is the one solution, and another better than this exists not. For say, what is the use of having a question solved? This, that one needs no longer to make a question of the thing which is solved. And if thou get thyself to believe this, that all things are ordered by the Providence of God, Who, for reasons known to Himself, permits some things and actively works others, thou art rid of the need of questioning, and hast gotten the gain of the solution. But let us come back to our subject. Do you not see such numbers of men suffering chastisements? God (say you) permits these things to be. Make the right use of the health of the body, in order to the health of the soul. But you will say, What is the use to me of labors and toil, when it is in my power to get quit of all (my sins) without labor? In the first place, this is not certain. It may happen, that a person not only does not get quit of his sins without labor, but that he departs hence with all his sins upon him. However, even if this were certain, still your argument is not to be tolerated. He has drawn thee to the contests: the golden arms lie there. When you ought to take them, and to handle them, you wish to be ingloriously saved, and to do no good work! Say, if war broke out, and the Emperor were here, and you saw some charging into the midst of the phalanxes of the enemy, hewing them down, dealing wounds by thousands, others thrusting (with the sword's point), others hounding (now here, now there), others dashing on horseback, and these praised by the Emperor, admired, applauded, crowned: others on the contrary thinking themselves well off if they take no harm, and keeping in the hindmost ranks, and sitting idly there; then after the close of the war, the former sort summoned, honored with the greatest gifts, their names proclaimed by the heralds: while of the latter, not even the name becomes known, and their reward of the good obtained is only that they are safe: which sort would you wish to belong to? Why, if you were made of stone, if you were more stupid even than senseless and lifeless things, would you not ten thousand times rather belong to the former? Yea, I beseech and implore you. For if need were to fall fighting, ought you not eagerly to choose this? See you not how it is with them that have fallen in the wars, how illustrious they are, how glorious? And yet they, die a death, after which there is no getting honor from the emperor. But in that other war, there is nothing of the kind, but thou shalt in any wise be presented with thy scars. Which scars, even without persecutions, may it be granted all us to have to exhibit, through Jesus Christ our Lord, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God."
Observe God's providential management. He does not suffer the speech to be finished, nor the baptism to take place upon a command of Peter, but, when He has made it evident how admirable their state of mind is, and a beginning is made of the work of teaching, and they have believed that assuredly baptism is the remission of sins, then forthwith comes the Spirit upon them. Now this is done by God's so disposing it as to provide for Peter a mighty ground of justification[*] And it is not simply that the Spirit came upon them, but, "they spake with tongues:" which was the thing that astonished those who had come together. They altogether disliked the matter, wherefore it is that the whole is of God; and as for Peter, it may almost be said, that he is present only to be taught (with them) the lesson, that they must take the Gentiles in hand, and that they themselves are the persons by whom this must be done. For whereas after all these great events, still both in Caesarea and in Jerusalem a questioning is made about it, how would it have been if these (tokens) had not gone step by step with the progress of the affair? Therefore it is that this is carried to a sort of excess. Peter seizes his advantage, and see the plea he makes of it. "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (v. 47.) Mark the issue to which he brings it; how he has been travailing to bring this forth. So (entirely) was he of this mind! "Can any one, he asks, "forbid water?" It is the language, we may almost say, of one triumphantly pressing his advantage (epembai'nontos) against such as would forbid, such as should say that this ought not to be. The whole thing, he says, is complete, the most essential part of the business, the baptism with which we were baptized. "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." (v. 48.) After he has cleared himself, then, and not before, he commands them to be baptized: teaching them by the facts themselves. Such was the dislike the Jews had to it! Therefore it is that he first clears himself, although the very facts cry aloud, and then gives the command. "Then prayed they him"—well might they do so—" to tarry certain days:" and with a good courage thenceforth he does tarry.
"And the Apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them." (ch. xi. 1- 3.) After such great things, "they of the circumcision contended:" not the Apostles; God forbid It means, they took no small offence.[*] And see what they allege. They do not say, Why didst thou preach? but, Why didst thou eat with them? But Peter, not stopping to notice this frigid objection—for frigid indeed it is—takes his stand (hi'statai) on that great argument, If they had the Spirit Itself given them, how could one refuse to give them the baptism? But how came it that in the case of the Samaritans this did not happen, but, on the contrary, neither before their baptism nor after it was there any controversy, and there they did not take it amiss, nay, as soon as they heard of it, sent the Apostles for this very purpose? (ch. viii. 14.) True, but neither in the present case is this the thing they complain of; for they knew that it was of Divine Grace: what they say is, Why didst thou eat with them? Besides, the difference is not so great for Samaritans as it is for Gentiles. Moreover, it is so managed (as part of the Divine plan) that he is accused in this way: on purpose that they may learn: for Peter, without some cause given, would not have related the vision. But observe his freedom from all elation and vainglory. For it says, "But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, I was in the city of Joppa, praying:" he does not say why, nor on what occasion: "and in a trance I saw a vision, a certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me (v. 4, 5): upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto the, Arise, Peter; slay and eat." (v. 6, 7.) As much as to say, This of itself was enough to have persuaded me—my having seen the linen sheet: but moreover a Voice was added. "But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth." (v. 8.) Do you mark? "I did my part," says he: "I said, that I have never eaten aught common or unclean:" with reference to this that they said, "Thou wentest in, and didst eat with them." But this he does not say to Cornelius: for there was no need to mention it to him. "But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven." (v. 9, 10.) The essential points were those (that ensued at Caesarea); but by these he prepares the way for them. Observe how he justifies himself (by reasons), and forbears to use his authority as teacher. For the more mildly he expresses himself, the more tractable he makes them. "At no time," says he, "has aught common or unclean entered into my mouth.—And, behold—this too was part of his defence —three men stood at the house in which I was, sent to me from Caesarea. And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting." (v. 11, 12.) Do you mark that it is to the Spirit the enacting of laws belongs! "And these also accompanied me"—noticing can be more lowly, when he alleges the brethren for witnesses!—"these six men, and we entered into the man's house: and he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved." (v. 13, 14.) And he does not mention the words spoken by the Angel to Cornelius, "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God, that he may not disgust them; but what says he? "He shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved:" with good reason this is added. Also he says nothing of the man's fitness (epieike's). "The Spirit," he might say, "having sent (me), God having commanded, on the one part having summoned (me) through the Angel, on the other urging (me) on, and solving my doubt about the things, what was I to do?" He says none of these things, however: but makes his strong point of what happened last, which even in itself was an incontrovertible argument. "And as I began to speak," etc. (v. 15.) Then why did not this happen alone? Of superabundance (ek periousi'as) this is wrought by God, that it might be shown that the beginning too was not from the Apostle. But had he set out of his own motion, without any of these things having taken place, they would have been very much hurt: so that from the beginning he disposes their minds in his favor* *: saying to them, "Who have received the Holy Ghost even as
we." And not content with this, he reminds them also of the words of the Lord: "Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost." (v. 16.) He means, that no new thing has happened, but just what the Lord foretold. "But there was no need to baptize?" (Comp. p. 158.) But the baptism was completed already. And he does not say, I ordered them to be baptized: but what says he? "Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?" (v. 17.) He shows that he had himself done nothing: for the very thing which we have obtained, he says, that same did those men receive. That he may more effectually stop their mouths, therefore he says, "The like gift." Do you perceive how he does not allow them to have less: when they believed, says he, the same gift did God give unto them, as He did to us who believed on the Lord, and Himself cleanses them. And he does not say, To you, but to us. Why do you feel aggrieved, when we call them partakers (with us?) "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." (v. 18.) Do you mark that it all came of Peter's discourse, by his admirably skilful way of relating the facts? They glorified God that He had given repentance to themselves (kai` autoi^s) also: they were humbled by these words. Hence was the door of faith opened thenceforth to the Gentiles. But, if you please, let us look over again what has been said.
"While Peter yet spake," etc. (Recapitulation.) He does not say that Peter was astonished, but, "They of the circumcision:" since he knew what was in preparation. And yet they ought to have marvelled at this, how they themselves had believed. When they heard that they had believed, they were not astonished, but when God gave them the Spirit. Then "answered Peter and said," etc. (v. 47.) And therefore it is that he says, "God hath shown that I should not call common or unclean any human being." (v. 28.) He knew this from the first, and plans his discourse beforehand (with a view to it). Gentiles? What Gentiles henceforth? They were no longer Gentiles, the Truth being come. It is nothing wonderful, he says, if before the act of baptism they received the Spirit: in our own case this same happened. Peter shows that not as the rest either were they baptized, but in a much better way. This is the reason why the thing takes place in this manner, that they may have nothing to say, but even in this way may account them equal with themselves. "And they besought him," it says, "to tarry certain days." (v. 48.) "And the Apostles and brethren, etc. And they of the circumcision contended with him." (ch. xi. 1. 2.) Do you remark how they, were not kindly disposed towards him? Saying Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them." (v. 3.) Do you note what zeal they had for the Law? Not Peter's authority abashed them, not the signs which had taken place, not the success achieved, what a thing it was, the Gentiles having "received the word:" but they contended about those petty things. For if none of those (signs) had taken place, was not the success (itself) enough? But not so does Peter frame his defence: for he was wise, or rather it was not his wisdom, but the Spirit that spake the words. And by the matter of his defence, he shows that in no one point was he the author, but in every point God, and upon Him he casts the whole. "The trance," he says—"it was He that caused me to fall into it, for "I was in Joppa," etc.: the vessel—it was He that showed it; I objected: again, He spake, and even then I did not hear: the Spirit commanded me to go, and even then though I went, I did not run: I told that God had sent me, and after these things, even then I did not baptize, but again God did the whole. God baptized them, not I." And he does not say, Was it not right then to add the water? but, implying that nothing was lacking, "What was I, that I should withstand God?" What a defence is here! For he does not say, Then knowing these things, hold your peace; but what? He stands their attack, and to their impeachment he pleads—"What was I, to be able to hinder God?" It was not possible for me to hinder—a forcible plea indeed, and such as might well put them to shame. Whence being at last afraid, "they held their peace and glorified God."
In like manner ought we also to glorify God for the good things which befall our neighbors, only not in the way that the rest of the newly- baptized are insulted, when they see others receiving baptism, and immediately departing this life. It, is right to glorify God, even though all be saved: and as for thee, if thou be willing, thou hast received a greater gift (than they): I do not mean in respect of the baptism, for the gift there is the same for him as for thee, but in regard that thou hast received a set time for winning distinction. The other put on the robe, and was not suffered to exhibit himself therewith in the procession, whereas to thee, God hath given full opportunity to use thine arms for the right purpose, thereby to make proof of them. The other goes his way, having only the reward of his faith: thou standest in the course, both able to obtain an abundant recompense for thy works, and to show thyself as much more glorious than he, as the sun is than the smallest star, as the general, nay rather as the Emperor himself, than the lowest soldier. Then blame thyself, or rather not blame, but correct: for it is not enough to blame thyself; it is in thy power to contend afresh. Hast thou been thrown? hast thou taken grievous hurt? Stand up, recover thyself: thou art still in the course, the meeting (the'atron) is not yet broken up. Do you not see how many that have been thrown in the wrestling have afterwards resumed the combat? Only do not willingly come by thy fall. Dost thou count him a happy man for departing this life? Much rather count thyself happy. Was he released of his sins? But thou, if thou wilt, shalt not only wash away thy sins, but shalt also have achievements (of good works), which in his case is not possible. It is in our power to recover ourselves. Great are the medicinal virtues (pha'rmaka) of repentance: let none despair of himself. That man truly deserves to be despaired of, who despairs of himself; that man has no more salvation, nor any hopes. It is not the having fallen into a depth of evils, it is the lying there when fallen, that is dreadful, it is not the having come into such a condition, it is the making light of it that is impious. The very thing that ought to make thee earnest, say, is it this that makes thee reckless? Having received so many wounds, hast thou fallen back? Of the soul, there can be no incurable wound; for the body, there are many such, but none for the soul: and yet for those we cease not in our endeavors to cure them, while for these we are supine. Seest thou not the thief (on the cross), in how short a time he achieved (his salvation)? Seest thou not the Martyrs, in how short a time they accomplished the whole work? "But martyrdom is not to be had nowadays." True, but there are contests to be had, as I have often told you, if we had the mind. "For they that wish," says the Apostle, "to live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution." (2 Tim. iii. 12.) They that live godly are always undergoing persecution, if not from men, at any rate from evil spirits, which is a more grievous persecution. Yes, and it is in consequence, first and foremost, of ease and comfort, that those who are not vigilant undergo this. Or thinkest thou it is a trifling persecution to be living at ease? This is more grievous than all, this is worse than persecution. For, like a running flux, ease makes the soul languid (chaunoi^): and as summer and winter, so persecution and ease. But to show you that this is the worse persecution, listen: it induces sleep in the soul, an excessive yawning and drowsiness, it stirs up the passions on every side, it arms pride, it arms pleasure, it arms anger, envy, vainglory, jealousy. But in time of persecution none of these is able to make a disturbance; but fear, entering in, and plying the lash vigorously, as one does to a barking dog, will not let any of these passions so much as attempt to give tongue. Who shall be able in time of persecution to indulge in vainglory? Who to live in pleasure? Not one: but there is much trembling and fear, making a great calm, composing the harbor into stillness, filling the soul with awe. I have heard from our fathers (for in our own time God grant it may not happen, since we are bidden not to ask for temptation), that in the persecution of old time one might see men that were indeed Christian. None of them cared for money, none for wife, none for children, nor home, nor country: the one great concern with all was to save their lives (or, souls). There were they hiding, some in tombs and sepulchres, some in deserts: yes tender and dainty women too, fighting all the while with constant hunger. Then think whether any longing for sumptuous and dainty living at all came into the mind of a woman, while in hiding beside a coffin (para` la'rnaki), and waiting for her maid-servant to bring her meal, and trembling lest she should be taken, and lying in her terror as in t a furnace: was she even aware that there ever was such a thing as dainty living, that such things as dress and ornaments exist at all (ho'ti ko'smos ho'lws esti'n)? Seest thou that now is the persecution, with our
passions, like wild beasts, setting upon us on every side? Now is the trying persecution, both in this regard, and especially if it is not even thought to be persecution at all. For this (persecution) has also this evil in it, that being war, it is thought to be peace, so that we do not even arm ourselves against it, so that we do not even rise: no one fears, no one trembles. But if ye do not believe me, ask the heathen, the persecutors, at what time was the conduct of the Christians more strict, at what time were they all more proved? Few indeed had they then become in number, but rich in virtue. For say, what profit is it, that there should be hay in plenty, when there might be precious tones? The amount consists not in the sum of numbers, but in the proved worth. Elias was one: yet the whole world was not worth so much as he. And yet the world consists of myriads: but they are no myriads, when they do not even come up to that one. "Better is one that doeth the will of God, than ten thousand who are transgressors:" for the ten thousands have not yet reached to the one. "Desire not a multitude of unprofitable children." (Ecclus. xvi. 1.) Such bring more blasphemy against God, than if they were not Christians. What need have I of a multitude? It is (only)more food for the fire. This one might see even in the body, that better is moderate food with health, than a (fatted) calf with damage. This is more food than the other: this is food, but that is disease. This too one may see in war: that better are ten expert and brave men, than ten thousand of no experience. These latter, besides that they do no work, hinder also those that do work. The same too one may see to be the case in a ship, viz. that better are two experienced mariners, than ever so great a number of unskilful ones: for these will sink the ship. These things I say, not as looking with an evil eye upon your numbers, but wishing that all of you should be approved men, and not trust in your numbers. Many more in number are they who go down into hell: but greater than it is the Kingdom, however few it contain. As the sand of the sea was the multitude of the people (Israel) yet one man saved them. Moses was but one, and yet he availed more than they all: Joshua was one and he was enabled to do more than the six hundred thousand. Let us not make this our study merely, that (the people) may be many, but rather, that they may be excellent; when this shall have been effected, then will that other follow also. No one wishes at the outset to make a spacious house, but he first makes it strong and sure, then spacious: no one lays the foundations so that he may be laughed at. Let us first aim at this, and then at the other. Where this is, that also will be easy: but where this is not, the other, though it be, is to no profit. For if there be those who are able to shine in the Church, there will soon be also numbers: but where these are not, the numbers will never be good for anything. How many, suppose you, may there be in our city who are likely to be saved (tou`s swzome'nous)? It is disagreeable, what I am going to say, but I will say it nevertheless. Among all these myriads, there are not to be found one hundred likely to be saved: nay, even as to these, I question it. For think, what wickedness there is in the young, what supineness in the aged! None makes it his duty to look after his own boy, none is moved by anything to be seen in his eider, to be emulous of imitating such an one. The patterns are defaced, and therefore it is that neither do the young become admirable in conduct. Tell not me, "We are a goodly multitude:" this is the speech of men who talk without thought or feeling (psuchrw^n.) In the concerns of men indeed, this might be said with some show of reason: but where God is concerned, (to say this with regard to Him) as having need of us, can never be allowed. Nay, let me tell you, even in the former case, this is a senseless speech (psuchro'n). Listen. A person that has a great number of domestics, if they be a corrupt set what a wretched time will he have of it! For him who has none, the hardship, it seems, amounts to this, that he is not waited on: but where a person has bad servants, the evil is, that he is ruining himself withal, and the damage is greater (the more there are of them.) For it is far worse than having to be one's own servant, to have to fight with others, and take up a (continual) warfare. These things I say, that none may admire the Church because of its numbers, but that we may study to make the multitude proof-worthy; that each may be earnest for his own share of the duty—not for his friends only, nor his kindred as I am always saying, nor for his neighbors, but that he may attract the strangers also. For example, Prayer is going on; there they lie (on bended knees), all the young, stupidly unconcerned (psuchroi`), (yes,) and old too: filthy nuisances rather than young men; giggling, laughing outright, talking—for I have heard even this going on—and jeering one another as they lie along on their knees: and there stand you, young man or elder: rebuke them, if you see them (behaving thus): if any will not refrain, chide him more severely: call the deacon, threaten, do what is in your power to do: and if he dare do anything to you, assuredly you shall have all to help you. For who is so irrational, as, when he sees you chiding for such conduct, and them chidden not to take your part? Depart, having received your reward from the Prayer.—In a master's house, we count those his best-disposed servants, who cannot bear to see any part of his furniture in disorder. Answer me; if at home you should see the silver plate lie tossed out of doors, though it is not your business, you will pick it up and bring it into the house: if you see a garment flung out of its place, though you have not the care of it, though you be at enmity with him whose business it is, yet, out of good-will to the master, will you not put it right? So in the present case. These are part of the furniture: if you see them lying about in disorder, put them to rights: apply to me, I do not refuse the trouble: inform me, make the offender known to me: it is not possible for me to see all: excuse me (in this). See, what wickedness overspreads the whole world! Said I without reason that we are (no better than) so much hay (disorderly as) a troubled sea? I am not talking of those (young people), that they behave thus; (what I complain of, is) that such a sleepy indifference possesses those who come in here, that they do not even correct this misbehavior. Again I see others stand talking while Prayer is going on; while the more consistent of them (do this) not only during the Prayer, but even when the Priest is giving the Benediction. O, horror! When shall there be salvation? when shall it be possible for us to propitiate God?—Soldiers go to their diversion, and you shall see them, all keeping time in the dance, and nothing done negligently, but, just as in embroidery and painting, from the well-ordered arrangement in each individual part of the composition, there results at once an exceeding harmony and good keeping, so it is here: we have one shield, one head, all of us (in common): and if but some casual point be deranged by negligence, the whole is deranged and is spoilt, and the good order of the many is defeated by the disorder of the one part. And, fearful indeed to think of, here you come, not to a diversion, not to act in a dance, and yet you stand disorderly. Know you not that you are standing in company with angels? with them you chant, with them sing hymns, and do you stand laughing? Is it not wonderful that a thunderbolt is not launched not only at those (who behave thus), but at us? For such behavior might well be visited with the thunderbolt. The Emperor is present, is reviewing the army: and do you, even with His eyes upon you, stand laughing, and endure to see another laughing? How long are we to go on chiding, how long complaining? Ought not such to be treated as very pests and nuisances; as abandoned, worthless reprobates, fraught with innumerable mischiefs, to be driven away from the Church? When will these forebear laughing, who laugh in the hour of the dread Mystery (en hw`ra(i) phri'khs)? when refrain from their trifling, who talk at the instant of the Benediction? Have they no sense of shame before those who are present? have they no fear of God? Are our own idle thoughts not enough for us, is it not enough that in our prayers we rove hither and thither, but laughter also must needs intrude, and bursts of merriment? Is it a theatrical amusement, what is done here? Aye, but, methinks, it is the theatres that do this: to the theatres we owe it that the most of you so refuse to be curbed by us, and to be reformed. What we build up here, is thrown down there: and not only so, but the hearers themselves cannot help being filled with other filthinesses besides: so that the case is just the same as if one should want to clean out a place with a fountain above it discharging mire; for however much you may clean out, more runs in. So it is here. For when we clean people out, as they come here from the theatres with their filthiness, thither they go again, and take in a larger stock of filthiness, as if they lived for the purpose of only giving us trouble, and then come back to us, laden with ordure, in their manners, in their movements, in their words, in their laughter, in their idleness. Then once more we begin shovelling it out afresh, as if we had to do this only on purpose that, having sent them away clean, we may again see them clogging themselves with filth. Therefore I solemnly protest to you, the sound members, that this will be to you judgment and condemnation, and I give you over to God from this time forth, if any having seen a person behaving disorderly, if any having seen any person talking, especially in that part (of the Service), shall not inform against him, not bring him round (to a better behavior). To do this is better than prayer. Leave thy prayer and rebuke him, that thou mayst both do him good, and thyself get profit, and so we may be enabled all to be saved and to attain unto the Kingdom of Heaven, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that rose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only."
The persecution turned out to be no slight benefit as "to them that love God all things work together for good." (Rom. viii. 28.) If they had made it their express study how best to establish the Church, they would have done no other thing than this—they dispersed the teachers.[*] Mark in what quarters the preaching was extended. "They travelled," it says, "as far as Phenice and Cyprus and Antioch; to none however did they preach the word but to Jews only." Dost thou mark with what wise purposes of
Providence so much was done in the case of Cornelius? This serves both to justify Christ, and to impeach the Jews. When Stephen was slain, when Paul was twice in danger, when the Apostles were scourged, then the Gentiles received the word, then the Samaritans. Which Paul also declares: "To you it was necessary that the Word of God should first be spoken; but since ye thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy, lo, we turn unto the Gentiles." (ch. xiii. 46.) Accordingly they went about, preaching to Gentiles also. "But some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus:" (v. 20.) for it is likely both that they could now speak Greek, and that there were such men in Antioch. "And the hand of the Lord," it says, "was with them," that is, they wrought miracles; "and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord." (v. 21.) Do you mark why now also there was heed of miracles (namely) that they might believe? "Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch." (v. 22.) What may be the reason that, when such a city received the word, they did not come themselves? Because of the Jews. But they send Barnabas. However, it is no small part of the providential management even so that Paul comes to be there. It is both natural, and it is wisely ordered, that they are averse to him, and (so) that Voice of the Gospel, that Trumpet of heaven, is not shut up in Jerusalem. Do you mark how on all occasions, Christ turns their ill dispositions to needful account and for the benefit of the Church? Of their hatred to the man, He availed Himself for the building up of the Church. But observe this holy man—Barnabas, I mean—how he looked not to his own interests, but hasted to Tarsus. "Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart, they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord." (v. 23, 24.) He was a very kind man, and single-hearted, and considerate (suggnwmoniko's). "Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul." (v. 25.) He came to the athletic wrestler. the general (fit to lead armies), the champion of single combat, the lion—I am at a loss for words, say what I will—the hunting-dog, killer of lions, bull of strength,
lamp of brightness, mouth sufficing for a world. "And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch." (v. 26.) Verily this is the reason why it was there they were appointed to be called Christians, because Paul there spent so long time! "And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the Church, and taught much people. And the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch."[*] No small matter of praise to that city! This is enough to make it a match for all, that for so long a time it had the benefit of that mouth, it first, and before all others: wherefore also it was there in the first place that men were accounted worthy of that name. Do you observe the benefit resulting (to that city) from Paul, to what a height that name, like a standard (shmei^on), exalted it? Where three thousand, where five thousand, believed, where so great a multitude, nothing of the sort took place, but they were called "they of the way:" here they were called Christians. "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch." (v. 27.) It was need that the fruit of alms should also be planted there. And see how of necessity (anagkai'ws) (it comes about that) none of the men of note becomes their teacher. They got for their teachers, men of Cyprus, and Cyrene, and Paul—though he indeed surpassed (the Apostles) themselves—since Paul also had for teachers Ananias and Barnabas. But here of necessity (this was the case). "And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there would be great dearth throughout the world, which also came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar." (v. 28.) "By the Spirit," it says: for; that they may not imagine that this was the reason why the famine came, (namely) because Christianity was come in, because the demons were departed, the Holy Ghost foretells it: this, however, was nothing wonderful, for in fact Christ predicted it. Not this was the reason, else this must have been the case from the beginning: but it was because of the evils done to the Apostles—and God had borne long with them; but, when they pressed upon them, a great famine ensues, betokening to the Jews the coming woes. "If it was because of them, in any vase it ought to have stopped (there), when it did exist. What harm had the Gentiles done, that they should have their share in the evils? They ought rather to have been marked as approved (eudokimh^sai), because they were doing their part, were slaying, punishing, taking vengeance, persecuting on every side. And mark also at what time the famine comes: precisely when the Gentiles were thenceforth added to the Church. But if, as you say, it was because of the evils (done by the Jews), these ought to have been exempted." How so? Christ, forestalling this objection, said, "Ye shall have tribulation." (John xvi. 33.) (It is) just as if you should say, They ought not to have been scourged either. "Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea." (v. 29.) Mark how the famine becomes to them the means of salvation, an occasion of alms-giving, a harbinger of many blessing. And (so it might have been) to you, one may say, if you were so minded, but ye would not. But it is predicted, that they might be prepared beforehand for almsgiving. "Unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea;" for they were enduring great hardships, but before this, they were not suffering from famine. "Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul." (v. 30.) Do you mark them, that no sooner do they believe than they bring forth fruit, not only for their own but for those afar off? And Barnabas is sent and Saul, to minister (the same.) Of this occasion (Entau^tha) he says (to the Galatians), "And James, Cephas, and John gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, only" (they would) "that we should remember the poor." (Gal. ii. 9.) James was yet living.
"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution," etc. (Recapitulation.) Do you mark how even in the tribulation instead of failing to lamentations and tears as we do, they give themselves up to a great and good work? "Travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch," and there with more security preached the word. "And some of them, which were men of Cyprus and. Cyrene," etc. (v. 20.) And they did not say, "(What), we, Cyrenians and Cyprians, to attack this splendid and great city!" but trusting in the grace of God, they applied themselves to the work of teaching, nor did these (Gentiles) themselves think scorn to learn anything of them. Mark how by small means all is brought about: mark the preaching how it spreads: mark those in Jerusalem, having like care for all, holding the whole world as one house. "They heard that Samaria had received the word, and" (ch. viii. 14) to Samaria they send the Apostles: they heard what had befallen at Antioch, and to Antioch they send Barnabas: they also send again, and (these) prophets. For the distance was great, and it was not meet the Apostles at present should separate from thence, that they might not be thought to be fugitives, and to have fled from their own people. But then, almost precisely, is the time of their parting from Jerusalem, when the state (of the Jews) was shown to be past remedy, when the war was close at hand, and they must needs perish: when the sentence was made absolute. For, until Paul went to Rome, the Apostles were there (at Jerusalem). But they depart, not because afraid of the war—how should it be so?—seeing those they went to, were those that should bring the war: and moreover the war breaks out only after the Apostles were dead. For of them (the Apostles) says, "The wrath is come upon them unto the end." (1 Thess. ii. 16.) The more insignificant the persons, the more illustrious the grace, working great results by small means.—" And he exhorted them
to cleave unto the Lord, for he was a good man." (v. 23, 24.) By "good man," I take it, he means one that is kind, (chrhsto`n) sincere, exceedingly desirous of the salvation of his neighbors—" for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith. To cleave unto the Lord with purpose of heart" (this is said): with encomium and praise. "And much people was added unto the Lord:" for like rich land this city received the word, and brought forth much fruit. "Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus," etc. (v. 25.) But why did he take him off from Tarsus and bring him here? Not without good reason; for here were both good hopes, and a greater city, and a great, body of people. See how grace works all, not Paul: by small means the affair was taking its commencement. When it is become difficult the Apostles take it up. Why did they not before this seen Barnabas? Because they had enough to do (hscho'lhnto) with Jerusalem. Again they justified themselves to the Jews, that the Gentiles were receiving (prosela'mbane) the word, even without enjoying so great attention. There is about to be a questioning: therefore the affair of Cornelius forestalled it. Then indeed they say, "That we to the Gentiles, and they to the Circumcision." (Gal. ii. 9.) Observe, henceforth the very stress of the famine introduces the fellowship on the part of the Gentiles, namely, from the alms. For they receive the offerings sent from them.
"Now they which were scattered abroad," etc. (v. 19) and not as we who pass our time in lamentations and tears, in our calamities; but with more fearlessness they passed their time, as having got to a distance from those hindering them, and as being among men not afraid of the Jews: which also helped. And they came to Cyprus, where they had the sea between them, and greater freedom from anxiety: so they made no account of .the fear of men, but (still) they gave the precedence to the regard of the Law: "they spake to Jews only. But there were in Antioch certain men of Cyprus and Cyrene:" these, of all others, least cared for the Jews: "who spake unto the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus." (v. 20.) Probably it was because of their not knowing Hebrew, that they called them Greeks. And "when" Barnabas, it says, "came and had seen the grace of God,"—not the diligence of men—" he exhorted them to cleave unto the Lord" (v. 23): and by this he converted more. "And much people was added unto the Lord." Why do they not write to Paul, but send Barnabas? They They did not yet know the virtue of the man: but it is providentially ordered that Barnabas should come. As there was a multitude, and none to hinder, well might the faith grow, and above all because they had no trials to undergo. Paul also preaches, and is no longer compelled to flee. And it is well ordered, that not they speak of the famine, but the prophets. The men of Antioch also did not take it amiss that they sent not the Apostles, but were content with their teachers so fervent were they all for the word. They did not wait for (he famine to come, but before this they sent: "according as each had the ability." And observe, among the Apostles, others are put in charge with this trust but here Paul and Barnabas. For this was no small order (oikonomi'a) of Providence. Besides, it was the beginning, and it was not fit they should be offended.
"As each had the ability, they sent." But now, none does this, although there is a famine more grievous than that. For the cases are not alike, for (all) to bear the calamity in common, and, while all (the rest) abound, for the poorer to be famishing. And the expression shows that the givers also were poor, for, it says, "as each of them had the means." A twofold famine, even as the abundance is twofold: a severe famine, a famine not of hearing the word of the Lord, but of being nourished by alms. Then, both the poor in Judea enjoyed the benefit, and so did those in Antioch who gave their money; yea, these more than those: but now, both we and the poor are famishing: they being in lack of necessary sustenance, and we in luxurious living, lacking the mercy of God. But this is a food, than which nothing can be more necessary. This is not a food, from which one has to undergo the evils of repletion: not a food, of which the most part ends in the draught. (aphedrw^na.) Nothing more beauteous, nothing more healthful, than a soul nurtured by this food: it is set high above all disease, all pestilence, all indigestion and distemper: none shall be able to overcome it, (helei^n) but just as, if one's body were made of adamant, no iron, nor anything else, would have power to hurt it, even so when the soul is firmly compact by almsgiving, nothing at all shall be able to overcome it. For say, what shall spoil this? Shall poverty? It cannot be, for it is laid up in the royal treasuries. But shall robber and housebreaker? Nay, those are walls which none shall be able to break through. But shall the worm? Nay, this treasure is set far above the reach of this mischief also. But shall envy and the evil eye? Nay, neither by these can it be overcome. But shall false accusations and plottings of evil? No, neither shall this be, for safe as in an asylum is this treasure. But it were a shame should I make it appear as if the advantages which belong to almsgiving were only these (the absence of these evils), and not (the presence of) their opposites. For in truth it is not merely that it is secure from ill-will; it also gets abundant blessing from those whom it benefits. For as the cruel and unmerciful not only have for enemies those whom they have injured, but those also who are not themselves hurt, partake the grief and join in the accusation: so those that have done great good have not only those who are benefited, but those also who are not themselves affected, to speak their praises. Again (that), it is secure from the attacks of the evil-disposed, and robbers, and house-breakers—what, is this all the good, or is it this- -that besides the not suffering diminution, it grows also and increases into multitude? What more shameful than Nebuchadnezzar, what more foul, what more iniquitous? The man was impious; after tokens and signs without number he refused to come to his senses (anenegkei^n), but cast the servants of God into a furnace: and (yet) after these doings, he worshipped. What then said the Prophet? "Wherefore," saith he, "O king let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, ransom (lut'rwsai) thy sins by alms, and thine iniquities by mercies to the poor: peradventure there shall be pardon for thy transgressions." (Dan. iii. 27;) In so speaking, he said it not doubting, nay, with entire confidence, but wishing to put him in greater fear, and to make a stronger necessity of doing these things. For if he had spoken it as a thing unquestionable, the king would have been more supine: just as it is with us, we then most urge some person (whom we wish to persuade), when they say to us, "Exhort such an one," and do not add, "he will be sure to hear," but only, "peradventure he will hear:" for by leaving it doubtful, the fear is made greater, and urges him the more. This is the reason why the Prophet did not make the thing certain to him. What sayest thou? For so great impieties shall there be pardon? Yes. There is no sin, which alms cannot cleanse, none, which alms cannot quench: all sin is beneath this: it is a medicine adapted for every wound. What worse than a publican? The very matter (hupo'thesis) (of his occupation) is altogether one of injustice: and yet Zaccheus washed away all these (sins). Mark how even Christ shows this, by the care taken to have a purse, and to bear the contributions put into it. And Paul also says, "Only that we remember the poor" (Gal. ii. 10): and everywhere the Scripture has much discourse concerning this matter. "The ransom," it saith, "of a man's soul is his own wealth" (Prov. 13, 8): and With reason: for, saith (Christ), "if thou wouldest be perfect, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and come, follow Me." (Matt. xix. 21.) This may well be part of perfection. But alms may be done not only by money, but by acts. For example: one may kindly stand (prosth^nai) by a person (to succor and defend him), one may reach to him a helping hand: the service rendered (prostasi'a) by acts has often done more good even than money. Let us set to work all the different kinds of alms-giving. Can you do alms by money? Be not slack. Can you by good offices? Say not, Because I have no money, this is nothing. This is a very great point: look upon it as if you had given gold. Can you do it by kind attentions (therapei'as)? Do this also. For instance, if you be a physician, (give) your skill: for this also is a great matter. Can you by counsel? This (service) is much greater than all: this (alms) is better than all, or it is also more, by how much the gain it has is greater. For in so doing you put away not starvation, but a grievous death. (ch. iii. 6; vi. 4.) With such alms the Apostles above measure abounded: therefore it was that the distribution of money they put into the hands of those after them, themselves exhibiting the (mercy) shown by words. Or is it, think you, a small alms, to a lost, castaway soul, a soul in uttermost jeopardy, possessed by a burning fever (purw'sews), to be able to rid it of its disease? For example, do you see one possessed by love of money? Pity the man. Is he in danger of suffocation? Quench his fire. "What if he will not be persuaded?" Do your part, and be not remiss. Have you seen him in bonds?—for wealth is indeed bonds. (Matt. xxv. 35 ff.) Go to him, visit him, console him, try to release him of his bonds. if he refuse, he shall bear the blame himself. Have you seen him naked, and a stranger? —for he is indeed naked, and a stranger to heaven. Bring him to your own inn, clothe him with the garment of virtue, give him the city which is in heaven. "What if I myself be naked?" say you. Clothe also yourself first: if' you know that you are naked, assuredly you know that you need to be clothed; if you know what sort of nakedness this is. What numbers of women now wear silken apparel but are indeed naked of the garments of virtue! Let their husbands clothe these women. "But they will not admit those garments; they choose to have these." Then do this also first: induce them to have a longing for those garments: show them that they are naked: speak to them of judgment to come: answer me, what is the clothing we shall need there? But if ye will bear with me, I also will show you this nakedness. He that is naked, when it is cold, shrinks and shudders, and stands there cowering, and with his arms folded: but in summer heat, not so. If then I shall prove to you that your rich men, and rich women, the more they put on, the more naked they are, do not take it amiss. How then, I ask you, when we raise the subject of hell-fire, and of the torments there? Do not these shrink and shudder more than those naked ones? Do they not bitterly groan and condemn themselves? What? when they come to this or that man, and say to him, Pray for me, do they not speak the same words as those (naked wretches)? Now indeed, after all that we can say, the nakedness is not yet apparent: but it will be plain enough there. How, and in what way? When these silken garments and precious stones shall have perished, and it shall be only by the garments of virtue and of vice that all men are shown, when the poor shall be clad with exceeding glory, but the rich, naked and in disgraceful sort, shall be baled away to their punishments. What more naked (Edd. "more dainty ") than that rich man who arrayed himself in purple? What poorer than Lazarus? Then which of them uttered the words of beggars? which of them was in abundance? Say, if one should deck his house with abundance of tapestry hangings, and himself sit naked within, what were the benefit? So it is in the case of these women. Truly, the house of the soul, the body I mean, they hang round with plenty of garments: but the mistress of the house sits naked within. Lend me the eyes of the soul, and I will show you the soul's nakedness. For what is the garment of the soul? Virtue, of course. And what its nakedness? Vice. For just as, if one were to strip any decent person, that person would be ashamed, and would shrink and cower out of sight; just so the soul, if we wish to see it, the soul which has not these garments, blushes for shame. How many women, think you, at this moment feel ashamed, and would fain sink to the very depth, as if seeking some sort of curtain, or screen, that they may not hear these words? But those who have no evil conscience, are exhilarated, rejoice, find delight, and gayly deck themselves (egkallwpi'zontai) with the things said. Hear concerning that blessed Thekla, how, that she might see Paul, she gave even her gold: and thou wilt not give even a farthing that thou mayest see Christ: thou admirest what she did, but dost not emulate her. Hearest thou not that "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy?" (Matt. v. 7.) What is the gain of your costly garments? how long shall we continue agape for this attire? Let us put on the glory of Christ: let us array ourselves with that beauty, that both here we may be praised, and there attain unto the eternal good things, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost together, be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
"Now at that time Herod the King stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. Then were the days of unleavened bread."
"At that time," of course meaning the time immediately following: for this is the custom of Scripture. And he well says that Herod "the king" (did this): this was not he of Christ's time. Lo, a different sort of trial—and mark what I said in the beginning, how things are blended, how rest and trouble alternate in the whole texture of the history—not now the Jews, nor the Sanhedrim, but the king. Greater the power, the warfare more severe, the more it was done to obtain favor with the Jews. "And," it says, "he slew James the brother of John with the sword:" (taking him) at random and without selection. But, should any raise a question, why God permitted this, we shall say, that it was for the sake of these (Jews) themselves: thereby, first, convincing them, that even when slain (the Apostles) prevail, just as it was in the case of Stephen: secondly, giving them opportunity, after satiating their rage, to recover from their madness; thirdly, showing them that it was by His permission this was done. "And when he saw," it says, "that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. O excessive wickedness! On whose behalf was it, that he gratified them by doing murders thus without plan or reason? "And it was the day of unleavened bread." Again, the idle preciseness of the Jews: to kill indeed they forbade not, but at such a time they did such things! "Whom having arrested, he put in ward, having delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers." (v. 4.) This was done both of rage, and of fear. "He slew," it says, "James the brother of John with the sword." Do you mark their courage? For, that none may say that without danger or fear of danger they brave death, as being sure of God's delivering them, therefore he permits some to be put to death, and chief men too, Stephen and James, thereby convincing their slayers themselves, that not even these things make them fall away, and hinder them. "Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him." (v. 5.) For the contest was now for life and death: both the slaying of the one made them fearful, and the casting of the other into prison. "And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains; and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands." (v. 6, 7.) In that night He delivered him. "And a light shined in the prison," that he might not deem it fancy: and none saw the light, but he only. For if, notwithstanding this was done, he thought it a fancy, because of its unexpectedness; if this had not been, much more would he have thought this: so prepared was he for death. For his having waited there many days and not being saved caused this. Why then, say you, did He not suffer him to fall into the hands of Herod, and then deliver him? Because that would have brought people into astonishment, whereas this was credible: and they would not even have been thought human beings. But in the case of Stephen, what did He not do? Did He not show them his face as it had been the face of an angel? But what in short did He leave undone here also? "And the angel said to him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals." (v. 8.) Here again it shows, that it was not done of craft: for one that is in haste and wishes to break out (of prison), is not so particular as to take his sandals, and gird himself. "And he did so And he said unto him, Put on thy cloak, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him and wist not that it was true which was done by the Angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of its own accord." (v. 9, 10.) Behold, a second miracle. "And they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent His Angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews." (v. 10, 11.) When the angel departed, then Peter understood: "Now I perceive," says he, not then. But why is this so, and why is Peter not sensible of the things taking place, although he had already experienced a like deliverance when all were released? (ch. v. 18.) (The Lord) would have the pleasure come to him all at once, and that he should first be at liberty, and then be sensible of what had happened. The circumstance also of the chains having fallen off from his hands, is a strong argument of his not having fled. "And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying." (v. 12.) Observe how Peter does not immediately withdraw, but first brings the good tidings to his friends. "And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness,"—Mark even the servant-girls, how full of piety they are,—"but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate." (v. 13-15.) But they, though it was so, shook their heads (incredulously): "And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. And they said, It is his angel. "But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go show these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place." (v. 16, 17.) But let us review the order of the narrative.
(Recapitulation.) "At that time," it says, "Herod the king stretched forth his hands to afflict certain of the Church." (v. 1.) Like a wild beast, he attacked all indiscriminately and without consideration. This is what Christ said: "My cup indeed ye shall drink, and with the baptism wherewith I am baptized, shall ye be baptized." (Mark x. 39.) (b) "And he killed James the brother of John." (v. 2.) For there was also another James, the brother of the Lord: therefore to distinguish him, he says, "The brother of John."[*] Do you mark that the sum of affairs rested in these three, especially Peter and James? (a) And how was it he did not kill Peter immediately? It mentions the reason: "it was the day of unleavened bread:" and he wished rather to make a display (ekpompeu^sai) with the killing of him. "And when he saw it pleased the Jews." (v. 3.) For their own part, they now in consequence of Gamaliel's advice, abstained from bloodshedding: and besides, did not even invent accusations; but by means of others they compassed the same results. (c) This (counsel of Gamaliel's) above all was their condemnation: for the preaching was shown to be no longer a thing of men. "He proceeded further to kill Peter also." (ch. v. 8.) In very deed was that fulfilled, "We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." (Psa. xliv. 13.) "Seeing," it says, "it was a pleasing thing to the Jews." (Rom. viii. 36.) A pleasing thing, bloodshed, and unrighteous bloodshed, wickedness, impiety! He ministered to their senseless (ato'pois) lusts: for, whereas he ought to have done the contrary, to check their rage, he made them more eager, as if he were an executioner, and not a physician to their diseased minds. (And this) though he had numberless warnings in the case of both his grandfather and his father Herod, how the former in consequence of his putting the children to death suffered the greatest calamities,. and the latter by slaying John raised up against himself a grievous war. But as they thought* * He feared lest Peter, in
consequence of the slaying of James, should withdraw; and wishing to have him in safe keeping, he put him in prison: "and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers" (v. 4): the Stricter the custody, the more wondrous the display. "Peter therefore was kept in prison." (v. 5.) But this was all the better for Peter, who was thereby made more approved, and evinced his own manly courage. And it says, "there was earnest prayer making." It was the prayer of (filial) affection: it was for a father they asked, a father mild. "There was," it says, "earnest prayer." Hear how they were affected to their teachers. No factions, no perturbation: but they betook them to prayer, to that alliance which is indeed invincible, to this they betook them for refuge. They did not say, "What? I, poor insignificant creature that I am, to pray for him!" for, as they acted of love, they did not give these things a thought. And observe, it was during the feast, that (their enemies) brought these trials upon them, that their worth might be the more approved. "And when Herod," etc. (v. 6.) See Peter sleeping, and not in distress or fear! That same night, after which he was to be brought forth, he slept, having cast all upon God. "Between two soldiers, bound with two chains." (comp. 1 Pet. v. 7.) Mark, how strict the ward! "And says, Arise." (v. 7.) The guards were asleep with him, and therefore perceived nothing of what was happening. "And a light shined." What was the light for? In order that Peter might see as well as hear, and not imagine it to be all fancy. And the command," Arise quickly," that he may not be remiss. He also smote him; so deeply did he sleep. (a) "Rise," says he, "quickly:" this is not to hurry him (thorubou^ntos) but to persuade him not to delay. (c) "And" immediately "his chains fell off from his hands." (b) How? answer me: where are the heretics?—let them answer. "And the Angel said unto him," etc. (v. 8) by this also convincing him that it is no fancy: to this end he bids him gird himself and put on his shoes, that he may shake off his sleep, and know that it is real. (a) (e) "And he wist not that it was true that was done by the Angel, but thought he saw a vision" (v. 9): (e) well he might, by reason of the excessive greatness (huperbolh`n) of the things taking place. Do you mark what a thing it is for a miracle to be excessive (huperbolh` shmei'ou)? how it amazes (ekplh'ttei) the beholder? how it will not let the thing be believed? For if Peter "thought he saw a vision," though he had girded himself and put on his shoes, what would have been the case with another? "And," it says, "when they had passed the first and the second ward, they came to the iron gate, which opened unto them of its own accord" (v. 10): and yet the things that had happened within (the prison) were more marvellous: but this was now more after the manner of man. "And having gone out, they went along one street and immediately (all. 'until') the Angel departed from him." (v. 11.) When there was no hindrance, then the Angel departed. For Peter would not have gone along (proh^lthen), there being so many hindrances. "And when he came to himself;" for in very truth, it was indeed an amazement (e'kplhxis). "Now," saith he, "I know"—now, not then, when I was in the prison,—" that the Lord hath sent His Angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered" (v. 12), it says: viz. where he was, or, that he must not without more ado depart but requite his Benefactor: "he came to the house of Mary the mother of John." Who is this John? Probably he that was always with them: for this is why he adds his distinctive name (to` para'shmon), "whose surname was Mark." But observe, "praying" in the night, how much they got by it: what a good thing affliction is; how wakeful it made them! Do you see how great the gain resulting from the death of Stephen? do you see how great the benefit accruing from this imprisonment? For it is not by taking vengeance upon those who wronged them that God shows the greatness of the Gospel: but in the wrong-doers themselves, without any harm happening to those, he shows what a mighty thing the afflictions in themselves are, that we may not seek in any wise deliverance from them, nor the avenging of our wrongs. And mark how the very servant-girls were henceforth upon an equality with them. "For joy," it says, "she opened not." (v. 13, 14.) This too is well done, that they likewise may not be amazed by seeing him at once, and that they may be incredulous, and their minds may be exercised. "But ran in," etc. just as we are wont to do, she was eager to be herself the bringer of the good tidings, for good news it was indeed. "And they said unto her, Thou art mad: but she constantly affirmed that it was even so: then said they, It is his Angel." (v. 15.) This is a truth, that each man has an Angel.[*] And what would the Angel? It was from the time (of night) that they surmised this. But when he "continued knocking, and when they had opened, and saw him, they were astonished. But he beckoning to them with his hand" (v. 16, 17), made them keep quiet, to hear all that had happened to him. He was now an object of more affectionate desire to the disciples, not only in consequence of his being saved, but by his sudden coming in upon them and straightway departing. Now, both his friends learn all clearly; and the aliens also learn, if they had a mind, but they had not. The same thing happened in the case of Christ. "Tell these things," he says, "to James, and to the brethren." How free from all vainglory! Nor did he say, Make known these things to people everywhere, but, "to the brethren. And he withdrew to another place:" for he did not tempt God, nor fling himself into temptation: since, when they were commanded to do this, then they did it. "Go," it was said, "speak in the temple to the people." (ch. v. 20.) But this the Angel said not (here); on the contrary, by silently removing him and bringing him out by night, he gave him free permission to withdraw- -and this too is done, that we may learn that many things are providentially brought about after the manner of men—so that he should not again fall into peril.—For that they may not say, "It was his Angel," after he was gone, they say this first, and then they see himself overthrowing their notion of the matter. Had it been the Angel, he would have knocked at the door, would not have retired to another place. And what followed in the day, make them sure.
"So Peter was kept in the prison," etc. (v. 5.) They, being at large, were at prayer: he, bound, was in sleep. "And he wist not that it was true." (v. 9.) If he thought it was true that was happening, he would have been astonished, he would not have remembered (all the circumstances): but now, seeming to be in a dream, he was free from perturbation. "When," it says, "they were past the first and the second ward"—see also how strong the guard was—"they came unto the iron gate." (v. 10.) "Now know I that the Lord hath sent His Angel." (v. 11.) Why is not this effected by themselves? (I answer,) By this also the Lord honors them, that by the ministry of His Angels he rescues them. Then why was it not so in the case of Paul? There with good reason, because the jailer was to be converted, whereas here, it was only that the Apostle should be released. (ch. xvi. 25.) And God disposes all things in divers ways. And there too, it is beautiful, that Paul sings hymns, while here Peter was asleep. "And when he had considered, he came to the house of Mary," etc. (v. 12.) Then let us not hide God's marvels, but for our own good let us study to display these abroad for the edifying of the others. For as he deserves to be admired for choosing to be put into bonds, so is he worthy of more admiration, that he withdrew not until he had reported all to his friends. "And he said, Tell James and the brethren." (v. 17.) That they may rejoice: that they may not be anxious. Through these those learn, not those through him: such thought had he for the humbler part!—
Truly, nothing better than affliction not above measure (summe'trou). What think you must have been their state of mind—how full of delight! Where now are those women, who sleep the whole night through? Where are those men, who do not even turn themselves in their bed? Seest thou the watchful soul? With women, and children, and maidservants, they sang hymns to God, made purer than the sky by affliction. But now, if we see a little danger, we fall back. Nothing ever was more splendid than that Church. Let us imitate these, let us emulate them. Not for this was the night made, that we should sleep all through it and be idle. To this bear witness the artisans, the carriers, and the merchants (to this), the Church of God rising up in the midst of the night. Rise thou up also, and behold the quire of the stars, the deep silence, the profound repose: contemplate with awe the order (oikonomi'an) of thy Master's household. Then is thy soul purer: it is lighter, and subtler, and soaring disengaged: the darkness itself, the profound silence, are sufficient to lead thee to compunction. And if also thou look to the heavens studded with its stars, as with ten thousand eyes, if thou bethink thee that all those multitudes who in the daytime are shouting, laughing, frisking, leaping, wronging, grasping, threatening, inflicting wrongs without number lie all one as dead, thou wilt condemn all the self-willedness of man. Sleep hath invaded and defeated (h'legxen) nature: it is the image of death, the image of the end of all things. If thou (look out of window and) lean over into the street, thou wilt not hear even a sound: if thou look into the house, thou wilt see all lying as it were in a tomb. All this is enough to arouse the soul, and lead it to reflect on the end of all things.
Here indeed my discourse is for both men and women. Bend thy knees, send forth groans, beseech thy Master to be merciful: He is more moved by prayers in the night, when thou makest the time for rest a time for mourning. Remember what words that king uttered: "I have been weary with my groaning: every night will I wash my bed, I will water my couch with my tears." (Ps. vi. 6.) However delicate a liver thou mayest be, thou art not more delicate than he: however rich thou mayest be, thou art not richer than David. And again the same Psalmist saith, "At midnight I rose to give thanks unto Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness." (Ps. cxix. 62.) No vainglory then intrudes upon thee: how can it, when all are sleeping, and not looking at thee? Then neither sloth nor drowsiness invades thee: how can they, when thy soul is aroused by such great things? After such vigils come sweet slumbers and wondrous revelations. Do this, thou also the man, not the woman only. Let the house be a Church, consisting of men and women. For think not because thou art the only man, or because she is the only woman there, that this is any hindrance. "For where two," He saith, "are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt. xviii. 20.) Where Christ is in the midst, there is a great multitude. Where Christ is, there needs must Angels be, needs must Archangels also and the other Powers be there. Then ye are not alone, seeing ye have Him Who is Lord of all. Hear again the prophet also saying, "Better is one that doeth the will of the Lord, than ten thousand transgressors." (comp. Ecclus. xvi. 3.) Nothing more weak than a multitude of unrighteous men, nothing more strong than one man who lives according to the law of God. If thou hast children wake up them also, and let thy house altogether become a Church through the night: but if they be tender, and cannot endure the watching, let them stay for the first or second prayer, and then send them to rest: only stir up thyself, establish thyself in the habit. Nothing is better than that storehouse which receives such prayers as these. Hear the Prophet speaking: "If I remembered Thee upon my bed, I thought upon Thee in the dawn of the morning." (Ps. lxiii. 7.) But you will say: I have labored much during the day, and I cannot. Mere pretext this and subterfuge. For however much thou hast labored, thou wilt not toil like the smith, who lets fall such a heavy hammer from a great height upon the (metal flying off in) sparks, and takes in the smoke with his whole body: and yet at this work he spends the greater part of the night. Ye know also how the women, if there is need for us to go into the country, or to go forth unto a vigil, watch through the whole night. Then have thou also a spiritual forge, to fashion there not pots or cauldrons, but thine own soul, which is far better than either coppersmith or goldsmith can fashion. Thy soul, waxen old in sins,
cast thou into the smelting-furnace of confession: let fall the hammer from on high: that is, the condemnation of thy words (tw^n rhma'twn th`n kata'gnwsin): light up the fire of the Spirit. Thou hast a far mightier craft (than theirs). Thou art beating into shape not vessels of gold, but the soul, which is more precious than all gold, even as the smith hammers out his vessel. For it is no material vessel that thou art working at, but thou art freeing thy soul from all imaginations belonging to this life. Let a lamp be by thy side, not that one which we burn, but that which the prophet had, when he said, "Thy law is a lamp unto my feet." (Ps. cxix. 105.) Bring thy soul to a red heat, by prayer: when thou seest it hot enough, draw it out, and mould it into what shape thou wilt. Believe me, not fire so effectual to burn off rust, as night prayer to remove the rust of our sins. Let the night-watchers, if no one else, shame us. They, by man's law, go their rounds in the cold, shouting loudly, and walking through lanes (stenwpw^n) and alleys, oftentimes drenched with rain and (all) congealed with cold, for thee and for thy safety, and the protection of thy property. There is he taking such care for thy property, while thou takest none even for thy soul. And yet I do not make thee go thy rounds in the open air like him, nor shout loudly and rend thy sides: but in thy closet itself, or in thy bedchamber, bend thy knees, and entreat thy Lord. Why did Christ Himself pass a whole night on the mountain? Was it not, that He might be an ensample to us? Then is it that the plants respire, in the night, I mean: and then also does the soul take in the dew even more than they. What the sun has parched by day becomes cool again at night. More refreshing than all dew, the tears of the night descend upon our lusts and upon all heat and fever of the soul, and do not let it be affected m any such way. But if it do not enjoy the benefit of that dew, it will be burnt up in the daytime. But God forbid (it should be so)! Rather, may we all, being refreshed, and enjoying the mercy of God, be freed from the burden of our sins, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father together with the Holy Spirit be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
"Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and there abode."
Some persons, it is likely, are at a loss how to explain it, that God should quietly look on while (His) champions are put to death, and now again the soldiers on account of Peter: and yet it was possible for Him after (delivering) Peter to rescue them also. But it was not yet the time of judgment, so as to render to each according to his deserts. And besides, it was not Peter that put them into his hands. For the thing that most annoyed him was the being mocked; just as in the case of his grandfather when he was deceived by the wise men, that was what made him (feel) cut to the heart—the being (eluded and) made ridiculous. "And having put them to the question," it says, "he ordered them to be led away to execution." (Matt. ii. 16.) And yet he had heard from them—for he had put them to the question—both that the chains had been left, and that he had taken his sandals, and that until that night he was with them. "Having put them to the question:" but what did they conceal? Why then did they not themselves also flee? "He ordered them to be led away to execution:" and yet he ought to have marvelled, ought to have been astonished at this. The consequence is, by the death of these men (the thing), is made manifest to all: both his wickedness is exposed to view, and (it is made clear that) the wonder (is) of God. "And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and there abode: and Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country. And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, 'It is the voice of a god, and not of a man,' And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost." (v. xx. . 23.) * * But see how (the writer) here does not hide these things. Why does he mention this history? Say, what has it to do with the Gospel, that Herod is incensed with the Tyrians and Sidonians? It is not a small matter, even this, how immediately justice seized him; although not because of Peter, but because of his arrogant speaking. And yet, it may be said, if those shouted, what is that to him? Because he accepted the acclamation, because he accounted himself to be worthy of the adoration. Through him those most receive a lesson, who so thoughtlessly flattered him (al. hoi kolakeu'ontes). Observe again, while both parties deserve punishment, this man is punished. For this is not the time of judgment, but He punishes him that had most to answer for, leaving the others to profit by this man's fate.[*] "And the word of God," it says, "grew," i.e. in consequence of this, "and multiplied." (v. 24.) Do you mark God's providential management? "But Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark." (v. 25.) "Now there were in the Church that was at Antioch, certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul."(t) (ch. xiii. 1.) He still mentions Barnabas first: for Paul was not yet famous, he had not yet wrought any sign. "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." (v. 2, 3.) What means, "Ministering?" Preaching. "Separate for Me," it says, "Barnabas and Saul." What means, "Separate for Me?" For the work, for the Apostleship. See again by what persons he is ordained (gumnote'ra. Cat. semnote'ra, "more awful.") By Lucius the Cyrenean and Manaën, or rather, by the Spirit. The less the persons, the more palpable the grace. He is ordained henceforth to Apostleship, so as to preach with authority. How then does he himself say, "Not from men, nor by man?" (Gal. i. 1.) Because it was not man that called or brought him over: this is why he says, "Not from men. Neither by man," that is, that he was not sent by this (man), but by the Spirit. Wherefore also (the writer) thus proceeds: "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus." (v. 4.) But let us look over again what has been said.
(Recapitulation.) "And when it was day," etc. (v. 18.) For if the Angel had brought out the soldiers also, along with Peter, it would have been thought a case of flight. Then why, you may ask, was it not otherwise managed? Why, Where is the harm? Now, if we see that they who have suffered unjustly, take no harm, we shall not raise these questions. For why do you not say the same of James? Why did not (God) rescue him? "There was no small stir among the soldiers." So (clearly) had they perceived nothing (of what had happened). Lo, I take up the plea in their defence. The chains were there, and the keepers within, and the prison shut, nowhere a wall broken through, all told the same tale: the man had been carried off: why dost thou condemn them? Had they wished to let him off, they would have done it before, or would have gone out with him. "But he gave them money ?" (ch. iii. 6.) And how should he, who had not to give even to a poor man, have the means to give to these? And then neither had the chains been broken, nor were they loosed. He ought to have seen, that the thing was of God, and no work of man. "And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and there abode. And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon," etc. (v. 19.) He is now going to mention (a matter of) history: this is the reason why he adds the names, that it may be shown how he keeps to the truth in all things. "And," it says, "having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, they desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country." (v. 20, 21.) For probably there was a famine. "And on a set day," etc. (Joseph. Ant. xix.) Josephus also says this, that he fell into a lingering disease. Now the generality were not aware of this, but the Apostle sets it down: yet at the same time their ignorance was an advantage, in regard that they imputed what befell (Agrippa) to his putting James and the soldiers to death. Observe, when he slew the Apostle, he did nothing of this sort but when (he slew) these; in fact he knew not what to say about it : as being at a loss, then, and feeling ashamed, "he went down from Judea to Caesarea." I suppose it was also to bring those (men of Tyre and Sidon) to apologize, that he withdrew (from Jerusalem.): for with those he was incensed, while paying such court to these. See how vainglorious the man is: meaning to confer the boon upon them, he makes an harangue. But Josephus says, that he was also arrayed in a splendid robe made of silver. Observe both what flatterers those were, and what a high spirit was shown by the Apostles: the man whom the whole nation so courted, the same they held in contempt. (v. 24.) But observe again a great refreshing granted to them, and the numberless benefits accruing from the vengeance inflicted upon him. But if this man, because it was said to him, "It is the voice of God and not of a man (v. 22) although he said nothing himself, suffered such things: much more should Christ, had He not Himself been God (have suffered) for saying always as He did, "These words of mine are not Mine" (John xiv. 10; xviii. 36) and, "Angels minister to Me," and such like. But that man ended His life by a shameful and miserable death, and thenceforth no more is seen of him. And observe him also, easily talked over even by Blastus, like a poor creature, soon incensed and again pacified, and on all occasions a slave of the populace, with nothing free and independent about him. But mark also the authority of the Holy Ghost: "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul." (ch. xiii. 2.) What being would have dared, if not of the same authority, to say this? "Separate," etc. But this is done, that they may not keep together among themselves. The Spirit saw that they had greater power, and were able to be sufficient for many. And how did He speak to them? Probably by prophets: therefore the writer premises, that there were prophets also. And they were fasting and ministering: that thou mayest learn that there was need of great sobriety. In Antioch he is ordained, where he preaches. Why did He not say, Separate for the Lord, but, "For me ?" It shows that He is of one authority and power. "And when they had fasted," etc. Seest thou what a great thing fasting is? "So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost:" it shows that the Spirit did all.
A great, yes a great good is fasting: it is circumscribed by no limits. When need was to ordain, then they fast: and to them while fasting, the Spirit spake. Thus much only do I enjoin: (I say) not fast, but abstain from luxury. Let us seek meats to nourish, not things to ruin us; seek meats for food, not occasions of diseases, of diseases both of soul and body: seek food which hath comfort, not luxury which is full of discomfort: the one is luxury, the other mischief; the one is pleasure, the other pain; the one is agreeable to nature, the other contrary to nature. For say, if one should give thee hemlock juice to drink, would it not be against nature? if one should give thee logs and stones, wouldest thou not reject them? Of course, for they are against nature. Well, and so is luxury. For just as in a city, under an invasion of enemies when there has been siege and tumult, great is the uproar, so is it in the soul, under invasion of wine and luxury. "Who hath woe? who hath tumults? who hath discomforts and babblings? Are they not they that tarry long at the wine? Whose are bloodshot eyes ?" (Prov. xxiii. 29, 30,) But yet, say what we will, we shall not bring off those who give themselves up to luxury, unless we bring into conflict therewith a different affection. And first, let us address ourselves to the women. Nothing uglier than a woman given to luxury, nothing uglier than a woman given to drink. The bloom of her complexion is faded: the calm and mild expression of the eyes is rendered turbid, as when a cloud intercepts the rays of the sunshine. It is a vulgar, (aneleu'theron) slave-like, thoroughly low-lived habit. How disgusting is a woman when from her breath you catch sour whiffs of fetid wine: a woman belching, giving out a fume (chumo`n) of decomposing meats; herself weighed down, unable to keep upright; her face flushed with an unnatural red; yawning incessantly, and everything swimming in a mist before her eyes! But not such, she that abstains from luxurious living: no (this abstinence makes her look) a more beautiful, well-bred (swphroneste'ra)woman. For even to the body, the composure of the soul imparts a beauty of its own. Do not imagine that the impression of beauty results only from the bodily features. Give me a handsome girl, but turbulent (tetaragme'nhn), loquacious, railing, given to drink, extravagant, (and tell me) if she is not worse-looking than any ugly woman? But if she were bashful, if she would hold her peace, if she learnt to blush, if to speak modestly (summe'trws), if to find time for fastings; her beauty would be twice as great, her freshness would be heightened, her look more engaging, fraught with modesty and good breeding (swphrosu'nhs kai` kosmio'thtos). Now then, shall we speak of men? What can be uglier than a man in drink? He is an object of ridicule to his servants, of ridicule to his enemies, of pity to his friends; deserving condemnation without end: a wild beast rather than a human being; for to devour much food is proper to panther, and lion, and bear. No wonder (that they do so), for those creatures have not a reasonable soul. And yet even they, if they be gorged with food more than they need, and beyond the measure appointed them by nature, get their whole body ruined by it: how much more we? Therefore hath God contracted our stomach into a small compass; therefore hath He marked out a small measure of sustenance, that He may instruct us to attend to the soul.
Let us consider our very make, and we shall see there is in us but one little part that has this operation—for our mouth and tongue are meant for singing hymns, our throat for voice—therefore the very necessity of nature has tied us down, that we may not, even involuntarily, get into much trouble (pragmatei'an) (in this way). Since, if indeed luxurious living had not its pains, nor sickness and infirmities, it might be tolerated: but as the case is, He hath stinted thee by restrictions of nature, that even if thou wish to exceed, thou mayest not be able to do so. Is not pleasure thine object, beloved? This thou shalt find from moderation. Is not health? This too thou shalt so gain. Is not easiness of mind? This too. Is not freedom? is not vigor and good habit of body, is not sobriety and alertness of mind? (All these thou shalt find); so entirely are all good things there, while in the other are the contraries to these, discomfort, distemper, disease, embarrassment—waste of substance (aneleutheri'a). Then how comes it, you will ask, that we all run eagerly after this? It comes of disease. For say, what is it that makes the sick man hanker after the thing that does him harm? Is not this very hankering a part of his disease? Why is it that the lame man does not walk upright? This very thing, does it come of his being lazy, and not choosing to go to the physician? For there are some things, in which the pleasure they bring with them is temporary, but lasting the punishment: others just the contrary, in which the endurance is for a time, the pleasure perpetual. He, therefore, that has so little solidity and strength of purpose as not to slight present sweets for future, is soon overcome. Say, how came Esau to be overcome? how came he to prefer the present pleasure to the future honor? Through want of solidity and firmness of character. (Gen. xxv. 33.) And this fault itself, say you, whence comes it? Of our ownselves: and it is plain from this consideration. When we have the mind, we do rouse ourselves, and become capable of endurance. Certain it is, if at any time necessity comes upon us, nay, often only from a spirit of emulation, we get to see clearly what is useful for us. When therefore thou art about to indulge in luxury, consider how brief the pleasure, consider the loss—for loss it is indeed to spend so much money to one's own hurt—the diseases, the infirmities: and despise luxury. How many shall I enumerate who have suffered evils from indulgence? Noah was drunken, and was exposed in his nakedness, and see what evils came of this. (Gen. ix. 20.) Esau through greediness abandoned his birthright, and was set upon fratricide. The people of Israel "sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." (Ex. xxxii. 6.) Therefore saith the Scripture, "When thou hast eaten and drunken, remember the Lord thy God." (Deut. vi. 12.) For they fell over a precipice, in failing into luxury. "The widow," he saith, "that liveth in pleasure, is dead while she liveth" (1 Tim. v. 6): and again, "The beloved waxed sleek, grew thick, and kicked" (Deut. xxxii. 15): and again the Apostle, "Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." (Rom. xiii. 14.) I am not enacting as a law that there shall be fasting, for indeed there is no one who would listen; but I am doing away with daintiness, I am cutting off luxury for the sake of your own profit: for like a winter torrent, luxury overthrows all: there is nothing to stop its course: it casts out from a kingdom: what is the gain of it (ti' to` ple'on)? Would you enjoy a (real) luxury? Give to the poor; invite Christ, so that even after the table is removed, you may still have this luxury to enjoy. For now, indeed, you have it not, and no wonder: but then you will have it. Would you taste a (real) luxury? Nourish your soul, give to her of that food to which she is used: do not kill her by starvation.—It is the time for war, the time for contest: and do you sit enjoying yourself? Do you not see even those who wield sceptres, how they live frugally while abroad on their campaigns? "We wrestle not against flesh and blood" (Eph. vi. 12); and are you fattening yourself when about to wrestle? The adversary stands grinding his teeth, and are you giving a loose to jollity, and devoting yourself to the table? I know that I speak these things in vain, yet not (in vain) for all. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Luke viii. 8.) Christ is pining through hunger, and are you frittering yourself away (diaspa(i)^s) with gluttony? Two inconsistencies (Du'o ametri'ai). For what evil does not luxury cause? It is contrary to itself: so that I know not. how it gets its name: but just as that is called glory, which is (really) infamy, and that riches, which in truth is poverty, so the name of luxury is given to that which in reality is nauseousness. Do we intend ourselves for the shambles, that we so fatten ourselves? Why cater for the worm that it may have a sumptuous larder? Why make more of their humors (ichw^ras)? Why store up in yourself sources of sweat and rink smelling? Why make yourself useless for everything? Do you wish your eye to be strong? Get your body well strung? For in musical strings, that which is coarse and not refined, is not fit to produce musical tones, but that which has been well scraped, stretches well, and vibrates with full harmony. Why do you bury the soul alive? why make the wall about it thicker? Why increase the reek and the cloud, with fumes like a mist steaming up from all sides? If none other, let the wrestlers teach you, that the more spare the body, the stronger it is: and (then) also the soul is more vigorous. In fact, it is like charioteer and horse. But there you see, just as in the case of men giving themselves to luxury, and making themselves plump, so the plump horses are unwieldy, and give the driver much ado. One may think one's self (agaphto`n) well off, even with a horse obedient to the rein and well-limbed, to be able to carry off the prize: but when the driver is forced to drag the horse along, and when the horse falls, though he goad him ever so much, he cannot make him get up, be he ever so skilful himself, he will be deprived of the victory. Then let us not endure to see our soul wronged because of the body, but let us make the soul herself more clear-sighted, let us make her wing light, her bonds looser: let us feed her with discourse, with frugality, (feeding) the body only so much that it may be healthy, that it may be vigorous, that it may rejoice and not be in pain: that having in this sort well ordered our concerns, we may be enabled to lay hold upon the highest virtue, and to attain unto the eternal good things by the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father and Holy Ghost together, be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
"So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister."
AS soon as they were ordained they went forth, and hasted to Cyprus, that being a place where was no ill-design hatching against them, and where moreover the Word had been sown already. In Antioch there were (teachers) enough, and Phoenice too was near to Palestine; but Cyprus not so. However, you are not to make a question of the why and wherefore, when it is the Spirit that directs their movements: for they were not only ordained by the Spirit, but sent forth by Him likewise. "And when they were come to Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews." Do you mark how they make a point of preaching the word to them first, not to make them more contentious?[*] The persons mentioned before "spake to none but to Jews only" (ch. xi. 19), and so here they betook them to the synagogues. "And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith." (v. 6-8.) Again a Jew sorcerer, as was Simon. And observe this man, how, while they preached to the others, he did not take it much amiss, but only when they approached the proconsul. And then in respect of the proconsul the wonder is, that although prepossessed by the man's sorcery, he was nevertheless willing to hear the Apostles. So it was with the Samaritans: and from the competition (sugkri'sews) the victory appears, the sorcery being worsted. Everywhere, vainglory and love of power are a (fruitful) source of evils! "But Saul, who is also Paul,"—(v. 9) here his name is changed at the same time that he is ordained, as it was in Peter's case,(t)—"filled with the Holy Ghost, looked upon him, and said, O full of all guile and all villany, thou child of the devil:" (v. 10) and observe, this is not abuse, but accusation: for so ought forward, impudent people to be rebuked "thou enemy of all righteousness;" here he lays bare what was in the thoughts of the man, while under pretext of saving he was ruining the proconsul: "wilt thou not cease," he says, "to pervert the ways of the Lord?" (He says it) both confidently (axiopi'stws), It is not with us thou art warring, nor art thou fighting (with us), but "the ways of the Lord" thou art perverting, and with praise (of these, he adds) "the right" ways. "And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind." (v. 11.) It was the sign by which he was himself converted, and by this he would fain convert this man. As also that expression, "for a season," puts it not as an act of punishing, but as meant for his conversion: had it been for punishment, he would have made him lastingly blind, but now it is not so, but "for a season" (and this), that he may gain the proconsul. For, as he was prepossessed by the sorcery, it was well to teach him a lesson by this infliction (and the sorcerer also), in the same way as the magicians (in Egypt) were taught by the boils.[*] (Ex. ix. 11.) "And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness: add he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord." (v. 12.) But observe, how they do not linger there, as (they might have been tempted to do) now that the proconsul was a believer, nor are enervated by being courted i and honored, but immediately keep on with their work, and set out for the country on the opposite coast. "Now when Paul and his company loosed froth Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down." (v. 13, 14.) And here again they entered the synagogues, in the character of Jews, that they might not be treated as enemies, and be driven away: and in this way they carried the whole matter successfully. "And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on." (v. 15.) From this point, we learn the history of Paul's doings, as in what was said above we have learned not a little about Peter. But let us review what has been said.
(Recapitulation.) "And when they were come to Salamis," the metropolis of Cyprus, "they preached the word of God." (v. 5.) They had spent a year in Antioch: it behooved that they should go hither also (to Cyprus) and not sit permanently where they were (the converts in Cyprus): needed greater teachers. See too how they remain no time in Seleucia, knowing that (the people there) might have reaped much benefit from the neighboring city (of Antioch): but they hasten on to the more pressing duties. When they came to the metropolis of the island, they were earnest to disabuse (diorthwsai) the proconsul. But that it is no flattery that (the writer) says, "he was with the proconsul, a prudent man" (v. 7), you may learn from the facts; for he needed not many discourses, and himself wished to hear them. And he mentions also the names. * * * Observe, how he said nothing to the sorcerer, until he gave him an occasion: but they only "preached the word of the Lord." Since (though Elymas) saw the rest attending to them, he looked only to this one object, that the proconsul might not be won over. Why did not (Paul) perform some other miracle? Because there was none equal to this, the taking the enemy captive. And observe, he first impeaches, and then punishes, him. He shows how justly the man deserved to suffer, by his saying, "O full of all deceit" (v. 10): (" full of all,") he says: nothing wanting to the full measure: and he well says, of all "deceit," for the man was playing the part of a hypocrite.—" Child of the devil," because he was doing his work: "enemy of all righteousness," since this (which they preached) was the whole of righteousness (though at the same time): I suppose in these words he reproves his manner of life. His words were not prompted by anger, and to show this, the writer premises, "filled with the Holy Ghost," that is, with His operation. "And now behold the hand of the Lord is upon thee." (v. 11.) It was not vengeance then, but healing: for it is as though he said: "It is not I that do it, but the hand of God." Mark how unassuming! No "light," as in the case of Paul, "shone round about him." (ch. ix. 3.) "Thou shalt be blind," he says, "not seeing the sun for a season," that he may give him opportunity for repentance: for we nowhere find them wishing to be made conspicuous by the more stern (exercise of their authority), even though it was against enemies that this was put forth: in respect of those of their own body (they used severity,), and with good reason, but in dealing with those without, not so; that (the obedience of faith) might not seem to be matter of compulsion and fear. It is a proof of his blindness, his "seeking some to lead him by the hand." (ch. v. 1. ff.) And the proconsul sees the blindness inflicted, "and when he saw what was done, he believed:" and both alone believed not merely this, but, "being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord" (v. 12): he saw that these things were not mere words, nor trickery. Mark how he loved to receive instruction from his teachers, though he was in a station of so high authority. And (Paul) said not to the sorcerer, "Wilt thou not cease to pervert" the proconsul? What may be the reason of John's going back from them? For "John," it says, "departing from them returned to Jerusalem" (v. 13): (he does it) because they are undertaking a still longer journey: and yet he was their attendant, and as for the danger, they incurred it (not he).—Again, when they were come to Perga, they hastily passed by the other cities, for they were in haste to the metropolis, Antioch. And observe how concise the historian is. " They sat down in the synagogue," he says, and, "on the sabbath day" (v. 14, 15): that they might prepare the way beforehand for the Word. And they do not speak first, but when invited: since as strangers, they called upon them to do so. Had they not waited, there would have been no discourse. Here for the first time we have Paul preaching. And observe his prudence: where the word was already sown, he passes on: but where there was none (to preach), he makes a stay: as he himself writes: "Yea, so have I strived to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named." (Rom. xv. 20.) Great courage this also. Truly, from the very outset, a wonderful man! crucified, ready for all encounters (paratetagme'nos), he knew how great grace he had obtained, and he brought to it zeal equivalent. He was not angry with John: for this was not for him : but he kept to the work, he quailed not, he was unappalled, when shut up in the midst of a host. Observe how wisely it is ordered that Paul should not preach at Jerusalem: the very hearing that he is become a believer, this of itself is enough for them; for him to preach, they never would have endured, such was their hatred of him: so he departs far away, where he was not known. But it is well done, that "they entered the synagogue on the sabbath day" when all were collected together. "And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word or exhortation for the people, say on." (v. 15.) Behold how they do this without grudging, but no longer after this. If ye did wish this (really), there was more need to exhort.
He first convicted the sorcerer (and showed), what he was; and that he was such, the sign showed: "thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun" this was a sign of the blindness of his soul: "for a season" (v. 11): he says, to bring him to repentance. But, oh that love of rule! oh, that lust of vainglory! how it does overturn and ruin everything; makes people stand up against their own, against each other's salvation; renders them blind indeed, and dark, insomuch that they have even to seek for some to lead them by the hand! Oh that they did even this, oh that they did seek were it but some to lead them by the hand! But no, they no longer endure this, they take the whole matter into their own hands. (This vice) will let no man see: like a mist and thick darkness it spreads itself over them, not letting any see through it. What pleas shall we have to offer, we who for one evil affection, overcome another evil affection (supra p. 176), but not for the fear of God! For example, many who are both lewd and covetous, have for their niggardliness put a bridle upon their lust, while other such, on the contrary, have for pleasure's sake, despised riches. Again, those who are both the one and the other, have by the lust of vainglory overcome both, lavishing their money unsparingly, and practising temperance to no (good) purpose; others again, who are exceedingly vainglorious, have despised that evil affection, submitting to many vile disgraces for the sake of their amours, or for the sake of their money: others again, that they may satiate their anger, have chosen to suffer losses. without end, and care for none of them, provided only they may work their own will. And yet, what passion can do with us, the fear of God is impotent to effect! Why speak I of passion? What shame before men can do with us, the fear of God has not the strength to effect! Many are the things we do right and wrong, from a feeling of shame before men; but God we fear not. How many have been shamed by regard to the opinions of men into flinging away money! How many have mistakenly made it a point of honor to give themselves up to the service of their friends (only), to their hurt! How many from respect for their friendships have been shamed into numberless wrong acts! Since then both passion and regard for the opinion of men are able to put us upon doing wrong things and right, it is idle to say, "we cannot:" we can, if we have the mind: and we ought to have the mind. Why canst not thou overcome the love of glory, when others do overcome it, having the same soul as thou, and the same body; bearing the same form, and living the same life? Think of God, think of the glory that is from above: weigh against that the things present, and thou wilt quickly recoil from this worldly glory. If at all events thou covet glory, covet that which is glory, indeed. What kind of glory is it, when it begets infamy? What kind of glory, when it compels one to desire the honor of those who are inferior, and stands in need of that? Real honor is the gaining the esteem of those who are greater than one's self. If at all events thou art enamoured of glory, be thou rather enamoured of that which comes from God. If enamoured of that glory thou despisest this world's glory, thou shall see how ignoble this is: but so long as thou seest not that glory, neither wilt thou be able to see this, how foul it is, how ridiculous. For as those who are under the spell of some wicked, hideously ugly woman, so long as they are in love with her, cannot see her ill-favoredness, because their passion spreads a darkness over their judgment: so is it here also: so long as we are possessed with the passion, we cannot perceive what a thing it is. How then might we be rid of it? Think of those who (for the sake of glory) have spent countless sums, and now are none the better for it: think of the dead, what glory they got, and (now) this glory is nowhere abiding, but all perished and come to naught: bethink thee how it is only a name, and has nothing real in it. For say, what is glory? give me some definition. "The being admired by all," you will say. With justice, or also not with justice? For if it be not with justice, this is not admiration, but crimination (kathgori'a), and flattery, and misrepresentation (diabolh'). But if you say, With justice, why that is impossible: for in the populace there are no right judgments; those that minister to their lusts, those are the persons they admire. And if you would (see the proof of this), mark those who give away their substance to the harlots, to the charioteers, to the dancers. But you will say, we do not mean these, but those who are just and upright, and able to do great and noble good acts. Would that they wished it, and they soon would do good: but as things are, they do nothing of the kind. Who, I ask you, now praises the just and upright man? Nay, it is just the contrary. Could anything be more preposterous than for a just man, when doing any such good act, to seek glory of the many—as if an artist of consummate skill, employed upon an Emperor's portrait, should wish to have the praises of the ignorant! Moreover, a man who looks for honor from men, will soon enough desist from the acts which virtue enjoins. If he will needs be gaping for their praises, he will do just what they wish, not what himself wishes. What then would I advise you? You must look only to God, to the praise that is from Him, perform all things which are pleasing to Him, and go after the good things (that are with Him), not be gaping for anything that is of man: for this mars both fasting and prayer and alms-giving, and makes all our good deeds void. Which that it be not our case, let us flee this passion. To one thing alone let us look, to the praise which is from God, to the being accepted of Him, to the commendation from our common Master; that, having passed through our present life virtuously, we may obtain the promised blessings together with them that love Him, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
"Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought He them out of it."
Behold Barnabas giving place to Paul—how should it be otherwise?—to him whom he brought from Tarsus; just as we find John on all occasions giving way to Peter: and yet Barnabas was more looked up to than Paul: true, but they had an eye only to the common advantage. "Then Paul stood up," it says;—this was a custom of the Jews—" and beckoned with his hand." And see how he prepares the way beforehand for his discourse: having first praised them, and showed his great regard for them in the words, "ye that fear God," he so begins his discourse. And he says not, Ye proselytes, since it was a term of disadvantage. "The God of this people chose our fathers: and the people"—See, he calls God Himself their God peculiarly, Who is the common God of men; and shows how great from the first were His benefits, just as Stephen does. This they do to teach them, that now also God has acted after the same custom, in sending His own Son; (Luke xx. 13): as (Christ) Himself (does) in the parable of the vineyard—"And the people," he says, "He exalted when it sojourned in the land of Egypt "—and yet the contrary was the case: true, but they increased in numbers; moreover, the miracles were wrought on their account: "and with an high arm brought He them out of it." Of these things (the wonders) which were done in Egypt, the prophets are continually making mention. And observe, how he passes over the times of their calamities, and nowhere brings forward their faults, but only God's kindness, leaving those for themselves to think over. "And about the time of forty years suffered He their manners in the wilderness." (v. 18.) Then the settlement. "And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He divided their land to them by lot." (v. 19.) And the time was long; four hundred and fifty years. "And after that He gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet."* (v. 20.) Here he shows that God varied His dispensations towards them (at divers times). "And afterward they desired a king:" and (still) not a word of their ingratitude, but throughout he speaks of the kindness of God. "And God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years." (v. 21.) "And when he had removed him, He raised up unto them David to be their king: to whom also He gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after Mine own heart, which shall fulfil all My will. Of this man's seed hath God according to His promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus." (v. 22, 23.) This was no small thing that Christ should be from David. Then John bears witness to this: "When John had first preached before His coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not He. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of His feet I am not worthy to loose." (v. 24, 25.) And John too not merely bears witness (to the fact), but (does it in such sort that) when men were bringing the glory to him, he declines it: for it is one thing (not to affect) an honor which nobody thinks of offering; and another, to reject it when all men are ready to give it, and not only to reject it, but to do so with such humility. "Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet desired they Pilate that He should be slain." (v. 26- 28.) On all occasions we find them making a great point of showing this, that the blessing is peculiarly theirs, that they may not flee (from Christ), as thinking they had nothing to do with Him, because they had crucified Him. "Because they knew Him not," he says: so that the sin was one of ignorance. See how he gently makes an apology even on behalf of those (crucifiers). And not only this: but he adds also, that thus it must needs be. And how so? "By condemning Him, they fulfilled the voices of the prophets." Then again from the Scriptures. "And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre. But God raised Him from the dead. And He was seen many days of them which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people—"(v. 29-31) that He rose again. "And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that He hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. And as concerning that He raised Him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, He said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another Psalm, Thou shall not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: but He, Whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (v. 32-39.) Observe how Paul here is more vehement in his discourse: we nowhere find Peter saying this. Then too he adds the terrifying words: "Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you." (v. 40, 41.)
(a) Observe how he twines (the thread of) his discourse (alternately) from things present, from the prophets. Thus, "from (this man's) seed according to the promise "—(v. 23): (c) the name of David was dear to them; well then, is it not (a thing to be desired) that a son of his, he says, should be their king?—(b) then he adduces John: then again the prophets, where he says, "By condemning they fulfilled," and gain, "All that was written:" then the Apostles as witnesses of the Resurrection: then David bearing witness. For neither the Old Testament proofs seemed so cogent when taken by themselves as they are in this way, nor yet the latter testimonies apart from the former: wherefore he makes them mutually confirm each other. "Men and brethren," etc. (v. 26.) For since they were possessed by fear, as having slain Him, and conscience made them aliens (the Apostles), discourse not with them as unto Christicides, neither as putting into their hands a good which was not theirs, but one peculiarly their own. (d) "For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers:" as much as to say, not ye, but they:[*] and again, apologizing even for those, "Because they knew Him not, and the voices of the Prophets which are read every sabbath day, in condemning Him, they fulfilled them." A great charge it is against them that they continually hearing heeded not. But no marvel: for what was said above concerning Egypt and the wilderness, was enough to show their ingratitude. And observe how this Apostle also, as one moved by the Spirit Himself, continually preaches the Passion, the Burial. (g) "Having taken Him down from the tree." Observe, what a great point they make of this. He speaks of the manner of His death. Moreover they bring Pilate (conspicuously) forward, that (the fact of) the Passion may be proved by the mention of the tribunal (by which he was condemned), but at the same time, for the greater impeachment of those (His crucifiers), seeing they delivered Him up to an alien. And he does not say, They made a complaint (against Him), (ene'tukon, al. antugcha'nei) but, "They desired, though having found no cause of death" (in Him), "that He should be slain. (e) Who appeared," he says, "for many days to them that came up with Him
from Galilee to Jerusalem." (Rom. xi. 2.) Instead of ** he says, "Who are His witnesses unto the people," to wit, "The men which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem." Then he produces David and Esaias bearing witness. "The faithful (mercies)," the abiding (mercies), those which never perish. (h) Paul loved them exceedingly. And observe, he does not enlarge on the ingratitude of the fathers, but puts before them what they must fear. For Stephen indeed with good reason does this, seeing he was about to be put to death, not teaching them; and showing them, that the Law is even now on the point of being abolished: (ch. vii.) but not so Paul; he does but threaten and put them in fear. (f) And he does not dwell long on these, as taking it for granted that the word is of course believed; nor enlarge upon the greatness of their punishment, and assail that which they affectionately love, by showing the Law about to be cast out: but dwells upon that which is for their good (telling them), that great shall be the blessings for them being obedient, and great the evils being disobedient.
But let us look over again what has been said. "Ye men of Israel," etc. (v. 16-21.) The Promise then, he says, the fathers received; ye, the reality. (j) And observe, he nowhere mentions right deeds of theirs, but (only) benefits on God's part: "He chose: Exalted: Suffered their manners:" these are no matters of praise to them: "They asked, He gave." But David he does praise (and him) only, because from him the Christ was to come. "I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after Mine own heart, which shall fulfil all My will." (v. 22.) (i) Observe also; it is with praise (that he says of him), "David after that he had served the will of God:" just as Peter—seeing it was then the beginning of the Gospel—making mention of him, said, "Let it be permitted me to speak freely of the patriarch David." (ch. ii. 29.) Also, he does not say, Died, but, "was added to his fathers. (k) Of this man's seed," etc. "When John," he says, "had first preached before His entry"—by entry he means the Incarnation—" the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel." (v. 23-25.) Thus also John, writing his Gospel, continually has recourse to him: for his name was much thought of in all parts of the world. And observe, he does not say it "Of this man's seed," etc. from himself, but brings John's testimony.
"Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham"—he also calls them after their father—" unto you was the word of this salvation sent." (v. 26.) Here the expression, "Unto you," does not mean, Unto (you) Jews. but it gives them a right to sever themselves from those who dared that murder. And what he adds, shows this plainly. "For," he says, "they that dwell at Jerusalem, because they know Him not." (v. 27.) And how, you will say, could they be ignorant, with John to tell them? What marvel, seeing they were so, with the prophets continually crying aloud to them? Then follows another charge: "And having found no cause of death in Him:" in which ignorance had nothing to do. For let us put the case, that they did not hold Him to be the Christ: why did they also kill Him? And "they desired of Pilate, he says, that He should be slain." (v. 28.) "And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him." (v. 29.) Observe what a point he makes of showing that the (whole) thing was a (Divine) Dispensation. See, by saying what did they persuade men? (By telling them) that He was crucified? Why, what could be less persuasive than this? That He was buried—by them to whom it was promised that He should be salvation? that He who was buried forgives sins, yea, more than the Law (has power to do)? And (observe), he does not say, From which ye would not but, "from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses." (v. 39.) "Every one," he says: be who he may. For those (ordinances) are of no use, unless there be some benefit (accruing therefrom.) This is why he brings in forgiveness later: and shows it to be greater, when, the thing being (otherwise) impossible, yet this is effected. "Who are His witnesses," he says, "unto the people"—the people that slew Him. Who would never have been so, were they not strengthened by a Divine Power: for they would never have borne such witness to blood-thirsty men, to the very persons that killed Him. But, "He hath raised up Jesus again: This day," he says, "I have begotten thee."* (v. 33.) Aye, upon this the rest follows of course. Why did he not allege some text by which they would be persuaded that forgiveness of sins is by Him? Because the great point with them was to show, in the first place, that He was risen: this being acknowledged, the other was unquestionable. "Through this man," nay more, by Him, "is remission of sins." (v. 38.) And besides, he wished to bring them to a longing desire of this great thing. Well then, His death was not dereliction, but fulfilling of Prophecy.—For the rest, he puts them in mind of historical facts, wherein they through ignorance suffered evils without number. And this he hints in the conclusion, saying, "Look, ye despisers, and behold." And observe how, this being harsh, he cuts it short. Let not that, he says, come upon you, which was spoken for the others, that "I work a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though one declare it unto you." (v. 41.) Marvel not that it seems incredible: this very thing was foretold from the first—(that it would not be believed). "Behold, ye despisers," as regards those who disbelieve in the Resurrection.
This too might with reason be said to us: "Behold ye despisers." For the Church indeed is in very evil case, although ye think her affairs to be in peace. For the mischief of it is, that while we labor under so many evils, we do not even know that we have any. "What sayest thou? We are in possession of our Churches, our Church property, and all the rest, the services are held, the congregation comes to Church every day." True, but one is not to judge of the state of a Church from these things. From what then? Whether there be piety, whether we return home with profit each day, whether reaping some fruit, be it much or little, whether we do it not merely of routine and for the formal acquittance of a duty (aphosiou'menoi). Who has become a better man by attending (daily) service for a whole month? That is the point: otherwise the very thing which seems to bespeak a flourishing condition (of the Church,) does in fact bespeak an ill condition, when all this is done, and nothing comes of it. Would to God (that were all), that nothing comes of it: but indeed, as things are, it turns out even for the worse. What fruit do ye get from your services? Surely if you were getting any profit by them, ye ought to have been long leading the life of true wisdom (th^s philosophi'as), with so many Prophets twice in every week discoursing to you, so many Apostles, and Evangelists, all setting forth the doctrines of salvation, and placing before you with much exactness that which can form the character aright. The soldier by going to his drill, becomes more perfect in his tactics: the wrestler by frequenting the gymnastic ground becomes more skilful in wrestling: the physician by attending on his teacher becomes more accurate, and knows more, and learns more: and thou—what hast thou gained? I speak not to those who have been members of the Church only a year, but to those who from their earliest age have been attending the services. Think you. that to be religious is to be constant in Church-going (paraba'llein th(i)^ suna'xei)? This is nothing, unless we reap some fruit for ourselves: if
(from the gathering together in Church) we do not gather (suna'gwmen) something for ourselves, it were better to remain at home. For our forefathers built the Churches for us, not just to bring us together from our private houses and show us one to another: since this could have been done also in a market-place, and in baths, and in a public procession :— but to bring together learners and teachers, and make the one better by means of the other. With us it has all become mere customary routine, and formal discharge of a duty: a thing we are used to; that is all. Easter comes, and then great the stir, great the hubbub, and crowding of—I had rather not call them human beings, for their behavior is not commonly human. Easter goes, the tumult abates, but then the quiet which succeeds is again fruitless of good. "Vigils, and holy hymn-singing."—And what is got by these? Nay, it is all the worse. Many do so merely out of vanity. Think how sick at heart it must make me, to see it all like (so much water) poured into a cask with holes in it! But ye will assuredly say to me, We know the Scriptures. And what of that? If ye exemplify the Scriptures by your works, that is the gain, that the profit. The Church is a dyer's vat: if time after time perpetually ye go hence without receiving any dye, what is the use of coming here continually? Why, the mischief is all the greater. Who (of you) has added ought to the customary practices he received from his fathers? For example: such an one has a custom of observing the memorial of his mother, or his wife, or his child: this he does whether he be told or whether he be not told by us, drawn to it by force of habit and conscience. Does this displease thee, you ask? God forbid: on the contrary, I am glad of it with all my heart: only, I would wish that he had gained some fruit also from our discoursing, and that the effect which habit has, were also the effect as regards us (your teachers)—the superinducing of another habit. Else why do I weary myself in vain, and talk uselessly, if ye are to remain in the same state, if the Church services work no good in you? Nay, you will say, we pray. And what of that? "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven." (Matt. vii. 21.) Many a time have I determined to hold my peace, seeing no benefit accruing to you from my words; or perhaps there does accrue some, but I, through insatiableness and strong desire, am affected in the same way as those that are mad after riches. For just as they, however much they may get, think they have nothing; so I, because I ardently desire your salvation, until I see you to have made good progress, think nothing done, because of my exceeding eager desire that you should arrive at the very summit. I would that this were the case, and that my eagerness were in fault, not your sloth: but I fear I conjecture but too rightly. For ye must needs be persuaded, that if any benefit had arisen in all this length of time, we ought ere now to have done speaking. In such case, there were no need to you of words, since both in those already spoken there had been enough said for you, and you would be yourselves able to correct others. But the fact, that there is still a necessity of our discoursing to you, only shows, that matters with you are not m a state of high perfection. Then what would we have to be brought about? for one must not merely find fault. I beseech and entreat you not to think it enough to have invaded the Church, but that ye also withdraw hence, having taken somewhat, some medicine, for the curing of your own maladies: and, if not from us, at any rate from the Scriptures, ye have the remedies suitable for each. For instance, is any passionate? Let him attend to the Scripture-readings, and he will of a surety find such either in history or exhortation. In exhortation, when it is said, "The sway of his fury is his destruction" (Ecclus. i. 22); and, "A passionate man is not seemly" (Prov. xi. 25); and such like: and again, "A man full of words shall not prosper" (Ps. cxl. 11); and Christ again, "He that is angry with his brother without a cause (Matt. v. 22); and again the Prophet, "Be ye angry, and sin not" (Ps. iv. 4); and, "Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce." (Gen. xlix. 7.) And in histories, as when thou hearest of Pharaoh filled with much wrath, and the Assyrian. Again, is any one taken captive by love of money? let him hear, that "There is not a more wicked thing than a covetous man: for this man setteth even his own soul for sale (Ecclus. ix. 9); and how Christ saith, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. vi. 24); and the Apostle, that "the love of money is a root of all evils" (1 Tim. vi. 10); and the Prophet, "If riches flow in, set not your heart upon them" (Ps. lxii. 10); and many other like sayings. And from the histories thou hearest of Gehazi, Judas, the chief scribes, and that "gifts blind the eyes of the wise." (Exod. xxiii. 8 and Deut. xvi. 19.) Is another proud? Let him hear that "God resisteth the proud" (James iv. 6); and, "Pride is the beginning of sin" (Ecclus. x. 14) and, "Every one that hath a high heart, is impure before the Lord." (Prov. xvi. 5.) And in the histories, the devil, and all the rest. In a word, since it is impossible to recount all, let each choose out from the Divine Scriptures the remedies for his own hurts. So wash out,
if not the whole at once, a part at any rate, part today, and part to- morrow, and then the whole. And with regard to repentance too, and confession, and almsgiving, and justice also, and temperance, and all other things, thou wilt find many examples. "For all these things," says the Apostle, "were written for our admonition." (1 Cor. x. 11.) If then Scripture in all its discoursing is for our admonition, let us attend to it as we ought. Why do we deceive ourselves in vain? I fear it may be said of us also, that "our days have fallen short in vanity, and our years with haste." (Ps. lxxvii. 33.) Who from hearing us has given up the theatres? Who has given up his covetousness? Who has become more ready for almsgiving? I would wish to know this, not for the sake of vainglory, but that I may be inspirited to more zeal, seeing the fruit of my labors to be clearly evident. But as things now are, how shall I put my hand to the work, when I see that for all the rain of doctrine pouring down upon you shower after shower, still our crops remain at the same measure, and the plants have waxed none the higher? Anon the time of threshing is at hand (and) He with the fan. I fear me, test it be all stubble: I fear, lest we be all cast into the furnace. The summer is past, the winter is come: we sit, both young and old, taken captive by our own evil passions. Tell not me, I do not commit fornication: for what art thou the better, if though thou be no fornicator thou art covetous? It matters not to the sparrow caught in the snare that he is not held tight in every part, but only by the foot: he is a lost bird for all that; in the snare he is, and it profits him not that he has his wings free, so long as his foot is held tight. Just so, thou art caught, not by fornication, but by love of money: but caught thou art nevertheless; and the point is, not how thou art caught, but that thou art caught. Let not the young man say, I am no money- lover: well, but perchance thou art a fornicator: and then again what art thou the better? For the fact is, it is not possible for all the passions to set upon us at one and the same time of life: they are divided and marked off, and that, through the mercy of God, that they may not by assailing us all at once become insuperable, and so our wrestling with them be made more difficult. What wretched inertness it shows, not to be able to conquer our passions even when taken one by one, but to be defeated at each several period of our life, and to take credit to ourselves for those which (let us alone) not in consequence of our own hearty endeavors, but merely because, by reason of the time of life, they are dormant? Look at the chariot-drivers, do you not see how exceedingly careful and strict they are with themselves in their training-practice, their labors, their diet, and all the rest, that they may not be thrown down from their chariots, and dragged along (by the reins)?—See what a thing art is. Often even a strong man cannot master a single horse: but a mere boy who has learnt the art shall often take the pair in hand, and with ease lead them and drive them where he will. Nay, in India it is said that a huge monster of an elephant shall yield to a stripling of fifteen, who manages him with the utmost ease. To what purpose have I said all this? To show that, if by dint of study and practice we can throttle into submission (a'gchomen) even elephants and wild horses, much more the passions within us. Whence is it that throughout life we continually fail (in every encounter)? We have never practised this art: never m a time of leisure when there is no contest, talked over with ourselves what shall be useful for us. We are never to be seen in our place on the chariot, until the time for the contest is actually come. Hence the ridiculous figure we make there. Have I not often said, Let us practise ourselves upon those of our own family before the time of trial? With our servants (pai^das) at home we are often exasperated, let us there quell our anger, that in our intercourse with our friends we may come to have it easily under control. And so, in the case of all the other passions, if we practised ourselves beforehand, we should not make a ridiculous figure in the contests themselves. But now we have our implements and our exercises and our trainings for other things, for arts and feats of the palaestra, but for virtue nothing of the sort. The husbandman would not venture to meddle with a vine, unless he had first been practised in the culture of it: nor the pilot to sit by the helm, unless he had first practised himself well at it: but we, in all respects unpractised, wish for the first prizes! It were good to be silent, good to have no communication with any man in act or word, until we were able to charm (katepa(i)dein) the wild beast that is within us. The wild beast, I say: for indeed is it not worse than the attack of any wild beast, when wrath and lust make war upon us? Beware of invading the market-place (Mh` emba'lh(i)s eis agora'n) with these beasts, until thou have got the muzzle well upon their mouths, until thou have tamed and made them tractable. Those who lead about their tame lions in the market-place, do you not see what a gain they make of it, what admiration they get, because in the irrational beast they have succeeded in producing such tameness—but, should the lion suddenly take a savage fit, how he scares all the people out of the market-place, and then both the man that leads him about is himself in danger, and if there be loss of life to others, it is his doing? Well then do thou also first tame thy lion, and so lead him about, not for the purpose of receiving money, but that thou mayest acquire a gain, to which there is none equal. For there is nothing equal to gentleness, which both to those that possess it, and to those who are its objects, is exceeding useful. This then let us follow after, that having kept in the way of virtue, and with all diligence finished our course therein, we may be enabled to attain unto the good things eternal, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
"And as they were going out (text rec. 'from the syn. of the Jews,') they besought (the Gentiles) that these words might be spoken unto them on the following sabbath."
Do you mark Paul's wisdom? He not only gained admiration at the time, but put into them a longing desire for a second hearing, while in what he said he dropped some seeds (eipw'n tina spe'rmata) as it were, and forbore to solve (the questions raised), or to follow out the subject to its conclusion, his plan being to interest them and engage their good-will to himself, and not make (people) listless and indifferent by casting all at once into the minds of those (who first heard him). He told them the fact, that "through this Man is remission of sins announced unto you," but the how, he did not declare. "And when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and worshipping proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas"—after this point he puts Paul first—"who, speaking unto them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God." (v. 43.) Do you observe the eagerness, how great it is? They "followed" them, it says. Why did they not baptize them immediately? It was not the proper time: there was need to persuade them in order to their steadfast abiding therein. "And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God." (v. 44.) "But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and contradicted the things spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming." (v. 45.) See malice wounded in wounding others: this made the Apostles more conspicuous—the contradiction which those offered. In the first instance then they of their own accord besought them to speak (and now they opposed them): "contradicting," it says, "and blaspheming." O recklessness! "Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." (v. 46.) Do you mark how by their contentious behavior they the more extended the preaching, and (how the Apostles here) gave themselves the more to the Gentiles, having (by this very thing) pleaded their justification, and made themselves clear of all blame with their own people (at Jerusalem)? (c) Sec how by their "envy" they bring about great things, other (than they looked for): they brought it about that the Apostles spake out boldly, and came to the Gentiles! For this is why he says, "And speaking out boldly, Paul and Barnabas said." They were to go out to the Gentiles: but observe the boldness coming with measure: for if Peter pleaded in his justification, much more these needed a plea, none having called them there. (ch. xi. 4.) But by saying "To you first," he showed that to those also it was their duty (to preach), and in saying "Necessary," he showed that it was necessary to be preached to them also. "But since ye turn away from it"—he does not say, "Woe unto you," and "Ye are punished," but "We turn unto the Gentiles." With great gentleness is the boldness fraught! (a) Also he does not say, "Ye are unworthy," but "Have judged yourselves unworthy. Lo, we turn unto the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have sent thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth." (v. 47.) For that the Gentiles might not be hurt at hearing this, as 8 if the case were so that, had the Jews been in earnest, they themselves would not have obtained the blessings, therefore he brings in the prophecy, saying, "A light of the Gentiles," and, "for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And hearing" (this) "the Gentiles" (v. 48)—this, while it was more cheering to them, seeing the case was this, that whereas those were of right to hear first, they themselves enjoy the blessing, was at the same time more stinging to those—"and the Gentiles," it says, "hearing" (this) "were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and believed, as many as were ordained unto eternal life": i.e., set apart for God.[*] Observe how he shows the speediness of the benefit: "And the word of the Lord was borne through all the region," (v. 49) diephe'reto,instead of diekomi'zeto, "was carried or conveyed through (it)." (d) "But the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts." (v. 50.) "The devout women," (b) instead of the proselyte- women. They did not stop at "envy," but added deeds also. (e) Do you see what they effected by their opposing the preaching? to what dishonor they brought these ("honorable women")? "But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium." (v. 51.) Here now they used that terrible sign. which Christ enjoined, "If any receive you not, shake off the dust from your feet" (Matt. x. 14; Mark vi. 11); but these did it upon no light ground, but because they were driven away by them. This was no hurt to the disciples; on the contrary, they the more continued in the word: "And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost" (v. 32) for the suffering of the teacher does not check his boldness, but makes the disciple more courageous.
"And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews." (ch. xiv. 1.) Again they entered into the synagogues. See how far they were from becoming more timid! Having said, "We turn unto the Gentiles," nevertheless (by going into the synagogues) they superabundantly fortify their own justification (with their Jewish brethren). "So that," it says, "a great multitude both of Jews and Greeks believed." For it is likely they discoursed as to Greeks also. "But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren." (v. 2.) Together (with themselves) now they took to stirring up the Gentiles too, as not being themselves sufficient. Then why did the Apostles not go forth thence? Why, they were not driven away, only attacked. "Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands." (v. 3.) This caused their boldness; or rather, of their boldness indeed their own hearty good-will was the cause—therefore it is that for a long while they work no signs—while the conversion of the hearers was (the effect)of the signs," though their boldness also contributed somewhat. "But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the Apostles." (v. 4.) No small matter this dividing. And this was what the Lord said, "I am not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matt. x. 34.) "And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, they were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: and there they preached the Gospel." (v. 5-7.) Again, as if they purposely wished to extend the preaching after it was increased, they once more sent them out. See on all occasions the persecutions working great good, and defeating the persecutors, and making the persecuted illustrious. For having come to Lystra, he works a great miracle, by raising the lame man. "And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: the same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving
that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice"—why with a loud voice? that the multitude should believe—"Stand upright on thy feet." (v. 8, 9.) But observe, he gave heed, it says, to the things spoken by Paul. Do you mark the elevation of the man's mind (philosophi'an)? He was nothing defeated (parebla'bh) by his lameness for earnestness of hearing. "Who fixing his eyes upon him, and perceiving," it says, "that he had faith to be made whole." He was already predisposed in purpose of mind. And yet in the case of the others, it was the reverse: for first receiving healing in their bodies, they were then taken in hand for cure of their souls, but this man not so. It seems to me, that Paul saw into his soul. "And he leaped," it says, "and walked." (v. 10.) It was a proof of his perfect cure, the leaping. "And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. (v. 11-13.) But this purpose was not yet manifest, for they spake in their own tongue, saying, "The gods in the likeness of men are come down to us:" therefore the Apostle said nothing to them as yet. But when they saw the garlands, then they went out, and rent their garments, "Which when the Apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you." (v. 14, 15.) See how on all occasions they are clean from the lust of glory, not only not coveting, but even repudiating it when offered: just as Peter also said, "Why gaze ye on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made him to walk" (ch. iii. 12)? so these also say the same. And Joseph also said of he dreams, "Is not their interpretation of God?" (Gen. lx. 8.) And Daniel in like manner, "And to me also, not through the wisdom that is in me was it revealed." (Dan. ii. 30.) And Paul everywhere says this, as when he says, "And for these things who is sufficient? Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think (aught) as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." (2 Cor. ii. 16; iii. 5.) But let us look over again what has been said.
(Recapitulation.) "And when they were gone out," etc. (v. 42). Not merely were the multitudes drawn to them, but how? they besought to have the same words spoken to them again, and by their actions they showed their earnestness. "Now when the congregation," etc. (v. 43.) See the Apostles on all occasions exhorting, not merely accepting men, nor courting them, but, "speaking unto them," it says, "they persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. But when the Jews," etc. (v. 45.) Why did they not contradict before this? Do you observe who on all occasions they were moved by passion? And they not only contradicted, but blasphemed also. For indeed malice stops at nothing. But see what boldness of speech! "It was necessary," he says, "that the word should have been spoken first to you, but since ye put it from you,"—(v. 46) it is not put as affronting (though) it is in fact what they did in the case of the prophets: "Talk not to us," said they, "with talk"—(Is. xxx. 10): "but since ye put it from you"— it, he saith, not us: for the affront on your part is not to us. For that none may take it as an expression of their piety (that he says,) "Ye judge not yourselves worthy," therefore he first says, "Ye put it from you," and then, "We turn unto the Gentiles." The expression is full of gentleness. He does not say, We abandon you, but so that it is possible—he would say—that we may also turn hither again: and this too is not the consequence of the affront from you, "for so hath (the Lord) commanded us."—(v. 47.) "Then why have ye not done this?" It was indeed needful that the Gentiles should hear, and this not before you: it is your own doing, the "before you." "For so hath the Lord commanded us: I have set thee for a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation," i.e. for knowledge which is unto salvation, and not merely of the Gentiles, but of all men, "unto the ends of the earth—As many as were ordained unto eternal life" (v. 48.): this is also a proof, that their having received these Gentiles was agreeable with the mind of God. But "ordained," not in regard of necessity: "whom He foreknew," saith the Apostle, "He did predestinate." (Rom. viii. 29.) "And the word of the Lord," etc. (v. 49.) No longer in the city (only) were (their doctrines) disseminated, but also in the (whole) region. For when they of the Gentiles had heard it, they also after a little while came over. "But the Jews stirred up the devout women, and raised persecution"—observe even of what is done by the women, they are the authors—"and cast them," it says, "out of their coasts" (v. 50), not from the city merely. Then, what is more terrible, "they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. But the disciples, it says, were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost." (v. 51, 52.) The teachers were suffering persecution, and the disciples rejoiced.
"And so spake, that a great multitude," etc. (ch. xiv. 1.) Do you mark the nature of the Gospel, the great virtue it has? "Made their minds evil- affected," it says, "against the brethren:" (v. 2.) i.e. slandered the Apostles, raised numberless accusations against them: (these people, being simple, they "made evil-affected," disposed them to act a malignant part. And see how on all occasions he refers all to God. "Long time," he says, "abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of His grace." (v. 3.) Think not this (expression, "Gave testimony,") hath aught derogatory (to the Lord's Divine Majesty): "Who witnessed," it is said, "before Pontius Pilate." (1 Tim. vi. 13.) Then the boldness—"and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands." Here he speaks it as concerning their own nation. "And the multitude of the city," etc. (v. 4, 5.) Accordingly they did not wait for it, but saw the intention of attacking them,[*] and fled, on no occasion kindling their wrath, "to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra, and Derbe, and the adjacent region." (v. 6.) They went away into the country, not into the cities only.—Observe both the simplicity of the Gentiles, and the malignity of the Jews. By their actions they showed that they were worthy to hear: they so honored them from the miracles only. The one sort honored them as gods, the other persecuted them as pestilent fellows: and (those) not only did not take offence at the preaching, but what say they? "The gods, in the likeness of men, are come down to us; but the Jews were offended. "And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius." (v. 11, 12.) I suppose Barnabas was a man of dignified appearance also. Here was a new sort of trial, from immoderate zeal, and no small one: but hence also is shown the virtue of the Apostles, (and) how on all occasions they ascribe all to God.
Let us imitate them: let us think nothing our own, seeing even faith itself is not our own, but more God's (than ours). "For by grace. are ye saved through faith; and this," saith he, "not of ourselves; it is the gift of God." (Eph. ii. 8.) Then let us not think great things of ourselves, nor be puffed up, being as we are, men, dust and ashes, smoke and shadow. For say, Why dost thou think great things of thyself? Hast thou given alms, and lavished thy substance? And what of that? Think, what if God had chosen not to make thee rich? think of them that are impoverished, or rather, think how many have given (not their substance only, but) their bodies moreover, and after their numberless sacrifices, have a felt still that they were miserable creatures! Thou gavest for thyself, Christ (not for Himself, but) for thee: thou didst but pay a debt, Christ owed thee not.—See the uncertainty of the future, and "be not high-minded, but fear" (Rom. xi. 20); do not lessen thy virtue by boastfulness. Wouldest thou do something truly great? Never let a surmise of thy attainments as great enter thy mind. But thou art a virgin? So were those in (the Gospel) virgins, but they got no benefit from their virginity, because of their cruelty and inhumanity. (Matt. xxv. 12.) Nothing like humility: this is mother, and root, and nurse, and foundation, and bond of all good things: without this we are abominable, and execrable, and polluted. For say—let there be some man raising the dead, and healing the lame, and cleansing the lepers, but with proud self-complacency: than this there can be nothing more execrable, nothing more impious, nothing more detestable. Account nothing to be of thyself. Hast thou utterance and grace of teaching? Do not for this account thyself to have aught more than other men. For this cause especially thou oughtest to be humbled, because thou hast been vouchsafed more abundant gifts. For he to whom more was forgiven, will love more (Luke vii. 47): if so, then oughtest thou to be humbled also, for that God having passed by others, took notice of thee. Fear thou because of this: for often this is a cause of destruction to thee, if thou be not watchful. Why thinkest thou great things of thyself? Because thou teachest by words? But this is easy, to philosophize in words: teach me by thy life: that is the best teaching. Sayest thou that it is right to be moderate, and dost thou make a long speech about this thing, and play the orator, pouring forth thy eloquence without a check? But "better than thou is he" shall one say to thee, "who teaches me this by his deeds"—for not so much are those lessons wont to be fixed in the mind which consist in words, as those which teach by things: since if thou hast not the deed, thou not only hast not profiled him by thy words, but hast even hurt him the more—"better thou wert silent." Wherefore? "Because the thing thou proposest to me is impossible: for I consider, that if thou who hast so much to say about it, succeedest not in this, much more am I excusable." For this cause the Prophet says, "But unto the sinner said God. Why declarest thou My statutes?" (Ps. lx. 16.) For this is a worse mischief, when one who teaches well in words, impugns the teaching by his deeds. This has been the cause of many evils in the Churches. Wherefore pardon me, I beseech you, that my discourse dwells long on this evil affection (pa'thei). Many take a deal of pains to be able to stand up in public, and make a long speech: and if they get applause from the multitude, it is to them as if they gained the very kingdom (of heaven): but if silence follows the close of their speech, it is worse than hell itself, the dejection that falls upon their spirits from the silence! This has turned the Churches upside down, because both you desire not to hear a discourse calculated to lead you to compunction, but one that may delight you from the sound and composition of the words, as though you were listening to singers and minstrels (kitharw(i)dw^n kai` kitharistw^n, supra p. 68): and we too act a preposterous and pitiable part in being led by your lusts, when we ought to root them out. And so it is just as if the father of a poor cold-blooded child (already, more delicate than it ought to be, should, although it is so feeble, give it cake and cold (drink) and whatever only pleases the child, and take no account of what might do it good; and then, being reproved by the physicians, should excuse himself by saying, "What can I do? I cannot bear to see the child crying." Thou poor, wretched creature, thou betrayer! for I cannot, call such a one a father: how much better were it for thee, by paining him for a short time, to restore him to health forever, than to make this short-lived pleasure the foundation of a lasting sorrow? Just such is our case, when we idly busy ourselves about beautiful expressions, and the composition and harmony of our sentences, in order that we may please, not profit: (when) we make it our aim to be admired, not to instruct; to delight, not prick to the heart; to be applauded and depart with praise, not to correct men's manners! Believe me, I speak not other than I feel—when as I discourse I hear myself applauded, at the moment indeed I feel it as a man (for why should I not own the truth?): I am delighted, and give way to the pleasurable feeling: but when I get home, and bethink me that those who applauded received no benefit from my discourse, but that whatever benefit they ought to have got, they lost it while applauding and praising, I am in pain, and groan, and weep, and feel as if I had spoken all in vain. I say to myself: "What profit comes to me from my labors, while the hearers do not choose to benefit by what they hear from us?" Nay, often have I thought to make a rule which should prevent all applauding, and persuade you to listen with silence and becoming orderliness. But bear with me, I beseech you, and be persuaded by me, and, if it seem good to you, let us even now establish this rule, that no hearer be permitted to applaud in the midst of any person's discourse, but if he will needs admire, let him admire in silence: there is none to prevent him: and let all his study and eager desire be set upon the receiving the things spoken.—What means that noise again? I am laying down a rule against this very thing, and you have not the forbearance even to hear me!—Many will be the good effects of this regulation: it will be a discipline of philosophy. Even the heathen philosophers—we hear of their discoursing, and nowhere do we find that noisy applause accompanied their words: we hear of the Apostles, making public speeches, and yet nowhere do the accounts add, that in the midst of their speeches the hearers interrupted the speakers with loud expressions of approbation. A great gain will this be to us. But let us establish this rule: in quiet let us all hear, and speak the whole (of what we have to say). For if indeed it were the case that we departed retaining what we had heard, what I insist upon is, that even so the praise is not beneficial- -but not to go too much into particulars (on this point); let none tax me with rudeness —but since nothing is gained by it, nay, it is even mischievous, let us loose the hindrance, let us put a stop to the boundings, let us retrench the gambollings of the soul. Christ spoke publicly on the Mount: yet no one said aught, until He had finished His discourse. I do not rob those who wish to be applauded: on the contrary, I make them to be more admired. It is far better that one's hearer, having listened in silence, should by his memory throughout all time applaud, both at home and abroad, than that having lost all he should return home empty, not possessed of that which was the subject of his applauses. For how shall the hearer be otherwise than ridiculous? Nay, he will be deemed a flatterer, and his praises no better than irony, when he declares that the teacher spoke beautifully, but what he said, this he cannot tell. This has all the appearance of adulation. For when indeed one has been hearing minstrels and players, it is no wonder if such be the case with him, seeing he knows not how to utter the strain in the same manner: but where the matter is not an exhibition of song or of voice, but the drift and purport of thoughts and wise reflection (philosophi'as), and it is easy for every one to tell and report what was said, how can he but deserve the accusation, who cannot tell what the matter was for which he praised the speaker? Nothing so becomes a Church as silence and good order. Noise belongs to theatres, and baths, and public processions, and market-places: but where doctrines, and such doctrines, are the subject of teaching, there should be stillness, and quiet, and calm reflection, and a haven of much repose (philosophi'a kai` polu`s ho limh'n). These things I beseech and entreat: for I go about in quest of ways by which I shall be enabled to profit your souls. And no small way I take this to be: it will profit not you only, but us also. So shall we not be carried away with pride (ektrachhli'zesthai), not be tempted to love praises and honor, not be led to speak those things which delight, but those which profit: so shall we lay the whole stress of our time and diligence not upon arts of composition and beauties of expression, but upon the matter and meaning of the thoughts. Go into a painter's study, and you will observe how silent all is there. Then so ought it to be here: for here too we are employed in painting portraits, royal portraits (every one of them), none of any private man, by means of the colors of virtue—How now? Applauding again? This is a reform not easy, but (only) by reason of long habit, to be effected —The pencil moreover is the tongue, and the Artist the Holy Spirit. Say, during the celebration of the Mysteries, is there any noise? any disturbance? when we are baptizing (baptizw'metha), when we are doing all the other acts? Is not all Nature decked (as it were) with stillness and silence? Over all the face of heaven is scattered this charm (of repose).—On this account are we evil spoken of even among the Gentiles, as though we did all for display and ostentation. But if this be prevented, the love of the chief seats also will be extinguished. It is sufficient, if any one be enamoured of praise, that he should obtain it after having been heard, when all is gathered in. Yea, I beseech you, let us establish this rule, that doing all things according to God's will, we may be found worthy of the mercy which is from Him, through the grace and compassion of His only begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father together with the Holy Spirit be glory, dominion, 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.