Fathers of the Church
Homilies on Second Corinthians, 1-8
by John Chrysostom in Unknown (between 398-404) | translated by Translated By the Rev. Hubert Kestell Cornish, M.A., Late Fellow of Exeter College, and the Rev. John Medley, M.A., of Wadham College, Vicar of St. thomas, in the City of Exeter; Revised By the Rev. Talbot W. Chambers, d.d., Pastor of the Collegiate Reformed Dutch Church, New York
Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the Church of God, which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in the whole of Achaia: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; Who comfort us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
It is meet to enquire, first, why to the former Epistle he adds a second: and what can be his reason for thus beginning with the mercies and consolation of God.
Why then does he add a second Epistle? Whereas in the first he had said, "I will come to you, and will know not the word of them which are puffed up, but the power;" (1 Cor. iv. 19.) and again towards the end had promised the same in milder terms, thus, "I will come unto you when I shall have passed through Macedonia; for I do pass through Macedonia; and it may be that I shall abide, or even winter with you ;" (1 Cor. xvi. 5, 6.) yet now after along interval, he came not; but was still lingering and delaying even though the time appointed had passed away; the Spirit detaining him in other matters of far greater necessity than these. For this reason he had need to write a second Epistle, which he had not needed had he but a little out-tarried his time.
But not for this reason only, but also because they were amended by the former; for him that had committed fornication whom before they applauded and were puffed up about, they had cut off and separated altogether. And this he shows where he says, "But if any hath caused sorrow, he hath caused sorrow not to me, but in part (that I press not too heavily) to you all. Sufficient to such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the many." (2 Cor. ii. 5, 6.) And as he proceeds, he alludes again to the same thing when he says, "For behold that ye were made sorry after a godly sort, what earnest care it wrought in you, yea, what clearing-of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what longing, yea, what zeal, yea, what avenging! In every thing ye approved yourselves to be pure in this matter." (2 Cor. vii. 11.) Moreover, the collection which he enjoined, they gathered with much forwardness. Wherefore also he says, "For I know your readiness of which I glory on your behalf to them of Macedonia, that Achaia hath been prepared for a year past." (2 Cor. ix. 2.) And Titus too, whom he sent, they received with all kindness, as he shows when he says again, "His inward affection is more abundantly toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him." (2 Cor. vii. 15.) For all these reasons he writes the second Epistle. For it was right that, as when they were in fault he rebuked them, so upon their amendment he should approve and commend them. On which account the Epistle is not very severe throughout, but only in a few parts towards the end. For there were even amongst them Jews who thought highly of themselves, and accused Paul as being a boaster and worthy of no regard; whence also that speech of theirs; "His letters are weighty, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account:" (2 Cor. x. 10.) meaning thereby, when he is present he appears of no account, (for this is the meaning of, "his bodily presence is weak,") but when he is away he boasts greatly in what he writes, (for such is the signification of "his letters are weighty.") Moreover, to enhance their own credit these persons made a pretence of receiving nothing, to which he also alludes where he says, "that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we." (2 Cor. xi. 12.) And besides, possessing also the power of language, they were forthwith greatly elated. Wherefore also he calls himself "rude in speech," (2. Cor. xi. 6.) showing that he is not ashamed thereof; nor deems the contrary any great acquisition. Seeing then it was likely that by these persons some would be seduced, after commending what was right in their conduct, and beating down their senseless pride in the things of Judaism, in that out of season they were contentious to observe them, he administers a gentle rebuke on this subject also.
[2.] Such then, to speak summarily and by the way, appears to me the argument of this Epistle. It remains to consider the introduction, and to say why after his accustomed salutation he begins, as he does, with the mercies of God. But first, it is necessary to speak of the very beginning, and inquire why he here associates Timothy with himself. For, he saith, "Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Timothy our brother." In the first Epistle he promised he would send him; and charged them, saying, "Now if Timothy come, see that he be with you without fear." (1 Cor. xvi. 10.) How then is it that he associates him here in the outset with himself? After he had been amongst them, agreeably to that promise of his teacher, "I have sent unto you Timothy who shall put you in remembrance of my ways which be in Christ," (1 Cor. iv. 17.) and had set everything in order, he had returned back to Paul; who on sending him, had said, "Set him forward on his journey in peace that he may come to me, for I expect him with the brethren." (1 Cor. xvi. 11.)
Since then Timothy was restored to his teacher, and after having with him set in order the things in Asia, (for, says he, "I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost," 1 Cor. xvi. 8;) had crossed again into Macedonia; Paul not unreasonably associates him hereafter as abiding with himself. For then he wrote from Asia, but now from Macedonia. Moreover, thus associating him he at once gains increased respect for him, and displays his own exceeding humility: for Timothy was very inferior to himself, yet doth love bring all things together. Whence also he everywhere makes him equal with himself; at one time saying, "as a child serveth a father so he served with me;" (Phil. ii. 22.) at another, "for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do;" (1 Cor. xvi. 10.) and here, he even calleth him, "brother;" by all making him an object of respect to the Corinthians amongst whom he had been, as I have said, and given proof of his worth.
"To the Church of God which is at Corinth." Again he calleth them "the Church," to bring and bind them all together in one. For it could not be one Church, while those within her were sundered and stood apart. "With all the saints which are in the whole of Achaia. In thus saluting all through the Epistle addressed to the Corinthians, he would at once honor these, and bring together the whole nation. But he calls them "saints," thereby implying that if any be an impure person, he hath no share in this salutation. But why, writing to the mother city, does he address all through her, since he doth not so everywhere? For instance, in his Epistle to the Thessalonians he addressed not the Macedonians also; and in like manner in that to the Ephesians he doth not include all Asia; neither was that to the Romans written to those also who dwell in Italy. But in this Epistle he doth so; and in that to the Galatians. For there also he writeth not to one city, or two, or three, but to all who are scattered every where, saying, "Paul an Apostle, (not from men neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead,) and all the brethren which are with me, unto the Churches of Galatia. Grace to you and peace." (Gal. i. 1—3.) To the Hebrews also he writes one Epistle to all collectively; not distinguishing them into their several cities. What then can be the reason of this? Because, as I think, in this case all were involved in one common disorder, wherefore also he addresses them in common, as needing one common remedy. For the Galatians were all of them infected. So too were the Hebrews, and so I think these (Achaians) also.
[3.] So then having brought the whole nation together in one, and saluted them with his accustomed greeting, for, saith he, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:" (2 Cor i. 2.) hear how aptly to the purpose in hand he begins, "Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort." (ver. 3.) Do you ask, how is this aptly to the purpose in hand? I reply, Very much so; for observe, they were greatly vexed and troubled that the Apostle had not come to them, and that, though he had promised, but had spent the whole time in Macedonia; preferring as it seemed others to themselves. Setting himself then to meet this feeling against him, he declares the cause of his absence; not however directly stating it, as thus; "I know, indeed, I promised to come, but since I was hindered by afflictions forgive me, nor judge me guilty of any sort of contempt or neglect towards you:" but after another manner he invests the subject at once with more dignity and trustworthiness, and gives it greatness by the nature of the consolation, so that thereafter they might not so much as ask the reason of his delay. Just as if one, having promised to come to one he longed for, at length arriving after dangers innumerable, should say, ",Glory to Thee, O God, for letting me see the sight so longed for of his dear countenance! Blessed be Thou, O God, from what perils hast Thou delivered me!" for such a doxology is an answer to him who was preparing to find fault, and will not let him so much as complain of the delay; for one that is thanking God for deliverance from such great calamities he cannot for shame drag to the bar, and bid clear himself of loitering. Whence Paul thus begins, "Blessed be the God of mercies," implying by the very words that he had been both brought into and delivered from mighty perils. For as David also doth not address God every where in one way or with the same titles; but when he is upon battle and victory, "I will love Thee, he saith, O Lord my strength; the Lord is my bucklers:" when again upon delivery from affliction and the darkness which overwhelmed him, "The Lord is my light and my salvation;" (Ps. xxvii. 1.) and as the immediate occasion suggests, he names Him now from His loving-kindness, now from His justice, now from His righteous judgment:—in like way Paul also here at the beginning describeth Him by His loving-kindness, calling Him "the God of mercies," that is, "Who hath showed me so great mercies as to bring me up from the very gates of death."
And thus to have mercy is the peculiar and excellent attribute of God, and the most inherent in His nature; whence he calleth Him the "God of mercies."
And observe, I pray you, herein also the lowly-mindedness of Paul. For though he were in peril because of the Gospel he preached; yet saith he not, he was saved for his merit, but for the mercies of God. But this he afterwards declareth more clearly, and now goes on to say, "Who comforteth us in all affliction." (2 Cor. i. 4.) He saith not, "Who suffereth us not to come into affliction:" but, "Who comforteth in affliction." For this at once declareth the power of God; and increaseth the patience of those afflicted. For, saith he, "tribulation worketh patience." (Rom. v. 3.) And so also the prophet, " Thou hast set me at large when I was in distress." (Ps. iv. 1.) He doth not say, "Thou hast not suffered me to fall into affliction," nor yet, "Thou hast quickly removed my affliction," but, whilst it continueth, "Thou hast set me at large:" (Dan. iii. 21. &c.) that is, "hast granted me much freedom and refreshment." Which truly happened also in the case of the three children, for neither did He prevent their being cast into the flame, nor when so cast, did He quench it, but while the furnace was burning He gave them liberty. And such is ever God's way of dealing; as Paul also implies when he says, "Who comforteth us in all affliction."
But he teaches something more in these words: Do you ask what? Namely, that God doeth this not once, nor twice, but without intermission. For He doth not one while comfort, another not, but ever and constantly. Wherefore he saith, "Who comforteth," not, "Who hath comforted," and, "in all affliction," not, "in this or that," but, "in all."
"That we may be able to comfort them which are in any affliction through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." See you not how he is beforehand with his defence by suggesting to the hearer the thought of some great affliction; and herein also is his modesty again apparent, that he saith not for their own merits was this mercy showed, but for the sake of those that need their assistance; "for," saith he, "to this end hath He comforted us that we might comfort one another." And hereby also he manifesteth the excellency of the Apostles, shewing that having been comforted and breathed awhile, he lieth not softly down as we, but goeth on his way to anoint, to nerve, to rouse others. Some, however, consider this as the Apostle's meaning. "Our consolation is that of others also:" but my opinion is that in this introduction, he is also censuring the false Apostles, those vain boasters who sat at home and lived in luxury; but this covertly and, as it were, incidentally, the leading object being to apologise for his delay. "For," [he would say,] "if for this end we were comforted that we might comfort others also, do not blame us that we came not; for in this was our whole time spent, in providing against the conspiracies, the violence, the terrors which assailed us."
[4.] "For as the sufferings of Christ abound unto us, even so our comfort also aboundeth through Christ." Not to depress the disciples by an aggravated account of his sufferings; he declareth on the other hand that great and superabundant was the consolation also, and lifteth up their heart not hereby alone, but also by putting them in mind of Christ and calling the sufferings "His," andprior to the consolation deriveth a comfort from the very sufferings themselves. For what joy can I have so great as to be partaker with Christ, and for His sake to suffer these things? What consolation can equal this? But not from this source only does he raise the spirits of the afflicted, but from another also. Ask you what other? In that he saith, "abound:" for he doth not say, "As the sufferings of Christ" are "in us," but as they "abound," thereby declaring that they endure not His sufferings only, but even more than these. For, saith he, "not whatsoever He suffered, that have we suffered; "but even more," for, consider, "Christ was cast out, persecuted, scourged, died," but we, saith he, "more than all this," which even of itself were consolation enough. Now let no one condemn this speech of boldness; for be elsewhere saith, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh." (Col. i. 24.) Yet neither here nor there is it from boldness or any presumptousness. For as they wrought greater miracles than He according to that saying of His, "he that believeth on Me shall do greater works than these," (John xiv. 12.) but all is of Him that worketh in them; so did they suffer also more than He, but all again is of Him that comforteth them, and fitteth them to bear the evils that betide them.
With which respect Paul aware how great a thing he had said, doth again remarkably restrain it by adding, "So our comfort also aboundeth through Christ; "thus at once ascribing all to Him, and proclaiming herein also His loving-kindness; for, he saith not, "As our affliction, such our consolation;" but "far more;" for, he saith not, "our comfort is equal to our sufferings," but, "our comfort aboundeth," so that the season of struggles was the season also of fresh crowns. For, say, what is equal to being scourged for Christ's sake and holding converse with God; and being more than match for all things, and gaining the better of those who cast us out, and being unconquered by the whole world, and expecting hence such good things "as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man!" (1 Cor. ii. 9.) And what is equal to suffering affliction for godliness' sake, and receiving from God consolations infinite, and being rescued from sins so great, and counted worthy of the Spirit, and of being sanctified and justified, and regarding no man with fear and trembling, and in peril itself outshining all.
[5.] Let us then not sink down when tempted. For no self-indulger hath fellowship with Christ, nor sleeper, nor supine [person], nor any of these lax and dissolute livers. But Whoso is in affliction and temptation, this man standeth near to Him, whoso is journeying on the narrow way. For He Himself trode this; whence too He saith, " the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." So then grieve not when thou art in affliction; considering with Whom thou hast fellowship, and how thou art purified by trials; and how great gain is thine. For there is nothing miserable save the offending against God; but this apart, neither afflictions nor conspiracies, nor any other thing hath power to grieve the right-minded soul: but like as a little spark, if thou cast it into a mighty deep, thou presently puttest it out, so doth even a total and excessive sorrow if it light on a good conscience easily die away and disappear.
Such then was the spring of Paul's continual joy: because in whatever was of God he was full of hope; and did not so much as take count of ills so great, but though he grieved as a man yet sank not. So too was that Patriarch encompassed with joy in the midst of much painful suffering; for consider, he forsook his country, underwent journeyings long and hard; when he came into a strange land, had "not so much as to set his foot on." (Acts. vii. 5.) Then again a famine awaited him which made him once more a wanderer; after the famine again came the seizure of his wife, then the fear of death, and childlessness, and battle, and peril, and conspiracies, and at the last that crowning trial, the slaying of his only-begotten and true son, that grievous irreparable [sacrifice.] For think not, I pray you, that because he readily obeyed, he felt not all the things he underwent. For though his righteousness had been, as indeed it was, inestimable, yet was he a man and felt as nature bade. But yet did none of these things cast him down, but he stood like a noble athlete, and for each one was proclaimed and crowned a victor. So also the blessed Paul, though seeing trials in very snow-showers assailing him daily, rejoiced and exulted as though in the mid-delights of Paradise. As then he who is gladdened with this joy cannot be a prey to despair; so he who maketh not this his own is easily overcome of all; and is as one that hath unsound armor, and is wounded by even a common stroke: but not so he who is well encased at all points, and proof against every shaft that cometh upon him. And truly stouter than any armor is joy in God; and whoso hath it, nothing can ever make his head droop or his countenance sad, but he beareth all things nobly. For what is worse to bear than fire? what more painful than continual torture? truly it is more overpowering in pain than the loss of untold wealth, of children, of any thing; for, saith he, "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life." (Job ii.4.) So nothing can be harder to bear than bodily pain; nevertheless, because of this joy in God, what even to hear of is intolerable, becomes both tolerable and longed for: and if thou take from the cross or from the gridiron the martyr yet just breathing, thou wilt find such a treasure of joy within him as admits not of being told.
[6.] And doth any one say, What am I to do ; for now is no time of martyrdom? What sayest thou? Is now no time of martyrdom? Never is it not a time; but ever is it before our eyes; if we will keep them open. For it is not the hanging on a cross only that makes a Martyr, for were this so, then was Job excluded from this crown; for he neither stood at bar, nor heard Judge's voice, nor looked on executioner; no, nor while hanging on tree aloft had his sides mangled; yet he suffered worse than many martyrs; more sharply than any stroke did the tale of those successive messengers strike, and goad him on every side: and keener the gnawings of the worms which devoured him in every part than thousand executioners.
Against what martyr then may he not worthily be set? Surely against ten thousand. For in every kind [of suffering] he both wrestled and was crowned; in goods, and children, and person, and wife, and friends, and enemies, and servants, (for these too even did spit in his face,) in hunger and visions and pains and noisomeness; it was for this I said he might worthily be set, not against one nor two nor three, but against ten thousand Martyrs. For besides what I have mentioned, the time also maketh a great addition to his crown; in that it was before the Law, before Grace, he thus suffered, and that, many months, and each in its worst form; and all these evils assailed him at once. And yet each individual evil by itself intolerable, even that which seemeth most tolerable, the loss of his goods. For many have patiently borne stripes, but could not bear the loss of their goods; but rather than relinquish any part of them were content even to be scourged for their sake and suffer countless ills; and this blow, the loss of goods, appeared to them heavier than all. So then here is another method of martyrdom for one who bears this loss nobly. And doth any ask, How shall we bear it nobly? When thou hast learned that by one word of thanksgiving thou shall gain more than all thou hast lost. For if at the tidings of our loss we be not troubled, but say, "Blessed be God," we have found far more abundant riches. For truly such great fruit thou shalt not reap by expending all thy wealth on the needy, by going about and seeking out the poor, and scattering thy substance to the hungry, as thou shalt
gain by the same word. And so neither Job do I admire so much in setting wide his house to the needy, as I am struck with and extol his taking the spoiling of his substance thankfully. The same in the loss of children it happeneth to see. For herein, also, reward no less than his who offered his son and presented him in sacrifice shall thou receive, if as thou seest thine die thou shall thank the God of love. For how shalt such an one be less than Abraham? He saw not his son stretched out a corpse, but only looked to do so. So if he gain in the comparison by his purpose to slay and his stretching forth his hand to take the knife, (Gen. xxii. 10.) yet doth he lose in that the child is lying dead here. And besides, he had some comfort in the prospect of a good work done, and the thought that this so excellent achievement was the work of his own fortitude, and that the voice he heard came from above made him the readier. But here is no such thing. So that he had need have a soul of adamant, who can bear with calmness to see a child, his only one, brought up in affluence, in the dawn of fair promise, lying upon the bier an outstretched corpse. And should such an one, hushing to rest the heavings of nature, be strengthened to say the words of Job without a tear, "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away;" (Job. i. 21.) for those words' sake alone, he shall stand with Abraham himself and with Job be proclaimed a victor. And if, staying the wailings of the women and breaking up the bands of mourners, he shall rouse them all to sing glory [to God], he shall receive above, below, rewards unnumbered; men admiring, angels applauding, God crowning him.
[7.] And sayest thou, How is it possible for one that is man not to mourn? I reply, If thou wilt reflect how neither the Patriarch nor Job, who both were men, gave way to any thing of the kind; and this too in either case before the Law, and Grace, and the excellent wisdom of the laws [we have]: if thou wilt account that the deceased has removed into a better country, and bounded away to a happier inheritance, and that thou hast not lost thy son but bestowed him henceforward in an inviolable spot. Say not then, I pray; thee, I am no longer called "father," for why an thou no longer called so, when thy son abideth? For surely thou didst not part with thy child nor lose thy son? Rather thou hast gotten him, and hast him in greater safety. Wherefore, no longer shalt thou be called "father" here only, but also in heaven; so that thou hast not lost the title "father," but hast gained it in a nobler sense; for henceforth thou shalt be called father not of a mortal child, but of an immoral; of a noble soldier; on duty continually within [the palace]. For think not because he is not present that therefore he is lost; for had he been absent in a foreign land, the title of thy relationship had not gone from thee with his body. Do not then gaze on the countenance of what lieth there, for so thou dost but kindle afresh thy grief; but away with thy thought from him that lieth there, up to heaven. That is not thy child which is lying there, but he who hath flown away and sprung aloft into boundless height. When then thou seest the eyes closed, the lips locked together, the body motionless, Oh be not these thy thoughts, "These lips no longer speak, these eyes no longer see, these feet no longer walk, but are all on their way to corruption!" Oh say not so: but say the reverse of this, "These lips shall speak better, and the eyes see greater things, and the feet shall mount upon the clouds; and this body which now rotteth away shall put on immortality, and I shall receive my son back more glorious. But if what thou seest distress thee,
say to thyself the while, This is [only] clothing and he has put it off to receive it back more precious; this is an house and it is taken down to be restored in greater splendor. For like as we, when purposing to take houses down, allow not the inmates to stay, that they may escape the dust and noise; but causing them to remove a little while, when we have built up the tenement securely, admit them freely; so also doth God; Who taking down this His decaying tabernacle hath received him the while into His paternal dwelling and unto Himself, that when it hath been taken down and built anew He may then return it to him more glorious.
Say not then, "He is perished and shall no more be;" for these be the words of unbelievers; but say, "He sleepeth and will rise again," "He is gone a journey and will return with the King." Who sayeth tiffs? He that hath Christ speaking in him. "For," saith he, "if we believe that Jesus died and rose again" and revived, "even so them also which Sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." (1 Thess. iv. 14.) If then thou seek thy son, there seek him where the King is, where is the army of the Angels; not in the grave; not in the earth; lest whilst he is so highly exalted, thyself remain grovelling on the ground.
If we have this true wisdom, we shall easily repel all this kind of distress; and "the God of mercies and Father of all comfort" comfort all our hearts, both those who are oppressed with such grief and those held down with any other Sorrow; and grant us deliverance from all despair and increase of spiritual joy; and to obtain the good things to come; whereunto may all we attain, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom unto the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
Whether we be afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation, which worketh in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: and our hope for you is steadfast.
Having spoken of one, and that the chief ground of comfort and consolation, namely, having fellowship [by sufferings] with Christ: he layeth down as second this which he now mentions, namely, that the salvation of the disciples themselves was procured thereby. "Faint not, therefore, he says, nor be confounded and afraid because we are afflicted; for this same thing were rather a reason for your being of good cheer: for had we not been afflicted, this had been the ruin of you all." How and wherein? For if through lack of spirit and fear of danger we had not preached unto you the word whereby ye learned the true knowledge, your situation had been desperate. Seest thou again the vehemence and earnest contention of Paul? The very things which troubled them he uses for their comfort. For, saith he, the greater the intensity of our persecutions, the greater should be the increase of your good hope; because the more abundant also in proportion is your salvation and consolation. For what hath equal force of consolation with this of having obtained such good things through the preaching. Then that he may not seem to be bringing the encomium round to himself alone, see how he maketh them too to share these praises. For to the words, "Whether we be afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation:" he adds, "which worketh in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer." (ver. 7.) Afterwards, indeed, he states this more clearly, thus saying, "As ye are partakers of the sufferings, so also are ye of the consolation;" but here also meanwhile he alludes to it in the words, "the same sufferings," so making what he says include them. For what he saith is this, "Your salvation is not our work alone, but your own as well; for both we in preaching to you the word endure affliction, and ye in receiving it endure the very same; we to impart to you that which we received, ye to receive what is imparted and not to let it go." Now what humility can compare with this, seeing that those who fell so far short of him he raiseth to the same dignity of endurance? for he saith, "Which worked in the enduring of the same sufferings;" for not through believing only cometh your salvation, but also through the suffering and enduring the same things with us. For like as a pugilist is an object of admiration, when he doth but show himself and is in good training and hath his skill within himself, but when he is in action, enduring blows and striking his adversary, then most of all shineth forth, because that then his good training is most put in action, and the proof of his skill evidently shown; so truly is your salvation also then more especially put into action, that is, is displayed, increased, heightened, when it hath endurance, when it suffereth and beareth all things nobly. So then the work of salvation consisteth not in doing evil, but in suffering evil. Moreover he saith not, "which worketh," but, "which is wrought," to show that together with their own willingness of mind, grace also which wrought in them did contribute much.
Ver. 7. "And our hope for you is steadfast." That is, though ye should suffer ills innumerable, we are confident that ye will not turn round, either upon your own trials or upon our persecutions. For so far are we from suspecting you of being confounded on account of our sufferings that even when yourselves are in peril, we are then confident concerning you.
[2.] Seest thou how great had been their advance since the former Epistle? For he hath here witnessed of them far greater things than of the Macedonians, whom throughout that Epistle he extolleth and commendeth. For on their [the Macedonians'] account he feared and saith, "We sent," unto you, "Timothy ... to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith, that no man be moved by these afflictions, for yourselves know that hereunto we are appointed." (1 Thess. iii. 2, 3.) And again: "For this cause when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by any means the tempter hath tempted you: and our labor should be in vain." (ver. 5.) But of these [the Corinthians] he saith nothing of this kind, but quite the contrary, "Our hope for you is steadfast."
Ver. 6, 7. "Or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. Knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so also are ye of the comfort."
That for their sakes the Apostles were afflicted, he showed when he said, "whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation:" he wishes also to show that for their sakes also they were comforted. He said this indeed even a little above, although somewhat generally, thus; "Blessed be God, Who comforteth us in all our afflictions, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any affliction." He repeats it here too in other words more clearly and more home to their needs. "For whether we be comforted," says he, "it is for your comfort." What he means is this; our comfort becometh your refreshment, even though we should not comfort you by word. If we be but a little refreshed, this availeth for encouragement to you; and if we be ourselves comforted, this becometh your comfort. For as ye consider our sufferings your own, so do ye also make our comfort your own. For surely it cannot be that, when ye share in worse fortune with us, ye will not share in the better. If then ye share in everything, as in tribulation so in comfort, ye will in no wise blame us for this delay and slowness in coming, because that both for your sakes we are in tribulation and for your sakes in comfort. For lest any should think this a hard saying, "for your sakes we thus suffer," he adds, "for your sakes also we are comforted," and "not we alone are in peril; for ye also," saith he, "are partakers of the same sufferings." Thus then, by admitting them to be partakers in the perils and ascribing to them the cause of their own comfort, he softeneth what he saith. If then we be beset by craft, be of good cheer; we endure this that your faith may grow in strength. And if we be comforted, glory in this also; for we enjoy this too for your sakes, that thereby ye may receive some encouragement by sharing in our joy. And that the comfort he here speaks of is that which they enjoyed not only from being comforted by themselves, (the Apostles) but also from knowing them (the Apostles) to be at rest, hear him declaring in what follows next, "Knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so also are ye of the comfort." For as when we suffer persecution, ye are in distress as though yourselves so suffering; so are we sure that when we are comforted, ye think the enjoyment also your own. What more humble-minded than this spirit? He who so greatly surpasseth in perils, calleth them "partakers," who endured no part of them whatever; whilst of the comfort he ascribeth the whole cause to them, not to his own labors.
[3.] Next, having spoken before only generally of troubles, he now maketh mention of the place too where they (Ben. he) endured them.
Ver. 8. "For we would not, Brethren, have you ignorant concerning our affliction which befell us in Asia."
"These things we speak," saith he, "that ye may not be ignorant of what befell us; for we wish, yea have earnestly endeavored, that ye should know our affairs:" which is a very high proof of love. Of this even in the former Epistle he had before given notice, where he said, "For a great door and effectual is opened to me at Ephesus, and there are many adversaries." (1 Cor. xvi. 8, 9.) Putting them then in mind of this, and recounting how much he suffered, he saith, "I would not have you ignorant of our affliction which befell us in Asia." And in his Epistle to the Ephesians too he said the same. For having sent Tychicus to them, he gives this as the reason of his journey: whence he saith, "But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things; whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that ye may know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts." (Eph. vi. 21, 22.) And in other Epistles also he doeth the very same. Nor is it superfluous, but even exceedingly necessary: both because of his exceeding affection for the disciples, and because of their continued trials; wherein the knowledge of each other's fortunes was a very great comfort; so that if these were calamitous, they might be prepared both to be energetic and to be safer against falling; or if these were good, they might rejoice with them. He here, however, speaketh as well of being delivered from trials as of being assaulted by them, saying, "We were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power." Like a vessel sinking under some mighty burden. He may seem to have said, only one thing here "exceedingly" and "beyond our power:" it is, however, not one but two; for lest one should object, "What then? granting the peril were exceeding, yet it was not great to you; "he added, it both was great and surpassed our strength, yea, so surpassed it, "That we despaired even of life."
That is, we had no longer any expectation of living. What David calleth "the gates of hell, the pangs" and "the shadow of death," this he expresseth by saying, "We endured peril pregnant. with certain death."
Ver. 9. "But we had the answer of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead."
What is this, "the answer of death? " The vote, the judgment, the expectation. For so spake our affairs; our fortunes gave this answer "We shall surely die."
To be sure, this did not come to the proof, but only as far as to our anticipations, and stopped there: for the nature of our affairs did so declare, yet the power of God allowed not the declaration to take effect, but permitted it to happen only in our thought and in expectation: wherefore he saith, "We had the answer of death in ourselves," not in fact. And wherefore permitted He peril so great as to take away our hope and cause us to despair? "That we should not trust in ourselves," saith he, "but in God." These words Paul said, not that this was his own temper. Away with such a thought, but as attuning the rest by what he saith of himself, and in his great care to speak modestly. Whence also further on he saith, "There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, (meaning his trials,) lest I should be exalted overmuch." (2 Cor. xii. 7.) And yet God doth not say that He permitted them for this, but for another reason. What other? That His strength might be the more displayed; "For," saith he, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for My power is made perfect in weakness." (ver. 9.) But, as I said, he no here forgetteth his own peculiar character, classing himself with those who fall short exceedingly and stand in need of much discipline and correction. For if one or two trials suffice to sober even ordinary men, how should he who of all men had most cultivated lowliness of mind his whole life long and had suffered as no other man did, after so many years and a practice of wisdom worthy of the heavens, be in need of this admonition? Whence it is plain that here too, it is from modesty and to calm down those who thought highly of themselves and boasted, that he thus speaks, "That we should not trust in ourselves, but in God."
[4.] And observe how he treateth them tenderly here also. For, saith he, these trials were permitted to come upon us for your sakes; of so great price are ye in God's sight; for "whether we be afflicted," saith he, "it is for your consolation and salvation;" but they were "out of measure" for our sake, lest we should he high minded "For we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God that raiseth the dead." He again putteth them in mind of the doctrine of the Resurrection whereon he said so much in the former Epistle, and confirmeth it from the present circumstance; whence he added,
Ver. 10. "Who delivered us out of so great deaths."
He said not, "from so great dangers," at once showing the insupportable severity of the trials, and confirming the doctrine I have mentioned. For whereas the Resurrection was a thing future, he showeth that it happeneth every day: for when [God] lifteth up again a man who is despaired of and hath been brought to the very gates of Hades, He showeth none other thing than a resurrection, snatching out of the very jaws of death him that had fallen into them: whence in the case of those despaired of and then restored either out of grievous sickness or insupportable trials, it is an ordinary way of speaking to say, We have seen a resurrection of the dead in his case.
Ver. 10, 11. "And we have set our hope that He will also still deliver us; ye also helping together on our behalf by your supplication, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many, thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf.
Since the words, "that we should not trust in ourselves," might seem to be a common charge and an accusation that pointed to some amongst them; he softeneth again what he said, by calling their prayers a great protection and at the same time showing that [this] our life must be throughout a scene of conflict. For in those words, "And we have set our hope that He will also still deliver us," he predicts a future sleet of many trials: but still no where aught of being forsaken, but of succor again and support. Then, lest on hearing that they were to be continually in perils they should be cast down, he showed before the use of perils; for instance, "that we should not trust in ourselves;" that is, that he may keep us in continual humility, and that their salvation may be wrought; and many other uses besides; the being partakers with Christ;(" for," saith he, "the sufferings of Christ abound in us ;" ) the suffering for the faithful; ("for," saith he, "whether we be afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation;") the superior lustre this last (i.e., their salvation) should shine with; "which," saith he, "worketh "[in you]" in the patient enduring of the same sufferings;" their being made hardy; and besides all these, that of seeing the resurrection vividly portrayed before their eyes: for, "He hath delivered us out of so great death;" being of an earnest mind and ever looking unto Him, "for," saith he, "we have set our hope that he will deliver" us; its rivetting them to prayers, for he saith, "ye also helping together on our behalf by your supplication." Thus having shown the gain of affliction and then having made them energetic: he anointeth once more their spirits [for the combat], and animates them to virtue by witnessing great things of their prayers, for that to these God had granted Paul; as he saith, "Ye helping together on our behalf by prayer." But what is this: "That for the gift bestowed upon us by means of many, thanks may be given by many on our behalf? He delivered us from those deaths," saith he, "ye also helping together by prayer;" that is, praying all of you for us. For "the gift bestowed upon us," that is, our being saved, He was pleased to grant to you all, in order that many persons might give Him thanks, because that many also received the boon.
[5.] And this he said, at once to stir them up to prayer for others, and to accustom them always to give thanks to God for whatever befalleth others, showing that He too willeth this exceedingly. For they that are careful to do both these for others, will much more for themselves show an example of both. And besides this, he both teacheth them humility. and leadeth on to more fervent love. For if he who was so high above them owneth himself to have been saved by their prayers: and that to their prayers himself had been granted as a boon of God, think what their modesty and disposition ought to have been. And observe, I pray you, this also; that even if God doeth any thing in mercy, yet prayer doth mightily contribute thereunto. For at the first he attributed his salvation to His mercies; for "The God of mercies," he says, Himself "delivered us," but here to the prayers also. For on him too that owed the ten thousand talents He had mercy after that he fell at His feet;(Mat. xviii. 24, 27.) although it is written, that "being moved with compassion, He loosed him." And again to the "woman of Canaan," it was after that long attendance and importunity of hers, (Mat. xv. 22. ) that He finally granted the healing of her daughter, even though of His mercy He healed her. Hereby then we learn that even though we are to receive mercy, we must first make ourselves worthy of the mercy; for though there be mercy, yet it seeketh out those that are worthy. It will not come upon all without distinction; those even who have no feeling; for He saith, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." (Rom. ix. 15.) Observe at least what he saith here, "Ye also helping together by prayer." He hath neither ascribed the whole of the good work to them lest he should lift them up, nor yet deprived them of all share whatever in it, in order to encourage them and animate their zeal, and bring them together one to another. Whence also he said, "He also granted to you my safety." For ofttimes also God is abashed by a multitude praying with one mind and mouth. Whence also He said to the prophet, "And shall not I spare this city wherein dwell more than six score thousand persons?" (Jonah iv. 11.) Then lest thon think He respecteth the multitude only, He saith, "Though the number of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved." (Is. x. 22.) How then saved He the Ninevites? Because in their case, there was not only a multitude, but a multitude and virtue too. For each one "turned from" his "evil way." (Jonah iii. 10. iv. 11.) And besides, when He saved them, He said that they discerned not "between their right hand and their left hand:" whence it is plain that even before, they sinned more out of simpleness than of wickedness: it is plain too from their being converted, as they were, by hearing a few words. But if their being six score thousand were of itself enough to save them, what hindered even before this that they should be saved? And why saith He not to the Prophet, And shall I not spare this city which so turneth itself? but bringeth forward the score thousands. He produceth this also as a reason over and above. For that they had turned was known to the prophet, but he knew not either their numbers or their simpleness. So by every possible consideration he is desirous to soften them. For even greatness of number hath power, when there is virtue withal. And truly the Scripture elsewhere also showeth this plainly, where it saith, "But prayer was made earnestly of the Church unto God for him:" (Acts xii. 5.) and so great power had it, even when the doors were shut and chains lay on him and keepers were sleeping by on either side, that it led the Apostle forth and delivered him from them all. But as where there is virtue, greatness of number hath mighty power; so where wickedness is, it profiteth nothing. For the Israelites of whom He saith that the number of them was as the sand of the sea, perished every one, and those too in the days of Noe were both many, yea, numberless; and yet this profited them nothing. For greatness of number hath no power of itself, but only as an adjunct.
[6.] Let us then be diligent in coming together in supplication; and let us pray for one another, as they did for the Apostles. For [so] we both fulfil a commandment, and are "anointed" unto love: (and when I say love, I speak of every good thing:) and also learn to give thanks with more earnestness: for they that give thanks for the things of others, much more will they for their own. This also was David wont to do, saying, "Magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together;" (Ps. xxxiv. 3.) this the Apostle too doth every where require. This let us too labor in; and let us show forth unto all the beneficence of God that we may get companions in the act of praise: for if when we have received any good from men, by proclaiming it forth we make them the readier to serve us: much more shall we, by telling abroad the benefits of God, draw Him on to more good-will. And if when we have received benefits of men we stir up others also to join us in the giving of thanks, much more ought we to bring many unto God who may give thanks for us. For if Paul who had so great confidence [toward God] doth this, much more is it necessary for us to do it. Let us then exhort the saints to give thanks for us; and let us do the same ourselves for one another. To priests especially this good work belongs, since it is an exceeding privilege. For drawing near, we first give thanks for the whole world and the good things common [to all]. For even though the blessings of God be common, yet doth the common preservation include thine own; so that thou both owest common thanksgivings for thine own peculiar blessing, and for the common blessings shouldest of right render up thine own peculiar praise: for He lighted up the sun not for thee alone, but also for all in common; but nevertheless thou for thy part hast it whole. For it was made so large for the common good; and yet thou individually seest it as large as all men have seen it; so that thou owest a thanksgiving as great as all together; and thou oughtest to give thanks for what all have in common and likewise for the virtue of others; for on account of others, too, we receive many blessings: for had there been found in Sodom ten righteous only, they had not suffered what they did. So then let us give thanks also for the confidence of others [toward God]. For this custom is an ancient one, planted in the Church from the beginning. Thus Paul also giveth thanks for the Romans, (Rom. i. 8.) for the Corinthians, (1 Cor. i. 4.) for the whole world, (1 Tim. ii. 1.) And tell me not, "The good work is none of mine;" for though it be none of thine, yet even so oughtest thou to give thanks that thy member is such an one. And besides, by thy acclamation thou makest it thine own, and sharest in the crown, and shalt thyself also receive the gift. On this account it is that the laws of the Church command prayer
also to be thus made, and that not for the faithful only, but also for the Catechumens. For the law stirreth up the faithful to make supplication for the uninitiated. For when the Deacon saith, "Let us pray earnestly for the Catechumens," he doth no other than excite the whole multitude of the faithful to pray for them; although the Catechumens are as yet aliens. For they are not yet of the Body of Christ, they have not yet partaken of the Mysteries, but are still divided from the spiritual flock. But if we ought to intercede for these, much more for our own members. And even therefore he saith, "earnestly let us pray," that thou shouldest not disown them as aliens, that thou shouldest not disregard them as strangers. For as yet they have not the appointed prayer, which Christ brought in; as yet they have not confidence, but have need of others' aid who have been initiated. For without the king's courts they stand, far from the sacred precincts. Therefore they are even driven away whilst those awful prayers are being offered. Therefore also he exhorteth thee to pray for them that they may become members of thee, that they may be no longer strangers and Miens. For the words, "Let us pray," are not addressed to the priests alone, but also to those that make up the people: for when he saith, "Let us stand in order: let us pray; "he exhorteth all to the prayer.
[7.] Then beginning the prayer, he saith, "That the all-pitying and merciful God would listen to their prayers." For that thou mayest not say, What shall we pray? they are aliens, not yet united [to the body]. Whereby can I constrain the regard of God? Whence can I prevail with Him to impart unto them mercy and forgiveness? That thou mayest not be perplexed with such questions as these, see how he disentangleth thy perplexity, saying, "that the all-pitying and merciful God." Heardest thou? "All- pitying God." Be perplexed no more. For the All-pitying pitieth all, both sinners and friends. Say not then, "How shall I approach Him for them?" Himself will listen to their prayers. And the Catechumens' prayer, what can it be but that they may not remain Catechumens? Next, he suggesteth also the manner of the prayer. And what is this? "That He would open the ears of their hearts;" for they are as yet shut and stopped up. "Ears," he saith, not these which be outward, but those of the understanding, "so as to hear 'the things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man.'" (1 Cor. ii. 9. Is. liv. 4.) For they have not heard the untold mysteries; but they stand somewhere at a distance and far off from them; and even if they should hear, they know not what is said; for those [mysteries] need much understanding, not hearing only: and the inward ears as yet they have not: wherefore also He next invoketh for them a Prophet's gift, for the Prophet spoke on this wise; "God giveth me the tongue of instruction, that I should know how to speak a word in season; for He opened my mouth; He gave to me betimes in the morning; He granted me a hearing ear." (Is. 1. 4. Sept.) For as the Prophets heard otherwise than the many, so also do the faithful than the Catechumens. Hereby the Catechumen also is taught not to learn to hear these things of men, (for He saith, "Call no man master upon the earth, but from above, from heaven, "For they shall be all taught of God." (Isa. liv. 13.)
Wherefore he says, "And instil into them the word of truth," so that it may be inwardly learned; for as yet they know not the word of truth as they ought to know. "That He would sow His fear in them." But this is not enough; for "some fell by the wayside, and some upon the rock." But we ask not thus; but as on rich soil the plough openeth the furrows, so we pray it may be here also, that having the fallow ground of their minds tilled deep, they may receive what is dropped upon them and accurately retain everything they have heard. Whence also he adds, "And confirm His faith in their minds;" that is, that it may not lie on the surface, but strike its root deep downwards. "That He would unveil to them the Gospel of Righteousness." He showeth that the veil is two-fold, partly that the eyes of their understanding were shut, partly that the Gospel was hidden from them. Whence he said a little above, "that He would open the ears of their hearts," and here, "that he would unveil unto them the Gospel of Righteousness;" that is, both that He would render them wise and apt for receiving seed, and that He would teach them and drop the seed into them; for though they should be apt, yet if God reveal not, this profiteth nothing; and if God should unveil but they receive not, there resulteth like unprofitableness. Therefore we ask for both: that He would both open their hearts and unveil the Gospel. For neither if kingly ornaments lie underneath a veil, will it profit at all that the eyes be looking; nor yet that they be laid bare, if the eyes be not waking. But both will be granted, if first they themselves desire it. But what then is "the Gospel of Righteousness?" That which maketh righteous. By these words he leadeth them to the desire of Baptism, showing that the Gospel is for the working not only of the remission of sins, but also of righteousness.
[8.] "That He would grant to them a godly mind, sound judgment, and virtuous manner of life." Let such of the faithful attend as are rivetted to the things of [this] life. For if we are bidden to ask these things for the uninitiated: think in what things we ought to be occupied who ask these things for others. For the manner of life ought to keep pace with the Gospel. Whence surely also the order of the prayer shifts from the doctrines [of the Gospel] to the deportment: for to the words, "that He would unveil to them the Gospel of Righteousness;" it hath added, "that He would give unto them a Godly mind." And what is this "Godly?" That God may dwell in it. For He saith, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them;" (Lev. xxvi. 12.) for when the mind is become righteous, when it hath put off its sins, it becometh God's dwelling. (Rom. vi. 16.) But when God indwelleth, nothing of man will be left. And thus doth the mind become Godly, speaking every word from Him, even as in truth an house of God dwelling in it. Surely then the filthy in speech hath not a Godly mind, nor he who delighteth in jesting and laughter.
"Sound judgment." And what can it be to have "a sound judgment?" To enjoy the health that pertaineth to the soul: for he that is held down by wicked lusts and dazzled with present things, never can be sound, that is, healthy. But as one who is diseased lusteth even after things which are unfit for him, so also doth he. "And a virtuous mode of life," for the doctrines need a mode of life [answerable]. Attend to this, ye who come to baptism at the close of life, for we indeed pray that after baptism ye may have also this deportment, but thou art seeking and doing thy utmost to depart without it. For, what though thou be justified: yet is it of faith only. But we pray that thou shouldest have as well the confidence that cometh of good works.
"Continually to think those things which be His, to mind those things which be His, to practise those things which be His:" for we ask not to have sound judgment and virtuous deportment for one day only, or for two or three, but through the whole tenor and period of our life; and as the foundation of all good things, "to mind those things which be His." For the many "seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." (Phil. ii. 21.) How then might this be? (For besides prayer, need is that we contribute also our own endeavors.) If we be occupied in His law day and night. Whence he goeth on to ask this also, "to be occupied in His law;" and as he said above, "continually," so here "day and night." Wherefore I even blush for these who scarce once in the year are seen in church. For what excuse can they have who are bidden not simply "day and night" to commune with the law but "to be occupied in," that is, to be for ever holding converse with it, and yet scarce do so for the smallest fraction of their life?
"To remember His commandments, to keep His judgments." Seest thou what an excellent chain is here? and how each link hangs by the next compacted with more strength and beauty than any chain of gold? For having asked for a Godly mind, he telleth whereby this may be produced. Whereby? By continually practising it. And how might this be brought about? By constantly giving heed to the Law. And how might men be persuaded to this? If they should keep His Commandments: yea rather, from giving heed to the law cometh also the keeping His Commandments; as likewise from minding the things which be His and from having a Godly mind, cometh the practising the things which be His. For each of the things mentioned jointly procureth and is procured by the next, both linking it and being linked by it.
[9.] "Let us beseech for them yet more earnestly." For since by length of speaking the soul useth to grow drowsy, he again arouseth it up, for he purposeth to ask again certain great and lofty things. Wherefore he saith, "Let us beseech for them yet more earnestly." And what is this? "That He would deliver them from every evil and inordinate thing." Here we ask for them that they may not enter into temptation, but be delivered from every snare, a deliverance as well bodily as spiritual. Wherefore also he goeth on to say, "from every devilish sin and from every besetment of the adversary," meaning, temptations and sins. For sin doth easily beset, taking its stand on every side, before, behind, and so casting down. For, after telling us what ought to be done by us, namely, to be occupied in His law, to remember His Commandments, to keep His judgments, he assures us next that not even is this enough, except Himself stand by and succor. For, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it;" (Ps. cxxvii. 1) and especially in the case of those who are yet exposed to the devil and are under his dominion. And ye that are initiated know this well. For call to mind, for instance, those words wherein ye renounced s his usurped rule, and bent the knee and deserted to The King, and uttered those awful words whereby we are taught in nothing whatever to obey him. But he calleth him adversary and accuser, because he both accuseth God to man and us to God, and us again one to another. For at one time he accused Job to God, saying, "Doth Job serve the Lord for nought?" (Job i. 9. LXX. ver. 16.) at another time God to Job, "Fire came down from heaven." And again, God to Adam, (Gen. iii. 5.) when He said their eyes would be opened. And to many men at this day, saying, that God taketh no care for the visible order of things, but hath delegated your affairs to demons. And to many of the Jews he accused Christ, calling Him a deceiver and a sorcerer. But perchance some one wisheth to hear in what manner he worketh. When he findeth not a godly mind, findeth not a sound understanding, then, as into a soul left empty, he leads his revel thither; when one remembereth not the commandments of God nor keepeth His judgments, then he taketh him captive and departeth. Had Adam, for instance, remembered the commandment which said, "Of every tree thou mayest eat:" (Gen. ii. 16.) had he kept the judgment which said, "In the day in which ye eat thereof, then shall ye surely die;" it had not fared with him as it did.
"That He would count them worthy in due season of the regeneration of the laver, of the remission of sins." For we ask some things to come now, some to come hereafter; and we expound the doctrine n of the layer, and in asking instruct them to know its power. For what is said thenceforth familiarizes them to know already that what is there done is a regeneration, and that we are born again of the waters, just as of the womb; that they say not after Nicodemus, "How can one be born when he is old! Can he enter into his mother's womb, and be born again?" Then, because he had spoken of "remission of sins," he confirmeth this by the words next following, "of the clothing of incorruption;" for he that putteth on sonship plainly becometh incorruptible. But what is that "in due season?" When any is well disposed, when any cometh thereunto with earnestness and faith; for this is the "due season" of the believer.
[10.] "That He would bless their coming in and their going out, the whole course of their life." Here they are directed to ask even for some bodily good, as being yet somewhat weak. "Their houses and their households," that is, if they have servants or kinsfolk or any others belonging to them. For these were the rewards of the old Covenant; and nothing then was feared so much as widowhood, childlessness, untimely mournings, to be visited with famine, to have their affairs go on unprosperously. And hence it is, that he alloweth these also fondly to linger over petitions rather material, making them mount by little and little to higher things. For so too doth Christ; so too doth Paul, making mention of the ancient blessings: Christ, when He saith, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth;" Paul, when he saith, "Honor thy father and thy mother .... and thou shalt live long on the earth." "That He would increase their children and bless them, and bring them to full age, and teach them wisdom." Here again is both a bodily and spiritual thing, as for persons yet but too much babes in disposition. Then what follows is altogether spiritual, "that He would direct all that is before them unto good;" for he saith not simply, "all that is before them," but, "all that is before them unto good." For often a journey is before a man, but it is not good; or some other such thing, which is not profitable. Here by they are taught in every thing to give thanks to God, as happening for good. After all this, he bids them stand up during what follows. For having before cast them to the ground, when they have asked what they have asked and have been filled with confidence, now the word given raiseth them up, and biddeth them during what follows engage for themselves also in supplication to God. For part we say ourselves, and part we permit them to say, now opening unto them the door of prayer, (exactly as we first teach children [what to say], and then bid them say it of themselves,) saying, "Pray ye, Catechumens, for the angel of peace;" for there is an angel that punisheth, as when He saith, "A band of evil angels," (Ps. lxxviii. 49) there is that destroyeth. Wherefore we bid them ask for the angel of peace, teaching them to seek that which is the bond of all good things, peace; so that they may be delivered from all fightings, all wars, all seditions. "That all that is before you may be peaceful;" for even if a thing be burdensome, if a man have peace, it is light. Wherefore Christ also said, "My peace I give unto you (John xiv. 27) for the devil hath no weapon so strong as fighting, and enmity, and war. "Pray that this day and all the days of your life be full of peace." Seest thou how he again insisteth that the whole life be passed in virtue? "That your ends be Christian;" your highest good, the honorable and the expedient; for what is not honorable is not expedient either. For our idea of the nature of expediency is different from that of the many. "Commend yourselves to the living God and to His Christ;" for as yet we trust them not to pray for others, but it is sufficient to be able to pray for themselves.
Seest thou the completeness of this prayer, both in regard of doctrine and of behavior? for when we have mentioned the Gospel and the clothing of
incorruption and the Laver of Regeneration, we have mentioned all the doctrines: when again we spoke of a Godly mind, a sound understanding, and the rest of what we said, we suggested the mode of life. Then we bid them bow their heads; regarding it as a proof of their prayers being heard that God blessed them. For surely it is not a man that blesseth; but by means of his hand and his tongue we bring unto the King Himself the heads of those that are present. And all together shout the "Amen."
Now why have I said all this? To teach you that we ought to seek the things of others, that the faithful may not think it no concern of theirs when these things are said. For not to the walls Surely doth the Deacon say, "Let us pray for the Catechumens." But some are so without understanding, so stupid, so depraved, as to stand and talk not only during the time of the Catechumens, but also during the time of the faithful. Hence all is perverted; hence all is utterly lost: for at the very time when we ought most to propitiate God, we go away having provoked Him. So again in [the prayers of] the faithful, we are bidden to approach the God that loveth men, for Bishops, for Priests, for Kings, for those in authority, for earth and sea, for the seasons, for the whole world. When then we who ought to have such boldness as to pray for others, are scarce awake even whilst praying for ourselves, how can we excuse ourselves? how find pardon? Wherefore I beseech you that laying all this to heart, ye would know the time of prayer, and be lifted up and disengaged from earth, and touch the vault itself of heaven; so that we may have power to make God propitious and obtain the good things promised, whereunto may we all attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ; with Whom unto the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.
For our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God, we behaved ourselves in the world.
Here again he openeth to us yet another ground of comfort, and that not small, yea rather, exceeding great, and well fitted to upraise a mind sinking under perils. For seeing he had said, God comforted us, and God delivered us, and had ascribed all to His mercies and their prayers, lest he should thus make the hearer supine, presuming on God's mercy only and the prayers of others, he showeth that they themselves had contributed not a little of their own. And indeed he showed as much even before, when he said, "For as the sufferings of Christ abound [in us,] so our consolation also aboundeth." (ver. 5.) But here he is speaking of a certain other good work, properly their own. What then is this? That, saith he, in a conscience pure and without guile we behave ourselves every where in the world: and this availeth not a little to our encouragement and comfort; yea, rather, not to comfort merely, but even unto somewhat else far greater than comfort, even to our glorying. And this he said, teaching them too not to sink down in their afflictions, but, if so be they have a pure conscience, even to be proud of them; and at the same time quietly though gently hitting at the false Apostles. And as in the former Epistle he saith, "Christ sent me to preach the Gospel, not in wisdom of words, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of none effect:" (1 Cor. i. 17.) and, "that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God;" (ib. ii. 5.) so here also, "Not in wisdom, but in the grace of Christ."
And he hinted also something besides, by employing the words, "not in wisdom," that is, 'not in deceit,' here too striking at the heathen discipline. "For our glorying," saith he, "is this, the testimony of our conscience;" that is, our conscience not having whereof to condemn us, as if for evil doings we were persecuted. For though we suffer countless horrors, though from every quarter we be shot at and in peril, it is enough for our comfort, yea rather not only for comfort, but even for our crowning, that our conscience is pure and testifieth unto us that for no evil-doing, but for that which is well-pleasing to God, we thus suffer; for virtue's sake, for heavenly wisdom's, for the salvation of the many. Now that previous consolation was from God: but this was contributed by themselves and from the purity of their' life. Wherefore also he calls it their glorying, because it was the achievement of their own virtue. What then is this glorying and what doth our conscience testify unto us? "That in sincerity," that is to say, having no deceitful thing, no hypocrisy, no dissimulation, no flattery, no ambush or guile, nor any other such thing, but in all frankness, in simplicity, in truth, in a pure and unmalicious spirit, in a guileless mind, having nothing concealed, no festering sore. "Not in fleshly wisdom;" that is, not with evil artifice, nor with wickedness, nor with cleverness of words, nor with webs of sophistries, for this he meaneth by 'fleshly wisdom:' and that whereupon they greatly prided themselves, he disclaims and thrusts aside: showing very abundantly that this is no worthy ground for glorying: and that not only he doth not seek it, but he even rejecteth and is ashamed of it.
"But in the grace of God we behaved our selves in the world."
What is, "in the grace of God?" Displaying the wisdom that is from Him, the power from Him given unto us, by the signs wrought, by overcoming sages, rhetoricians, philosophers, kings, peoples, unlearned as we are and bringing with us nothing of the wisdom that is without. No ordinary comfort and glorying, however, was this, to be conscious to themselves that it was not men's power they had used; but that by Divine grace they had achieved all success.
["In the world."] So not in Corinth only, but also in every part of the world.
"And more abundantly to you-ward." What more abundantly to you-ward? "In the grace of God we behaved ourselves." For we showed both signs and wonders amongst you, and greater strictness, and a life unblameable; for he calls these too the grace of God, ascribing his own good works also unto it. For in Corinth he even overleapt the goal, making the Gospel without charge, because he spared their weakness.
Ver. 13. "For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or even acknowledge."
For since he spoke great things of himself and seemed to be bearing witness to himself, an odious thing, he again appeals to them as witnesses of what he says. For, he saith, let no one think that what I say is a boastful flourish of writing; for we declare unto you what yourselves know; and that we lie not ye more than all others can bear us witness. For, when ye read, ye acknowledge that what ye know that we perform in our actions, this we say also in our writings, and your testimony doth not contradict our epistles; but the knowledge which ye had before of us is in harmony with your reading.
Ver. 14. "As also ye did acknowledge us in part."
For your knowledge of us, he saith, is not from hearsay but from actual experience. The words "in part" he added from humility. For this is his wont, when necessity constraineth him to say any highsounding thing, (for he never doth so otherwise, ) as desiring quickly to repress again the elation arising from what he had said.
"And I hope ye will acknowledge even to the end."
[2.] Seest thou again how from the past he draws pledges for the future; and not from the past only, but also from the power of God? For he affirmed not absolutely, but cast the whole upon God and his hope in Him.
"That we are your glorying, even as ye also are our's, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Here he cuts at the root of the envy that his speech might occasion, by making them sharers and partners in the glory of his good works. 'For these stick not with us, but pass over unto you also, and again from you to us.' For seeing he had extolled himself, and produced proof of the past and given security for the future; lest his hearers should reflect on him for talking proudly, or, as I have said, be hurried to enviousness, he makes the rejoicing a common one and declares that this crown of praises is theirs. For if, he says, we have shown ourselves to be such, our praise is your glory: even as when ye also are approved, we rejoice and leap for joy and are crowned. Here also again he displays his great humility by what he says. For he so levels his expressions, not as a master discoursing to disciples, but as a disciple unto fellow-disciples of his own rank. And observe how he lifts them on high and fills them with philosophy, sending them on to That Day. For, he saith, tell me not of the present things, that is, the reproaches, the revilings, the scoffings of the many, for the things here are no great matter, neither the good nor the painful; nor the scoffings nor the praises which come from men: but remember, I pray, that day of fear and shuddering in the which all things are revealed. For then both we shall glory in you, and ye in us; when ye shall be seen to have such teachers, who teach no doctrine of men nor live in wickedness nor give [men] any handle; and we to have such disciples, neither affected after the manner of men nor shaken, but taking all things with readiness of mind, and unseduced by sophistries s from what side soever. For this is plain even now to those that have understanding, but then to all. So that even if we are afflicted now, we have this, and that no light, consolation which the conscience affordeth now, and the manifestation itself then. For now indeed our conscience knoweth that we do all things by the grace of God, as ye also know and shall know: but then, all men as well will learn both our doings and yours: and shall behold us glorified through each other. For that he may not appear himself alone to derive lustre from this glorying, he gives to them also a cause of boasting, and leads them away from their present distresses. And as he did in respect to the consolation when he said, "We are comforted for your sakes," (ver. 6.) so he does here also, saying, 'we glory on your account, as ye also on ours,' every where making them partakers of every thing, of his comfort, his sufferings, his preservation. For this his preservation he ascribes to their prayers. "For God delivered us," he saith, "ye helping together by prayer." In like manner also he makes the gloryings common. For as in that place he says, "Knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so also of the consolation:" so here too, "we are your glorying, as ye also are ours."
Ver. 15. "And in this confidence I was minded to come before unto you." What confidence? 'In relying exceedingly on you, glorying over you, being your glorying, loving you exceedingly, being conscious to myself of nothing evil, being confident that all is spiritual with us, and having you as witnesses of this.'
"I was minded to come unto you, and by you to pass into Macedonia."
And yet he promised the contrary in his former Epistle, saying thus: "Now I will come unto you when I shall have passed through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia." (1 Cor. xvi. 5.) How is it then that he here says the contrary? He doth not say the contrary: away with the thought. For it is contrary indeed to what he wrote, but not contrary to what he wished.
Wherefore also here he said not, 'I wrote that I would pass by you into Macedona; but, 'I was minded.' For though I did not write on that wise,' he says, 'nevertheless I was greatly desirous, and 'was minded,' even before, to have come unto you: so far was I from wishing to be later than my promise that I would gladly have come before it.' "That ye might have a second benefit." What is, a second benefit? 'That ye might have a double benefit, both that from my writings, and that from my presence.' By "benefit" he here means pleasure.
Ver. 16, 17. "And by you to pass into Macedonia, and to come again from Macedonia unto you, and of you to be set forward on my journey unto Judaea. When I therefore was thus minded, did I show fickleness?"
[3.] Here in what follows, he directly does away with the charge arising out of his delay and absence. For what he says is of this nature. "I was minded to come unto you." 'Wherefore then did I not come? Is it as light-minded and changeable?' for this is, "did I show fickleness?" By no means. But wherefore? "Because what things I purpose, I purpose not according to the flesh." What is, "not according to the flesh?" I purpose not 'carnally.'
Ver. 17. "That with me there should be the yea yea and the nay nay."
But still even this is obscure. What is it then he says? The carnal man, that is, he that is rivetted to the present things and is continually occupied in them, and is without the sphere of the Spirit's influence, has power to go every where, and to wander whithersoever he will. But he that is the servant of the Spirit, and is led, and led about by Him, cannot everywhere be lord of his own purpose, having made it dependent upon the authority thence given; but it so fares with him as if a trusty servant, whose motions are always ruled by his lord's biddings and who has no power over himself nor is able to rest even a little, should make some promise to his fellow-servants, and then because his master would have it otherwise should fail to perform his promise. This then is what he means by, "I purpose not according to the flesh." I am not beyond the Spirit's governance, nor have liberty to go where I will. For I am subject to lordship and commands, the Comforter's, and by His decrees I am led, and led about. For this cause I was unable to come, for it was not the Spirit's will. As happened also frequently in the Acts; for when he had purposed to come to one place, the Spirit bade him go to another. So that it was not from lightness, that is, fickleness in me that I came not, but that being subject to the Spirit I obeyed Him. Didst mark again his accustomed logic? That by which they thought to prove that "he purposed according to the flesh," namely, the non-fulfilment of his promise, he uses as the special proof that he purposed according to the Spirit, and that the contrary had been purposing according to the flesh. What then? saith one: was it not with the Spirit that he promised what he did? By no means. For I have already said that Paul did not foreknow every thing that was to happen or was expedient. And it is for this reason that he says in the former Epistle, "that ye may set me forward on my journey whithersoever I go;" (1 Cor. xvi. 6.) entertaining this very fear that after he had said, 'into Judaea,' he might be compelled to go elsewhither; but now when his intention had been frustrated, he says it, "And of you be set forward on my journey unto Judaea." So much as was of love, he states, namely, the coming to them; but that which had no reference to them, his going, namely, from them into Judaea, he doth not add definitely. When however he had been proved wrong, he afterwards says here boldly, "toward Judaea." And this too befel for good, lest any among them should conceive of them (the Apostles, Acts xiv. 13.) more highly than they deserved. For if in the face of these things they wished to sacrifice bulls to them. upon what impiety would they not have driven, had they not given many instances of human weakness? And why marvel if he knew not all things that were to happen, seeing that ofttimes he even in prayers knoweth not what is expedient.
"For," saith he "we know not what we should pray for as we ought." And that he may not seem to be speaking modestly, he not only saith this, but instances wherein he knew not in prayers what was expedient. Wherein then was it? When he entreated to be delivered from his trials, saying, "There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me. Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. xii. 7—9.) Seest thou how he knew not to ask what was expedient, and so although he asked often he obtained not.
Ver. 18. "But as God is faithful, our word toward you was not yea and nay."
He skillfully overturns a rising objection. For one might say, If after having promised, thou hast put off coming, and yea is not yea, and nay nay, with thee, but what thou sayest now thou unsayest afterwards, as thou didst in the case of this Journey: woe is unto us, if all this were the case in the Preaching too. Now lest they should have these thoughts and be troubled thereat, he says, "But as God is faithful, our word toward you was not yea and nay." This, saith he, was not the case in the Preaching, but only in our travels and journeyings; whereas whatever things we have said in our preaching, these abide steadfast and unmoveable, (for he calleth his preaching here, "word.") Then he bringeth proof of this that cannot be gainsaid, by referring all to God. What he saith is this; 'the promise of my coming was my own and I gave that promise from myself: but the preaching is not my own, nor of man, but of God, and what is of God it is impossible should lie.' Whereupon also he said, "God is faithful," that is, "true." 'Mistrust not then what is from Him, for there is nought of man in it.'
[4.] And seeing he had said "word," he adds what follows to explain what kind of word he means. Of what kind then is it?
Ver. 19. "For the Son of God," saith he, "Who was preached among you by us, even by me, and Silvanus, and Timothy, was not yea and nay."
For on this account he brings before them the company of the teachers also, as thence too giving credibility to the testimony by those who taught, and not who heard it only. And yet they were disciples; however in his modesty he counts them as in the rank of teachers. But what is, "was not yea and nay?" I have never, he saith, unsaid what before I said in the Preaching. My discourse to you was not now this, now that. For this is not of faith, but of an erring mind.
"But in Him was the yea." That is, just as I said, the word abideth unshaken and steadfast."
Ver. 20. "For how many soever be the promises of God," in Him is the yea, and in Him the Amen, unto the glory of God by us."
What is this, "how many soever the promises of God?" The Preaching promised many things; and these many things they proffered and preached. For they discoursed of being raised again, and of being taken up, and of in corruption, and of those great rewards and unspeakable goods. As to these promises then, he saith that they abide immoveable, and in them is no yea and nay, that is, the things spoken were not now true, and now false, as was the case about my being with you, but always true. And first indeed he contends for the articles of the faith, and the word concerning Christ, saying, "My word" and my preaching, "was not yea and nay;" next, for the promises "for how many soever be the promises, of God, in Him is the yea." But if the things He promised are sure and He will certainly give them, much more is He Himself and the word concerning Him, sure, and it can not be said that He is now, and now is not, but He "always" is, and is the same. But what is, "In Him is the yea, and the Amen." He signifies that which shall certainly be. For in Him, not in man, the promises have their being and fulfilment. Fear not, therefore; for it is not man so that thou shouldest mistrust; but it is God Who both said and fulfilleth. "Unto the glory of God through us." What is, "unto [His] glory through us?" He fulfilleth them by us, that is, and by His benefits towards us unto His glory; for this is "for the glory of God." But if they be for the glory of God, they will certainly come to pass. For His own glory He will not think little of, even did He think little of our salvation. But as it is, He thinketh not little of our salvation either, both because He loveth mankind exceedingly, and because our salvation is bound up with His glory from these things accruing. So that if the promises are for His glory, our salvation also will certainly follow; to which also, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, he reverteth continually, saying, "to the maintenance of His glory;" (Eph. i. 14.) and every where he layeth down this, and shows the necessity of this result. And in this regard he here saith, that His promises lie not: for they not only save us, but also glorify Him. Dwell not on this therefore that they were promised by us; and so doubt. For they are not fulfilled by us, but by Him. Yea, and the promises were by Him; for we spoke not to you our own words, but His.
Ver. 21, 22. "Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God; Who also sealed us, and gave us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." Again, from the past He stablisheth the future. For if it is He that establisheth us in Christ; (i.e., who suffereth us not to be shaken from the faith which is in Christ;) and He that anointed us and gave the Spirit in our hearts, how shall He not give us the future things?
For if He gave the principles and the foundations, and the root and the fount, (to wit, the true knowledge of Him, the partaking of the Spirit,) how shall He not give the things that come of these: for if for the sake of these those are given, much more will he supply those. And if to such as were enemies he gave these, much more when now made friends will He "freely give" to them those. Wherefore He said not simply "the Spirit," but named "earnest," that from this thou mightest have a good hope of the whole as well. For did He not purpose to give the whole, He would never have chosen to give "the earnest" and to waste it without object or result. And observe Paul's candor. For why need I say, saith he, that the truth of the promises standeth not in us? The fact of your standing unwavering and fixed is not in us, but this too is of God; "for" saith he, "He who stablisheth us is God." It is not we who strengthen you: for even we also need Him that stablisheth. So then let none imagine that the Preaching is hazardous in us. He hath undertaken the whole, He cared for the whole.
And what is, "anointed," and "sealed?" Gave the Spirit by Whom He did both these things, making at once prophets and priests and kings, for in old times these three sorts were anointed. But we have now not one of these dignities, but all three preeminently. For we are both to enjoy a kingdom
and are made priests by offering our bodies for a sacrifice, (for, saith he, "present your members a living sacrifice unto God;) and withal we are constituted prophets too: for what things "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard," (1 Cor. ii. 9.) these have been revealed unto us.
[5.] And in another way too we become kings: if we have the mind to get dominion over our unruly thoughts, for that such an one is a king and more than he who weareth the diadem, I will now make plain to you. He hath many armies, but we again have thoughts exceeding them in number; for it is impossible to number the infinite multitude of the thoughts within us. Nor is their multitude all that one is to consider, but also that in this multitude of thoughts, there are many generals, and colonels, and captains, and archers, and slingers. What else makes a king? His apparel? But this one too is arrayed in a better and braver robe, which neither doth moth devour nor age impair. A crown too he hath of curious workmanship, that of glory, that of the tender mercies of God. For saith [the Psalmist], "Bless the Lord, O my soul, that crowneth thee with pity and tender mercies." (Ps. ciii. 2, 4.) Again, that of glory: "For thou hast crowned him with glory and honor." (Ps. viii. 6.) And" with favor Thou hast crowned us with a shield." (Ps. v. 12. LXX.) Again, that of grace: "For thou shalt receive a crown of grace upon thy head." (Prov. i. 9. LXX.) Seest thou this diadem of many wreaths, and surpassing the other in grace. But let us institute anew and from the beginning a stricter inquiry into the condition of these kings. That king hath dominion over his guards, and issues orders to all, and all obey and serve him; but here I show you greater authority. For the number here is as great or even greater: it remains to inquire into their obedience. And bring me not forth those that have ruled amiss, since I too bring those that have been driven from their kingdom and murdered by their very body guards. Let us then bring forth these instances, but seek for those of either kind who have ordered well their kingdom. And do thou put forward whom thou wilt. I oppose unto thee the patriarch against all. For when he was commanded to sacrifice his son, consider how many thoughts then rose up against him. Nevertheless, he brought all under submission, and all trembled before him more than before a king his guards; and with a look only he stilled them all and not one of them dared so much as mutter; but down they bowed and as unto a king gave place, one and all, though much exasperated and exceeding relentless. For even the heads of spears raised upright by many soldiers are not as fearful as were then those fearful thoughts, armed not with spears, but what is harder to deal with than many spears, the sympathy of nature! Wherefore they had power to pierce his soul more than sharpened spear point. For never spear could be so sharp as were the goads of those thoughts, which, sharpened and upraised from beneath, from his affections, were piercing through and through the mind of that righteous man. For here there needs time and purpose and a stroke and pain, and then death follows; but there, there needed none of these, so much were the wounds speedier and acuter. But still though so many thoughts were then in arms against him, there was a deep calm, and they stood all in fair array; adorning rather than daunting him. See him at least stretching out the knife, and set forth as many as thou wilt, kings, emperors, Caesars, yet shalt thou tell of nought like this, have no like mien to point to, so noble, so worthy of the heavens. For that righteous man erected a trophy at that movement over the most arbitrary of tyrannies. For nothing is so tyrannical as nature; and find ten thousand tyrannicides, one like this shalt thou never show us. For it was the, triumph in that moment of an angel, not a man. For consider. Nature was dashed to the ground with all her weapons, with all her host: and he stood with outstretched hand, grasping not a crown, but a knife more glorious than any crown, and the throng of angels applauded, and God from heaven proclaimed him conquerer.
For seeing that his citzenship was in heaven, thence also he received that proclamation. (Phil. iii. 20.) What could be more glorious than this? rather, what trophy could ever be equal to it? For if on occasion of a wrestler's success, not a herald below but the king above should have risen up and himself proclaimed the Olympic Victor, would not this have seemed to him more glorious than the crown, and have turned the gaze of the whole theatre upon him? When then no mortal king, but God Himself, not in this theatre but in the theatre of the universe, in the assembly of the angels, the archangels, proclaimeth his name with uplifted voice shouting from heaven, tell me what place shall we assign to this holy man?
[6.] But if you will, let us listen too to the voice itself. What then was the voice? "Abraham, Abraham, lay not thy hand upon Isaac, neither do thou any thing unto him. For now I know that thou fearest God, and hast not spared thy son, thy well-beloved, for My sake." (Gen. xxii. 11, 12.) What is this? He that knoweth all things before they are, did He now know! And yet even to man the Patriarch's fear of God was evident: so many proofs had he given that his heart was right toward God, as when He said to him, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred;" (Gen. xii. 1.) when for His sake and the honor due to Him he relinquished to his sister's son his priority; when He delivered him out of so great perils; when He bade him go into Egypt, and on his wife's being taken from him, he repined not, and more instances besides; and as I said, from these things even man would have learned the Patriarch's fear of God, much more than God Who waiteth not for the acts to know the end. And how too justified he him, if He knew not? For it is written, "Abraham believed, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Gen. xv. 6. Rom. iv. 3.)
What then means this, "Now I know?" The Syriac hath, "Now thou hast made known;" that is, to men. For I knew of old, even before all those commandments. And why, to men even, "now?" for were not those acts enough to prove his mind was right toward God? They were enough indeed, but this one so much greater than them all that they appear nothing beside it. As exalting then this good work and showing its superiority to all, He so spake. For of things which exceed and surpass all that went before, most men are wont to speak so: for instance, if one receive from another a gift greater than any former one, he often says, "Now I know that such an one loves me," not hereby meaning that he knew not in the time past, but as intending to declare what is now given to be greater than all. So also God, speaking after the manner of men, saith, "Now I know," intending only to mark the exceeding greatness of the exploit; not that He "then" came to know either his fear or the greatness of it. For when He saith, "Come, let Us go down and see," (Gen. xi. 7; xviii. 21.) He saith it not as needing to go down, (for He both filleth all things and knoweth all things certainly,) but to teach us not to give sentence lightly. And when He saith, "The Lord looked down from Heaven:" (Ps. xiv. 2.) it describeth His perfect knowledge by a metaphor taken from men. So also here He saith, "Now I know," to declare this to be greater than all which had preceded it. Of this itself too He furnisheth proof by adding, "Because thou sparedst not thy son, thy well-beloved, for My sake; He saith not "thy son" only, but yet more, "thy well-beloved." For it was not nature only, but also parental fondness, which having both by natural disposition and by the great goodness of his child, he yet dared in him to spurn. And if about worthless children parents are not easily indifferent, but mourn even for them; when it is his son, his only-begotten, and his well-beloved, even Isaac, and the father himself is on the point of immolating him; who can describe the excessiveness of such philosophy? This exploit outshineth thousands of diadems and crowns innumerable. For the wearer of that crown, both death ofttimes assaileth and annoyeth, and before death, assaults of circumstances without number; but this diadem shall no one have strength to take from him that weareth it; no not even after death; neither of his own household, nor of strangers. And let me point you out the costliest stone in this diadem. For as a costly stone, so this comes at the end and clasps it. What then is this? the words, "for My sake?" for not herein is the marvel, that he spared not, but that it was "for His sake."
Oh! blessed right hand, of what a knife was it accounted worthy? oh! wondrous knife, of what a right hand was it accounted worthy? Oh! wondrous knife, for what a purpose was it prepared? to what an office did it serve? to what a type did it minister? How was it bloodied? how was it not bloodied? For I know not what to say, so awful was that mystery. It touched not the neck of the child, nor passed through the throat of that holy one: nor was crimsoned with the blood of the righteous; rather it both touched, and passed through, and was crimsoned, and was bathed in it, yet was not bathed. Perchance I seem to you beside myself, uttering such contradictions. For, in truth, I am beside myself, with the thought of the wondrous deed of that righteous man; but I utter no contradictions. For indeed the righteous man's hand thrust it in the throat of the lad, but God's Hand suffered it not, so thrust, to be stained with blood of the lad. For it was not Abraham alone that held it back, but God also: and he by his purpose gave the stroke, God by His voice restrained it. For the same voice both armed and disarmed that right hand, which, marshalled under God, as if under a leader, performed all things at His beck, and all were ministered at His voice. For observe; He said, "Slay," and straightway it was armed: He said, "Slay not," and straightway it was disarmed: for every thing [before] had been fully prepared.
And now God showed the soldier and general to the whole world; this crowned victor to the theatre of the angels; this priest, this king, crowned with that knife beyond a diadem, this trophy-bearer, this champion, this conqueror without a fight. For as if some general having a most valiant soldier, should use his mastery of his weapons, his bearing, his ordered movements to dismay the adversary; so also God, by the purpose, the attitude, the bearing only of that righteous man, dismayed and routed
the common enemy of us all, the Devil. For I deem that even he then shrunk away aghast. But if any one say, 'And why did he not suffer that right hand to be bathed, and then forthwith raise him up after being sacrificed?' Because God might not accept such bloody offerings; such a table were that of avenging demons. But here two things were displayed, both the loving kindness of the Master, and the faithfulness of the servant. And before, indeed, he went out from his country: but then he abandoned even nature. Wherefore also he received his principal with usury: and very reasonably. For he chose to lose the name of father, to show himself a faithful servant. Wherefore he became not a father only, but also a priest; and because for God's sake he gave up his own, therefore also did God give him with these His own besides. When then enemies devise mischief, He allows it to come even to the trial, and then works miracles; as in the case of the furnace and the lions; (Dan. iii. and vi.)but when Himself biddeth, readiness attained, He stayeth His bidding. What then, I ask, was wanting further in this noble deed? For did Abraham foreknow what would happen? Did he bargain for the mercy of God? For even though he were a prophet, yet the prophet knoweth not all things. So the actual sacrifice afterwards was superfluous and unworthy of God. And if it was fit he should learn that God was able to raise from the dead, by the womb he had learnt this much more marvellously, or rather he learnt it even before that proof, for he had faith.
[7.] Do not then only admire this righteous man, but also imitate him, and when thou seest him amid so great uproar and surge of waves sailing as in a calm, take thou in hand in like way the helm of obedience and fortitude. For look, pray, not only at this that he built up the altar and the wood; but remember too the voice of the lad, and reflect what hosts like snow storms assaulted him to dismay him, when he heard the lad say, "My father, where is the lamb?" Bethink thee how many thoughts were then stirred up armed not with iron, but with darts of flame; and piercing into and cutting him through on every side. If even now many, and those not parents, are broken down, and would have wept, did they not know the end: and many, I see, do weep, though they know it; what must it be thought he would feel, who begat, who nurtured him, in old age had him, had him only, him such an one, who sees, who hears him, and is presently about to slay him? What intelligence in the words! What meekness in the question! Who then is here at work? The Devil that he might set nature in a flame? God forbid! but God, the more to prove the golden soul of the righteous man. For when indeed the wife of Job speaks, a Devil is at work. For of such sort the advice is. But this one uttereth nothing blasphemous, but what is both very devout and thoughtful; and great the grace that overspread the words, much the honey that dropped therefrom, flowing from a calm and gentle soul. Even a heart of stone these words were enough to soften. But they turned not aside, nay, shook not that adamant. Nor said he, 'Why callest thou him father, who in a little while will not be thy father, yea, who hath already lost that title of honor?' And why doth the lad ask the question? Not of impertinence merely, not of curiosity, but as anxious about what was proposed. For he reflected that had his father not meant to make him a partner in what was done, he would not have left the servants below, and taken him only with him. For this reason, too, surely, it is that when they were alone, then he asks him, when none heard what was said. So great was the judgment of the lad. Are ye not all warmed towards him, both men and women? Doth not each one of you mentally infold and kiss the child, and marvel at his judgment; and venerate the piety which, when he was both bound and laid on the wood, made him not be dismayed nor struggle nor accuse his father as mad; but he was even bound and lifted up and laid upon it, and endured all in silence, like a lamb, yea, rather like the common Lord of all. For of Him he both imitated the gentleness, and kept to the type. For "He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep dumb before his shearer." (Is. liii. 7.) And yet Isaac spake; for his Lord spake also. How dumb then? This meaneth, he spake nothing wilful or harsh, but all was sweet and mild, and the words more than the silence manifested his gentleness. For Christ also said, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou Me? "(John xviii. 23) and manifested His gentleness more than if He had help His peace. And as this one speaketh with his father from the altar, so too doth He from the Cross, saying," Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." What then said the Patriarch? (ver. 8.) "God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt-offering, my son." Either uses the names of nature; the former, father; the latter, son; and on either side arduous is the war stirred up, and mighty the storm, and yet wreck no where: for religion triumphed over all. Then after he heard of God, he spoke no further word nor was impertinently curious. Of such judgment was the child even in the very bloom of youth. Seest thou the king, over how many armies, in how many battles which beset him, he hath been victorious? For the barbarians were not so fearful to the city of Jerusalem when they assaulted her oftentimes, as were to this man the thoughts on every side besieging him: but still he overcame all. Wouldest thou see the priest also? The instance is at hand. For when thou hast seen him with fire and a knife; and standing over an altar, what doubtest thou after as to his priesthood? But if thou wouldest see the sacrifice also, lo, here a twofold one. For he offered a son, he offered also a ram, yea, more and above all, his own will. And with the blood of the lamb he consecrated his right hand, with the sacrifice of his son, his soul. Thus was he ordained a priest, by the blood of his only-begotten, by the sacrifice of a lamb; for the priests also were consecrated by the blood of the victims which were offered to God. Wouldest thou see the prophet also? It is written, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad." (Levit. viii. John viii. 56.)
So also art thou thyself made king and priest and prophet in the Layer; a king, having dashed to earth all the deeds of wickedness and slain thy sins; a priest, in that thou offerest thyself to God, having sacrificed thy body and being thyself slain also, "for if we died with Him," saith he, 'we shall also live with Him;" (2 Tim. ii. 11.) a prophet, knowing what shall be, and being inspired of God, and sealed. For as upon soldiers a seal, so is also the Spirit put upon the faithful. And if thou desert, thou art manifest [by it] to all. For the Jews had circumcision for a seal, but we, the earnest of the Spirit. Knowing then all this, and considering our high estate, let us exhibit a life worthy of the grace, that we may obtain also the kingdom to come; which may we all obtain through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.
But I call God for a witness upon my soul, that to spare you I forbare to come unto Corinth.
What sayest thou, O blessed Paul? To spare them thou camest not to Corinth? Surely thou presentest us with something of a contradiction. For a little above thou saidst that thou therefore camest not, because thou purposest not according to the flesh nor art thine own master, but art led about every where by the authority of the Spirit, and didst set forth thine afflictions. But here thou sayest it was thine own act that thou camest not, and not from the authority of the Spirit; for he saith, "To spare you I forbare to come to Corinth." What then is one to say? either, that this too was itself of the Spirit, and that he himself wished to come but the Spirit suggested to him not to do so, urging the motive of sparing them; or else, that he is speaking of some other coming, and would signify that before he wrote the former Epistle he was minded to come, and for love's sake restrained himself lest he should find them yet unamended. Perhaps also, after the second Epistle though the Spirit no longer forbade him to go, he involuntarily stayed away for this reason. And this suspicion is the more probable, that in the first instance the Spirit forbade him: but afterwards upon his own conviction also that this was more advisable, he stayed away.
And observe, I pray you, how he remembers again his own custom, (which I shall never cease to observe,) of making what seems against him tell in his favor. For since it was natural for them to respect this and say, 'It was because thou hatedst us, thou wouldest not come unto us,' he shows on the contrary, that the cause for which he would not come was that he loved them.
What is the expression, "to spare you?" I heard, he saith, that some among you had committed fornication; I would not therefore come and make you sorry: for had I come, I must needs have enquired into the matter, and prosecuted and punished, and exacted justice from many. I judged it then better to be away and to give opportunity for repentance, than to be with you and to prosecute, and be still more incensed. For towards the end of this Epistle he hath plainly declared it, saying, "I fear lest when I come, my God should humble me before you, and that I should mourn for many of them that have sinned heretofore, and repented not of the lasciviousness and uncleanness which they committed." (2 Cor. xii. 20, 21.) This therefore here also he intimates, and he saith it indeed as in his own defence; yet rebuketh them most severely and putteth them in fear; for he implied that they were open to punishment, and will also have somewhat to suffer, unless they be quickly reformed. And he says the same thing again at the end of the Epistle thus; "If I come again, I will not spare." (2 Cor. xiii. 2.) Only there he says it more plainly: but here, as it was the proem, he does not say it so but in a repressed tone; nor is he content even with this, but he softens it down, applying a corrective. For seeing the expression was that of one asserting great authority, (for a man spares those whom he has also power to punish,) in order to relieve it, and draw a shade over what seems harsh, he saith,
Ver. 24. "Not for that we have lordship over your faith."
That is, I did not therefore say, "To spare you I came not," as lording it over you. Again, he said not you, but "your faith," which was at once gentler and truer. For him that hath no mind to believe, who hath power to compel?
"But are helpers of your joy."
For since, saith he, your joy is ours, I came not, that I might not plunge you into sorrow and increase my own despondency; but I stayed away that ye being reformed by the threat might be made glad. For we do every thing in order to your joy, and give diligence in this behalf, because we are ourselves partakers of it. "For by faith ye stand."
Behold him again speaking repressedly. For he was afraid to rebuke them again; since he had handled them severely in the former Epistle, and they had made some reformation. And if, now that they were reformed, they again received the same reproof, this was likely to throw them back. Whence this Epistle is much gentler than the former.
Chap. ii. 1. "But I determined for myself that I would not come again to you with sorrow."
The expression "again" proves that he had already been made sorry from thence, and whilst he seems to be speaking in his own defence he covertly rebukes them. Now if they had both already made him sorry and were about again to make him sorry, consider how great the displeasure was likely to be. But he saith not thus, 'Ye made me sorry,' but turns the expression differently yet implying the very same thing thus, 'For this cause I came not that I might not make you sorry:' which has the same force as what I said, but is more palatable.
[2.] Ver. 2. "For if I make you sorry, who then is he that maketh me glad, but he that is made sorry by me?"
What is this consequence? A very just one indeed. For observe, I would not, he saith, come unto you, lest I should increase your sorrow, rebuking, showing anger and disgust. Then seeing that even this was strong and implied accusation that they so lived as to make Paul sorry, he applies a corrective in the words, "For if I make you sorry, who then is he that maketh me glad, but he that is made sorry by me?"
What he saith is of this kind. 'Even though I were to be in sorrow, being compelled to rebuke you and to see you sorry, still nevertheless this very thing would have made me glad. For this is a proof of the greatest love, that you hold me in such esteem as to be hurt at my being displeased with you.'
Behold too his prudence. Their doing what all disciples do, namely, smarting and feeling it when rebuked, he produces as an instance of their gratifying him; for, saith he, 'No man maketh me so glad as he that giveth heed to my words, and is sorry when he seeth me angry.'
Yet what followed naturally was to say, 'For if I make you sorry, who then is he that can make you glad?' But he doth not say this, but turns his speech back again, dealing tenderly with them, and says, 'Though I make you sorry, even herein ye bestow on me a very great favor in that ye are hurt at what I say.'
Ver. 3. "And I wrote this very thing unto you."
What? That for this cause I came not, to spare you. When wrote he? In the former Epistle when he said, "I do not wish to see you now by the way?" (1 Cor. xvi. 7.) I think not; but in this Epistle when he said, "Lest when I come again, my God should humble me before you." (2 Cor. xii. 21.) I have written then towards the end this same, saith he, "lest when I come, my God will humble me, and I should mourn for many of them that have sinned heretofore."
But why didst thou write? "Lest when I came I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice, having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all?" For whereas he said he was made glad by their sorrow, and this was too arrogant and harsh, again he gave it a different turn and softened it by what he subjoined. For, he saith, I therefore wrote unto you before, that I might not with anguish find you unreformed; and I said this, "lest I should have sorrow," out of regard not to my own interest but yours. For I know that if ye see me rejoicing ye rejoice, and if ye behold me sad ye are sad. Observe therefore again the connection of what he said; for so his words will be more easy to understand. I came not, he says, lest I should cause you sorrow when finding you unreformed. And this I did, not studying my own advantage, but yours. For as to myself, when ye are made sorry I receive no little pleasure, seeing that you care so much about me as to be sorry and distressed at my being displeased. "For who is he that maketh me glad, but he that is made sorry by me." However, though it be so with myself, yet because I study your advantage, I wrote this same thing to you that I might not be made sorry, herein also again studying not my advantage, but yours; for I know, that were ye to see me sad, ye also would be sorry; as also ye are glad when ye see me rejoicing. Observe now his prudence. He said, I came not, that I might not make you sorry; although, saith be, this makes me glad. Then, lest he should seem to take pleasure in their pain, he saith, In this respect I am glad inasmuch as I make you feel, for in another respect I am sorry in that I am compelled to make those sorry who love me so much, not only by this rebuke, but also by being myself in sorrow and by this means causing you fresh sorrow.
But observe how he puts this so as to mingle praise; saying, "from them of whom I ought to rejoice," for these are the words of one testifying kindred and much tender affection; as if one were speaking of sons on whom he had bestowed many benefits and for whom he had toiled. If then for this I write and come not; it is with weighty meaning I come not, and not because I feel hate or aversion, but rather exceeding love.
[3.] Next, whereas he said, he that makes me sorry makes me glad; lest they should say 'this then is what thou studiest, that thou mightest be made glad and mightest exhibit to all the extent of thy power;' he added,
Ver. 4. "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears, not that ye should be made sorry, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you."
What more tenderly affectioned than this man's spirit is? for he showeth himself to have been not less pained than they who had sinned, but even much more. For he saith not "out of affliction" merely, but "out of much," nor "with tears," but "with many tears" and "anguish of heart," that is, I was suffocated, I was choked with despondency; and when I could no longer endure the cloud of despondency," I wrote unto you: not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love," saith he, "which I have more abundantly unto you." And yet what naturally followed was to say, not that ye might be grieved, but that ye might be corrected: (for indeed with this purpose he wrote.) This however he doth not say, but, (more to sweeten his words, and win them to a greater affection,) he puts this for it, showing that he doth all from love. And he saith not simply "the love," but "which I have more abundantly unto you." For hereby also he desires to win them, by showing that he loveth them more than all and feels towards them as to chosen disciples. Whence he saith, "Even if I be not an Apostle unto others, yet at least I am to you;" (1 Cor. ix. 2.) and, "Though ye have many tutors, yet have ye not many fathers; "(1 Cor. iv. 15.) and again, "By the grace of God we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly to you ward;" (2 Cor. i. 12.) and farther on, "Though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved;" and here "Which I have more abundantly unto you;" (2 Cor. xii. 15.) So that if my words were full of anger, yet out of much love and sadness was the anger; and whilst writing the Epistle, I suffered, I was pained, not because ye had sinned only, but also because I was compelled to make you sorry. And this itself was out of love. Just as a father whose legitimate son is afflicted with a gangrene, being compelled to use the knife and cautery, is pained on both accounts, that he is diseased and that he is compelled to use the knife to him. So that what ye consider a sign of hating you was indeed a sign of excessive love. And if to have made you sorry was out of love, much more my gladness at that sorrow.
[4.] Having made this defence of himself, (for he frequently defends himself, without being ashamed; for if God doth so, saying, "O My people, what have I done unto thee?" (Mic. vi. 3.) much more might Paul,) having, I say, made this defence of himself, and being now about to pass on to the plea for him who had committed fornication, in order that they might not be distracted as at receiving contradictory commands, nor take to cavilling because he it was who both then was angry and was now commanding to forgive him, see how he provided for this beforehand, both by what he has said and what he is going to say. For what saith he?
Ver. 5. "But if any hath caused sorrow, he hath caused sorrow not to me."
Having first praised them as feeling joy and sorrow for the same things as himself, he then strikes into the subject of this person, having said first, "my joy is the joy of you all." But if my joy is the joy of you all, need is that you should also now feel pleasure with me, as ye then were pained with me: for both in that ye were made sorry, ye made me glad; and now in that ye rejoice, (if as I suppose ye shall feel pleasure,) ye will do the same. He said not, my sorrow is the sorrow of you all; but having established this in the rest of what he said, he has now put forward that only which he most desired, namely, the joy: saying, my joy is the joy of you all. Then, he makes mention also of the former matter, saying,
"But if any hath caused sorrow he hath caused sorrow not to me, but in part (that I press not too heavily) to you all."
I know, he saith, that ye shared in my anger and indignation against him that had committed fornication, and that what had taken place grieved in part all of you. And therefore said I "in part," not as though ye were less hurt than I, but that I might not weigh down him that had committed fornication. He did not then grieve me only but you also equally, even though to spare him I said, "in part." Seest thou how at once he moderated their anger, by declaring that they shared also in his indignation.
Ver. 6. "Sufficient to such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the many"
And he saith not "to him that hath committed fornication," but here again "to such a one," as also in the former Epistle. Not however for the same reason; but there out of shame, here out of mercy. Wherefore he no where subsequently so much as mentions the crime; for it was time now to excuse.
Ver. 7. "So that contrariwise ye should rather forgive him and comfort him, lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up with his overmuch sorrow."
He bids them not only take off the censure; but, besides, restores him to his former estate; for if one let go him that hath been scourged and heal him not, he hath done nothing. And see how him too he keeps down lest he should be rendered worse by the forgiveness. For though he had both confessed and repented, he makes it manifest that he obtaineth remission not so much by his penitence as by this free gift. Wherefore he saith, "to forgive him and to comfort him," and what follows again makes the same thing plain. 'For' saith he, 'it is not because he is worthy, not because he has shown sufficient penitence; but because he is weak, it is for this I request it.' Whence also he added, "lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." And this is both as testifying to his deep repentance and as not allowing him to fall into despair .
But what means this, "swallowed up?" Either doing as Judas did, or even in living becoming worse. For, saith he, if he should rush away from longer enduring the anguish of this lengthened censure, perchance also despairing he will either come to hang himself, or fall into greater crimes afterwards. One ought then to take steps beforehand, lest the sore become too hard to deal with; and lest what we have well done we lose by want of moderation.
Now this he said, (as I have already observed,) both to keep him low, and to teach him not to be over-listless after this restoration. For, not as one who has washed all quite away; but as fearing lest he should work aught of deeper mischief, I have received him, he saith. Whence we learn that we must determine the penance, not only by the nature of the sins, but by the disposition and habit of them that sin. As the Apostle did in that instance. For he feared his weakness, and therefore said, "lest he be swallowed up,"as though by a wild beast, by a storm, by a billow.
Ver. 8. "Wherefore I beseech you."
He no longer commands but beseeches, not as a teacher but as an equal; and having seated them on the judgment seat he placed himself in the rank of an advocate; for having succeeded in his object, for joy he adopts without restraint the tone of supplication. And what can it be that thou beseechest? Tell me.
"To confirm your love toward him."
That is, 'make it strong,' not simply have intercourse with him, nor any how. Herein, again, he bears testimony to their virtue as very great; since they who were so friendly and so applauded him as even to be puffed up, were so estranged that Paul takes such pains to make them confirm their love towards him. Herein is excellence of disciples, herein excellence of teachers; that they should so obey the rein, he so manage their motions. If this were so even now, they who sin would not have transgressed senselessly. For one ought neither to love carelessly, nor to be estranged without some reason.
[5.] Ver. 9. "For to this end also did I write to you, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye are obedient in all things;" I not only in cutting off but also in reuniting. Seest thou how here again he brings the danger to their doors. For as when he sinned, he alarmed their minds, except they should cut him off, saying, "A little leaven leaventh the whole lump," (1 Cor. v, 6.) and several other things; so here too again he confronts them with the fear of disobedience, as good as saying, 'As then ye had to consult not for him, but for yourselves too, so now must ye not less for yourselves than for him; lest ye seem to be of such as love contention and have not human sensibilities, and not to be in all things obedient. And hence he saith, "For to this end also did I write to you, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye are obedient in all things."
For the former instance might have seemed to proceed even of envy and malice, but this shows very especially the obedience to be pure, and whether ye are apt unto loving kindness. For this is the test of right minded disciples; if they obey not only when ordered to do certain things, but when the contrary also. Therefore he said, "in all things," showing that if they disobey, they disgrace not him a so much as themselves, earning the character of lovers of contention; and he doth this that hence also he may drive them to obey. Whence also he saith, "For to this end did I write to you;" and yet he wrote not for this end, but he saith so in order to win them. For the leading object was the salvation of that person. But where it does no harm, he also gratifies them. And by saying, "In all things," he again praises them, recalling to memory and bringing forth to view their former obedience.
Ver. 10. "To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also."
Seest thou how again he assigns the second part to himself, showing them as beginning, himself following. This is the way to soften an exasperated, to compose a contentious spirit. Then lest he should make them careless, as though they were arbiters, and they should refuse forgiveness; he again constrains them unto this, saying, that himself also had forgiven him.
"For what I also have forgiven, if I have forgiven any thing, for your sakes have I forgiven it." For, this very thing I have done for your sakes, he saith. And as when he commanded them to cut him off, he left not with them the power to forgive, saying, "I have judged already to deliver such an one unto Satan," (1 Cor. v. 3, 5.) and again made them partners in his decision saying, "ye being gathered together to deliver him," (ib. 4, 5.) (thereby securing two most important things, viz., that the sentence should be passed; yet not without their consent, lest herein he might seem to hurt them;) and neither himself alone pronounces it, lest they should consider him self-willed, and themselves to be overlooked, nor yet leaves all to them, lest when possessed of the power they should deal treacherously with the offender by unseasonably forgiving him: so also doth he here, saying, 'I have already forgiven, who in the former Epistle had already judged.' Then lest they should be hurt, as though overlooked, he adds, "for your sakes." What then? did he for men's sake pardon? No; for on this account he added, "In the person of Christ."
What is "in the person of Christ?" Either he means according to [the will of] God, or unto the glory of Christ.
Ver. 11. "That no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
Seest thou how he both committeth the power to them and again taketh away that by that he may soften them, by this eradicate their self will. But this is not all that he provides for by this, but shows also that should they be disobedient the harm would reach to all, just as he did at the outset also. For then too he said, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." (1 Cor. v. 6.) And here again, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us." And throughout, he maketh this forgiveness the joint act of himself and them. Consider it from the first. "But if any," saith he, "have caused sorrow he hath caused sorrow not to me, but in part (that I press not too heavily) to you all." Then again, "Sufficient to such a one is this punishment which was" inflicted by the "many." This is his own decision and opinion. He rested not however with this decision, but again makes them partners saying, "So that contrariwise ye should rather forgive" him "and comfort" him. "Wherefore I beseech you to confirm your love towards him." Having thus again made the whole their act, he passes to his own authority, saying, "For to this end did I write unto you, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye are obedient in all things." Then, again, he makes the favor theirs, saying, "To whom ye forgive anything." Then, his own, "I" forgive "also:" saying, "if I have forgiven anything, it is for your sakes." Then both theirs and his, "For," saith he, "if I have forgiven any thing, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ," either [that is] for the glory of Christ, or as though Christ commanding this also, which was most effectual to prevail with them. For after this they would have feared not to grant that which tended to His glory and which He willed. Then again he signifieth the common harm should they disobey, when he saith, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us;" well naming it, getting advantage. For he no more takes his own, but violently seizeth ours, for he is reformed. And tell me not that this one only becomes the wild beast's prey, but consider this also, that the number of the herd is diminished, and now especially when it might recover what it had lost. "For we are not ignorant of his devices," That he destroys even under the show of piety. For not only by leading into fornication can he destroy, but even by the contrary, the unmeasured sorrow following on the repentance for it. When then besides his own he taketh ours too, when both by bidding to sin, he destroys; and when we bid repent, violently seizeth; how is not this case getting "advantage ?" For he is not content with striking down by sin, but even by repentance he doth this except we be vigilant. Wherefore also with reason did he call it getting advantage, when he even conquereth our own weapons. For to take by sin is his proper work; by repentance, however, is no more his; for ours, not his, is that weapon. When then even by this he is able to take, think how disgraceful the defeat, how he will laugh at and run us down as weak and pitiful, if he is to subdue us with our own weapons. For it were matter for exceeding scorn and of the last disgrace, that he should inflict wounds on us through our own remedies. Therefore he said, "for we are not ignorant of his devices," exposing his versatility, his craftiness, his evil devices, his malice, his capacity to injure under a show of piety.
[6.] These things then having in mind, let us too never despise any one; nor ever, though we fall into sin, despair; on the other hand, again, let us not be easy-minded afterwards, but, when we transgress, afflict our minds and not merely give vent to words. For I know many who say indeed that they bewail their sins, but do nothing of account. They fast and wear rough garments; but after money are more eager than hucksters, are more the prey of anger than wild beasts, and take more pleasure in detraction than others do in commendations. These things are not repentance, these things are the semblance and shadow only of repentance, not repentance itself. Wherefore in the case of these persons too it is well to say, Take heed "lest Satan should get an advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices;" for some he destroys through sins, others through repentance; but these in yet another way, by suffering them to gain no fruit from repentance. For when he found not how he might destroy them by direct [attack,] he came another road, heightening their toils, whilst robbing them of the fruits, and persuading them, as if they had successfully accomplished all they had to do, therefore to be neglectful of what remains.
That we may not then fruitlessly afflict ourselves, let us address a few words to women of this character; for to women this disorder especially belongs. Praiseworthy indeed is even that which now ye do, your fasting and lying on the ground and ashes; but except the rest be added, these are of no avail. God hath showed how He remitteth sins. Why then forsaking that path, do ye carve another for yourselves. In old time the Ninevites sinned, and they did the things which ye too now are doing. Let us see however what it was that availed them. For as in the case of the sick, physicians apply many remedies; howbeit the man of understanding regardeth not that the sick person has tried this and that, but what was of service to him; such must be also our inquiry here. What then was it that availed those barbarians? They applied fasting unto the wounds, yea applied extreme fasting, lying on the ground too, putting on of sackcloth, and ashes, and lamentations; they applied also a change of life. Let us then see which of these things made them whole. And whence, saith one, shall we know? If we come to the Physician, if we ask Him: for He will not hide it from us, but will even eagerly disclose it. Rather that none may be ignorant, nor need to ask, He hath even set down in writing the medicine that restored them. What then is this? "God," saith He, "saw that they turned every one from his evil way, and He repented of the evil that He had said He would do unto them." (Jonah iii. 10.) He said not, He saw [their] fasting and sackcloth and ashes. And I say not this to overturn fasting, (God forbid!) but to exhort you that with fasting ye do that which is better than fasting, the abstaining from all evil. David also sinned. (2 Sam. xii. 17. &c.) Let us see then how he too repented. Three days he sat on ashes. But this he did not for the sin's sake, but for the child's, being as yet stupefied with that affliction. But the sin by other means did he wipe away, by humbleness, contrition of heart, compunction of soul, by falling into the like no more, by remembering it always, by bearing thankfully every thing that befalls him, by sparing those that grieve him, by forbearing to requite those who conspire against him; yea, even preventing those who desire to do this. For instance, when Shimei was bespattering him with reproaches without number (2 Sam. xvi. 5, 9.) and the captain who was with him was greatly indignant, he said, "Let him curse me, for the Lord hath bidden him:" for he had a contrite and humbled heart, and it was this especially which wiped away his sins. For this is confession, this is repentance. But if whilst we fast we are proud, we have been not only nothing profited but even injured.
[7.] Humble then thine heart, thou too, that thou mayest draw God unto thee. "For the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart." (Ps. xxxiii. 19.) Seest thou not in the gorgeous houses those who are in disgrace; how they answer not again when even the lower servants insult them, but put up with it because of the disgrace with which their fault hath surrounded them? So do thou too: and if any one revile thee, wax not fierce, but groan, not for the insult, but for that sin which cast thee into disgrace. Groan when thou hast sinned, not because thou art to be punished, (for this is nothing,) but because thou hast offended thy Master, one so gentle, one so kind, one that so loveth thee and longeth for thy salvation as to have given even His Son for thee. For this groan, and do this continually: for this is confession. Be not to-day cheerful, to-morrow of a sad countenance, then again cheerful; but continue ever in mourning and self contrition. For, "Blessed," saith he, "are they that mourn," that is, that do this perpetually. Continue then to do this perpetually, and to take heed to thyself, and to afflict thine heart; as one who had lost a beloved son might mourn. "Rend," saith he, "your hearts, and not your garments." (Joel ii. 13.) That which is rent will not lift itself on high; that which hath been broken cannot rise up again. Hence one saith, "Rend," and another, "a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise." (Ps. li. 17.) Yea, though thou be wise, or wealthy, or a ruler, rend thine heart. Suffer it not to have high thoughts nor to be inflated. For that which is rent is not inflated, and even if there be something to make it rise, from being rent it cannot retain the inflation. So also do thou be humble- minded. Consider that the publican was justified by one word, although that was not humiliation, but a true confession. Now if this hath power so great, how much more humiliation. Remit offences to those who have transgressed against thee, for this too remitteth sins. And concerning the former He saith, "I saw that he went sorrowful, and I healed his ways ;" (Is. lvii. 17. 18. LXX.) and in Ahab's case, this appeased the wrath of God: (1 Kings xxi. 29) concerning the latter, "Remit, and it shall be remitted unto you." There is also again another way which bringeth us this medicine; condemning what we have done amiss; for, "Declare thou first thy transgressions, that thou mayest be justified." (Is. xliii. 26. LXX.) And for one in afflictions to give thanks looseth his sins; and almsgiving, which is greater than all.
Reckon up therefore the medicines which heal thy wounds, and apply all unremittingly , humbleness, confession, forgetting wrongs, giving thanks in afflictions, showing mercy both in alms and actions, persevering in prayer. So did the widow propitiate the cruel and unyielding judge. And if
she the unjust, much mere thou the gentle. There is yet another way along with these, defending the oppressed; "for," He saith, "judge the fatherless, and plead for the widow; and come, and let us reason together, and though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow." (Is. i. 17, 18.) What excuse then can we deserve if with so many ways leading us up to heaven, and so many medicines to heal our wounds, even after the Layer we continue where we were. Let us then not only continue so, but let those indeed who have never yet fallen abide in their proper loveliness; yea, rather let them cultivate it more and more, (for these good works, where they find not sins, make the beauty greater:) and let us who in many things have done amiss, in order to the correction of our sins use the means mentioned: that we may stand at the tribunal of Christ with much boldness, whereunto may all we at in through the grace and love towards men of or Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, on power, and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ, and when a door was opened unto me in the Lord, I had no relief for my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother.
These words seem on the one hand to be unworthy of Paul, if because of a brother's absence he threw away so great an opportunity of saving; and on the other, to hang apart from the context. What then? Will ye that we should first prove that they hang upon the context, or, that he hath said nothing unworthy of himself? As I think, the second, for so the other point also will be easier and clearer.
How then do these (words) hang upon those before them? Let us recall to mind what those were, and so we shall perceive this. What then were those before? What he said at the beginning. "I would not have you," saith he, "ignorant concerning our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power." (2 Cor. i. 8.) Now having shown the manner of his deliverance, and inserted the intermediate matter, he is of necessity led to teach them again that in yet another way he had been afflicted. How, and in what way? In not finding Titus. (vii. 6; viii. 6, 16, 22, 23, xii. 18.) Fearful indeed, and enough to prostrate the soul, is it even to endure trials; but when there is none to comfort and that can help to bear the burden, the tempest becometh greater. Now Titus is he, whom further on he speaks of as having come to him from them, and of whom he runs through many and great praises, and whom he said he had sent. With the view then of showing that in this point also he had been afflicted for their sakes, he said these things.
That the words then in question hang on what went before is from all this plain. And I will attempt to prove also that they are not unworthy of Paul. For He doth not say that the absence of Titus impeded the salvation of those who were about to come over, nor yet that he neglected those that believed on this account, but that he had no relief, that is, 'I was afflicted, I was distressed for the absence of my brother; 'showing how great a matter a brother's absence is; and therefore he departed thence. But what means, "when I came to Troas, for the Gospel?" he saith not simply 'I arrived," but 'so as to preach.' But still, though I had both come for that and found very much to do, (for "a door was opened unto me in the Lord,") I had, saith he, "no relief," not that for this he impeded the work. How then saith he,
Ver. 13. "Taking my leave of them, I went from thence?"
That is, 'I spent no longer time, being straitened and distressed.' And perhaps the work was even impeded by his absence. And this was no light consolation to them too. For if when a door was opened there, and for this purpose he had come; yet because he found not the brother, he quickly started away; much more, he saith, ought ye to make allowance for the compulsion of those affairs which lead us and lead us about everywhere, and suffer us not according as we desire either to journey, or to tarry longer amongst those with whom we may wish to remain. Whence also he proceeds in this place again to refer his journeyings to God, as he did above to the Spirit, saying,
Ver. 14. "But thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest through us the savor of His knowledge in every place."
For that he may not seem as though in sorrow to be lamenting these things, he sendeth up thanks to God. Now what he saith is this: 'Every where is trouble, every where straitness. I came into Asia, I was burdened beyond strength. I came to Troas, I found not the brother. I came not to you; this too bred in me no slight, yea rather, exceeding great dejection, both because many among you had sinned, and because on this account I see you not. For, "To spare you," he saith, "I came not as yet unto Corinth." That then he may not seem to be complaining in so speaking, he adds, 'We not only do not grieve in these afflictions, but we even rejoice; and, what is still greater, not for the sake of the rewards to come only, but those too even which are present. For even here we are by these things made glorious and conspicuous. So far then are we from lamenting, that we even call the thing a triumph; and glory in what happeneth.' For which cause also he said, "Now thanks be unto God, Which always causeth us to triumph," that is, 'Who maketh us renowned unto all. For what seemeth to be matter of disgrace, being persecuted from every quarter, this appeareth to us to be matter of very great honor.' Wherefore he said not, "Which maketh us seen of all," but, "Which causeth us to triumph:" showing that these persecutions set up a series of trophies against the devil in every part of the world. Then having mentioned along with the author, the subject also of the triumph, he thereby also raiseth up the hearer. 'For not only are we made to triumph by God, but also "in Christ;'" that is, on account of Christ and the Gospel. 'For seeing it behooveth to triumph, all need is that we also who carry the trophy are seen of all, because we bear Him. For this reason we become observed and conspicuous.'
[2.] Ver. 14. "And which maketh manifest through us the savor of His knowledge in every place."
He said above, "Which always causeth us to triumph." Here he saith "in every place," showing that every place and every time is full of the Apostles' labors. And he uses yet another metaphor, that of the sweet savor. For 'like as those who bear ointment, so are we,' saith he, 'manifest to all'; calling the knowledge a very precious ointment. Moreover, he said not, 'the knowledge;' but "the savor of the knowledge;" for such is the nature of the present knowledge, not very clear nor uncovered. Whence also he said in the former Epistle, "For now we see in a mirror darkly." (1 Cor. xiii. 12.) And here he calls that which is such a "savor." Now he that perceiveth the savor knoweth that there is ointment lying somewhere; but of what nature it is he knows not yet, unless he happens before to have seen it. 'So also we. That God is, we know, but what in substance we know not yet. We are then, as it were, a Royal censer, breathing whithersoever we go of the heavenly ointment and the spiritual sweet savor.' Now he said this, at once both to set forth the power of the Preaching, in that by the very designs formed against them, they shine more than those who prosecute 'them and who cause the whole world to know both their trophies and their sweet savor: and to exhort them in regard to their afflictions and trials to bear all nobly, seeing that even before the Recompense they reap this glory inexpressible.
Ver. 15. " For we are a sweet savor of Christ unto God, in them that are saved and in them that perish."
Whether, saith he, one be saved or be lost, the Gospel continues to have its proper virtue: and as the light, although it blindeth the weakly, is still light, though causing blindness; and as honey, though it be bitter to those who are diseased, is in its nature sweet; so also is the Gospel of sweet savor, even though some should be lost who believe it not. For not It, but their own perverseness, worketh the perdition. And by this most of all is its sweet savor manifested, by which the corrupt and vicious perish; so that not only by the salvation of the good, but also by the perdition of the wicked is its excellence declared. Since both the sun, for this reason most especially that he is exceeding bright, doth wound the eyes of the weak: and the Saviour is "for the fall and rising again of many," (Luke ii. 34. ) but still He continueth to be a Saviour, though ten thousand fall; and His coming brought a sorer punishment upon them that believe not, but still it continueth to be full: of healing . Whence also he saith, "We are unto God a sweet savor;" that is, 'even though some be lost we continue to be that which we are.' Moreover he said not simply "a sweet savor," but "unto God." And when we are a sweet savor unto God, and He decreeth these things, who shall henceforth gainsay?
The expression also, "sweet savor of Christ," appears to me to admit of a double interpretation: for he means either that in dying they offered themselves a sacrifice: or that they were a sweet savor of the death of Christ, as if one should say, this incense is a sweet savor of this victim. The expression then, sweet savor, either signifieth this, or, as I first said, that they are daily sacrificed for Christ's sake.
[3.] Seest thou to what a height he hath advanced the trials, terming them a triumph and a sweet savor and a sacrifice offered unto God. Then, whereas he said, "we are a sweet savor, even in them that perish," lest thou shouldest think that these too are acceptable, he added,
Ver. 16. "To the one a savor from death unto death, to the other a savor from life unto life."
For this sweet savor some so receive that they are saved, others so that they perish. So that should any one be lost, the fault is from himself: for both ointment is said to suffocate swine, and light (as I before observed,)to blind the weak. And such is the nature of good things; they not only correct what is akin to them, but also destroy the opposite: and in this way is their power most displayed. For so both fire, not only when it giveth light and when it purifieth gold, but even when it consumeth thorns, doth very greatly display its proper power, and so show itself to be fire: and Christ too herein also doth discover His own majesty when He "shall consume" Antichrist "with the breath of His mouth, and bring him to nought with the manifestation of His coming." (2 Thess. ii. 8. )
"And who is sufficient for these things?"
Seeing he had uttered great things, that 'we are a sacrifice of Christ and a sweet savor, and are every where made to triumph,' he again useth moderation, referring all to God. Whence also he saith, "and who is sufficient for these things?" 'for all,' saith he, 'is Christ's, nothing our own.' Seest thou how opposite his language to the false Apostles'? For they indeed glory, as contributing somewhat from themselves unto the message: he, on the contrary, saith, he therefore glorieth, because he saith that nothing is his own. "For our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience, that not in fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God, we behaved ourselves in the world." And that which they considered it a glory to acquire, I mean the wisdom from without, he makes it his to take away. Whence also he here saith, "And who is sufficient for these things?" But if none are sufficient, that which is done is of grace.
Ver. 17. "For we are not as the rest, which corrupt the word of God."
'For even if we use great sounding words, yet we declared nothing to be our own that we achieved, but all Christ's. For we will not imitate the false apostles; the men who say that most is of themselves.' For this is "to corrupt," when one adulterates the wine; when one sells for money what he ought to give freely. For he seems to me to be here both taunting them in respect to money, and again hinting at the very thing I have said, as that they mingle their own things with God's; which is the charge Isaiah
brings when he said, "Thy vintners mingle wine with water:" (Is. i. 22, LXX.) for even if this was said of wine, yet one would not err in expounding it of doctrine too. 'But we,' saith he, 'do not so: but such as we have been entrusted with, such do we offer you, pouring out the word undiluted.' Whence he added, "But as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ."
'We do not,' saith he 'beguile you and so preach, as conferring a gift on you, or as bringing in and mingling somewhat from ourselves, "but as of God;" that is, we do not say that we confer any thing of our own, but that God hath given all.' For "of God" means this; To glory in nothing as if we had it of our own, but to refer every thing to Him. "Speak we in Christ."
Not by our own wisdom, but instructed by the power that cometh from Him. Those who glory speak not in this way, but as bringing in something from themselves. Whence he elsewhere also turns them into ridicule, saying, "For what hast thou that thou didst not receive? but if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it." (1 Cor. iv. 7.) This is the highest virtue, to refer every thing to God, to consider nothing to be our own, to do nothing out of regard to men's opinion, but to what God willeth. For He it is that requireth the account. Now however this order is reversed: and of Him that shall sit upon the tribunal and require the account, we have no exceeding fear, yet tremble at those who stand and are judged with us.
[4.] Whence then is this disease? Whence hath it broken out in our souls? From not meditating continually on the things of that world, but being rivetted to present things. Hence we both easily fall into wicked doings, and even if we do any good thing we do it for display, so that thence also loss cometh to us. For instance, one has looked on a person often with unbridled eyes, unseen of her or of those who walk with her, yet of the Eye that never sleeps was not unseen. For even before the commission of the sin, It saw the unbridled soul, and that madness within, and the thoughts that were whirled about in storm and surge; for no need hath He of witnesses and proofs Who knoweth all things. Look not then to thy fellow-servants: for though man praise, it availeth not if God accept not; and though man condemn, it harmeth not if God do not condemn. Oh! provoke not so thy Judge; of thy fellow-servants making great account, yet when Himself is angry, not in fear and trembling at Him. Let us then despise the praise that cometh of men. How long shall we be low-minded and grovelling? How long, when God lifteth us to heaven, take we pains to be trailed along the ground? The brethren of Joseph, had they had the fear of God before their eyes, as men ought to have, would not have taken their brother in a lonely place and killed him. (Gen. xxxvii.) Cain again, had he feared that sentence as he should have feared, would not have said, "Come, and let us go into the field:" (Gen. iv. 8, LXX.) for to what end, O miserable and wretched! dost thou take him apart from him that begat him, and leadest him out into a lonely place? For doth not God see the daring deed even in the field? Hath thou not been taught by what befel thy father that He knoweth all things, and is present at all things that are done? And why, when he denied, said not God this unto him: 'Hidest thou from Me Who am present every where, and know the things that are secret?' Because as yet he knew not aright to comprehend these high truths. But what saith he? "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me." Not as though blood had a voice; but like as we say when things are plain and clear, "the matter speaketh for itself."
Wherefore surely it behoveth to have before our eyes the sentence of God, and all terrors are extinguished. So too in prayers we can keep awake, if we bear in mind with whom we are conversing, if we reflect that we are
offering sacrifice and have in our hands a knife and fire and wood; if in thought we throw wide the gates of heaven, if we transport ourselves thither and taking the sword of the Spirit infix it in the throat of the victim: make watchfulness the sacrifice and tears the libation to Him. For such is the blood of this victim. Such the slaughter that crimsons that altar. Suffer not then aught of worldly thoughts to occupy thy soul then. Bethink thee that Abraham also, when offering sacrifice, suffered nor wife nor servant nor any other to be present. Neither then do thou suffer any of the slavish and ignoble passions to be present unto thee, but go up alone into the mountain where he went up, where no second person is permitted to go up. And should any such thoughts attempt to go up with thee, command them with authority, and say, "Sit ye there, and land the lad will worship and return to you;" (Gen. xxii. 5. LXX.) and leaving the ass and the servants below, and whatever is void of reason and sense, go up, taking with thee whatever is reasonable, as he took Isaac. And build thine altar so as he, as having nothing human, but having outstepped nature. For he too, had he not outstepped nature, would not have slain his child. And let
nothing disturb thee then, but be lift up above the very heavens. Groan bitterly, sacrifice confession, (for, saith he, "Declare thou first thy transgressions that thou mayest be justified," Is. xliii. 26. LXX.), sacrifice contrition of heart. These victims turn not to ashes nor dissolve into smoke nor melt into air; neither need they wood and fire, but only a deep-pricked heart. This is wood, this is fire to burn, yet not consume them. For he that prayeth with warmth is burnt, yet not consumed; but like gold that is tried by fire becometh brighter.
[5.] And withal observe heedfully one thing more, in praying to say none of those things that provoke thy Master; neither draw near [to pray] against enemies. For if to have enemies be a reproach, consider how great the evil to pray against them. For need is that thou defend thyself and show why thou hast enemies: but thou even accusest them. And what forgiveness shalt thou obtain, when thou both revilest, and at such a time when thyself needest much mercy, For thou drewest near to supplicate for thine own sins: make not mention then of those of others, lest thou recall the memory of thine own. For if thou say, 'Smite mine enemy,' thou hast stopped thy mouth, thou hast cut off boldness from thy tongue; first, indeed, because thou hast angered the Judge at once in beginning; next, because thou asketh things at variance with the character of thy prayer. For if thou comest near for forgiveness of sins, how discoursest thou of punishment? The contrary surely was there need to do, and to pray for them in order that we may with boldness beseech this for ourselves also. But now thou hast forestalled the Judge's sentence by thine own, demanding that He punish them that sin: for this depriveth of all pardon. But if thou pray for them, even if thou say nothing in thine own sins' behalf, thou hast achieved all. Consider how many sacrifices there are in the law; a sacrifice of praise, a sacrifice of acknowledgment, a sacrifice of peace, a sacrifice of purifications, and numberless others, and not one of them against enemies, but all in behalf of either one's own sins or one's own successes. For comest thou to another God? To him thou comest that said, "Pray for your enemies." (Luke vi. 27, 35. Rom. xii. 14.) How then dost thou cry against them? How dost thou beseech God to break his own law? This is not the guise of a suppliant. None supplicates the destruction of another, but the safety of himself. Why then wearest thou the guise of a suppliant, but hast the words of an accuser? Yet when we pray for ourselves, we scratch ourselves and yawn, and fall into ten thousand thoughts; but when against our enemies, we do so wakefully. For since the devil knows that we are thrusting the sword against ourselves, he doth not distract nor call us off then, that he may work us the greater harm. But, saith one, 'I have been wronged and am afflicted.' Why not then pray against the devil, who injureth us most of all. This thou hast also been commanded to say, "Deliver us from the evil one." He is thy irreconcileable foe, but man, do whatsoever he will, is a friend and brother. With him then let us all be angry; against him let us beseech God, saying, "Bruise Satan under our feet;" (Rom. xvi. 20.) for he it is that breedeth also the enemies [we have]. But if thou pray against enemies, thou prayest so as he would have thee pray, just as if for thine enemies, then against him. Why then letting him go who is thine enemy indeed, dost thou tear thine own members, more cruel in this than wild beasts. 'But,' saith one, 'he insulted me and robbed me of money;' and which hath need to grieve, he that suffered injury, or he that inflicted injury? Plainly he that inflicted injury, since whilst he gained money he cast himself out of the favor of God, and lost more than he gained: so that he is the injured party. Surely then need is not that one pray against, but for him, that God would be merciful to him. See how many things the three children suffered, though they had done no harm. They lost country, liberty, were taken captive and made slaves; and when carried away into a foreign and barbarous land, were even on the point of being slain on account of the dream, without cause or object. (Dan. ii. 13.) What then? When they had entered in with Daniel, what prayed they? What said they? Dash down Nabuchodonosor, pull down his diadem, hurl him from the throne? Nothing of this sort; but they desired "mercies of God." (Dan. ii. 18. LXX.) And when they were in the furnace, likewise. But not so ye: but when ye suffer far less than they, and oftentimes justly, ye cease not to vent ten thousand imprecations. And one saith, 'Strike down my enemy as Thou overwhelmedst the chariot of Pharaoh;' another, 'Blast his flesh;' another again, 'Requite it on his children.' Recognize ye not these words? Whence then is this your laughter? Seest thou how laughable this is, when it is uttered without passion. And so all sin then discovereth how vile it is, when thou strippest it of the state of mind of the perpetrator. Shouldest thou remind one who has been angered of the words which he said in his passion, he will sink for shame and scorn himself and wish he had suffered a thousand punishments rather than those words to be his. And shouldest thou, when the embrace is over, bring the unchaste to the woman he sinned with, he too will turn away from her as disgusting. And so do ye, because ye are not under the influence of the passion, laugh now. For worthy to be laughed at are they, and the words of drunken old gossips; and springing from a womanish littleness of soul. And yet Joseph, though he had been sold and made a slave, and had tenanted a prison, uttered not even then a bitter word against the authors of his sorrows. But what saith he? "Indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews;" (Gen. xl. 15.) and addeth not by whom. For he feels more ashamed for the wickedness of his brethren, than they who wrought them. Such too ought to be our disposition, to grieve for them who wrong us more than they themselves do. For the hurt passeth on to them. As then they who kick against nails, yet are proud of it, are fit objects of pity and lamentation on account of this madness; so they who wrong those that do them no evil, inasmuch as they wound their own souls, are fit objects for many moans and lamentations, not for curses. For nothing is more polluted than a soul that curseth, or more impure than a tongue that offereth such sacrifices. Thou art a man; vomit not forth the poison of asps. Thou art a man; become not a wild beast. For this was thy mouth made, not that thou shouldest bite but that thou shouldest heal the wounds of others. 'Remember the charge I have given thee,' saith God, 'to pardon and forgive. But thou beseechest Me also to be a party to the overthrow of my own commandments, and devourest thy brother, and reddenest thy tongue, as madmen do their teeth on their own members.' How, thinkest thou, the devil is pleased and laughs, when he hears such a prayer? and how, God is provoked, and turneth from and abhorreth thee, when thou beseechest things like these? Than which, what can be more dangerous? For if none should approach the mysteries that hath enemies: how must not he, that not only hath, but also prayeth against them, be excluded even from the outer courts themselves? Thinking then on these things, and considering the Subject of the Sacrifice, that He was sacrificed for enemies; let us not have an enemy: and if we have, let us pray for him; that we too having obtained forgiveness of the sins we have committed, may stand with boldness at the tribunal of Christ; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Are we beginning, again to commend ourselves? or need we, as do some epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you?
He anticipates and puts himself an objection which others would have urged against him, 'Thou vauntest thyself;' and this though he had before employed so strong a corrective in the expressions, "Who is sufficient for these things?" and, "of sincerity... speak we." (2 Cor. ii. 16, 17.) Howbeit he is not satisfied with these. For such is his character. From appearing to say any thing great of himself he is far removed, and avoids it even to great superfluity and excess. And mark, I pray thee, by this instance also, the abundance of his wisdom. For a thing of woeful aspect, I mean tribulations, he so much exalted and showed to be bright and lustrous, that out of what he said the present objection rose up against him. And he does so also towards the end. For after having enumerated numberless perils, insults, straits, necessities, and as many such like things as be, he added, "We commend not ourselves, but speak as giving you occasion to glory.,, (2 Cor. v. 12.) And he expresses this again with vehemence in that place, and with more of encouragement. For here the words are those of love, "Need we, as do some, epistles of commendation?" but there what he says is full of a kind of pride even, necessarily and properly so, of pride, I say, and anger. "For we commend not ourselves again," saith he, "but speak as giving you occasion to glory;" (2 Cor. v. 12.) and, "Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? For in the sight of God speak we in Christ. For I fear lest by any means when I come I should not find you such as I would, and should myself be found of you such as ye would not." (ib. xii. 19, 20.) For to prevent all appearance of a wish to flatter, as though he desired honor from them, he speaketh thus, "I fear lest by any means when I come I should not find you such as I would, and should myself be found of you such as ye would not." This however comes after many accusations; But in the beginning he speaketh not so, but more gently. And what is it he saith? He spoke of his trials and his perils, and that every where he is conducted as in procession by God in Christ, and that the whole world knoweth of these triumphs. Since then he has uttered great things of himself, he urges this objection against himself, "Are we beginning again to commend ourselves?" Now what he Saith is this: Perchance some one will object, 'What is this, O Paul? Sayest thou these things of thyself, and exaltest thyself?' To do away then with this suspicion, he saith, We desire not this, that is, to boast and exalt ourselves; yea, so far are we from needing epistles of commendation to you that ye are to us instead of an epistle."For," saith he,
Ver. 2. "Ye are our epistle."
What means this, "ye are ?" 'Did we need to be commended to others, we should have produced you before them instead of an epistle.' And this he said in the former Epistle. "For the seal of mine Apostleship are ye." (1 Cor. ix. 2. ) But he doth not here say it in this manner, but in irony so as to make his question, "Do we need epistles of commendation?" more cutting. And in allusion to the false apostles, he added, "as do some, [epistles of commendation] to you, or letters of commendation from you" to others. Then because what he had said was severe, he softens it by adding, "Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known of all,
Ver. 3. "Being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ."
Here he testifieth not only to their love, but also to their good works: since they are able to show unto all men by their own virtue the high worth of their teacher, for this is the meaning of, "Ye are our epistle."
What letters would have done to commend and gain respect for us, that ye do both as seen and heard of; for the virtue of the disciples is wont to adorn and to commend the teacher more than any letter.
Ver. 3. "Written in our hearts."
That is, which all know; we so bear you about every where and have you in mind. As though he said, Ye are our commendation to others, for we both have you continually in our heart and proclaim to all your good works. Because then that even to others yourselves are our commendation, we need no epistles from you; but further, because we love you exceedingly, we need no commendation to you. For to those who are strangers one hath need of letters, but ye are in our mind. Yet he said not merely, "ye are [in it]," but "written in [it]," that is, ye cannot slide out of it. For just as from letters by reading, so from our heart by perceiving, all are acquainted with the love we bear you. If then the object of a letter be to certify, "such an one is my friend and let him have free intercourse [with you], your love is sufficient to secure all this. For should we go to you, we have no need of others to commend us, seeing your love anticipateth this; and should we go to others, again we need no letters, the same love again sufficing unto us in their stead, for we carry about the epistle in our hearts.
[2.] Then exalting them still higher, he even calleth them the epistle of Christ, saying,
Ver. 3. "Being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ."
And having said this, he afterwards hence takes ground and occasion for a discussion on the Law. And there is another aim in his here styling them His epistle. For above as commending him, he called them an epistle; but here an epistle of Christ, as having the Law of God written in them. For what things God wished to declare to all and to you, these are written in your hearts. But it was we who prepared you to receive the writing. For just as Moses hewed the stones and tables, so we, your souls. Whence he saith,
"Ministered by us."
Yet in this they were on an equality; for the former were written on by God, and these by the Spirit. Where then is the difference?
"Written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in tables that are hearts of flesh."
Wide as the difference between the Spirit and ink, and a stony table and a fleshy, so wide is that between these and those; consequently between themselves who ministered, and him who ministered to them. Yet because it was a great thing he had uttered, he therefore quickly checks himself, saying,
Ver. 4. "And such confidence have we through Christ to Godward,"
And again refers all to God: for it is Christ, saith he, Who is the Author of these things to us.
Ver. 5. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to account any thing as from ourselves."
See again, yet another corrective. For he possesses this virtue, humility I mean, in singular perfection. Wherefore whenever he saith any thing great of himself, he maketh all diligence to soften down extremely and by every means, what he has said. And so he does in this place also, saying, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to account any thing as from ourselves:" that is, I said not, "We have confidence," as though part were ours and part God's; but I refer and ascribe the whole to Him.
Ver. 5, 6. "For our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant."
What means, "made us sufficient?" Made us able and fitting. And it is not a little thing to be the bearer to the world of such tables and letters, greater far than the former. Whence also he added,
"Not of the letter, but of the spirit." See again another difference. What then? was not that Law spiritual? How then saith he, "We know that the Law is spiritual?" (Rom. vii. 14.) Spiritual indeed, but it bestowed not a spirit. For Moses bare not a spirit, but letters; but we have been entrusted with the giving of a spirit. Whence also in further completion of this [contrast,] he saith,
"For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
Yet these things he saith not absolutely"; but in allusion to those who prided themselves upon the things of Judaism. And by "letter" here he meaneth the Law which punisheth them that transgress; but by "spirit" the grace which through Baptism giveth life to them who by sins were made dead. For having mentioned the difference arising from the nature of the tables, he doth not dwell upon it, but rapidly passing it by, bestows more labor upon this, which most enabled him to lay hold on his hearer from considerations of what was advantageous and easy; for, saith he, it is not laborious, and the gift it offers is greater. For if when discoursing of Christ, he puts especially forward those things which are of His lovingkindness, more than of our merit, and which are mutually connected, much greater necessity is there for his doing so when treating of the covenant. What then is the meaning of "the letter killeth?" He had said tables of stone and hearts of flesh: so far he seemed to mention no great difference. He added that the former [covenant] was written with letters or ink, but this with the Spirit. Neither did this rouse them thoroughly, He says at last what is indeed enough to give them wings; the one "killeth," the other "giveth life." And what doth this mean? In the Law, he that hath sin is punished; here, he that hath sins cometh and is baptized and is made righteous, and being made righteous, he liveth, being delivered from the death of sin. The Law, if it lay hold on a murderer, putteth him to death; the Gospel, if it lay hold on a murderer, enlighteneth, and giveth him life. And why do I instance a murderer? The Law laid hold on one that gathered sticks on a sabbath day, and stoned him. (Num. xv. 32, 36.) This is the meaning of, "the letter killeth." The Gospel takes hold on thousands of homicides and robbers, and baptizing delivereth them from their former vices. This is the meaning of, "the Spirit giveth life." The former maketh its captive dead from being alive, the latter rendereth the man it hath convicted alive from being dead. For, "come unto me, ye that labor and are heavy laden," (Matt. xi. 28.) and, He said not, ' I will punish you,' but, "I will give you rest." For in Baptism the sins are buried, the former things are blotted out, the man is made alive, the entire grace written upon his heart as it were a table. Consider then how high is the dignity of the Spirit, seeing that His tables are better than those former ones; seeing that even a greater thing is shown forth than the resurrection itself. For indeed, that state of death from which He delivers, is more irremediable than the former one: as much more so, as soul is of more value than the body: and this life is conferred by that, by that which the Spirit giveth. But if It be able to bestow this, much more then that which is less. For, that prophets wrought, but this they could not: for none can remit sins but God only; nor did the prophets bestow that life without the Spirit. But this is not the marvel only, that it giveth life, but that it enabled others also to do this. For He saith, "Receive ye
the Holy Ghost." (John xx. 22.) Wherefore? Because without the Spirit it might not be? [Yes,] but God, as showing that It is of supreme authority, and of that Kingly Essence, and hath the same power [with Himself,] saith this too. Whence also He adds, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." (ibid. 23.)
[3.] Since then It hath given us life, let us remain living and not return again to the former deadness: for "Christ dieth no more; for the death that He died, He died unto sin once:" (Rom. vi. 9, 10.) and He will not have us always saved by grace: for so we shall be empty of all things. Wherefore He will have us contribute something also from ourselves. Let us then contribute, and preserve to the soul its life. And what is life in a soul, learn from the body. For the body too we then affirm to live, when it moves with a healthy kind of motion; but when it lies prostrate and powerless, or its motions are disorderly, though it retain the semblance of life or motion, such a life is more grievous than any death: and should it utter nothing sane but words of the crazy, and see one object instead of another, such a man again is more pitiable than those who are dead. So also the soul when it hath no healthiness, though it retain a semblance of life, is dead: when it doth not see gold as gold but as something great and precious; when it thinketh not of the future but crawleth upon the ground; when it doth one thing in place of another. For whence is it clear that we have a soul? Is it not from its operations? When then it doth not perform the things proper to it, is it not dead? when, for instance, it hath no care for virtue, but is rapacious and transgresseth the law; whence can I tell that thou hast a soul? Because thou walkest? But this belongs to the irrational creatures as well. Because thou eatest and drinkest? But this too belongeth to wild beasts. Well then, because thou standest upright on two feet? This convinceth me rather that thou art a beast in human form. For when thou resemblest one in all other respects, but not in its manner of erecting itself, thou dost the more disturb and terrify me; and I the more consider that which I see to be a monster. For did I see a beast speaking with the voice of a man, I should not for that reason say it was a man, but even for that very reason a beast more monstrous than a beast. Whence then can I learn that thou hast the soul of a man, when thou kickest like the ass, when thou bearest malice like the camel, when thou bitest like the bear, when thou ravenest like the wolf, when thou stealest like the fox, when thou art wily as the serpent, when thou art shameless as the dog? Whence can I learn that thou hast the soul of a man? Will ye that I show you a dead soul and a living? Let us turn the discourse back to those men of old; and, if you will, let us set before us the rich man [in the story] of Lazarus, and we shall know what is death in a soul; for he had a dead soul, and it is plain from what he did. For, of the works of the soul he did not one, but ate and drank and lived in pleasure only. Such are even now the unmerciful and cruel, for these too have a dead soul as he had. For all its warmth that floweth out of the love of our neighbor hath been spent, and it is deader than a lifeless body. But the poor man was not such, but standing on the very summit of heavenly wisdom shone out; and though wrestling with continual hunger, and not even supplied with the food that was necessary, neither so spake he aught of blasphemy against God, but endured all nobly. Now this is no trifling work of the soul; but a very high proof that it is well-strung and healthful. And when there are not these qualities, it is plainly because the soul is dead that they have perished. Or, tell me, shall we not pronounce that soul dead which the Devil falls upon, striking, biting, spurning it, yet hath it no sense of any of these things, but lieth deadened nor grieveth when being robbed of its wealth; but he even leapeth upon it, yet it remaineth unmoved, like a body when the soul is departed, nor even feeleth it? For when the fear of God is not present with strictness, such must the soul needs be, and then the dead more miserable. For the soul is not dissolved into corruption and ashes and dust, but into things of fouler odor than these, into drunkenness and anger and covetousness, into improper loves and unseasonable desires. But if thou wouldest know more exactly how foul an odor it hath, give me a soul that is pure, and then thou wilt see clearly how foul the odor of this filthy and impure one. For at present thou wilt not be able to perceive it. For so long as we are in contact habitually with a foul odor, we are not sensible of it. But when we are fed with spiritual words, then shall we be cognizant of that evil. And yet to many this seemeth of no importance. And I say nothing as yet of hell; but let us, if you will, examine what is present, and how worthy of derision is he, not that practiseth, but that uttereth filthiness; how first he loadeth himself with contumely; just as one that sputtereth any filth from the mouth, so he defiles himself. For if the stream is so impure, think what must be the fountain of this filth! "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (Mat. xii. 34.) Yet not for this alone do I grieve, but because that to some this doth not even seem to be reckoned amongst improper things. Hence the evils are all made worse, when we both sin, and do not think we even do amiss.
[4.] Wilt thou then learn how great an evil is filthy talking? See how the hearers blush at thy indecency. For what is viler than a filthy talker? what more infamous? For such thrust themselves into the rank of buffoons and of prostituted women, yea rather these have more shame than you. How canst thou teach a wife to be modest when by such language thou art training her to proceed unto lasciviousness? Better vent rottenness from the mouth than a filthy word. Now if thy mouth have an ill-odor, thou partakest not even of the common meats; when then thou hadst so foul a stink in thy soul, tell me, dost thou dare to partake of mysteries? Did any one take a dirty vessel and set it upon the table, thou wouldest have beaten him with clubs and driven him out: yet God at His own table, (for His table our mouth is when filled with thanksgiving,) when thou pourest out words more disgusting than any unclean vessel, tell me, dost thou think that thou provokest not? And how is this possible? For nothing doth so exasperate the holy and pure as do such words; nothing makes men so impudent and shameless as to say and listen to such; nothing doth so unstring the sinews of modesty as the flame which these kindle. God hath set perfumes in thy mouth, but thou storest up words of fouler odor than a corpse, and destroyest the soul itself and makest it incapable of motion. For when thou insultest, this is not the voice of the soul, but of anger; when thou talkest filthily, it is lewdness, and not she that spake; when thou detractest, it is envy; when thou schemest, covetousness. These are not her works, but those of the affections and the diseases belonging to her. As then corruption cometh not simply of the body, but of the death and the passion which is thus in the body; so also, in truth, these things come of the passions which grow upon the soul. For if thou wilt hear a voice from a living soul, hear Paul saying, "Having food and covering, we shall be therewith content:" (1 Tim. vi. 8.) and "Godliness is great gain:" (ib. 6.) and, "The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. vi. 14.) Hear Peter saying, "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, give I thee." (Acts iii. 6.) Hear Job giving thanks and saying, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away." (Job i. 21.) These things are the words of a living soul, of a soul discharging the functions proper to it. Thus also Jacob said, "If the Lord will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on." (Gen. xxviii. 20.) Thus also Joseph, "How shall I do this wickedness, and sin before God?" (ib. xxxix. 9.) But not so that barbarian woman; but as one drunken and insane, so spake she, saying, "Lie with me." (ibid. 7.) These things then knowing, let us earnestly covet the living soul, let us flee the dead one, that we may also obtain the life to come; of which may all we be made partakers, through the grace and love toward men of our Lord Jesus Christ, though Whom and with Whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly upon the face of Moses, for the glory of his face; which glory was passing away: how shall not rather the ministration of the Spirit be with glory?
He said that the tables of Moses were of stone, as [also] they were written with letters; and that these were of flesh, I mean the hearts of the Apostles, and had been written on by the Spirit; and that the letter indeed killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. There was yet wanting to this comparison the addition of a further and not trifling particular, that of the glory of Moses; such as in the case of the New Covenant none saw with the eyes of the body. And even for this cause it appeared a great thing in that the glory was perceived by the senses; (for it was seen by the bodily eyes, even though it might not be approached;) but that of the New Covenant is perceived by the understanding. For to the weaker sort the apprehension of such a superiority is not clear; but the other did more take them, and turn them unto itself. Having then fallen upon this comparison and being set upon showing the superiority [in question], which yet was exceedingly difficult because of the dulness of the hearers; see what he does, and with what method he proceeds in it, first by arguments placing the difference before them, and constructing these out of what he had said before.
For if that ministration were of death, but this of life, doubtless, saith he, the latter glory is also greater than the former. For since he could not exhibit it to the bodily eyes, by this logical inference he established its superiority, saying,
Ver. 8. "But if the ministration of death came with glory, how shall not rather the ministration of the Spirit be with glory?"
Now by "ministration of death" he means the Law. And mark too how great the caution he uses in the comparison so as to give no handle to the heretics; for he said not, 'which causeth death,' but, "the ministration of death;" for it ministereth unto, but was not the parent of, death; for that which caused death was sin; but [the Law] brought in the punishment, and showed the sin, not caused it. For it more distinctly revealed the evil and punished it: it did not impel unto the evil: and it ministered not to the existence of sin or death, but to the suffering of retribution by the sinner. So that in this way it was even destructive of sin. For that which showeth it to be so fearful, it is obvious, maketh it also to be avoided. As then he that taketh the sword in his hands and cutteth off the condemned, ministers to the judge that passeth sentence, and it is not he that is his destruction, although he cutteth him off; nay, nor yet is it he who passeth sentence and condemneth, but the wickedness of him that is punished; so truly here also it is not that destroyeth, but sin. This did both destroy and condemn, but that by punishing undermined its strength, by the fear of the punishment holding it back. But he was not content with this consideration only in order to establish the superiority [in question]; but he addeth yet another, saying, "written, and engraven on stones." See how he again cuts at the root of the Jewish arrogancy. For the Law was nothing else but letters: a certain succor was not found leaping forth from out the letters and inspiring them that combat, as is the case in Baptism; but pillars and writings bearing death to those who transgress the letters. Seest thou how in correcting the Jewish contentiousness, by his very expressions even he lessens its authority, speaking of stone and letters and a ministration of death, and adding that it was engraven? For hereby he declareth nothing else than this, that the Law was fixed in one place; not, as the Spirit, was present everywhere, breathing great might into all; or that the letters breathe much threatening, and threatening too which can not be effaced but remaineth for ever, as being engraved in stone. Then even whilst seeming to praise the old things, he again mixeth up accusation of the Jews. For having said, "written and engraven in stones, came with glory," he added, "so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly upon the face of Moses;" which was a mark of their great weakness and grovelling spirit. And again he doth not say, 'for the glory of the tables,' but, "for the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away;" for he showeth that he who beareth them is made glorious, and not they. For he said not, 'because they could not look steadfastly upon the tables,' but, "the face of Moses;" and again, not, 'for the glory of the tables,' but, "for the glory of his face." Then after he had extolled it, see how again he lowers it, saying, "which was passing away." Not however that this is in accusation, but in diminution; for he did not say, 'which was corrupt, which was evil,' but, 'which ceaseth and hath an end.'
"How shall not rather the ministration of the Spirit be with glory?" for henceforth with confidence he extolleth the things of the New [Covenant] as indisputable. And observe what he doth. He opposed 'stone' to 'heart,' and 'letter' to 'spirit.' Then having shown the results of each, he doth not set down the results of each; but having set down the work of the latter, namely, death and condemnation, he setteth not down that of the spirit, namely, life and righteousness; but the Spirit Itself; which added greatness to the argument. For the New Covenant not only gave life, but supplied also 'The Spirit' Which giveth the life, a far greater thing than the life. Wherefore he said, "the ministration of the Spirit." Then he again reverts to the same thing, saying,
Ver. 9. "For if the ministration of condemnation is glory."
Also, he interprets more clearly the meaning of the words, "The letter killeth," declaring it to be that which we have said above, namely, that the Law showed sin, not caused it.
"Much rather doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory." For those Tables indeed showed the sinners and punished them, but this not only did not punish the sinners, but even made them righteous: for this did Baptism confer.
[2.] Ver. 10. "For verily that which hath been made glorious hath not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasseth."
Now in what has gone before, indeed, he showed that this also is with glory; and not simply is with glory, but even exceedeth in it: for he did not say, "How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather in glory?" but, "exceed in glory;" deriving the proof from the arguments before stated. Here he also shows the superiority, how great it is, saying, 'if I compare this with that, the glory of the Old Covenant is not glory at all;' not absolutely laying down that there was no glory, but in view of the comparison. Wherefore also he added, "in this respect," that is, in respect of the comparison. Not that this doth disparage the Old Covenant, yea rather it highly commendeth it: for comparisons are wont to be made between things which are the same in kind. Next, he sets on foot yet another argument to prove the superiority also from a fresh ground. What then is this argument? That based upon duration, saying,
Ver. 11. "For if that which passeth away was with glory, much more that which remaineth is in glory."
For the one ceased, but the other abideth continually.
Vet. 12. "Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech."
For since when he had heard so many and so great things concerning the New [Covenant,] the hearer would be desirous of seeing this glory manifested to the eye, mark whither he hurleth him, [even] to the world to come. Wherefore also he brought forward the "hope," saying, "Having therefore such a hope." Such? Of what nature? That we have been counted worthy of greater things than Moses; not we the Apostles only, but also all the faithful. "We use great boldness of speech." Towards whom? tell me. Towards God, or towards the disciples? Towards you who are receiving instruction, he saith; that is, we speak every where with freedom, hiding nothing, withholding nothing, mistrusting nothing, but speaking openly; and we have not feared lest we should wound your eyesight, as Moses did that of the Jews. For that he alluded to this, hear what follows; or rather, it is necessary first to relate the history, for he himself keeps dwelling upon it. What then is the history? When, having received the Tables a second time, Moses came down, a certain glory darting from his countenance shone so much that the Jews were not able to approach and talk with him until he put a veil over his face. And thus it is written in Exodus, (Ex. xxxiv. 29, 34.) "When Moses came down from the Mount, the two Tables [were] in his hands. And Moses wist not that the skin of his countenance was made glorious to behold. And they were afraid to come nigh him. And Moses called them, and spake unto them. And when Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But when he went in before the Lord to speak [with Him], he took the veil off until he came out."
Putting them in mind then of this history, he says,
Ver. 13. "And not as Moses, who put a veil upon his face, so that the children of Israel should not look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away."
Now what he says is of this nature. There is no need for us to cover ourselves as Moses did; for ye are able to look upon this glory which we are encircled with, although it is far greater and brighter than the other. Seest thou the advance? For he that in the former Epistle said, "I have fed you with milk, not with meat;" saith here, "We use great boldness of speech." And he produces Moses before them, carrying forward the discourse by means of comparison, and thus leading his hearer upwards.
And for the present he sets them above the Jews, saying that 'we have no need of a veil as he had with those he governed;' but in what comes afterwards he advances them even to the dignity itself of the Lawgiver, or even to a much greater.
Mean time, however, let us hear what follows next.
Ver. 14. "But their minds were hardened, for until this day remaineth the same veil in the reading of the Old Covenant, [it] not being revealed to them that it is done away in Christ."
See what he establisheth by this. For what happened then once in the case of Moses, the same happeneth continually in the case of the Law. What is said, therefore, is no accusation of the Law, as neither is it of Moses that he then veiled himself, but only the senseless Jews. For the law hath its proper glory, but they were unable to see it. 'Why therefore are ye perplexed,' he saith, 'if they are unable to see this glory of the Grace, since they saw not that lesser one of Moses, nor were able to look steadfastly upon his countenance? And why are ye troubled that the Jews believe not Christ, seeing at least that they believe not even the Law? For they were therefore ignorant of the Grace also, because they knew not even the Old Covenant nor the glory which was in it. For the glory of the Law is to turn [men] unto Christ.'
Seest thou how from this consideration also he takes down the inflation of the Jews? By that in which they thought they had the advantage, namely, that Moses' face shone, he proves their grossness and groveling nature. Let them not therefore pride themselves on that, for what was that to Jews who enjoyed it not? Wherefore also he keeps on dwelling upon it, saying one while, "The same veil in the reading of the old covenant remaineth," it "not being revealed that it is done away in Christ:" another while, that "unto this day when Moses is read," (v. 15.) the same "veil lieth upon their heart; "showing that the veil lieth both on the reading and on their heart; and above, "So that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly upon the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which" (v. 7.) glory "was passing away." Than which what could mark less worth in them? Seeing that even of a glory that is to be done away, or rather is in comparison no glory at all, they are not able to be spectators, but it is covered from them, "so that they could not steadfastly look on the end of that which was passing away;" that is, of the law, because it hath an end; "but their minds were hardened." 'And what,' saith one, 'hath this to do with the veil then? 'Because it prefigured what would be. For not only did they not then perceive; but they do not even now see the Law. And the fault lies with themselves, for the hardness is that of an unimpressible and perverse judgment. So that it is we who know the law also; but to them not only Grace, but this as well is covered with a shadow; "For until this day the same veil upon the reading of the old covenant remaineth," he saith, it "not being revealed that it is done away in Christ." Now what he saith is this. This very thing they cannot see, that it is brought to an end, because they believe not Christ. For if it be brought to an end by Christ, as in truth it is brought to an end, and this the Law said by anticipation, how will they who receive not Christ that hath done away the Law, be able to see that the Law is done away? And being incapable of seeing this, it is very plain that even of the Law itself which asserted these things, they know not the power nor the full glory. 'And where,' saith one,' did it say this that it is done away in Christ?' It did not say it merely, but also showed it by what was done. And first indeed by shutting up its sacrifices and its whole ritual in one place, the Temple, and afterwards destroying this. For had He not meant to bring these to an end and the whole of the Law concerning them, He would have done one or other of two things; either not destroyed the Temple, or having destroyed it, not forbidden to sacrifice elsewhere. But, as it is, the whole world and even Jerusalem itself He hath made forbidden ground for such religious rites; having allowed and appointed for them only the Temple. Then having destroyed this itself afterwards He showed completely even by what was done that the things of the Law are brought to an end by Christ; for the Temple also Christ destroyed. But if thou wilt see in words as well how the Law is done away in Christ, hear the Lawgiver himself speaking thus; "A Prophet shall the Lord raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; (Deut. xvii. 15, 19.) Him shall ye hear in all things what soever He shall command you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed." (Acts iii. 22, 23.) Seest thou how the Law showed that it is done away in Christ? For this Prophet, that is, Christ according to the flesh, Whom Moses commanded them to hear, made to cease both sabbath and circumcison and all the other things. And David too, showing the very same thing, said concerning Christ, "Thou art a Priest after the order of Melchizedek," (Ps. cx. 4;) not after the order of Aaron. Wherefore also Paul, giving a clear interpretation of this, says, "The priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the Law." (Heb. vii. 12.) And in another place also he says again, "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not. In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hadst had no pleasure: then said I, Lo, I come." (Heb. x. 5, 7.) And other testimonies far mere numerous than these may be adduced out of the Old Testament, showing how the Law is done away by Christ. So that when thou shalt have forsaken the Law, thou shalt then see the Law clearly; but so long as thou holdest by it and believest not Christ, thou knowest not even the Law itself. Wherefore also he added, to establish this very thing more clearly;
Vet. 15. "But even unto this day, whensoever Moses is read, a veil lieth upon their heart."
For since he said that in the reading of the Old Testament the veil remaineth, lest any should think that this that is said is from the obscurity of the Law, he both by other things showed even before what his meaning was, (for by saying, "their minds were hardened," he shows that the fault was their own,) and, in this place too, again. For he said not, 'The veil remaineth on the writing,' but "in the reading;" (now the reading is the act of those that read;) and again, "When Moses is read." He showed this however with greater clearness in the expression which follows next, saying unreservedly, "The veil lieth upon their heart." For even upon the face of Moses it lay, not because of Moses, but because of the grossness and carnal mind of these.
[4.] Having then suitably accused them, he points out also the manner of their correction. And what is this?
Ver. 16. "Nevertheless when [one] shall turn to the Lord," which is, to forsake the Law, "the veil is taken away."
Seest thou that not over the face of Moses was there that veil, but over the eyesight of the Jews? For it was done, not that the glory of Moses might be hidden, but that the Jews might not see. For they were not capable. So that in them was the deficiency, for it caused not him to be ignorant of any thing, but them. And he did not say indeed, "when thou shalt let go the Law," but he implied it, for "when thou shalt turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away." To the very last he kept to the history. For when Moses talked with the Jews he kept his face covered; but when he turned to God it was uncovered. Now this was a type of that which was to come to pass, that when we have turned to the Lord, then we shall see the glory of the Law, and the face of the Lawgiver bare; yea rather, not this alone, but we shall then be even in the same rank with Moses. Seest thou how he inviteth the Jew unto the faith, by showing, that by coming unto Grace he is able not only to see Moses, but also to stand in the very same rank with the Lawgiver. 'For not only,' he saith, 'shalt thou look on the glory which then thou sawest not, but thou shalt thyself also be included in the same glory; yea rather, in a greater glory, even so great that that other shall not seem glory at all when compared with this.' How and in what manner? 'Because that when thou hast turned to the Lord and art included in the grace, thou wilt enjoy that glory, unto which the glory of Moses, if compared, is so much less as to be no glory at all. But still, small though it be and exceedingly below that other, whilst thou art a Jew, even this will not be vouchsafed thee; but having become a believer, it will then be vouchsafed thee to behold even that which is far greater than it.' And when he was addressing himself to the believers, he said, that "that which was made glorious had no glory;" but here he speaks not so; but how? "When one shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away:" leading him up by little and little, and first setting him in Moses' rank, and then making him partake of the greater things. For when thou hast seen Moses in glory, then afterwards thou shalt also turn unto God and enjoy this greater glory.
[5.] See then from the beginning, how many things he has laid down, as constituting the difference and showing the superiority, not the enmity or contradiction, of the New Covenant in respect to the old. That, saith he, is letter, and stone, and a ministration of death, and is done away: and yet the Jews were not even vouchsafed this glory. (Or, the glory of this.) This table is of the flesh, and spirit, and righteousness, and remaineth; and unto all of us is it vouchsafed, not to one only, as to Moses of the lesser then. (ver. 18.) "For," saith he, "we all with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord," not that of Moses. But since some maintain that the expression, "when one shall turn to the Lord," is spoken of the Son, in contradiction to what is quite acknowledged; let us examine the point more accurately, having first stated the ground on which they think to establish this. What then is this? Like, saith one, as it is said, "God is a Spirit;" (John iv. 24.) so also here, 'The Lord is a Spirit.' But he did not say, 'The Lord is a Spirit,' but, "The Spirit is the Lord." And there is a great difference between this construction and that. For when he is desirous of speaking so as you say, he does not join the article to the predicate. And besides, let us review all his discourse from the first, of whom hath he spoken? for instance, when he said, "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life:" (ver. 6.) and again, "Written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; "(ver. 3.) was he speaking of God, or of the Spirit? It is very plain that it was of the Spirit; for unto It he was calling them from the letter. For lest any, hearing of the Spirit, and then reflecting that Moses turned unto the Lord, but himself unto the Spirit, should think himself to have the worse, to correct such a suspicion as this, he says,
Ver. 17. "Now the Spirit Is the Lord." This too is Lord, he says. And that you may know that he is speaking of the Paraclete, he added,
"And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
For surely you will not assert, that he says, 'And where the Lord of the Lord is.' "Liberty," he said, with reference to the former bondage. Then, that you may not think that he is speaking of a time to come, he says,
Ver. 18. "But we all, with unveiled face, reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord."
Not that which is brought to an end, but that which remaineth.
"Are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit."
Seest thou how again he places the Spirit in the rank of God, (vide infra) and raises them up to the rank of the Apostles. For he said before, "Ye are the Epistle of Christ; and here, "But we all with open face." Yet they came, like Moses, bringing a law. But like as we, he says, needed no veil, so neither ye who received it. And yet, this glory is far greater, for this is not of our countenance, but of the Spirit; but nevertheless ye are able as well as we to look steadfastly upon it. For they indeed could not even by a mediator, but ye even without a mediator can [look steadfastly on] a greater. They were not able to look upon that of Moses, ye even upon that of the Spirit. Now had the Spirit been at all inferior, He would not have set down these things as greater than those. But what is, "we reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image." This indeed was shown more clearly when the gifts of miracles were in operation; howbeit it is not even now difficult to see it, for one who hath believing eyes. For as soon as we are baptized, the soul beameth even more than the sun, being cleansed by the Spirit; and not only do we behold the glory of God, but from it also receive a sort of splendor. Just as if pure silver be turned towards the sun's rays, it will itself also shoot forth rays, not from its own natural property merely but also from the solar lustre; so also doth the soul being cleansed and made brighter than silver, receive a ray from the glory of the Spirit, and send it back. Wherefore also he saith, "Reflecting as a mirror we are transformed into the same image from glory," that of the Spirit, "to glory," our own, that which is generated in us; and that, of such sort, as one might expect from the Lord the Spirit. See how here also he calleth the Spirit, Lord. And in other places too one may see that lordship of His. For, saith he, "As they ministered and fasted unto the Lord, the Spirit said, Separate me Paul and Barnabas." (Acts xiii. 2.) For therefore he said, "as they ministered unto the Lord, Separate me," in order to show the [Spirit's] equality in honor. And again Christ saith, "The servant knoweth not what his lord doeth;" but even as a man knoweth his own things, so doth the Spirit know the things of God; not by being taught [them,] for so the similitude holdeth not good. Also the working as He willeth showeth His authority and lordship. This transformeth us. This suffereth not to be conformed to this world; for such is the creation of which This is the Author. For as he saith, "Created in Christ Jesus," (Ephes. ii. 10.) so saith he, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in my inward parts". (Ps. li. 10, LXX.)
[6.] Wilt thou that I show thee this also from the Apostles more obviously to the sense. Consider Paul, whose garments wrought: Peter, whose very shadows were mighty. (Acts xix, 12; v, 15. XX.) For had they not borne a King's image and their radiancy been unapproachable, their garments and shadows had not wrought so mightily. For the garments of a king are terrible even to robbers. Wouldest thou see this beaming even through the body? "Looking steadfastly," said he, "upon the face of Stephen, they saw it as it had been the face of an angel." (Acts vi. 15.) But this was nothing to the glory flashing within. For what Moses had upon his countenance, that did these carry about with them on their souls, yea 'rather' even far more. For that of Moses indeed was more obvious to the senses, but this was incorporeal. And like as fire-bright bodies streaming down from the shining bodies upon those which lie near them, impart to them also somewhat of their own splendor, so truly doth it also happen with the faithful. Therefore surely they with whom it is thus are set free from earth, and have their dreams of the things in the heavens. Woe is me! for well is it that we should here even groan bitterly, for that we who enjoy a birth so noble do not so much as know what is said, because we quickly lose the reality, and are dazzled about the objects of sense. For this glory, the unspeakable and awful, remaineth in us for a day or two, and then we quench it, bringing over it the winter of worldly concerns, and with the thickness of those clouds repelling its rays. For worldly things are a winter, and than winter more lowering. For not frost is engendered thence nor rain, neither doth it produce mire and deep swamps; but, things than all these more grievous, it formeth hell and the miseries of hell. And as in severe frost all the limbs are stiffened and are dead, so truly the soul shuddering in the winter of sins also, performeth none of its proper functions, stiffened, as it were, by a frost, as to conscience. For what cold is to the body, that an evil conscience is to the soul, whence also cometh cowardice. For nothing is more cowardly than the man that is rivetted to worldly things; for such an one lives the life of Cain, trembling every day. And why do I mention deaths, and losses, and offences, and flatteries, and services? for even without these he is in fear of ten thousand vicissitudes. And his coffers indeed are full of gold, but his soul is not freed from the fear of poverty. And very reasonably. For he is moored as it were on rotten and swiftly shifting things, and even though in his own case he experienced not the reverse, yet is he undone by seeing it happen in others; and great is his cowardice, great his unmanliness. For not only is such an one spiritless as to danger, but also as to all other things. And if desire of wealth assail him, he doth not like a free man beat off the assault; but like a bought slave, doth all [it bids], serving the love of money as it were a severe mistress. If again he have beheld some comely damsel, down he croucheth at once made captive, and followeth like a raging dog, though it behoveth to do the opposite. For when thou hast beheld a beautiful woman, consider not how thou mayest enjoy thy lust, but how be delivered from thy lust. 'And how is this possible,' saith one? 'for loving is not my own doing.' Whose then? tell me. It is from the Devil's malice. Thou art quite convinced that that which plotteth against thee is a devil; wrestle then and fight with a distemper. But I cannot, he saith. Come then, let us first teach thee this, that what happeneth is from thine own listlessness, and that thou at the first gavest entrance to the Devil, and now if thou hast a mind, with much ease mayest drive him off. They that commit adultery, is it from lust they commit it, or simply from desire of dangers? Plainly from lust. Do they then therefore obtain forgiveness? Certainly not. Why not? Because the sin is their own. 'But,' saith one, 'why, pray, string syllogisms? For my conscience bears me witness that I wish to repel the passion; and cannot, but it keepeth close, presses me sore, and afflicts me grievously.' O man, thou dost wish to repel it, but thou dost not the things repellers should do; but it is with thee just as with a man in a fever, who drinking of cold streams to the fill, should say, 'How many things I devise with the wish to quench this fever, and I cannot; but they stir up my flame the more.' Let us see then whether at all thou too dost the things that inflame, yet thinkest thou art devising such as quench. 'I do not,' he saith. Tell me then, what hast thou ever essayed to do in order to quench the passion? and what is it, in fine, that will increase the passion? For even supposing we be not all of us obnoxious to these particular charges; (for more may be found who are captivated by the love of money than of beauty;) still the remedy to be proposed will be common to all, both to these and to those. For both that is an unreasonable passion, and this, is keener and fiercer than that. When then we have proved victorious over the greater, it is very plain that we shall easily subdue the less also. 'And how is it,' saith one, 'that if this be keener, all persons are not made captive by the vice, but a greater number are mad after money?' Because in the first place this last desire appears to be unattended with danger: next, although that of beauty be even fiercer, yet it is more speedily extinguished; for were it to continue like that of money, it would wholly destroy its captive.
[7.] Come then, let us discourse to you on this, the love of beauty, and let us see whereby the mischief is increased; for so we shall know whether the fault be ours, or not ours. And if ours, let us do everything to get the better of it; whereas if not ours, why do we afflict ourselves for nought? And why do we not pardon, but find fault, with those who are made captive by it? Whence then is this love engendered? 'From comeliness of feature,' saith one, 'when she that woundeth one is beautiful and of fair countenance.' It is said idly and in vain. For if it were beauty that attracted lovers, then would the maiden who is such have all men for her lovers; but if she hath not all, this thing cometh not of nature nor from beauty, but from unchaste eyes. For it was when by eyeing too curiously, thou didst admire and become enamored, that thou receivedst the shaft. 'And who,' saith one, ' when he sees a beautiful woman, can refrain from commending her he sees? If then admiring such things cometh not of deliberate choice, it follows that love depends not on ourselves.' Stop, O man! Why dost thou crowd all things together, running round and round on every side, and not choosing to see the root of the evil? For I see numbers admiring and commending, who yet are not enamored. 'And how is it possible to admire and not be enamored?' Clamor not, (for this I am coming to speak of,) but wait, and thou shalt hear Moses admiring the son of Jacob, and saying, "And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored exceedingly." (Gen. xxxix. 6, LXX.) Was he then enamored who speaketh this? By no means. 'For,' saith he, 'he did not even see him whom he commended.' We are affected, however, somewhat similarly towards beauties also which are described to us, not only which are beheld. But that thou cavil not with us on this point:—David, was he not comely exceedingly, and ruddy with beauty of eyes? (So 1 Sam. xvi. 12 & xvii. 42. LXX.) and indeed this beauty of the eyes, is even especially, a component of beauteousness of more despotic power than any. Was then any one enamored of him? By no means. Then to be also enamored cometh not [necessarily] with admiring. For many too have had mothers blooming exceedingly in beauty of person. What then? Were their children enamored of them? Away with the thought! but they admire what they see, yet fall not into a shameful love. 'No, for again this good provision is Nature's.' How Nature's? Tell me. 'Because they are mothers,' he saith. Then hearest thou not that Persians, and that without any compulsion, have intercourse with their own mothers, and that not one or two individuals, but a whole nation? But independent of these, it is hence also evident that this distemper cometh not from bloom of person nor from beauty merely, but from a listless and wandering soul. Many at least it is certain, oftentimes, having passed over thousands of well-favored women, have given themselves to such as were plainer. Whence it is evident that love depends not on beauty: for otherwise, surely, those would have caught such as fell into it, before these. What then is its cause? 'For,' saith he, 'if it be not beauty that causeth love, whence hath it its beginning and its root? From a wicked Demon?' It hath it indeed, thence also, but this is not what we are inquiring about, but whether we ourselves too be not the cause. For the plot is not theirs only, but along with them our own too in the first place. For from no other source is this wicked distemper so engendered as from habit, and flattering words, and leisure, and idleness, and having nothing to do. For great, great is the tyranny of habit, even so great as to be moulded into a necessity of nature. Now if it be habit's to gender it, it is very evident that it is also [habit's] to extinguish it. Certain it is at least that many have in this way ceased to be enamored, from not seeing those they were enamored of. Now this for a little while indeed appears to be a bitter thing and exceedingly unpleasant; but in time it becometh pleasant, and even were they to wish it, they could not afterwards resume the passion.
[8.] How then, when without habit one is taken captive at first sight? Here also it is indolence of body, or self-indulgence, and not attending to one's duties, nor being occupied in necessary business. For such an one, wandering about like some vagabond, is transfixed by any wickedness; and like a child let loose, any one that liketh maketh such a soul his slave. For since it is its wont to be at work, when thou stoppest its workings in what is good, seeing it cannot be unemployed, it is compelled to engender what is otherwise. For just as the earth, when it is not sown nor planted, sends up simply weeds; so also the soul, when it hath nought of necessary things to do, being desirous by all means to be doing, giveth herself unto wicked deeds. And as the eye never ceaseth from seeing, and therefore will see wicked things, when good things are not set before it; so also doth the thought, when it secludes itself from necessary things, busy itself thereafter about such as are unprofitable. For that even the first assault occupation and thought are able to beat off, is evident from many things. When then thou hast looked on a beautiful woman, and weft moved towards her, look no more, and thou art delivered. 'And how shall I be able to look no more,' saith he, 'when drawn by that desire?' Give thyself to other things which may distract the soul, to books, to necessary cares, to protecting others, to assisting the injured, to prayers, to the wisdom which considers the things to come: with such things as these bind down thy soul. By these means, not only shalt thou cure a recent wound, but shalt wear away a confirmed and inveterate one easily. For if an insult according to the proverb prevails with the lover to give over his love, how shall not these spiritual charms much rather be victorious over the evil, if only we have a mind to stand aloof. But if we are always conversing and associating with those who shoot such arrows at us, and talking with them and hearing what they say, we cherish the distemper. How then dost thou expect the fire to be quenched, when day by day thou stirrest up the flame?
And let this that we have said about habit be our speech unto the young; since to those who are men and taught in heavenly wisdom, stronger than all is the fear of God, the remembrance of hell, the desire of the kingdom of heaven; for these are able to quench the fire. And along with these take that thought also, that what thou seest is nothing else than rheum, and blood, and juices of decomposed food. 'Yet a gladsome thing is the bloom of the features,' saith one. But nothing is more gladsome than the blossoms of the earth, and these too rot and wither. Do not then in this either give heed to the bloom, but pass on further inward in thy thought, and stripping off that beauteous skin in thy thought, scan curiously what lies beneath it. For even the bodies of the dropsical shine brightly, and the surface hath nothing offensive; but still, shocked with the thought of the humor stored within we cannot love such persons. But languishing is the eye and glancing, and beautifully arched the brow, and dark the lashes, and soft the eyeball, and serene the look.' But see how even this itself again is nothing else than nerves, and veins, and membranes, and arteries. Think too, I pray, of this beautiful eye, when diseased and old, wasting with despair, swelling with anger, how hateful to
the sight it is, how quickly it perisheth, how sooner even than pictured ones, it is effaced. From these things make thy mind pass to the true beauty. 'But,' saith he, 'I do not see beauty of soul.' But if thou wilt choose, thou shalt see it: and as the absent beautiful may be with the mind admired, though with one's eyes unseen, so it is possible to see without eyes beauty of soul. Hast thou not often sketched a beauteous form, and felt moved unto the drawing? Image also now beauty of soul, and revel in that loveliness. 'But,' saith he, 'I do not see things incorporeal.' And yet we see these, rather than the corporeal, with the mind. Therefore it is, for instance, that although we see them not, we admire angels also and archangels, and habits of character, and virtue of soul. And if thou seest a man considerate and moderate, thou wilt more admire him than that beautiful countenance. And if thou seest one insulted, yet bearing it; wronged, yet giving way, admire and love such, even though they be striken in age. For such a thing is the beauty of the soul; even in old age it hath many enamored of it, and it never fadeth, but bloometh for ever. In order then that we also may gain this beauty, let us go in quest of those that have it, and be enamored of them. For so shall we too be able, when we have attained this beauty, to obtain the good things eternal, whereof may all we partake, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Spirit, be glory and might, for ever and ever. Amen.
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy we faint not, but we have renounced the hidden things of shame.
Seeing he had uttered great things and had set himself and all the faithful before Moses, aware of the height and greatness of what he had said, observe how he moderates his tone again. For it was necessary on account of the false Apostles to exalt his hearers also, and again to calm down that swelling; yet not to do it away, since this would be a trifler's part. Wherefore he manages this in another manner, by showing that not of their own merits was it, but all of the loving-kindness of God. Wherefore also he says, "Therefore seeing we have this ministry." For nothing more did we contribute, except that we became ministers, and made ourselves subservient to the things given by God. Wherefore he said not 'largess,' nor 'supply,' but 'ministry.' Nor was he contented with this even, but added, "as we obtained mercy." For even this itself, he saith, the ministering to these things, is of mercy and loving-kindness. Yet it is mercy's to deliver from evils, not to give so many good things besides: but the mercy of God includes this also.
"We faint not." And this indeed is to be imputed to His loving- kindness. For the clause, "as we obtained mercy," take to be said with reference both to the "ministry," and to the words, "we faint not." And observe how earnestly he endeavors to lower his own things. 'For,' saith he, 'that one who hath been counted worthy of such and so great things, and this from mercy only and loving-kindness, should show forth such labors, and undergo dangers, and endure temptations, is no great matter. Therefore we not only do not sink down, but we even rejoice and speak boldly.' For instance, having said, "we faint not," he added,
Ver. 2. "But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully."
And what are "the hidden things of shame?" We do not, he saith, profess and promise great things, and in our actions show other things, as they do; wherefore also he said, "Ye look on things after the outward appearance;" but such we are as we appear, not having any duplicity, nor saying and doing such things as we ought to hide and veil over with shame and blushes. And to interpret this, he added, "not walking in craftiness." For what they considered to be praise, that he proves to be shameful and worthy of scorn. But what is, "in craftiness?" They had the reputation of taking nothing,, but they took and kept it secret; they had the character of saints and approved Apostles, but they were full of numberless evil things. But, saith he, "we have renounced" these things: (for these are what he also calls the "hidden things of shame;" being such as we appear to be, and keeping nothing veiled over. And that not in this [our] life only, but also in the Preaching itself. For this is, "nor handling the word of God deceitfully."
"But by the manifestation of the truth."
Not by the countenance and the outward show, but by the very proof of our actions.
"Commending ourselves to every man's conscience."
For not to believers only, but also to unbelievers, we are manifest; lying open unto all that they may test our actions, as they may choose; and by this we commend ourselves, not by acting a part and carrying about a specious mask. We say then, that we take nothing, and we call you for witnesses; we say that we are conscious of no wickedness, and of this again we derive the testimony from you, not as they (sc. false Apostles) who,
veiling over their things, deceive many. But we both set forth our life before all men; and we lay bare the Preaching, so that all comprehend it.
[2.] Then because the unbelievers knew not its power, he added, this is no fault of ours, but of their own insensibility. Wherefore also he saith,
Ver. 3, 4. "But if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that are lost; in whom the God of this world hath blinded the eyes of the unbelieving."
As he said also before, "To some a savor from death unto death, to others a savor from life unto life," (ch. ii. 16.) so he saith here too. But what is "the God of this world?" Those that are infected with Marcion's notions, affirm that this is said of the Creator, the just only, and not good; for they say that there is a certain God, just and not good. But the Manichees say that the devil is here intended, desiring from this passage to introduce another creator of the world besides the True One, very senselessly. For the Scripture useth often to employ the term God, not in regard of the dignity of that so designated, but of the weakness of those in subjection to it; as when it calls Mammon lord, and the belly god. But neither is the belly therefore God, nor Mammon Lord, save only of those who bow down themselves to them. But we assert of this passage that it is spoken neither of the devil nor of another creator, but of the God of the Universe, and that it is to be read thus; "God hath blinded the minds of the unbelievers of this world." For the world to come hath no unbelievers; but the present only. But if any one should read it even otherwise, as, for instance, "the God of this world;" neither doth this afford any handle, for this doth not show Him to be the God of this world only. For He is called "the God of Heaven," (Ps. cxxxvi. 26. &c.) yet is He not the God of Heaven only; and we say, 'God of the present day;' yet we say this not as limiting His power to it alone. And moreover He is called the "God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;" (Exod. iii. 6. &c.) and yet He is not the God of them alone. And one may find many other like testimonies in the Scriptures. How then "hath" He "blinded" them? Not by working unto this end; away with the thought! but by suffering and allowing it. For it is usual with the Scripture so to speak, as when it saith, "God gave them up unto a reprobate mind." For when they themselves first disbelieved, and rendered themselves unworthy to see the mysteries; He Himself also thereafter permitted it. But what did it behove Him to do? To draw them by force, and reveal to those who would not see? But so they would have despised the more, and would not have seen either. Wherefore also he added,
"That the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ should not dawn upon them."
Not that they might disbelieve in God, but that unbelief might not see what are the things within, as also He enjoined us, commanding not to "east the pearls before the swine." (Matt. vii. 6.) For had He revealed even to those who disbelieve, their disease would have been the rather aggravated. For if one compel a man laboring under ophthalmia to look at the sunbeams, he the rather increases his infirmity. Therefore the physicians even shut them up in darkness, so as not to aggravate their disorder. So then here also we must consider that these persons indeed became unbelievers of themselves, but having become so, they no longer saw the secret things of the Gospel, God thenceforth excluding its beams from them. As also he said to the disciples, "Therefore I speak unto them in proverbs, (Mat. xiii, 13.) because hearing they hear not." But what I say may also become clearer
by an example; suppose a Greek, accounting our religion to be fables. This man then, how will he be more advantaged? by going in and seeing the mysteries, or by remaining without? Therefore he says, "That the light should not dawn upon them," still dwelling on the history of Moses. For what happened to the Jews in his case, this happeneth to all unbelievers in the case of the Gospel. And what is that which is overshadowed, and which is not illuminated unto them? Hear him saying, "That the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ who is the Image of God, should not dawn upon them." Namely, that the Cross is the salvation of the world, and His glory; that this Crucified One himself is about to come with much splendor; all the other things, those present, those to come, those seen, those not seen, the unspeakable splendor of the things looked for. Therefore also he said, "dawn," that thou mayest not look for the whole here, for that which is [here] given is only, as it were, a little dawning of the Spirit. Therefore, also above as indicating this, he spoke of "savor;" (c. ii. 16.) and again, "earnest," (c. i. 25.) showing that the greater part remaineth there. But neverthelesss all these things have been hidden from them; but had been hidden because they disbelieved first. Then to show that they are not only ignorant of the Glory of Christ, but of the Father's also, since they know not His, he added, "Who is the Image of God?" For do not halt at Christ only. For as by Him thou seest the Father, so if thou art ignorant of His Glory, neither wilt thou know the Father's.
[3.] Ver. 5. "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake."
And what is the nature of the connexion there? What hath this in common with what has been said? He either hints at them as exalting themselves, and persuading the disciples to name themselves after them: as he said in the former Epistle, "I am of Paul and I of Apollos;" or else another thing of the gravest character. What then is this? Seeing that they waged fierce war against them, and plotted against them on every side; 'Is it,' he says, 'with us ye fight and war? [Nay but] with Him that is preached by us, "for we preach not ourselves." I am a servant, I am [but] a minister even of those who receive the Gospel, transacting every thing for Another, and for His glory doing whatsover I do. So that in warring against me thou throwest down what is His. For so far am I from turning to my own personal advantage any part of the Gospel, that I will not refuse to be even your servant for Christ's sake; seeing it seemed good to Him so to honor you, seeing He so loved you and did all things for you.' Wherefore also he saith, "and ourselves your servants for Christ's sake." Seest thou a soul pure from glory? 'For in truth,' saith he, 'we not only do not take to ourselves aught of our Master's, but even to you we submit ourselves for His sake.'
Ver. 6. "Seeing it is God that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in your hearts."
Seest thou how again to those who were desirous of seeing that surpassing glory, I mean that of Moses, he shows it flashing with added lustre? 'As upon the face of Moses, so also hath it shined unto your hearts,' he saith. And first, he puts them in mind of what was made in the beginning of the Creation, sensible light and darkness sensible, showing that this creation is greater. And where commanded He light to shine out of darkness? In the beginning and in prelude to the Creation; for, saith he, "Darkness was upon the face of the deep. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light." Howbeit then indeed He said, "Let it be, and it was:" but now He said nothing, but Himself became Light for us. For he said not, 'hath also now commanded,' but "hath" Himself "shined." Therefore neither do we see sensible objects by the shining of this Light, but God Himself through Christ. Seest thou the invariableness in the Trinity? For of the Spirit, he says, "But we all with unveiled face reflecting in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory even as from the Lord the Spirit." (c. iii. 18.) And of the Son; "That the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, Who is the Image of God, should not dawn upon them." (v. 4.) And of the Father; "He that said Light shall shine out of darkness shined in your hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." For as when he had said, "Of the Gospel of the glory of Christ," he added, "Who is the Image of God," showing that they were deprived of His glory also; So after saying, "the knowledge of God," he added, "in the face of Christ,' to show that through Him we know the Father, even as through the Spirit also we are brought unto Him.
Ver. 7. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves."
For seeing he had spoken many and great things of the unspeakable glory, lest any should say, 'And how enjoying so great a glory remain we in a mortal body?' he saith, that this very thing is indeed the chiefest marvel and a very great example of the power of God, that an earthen vessel hath been enabled to bear so great a brightness and to keep so high a treasure. And therefore as admiring this, he said, "That the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves;" again alluding to those who gloried in themselves. For both the greatness of the things given and the weakness of them that receive show His power; in that He not only gave great things, but also to those who are little. For he used the term "earthen" in allusion to the frailty of our mortal nature, and to declare the weakness of our flesh. For it is nothing better constituted than earthenware; so is it soon damaged, and by death and disease and variations of temperature and ten thousand other things easily dissolved. And he said these things both to take down their inflation, and to show to all that none of the things we holds is human. For then is the power of God chiefly conspicuous, when by vile it worketh mighty things. Wherefore also in another place He said, "For My power is made perfect in weakness."(2 Cor. xii. 9.) And indeed in the Old [Testament] whole hosts of barbarians were turned to flight by gnats and flies, wherefore also He calleth the caterpillar His mighty forces; (Joel ii. 25.) and in the beginning, by only confounding tongues, He put a stop to that great tower in Babylon. And in their wars too, at one time, He routed innumerable hosts by three hundred men; at another He overthrew cities by trumpets; and afterwards by a little and poor stripling, David, He turned to flight the whole army of barbarians. So then here also, sending forth twelve only He overcame the world; twelve, and those, persecuted, warred against.
[4.] Let us then be amazed at the Power of God, admire, adore it. Let us ask Jews, let us ask Greeks, who persuaded the whole world to desert from their fathers' usages, and to go over to another way of life? The fisherman, or the tentmaker? the publican, or the unlearned and ignorant? And how can these things stand with reason, except it were Divine Power which achieveth all by their means? And what too did they say to persuade them? 'Be baptized in the Name of The Crucified.' Of what kind of man? One they had not seen nor looked upon. But nevertheless saying and preaching these things, they persuaded them that they who gave them oracles, and whom they had received by tradition from their forefathers, were no Gods: whilst this Christ, He Who was nailed [to the wood,] drew them all unto Himself. And yet that He was indeed crucified and buried, was manifest in a manner to all; but that He was risen again, none save a few saw. But still of this too they persuaded those who had not beheld; and not that He rose again only, but that He ascended also into Heaven, and cometh to judge quick and dead. Whence then the persuasiveness of these sayings, tell me? From nothing else than the Power of God. For, in the first place, innovation itself was offensive to all; but when too one innovates in such things, the matter becomes more grievous: when one tears up the foundations of ancient custom, when one plucks laws from their seat. And besides all this, neither did the heralds seem worthy of credit, but they were both of a nation hated amongst all men, and were timorous and ignorant. Whence then overcame they the world? Whence cast they out you, and those your forefathers who were reputed to be philosophers, along with their very gods? Is it not quite evident that it was from having God with them? For neither are these successes of human, but of some divine and unspeakable, power. 'No,' saith one, 'but of witchcraft.' Then certainly ought the power of the demons to have increased and the worship of idols to have extended. How then have they been overthrown and have vanished, and our things the reverse of these? So that from this even it is manifest that what was done was the decree of God; and not from the Preaching only, but also from the title of life itself. For when was virginity so largely planted every where in the world? when contempt of wealth, and of life, and of all things besides? For such as were wicked and wizards, would have effected nothing like this, but the contrary in all respects: whilst these introduced amongst us the life of angels; and not introduced merely, but established it in our own land, in that of the barbarians, in the very extremities of the earth. Whence it is manifest that it was the power of Christ every where that effected all, which every where shineth, and swifter than any lightning illumeth the hearts of men. All these things, then, considering, and accepting what hath been done as a clear proof of the promise of the things to come, worship with us the invincible might of The Crucified, that ye may both escape the intolerable punishments, and obtain the everlasting kingdom; of which may all we partake through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ; to Whom be glory 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. (LNPF I/XII, Schaff). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.