Fathers of the Church
Homilies on Second Corinthians, 9-19
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
We are pressed on every side, yet not straitened; perplexed, yet not unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken.
He still dwells upon proving that the whole work is to be ascribed to the power of God, repressing the highmindedness of those that glory in themselves. 'For not this only,' saith he, 'is marvelous, that we keep this treasure in earthen vessels, but that even when enduring ten thousand hardships, and battered on every side, we [still] preserve and lose it not. Yet though there were a vessel of adamant, it would neither have been strong enough to carry so vast a treasure, nor have sufficed against so many machinations; yet, as it is, it both bears it and suffers no harm, through God's grace.' For, "we are pressed on every side," saith he, "but not straitened." What is, "on every side?"
'In respect of our foes, in respect of our friends, in respect of necessaries, in respect of other needs, by them which be hostile, by them of our own household.' "Yet not straitened." And see how he speaks contrarieties, that thence also he may show the strength of God. For, "we are pressed on every side, yet not straitened," saith he; "perplexed, yet not unto despair;" that is, 'we do not quite fall off. For we are often, indeed, wrong in our calculations, and miss our aim, yet not so as to fall away from what is set before us: for these things are permitted by God for our discipline, not for our defeat.' Ver. 9. "Pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed."
For these trials do indeed befal, but not the consequences of the trials. And this indeed through the power and Grace of God. In other places indeed he says that these things were permitted in order both to their own humble-mindedness, and to the safety of others: for "that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn,"(2 Cor. xii. 7; ib. 6.) he says: and again, "Lest any man should account of me above that which he seeth me to be, or heareth from me;" and in another place again, "that we should not trust in ourselves:" (2 Cor. i. 9.) here, however, that the power of God might be manifested. Seest thou how great the gain of his trials? For it both showed the power of God, and more disclosed His grace. For, saith He, "My grace is sufficient for thee." (2 Cor. xii. 9.) It also anointed them unto lowliness of mind, and prepared them for keeping down the rest, and made them to be more hardy. "For patience," saith he, "worketh probation, and probation hope." (Rom. v. 4.) For they who had fallen into ten thousand dangers and through the hope they had in God had been recovered, were taught to hold by it more and more in all things.
Ver. 10. "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body."
And what is the "dying of the Lord Jesus," which they bare about? Their daily deaths by which also the resurrection was showed. 'For if any believe not,' he says, 'that Jesus died and rose again, beholding us every day die and rise again, let him believe henceforward in the resurrection.' Seest thou how he has discovered yet another reason for the trials? What then is this reason? "That his life also may be manifested in our body." He says, 'by snatching us out of the perils. So that this which seems a mark of weakness and destititution, this, [I say,] proclaims His resurrection. For His 'power had not so appeared in our suffering no unpleasantness, as it is now shown in our suffering indeed, but without being overcome.'
Ver. 11. "For we which live are also delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in us in our mortal flesh."
For every where when he has said any thing obscure, he interprets himself again. So he has done here also, giving a clear interpretation of this which I have cited. 'For therefore, "we are delivered,"' he says, 'in other words, we bear about His dying that the power of His life may be made manifest, who permitteth not mortal flesh, though undergoing so great sufferings, to be overcome by the snowstorm of these calamities.' And it may be taken too in another way. How? As he says in another place, "If we die with him, we shall also live with Him." (2 Tim. ii. 11.) 'For as we endure His dying now, and choose whilst living to die for His sake: so also will he choose, when we are dead, to beget us then unto life. For if we from life come into death, He also will from death lead us by the hand into life.'
Ver. 12. "So then death worketh in us, but life in you."
Speaking no more of death in the strict sense, but of trials and of rest. 'For we indeed,' he says, 'are in perils and trials, but ye in rest; reaping the life which is the fruit of these perils. And we indeed endure the dangerous, but ye enjoy the good things; for ye undergo not so great trials.'
[2.] Ver. 13. "But having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, I believed, and therefore did I speak; we also believe, and therefore also we speak; that He which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus." (Ps. cxvi. 10.)
He has reminded us of a Psalm which abounds in heavenly wisdom, and is especially fitted to encourage in dangers. For this saying that just man uttered when he was in great dangers, and from which there was no other possibility of recovery than by the aid of God. Since then kindred circumstances are most effective in comforting, therefore he says, "having the same Spirit;" that is, 'by the same succor by which he was saved, we also are saved; by the Spirit through which he spake, we also speak.' Whence he shows, that between the New and Old Covenants great harmony exists, and that the same Spirit wrought in either; and that not we alone are in dangers, but all those of old were so too; and that we must find a remedy through faith and hope, and not seek at once to be released from what is laid upon us. For having showed by arguments the resurrection and the life, and that the danger was not a mark of helplessness or destitution; he thenceforward brings in faith also, and to it commits the whole. But still of this also, he furnishes a proof, the resurrection, namely, of Christ, saying, "we also believe, and therefore also we speak." What do we believe? tell me.
Ver. 14, 15. "That He which raised up Jesus, shall raise up also, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the grace, being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving to abound unto the glory of God."
Again, he fills them with lofty thoughts, that they may not hold themselves indebted to men, I mean to the false Apostles. For the whole is of God Who willeth to bestow upon many, so that the grace may appear the greater. For your sakes, therefore, was the resurrection and all the other things. For He did not these things for the sake of one only, but of all.
Ver. 16. "Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet the inward man is renewed day by day."
How does it decay? Being scourged, being persecuted, suffering ten thousand extremities. "Yet the inward man is renewed day by day." How is it renewed? By faith, by hope, by a forward will, finally, by braving those extremities. For in proportion as the body suffers ten thousand things, in the like proportion hath the soul goodlier hopes and becometh brighter, like gold refined in the fire more and more. And see how he brings to nothing the sorrows of this present life.
Ver. 17, 18. "For the light affliction," he saith, "which is for the moment, worketh more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen."
Having closed the question by a reference to hope, (and, as he said in his Epistle to the Romans, "We are saved by hope, but hope that is seen is not hope;" (Rom. viii. 24.) establishing the same point here also,) he sets side by side the things present with the things to come, the momentary with the eternal, the light with the weighty, the affliction with the glory. And neither is he content with this, but he addeth another expression, doubling it and saying, "more and more exceedingly" Next he also shows the mode how so great afflictions are light. How then light? "While we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen." So will both this present be light and that future great, if we withdraw ourselves from the things that are seen. "For the things that are seen are temporal." (v. 18.) Therefore the afflictions are so too. "But the things that are not seen are eternal." Therefore the crowns are so also. And he said not the afflictions are so, but "the things that are seen;" all of them, whether punishment or rest, so that we should be neither puffed up by the one nor overborne by the other. And therefore when speaking of the things to come, he said not the kingdom is eternal; but, "the things which are not seen are eternal," whether they be a kingdom, or again punishment; so as both to alarm by the one and to encourage by the other.
[3.] Since then "the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal," let us look to them. For what excuse even can we have, if we choose the temporal instead of the eternal? For even if the present be pleasurable, yet it is not abiding; whilst the woe it entails is abiding and irremissible. For what excuse will they have who have been counted worthy of the Spirit and have enjoyed so great a gift, if they become of grovelling mind and fall down to the earth. For I hear many saying these words worthy of all scorn, 'Give me to-day and take tomorrow.' 'For,' saith one, 'if indeed there be such things there as ye affirm, then it is one for one; but if there be no such thing at all, then it is two for nothing.' What can be more lawless than these words? or what more idle prating"? We are discoursing about Heaven and those unspeakable good things; and thou bringest forth unto us the terms of the race-course, yet art not ashamed nor hidest thy face, whilst uttering such things as befit maniacs? Blushest thou not that art so rivetted to the present things? Wilt thou not cease from being distraught and beside thyself, and in youth a dotard? Were Greeks indeed to talk in this way, it were no marvel: but that believers should vent such dotage, of what forgiveness doth it admit? For dost thou hold those immortal hopes in utter suspicion? Dost thou think these things to be utterly doubtful? And in what are these things deserving of pardon? 'And who hath come,' saith one,' and brought back word what is there?' Of men indeed not any one, but God, more trustworthy than all, hath declared these things. But thou beholdest not what is there. Neither dost thou see God. Wilt thou then deny that there is a God, because thou seest Him not? 'Yes.' he replies, 'I firmly believe there is a God.' If then an infidel should ask thee, 'And who came from Heaven and brought back word of this?' what wilt thou answer? Whence dost thou know that there is a God? 'From the things that are seen,' he answers, 'from the fair order existing through the whole creation, from its being manifest to all.' Therefore receive also in the same way the doctrine of the judgment. 'How?' he asks. I will question thee, and do thou answer me. Is this God just, and will He render to each according to his deserving? or, on the contrary, doth He will the wicked should live happily and in luxury, and the good in the contrary things? 'By no means,' he answers, 'for man even would not feel thus.' Where then shall they who have done virtuously here, enjoy the things that be good? and where the wicked the opposites, except there is to be a life and retribution hereafter? Seest thou that at present it is one for one, and not two for one. But I will show thee, as I proceed, that it is not even one against one, but it shall be for the righteous two for nothing; and for the sinners and these that live here riotously, quite the contrary. For they that have lived riotously here have received not even one for one; but those who pass their 'life in virtue two for nothing. For who are at in rest, they that have abused this present life, or they that followed heavenly wisdom? Perhaps thou wilt say the former, but I prove it of the latter, summoning for my witnesses those very men that have enjoyed these present things; and they will not be so shameless as to deny what I am going to say. For oftentimes have they imprecated curses upon matchmakers and upon the day that their bridal chamber was wreathed, and have proclaimed them happy who have not married. Many too of the young, even when they might have married, have refused for no other reason than the trouble-someness of the thing. And this I say, not as accusing marriage; for it is "honorable;" (Heb. xiii. 4.) but those who have used it amiss. Now if they who have lived a married life, often considered their life not worth the living; what shall we say of those who have been swept down into whores' deep pits, and are more slavishly and wretchedly treated than any captive? what of those who have grown rotten in luxury and have enveloped their bodies with a thousand diseases? 'But it is a pleasure to be had in honor.' Yea, rather, nothing is bitterer than this slavery. For he that seeketh vain honor is more servile than any slave, and desirous of pleasing any body; but he that treads it under foot is superior to all, who careth not for the glory that cometh from others. 'But the possession of wealth is desirable.' Yet we have often shown that they who are loose from it and have nothing, enjoy greater riches and repose. 'But to be drunken is pleasant.' But who will say this? Surely then if to be without riches is pleasanter than to have them, and not to marry than to marry, and not to seek vainglory than to seek it, and not to live luxuriously than to live so; even in this world they who are not riveted to those present things have the advantage. And as yet I say not how that the former, even though he be racked with ten thousand tortures, hath that good hope to carry him through: whilst the latter, even though he is in the enjoyment of a thousand delights, hath the fear of the future disquieting and confounding his pleasure. For this, too, is no light sort of punishment; nor therefore the contrary, of enjoyment and repose. And besides these there is a third sort. And what is this? In that the things of worldly delight do not even whilst they are present appear such, being refuted both by nature and time; but the others not only are, but also abide immovable. Seest thou that we shall be able to put not two for nothing only, but three even, and five, and ten, and twenty, and ten thousand for nothing? But that thou mayest learn this same truth by an example also,—the rich man and Lazarus,—the one enjoyed the things present, the other those to come. (Luke xvi. 19. &c.) Seems it then to thee to be one and one, to be punished throughout all time, and to be an hungered for a little season? to be diseased in thy corruptible body, and to scorch" miserably in an undying one? to be crowned and live in undying delights after that little sickness, and to be endlessly tormented after that short enjoyment of his goods. And who will say this? For what wilt thou we should compare? the quantity? the quality? the rank? the decision of God concerning each? How long will ye utter the words of beetles that are for ever wallowing. in dung! For these are not the words of reasoning men, to throw away a soul which is so precious for nothing, when there needeth little labor to receive heaven. Wilt thou that I teach thee also in another way that there is an awful tribunal there? Open the doors of thy conscience, and behold the judge that sitteth in thine heart. Now if thou condemnest thyself, although a lover of thyself, and canst not refrain from passing a righteous verdict, will not God much rather make great provision for that which is just, and pass that impartial judgment upon all; or will He permit everything to go on loosely and at random? And who will say this? No one; but both Greeks and barbarians, both poets and philosophers, yea the whole race of men in this agree with us, though differing in particulars, and affirm that there are tribunals of some sort in Hades; so manifest and uncontroverted is the thing.
[4.] 'And wherefore,' saith one, 'doth he not punish here?' That He may display that longsuffering of His, and may offer to us the salvation that cometh by repentance, and not make our race to be swept away, nor pluck away those who by an excellent change are able to be saved, before that salvation. For if he instantly punished upon the commission of sins, and destroyed, how should Paul have been saved, how should Peter, the chief teachers of the world? How should David have reaped the salvation that came by his repentance? How the Galatians? How many others? For this reason then He neither exacts the penalty from all here, (but only from some out of all,) nor yet there from all, but from one here, and from another there; that He may both rouse those who are exceedingly insensible by means of those whom He punishes, and may cause them to expect the future things by those whom He punishes not. Or seest thou not many punished here, as those, for instance, who were buried under the ruins of that tower; (Luke xiii. 4, 7.) as those whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices; as those who perished by an untimely death amongst the Corinthians, because they partook unworthily of the mysteries (1 Cor. xi. 30.); as Pharaoh; as those of the Jews who were slain by the barbarians; as many others, both then, and now, and continually? And yet others too, having sinned in many things, departed without suffering the penalty here; as the rich man in the story of Lazarus; as many others. (Luke xvi.) Now these things He does, both to arouse those who quite disbelieves in the things to come, and to make those who do believe and are careless more diligent. "For God is a righteous Judge, and strong, and longsuffering, and visits not with wrath every day." (Ps. vii. 11. LXX.) But if we abuse His longsuffering, there will come a time when He will no more be longsuffering even for a little, but will straightway inflict the penalty.
Let us not then, in order that for a single moment (for such is this present life) we may live luxuriously, draw on ourselves punishment through endless ages: but let us toil for a moment, that we may be crowned for ever. See ye not that even in worldly things most men act in this manner: and choose a brief toil in order to a long rest, even though the opposite falls out unto them? For in this life indeed there is an equal portion of toils and reward; yea, often, on the contrary, the toil is endless whilst the fruit is little, or not even a little; but in the case of the kingdom conversely, the labor is little whilst the pleasure is great and boundless. For consider: the husbandman wearieth himself the whole year through, and at the very end of his hope of times misses of the fruit of those many toils. The shipmaster again and the soldier, until extreme old age, are occupied with wars and labors; and oftentimes hath each of them departed, the one with the loss of his wealthy cargoes, the other, along with victory, of life itself. What excuse then shall we have, tell me, if in worldly matters indeed we prefer what is laborious in order that we may rest for a little, or not a little even; (for the hope of this is uncertain;) but in spiritual things do the converse of this and draw upon ourselves unutterable punishment for a little sloth? Wherefore I beseech you all, though late, yet still at length to recover from this frenzy. For none shall deliver us in that day; neither brother, nor father nor child, nor friend, nor neighbor, nor any other: but if our works play us false, all will be over and we must needs perish. How many lamentations did that rich man make, and besought the Patriarch and begged that Lazarus might be sent! But hear what Abraham said unto him: "There is a gulfs betwixt us and you, so that they who wish to go forth cannot pass thither." (Luke xvi. 26.) How many petitions did those virgins make to their fellows for a little oil! But hear what they also say; "Peradventure there will not be enough for you and for us;" (Mat. xxv. 9.) and none was able to bring them in to the bridal chamber.
Thinking then on these things let us also be careful of that which is our life. For mention what toils soever and bring forward besides what punishment soever; all these combined will be nothing in comparison of the good things to come. Instance therefore, if thou wilt, fire and steel and wild beasts, and if there be aught sorer than these; but yet these are not even a shadow compared with those torments. For these things when applied in excess become then especially light, making the release speedy; since the body sufficeth not unto intensity at once and long continuance of suffering; but both meet together, both prolongation and excess, alike in the good and the grievous. Whilst we have time then, "let us come before His presence with confession," (Ps. xcv. 2, LXX.) that in that day we may behold Him gentle and serene, that we may escape altogether those threat- bearing Powers. Seest thou not how this world's soldiers who perform the bidding of those in authority drag men about; how they chain, how they scourge them, how they pierce their sides, how they apply torches to their torments, how they dismember them? Yet all these things are but plays and joke unto those punishments. For these punishments are temporal; but there neither the worm dieth nor is the fire quenched: for that body of all is incorruptible, which is then to be raised up. But God grant that we may never learn these things by experience; but that these fearful things may never be nearer unto us than in the mention of them; and that we be not delivered over to those tormentors, but may be hence made wise. How many things shall we then say in accusation of ourselves! How many lamentations shall we utter! How many groans! But it will thenceforth be of no avail. For neither can sailors, when the ship hath gone to pieces and hath sunk, thereafter be of any service; nor physicians when the patient is departed; but they will often say indeed that so and so ought to have been done; but all is fruitless and in vain. For as long indeed as hopes remain from amendment, one ought both to say and do every thing: but when we have no longer any thing in our power, all being quite ruined, it is to no purpose that all is said and done. For even then Jews will then say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord:" (Mat. xxiii. 39) but they will be able to reap none advantage of this cry towards escaping their punishment; for when they ought to have said it, theysaid it not. That then this be not the case with us in respect to our life, let us now and from this time reform that we may stand at the tribunal of Christ with all boldness; whereunto may all of us attain through the grace and love toward men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Spirit, be glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.
For we know, that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens.
Again he arouses their zeal because many trials drew on. For it was likely that they, in consequence of his absence, were weaker in respect to this [need]. What then saith he? One ought not to wonder that we suffer affliction; nor to be confounded, for we even reap many gains thereby. And some of these he mentioned before; for instance, that we "bear about the dying of Jesus," and present the greatest proof of His power: for he says, "that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God:" and we exhibit a clear proof of the Resurrection, for, says he, "that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh." But since along with these things he said that our inward man is thus made better also; for "though our outward man is decaying," saith he, "yet the inward man is renewed day by day;" showing again that this being scourged and persecuted is proportionately useful, he adds, that when this is done thoroughly, then the countless good things will spring up for those who have endured these things. For lest when thou hearest that thy outward man perishes, thou shouldest grieve; he says, that when this is completely effected, then most of all shalt thou rejoice and shalt come unto a better inheritance. So that not only ought not one to grieve at its perishing now in part, but even earnestly to seek for the completion of that destruction, for this most conducts thee to immortality. Wherefore also he added, "For we know, that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved: we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." For since he is urging again the doctrine of the Resurrection in respect to which they were particularly unsound; he calls; in aid the judgment of his hearers also, and so establishes it; not however in the same way as before, but, as it were, arriving at it out of another subject: (for they had been already corrected:) and says, "We know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Some indeed say that the 'earthly house' is this world; But I should maintain that he alludes rather to the body. But observe, I pray, how by the terms [he uses,] he shows the superiority of the future things to the present. For having said "earthly" he hath opposed to it "the heavenly;" having said, "house of tabernacle," thereby declaring both that it is easily taken to pieces and is temporary, he hath opposed to it the "eternal," for the name "tabernacle" often times denotes temporariness. Wherefore He saith, "In My Father's house are many abiding places." (John xiv. 2.) But if He anywhere also calls the resting places of the saints tabernacles; He calls them not tabernacles simply, but adds an epithet; for he said not, that "they may receive you" into their tabernacles, but "into the eternal tabernacles." (Luke xvi. 9.) Moreover also in that he said, "not made with hands," he alluded to that which was made with hands. What then? Is the body made with hands? By no means; but he either alludes to the houses here that are made with hands, or if not this, then he called the body which is not made with hands, 'a house of tabernacle.' For he has not used the term in antithesis and contradistinctions to this, but to heighten those eulogies and swell those commendations.
[2.] Ver. 2 "For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven."
What habitation? tell me. The incorruptible body. And why do we groan now? Because that is far better. And "from heaven" he calls it because of its incorruptibleness. For it is not surely that a body will come down to us from above: but by this expression he signifies the grace which is sent from thence. So far then ought we to be from grieving at these trials which are in part that we ought to seek even for their fulness, as if he had said: Groanest thou, that thou art persecuted, that this thy man is decaying? Groan that this is not done unto excess and that it perishes not entirely. Seest thou how he hath turned round what was said unto the contrary; having proved that they ought to groan that those things were not done fully; for which because they were done partially; they groaned. Therefore he henceforth calls it not a tabernacle, but a house, and with great reason. For a tabernacle indeed is easily taken to pieces; but a house abideth continually.
Ver. 3. "If so be that being unclothed we shall not be found naked."
That is, even if we have put off the body, we shall not be presented there without a body, but even with the same one made incorruptible. But some read, and it deserves very much to be adopted, "If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked." For lest all should be confident because of the Resurrection, he says, "If so be that being clothed," that is, having obtained incorruption and an incorruptible body, "we shall not be found naked" of glory and safety. As he also said in the former Epistle; "We shall all be raised; but each in his own order." And, "There are celestial bodies, and bodies terrestial." (1 Cor. xv. 22, 23.) (ib. 40.) For the Resurrection indeed is common to all, but the glory is not common; but some shall rise in honor and others in dishonor, and some to a kingdom but others to punishment. This surely he signified here also, when he said; "If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked."
[3.] Ver. 4. "For indeed we that are in this tabernacle do groan, not for that we would be unclothed, but that we would be clothed upon." Here again he hath utterly and manifestly stopped the mouths of the heretics, showing that he is not speaking absolutely of a body differing in identity, but of corruption and incorruption: 'For we do not therefore groan,' saith he, 'that we may be delivered from the body: for of this we do not wish to be unclothed; but we hasten to be delivered from the corruption that is in it. Wherefore he saith, 'we wish not to be unclothed of the body, but that it should be clothed upon with incorruption.' Then he also interprets it [thus,] "That what is mortal may be swallowed up of life." For since putting off the body appeared to many a grievous thing; and he was contradicting the judgments of all, when he said, "we groan," not wishing to be set free from it; ('for if,' says one, 'the soul in being separated from it so suffers and laments, how sayest thou that we groan because we are not separated from it?') lest then this should be urged against him, he says, 'Neither do I assert that we therefore groan, that we may put it off; (for no one putteth it off without pain, seeing that Christ says even of Peter, 'They shall "carry thee," and lead thee "whither thou wouldest not;"—John xxi. 18.) but that we may have it clothed upon with incorruption.' For it is in this respect that we are burdened by the body; not because it is a body, but because we are encompassed with a corruptible body and liable to suffering , for it is this that also causes us pain. But the life when it arriveth destroyeth and useth up the corruption; the corruption, I say, not the body. 'And how cometh this to pass?' saith one. Inquire not; God doeth it; be not too curious. Wherefore also he added,
Ver. 5. "Now he that hath wrought us for this very thing is God."! Hereby he shows that these things were prefigured from the first. For not now was this decreed: but when at the first He fashioned us from earth and created Adam; for not for this created He him, that he should die, but that He might make him even immortal. Then as showing the credibility of this and furnishing the proof of it, he added,
"Who also gave the earnest of the Spirit." For even then He fashioned us for this; and now He hath wrought unto this by baptism, and hath furnished us with no light security thereof, the Holy Spirit. And he continually calls It an earnest, wishing to prove God to be a debtor of the whole, and thereby also to make what he says more credible unto the grosser sort.
[4.] Ver. 6. "Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing."
The word "of good courage" is used with reference to the persecutions, the plottings, and the continual deaths: as if he had said, 'Doth any vex and persecute and slay thee? Be not cast down, for thy good all is done. Be not afraid: but of good courage. For that which thou groanest and grievest for, that thou art in bondage to corruption, he removes from hence-forward out of the way, and frees thee the sooner from this bondage.' Wherefore also he saith, "Being therefore always of good courage," not in the seasons of rest only, but also in those of tribulation; "and knowing,"
Ver. 7, 8. "That whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, not by sight); we are of good courage, I say, and are willing to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord."
That which is greater than all he has put last, for to be with Christ is better, than receiving an incorruptible [body.] But what he means is this: 'He quencheth not our life that warreth against and killeth us; be not afraid; be of good courage even when hewn in pieces. For not only doth he set thee free from corruption and a burden, but he also sendeth thee quickly to the Lord.' Wherefore neither did he say, "whilst we 'are' in the body:" as of those who are in a foreign and strange land. "Knowing therefore that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: we are of good courage, I say, and willing to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord." Seest thou how keeping back what was painful, the names of death and the end, he has employed instead of them such as excite great longing, calling them presence with God; and passing over those things which are accounted to be sweet, the things of life, he hath expressed them by painful names, calling the life here an absence from the Lord? Now this he did, both that no one might fondly linger amongst present things, but rather be aweary of them; and that none when about to die might be disquieted, but might even rejoice as departing unto greater goods. Then that none might say on hearing that we are absent from the Lord, 'Why speakest thou thus? Are we then estranged from Him whilst we are here?' he in anticipation corrected such a thought, saying, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." Even here indeed we know Him, but not so clearly. As he says also elsewhere, (1 Cor. xiii. 12.) "in a mirror," and "darkly."
"We are of good courage, I say, and willing." Wonderful! to what hath he brought round the discourse? To an extreme desire of death, having shown the grievous to be pleasurable, and the pleasurable grievous. For by the term, "we are willing" he means, 'we are desirous.' Of what are we desirous? Of being "absent from the body, and at home with the Lord." And thus he does perpetually, (as I showed also before) turning round the objection of his opponents unto the very contrary.
Ver. 9. "Wherefore also we make it our aim whether at home or absent, to be well pleasing unto him."
'For what we seek for is this,' saith he, 'whether we be there or here, to live according to His will; for this is the principal thing. So that by this thou hast the kingdom already in possession without a probation.' For lest when they had arrived at so great a desire of being there, they should again be disquieted at its being so long first, in this he gives them already the chief of those good things. And what is this? To be well "pleasing." For as to depart is not absolutely good, but to do so in [God's] favor, which is what makes departing also become a good; so to remain here is not absolutely grievous, but to remain offending Him. Deem not then that departure from the body is enough; for virtue is always necessary. For as when he spoke of a Resurrection, he allowed [them] not by it alone to be of good courage, saying, "If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked;" so also having showed a departure, lest thou shouldest think that this is enough to save thee, he added that it is needful that we be well pleasing.
[5.] Seeing then he has persuaded them by many good things, henceforth he alarms them also by those of gloomier aspects. For our interest consists both in the attainment of the good things and the avoidance of the evil things, in other words, hell and the kingdom. But since this, the avoiding of punishment, is the more forcible motive; for where penalty reaches only to the not receiving good things, the most will bear this contentedly; but if it also extend to the suffering of evil, do so no longer: (for they ought, indeed, to consider the former intolerable, but from the weakness and grovelling nature of the many, the latter appears to them more hard to bear:) since then (I say) the giving of the good things doth not so arouse the general hearer as the threat of the punishments, he is obliged to conclude with this, saying,
Ver. 10. "For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat."
Then having alarmed and shaken the hearer by the mention of that judgment-seat, he hath not even here set down the woful without the good things, but hath mingled something of pleasure, saying,
"That each one may receive the things done in the body," as many as "he hath done, whether" it be "good or bad."
By saying these words, he both reviveth those who have done virtuously and are persecuted with those hopes, and maketh those who have fallen back more earnest by that fear. And he thus confirmed his words touching the resurrection of the body. 'For surely,' sayeth he, 'that which hath ministered to the one and to the other shall not stand excluded from the recompenses: but along with the soul shall in the one case be punished, in the other crowned.' But some of the heretics say, that it is another body that is raised. How so? tell me. Did one sin, and is another punished? Did one do virtuously, and is another crowned? And what will ye answer to Paul, saying, "We would not be unclothed, but clothed upon?" And how is that which is mortal "swallowed up of life?" For he said not, that the mortal or corruptible body should be swallowed up of the incorruptible body; but that corruption [should be swallowed up] "of life." For then this happeneth when the same body is raised; but if, giving up that body, He should prepare another, no longer is corruption swallowed up but continueth dominant. Therefore this is not so; but "this corruptible," that is to say the body, "must put on incorruption." For the body is in a middle states, being at present in this and hereafter to be in that; and for this reason in this first, because it is impossible for the incorruption to be dissolved. "For neither cloth corruption inherit incorruption," saith he, (for, how is it [then] incorruption?) but on the contrary, "corruption is swallowed up of life:" for this indeed survives the other, but not the other this. For as wax is melted by fire but itself doth not melt the fire: so also doth corruption melt and vanish away under incorruption, but is never able itself to get the better of incorruption.
[6.] Let us then hear the voice of Paul, saying, that "we must stand at the judgment-seat of Christ;" and let us picture to ourselves that court of justice, and imagine it to be present now and the reckoning to be required. For I will speak of it more at large. For Paul, seeing that he was discoursing on affliction, and he had no mind to afflict them again, did not dwell on the subject; but having in brief expressed its austerity, "Each one shall receive according to what he hath done," he quickly passed on. Let us then imagine it to be present now, and reckon each one of us with his own conscience, and account the Judge to be already present, and everything to be revealed and brought forth. For we must not merely stand, but also be manifested. Do ye not blush? Are ye not astonied? But if now, when the reality is not yet present, but is granted in supposition merely and imaged in thought; if now [I say] we perish conscience-struck; what shall we do when [it] shall arrive, when the whole world shall be present, when angels and archangels, when ranks upon ranks, and all hurrying at once, and some caught up on the clouds, and an array full of trembling; when there shall be the trumpets, one upon another, [when] those unceasing voices?
For suppose there were no hell, yet in the midst of so great brightness to be rejected and to go away dishonored;—how great the punishment! For if even now, when the Emperor rideth in and his train with him, we contemplating each one of us our own poverty, derive not so much pleasure from the spectacle, as we endure dejection at having no share in what is going on about the Emperor, nor being near the Sovereign; what will it be then? Or thinkest thou it is a light punishment, not to be ranked in that company, not to be counted worthy of that unutterable glory, from that assemblage and those untold good things, to be cast forth some-wither far and distant? But when there is also darkness, and gnashing of teeth, and chains indissoluble, and an undying worm, and fire unquenchable, and affliction, and straitness, and tongues scorching like the rich man's; and we wail, and none heareth; and we groan and gnash our teeth for anguish, and none regardeth; and we look all round, and no where is there any to comfort us; where shall we rank those that are in this condition? what is there more miserable than are those souls? what more pitiable? For if, when we enter a prison and see its inmates, some squalid, some chained and famishing, some again shut up in darkness, we are moved with compassion, we shudder, we use all diligence that we may never be cast into that place; how will it be with us, when we are led and dragged away into the torture- dungeons themselves of hell? For not of iron are those chains, but of fire that is never quenched; nor are they that are set over us our fellows whom it is often possible even to mollify; but angels whom one may not so much as look in the face, exceedingly enraged at our insults to their Master. Nor is it given, as here, to see some bringing in money, some food, some words of comfort, and to meet with consolation; but all is irremissible there: and though it should be Noah, or Job, or Daniel, and he should see his own kindred punished, he dares not succor. For even natural sympathy too comes then to be done away. For since it happeneth that there are righteous fathers of wicked children, and [righteous] children of [wicked] fathers; that so their pleasure may be unalloyed, and those who enjoy the good things may not be moved with sorrow through the constraining force of sympathy, even this sympathy, I affirm, is extinguished, and themselves are indignant together with the Master against their own bowels. For if the common run of men, when they see their own children vicious, disown and cut them off from that relationship; much rather will the righteous then. Therefore let no one hope for good things, if he have not wrought any good thing, even though he have ten thousand righteous ancestors. "For each one shall receive the things done in the body according to what he hath done." Here he seems to me to be alluding also to them that commit fornication: and to raise up as a wall unto them the fear of that world, not however to them alone; but also to all that in any wise transgress.
[7.] Let us hear then, us also. And if thou have the fire of lust, set against it that other fire, and this will presently be quenched and gone. And if thou purposest to utter some harsh sounding [speech], think of the gnashing of teeth, and the fear will be a bridle to thee. And if thou purposest to plunder, hear the Judge commanding, and saying, "Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness," (Matt. xxii. 13.) and thou wilt cast out this lust also. And if thou art drunken, and surfeitest continually, hear the rich man saying, 'Send Lazarus, that with the tip of his finger he may cool this scorching tongue;' (Luke xvi. 24.) yet not obtaining this; and thou wilt hold thyself aloof from that distemper. But if thou lovest luxury, think of the affliction and the straitness there, and thou wilt not think at all of this. If again thou art harsh and cruel, bethink thee of those virgins who when their lamps had gone out missed so of the bridal chamber, and thou wilt quickly become humane. Or sluggish art thou, and remiss? Consider him that hid the talent, and thou wilt be more vehement than fire. Or doth desire of thy neighbor's substance devour thee? Think of the worm that dieth not, and thou wilt easily both put away from thee this disease, and in all other things wilt do virtuously. For He hath enjoined nothing irksome or oppressive. Whence then do His injunctions appear irksome to us? From our own slothfulness. For as if we labor diligently, even what appears intolerable will be light and easy; so if we are slothful, even things tolerable will seem to us difficult.
Considering then all these things, let us think not of the luxurious, but what is their end; here indeed filth and obesity, there the worm and fire: not of the rapacious, but what is their end; cares here, and fears, and anxieties; there chains indissoluble: not of the lovers of glory, but what these things bring forth; here slavery and dissemblings, and there both loss intolerable and perpetual burnings. For if we thus discourse with ourselves, and if with these and such like things we charm perpetually our evil lusts, quickly shall we both cast out the love of the present things, and kindle that of the things to come. Let us therefore kindle it and make it blaze. For if the conception of them, although a faint sort of one, affords so great pleasure; think how great the gladness, the manifest experience itself shall bring us. Blessed, and thrice blessed, yea, thrice blessed many times, are they who enjoy those good things; just as, consequently, pitiable and thrice wretched are they Who endure the opposite of these. That then we may be not of these but those, let us choose virtue. For so shall we attain unto the good things to come as well; which may all we attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ; by Whom, and with Whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, and honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.
Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men but we are made manifest unto God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.
Knowing therefore, he says, these things, that terrible seat of judgment, we do every thing so as not to give you a handle nor offence, nor any false suspicion of evil practice against us. Seest thou the strictness of life, and zeal of a watchful soul? 'For we are not only open to accusatation,' he saith, 'if we commit any evil deed; but even if we do not commit, yet are suspected, and having it in our power to repel the suspicion, brave it, we are punished.'
Ver. 12. "We are not again commending ourselves unto you, but speak as giving you occasion of glorying in our behalf."
See how he is continually obviating the suspicion of appearing to praise himself. For nothing is so offensive to the hearers as for any one to say great and marvellous things about himself. Since then he was compelled in what he said to fall upon that subject, he uses a corrective, saying, 'we do this for your sakes, not for ours, that ye may have somewhat to glory of, not that we may.' And not even this absolutely, but because of the false Apostles. Wherefore also he added, "To answer them that glory in appearance, and not in heart." Seest thou how he hath detached them from them, and drawn them to himself; having shown that even the Corinthians themselves are longing to get hold of some occasion, whereby they may have it in their power to speak on their behalf and to defend them unto their accusers. For, says he, 'we say these things not that we may boast, but that ye may have wherein to speak freely on our behalf;' which is the language of one testifying to their great love: 'and not that ye may boast merely: but that ye may not be drawn aside.' But this he does not say explicitly, but manages his words otherwise and in a gentler form, and without dealing them a blow, saying,
"That ye may have somewhat to glory towards those which glory in appearance." But neither this does he bid them do absolutely, when no cause exists, but when they extol themselves; for in all things he looks out for the fitting occasion. He does not then do this in order to show himself to be illustrious, but to stop those men who were using the thing improperly and to the injury of these. But what is "in appearance?" In what is seen, in what is for display. For of such sort were they, doing every thing out of a love of honor, whilst they were both empty inwardly and wore indeed an appearance of piety and of venerable seeming, but of good works were destitute.
[2.] Ver. 13. "For whether we are beside ourselves, it is to God; or whether we are of sober mind, it is unto you."
And if, saith he, we have uttered any great thing, (for this is what he here calls being beside himself, as therefore in other places also he calls it folly;—2 Cor. xi. 1, 17, 21.) for God's sake we do this, lest ye thinking us to be worthless should despise us and perish; or if again any modest and lowly thing, it is for your sakes that ye may learn to be lowly- minded. Or else, again, he means this. If any one thinks us to be mad, we seek for our reward from God, for Whose sake we are of this suspected; but if he thinks us sober, let him reap the advantage of our soberness. And again, in another way. Does any one say we are mad? For God's sake are we in such sort mad. Wherefore also he subjoins;
Ver. 14. "For the love of God constraineth us, because we thus judge."
'For not the fear of things to come only,' he saith, 'but also those which have already happened allow us not to be slothful nor to slumber; but stir us up and impel us to these our labors on your behalf.' And what are those things which have already happened?
"That if one died for all, then all died." 'Surely then it was because all were lost,' saith he. For except all were dead, He had not died for all. For here the opportunities of salvation exist; but there are found no longer. Therefore, he says, "The love of God constraineth us," and allows us not to be at rest. For it cometh of extreme wretchedness and is worse than hell itself, that when He hath set forth an act so mighty, any should be found after so great an instance of His provident care reaping no benefit. For great was the excess of that love, both to die for a world of such extent, and dying for it when in such a state.
Ver. 15. "That they which live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him who for their sakes died and rose again."
If therefore we ought not to live unto ourselves, 'be not troubled,' says he, 'nor be confounded when dangers and deaths assail you.' And he assigns besides an indubitable argument by which he shows that the thing is a debt. For if through Him we live who were dead; to Him we ought to live through Whom we live. And what is said appears indeed to be one thing, but if any one accurately examine it, it is two: one that we live by Him, another that He died for us: either of which even by itself is enough to make us liable; but when even both are united consider how great the debt is. Yea, rather, there are three things here. For the First-fruits also for thy sake He raised up, and led up to heaven: wherefore also he added, "Who for our sakes died and rose again."
[3.] Ver. 16. "Wherefore we henceforth know no man after the flesh."
For if all died and all rose again; and in such sort died as the tyranny of sin condemned them; but rose again "through the laver of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost ;" (Titus iii. 5.) he saith with reason, "we know none" of the faithful "after the flesh." For what if even they be in the flesh? Yet is that fleshly life destroyed, and we are born again by the Spirit, and have learnt another deportment and rule and life and condition, that, namely, in the heavens. And again of this itself he shows Christ to be the Author. Wherefore also he added,
"Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no more."
What then? tell me. Did He put away the flesh, and is He now not with that body? Away with the thought, for He is even now clothed in flesh; for "this Jesus Who is taken up from you into Heaven shall so come. So? How? In flesh, with His body. How then doth he say, "Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth no more?" (Acts i. 11.) For in us indeed "after the flesh" is being in sins, and "not after the flesh" not being in sins; but in Christ, "after the flesh" is His being subject to the affections of nature, such as to thirst, to hunger, to weariness, to sleep. For "He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth." (1 Pet. ii. 22.) Wherefore He also said, "Which of you convicteth Me of sin?" (John viii. 46.) and again, "The prince of this world cometh, and he hath nothing in Me." (ib. xiv. 30.) And "not after the flesh" is being thenceforward freed even from these things, not the being without flesh. For with this also He cometh to judge the world, His being impassible and pure. Whereunto we also shall advance when "our body" hath been "fashioned like unto His glorious body." (Phil. iii. 21,)
[4.] Ver. 17. "Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature."
For seeing he had exhorted unto virtue from His love, he now leads them on to this from what has been actually done for them; wherefore also he added, "If any man is in Christ," he is "a new creature." "If any," saith he, "have believed in Him, he has come to another creation, for he hath been born again by the Spirit." So that for this cause also, he says, we ought to live unto Him, not because we are not our own only, nor because He died for us only, nor because He raised up our First-fruits only, but because we have also come unto another life. See how many just grounds he urges for a life of virtue. For on this account he also calls the reformation by a grosser name, in order to show the transition and the change to be great. Then following out farther what he had said, and showing how it is "a new creation," he adds, "The old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new."
What old things? He means either sins and impieties, or else all the Judaical observances. Yea rather, he means both the one and the other. "Behold, all things are become new."
Ver. 18. "But all things are of God."
Nothing of ourselves. For remission of sins and adoption and unspeakable glory are given to us by Him. For he exhorts them no longer from the things to come only, but even from those now present. For consider. He said, that we shall be raised again, and go on unto incorruption, and have an eternal house; but since present things have more force to persuade than things to come, with those who believe not in these as they ought to believe, he shows how great things they have even already received, and being themselves what. What then being, received they them? Dead all; (for he saith, "all died;" and, "He died for all;" so loved He all alike;) inveterate all, and grown old in their vices. But behold, both a new soul, (for it was cleansed,) and a new body, and a new worship, and promises new, and covenant, and life, and table, and dress, and all things new absolutely. For instead of the Jerusalem below we have received that mother city which is above (Gal. iv. 26); and instead of a material temple have seen a spiritual temple; instead of tables of stone, fleshy ones; instead of circumcision, baptism; instead of the manna, the Lord's body; instead of water from a rock, blood from His side; instead of Moses' or Aaron's rod, the Cross; instead of the promised [land], the kingdom of heaven; instead of a thousand priests, One High Priest; instead of a lamb without reason, a Spiritual Lamb. With these and such like things in his thought he said, "all things are new." But "all" these "things are of God," by Christ, and His free gift. Wherefore also he added,
"Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation."
For from Him are all the good things. For He that made us friends is Himself also the cause of the other things which God hath given to His friends. For He rendered not these things unto us, allowing us to continue enemies, but having made us friends unto Himself. But when I say that Christ is the cause of our reconciliation, I say the Father is so also: when I say that the Father gave, I say the Son gave also. "For all things were made by Him;" (John i. 3.) and of this too He is the Author. For we ran not unto Him, but He Himself called us. How called He us? By the sacrifice of Christ.
"And gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation."
Here again he sets forth the dignity of the Apostles; showing how great a thing was committed to their hands, and the surpassing greatness of the love of God. For even when they would not hear the Ambassador that came, He was not exasperated nor left them to themselves, but continueth to exhort them both in His own person and by others. Who can be fittingly amazed at this solicitude? The Son Who came to reconcile, His True and Only-Begotten, was slain, yet not even so did the Father turn away from His murderers; nor say, "I sent My Son as an Ambassador, but they not only would not hear Him, but even slew and crucified Him, it is meet henceforth to leave them to themselves:" but quite the contrary, when the Son departed, He entrusted the business to us; for he says, "gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation.
[5.] Ver. 19. "To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not reckoning unto them their tresspasses."
Seest thou love surpassing all expression, all conception? Who was the aggrieved one? Himself. Who first sought the reconciliation? Himself. 'And yet,' saith one, 'He sent the Son, He did not come Himself.' The Son indeed it was He sent; still not He alone besought, but both with Him and by Him the Father; wherefore he said, that, "God was reconciling the world unto Himself in Christ:" that is, by Christ. For seeing he had said, "Who gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation;" he here used a corrective, saying, "Think not that we act of our own authority in the business: we are ministers; and He that doeth the whole is God, Who reconciled the world by the Only-Begotten." And how did He reconcile it unto Himself? For this is the marvel, not that it was made a friend only, but also by this way a friend. This way? What way? Forgiving them their sins; for in no other way was it possible. Wherefore also he added, "Not reckoning unto them their tresspasses." For had it been His pleasure to require an account of the things we had transgressed in, we should all have perished; for "all died." But nevertheless though our sins were so great, He not only did not require satisfaction, but even became reconciled; He not only forgave, but He did not even "reckon." So ought we also to forgive our enemies, that ourselves too may obtain the like forgiveness.
"And having committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
For neither have we come now on any odious office; but to make all men friends with God. For He saith, 'Since they were not persuaded by Me, do ye continue beseeching until ye have persuaded them.' Wherefore also he added,
Ver. 20. "We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us; we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God."
Seest thou how he has extolled the thing by introducing Christ thus in the form of a suppliant; yea rather not Christ only, but even the Father? For what he says is this: 'The Father sent the Son to beseech, and to be His Ambassador unto mankind. When then He was slain and gone, we succeeded to the embassy; and in His stead and the Father's we beseech you. So greatly doth He prize mankind that He gave up even the Son, and that knowing He would be slain, and made us Apostles for your sakes; so that he said with reason, "All things are for your sakes." (2 Cor. iv. 15.) "We are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ," that is, instead of Christ; for we have succeeded to His functions.' But if this appears to thee a great thing, hear also what follows wherein he shows that they do this not in His stead only, but also in stead of the Father. For therefore he also added, "As though God were entreating by us." 'For not by the Son Himself only doth He beseech, but also by us who have succeeded to the office of the Son. Think not therefore,' he says, 'that by us you are entreated; Christ Himself, the Father Himself of Christ, beseeches you by us. What can come up to this excess [of goodnes]? He was outraged who had conferred innumerable benefits; having been outraged, He not only exacted not justice, but even gave His son that we might be reconciled. They that received Him were not reconciled, but even slew Him. Again, He sent other ambassadors to beseech, and though these are sent, it is Himself that entreats. And what doth He entreat? "Be ye reconciled unto God." And he said not, 'Reconcile God to yourselves; for it is not He that beareth enmity, but ye; for God never beareth enmity. Urging moreover his cause, like an ambassador on his mission, he says,
Vet. 21. "For Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our account."
'I say nothing of what has gone before, that ye have outraged Him, Him that had done you no wrong, Him that had done you good, that He exacted not justice, that He is first to beseech, though first outraged; let none of these things be set down at present. Ought ye not in justice to be reconciled for this one thing only that He hath done to you now?' And what hath He done? "Him that knew no sin He made to be sin, for you." For had He achieved nothing but done only this, think how great a thing it were to give His Son for those that had outraged Him. But now He hath both well achieved mighty things, and besides, hath suffered Him that did no wrong to be punished for those who had done wrong. But he did not say this: but mentioned that which is far greater than this. What then is this? "Him that knew no sin," he says, Him that was righteousness itself, "He made sin," that is suffered as a sinner to be condemned, as one cursed to die. "For cursed is he that hangeth on a tree." (Gal. iii. 13.) For to die thus was far greater than to die; and this he also elsewhere implying, saith, "Becoming obedient unto death, yea the death of the cross." (Phil. ii. 8.) For this thing carried with it not only punishment, but also disgrace. Reflect therefore how great things He bestowed on thee. For a great thing indeed it were for even a sinner to die for any one whatever; but when He who undergoes this both is righteous and dieth for sinners; and not dieth only, but even as one cursed; and not as cursed [dieth] only, but thereby freely bestoweth upon us those great goods which we never looked for; (for he says, that "we might become the righteousness of God in Him;") what words, what thought shall be adequate to realize these things? 'For the righteous,' saith he, 'He made a sinner; that He might make the sinners righteous.' Yea rather, he said not even so, but what was greater far; for the word he employed is not the habit, but the quality itself. For he said not "made" [Him] a sinner, but "sin;" not, 'Him that had not sinned' only, but "that had not even known sin; that we" also "might become," he did not say 'righteous,' but, "righteousness," and, "the righteousness of God." For this is [the righteousness] "of God" when we are justified not by works, (in which case it Were necessary that not a spot even should be found,) but by grace, in which case all sin is done away. And this at the same time that it suffers us not to be lifted up, (seeing the whole is the free gift of God,) teaches us also the greatness of that which is given. For that which was before was a righteousness of the Law and of works, but this is "the righteousness of God."
[6.] Reflecting then on these things, let us fear these words more than hell; let us reverence the things [they express] more than the kingdom, and let us not deem it grievous to be punished, but to sin. For were He not to punish us, we ought to take vengeance on ourselves, who have been so ungrateful towards our Benefactor. Now he that hath an object of affection, hath often even slain himself, when unsuccessful in his love; and though successful, if he hath been guilty of a fault towards her, counts it not fit that he should even live; and shall not we, when we outrage One so loving and gentle, cast ourselves into the fire of hell? Shall I say something strange, and marvellous, and to many perhaps incredible? To one who hath understanding and loveth the Lord as it behoveth to love Him, there will be greater comfort if punished after provoking One so loving, than if not punished. And this one may see by the common practice. For he that has wronged his dearest friend feels then the greatest relief, when he has wreaked vengeance on himself and suffered evil. And accordingly David said, "I the shepherd have sinned, and I the shepherd have done amiss; and these the flock, what have they done? Let Thy hand be upon me, and upon my father's house." (2 Sam. xxiv. 17. LXX.) And when he lost Absalom he wreaked the extremest vengeance upon himself, although he was not the injurer but the injured; but nevertheless, because he loved the departed exceedingly, he racked himself with anguish, in this manner comforting himself. Let us therefore also, when we sin against Him Whom we ought not to sin against, take vengeance on ourselves. See you not those who have lost true-born children, that they therefore both beat themselves and tear their hair, because to punish themselves for the sake of those they loved carries comfort with it. But if, when we have caused no harm to those dearest to us, to suffer because of what hath befallen them brings consolation; when we ourselves are the persons who have given provocation and wrong, will it not much rather be a relief to us to suffer the penalty? and will not the being unpunished punish? Every one in a manner will see this. If any love Christ as it behoveth to love Him, he knoweth what I say; how, even when He forgiveth, he will not endure logo unpunished; for thou undergoest the severest punishment in having provoked Him. And I know indeed that I am speaking what will not be believed by the many; but nevertheless it is so as I have said. If then we love Christ as it behoveth to love Him, we shall punish ourselves when we sin. For to those who love any whomsover, not the suffering somewhat because they have provoked the beloved one is unpleasing; but above all, that they have provoked the person loved. And if this last when angered doth not punish, he hath tortured his lover more; but if he exacts satisfaction, he hath comforted him rather. Let us therefore not fear hell, but offending God; for it is more grievous than that when He turns away in wrath: this is worse than all, this heavier than all. And that thou mayest learn what a thing it is, consider this which I say. If one that was himself a king, beholding a robber and malefactor under punishment, gave his well-beloved son, his only-begotten and true, to be slain; and transferred the death and the guilt as well, from him to his son, (who was himself of no such character,) that he might both save the condemned man and clear him from his evil reputation; and then if, having subsequently promoted him to great dignity, he had yet, after thus saving him and advancing him to that glory unspeakable, been outraged by the person that had received such treatment: would not that man, if he had any sense, have chosen ten thousand deaths rather than appear guilty of so great ingratitude? This then let us also now consider with ourselves, and groan bitterly for the provocations we have offered our Benefactor; nor let us therefore presume, because though outraged He bears it with long-suffering; but rather for this very reason be full of remorse. For amongst men too, when one that hath been smitten on the right cheek offers the left also, he more avengeth himself than if he gave ten thousand blows; and when one that hath been reviled, not only revileth not again but even blesseth, he hath stricken [his adversary] more heavily, than if he rained upon him ten thousand reproaches. Now if in the case of men we feel ashamed when offering insults we meet with long-suffering; much rather, in respect to God, ought they to be afraid who go on continually sinning yet suffer no calamity. For, even for evil unto their own heads is the unspeakable punishment treasured up for them. These things then bearing in mind, let us above all things be afraid of sin; for this is punishment, this is hell, this is ten thousand ills. And let us not only be afraid of, but also flee from it, and strive to please God continually; for this is the kingdom, this is life, this is ten thousand goods. So shall we also even here obtain already the kingdom and the good things to come; whereunto may we all attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ; with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.
And working together with Him we intreat also that ye receive not the grace of God is vain. For he saith, At an acceptable time I hearkened unto thee. And in a day of salvation did I succor thee.
For since he said, God beseeches, and we are ambassadors and suppliants unto you, that ye be "reconciled unto God:" lest they should become supine, he hereby again alarms and arouses them, saying: "We intreat that ye receive not the grace of God in vain." 'For let us not,' he says, ' therefore be at ease, because He beseeches and hath sent some to be ambassadors; nay, but for this very reason let us make haste to please God and to collect spiritual merchandise;' as also he said above, "The love of God constraineth us," (ch. v. 14) that is presseth, driveth, urgeth us, 'that ye may not after so much affectionate care, by being supine and exhibiting no nobleness, miss of such great blessings. Do not therefore because He hath sent some to exhort you, deem that this will always be so. It will be so until His second coming; until then He beseeches, so long as we are here; but after that is judgment and punishment.' Therefore, he says, "we are constrained."
For not only from the greatness of the blessings and His loving kindness, but also from the shortness of the time he urgeth them continually. Wherefore he saith also elsewhere, "For now is our salvation nearer." (Rom. xiii. II.) And again; "The Lord is at hand." (Philipp iv. 5.) But here he does something yet more. For not from the fact that the remainder of the time is short and little, but also from its being the only season available, for salvation, he incited them.
For, "Behold," he saith, "now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Let us therefore not let slip the favorable opportunity but display a zeal worthy of the grace. For therefore is it that we also press forward, knowing both the shortness and the suitableness of the time. Wherefore also he said; "And working together we intreat also. Working together" with you; 'for we work together with you, rather than with God for Whom we are ambassadors. For He is in need of nothing, but the salvation all passeth over to you.' But if it is even with God that he speaks of working together, he repudiates not even this [interpretation]; for he says in another place, "we are God's fellow-workers:" (1 Cor. iii. 9.) in this way, sixth he, to save men. Again, "We entreat also." For he indeed, when beseeching, doth not barely beseech, but sets forth these His just claims; namely, that He gave His Son, the Righteous One that did not so much as know sin, and made Him to be sin for us sinners, that we might become righteous: which claims having, and being God, He displayed such goodness. But what we beseech is that ye would receive the benefit and not reject the gift. Be persuaded therefore by us, and "receive not the grace in vain." For lest they should think that this of itself is "reconciliation," believing on Him that calleth; he adds these words, requiting that earnestness which respects the life. For, for one who hath been freed from sins and made a friend to wallow in the former things, is to return again unto enmity, and to" receive the grace in vain," in respect of the life. For from "the grace" we reap no benefit towards salvation, if we live impurely; nay, we are even harmed, having this greater aggravation even of our sins, in that after such knowledge and such a gift we have gone back to our former vices. This however he does not mention as yet: that he may not make his work harsh, but says only that we reap no benefit. Then he also reminds of a prophecy, urging and compelling them to bestir themselves in order to lay hold of their own salvation.
"For," saith he, "He saith,
"At an acceptable time I hearkened unto thee, "And in a day of salvation did I succor thee:
"behold, now is the acceptable time: behold, now is the day of salvation."
"The acceptable time." What is this? That of the Gift, that of the Grace, when it is appointed not that an account should be required of our sins nor penalty exacted; but besides being delivered, that we should also enjoy ten thousand goods, righteousness, sanctification, and all the rest. For how much toil would it have behoved us to undergo in order to obtain this "time !" But, behold, without our toiling at all it hath come, bringing remission of all that was before. Wherefore also He calls it "acceptable," because He both accepted those that had transgressed in ten thousand things, and not acceded merely, but advanced them to the highest honor; just as when a monarch arrives, it is a time not for judgment, but for grace and pardon. Wherefore also He calleth it acceptable. Whilst then we are yet in the lists, whilst we are at work in the vineyard, whilst the eleventh hour is left [us], let us draw nigh and show forth life; for it is also easy. For he that striveth for the mastery at such a time, when so great a gift hath been shed forth, when so great grace, will early obtain the prizes. For in the case of monarchs here brow also, at the time of their festivals, and when they appear in the dress of Consuls, he who bringeth a small offering receiveth large gifts; but on the days in which they sit in judgment, much strictness, much sifting is requisite. Let us too therefore strive for the mastery in the time of this gift. It is a day of grace, of grace divine; wherefore with ease even we shall obtain the crown. For if when laden with so great evils He both received and delivered us: when delivered from all and contributing our part, shall He not rather accept us?
[2.] Then, as it is his constant worn, namely, to place himself before them and bid them hence to take their example so he does in this Ver. 3. "Giving no occasion of stumbling, that our ministration be not blamed," Persuading them not from considering "the time" only, but also those that had successfully labored with them. And behold with what absence of pride. For he said not, 'Look at us how we are such and such,' but, for the present, it is only to do away accusation that he relates his own conduct. And he mentions two chief paints of a blameless life, "none" in "any" thing. And he said not 'accusation,' but, what was far less, "occasion of stumbling;" that is, giving ground against us to none for censure, for condemnation, "that our ministration be not blamed;" that is, that none may take hold of it. And again, he said not, 'that it be not accused,' but that it may not have the least fault, nor any one have it in his power to animadvert upon it in any particular.
Ver. 4. "But in every thing commending ourselves as ministers of God."
This is far greater. For it is not the same thing to be free from accusation; and to exhibit such a character as in everything to appear "ministers of God." For neither is it the same thing to be quit of accusation, and to be covered with praises. And he said not appearing, but "commending," that is 'proving.' Then he mentions also whence they became such. Whence then was it? "In much patience" he says, laying the foundation of those good things. Wherefore he said not barely "patience," but "much," and he shows also how great it was. For to bear some one or two things is no great matter. But he addeth even snow storms of trials in the words, "In afflictions, in necessities." This is a heightening of affliction, when the evils are unavoidable, and there lies upon one as it were a necessity hardly extricable of misfortune. "In distresses." Either he means those of hunger and of other necessaries, or else simply those of their trials.
Ver. 5. "In stripes, in imprisonments, in tossings to and fro."
Yet every one of these by itself was intolerable, the being scourged only, and being bound only, and being unable through persecution to remain fixed any where, (for this is in 'tossings to and fro,') but when both all, and all at once, assail, consider what a soul they need. Then along with the things from without, he mentions those imposed by himself. Ver. 5, 6. "In labors, in watchings, in fastings; in pureness." But by "pureness" here, he means either chasteness again, or general purity, or incorruptness, or even his preaching the Gospel freely.
"In knowledge." What is" in knowledge?" In wisdom such as is given from God; that which is truly knowledge; not as those that seem to be wise and boast of their acquaintance with the heathen discipline, but are deficient in this
"In long-suffering, in kindness" For this also is a great note of a noble soul, though exasperated and goaded on every side, to bear all with long-suffering. Then to show whence he became such, he added;
"In the Holy Ghost." 'For in Him,' he saith, 'we do all these good works.' But observe when it is that he has mentioned the aid of the Holy Ghost. After he had set forth what was from himself. Moreover, he seems to me to say another thing herein. What then is this? Namely, ' we have both been filled with abundance of the Spirit and hereby also give a proof of our Apostleship in that we have been counted worthy of spiritual gifts.' For if this be grace also, yet still he himself was the cause who by his good works and his toils attracted that grace. And if any should assert that besides what has been said, he shows that in his use of the gifts of the Spirit also he gave none offence; he would not miss of his meaning. For they who received the [gift of] tongues amongst them and were lifted up, were blamed. For it is possible for one even in receiving a gift of the Spirit, not to use it aright. ' But not so we,' he sixth, ' but in the Spirit also, that is, in the gifts also, we have been blameless.'
"In love unfeigned." This was the cause of all those good things; this made him what he was; this caused the Spirit also to abide with him, by Whose aid also all things were rightly done of him.
Ver. 7. "In the word of truth."
A thing he says in many places, that 'we continued neither to handle the word of God deceitfully nor to adulterate it.'
"In the power of God." That which he always does ascribing nothing to himself but the whole to God, and imputing whatsoever he hath done aright to Him, this he hath done here also. For since he uttered great things, and affirmed that he had manifested in all things an irreproachable life and exalted wisdom, he ascribes this to the Spirit and to God. For neither were those commonplace things which he had said. For if it be a difficult thing even for one who lives in quiet to do aright and be irreproachable, consider him who was harassed by so great temptations, and yet shone forth through all, what a spirit he was of! And yet he underwent not these alone, but even far more than these, as he mentions next. And what is indeed marvelous is, not that he was irreproachable though sailing in such mighty waves, nor that he endured all nobly, but all with pleasure even. Which things, all, he makes clear to us by the next words, saying,
"By the armor of righteousness on the right and the left."
[3.] Seest thou his self-possession of soul and well-strung spirit? For he shows that afflictions are arms not only which strike not down, but do even fortify and make stronger. And he calls those things 'left,' which seem to be painful; for such those are which bring with them the reward. Wherefore then cloth he call them thus? Either in conformity with the conception of the generality, or because God commanded us to pray that we enter not into temptation.
Ver. 8. "By glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report"
What saying thou? That thou enjoyest honor, and setting down this as a great thing? 'Yes,' he saith. Why, forsooth? For to bear dishonor indeed is a great thing, but to partake of honor requires not a vigorous soul. Nay, it needs a vigorous and exceeding great soul, that he who enjoys it may not be thrown and break his neck. Wherefore he glories in this as well as in that, for he shone equally in both. But how is it a weapon of righteousness? Because that the teachers are held in honor induceth many unto godliness. And besides, this is a proof of good works, and this glorifieth God. And this is, further, an instance of the wise contrivance of God, that by things which are opposite He brings in the Preaching. For consider. Was Paul bound? This too was on behalf of the Gospel. For, saith he, "the things which happened unto me have fallen out unto the progress of the Gospel; so that most of the brethren, bring confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word without fear." (Phil. i. 12, 14.) Again, did he enjoy honor? This too again rendered them more forward. "By evil report and good report." For not only did he bear those things nobly which happen to the body, the ' afflictions, and whatever he enumerated, but those also which touch the soul; for neither are these wont to disturb slightly. Jeremiah at least having borne many temptations, gave in upon these, and when he was reproached, said, "I will not prophesy, neither will I name the Name of the Lord. (Jer. xx.9. ) And David too many places complains of reproach. Isaiah also, after many things, exhorteth concerning this, saying, "Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye overcome by their reviling." (Is. li. 7. LXX.) And again, Christ also to His disciples; ,' When they shall speak all manner of evil against you falsely, rejoice and be exceeding glad," (Matt. v. II, 12.) He saith, "for great is your reward in heaven." Elsewhere too He says," And leap for joy." (Luke vi. 23.) But He would not have made the reward so great, had soul; for the pain is both of the body and of the soul; but here it is of the soul alone. Many at any rate have fallen by these alone, and have lost their own souls. And to Job also the reproaches of his friends appeared more grievous than the worms and the sores. For there is nothing, there is nothing more intolerable to those in affliction than a word capable of stinging the soul. Wherefore along with the perils and the toils he names these also, saying, "By glory and dishonor." At any rate, many of the Jews also on account of glory derived from the many would not believe. For they feared, not lest they should be punished, but lest they should be put out of the synagogue. Wherefore He saith, "How can ye believe which receive glory one of another?" (John v. 44.) And we may see numbers who have indeed despised all dangers, but have been worsted by glory. [4.] "As deceivers, and yet true." This is, "by evil report and good report." Ver. 9. "As unknown, and yet well known." This is, "by glory and dishonor." For by some they were well known and much sought after, whilst others designed not to know them at all. "As dying, and behold, we live."
As under sentence of death and condemned; which was itself also matter of dishonor. But this he said, to show both the unspeakable power of God and their own patience. For so far as those who plotted against us were concerned, we died; and this is what all suppose; but by God's aid we escaped the dangers. Then to manifest also on what account God permits these things, he added, "As chastened, and not killed."
Showing that the gain accruing to them from their temptations, even before the rewards, was great, and that their enemies against their will did them service. Ver. 10. "As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing." For by those that are without, indeed, we are suspected of being in despair; but we give no heed to them; yea, we have our pleasure at the full And he said not "rejoicing" only, but added also its perpetuity, for he says? "alway rejoicing" What then can come up to this life? wherein, although dangers so great assault, the joy becometh greater. "As poor, yet making many rich."
Some indeed affirm that the spiritual riches are spoken of here; but I would say that the carnal are so too; for they were rich in these also, having, after a new kind of manner, the houses of all opened to them. And this too he signified by what follows, saying,
"As having nothing, and yet possessing all things."
And how can this be? Yea rather, how can the opposite be? For he that possesseth many things hath nothing; and he that hath nothing possesseth the goods of all. And not here only, but also in the other points, contraries were to have all things, let bring forth this man himself into the midst, who commanded the world and was lord not only of their substance, but of their very eyes even. "If possible," he says, "ye would have plucked out your eyes, and have given them to me." (Gal. iv. 15.)
Now these things he says, to instruct us not to be disturbed at the opinions of the many, though they call us deceivers, though they know us not, though they count us condemned, and appointed unto death, to be in sorrow, to be in poverty, to have nothing, to be (us, who are in cheerfulness) desponding: because that the sun even is not clear to the blind, nor the pleasure of the sane intelligible to the mad. For the faithful only are fight judges of these matters, and are not pleased and pained at the same things as other people. For if any one who knew nothing of the games were to see a boxer, having wounds upon him and wearing a crown; he would think him in pain on account of the wounds, not understanding the pleasure the crown would give him. And these therefore, because they know what we suffer but do not know for what we suffer them, naturally suspect that there is nought besides these; for they see indeed the wrestling and the dangers, but not the prizes and the crowns. "As having nothing, and yet possessing all things?" Things temporal, things spiritual. For he whom the cities received as an angel, for whom they would have plucked out their own eyes and have given them to him, (Gal. iv. 14, 15.) he for whom they laid down their own necks, how had he not all things that were theirs? (Rom, xvi. 4.) But if thou desirest to see the spiritual also, thou wilt find him in these things also especially rich. For he that was so dear to the King of all as even to share in unspeakable things with the Lord of the angels, (ch. xii. 4.) how was not he more opulent than all men, and had all things? Devils had not else been so subject to him, suffering and disease had not so fled away.
[5.] And let us therefore, when we suffer aught for Christ's sake, not merry bear it nobly but also rejoice. If we fast, let us leap for joy as if enjoying luxury; if we be insulted, let us dance as if praised; if we spend, let us feel as if gaining; if we below on the poor, let us count ourselves to receive: for he that gives not thus will not give readily. When then thou hast a mind to scatter abroad, look not at this only in almsgiving, but also in every kind of virtue, compute not alone the severity of the toils, but also the sweetness of the prizes; and before all the subjects of this wrestling, our Lord Jesus; and thou wilt readily enter upon the contest, and wilt live the whole time in pleasure. For nothing is wont so to cause pleasure as a good conscience.
Therefore Paul indeed, though wounded every day, rejoiced and exulted; but the men of this day, although they endure not a shadow even of what he did, grieve and make lamentations from no other cause than that they have not a mind full of heavenly philosophy. For, tell me, wherefore the lamentation? Because thou art poor, and in want of necessaries? Surely for this thou oughtest rather to make lamentation, [not] because thou weepest, not because thou art poor, but because thou art mean-spirited; not because thou hast not money, but because thou prizest money so highly. Paul died daily, yet wept not but even rejoiced; he fought with continual hunger, yet grieved not but even gloried in it. And dost thou, because for his own needs, but for the whole world's. And thou indeed [hast to care] for one household, but he for those so many poor at Jerusalem, for those in Macedonia, for those everywhere in poverty, for those who give to them no less than for those who receive. For his care for the world was of a twofold nature, both that they might not be destitute of necessaries, and that they might be rich in spiritual things. And thy famishing children distress not thee so much as all the concerns of the faithful did him. Why do I say, of the faithful? For neither was he free from care for the unfaithful, but was so eaten up with it that he wished even to become accursed for their sakes; but thou, were a famine to rage ten thousand times over, wouldest never choose to die for any whomsoever. And thou indeed carest for one woman, but he for the Churches throughout the world. For he saith, "My anxiety for all the Churches." (ch. xi. 28.) How long then, O man, dost thou trifle, comparing thyself with Paul; and wilt not cease from this thy much meanness of spirit? For it behoveth to weep, not when we are in poverty but when we sin; for this is worthy of lamentations, as all the other things are of ridicule even. ' But,' he saith, ' this is not all that grieves me; but that also such an one is in power, whilst I am unhonored and outcast.' And what is this? for the blessed Paul too appeared to the many to be unhonored and an outcast. 'But,' saith he, 'he was Paul.' Plainly then not the nature of the things, but thy feebleness of spirit case thy desponding. Lament not therefore thy poverty, but thyself who art so minded, yea rather, lament not thyself, but reform thee; and seek not for money, but pursue that which maketh men of more cheerful countenance than thousands of money, philosophy and virtue. For where indeed these are, there is no harm in poverty; and where these are not there is no good in money. For tell me, what good is it when men are rich indeed, but have beggarly souls? Thou dost not bewail thyself, so much as that rich man himself, because he hath not the wealth of all. And if he doth not weep as thou dost, yet lay open his conscience, and thou wilt see his wailings and lamentation.
Wilt thou that I show thee thine own riches, that thou mayest cease to count them happy that are rich in money? Seest thou this heaven here, the sun, this bright and far shining star, and that gladdeneth our eyes, is not this too set out common to all? and do not all enjoy it equally, both poor and rich? And the wreath of the stars and the orb of the moon, are they not left equally to all? Yea, rather, if I must speak somewhat marvellous, we poor enjoy these more than they. For they indeed being for the most part steeped in drunkenness, and passing their time in revellings and deep sleep, do not even perceive these things, being always under cover and reared in the shade: but the poor do more than any enjoy the luxury of these elements. And further, if thou wilt look into the air which is every where diffused, thou wilt see the poor man enjoying it in greater both freshness and abundance. For wayfarers and husbandmen enjoy these luxuries more than the inhabitants of the city; and again, of those same inhabitants of the city, the handicraftsmen more than those who are drunken all the day. What too of the earth, is not this left common to all? ' No,' he saith. How sayest thou so? tell me. ' Because the rich man, even in the city, having gotten himself several plethra, raises up long fences round them; and in the country cuts off for himself many potions' What then? When he cuts them off, does he alone enjoy them? By no means, though he should contend for it ever so earnestly. For the produce he is compelled to distribute amongst all, and for thee he cultivates grain, and wine, and oil, and every where ministers unto thee. And those long fences and buildings, after his untold expense and his toils and drudgery he is preparing for thy use, receiving from thee only a small piece of silver for so great a service. And in baths and every where, one may see the same thing obtaining; the rich of it all with perfect ease. And his enjoyment of the earth is no more than thine; for sure he filleth not ten stomachs, and thou only one. ' But he partaketh of costlier meats? ' Truly, this is no mighty superiority; howbeit, even here, we shall find thee to have the advantage. For this costliness is therefore thought by thee a matter of envy because the pleasure with it is greater. Yet this is greater in the poor man's case; yet not pleasure only, but health also; and in this alone is the advantage with the rich, that he maketh his constitution feebler and collects more abundant fountains of disease. For the poor man's diet is all ordered according to nature, but his through its excess resulteth in corruption and disease.
[6.] But if ye will, let us also look at this same thing in an example. For if it were requisite to light a furnace, and then one man were to throw in silken garments and fine linens, many and numberless, and so kindle it; and another logs of oak and pine, what advantage would this man have over that? None, but even disadvantage. But what? (for there is nothing to prevent our turning the same illustration round after another manner,) if one were to throw in logs, and another were to light his fire under bodies, by which furnace wouldest thou like to stand, that with the logs, or that with the bodies? Very plainly that with the logs. For that burns naturally and is a pleasant spectacle to the beholders: whilst this with the steam, and juices, and smoke, and the stench of the bones would drive every one away. Didst thou shudder at the hearing, and loathe that furnace? Like it are the bellies of the rich. For in them one would find more rottenness than in that furnace, and stinking vapors, and filthy humors, because that, all over in every part, indigestion abounds in consequence of their surfeiting. For the natural heat not sufficing for the digestion of the whole but being smothered under them, they lie smoking above, and the unpleasantness produced is great. To what then should one compare those stomachs of theirs? Yet do not be offended at what I say, but if I do not say true things, refute me. To what then should one compare them? for even what has been said is not enough to show their wretched plight. I have found another resemblance yet. What then is it? As in the sewers where there is accumulation of refuse, of drug, hay, stubble, stones, clay, frequent stoppages occur; and then the stream of filth overflows at top: so also it happeneth with the stomachs of those people. For these being stopped up below, the greater part of these villainous streams spurts up above. But not so with the poor, but like those fountains which well forth pure streams, and water gardens and pleasure grounds, so also are their stomachs pure from such-like superfluities. But not such are the stomachs of the rich, or rather of the luxurious; but they are filled with humors, phlegm, bile, corrupted blood, putrid rheums, and other suchlike matters. Wherefore no one, if he lives always in luxury, can bear it even for a short time; but his life will be spent in continual sicknesses. Wherefore I would gladly ask them, for what end are meats given? that we may be destroyed, or be nourished? that we may be diseased, or be strong? that we may be healthful, or be sickly? Very plainly, for nourishment, creating unto the body disease and sickness? But not so the poor man; on the contrary, by his plain diet he purchases to himself health, and vigor, and strength. Weep not then on account of poverty, the mother of health, but even exult in it; and if thou wouldest be rich, despise riches For this, not the having money but the not wanting to have it, is truly affluence. If we can achieve this, we shall both be here more affluent than all that are rich, and there shall obtain the good things to come, whereunto may all we attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
Our mouth is open unto you, O ye Corinthians, our heart is enlarged, ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own affections.
Having detailed his own trials and afflictions, for "in patience," saith he, "in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, (v. 4, 5.) in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumult, in labors, in watchings;" and having shown that the thing was a great good, for "as sorrowful," saith he, "yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet "as chastened," saith he, "and not killed:" and having called those things "armor" for "as chastened," saith he, "and not killed:" and having hereby represented God's abundant care and power, for he saith, "that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not of us ;" (c. iv. 7. ) and having recounted his labors, for he saith, "we always bear about His dying;" and that this is a clear demonstration of the Resurrection, for he says, "that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh ;" (c. iv. 10.) and of what things he was made partaker, and with what he had been entrusted, for "we are ambassadors on behalf of Christ," (c. iii. 20.) saith he, "as though God were entreating by us; "and of what things he is a minister, namely, "not of the letter, but of the Spirit; " (c. iii. 6, ) and that he was entitled to reverence not only on this account, but also for his trials, for, "Thanks be to God," saith he, "which always causeth us to triumph: "he purposeth now also to rebuke them as not being too well minded towards himself. But though purposing he does not immediately come upon this, but having his discussion of these things. For if even from his own good deeds he that rebuketh be entitled to reverence; yet still, when he also displayeth the love, which he bears towards those who are censured, he maketh his speech less offensive. Therefore the Apostle also having stepped out of the subject of his own trials and toils and contests, passes on into speaking of his love, and in this way toucheth them to the quick. What then are the indications of his love? "Our month is open unto you, O ye Corinthians." And what kind of sign of love is this? or what meaning even have the words at all? ' We cannot endured' he says, ' to be silent towards you, but are always desiring and longing to speak to and converse with you; ' which is the wont of those who love. For what grasping of the hands is to the body, that is interchange of language to the soul. And along with this he implies another thing also. Of what kind then is this? That ' we discourse unto nothing.' For since afterwards he proposes to rebuke, he asks forgiveness, using the rebuking them with freedom as itself a proof of his loving them exceedingly. Moreover the addition of their name is a mark of great love and warmth and affection; for we are accustomed to be repeating continually the bare names of those we love.
"Our heart is enlarged." For as that which warmeth is wont to dilate; so also to enlarge is the work of love. For virtue is warm and fervent. This both opened the mouth of Paul and enlarged his heart. For, ' neither do I love with the mouth only,' saith he, 'but I have also a heart in union. Therefore I speak with openness, with my whole mouth, with my whole mind.' For nothing is wider than was Paul's heart which loved all the faithful with all the vehemence that one might bear towards the object of his affection; this his love not being full entireness with each. And what marvel that this was so in the case of the faithful, seeing that even in that of the unfaithful, the heart of Paul embraced the whole world? Therefore he said not' I love you,' but with more emphasis, "Our mouth is open, our heart is enlarged," we have you all within it, and not this merely, but with much largeness of room. For he that is beloved walketh with great unrestraint within the heart of him that loveth. Wherefore he saith, "Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straightened in your own affections." And this reproof, see it administered with forbearance, as is the wont of such as love exceedingly. He did not say, 'ye do not love us,' but, 'not in the same measure,' for he does not wish to touch them too sensibly. And indeed every where one may see how he is inflamed toward the faithful, by selecting words out of every Epistle. For to the Romans he saith, "I long to see you;" and, "oftentimes I purposed to come unto you;" and, "If by any means now at length I may be prospered to come unto you." (Rom. i. 11, 13, 10.) And to the Galatians, he says, "My little children of whom I am again in travail." (Gal. iv. 19.) To the Ephesians again, "For this cause I bow my knees" for you. (Ephes. iii. 14.) And to the Philippians, "For what is my hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? are not even ye?" and he said that he bare them about in his heart, and in his bonds. (Philipp. i. 7.) And to the Colossians, "But I would that ye knew greatly I strive for you, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that your hearts might be comforted." (Coloss. ii. 1. 2.) And to the Thessalonians, "As when a nurse cherisheth her children, even so being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you, not the Gospel only, but also our own souls." (1 Thess. ii. 7. 8.) And to Timothy, "Remembering thy tears, that I may be filled with joy." (2 Tim. i. 4.) And to Titus, "To my beloved son; (Tit. i. 4.) and to Philemon, in like manner. (Philem. 1.) And to the Hebrews too, he writes many other suchlike things, and ceaseth not to beseech them, and say, "A very little while, and he that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry:" (Heb. x. 37.) just like a mother to her pettish children. And to themselves he says, "Ye are not straitened in us." But he does not say only that he loves, but also that he is beloved by them, in order that hereby also he may the rather win them. And indeed testifying to this in them, he says, Titus came and "told us your longing, your mourning, your zeal." (2 Cor. vii. 7.) And to the Galatians, "If possible, ye would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me," (Gal. iv. 15.) And to the Thessalonians, "What manner of entering in we had unto you." (1 Thess, i. 9. ) And to Timothy also, "Remembering thy tears, that I may be filled with joy." (2 Tim. i. 4.) And also throughout his Epistles one may find him bearing this testimony to the disciples, both that he loved and that he is loved, not however equally. And here he saith, "Though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved." (2 Cor. xii. 15.) This, however, is near the end; but at present more vehemently, "Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own affections," 'You receive one,' he says, ' but I a whole city, and so great a population.' And he said not, ' ye do not receive us,' but, ' ye are straitened; ' implying indeed the same thing but with forbearance and without touching them too deeply.
Ver. 13. "Now for a recompense in like kind (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged."
And yet it is not an equal return, first to be loved, afterwards to love. For even if one were to contribute that which is equal in amount, he is inferior in that he comes to it second. ' But nevertheless I am not going to reckon strictly,' saith he, 'and if ye after having received the first advances from me do but show forth the same amount, I am well- pleased and contented.' Then to show that to do this was even a debt, and that what he said was void of flattery, he saith, "I speak as unto my children." What meaneth, "as unto my children?" 'I ask no great thing, if being your father I wish to be loved by you.' And see wisdom and moderation of mind. He mentions not here his dangers on their behalf, and his labors, and his deaths, although he had many to tell of: (so free from pride is he!) but his love: and on this account he claims to be loved; 'because,' saith he, ' I was your father, because I exceedingly burn for you,' [for] it is often especially offensive to the person beloved when a man sets forth his benefits to him; for he seems to reproach. Wherefore Paul doth not this; but, ' like children, love your father,' saith he, which rather proceeds from instinct; and is the due of every father. Then that he may not seem to speak these things for his own sake, he shows that it is for their advantage even that he invites this love from them. And therefore he added,
Ver. 14: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers."
He said not, ' Intermix not with unbelievers,' but rather dealing sharply with them, as transgressing what was right, ' Suffer not yourselves to turn aside,' saith he, "For what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity?" Here in what follows he institutes a comparison, not between his own love and theirs who corrupt them, but between their nobleness and the others' dishonor. For thus his discourse became more dignified and more beseeming himself, and would the rather win them. Just as if one should say to a son that despised his parents, and gave himself up to vicious persons, 'What art thou doing, child? Dost thou despise thy father and prefer impure men filled with ten thousand vices? Knowest thou not how much better and more respectable thou art than they? ' For so he detaches him more [readily] from their society than if he should express admiration of his father. For were he to say indeed, ' Knowest thou not how much thy father is better than they?' he will not produce so much effect; but if, leaving mention of his father, he bring himself before them, saying, ' Knowest thou not who thou art and what they are? Dost thou not bear in mind thine own high birth and gentle blood, and their infamy? For what communion hast thou with them, those thieves, those adulterers, those impostors ?' by elevating him with these praises of himself, he will quickly prepare him to break off from them. For the former address indeed, he will not entertain with overmuch acceptance, because the exalting of his father is an accusation of himself, when he is shown to be not only grieving a father, but such a father; but in this case he will have no such feeling. For none would choose not to be praised, and therefore, along with these praises of him that hears, the rebuke becometh easy of digestion. For the listener is softened, and is filled with high thoughts, and disdains the society of those persons.
But not this only is the point to be admired in him that thus he prosecuted his comparison, but that he 'imagined another thing also still greater and more astounding; in the first place, prosecuting his speech in the form of interrogation, which is proper to things that are clear and admitted, and then dilating it by the quick succession and multitude of his terms. For he employs not one or two or three only, but several. Add to this that instead of the persons he employs the names of the things, and he delineates here high virtue and there extreme vice; and shows the difference between them to be great and infinite so as not even to need demonstration. "For what fellowship," saith he, "have righteousness and iniquity ?"
"And what communion hath light with darkness?" (v. 15, 16,) "And what concord hath Christ with Beliar? Or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? Or what agreement hath a temple of God with idols ?"
Seest thou how he uses the bare names, and how adeqately to his purpose of dissuasion. For he did not say, "neglect of righteousness," [but] what was stronger [iniquity]; nor did he say those who are of the light, and those who are of the darkness; but he uses opposites themselves which can not admit of their opposites, 'light and darkness.' Nor said he those who are of Christ, with those who are of the devil; but, which was far wider apart, Christ and Beliar, so calling that apostate one, in the Hebrew tongue. "Or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever?" Here, at length, that he may not seem simply to be going through a censure of vice and an encomium of virtue, he mentions persons also without particularizing. And he said not, 'communion,' but spoke of the rewards, using the term "portion. What agreement hath a temple of God with idols?"
"For ye are a temple of the living God." Now what he says is this. Neither hath your King aught in common with him, "for what concord hath Christ with Beliar?" nor have the things [aught in common'], "for what communion hath light with darkness ?" Therefore neither should ye. And first he mentions their king and then themselves; by this separating them most effectually. Then having said, "a temple of God with idols," and having declared, "For ye are a temple of the living God," he is necessitated to subjoin also the testimony of this to show that the thing is no flattery. For he that praises except he also exhibit proof, even appears to flatter. What then is his testimony? For,
"I will dwell in them, saith he, "and walk in them. I will dwell in," as in temples, "and walk in them," signifying the more abundant attachment to them.
"And they shall be my people and I will be their God. ' What ?' saith he, ' Dost thou bear God within thee, and runnest unto them? God That hath nothing in common with them? And in what can this deserve forgiveness? Bear in mind Who walketh, Who dwelleth in thee.'
Ver. 17. "Wherefore come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you, saith the Lord.
And He said not, ' Do not unclean things'; but, requiring greater strictness, 'do not even touch,' saith he, nor go near them.' But what is filthiness of the flesh? Adultery, fornication, lasciviousness of every kind. And what of the soul? Unclean thoughts, as gazing with unchaste eyes, malice, deceits, and whatsoever' such things there be. He wishes then that they should be clean in both. Seest thou how great the prize? To be delivered from what is evil, to be made one with God. Hear also what follows.
Ver. 18. "And I will be to you a Father, and ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord."
Seest thou how from the beginning the Prophet fore-announceth our present high birth, the Regeneration by grace?
Chap. vii. ver. 1. "Having therefore these promises, beloved."
What promises? That we should be temples of God, sons and daughters, have Him indwelling, and walking in us, be His people, have Him for our God and Father.
"Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit."
Let us neither touch unclean things, for this is cleansing of the flesh; nor things which defile the soul, for this is cleansing of the spirit. Yet he is not content with this only, but adds also,
"Perfecting holiness in the fear of God." For not to touch the unclean thing doth not make clean, but there needeth something else besides to our becoming holy; earnestness, heedfulness, piety. And he well said, "In the fear of God." For it is possible to perfect chasteness, not in the fear of God but for vainglory. And along with this he implies yet another thing, by saying, "In the fear of God;" the manner, namely, whereafter holiness may be perfected. For if lust be even an imperious thing, still if thou occupy its territory withthe fear of God, thou hast stayed its frenzy.
[4.] Now by holiness here he means not chastity alone, but the freedom from every kind of sin, for he is holy that is pure. Now one will become pure, not if he be free from fornication only, but if from covetousness also, and envy, and pride, and vainglory, yea especially from vainglory which in every thing indeed it behoveth to avoid, but much more in alms- giving; since neither will it be almsgiving, if it have this distemper, but display and cruelty. For when thou dost it not out of mercy, but from parade, such deed is not only no alms but even an insult; for thou hast put thy brother to open shame. Not then the giving money, but the giving it out of mercy, is almsgiving. For people too at the theatres give, both to prostitute boys and to others who are on the stage; but such a deed is not almsgiving. And they too give that abuse the persons of prostitute women; but this is not lovingkindness, but insolent treatment. Like this is the vainglorious also. For just as he that abuseth the person of the harlot, pays her a price for that abuse; so too dost thou demand a price of him that receiveth of thee, thine insult of him and thine investing him as well as thyself with an evil notoriety. And besides this, the loss is unspeakable. For just as a wild beast and a mad dog springing upon us might, so doth this ill disease and this inhumanity make prey of our good things. For inhumanity and cruelty such a course is; yea, rather more grievous even than this. For the cruel indeed would not give to him that asked; but thou dost more than this; thou hinderest those that wish to give. For when thou paradest thy giving, thou hast both lowered the reputation of the receiver, and hast pulled back him that was about to give, if he be of a careless mind. For he will not give to him thenceforth, on the ground of his having already received, and so not being in want; yea he will often accuse him even, if after having received he should draw near to beg, and will think him impudent. What sort of alms-giving then is this when thou both shamest thyself and him that receiveth; and also in two ways Him that enjoined it: both because while having Him for a spectator of thine alms, thou seekest the eyes of thy fellow-servants besides Him, and because thou transgressest the law laid down by Him forbidding these things.
I could have wished to carry this out into those other subjects as well, both fasting and prayer, and to show in how many respects vainglory is injurious there also; but I remember that in the discourse before this I left unfinished a certain necessary point. What was the point? I was saying, that the poor have the advantage of the rich in the things of this life, when I discoursed concerning health and pleasure; and this was shown indistinctly. Come then, to-day let us show this, that not in the things of this life only, but also in those that are higher, the advantage is with them. For what leadeth unto a kingdom, riches or poverty? Let us hear the Lord Himself of the heavens saying of those, that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven :"(Mat. xix. 24.) but of the poor the contrary, "If thou wilt be perfect, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor; and come, follow Me; and thou shalt have treasure in heaven." (Mat. xix. 21.) But if ye will, let us see what is said on either side. "Narrow and straitened is the way," He saith, "that leadeth unto life." (Mat. vii. 14.) Who then treadeth the narrow way, he that is in luxury, or that is in poverty; that is independent, or that carrieth ten thousand burdens; the lax and dissolute, or the thoughtful and anxious? But what need of these arguments, when it is best to betake one's self to the persons themselves. Lazarus was poor, yea very poor; and he that passed him by as he lay at his gateway was rich. Which then entered into the kingdom, and was in delights in Abraham's bosom? and which of them was scorched, with not even a drop at his command? But, saith one, ' both many poor will be lost, and [many] rich will enjoy those unspeakable goods.' Nay rather, one may see the contrary, few rich saved, but of the poor far more. For, consider, making accurate measure of the hindrances of riches and the defects of poverty, (or rather, neither of riches nor of poverty are they, but each of those who have riches or poverty; howbeit,) let us at least see which is the more available weapon. What defect then doth poverty seem to possess? Lying. And what, wealth? Pride, the mother of evils; which also made the devil a devil, who was not such before. Again, "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." (1 Tim. vi. 10.) Which then stands near this root, the rich man, or the poor? Is it not very plainly the rich? For the more things anyone surrounds himself with, he desires so much the more. Vainglory again damages tens of thousands of good deeds, and near this too again the rich man hath his dwelling. "But," saith one, "thou mentionest not the [evils] of the poor man, his affliction, his straits." Nay, but this is both common to the rich, and is his more than the poor man's; so that those indeed which appear to be evils of poverty are common to either: whilst those of riches are riches' only. ' But what,' saith one, 'when for want of necessaries the poor man committeth many horrible things?' But no poor man, no, not one, committeth as many horrible things from want, as do the rich for the sake of surrounding themselves with more, and of not losing what stores they have. For the poor man doth not so eagerly desire necessaries as the rich doth superfluities; nor again has he as much strength to put wickedness in practice as the other hath power. If then the rich man is both more willing and able, it is quite plain that he will rather commit such, and more of them. Nor is the poor man so much afraid in respect of hunger, as the rich trembleth and is anxious in respect of the loss of what he has, and because he has not yet gotten all men's possessions. Since then he is near both vainglory and arrogance, and the love of money, the root of all evils, what hope of salvation shall he have except he display much wisdom? And how shall he walk the narrow way? Let us not therefore carry about the notions of the many, but examine into the facts. For how is it not absurd that in respect to money, indeed, we do not trust to others, but refer this to figures and calculation; but in calculating upon facts we are lightly drawn aside by the notions of others; and that too, though we possess an exact balance, and square and rules for all things, the declaration of the divine laws? Wherefore I exhort and entreat you all, disregard what this man and that man thinks about these things, and inquire from the Scriptures all these things; and having learnt what are the true riches, let us pursue after them that we may obtain also the eternal good things; which may we all obtain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
Open your hearts to us: we wronged no man, we corrupted no man, we took advantage of no man. I say it not to condemn you; for l have said before, [as I have also declared above], that ye are in our hearts to die together and live together.
Again he raiseth the discourse about love, mitigating the harshness of his rebuke. For since he had convicted and reproached them as being beloved indeed, yet not loving in an equal degree, but breaking away from his love and mixing up with other pestilent fellows; again he softens the vehemence of his rebuke, saying, "Make room for us," that is, "love us;" and prays to receive a favor involving no burden, and advantaging them that confer above them that receive it. And he said not, 'love,' but with a stronger appeal to their pity, "make room for." ' Who expelled us? ' saith he: ' Who cast us out of your hearts? How come we to be straitened in you ?' for since he said above, "Ye are straitened in your affections;" here declaring it more clearly, he said, "make room for us:" in this way also again winning them to himself. For nothing doth so produce love as for the beloved to know that he that loveth him exceedingly desireth his love.
"We wronged no man." See how again he does not mention the benefits [done by him], but frameth his speech in another way, so as to be both less offensive and more cutting. And at the same time he also alludes to the false apostles, saying, "We wronged no man, we corrupted no man, we defrauded no man."
What is "we corrupted ?" That is, we beguiled no man; as he says elsewhere also. "Lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, so your minds should be corrupted." (2 Cor. xi. 3.)
"We defrauded no man;" we plundered, plotted against no man. And he for the present forbears to say, 'we benefited you in such and such ways;' but framing his language so as more to shame them, "We wronged no man," he says; as much as saying, 'Even had we in no wise benefited you, not even so ought ye to turn away from us; for ye have nothing to lay to our charge, either small or great.' Then, for he felt the heaviness of his rebuke, he tempers it again. And he was neither silent altogether, for so he would not have aroused them; nor yet did he let the harshness of his language go unmodified, for so he would have wounded them too much. And what says he? Ver. 3. "I say it not to condemn you." How is this evident? "For I have said before," he adds, "that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you." This is the greatest affection, when even though treated with contempt, he chooseth both to die and live with them. ' For neither are ye merely in our hearts,' he says, 'but in such sort as I said. For it is possible both to love and to shun dangers, but we do not thus.' And behold here also wisdom unspeakable. For he spake not of what had been done for them, that he might not seem to be again reproaching them, but he promiseth for the future. ' For should it chance,' saith he, ' that danger should invade, for your sakes I am ready to suffer every thing; and neither death nor life seemeth aught to me in itself, but in whichever ye be, that is to me more desirable, both death than life and life than death.' Howbeit, dying indeed is manifestly a proof of love; but living, who is there that would not choose, even of those who are not friends? Why then does the Apostle mention it as something great? Because it is even exceeding great. For numbers indeed sympathize with their friends when they are in misfortune, but when they are in honor rejoice not with, but envy, them. ' But not so we; but whether ye be in calamity, we are not afraid to share your ill fortune; or whether ye be prosperous, we are not wounded with envy.'
[2.] Then after he had continually repeated these things, saying, "Ye are not straitened in us;" and, "Ye are straitened in your own affections;" and, "make room for us;" and, "Be ye also enlarged;" and, "We wronged no man;" and all these things seemed to be a condemnation of them: observe how he also in another manner alleviates this severity by saying, "Great is my boldness of speech towards you." 'Therefore I venture upon such things,' he says, ' not to condemn you by what I say, but out of my great boldness of speech,' which also farther signifying, he said, "Great is my glorying on your behalf." 'For think not indeed,' he saith, 'that because I thus speak, I speak as though I had condemned you altogether; (for I am exceedingly proud of, and glory in, you ;) but both out of tender concern and a desire that you should make greater increase unto. virtue.' And so he said to the Hebrews also after much rebuke; "But we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak: and we desire that each one of you may show the same diligence to the fullness of hope even to the end." (Heb. vi. 9, 11.) So indeed here also, "Great is my glorying on your behalf." 'We glory others of you,' he says. Seest thou what genuine comfort he has given? ' And,' he saith, ' I do not simply glory, but also, greatly.' Accordingly he added these words; "I am filled with comfort." What comfort? ' That coming from you; because that ye, having been reformed, comforted me by your conduct.' This is the test of one that loveth, both to complain of not being loved and to fear lest 'he should inflict pain by complaining immoderately. Therefore he says, "I am filled with comfort, I overflow with joy." 'But these expressions,' saith one, 'seem to contradict the former.' They do not do so, however, but are even exceedingly in harmony with them. For these procure for the former a favorable reception; and the praise which they convey makes the benefit of those rebukes more genuine, by quietly abstracting what was painful in them. Wherefore he uses these expressions, but with great genuineness and earnestness. For he did not say, ' I am filled with joy ;' but, "I abound ;" or rather, not "abound" either, but "super-abound;" in this way also again showing his yearning, that even though he be so loved as to rejoice and exult, he does not yet think himself loved as he ought to be loved, nor to have received full payment; so insatiable was he out of his exceeding love of them. For the joy it brings to be loved in any degree by those one passionately loves, is great by reason of our loving them exceedingly. So that this again was a proof of his affection. And of the comfort indeed, he saith, "I am filled;" 'I have received what was owing to me;' but of the joy, "I superabound;" that is, 'I was desponding about you; but ye have sufficiently excused yourselves and supplied comfort: for ye have not only removed the ground of my sorrow, but have even increased joy.' Then showing its greatness, he not only declares it by saying, ', I superabound in joy," but also by adding, "in all our affliction." ' For so great was the delight arising to us on your account that it was not even dimmed by so great tribulation, but through the excess of its own greatness it overcame the sorrows that had hold of us, and suffered us not to feel the sense of them.'
Ver. 5. "For even when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no relief."
For since he said, "our tribulation;" he both explains of what sort it was, and magnifies it by his words, in order to show that the consolation and joys received from them was great, seeing it had repelled so great a sorrow. "But we were afflicted on every side."
How on every side? for "without were fightings," from the unbelievers; "within were fears;" because of the weak among the believers, lest they should be drawn aside. For not amongst the Corinthians only did these things happen, but elsewhere also.
Ver. 6. "Nevertheless He that comforteth the lowly comforted us by the coming of Titus."
For since he had testified great things of them in what he said, that he may not seem to be flattering them he cites as witness Titus the brother, who had come from them to Paul after the first Epistle to declare unto him the particulars of their amendment. But consider, I pray you, how in every place he maketh a great matter of the coming of Titus. For he saith also before, "Furthermore when I came to Troas for the Gospel, I had no relief for my spirit because I found not Titus my brother;" (c. ii. 12, 13.) and in this place again we were comforted," he saith, "by the coming of Titus." For he is desirous also of establishing the man in their confidence and of making him exceedingly dear to them. And observe how he provides for both these things. For by saying on the one hand, "I had no relief for my spirit," he showeth the greatness of his virtue; and by saying on the other, that, in our tribulation his coming sufficed unto comfort; yet "not by his coming only, but also by the comfort wherewith he was comforted in you," he endeareth the man unto the Corinthians. For nothing doth so produce and cement friendships as the saying something sound and favorable of any one. And such he testifies Titus did; when he says that 'by his coming he hath given us wings with pleasure; such things did he report of you. On this ground his coming made us glad. For we were delighted not "only by his coming, but also for the comfort wherewith he was comforted in you." And how was he comforted? By your virtue, by your good deeds.' Wherefore also he adds,
"While he told us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me. 'These things made him glad,' he says, ' these things comforted him.' Seest thou how he shows that he also is an earnest lover of theirs, seeing he considers their good report as a consolation to himself; and when he was come, gloried, as though on account of his own good things, unto Paul.
And observe with what warmth of expression he reporteth these things, "Your longing, your mourning, your zeal." For it was likely that they would mourn and grieve why the blessed Paul was so much displeased, why he had kept away from them so long. And therefore he did not say simply tears, but "mourning;" nor desire, but "longing;" nor anger, but "zeal;" and again "zeal toward him," which they displayed both about him that had committed fornication and about those who were accusing him. 'For,' saith he, 'ye were inflamed and blazed out on receiving my letters.' On these accounts he abounds in joy, on these accounts he is filled with consolation, because he made them feel. It seems to me, however, that these things are said not only to soften what has gone before, but also in encouragement of those who had acted in these things virtuously. For although I suppose that some were obnoxious to those former accusations and unworthy of these praises; nevertheless, he doth not distinguish them, but makes both the praises and the accusations common, leaving it to the conscience of his hearers to select that which belongs to them. For so both the one would be void of offence, and the other lead them on to much fervor of mind.
[4.] Such also now should be the feelings of those who are reprehended; thus should they lament and mourn; thus yearn after their teachers; thus, more than fathers, seek them. For by those indeed living cometh, but by these good living. Thus ought they to bear the rebukes of their fathers, thus to sympathize with their rulers on account of those that sin. For it does not rest all with them, but with you also. For if he that hath sinned perceives that he was rebuked indeed by his father, but flattered by his brethren; he becometh more easy of mind. But when the father rebukes, be thou too angry as well, whether as concerned for thy brother or as joining in thy father's indignation; only be the earnestness thou showest great; and mourn, not that he was rebuked, but that he sinned. But if I build up and thou pull down, what profit have we had but labor? (Ecclus. xxxiv. 23. ) Yea, rather, thy loss stops not here, but thou bringest also punishment on thyself. For he that hindereth the wound from being healed is punished not less than he that inflicted it, but even more. For it is not an equal offence to wound and to hinder that which is wounded from being healed; for this indeed necessarily gendereth death, but that not necessarily. Now I have spoken thus to you; that ye may join in the anger of your rulers whenever they are indignant justly; that when ye see any one rebuked, ye may all shun him more than does the teacher. Let him that hath offended fear you more than his rulers. For if he is afraid of his teacher only, he will readily sin: but if he have to dread so many eyes, so many tongues, he will be in greater safety. For as, if we do not thus act, we shall suffer the extremest punishment; so, if we perform these things, we shall partake of the gain that accrues from his reformation. Thus then let us act; and if any one shall say, ' be humane towards thy brother, this is a Christian's duty; let him be taught, that he is humane who is angry [with him], not he who sets him at ease prematurely and alloweth him not even to come to a sense of his transgression. For which, tell me, pities the man in a fever and laboring under delirium, he that lays him on his bed, and binds him down, and keeps him from meats and drinks that are not fit for him; or he that allows him to glut himself with strong drink, and orders him to have his liberty, and to act in every respect as one that is in health? Does not this person even aggravate the distemper, the man that seemeth to act humanely, whereas the other amends it? Such truly Ought our decision to be in this case also. For it is the part of humanity, not to humor the sick in every thing nor to flatter their unseasonable desires. No one so loved him that committed fornication amongst the Corinthinians, as Paul who commandeth to deliver him to Satan; no one so hated him as they that applaud and court him; and the event showed it. For they indeed both puffed him up and increased his inflammation; but [the Apostle] both lowered it and left him not until he brought him to perfect health. And they indeed added to the existing mischief, he eradicated even that which existed from the first. These laws, then, of humanity let us learn also. For if thou seest a horse hurrying down a precipice, thou appliest a bit and holdest him in with violence and lashest him frequently; although this is punishment, yet the punishment itself is the mother of safety. Thus act also in the case of those that sin. Bind him that hath transgressed until he have appeased God; let him not go loose, that he be not bound the faster by the anger of God. If I bind, God doth not chain; if I bind not, the indissoluble chains await him. "For if we judged ourselves, we should not be judged. (1 Cor. xi. 31.) Think not, then, that thus to act cometh of cruelty and inhumanity; nay, but of the highest gentleness and the most skillful leechcraft and of much tender care. But, saith one, they have been punished for a long time. How long? Tell me. A year, and two, and three years? Howbeit, I require not this, length of time, but amendment of soul. This then show, whether they have been pricked to the heart, whether they have reformed, and all is done: since if there be not this, there is no advantage in the time. For neither do we inquire whether the wound has been often bandaged, but whether the bandage has been of any service. If therefore it hath been of service, although in a short time, let it be kept on no longer: but if it hath done no service, even at the end of ten years, let it be still kept on: and let this fix the term of release, the good of him that is bound. If we are thus careful both of ourselves and of others, and regard not honor and dishonor at the hands of men; but bearing in mind the punishment and the disgrace that is there, and above all the provoking of God, apply with energy the medicines of repentance: we shall both presently arrive at the perfect health, and shall obtain the good things to come; which may all we obtain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father, with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
So that though I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it, though I did regret,
He goes on to apologize for his Epistle, when, (the sin having been corrected,) to treat them tenderly was unattended with danger; and he shows the advantage of the thing. For he did this indeed even before, when he said, "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote unto you: not that ye should be made sorry, but that ye might know the love which I have toward you." (c. ii. 4.) And he does it also now, establishing this same point in more words. And he said not, ' I regretted indeed before, but now I do not regret: ' but how? "I regret not now, though I did regret." 'Even if what I wrote,' he says, 'was such as to overstep the [due] measure of rebuke, and to cause me to regret; still the great advantage which has accrued from them doth not allow me to regret.' And this he said, not as though he had rebuked them beyond due measure, but to heighten his praises of them. ' For the amendment ye manifested was so great,' saith he, ' that even if I did happen to smite you too severely insomuch that I even condemned myself, I praise myself now from the result.' Just as with little children, when they have undergone a painful remedy, such as an incision, or cautery, or bitter physic, afterwards we are not afraid to sooth them; so also doth Paul.
Ver. 8, 9. "For I see that that epistle made you sorry, though but for a season. Now I rejoice not that ye were made sorry, but that ye were made sorry unto repentance."
Having said, "I do not regret," he tells the reason also; alleging the good that resulted from his letter; and skillfully excusing himself by saying, "though but for a season." For truly that which was painful was brief, but that which was profitable was perpetual. And what indeed followed naturally was to say, 'even though it grieved you for a season, yet it made you glad and benefited you forever.' But he doth not say this: but before mentioning the gain he passes again to his praises of them, and the proof of his own concern for them, saying, "Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry," ('for what gain came to me from you being made sorry ?) "but that ye were made sorry unto repentance," that the sorrow brought some gain.' For a father also when he sees his son under the knife rejoiceth not that he is being pained, but that he is being cured; so also doth this man, But observe how he transfers all that was well achieved in the matter unto themselves; and lays whatever was painful to the account of the Epistle, saying, "It made you sorry for a season;" whilst the benefit that resulted from it he speaks of as their own good achieving. For he said not, ' The Epistle corrected you,' although this was the case; but, "ye sorrowed unto repentance."
"For ye were made sorry after a godly sort, that ye might suffer loss by us in nothing."
Seest thou wisdom unspeakable? ' For had we not done this,' he says, 'we had done you damage.' And he affirms that indeed which was well achieved to be theirs, but the damage his own, if indeed he had been silent. For if they are likely to be corrected by a sharp rebuke, then, if we did not sharply rebuke, we should have done you damage; and the injury would not be with you alone, but also with us. For just as he that gives not to the merchant what is necessary for his voyage, he it is that causeth the damage; so also we, if we did not offer you that occasion of repentance, should have wrought you damage. Seest thou that the not rebuking those that sin is a damage both to the master and to the disciple ?
[2.] Ver. 10. "For godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, a repentance which bringeth no regret."
'Therefore.' he says, 'though I did regret before I saw the fruit and the gain, how great they were I do not regret now ' For such a thing is godly sorrow. And then he philosophizeth about it, showing that sorrow is not in all cases a grievous thing, but when it is worldly. And what is worldly? If thou be in sorrow for money, for reputation, for him that is departed, all these are worldly. Wherefore also they work death. For he that is in sorrow for reputation's sake feeleth envy and is driven oftentimes to perish: such sorrow was that which Cain sorrowed, such Esau. By this worldly sorrow then he meaneth that which is to the harm of those that sorrow. For only in respect to sins is sorrow a profitable thing; as is evident in this way. He that sorroweth for loss of wealth repaireth not that damage; he that sorroweth for one deceased raiseth not the dead to life again; he that sorroweth for a sickness, not only is not made well but even aggravates the disease: he that sorroweth for sins, he alone attains some advantage from his sorrow, for he maketh his sins wane and disappear. For since the medicine has been prepared for this thing, in this case only is it potent and displays its profitableness; and in the other cases is even injurious. 'And yet Cain,' saith one, 'sorrowed because he was not accepted with God.' It was not for this, but because he saw his brother glorious in honor; for had he grieved for this, it behoved him to emulate and rejoice with him; but, as it was, grieving, he showed that his was a worldly sorrow. But not so did David, nor Peter, nor any of the righteous. Wherefore they were accepted, when grieving either over their own sins or those of others. And yet what is more oppressive than sorrow? Still when it is after a godly sort, it is better than the joy in the world. For this indeed ends in nothing; but that "worketh repentance unto salvation, a salvation that bringeth no regret." For what is admirable in it is this that one who had thus sorrowed would never repent, whilst this is an especial characteristic of worldly sorrow. For what is mote regretted than a true born son? And what is a heavier grief than a death of this sort? But yet those fathers who in the height of their grief culture nobody and who wildly beat themselves, after a time repent because they have grieved immoderately; as having thereby nothing benefitted themselves, but even added to their affliction. But not such as this is godly sorrow; but it possesseth two advantages, that of not being condemned in that a man grieves for, and that this sorrow endeth in salvation; of both which that is deprived. For they both sorrow unto harm and after they have sorrowed vehemently condemn themselves, bringing forth this greatest token of having done it unto harm. But godly sorrow is the reverse [of this]: wherefore also he said, "worketh repentance unto salvation, a repentance that bringeth no regret." For no one will condemn himself if he have sorrowed for sin, if he have mourned and afflicted himself. Which also when the blessed Paul hath said he needeth not to adduce from other sources the proof of what he said, nor to bring forward those in the old histories who, sorrowed, but he adduceth the Corinthians themselves; and furnishes his proof from what they had done; that along with praises he might both instruct them and the rather win them to, himself.
Ver. 11. "For behold," he saith, "this self-same thing, that ye were made sorry after a godly sort, what earnest care it wrought in you." 'For not only,' he saith, 'did your sorrow not cast you into that condemning of yourselves, as having acted idly in so doing; but it made you even more careful.' Then he speaks of the certain tokens of that carefulness;
"Yea," what "clearing of yourselves," towards me. "Yea, what indignation" against him that had sinned. "Yea, what fear." (ver. 11.) For so great carefulness and very speedy reformation was the part of men who feared exceedingly. And that he might not seem to be exalting himself, see how quickly he softened it by saying,
"Yea, what longing," that towards me. "Yea, what zeal," that on God's behalf. "Yea, what avenging:" for ye also avenged the laws of God that had been outraged.
"In every thing ye approved yourselves to be pure in the matter." Not only by not having perpetrated, for this was evident before, but also by not consenting unto it. For since he said in the former Epistle, "and ye are puffed up;" (1 Cor. v. 2.) he also says here, 'ye have cleared yourselves of this suspicion also; not only by not praising, but also by rebuking and being indignant.'
[3.] Ver. 12. "So although I wrote unto you," I wrote "not for his cause that did the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered the wrong." For that they might not say, Why then dost thou rebuke us if we were "clear in the matter?" setting himself to meet this even further above, and disposing of it beforehand, he said what he said, namely, "I donor regret, though I did regret." 'For so far,' says he, 'am I from repenting now of what I wrote then, that I repented then more than I do now when ye have approved yourselves. Seest thou again his vehemence and earnest contention, how he has turned around what was said unto the very opposite. For what they thought would have made him recant in confusion as having rebuked them hastily, by reason of their amendment; that he uses as a proof that it was right in him to speak freely. For neither does he refuse afterwards to humor them fearlessly, when he finds he can do this. For he that said farther above such things as these, "He that is joined to an harlot is one body," (1 Cor. vi. 16.) and, "Deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh," (1 Cor. v. 5.) and, "Every sin that a man doeth is without the body," (1 Cor. vi. 18.)and such like things; how saith he here, "Not for his cause that did the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered the wrong?" Not contradicting, but being even exceedingly consistent with, himself. How consistent with himself? Because it was a very great point with him to show the affection he bore towards them. He does not therefore discard concern for him, but shows at the same time, as I said, the love he had for them, and that a greater fear agitated him, [namely] for the whole Church. For he had feared lest the evil should eat further, and advancing on its way should seize upon the whole Church. Wherefore also he said, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." (1 Cor. v. 6.) This however he said at the time; but now that they had well done, he no longer puts it so but differently: and implies indeed the same thing, but manages his expressions more agreeably, saying,
"That our care for you might appear unto you."
That is, 'that ye might know how I love you.' Now this is the same thing as the former, but being differently expressed seemed to convey another meaning. For [to convince thyself] that it is the same, unfold his conception and thou wilt perceive the difference to be nothing. 'For because I love you exceedingly,' saith he, 'I was afraid lest ye should suffer any injury from that quarter, and yourselves succeed to that sorrow.' As therefore when he says, "Doth God take care for oxen?" (1 Cor. ix. 9.) he doth not mean that He careth not, (for it is not possible for any existing thing to consist if deserted by the Providence of God:) but that He did not legislate primarily for oxen, so also here he means to say, 'I wrote first indeed on your account, but secondly on his also. And I had indeed that love in myself,' he says, 'even independently of mine Epistle: but I was desirous of showing it both to you, and in a word to all, by that writing.'
Ver. 13. "Therefore we have been comforted."
Since we both showed our care for you and have been wholly successful. As he said also in another place, "Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord;" (1 Thess. iii. 8.)and again, "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? are not even ye?" (ib. ii. 19.) For this is life, this comfort, this consolation to a teacher possessed of understanding; the growth a of his disciples.
[4.] For nothing doth so declare him that beareth rule as paternal affection for the ruled. For begetting alone constitutes not a father; but after begetting, also loving. But if where nature is concerned there is so great need of love, much more where grace is concerned. In this way were all the ancients distinguished. As many, for instance, as obtained a good report amongst the Hebrews, by this were made manifest. So was Samuel shown to be great, saying, "But God forbid that I should sin against God in ceasing to pray for you:" (1 Sam. xii. 23.) so was David, so Abraham, so Elijah, and so each one of the righteous, those in the New Testament and those in the Old. For so Moses for the sake of those he ruled left so great riches and treasures untold, "choosing to suffer affliction with the people of God," (Heb. xi. 25.) and before his appointment was leader of the people by his actions. Wherefore also very foolishly did that Hebrew say to him, "Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?" (Exod. ii. 14.) What sayest thou? Thou seest the actions and doubtest of the title? Just as if one seeing a physician using the knife excellently well, and succoring that limb in the body which was diseased, should say, 'Who made thee a physician and ordered thee to use the knife?' 'Art, my good Sir, and thine own ailment.' So too did his knowledge make him (i.e., Moses,) what he claimed to be. For ruling is an art, not merely a dignity, and an art above all arts. For if the rule of those without is an art and science superior to all other, much more this. For this rule is as much better than that, as that than the rest; yea, rather, even much more. And, if ye will, let us examine this argument more accurately. There is an art of agriculture, of weaving, of building; which are both very necessary and tend greatly to preserve our life. For others surely are but ancillary to these; the coppersmith's, the carpenter's, the shepherd's. But further, of arts themselves the most necessary of all is the agricultural, which was even that which God first introduced when He had formed man. For without shoes and clothes it is possible to live; but without agriculture it is impossible. And such they say are the Hamaxobii, the Nomads amongst the Scythians, and the Indian Gymnosophists. For these troubled not themselves with the arts of house-building, and weaving, and shoemaking, but need only that of agriculture. Blush ye that have need of those arts that be superfluous, cooks, confectioners, embroiderers, and ten thousand other such people, that ye may live; blush ye that introduce vain refinements into life; blush ye who are unbelievers, before those barbarians who have no need of art. For God made nature exceedingly independent, needing only a few things. However, I do not compel you nor lay it down for law that ye should live thus; but as Jacob asked. And what did he ask? "If the Lord will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on." (Gen. xxviii. 20.) So also Paul commanded, saying, "And having food and covering let us be therewith content." (1 Tim. vi. 8.) First then comes agriculture; second, weaving; and third after it, building; and shoemaking last of all; for amongst us at any rate there are many both servants and laborers who live without shoes. These, therefore, are the useful and necessary arts. Come, then, let us compare them with that of ruling. For I have therefore brought forward these that are of all most important, that when it shall have been seen to be superior to them, its victory over the rest may be unquestioned. Whereby then shall we show that it is more necessary than all? Because without it there is no advantage in these. And if you think good, let us leave mention of the rest and bring on the stage that one which stands higher and is more important than any, that of agriculture. Where then will be the advantage of the many hands of your laborers. if they are at war with one another and plunder one another's goods? For, as it is, the fear of the ruler restrains them and protects that which is wrought by them; but if thou take this away, in vain is their labor. But if one examine accurately, he will find yet another rule which is the parent and bond of this. What then may this be? That according to which it behoveth each man to control and rule himself, chastising his unworthy passions, but both nourishing and promoting the growth of all the germs of virtue with all care.
For there are [these] species of rule; one, that whereby men rule peoples and states, regulating this the political life; which Paul denoting said, "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power but of God." (Rom. xiii. 1, 4.) Afterwards to show the advantage of this, he went on to say, that the ruler "is a minister of God for good;" and again, " he is a minister of God, and avenger to execute wrath on him that doeth evil."
A second there is whereby every one that hath understanding ruleth himself; and this also the Apostle further denoted, saying, "Wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good;" (Rom. xiii. 3.) speaking of him that ruleth himself.
[5.] Here, however, there is yet another rule, higher than the political rule. And what is this? That in the Church. And this also itself Paul mentions, saying, "Obey them that have the rule over you and submit to them; for they watch in behalf of your souls as they that shall give account." (Heb. xiii. 17.) For this rule is as much better than the political as heaven is than earth; yea rather, even much more. For, in the first place, it considers principally not how it may punish sins committed, but how, they may never be committed at all; next, when committed, not how it may remove the deceased [member], but how they may be blotted out. And of the things of this life indeed it maketh not much account, but all its transactions are about the things in heaven. "For our citizenship is in heaven." (Phil. iii. 20.) And our life is here. "For our life," saith he, "is hid with Christ in God." (Col. iii. 3. ) And our prizes are there, and our race is for the crowns that be there. For this life is not dissolved after the end, but then shineth forth the more. And therefore, in truth, they who bear this rule have a greater honor committed to their hands, not only than viceroys but even than those themselves who wear diadems, seeing that they mould men in greater, and for greater, things. But neither he that pursueth political rule nor he that pursueth spiritual, will be able well to administer it, unless they have first ruled themselves as they ought, and have observed with all strictness the respective laws of their polity. For as the rule over the many is in a manner twofold, so also is that which each one exerts over himself. And again, in this point also the spiritual rule transcends the political, as what we have said proved. But one may observe certain also of the arts imitating rule; and in particular, that of agriculture. For just as the tiller of the soil is in a sort a ruler over the plants, clipping and keeping back some, making others grow and fostering them: just so also the best rulers punish and cut off such as are wicked and injure the many; whilst they advance the good and orderly. For this cause also the Scripture likeneth rulers to vine- dressers. For what though plants utter no cry, as in states the injured do? nevertheless they still show the wrong by their appearance, withering, straitened for room by the worthless weeds. And like as wickedness is punished by laws, so truly here also by this art both badness of soil and degeneracy and wildness in plants, are corrected. For all the varieties of human dispositions we shall find here also, roughness, weakness, timidity, forwardness, steadiness: and some of them through wealth luxuriating unseasonably, and to the damage of their neighbors, and others impoverished and injured; as, for instance, when hedges are raised to luxuriance at the cost of the neighboring plants; when other barren and wild trees, running up to a great height, hinder the growth of those beneath them. And like as rulers and kings have those that vex their rule with outrage and war; so also hath the tiller of the soil attacks of wild beasts, irregularity of weather, hail, mildew, great rain, drought, and all such things. But these things happen in order that thou mayest constantly look unto the hope of God's aid. For the other arts indeed hold their way through the diligence of men as well; but this getteth the better as God determines the balance, and is throughout almost wholly dependent thereupon; and it needeth rains from above, and the admixture of weathers, and, above all, His Providence. "For neither is he that planteth any thing, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase." (1 Cor. iii. 7.)
Here also there is death and life, and throes and procreation, just as with men. For here happen instances both of being cut off, and of bearing fruit, and of dying, and of being born (the same that was dead) over again, wherein the earth discourseth to us both variously and clearly of a resurrection. For when the root beareth fruit, when the seed shooteth, is not the thing a resurrection? And one might perceive a large measure of God's providence and wisdom involved in this rule, if one go over it point by point. But what I wished to say is that this [rule] is concerned with earth and plants; but ours with care of souls. And great as is the difference between plants and a soul; so great is the superiority of this to that. And the rulers of the present life again are as much inferior to that [rule], as it is better to have mastery over the willing than the unwilling. For this is also a natural rule; for truly in that case every thing is done through fear and by constraint; but here, what is done aright is of choice and purpose. And not in this point alone doth this excel the other, but in that it is not only a rule, but a fatherhood? so to speak; for it has the gentleness of a father; and whilst enjoining greater things, [still] persuades. For the temporal ruler indeed says, 'If thou committest adultery, thou hast forfeited thy life,' but this, shouldst thou look with unchaste eyes, threatens the highest punishments. For awful is this judgment court, and for the correction of soul, not of body only. As great then as the difference between soul and body, is that which separates this rule again from that. And the one indeed sitteth as judge of things that are open; yea, rather, not of all these even, but of such as can be fully proved; and ofttimes moreover, even in these dealeth treacherously, but this court instructeth those that enter it that He that judgeth in our case, will bring forward "all things naked and laid open," (Heb. iv. 13.) before the common theatre of the world, and that to be hidden will be impossible. So that Christianity keeps together this our life far more than temporal laws. For if to tremble about secret sins makes a man safer than to fear for such as are open; and if to call him to account even for those offences which be less doth rather excite him unto virtue, than to punish the graver only; then it is easily seen that this rule, more than all others, welds our life together.
[6.] But, if thou wilt, let us consider also the mode of electing the rulers; for here too thou shalt behold the difference to be great. For it is not possible to gain this authority by giving money, but by having displayed a highly virtuous character; and not as unto glory with men and ease unto himself, but as unto toils and labors and the welfare of the many, thus, (I say,) is he that hath been appointed inducted unto this rule. Wherefore also abundant is the assistance he enjoys from the Spirit. And in that case indeed the rule can go no further than to declare merely what is to be done; but in this it addeth besides the help derived from prayers and from the Spirit. But further; in that case indeed is not a word about philosophy, nor doth any sit to teach what a soul is, and what the world, and what we are to be hereafter, and unto what things we shall depart hence, and how we shall achieve virtue. Howbeit of contracts and bonds and money, there is much speech, but of those things not a thought; whereas in the Church one may see that these are the subjects of every discourse. Wherefore also with justice may one call it by all these names, a court of justice, and a hospital, and a school of philosophy, and a nursery of the soul, and a training course for that race that leadeth unto heaven. Further, that this rule is also the mildest of all, even though requiring greater strictness, is plain from hence. For the temporal ruler if he catch an adulterer straightway punishes him. And yet what is the advantage. of this? For this is not to destroy the passion, but to send away the soul with its wound upon it. But this ruler, when he hath detected, considers not how he shall avenge, but how extirpate the passion. For thou indeed dost the same thing, as if when there was a disease of the head, thou shouldest not stay the disease, but cut off the head. But I do not thus: but I cut off the disease. And I exclude him indeed from mysteries and hallowed precincts; but when I have restored him I receive him back again, at once delivered from that viciousness and amended by his repentance. 'And how is it possible,' saith one, 'to extirpate adultery?' It is possible, yea, very possible, if a man comes under these laws. For the Church is a spiritual bath, which wipeth away not filth of body, but stains of soul, by its many methods of repentance. For thou, indeed, both if thou let a man go unpunished hast made him worse, and if thou punish hast sent him away uncured: but I neither let him go unpunished, nor punish him, as thou, but both exact a satisfaction which becomes me, and set that right which hath been done. Wilt thou learn in yet another way how that thou indeed, though drawing swords and displaying flames to them that offend, workest not any considerable cure; whilst I, without these things, have conducted them to perfect health? But no need have I of arguments or words, but I bring forth earth and sea, and human nature itself, [for witnesses.] And inquire, before this court held its sittings, what was the condition of human affairs; how, not even the names of the good works which now are done, were ever heard of. For who braved death? who despised money? who was indifferent to glory? who, fleeing from the turmoils of life , bade welcome to mountains and solitude, the mother of heavenly wisdom? where was at all the name of virginity? For all these things, and more than these, were the good work of this judgment court, the doings of this rule. Knowing these things then, and well understanding that from this proceedeth every benefit of our life, and the reformation of the world, come frequently unto the hearing of the Divine words, and our assemblies here, and the prayers. For if ye thus order yourselves, ye will be able, having displayed a deportment worthy of heaven, to obtain the promised good things; which may all we obtain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
And in your comfort, we joyed the more exceedingly for the joy of Titus, because his spirit hath been refreshed by you all.
See again how he exalts their praises, and showeth their love. For having said, 'I was pleased that my Epistle wrought so much and that ye gained so much,' for "I rejoice," he saith, "not that ye were made sorry, but that ye were made sorry unto repentance;" and having shown his own love, for he saith, "Though I wrote unto you, I wrote not for his cause that did the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered the wrong, but that our care for you might be made manifest to you:" again he mentioneth another sign of their good will, which bringeth them great praise and showeth the genuineness of their affection. For, "in your comfort," he saith, "we joyed the more exceedingly for the joy of Titus." And yet this is no sign of one that loveth them exceedingly; rejoicing rather for Titus than for them. 'Yes,' he replies, 'it is, for I joyed not so much for his cause as for yours.' Therefore also he subjoins the reason, saying, "because his bowels were refreshed by you all." He said not, 'he,' but "his bowels;" that is, 'his love for you.' And how were they refreshed? "By all." For this too is a very great praise.
Ver. 14. "For if in anything I have gloried to him on your behalf."
It is high praise when the teacher boasted, for he saith, "I was not put to shame." I therefore rejoiced, because ye showed yourselves to be amended and proved my words by your deeds. So that the honor accruing to me was twofold; first, in that ye had made progress; next, in that I was not found to fall short of the truth. Ver. 14. "But as we spake always to you in truth, so our glorying also which I made before Titus was found to be truth."
Here he alludes to something further. As we spake all things among you in truth, (for it is probable that he had also spoken to them much in praise of this man , ) so also, what we said of you to Titus has been proved true.
Ver. 15. "And his inward affection is more abundant toward you."
What follows is in commendation of him, as exceedingly consumed with love and attached to them. And he said not 'his love.' Then that he may not appear to be flattering, he everywhere mentions the causes of his affection; in order that he may, as I said, both escape the imputation of flattery and the more encourage them by making the praise redound unto them, and by showing that it was they who had infused into him the beginning and ground of this so great love. For having said, "his inward affection is more abundant toward you ;" he added,
"Whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all." Now this both shows that Titus was grateful to his benefactors, seeing he had returned, having them all in his heart, and continually remembereth them, and beareth them on his lips and in his mind; and also is a greater distinction to the Corinthians, seeing that so vanquished they sent him away. Then he mentions their obedience also, magnifying their zeal: wherefore also he addeth these words,
"How with fear and trembling ye received him." Not with love only, but also with excessive honor. Seest thou how he bears witness to a twofold virtue in them, both that they loved him as a father and had feared him as a ruler, neither for fear dimming love, nor for love relaxing fear. He expressed this also above, "That ye sorrow after a godly sort, what earnest care it wrought in you; yea what fear, yea what longing."
Ver. 16. "I rejoice therefore, that in every thing I am of good courage concerning you." Seest thou that he rejoiceth more on their account; 'because,' he saith, 'ye have in no particular shamed your teacher, nor show yourselves unworthy of my testimony.' So that he joyed not so much for Titus' sake, that he enjoyed so great honor; as for their own, that they had displayed so much good feeling. For that he may not be imagined to joy rather on Titus' account, observe how in this place also he states the reason. As then he said above, "If in anything I have gloried to him on your behalf I was not put to shame;" so here also, "In everything I am of good courage concerning you." 'Should need require me to rebuke, I have no apprehension of your being alienated; or again to boast, I fear not to be convicted of falsehood; or to praise you as obeying the rein, or as loving, or as full of zeal, I have confidence in you. I bade you cut off, and ye did cut off; I bade you receive, and ye did receive; I said before Titus that ye were great and admirable kind of people and knew to reverence teachers: ye proved these things true by your conduct. And he learnt these things not so much from me as from you. At any rate when he returned, he had become a passionate lover of you: your behavior having surpassed what he had been told.'
[2.] Chap. viii. ver. 1. "Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God which hath been given in the Churches of Macedonia."
Having encouraged them with these encomiums, he again tries exhortation. For on this account he mingled these praises with his rebuke, that he might not by proceeding from rebuke to exhortation make what he had to say ill received; but having soothed their ears, might by this means pave the way for his exhortation. For he purposeth to discourse of alms- giving; wherefore also he saith beforehand, "I rejoice that in everything I am of good courage concerning you;" by their past good works, making them the more ready to this duty also. And he said not at once, ' Therefore give alms,' but observe his wisdom, how he draws from a distance and from on high the preparation for his discourse. For he says, "I make known to you the grace of God which hath been given in the Churches of Macedonia." For that they might not be uplifted he calleth what they did "grace;" and whilst relating what others did he worketh greater zeal in them by his encomiums on others. And he mentions together two praises of the Macedonians, or rather three; namely, that they bear trials nobly; and that they know how to pity; and that, though poor, they had displayed profuseness in almsgiving, for their property had been also plundered. And when he wrote his Epistle to them, it was as signifying this that he said, "For ye became imitators of the Churches of God which are in Judaea, for ye also suffered the same things of your own countrymen, even as they did of the Jews." (1 Thess. ii. 14.) Hear what he said afterwards in writing to the Hebrews, "For ye took joyfully the spoiling of your possessions." (Heb. x. 34.) But He calls what they did "grace," not in order to keep them humble merely; but both to provoke them to emulation and to prevent what he said from proving invidious. Wherefore he also added the name of "brethren" so as to undermine all envious feeling; for he is about to praise them in high-flown terms. Listen, at least, to his praises. For having said, "I make known to you the grace of God," he said not ' which hath been given in this or that city,' but praiseth the entire nation, saying, "in the Churches of Macedonia." Then he details also this same grace.
Ver. 2. "How that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy."
Seest thou his wisdom? For he says not first, that which he wishes; but another thing before it, that he may not seem to do this of set purpose, but to arrive at it by a different connection. "In much proof of affliction." This was what he said in his Epistle to the Macedonians themselves, "Ye became imitators of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost;" and again, "From you sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place, your faith to God-ward is gone forth." (1 Thess. i. 6, 8.) But what is, "in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy?" Both, he says, happened to them in excess; both the affliction and the joy. Wherefore also the strangeness was great that so great an excess of pleasure sprang up to them out of affliction. For in truth the affliction not only was not the parent of grief, but it even became unto them an occasion of gladness; and this too, though it was "great." Now this he said, to prepare them to be noble and firm in their trials. For they were not merely afflicted, but so as also to have become approved by their patience: yea rather, he says not by their patience, but what was more than patience, "joy." And neither said he "joy" simply, but "abundance of joy," for it sprang up in them, great and unspeakable.
[3.] "And their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality."
Again, both these with excessiveness. For as their great affliction gave birth to great joy, yea, "abundance of joy," so their great poverty gave birth to great riches of alms. For this he showed, saying, "abounded unto the riches of their liberality." For munificence is determined not by the measure of what is given, but by the mind of those that bestow it.
Wherefore he nowhere says, ' the richness of the gifts,' but "the riches of their liberality." Now what he says is to this effect; 'their poverty not only was no impediment to their being bountiful, but was even an occasion to them of abounding, just as affliction was of feeling joy. For the poorer they were, the more munificent they were and contributed the more readily.' Wherefore also he admires them exceedingly, for that in the midst of so great poverty they had displayed so great munificence. For "their deep," that is, 'their great and unspeakable,' "poverty," showed their "liberality." But he said not 'showed,' but "abounded;" and he said not "liberality," but "riches of liberality;" that is, an equipoise to the greatness of their poverty, or rather much outweighing it, was the bountifulness they displayed. Then he even explains this more clearly, saying,
Ver. 3. "For according to their power, I bear witness." Trustworthy is the witness. "And beyond their power." That is, it "abounded unto the riches of their liberality." Or rather, he makes this plain, not by this expression alone, but also by all that follows; for he says, "of their own accord." Lo! yet another excessiveness.
Ver. 4. "With much intreaty." Lo! yet a third and a fourth. "Praying us." Lo! even a fifth. And when they were in affliction and in poverty. Here are a sixth and seventh. And they gave with excessiveness. Then since this is what he most of all wishes to provide for in the Corinthians' case, namely, the giving deliberately, he dwells especially upon it, saying, "with much intreaty," and "praying us." ' We prayed not them, but they us.' Pray us what? "That the grace and the fellowship in the ministering to the saints." Seest thou how he again exalts the deed, calling it by venerable names. For since they were ambitious of spiritual gifts, he calls it by the name grace that they might eagerly pursue it; and again by that of "fellowship," that they might learn that they receive, not give only. 'This therefore they intreated us,' he says, 'that we would take upon us such a ministry.'
Ver. 5. "And" this, "not as we hoped." This he says with reference both to the amount and to their afflictions. 'For we could never have hoped,' he says, 'that whilst in so great affliction and poverty, they would even have urged us and so greatly intreated us.' He showed also their carefulness of life in other respects, by saying,
"But first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us by the will of God."
'For in everything their obedience was beyond our expectations; nor because they showed mercy did they neglect the other virtues,' "but first gave themselves to the Lord." What is, "gave themselves to the Lord?" 'They offered up [themselves]; they showed themselves approved in faith; they displayed much fortitude in their trials, order, goodness, love, in all things both readiness and zeal.' What means, "and to us?" 'They were tractable to the rein, loved, obeyed us; both fulfilling the laws of God and bound unto us by love.' And observe how here also he again shows their earnestness saying, "gave themselves to the Lord." They did not in some things obey God, and in some the world; but in all things Him; and gave themselves wholly unto God. For neither because they showed mercy were they filled up with senseless pride, but displaying much lowlymindedness, much obedience, much reverence, much heavenly wisdom, they so wrought their almsdeeds also. But what is, "by the will of God?" Since he had said, they "gave themselves to us," yet was it not "to us," after the manner of men, but they did this also according to the mind of God.
[4.] Ver. 6. "Insomuch that we exhorted Titus, that as he made a beginning before, so he would also complete in you this grace also."
And what connexion is there here? Much; and closely bearing on what went before. 'For because we saw them vehement,' he says, 'and fervent in all things, in temptations, in almsgiving, in their love toward us, in the purity otherwise of their life: in order that ye too might be made their equals, we sent Titus.' Howbeit he did not say this, though he implied it. Behold excessiveness of love. 'For though intreated and desired by them,' he says, 'we were anxious about your state, lest by any means ye should come short of them. Wherefore also we sent Titus, that by this also being stirred up and put in mind, ye might emulate the Macedonians.' For Titus happened to be there when this Epistle was writing. Yet he shows that he had made a beginning in this matter before Paul's exhortation; "that as he had made a beginning before," he says. Wherefore also he bestows great praise on him; for instance, in the beginning [of the Epistle]; "Because I found not Titus my brother, I had no relief for my spirit: "(chap. ii. 13.) and here all those things which he has said, and this too itself. For this also is no light praise, the having begun before even: for this evinces a warm and fervent spirit. Wherefore also he sent him, infusing amongst them in this also a very great incentive unto giving, the presence of Titus. On this account also he extols him with praises, wishing to endear him more exceedingly to the Corinthians. For this too hath a great weight unto persuading, when he who counsels is upon intimate terms. And well does he both once and twice and thrice, having made mention of almsgiving, call 'it grace,' now indeed saying, "Moreover, brethren, I make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the Churches of Macedonia;" and now, "they of their own accord, praying us with much intreaty in regard of this grace and fellowship:" and again, "that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you this grace also."
[5.] For this is a great good and a gift of God; and rightly done assimilates us, so far as may be, unto God; for such an one is in the highest sense a man. A certain one, at least, giving a model of a man has mentioned this, for "Man," saith he, "is a great thing; and a merciful man is an honorable thing." (Prov. xx, 6. LXX.) Greater is this gift than to raise the dead. For far greater is it to feed Christ when an hungered than to raise the dead by the name of Jesus: for in the former case thou doest good to Christ, in the latter He to thee. And the reward surely comes by doing good, not by receiving good. For here indeed, in the case of miracles I mean, thou art God's debtor. in that of almsgiving, thou hast God for a debtor. Now it is almsgiving, when it is done with willingness, when with bountifulness, when thou deemest thyself not to give but to receive, when done as if thou wert benefitted, as if gaining and not losing; for so this were not a grace. For he that showeth mercy on another ought to feel joyful, not peevish. For how is it not absurd, if whilst removing another's downheartedness, thou art thyself downhearted? for so thou no longer sufferest it to be alms. For if thou art downhearted because thou hast delivered another from downheartedness, thou furnishest an example of extreme cruelty and inhumanity; for it were better not to deliver him, than so to deliver him. And why art thou also downhearted at all, O man? for fear thy gold should diminish? If such are thy thoughts, do not give at all: if thou art not quite sure that it is multiplied for thee in heaven, do not bestow. But thou seekest the recompense here. Wherefore? Let thine alms be alms, and not traffic. Now many have indeed received a recompense even here; but have not so received it, as if they should have an advantage over those who received it not here; but some of them as being weaker than they ought, because they were not so strongly attracted by the things which are there. And as those who are greedy, and ill-mannered, and slaves of their bellies, being invited to a royal banquet, and unable to wait till the proper time, just like little children mar their own enjoyment, by taking food beforehand and stuffing themselves with inferior dishes: even so in truth do these who seek for and receive [recompense] here, diminish their reward there. Further, when thou lendest, thou wishest to receive thy principal after a longer interval, and perhaps even not to receive it at all, in order that by the delay thou mayest make the interest greater; but, in this case, dost thou ask back immediately; and that too when thou art about to be not here, but there forever; when thou art about not to be here to be judged, but to render thine account? And if indeed one were building thee mansions where thou weft not going to remain, thou wouldest deem it to be a loss; but now, desirest thou here to be rich, whence possibly thou art to depart even before the evening? Knowest thou not that we live in a foreign land, as though strangers and sojourners? Knowest thou not that it is the lot of sojourners to be ejected when they think not, expect not? which is also our lot. For this reason then, whatsoever things we have prepared, we leave here. For the Lord does not allow us to receive them and depart, if we have built houses, if we have bought fields, if slaves, if gear, if any other such thing. But not only does He not allow us to take them and depart hence, but doth not even account to thee the price of them. For He forwarned thee that thou shouldest not build, nor spend what is other men's but thine own. Why therefore, leaving what is thine own, dost thou work and be at cost in what is another's, so as to lose both thy toil and thy wages and to suffer the extremest punishment? Do not so, I beseech thee; but seeing we are by nature sojourners, let us also be so by choice; that we be not there sojourners and dishonored and cast out. For if we are set upon being citizens here, we shall be so neither here nor there; but if we continue to be sojourners, and live in such wise as sojourners ought to live in, we shall enjoy the freedom of citizens both here and there. For the just, although having nothing, will both dwell here amidst all men's possessions as though they were his own; and also, when he hath departed to heaven, shall see those his eternal habitations. And he shall both here suffer no discomfort, (for none will ever be able to make him a stranger that hath every land for his city;) and when he hath been restored to his own country, shall receive the true riches. In order that we may gain both the things of this life and of that, let us use aright the things we have. For so shall we be citizens of the heavens, and shall enjoy much boldness; whereunto may we all attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father with the Holy Ghost, be glory and power for ever. Amen.
Therefore that ye abound in every thing; in faith and utterance, and knowledge, and in all earnestness.
See again his exhortation accompanied with commendations, greater commendations. And he said not, 'that ye give,' but "that ye abound; in faith," namely, of the gifts, and "in utterance," the word of wisdom, and "knowledge," namely, of the doctrines, and "in all earnestness," to the attaining of all other virtue.
"And in your love," that, namely of which I have before spoken, of which I have also made proof.
"That ye may abound in this grace also." Seest thou that for this reason it was that he began by those praises, that advancing forward he might draw them on to the same diligence in these things also.
Ver. 8. "I speak not by way of commandment."
See how constantly he humors them, how he avoids offensiveness, and is not violent nor compulsory; or rather what he says hath both these, with the inoffensiveness of that which is uncompelled. For after he had repeatedly exhorted them and had greatly commended the Macedonians, in order that this might not seem to constitute a necessity, he says,
"I speak not by way of commandment, but as proving through the earnestness of others, the sincerity also of your love."
'Not as doubting it,' (for that is not what he would here imply,) 'but to make it approved, display it and frame it unto greater strength. For I therefore say these things that I may provoke you to the same forwardness. And I mention their zeal to brighten, to cheer, to stimulate your inclinations.' Then from this he proceeded to another and a greater point. For he lets slip no mode of persuasion, but moves heaven and earth in handling his argument. For he exhorted them both by other men's praises, saying, Ye know "the grace of God which hath been given in the Churches of Macedonia;" and by their own, "therefore that ye abound in everything, in utterance and knowledge." For this hath power to sting man more that he falls short of himself, than that he does so of others. Then he proceeds afterwards to the head and crown of his persuasion.
Ver. 9. "For ye know the grace of our Lord, that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich."
'For have in mind,' says he, 'ponder and consider the grace of God and do not lightly pass it by, but aim at realizing the greatness of it both as to extent and nature, and thou wilt grudge nothing of thine. He emptied Himself of His glory that ye, not through His riches but through His poverty, might be rich. If thou believest not that poverty is productive of riches, have in mind thy Lord and thou wilt doubt no longer. For had He not become poor, thou wouldest not have become rich. For this is the marvel, that poverty hath made riches rich.' And by riches here he meaneth the knowledge of godliness, the cleansing away of sins, justification, sanctification, the countless good things which He bestowed upon us and purposeth to bestow. And all these things accrued to us through His poverty. What poverty? Through His taking flesh on Him and becoming man and suffering what He suffered. And yet he owed not this, but thou dost owe to Him.
Ver. 10. "And herein I give you my advice for your profit."
See how again he is careful to give no offence and softens down what he says, by these two things, by saying, "I give advice," and, "for your profit." 'For, neither do I compel and force you,' says he, 'or demand it from unwilling subjects; nor do I say these things with an eye so much to the receivers' benefit as to yours.' Then the instance also which follows is drawn from themselves, and not from others.
Who were the first to make a beginning a year ago, not only to do, but also to will.
See how he shows both that themselves were willing, and had come to this resolution without persuasion. For since he had borne this witness to the Thessalonians, that "of their own accord with much intreaty," they had prosecuted this giving of alms; he is desirous of showing of these also that this good work is their own. Wherefore he said, "not only to do, but also to will," and not "begun," but "begun before, a year ago." Unto these things therefore I exhort you, whereunto ye beforehand bestirred yourselves with all forwardness.
Ver. 11. "And now also ye have completed the doing of it."
He said not, ye have done it, but, ye have put a completion to it,
"That as there was the readiness to will, so also [there may be] the completion also out of your ability."
That this good work halt not at readiness but receive also the reward that follows upon deeds.
[2.] Ver. 12. "For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hath, not according as he hath not."
See wisdom unspeakable. In that (having pointed out those who were doing beyond their power, I mean the Thessalonians, and having praised them for this and said, "I bear them record that even beyond their power;") he exhorteth the Corinthians to do only "after" their power, leaving the example to do its own work; for he knew that not so much exhortation, as emulation, inciteth unto imitation of the like; wherefore he saith, "For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hath, not according as he hath not."
'Fear not,' he means, 'because I have said these things, for what I said was an encomium upon their munificence, but God requires things after a man's power,' "according as he hath, not according as he hath not." For the word "is acceptable," here implies 'is required.' And he softens it greatly, in confident reliance upon this example, and as winning them more surely by leaving them at liberty. Wherefore also he added,
Ver. 13. "For I say not this, that others may be eased, and ye distressed."
And yet Christ praised the contrary conduct in the widow's case, that she emptied out all of her living and gave out of her want. (Mark xii. 43.) But because he was discoursing to Corinthinians amongst whom he chose to suffer hunger; "for it were good for me rather to die, than that any man should make my glorying void;" (1 Cor. ix. 15.) he therefore uses a tempered exhortation, praising indeed those who had done beyond their power, but not compelling these to do so; not because he did not desire it, but because they were somewhat weak. For wherefore doth he praise those, because "in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality:" and because they gave "beyond their power?" is it not very evident that it is as inducing these also to this conduct? So that even if he appears to permit a lower standard; he doth so, that by it he may raise them to this. Consider, for instance, how even in what follows he is covertly preparing the way for this. For having said these things, he added,
Ver. 14, "Your abundance being a supply for their want."
For not only by the words he has before used but by these also, he is desirous of making the commandment light. Nor yet from this consideration alone, but from that of the recompense also, again he maketh it easier; and uttereth higher things than they deserve, saying, "That there may be equality at this time, and their abundance" a supply "for your want." Now what is it that he saith? 'Ye are flourishing in money; they in life and in boldness towards God.' Give ye to them, therefore, of the money which ye abound in but they have not; that ye may receive of that boldness wherein they are rich and ye are lacking.' See how he hath covertly prepared for their giving beyond their power and of their want. 'For,' he saith, 'if thou desirest to receive of their abundance, give of thine abundance; but if to win for thyself the whole, thou wilt give of thy want and beyond thy power.' He doth not say this, however, but leaves it to the reasoning of his hearers; and himself meanwhile works out his object and the exhortation that was meet, adding in keeping with what appeared, the words, that "there may be equality at this time." How equality? You and they mutually giving your superabundance, and filling up your wants. And what sort of equality is this, giving spiritual things for carnal? for great is the advantage on that side; how then doth he call it "equality?" either in respect of each abounding and wanting, doth he say that this [equality] takes place; or else in respect of the present life only. And therefore after saying "equality," he added, "at this time." Now this he said, both to subdue the high-mindedness of the rich, and to show that after our departure hence the spiritual possess the greater advantage. For here indeed we all enjoy much equality of honor; but then there will be a wide distinction and a very great superiority, when the just shine brighter than the sun. Then since he showed that they were to be not only giving, but also receiving, and more, in return; he tries by a further consideration to make them forward, showing that if they did not give of their substance to others, they would not gain anything by gathering all together within. And he adduces an ancient story, thus saying,
Ver. 15. "As it is written, He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack."
Now this happened in the case of the manna. For both they that gathered more, and they that gathered less, were found to have the same quantity, God in this way punishing insatiableness. And this he said at once both to alarm them by what then happened, and to persuade them never to desire to have more nor to grieve at having less. And this one may see happening now in things of this life not in the manna only. For if we all fill but one belly, and live the same length of time, and clothe one body; neither will the rich gain aught by his abundance nor the poor lose aught by his poverty.
[3.] Why then tremblest thou at poverty? and why pursuest thou after wealth? 'I fear,' saith one, 'lest I be compelled to go to other men's doors and to beg from my neighbor.' And I constantly hear also many praying to this effect, and saying, 'Suffer me not at any time to stand in need of men?' And I laugh exceedingly when I hear these prayers, for this fear is even childish. For every day and in every thing, so to speak, do we stand in need of one another. So that these are the words of an unthinking and puffed up spirit, and that doth not clearly discern the nature of things. Seest thou not that all of us are in need one of another? The soldier of the artisan, the artisan of the merchant, the merchant of the husbandman, the slave of the free man, the master of the slave, the poor man of the rich, the rich man of the poor, he that worketh not of him that giveth alms, he that bestoweth of him that receiveth. For he that receiveth alms supplieth a very great want, a want greater than any. For if there were no poor, the greater part of our salvation would be overthrown, in that we should not have where to bestow our wealth. So that even the poor man who appears to be more useless than any is the most useful of any. But if to be in need of another is disgraceful, it remains to die; for it is not possible for a man to live who is afraid of this. 'But,' saith one, 'I cannot bear blows arched [in scorn.]' Why dost thou in accusing another of arrogance, disgrace thyself by this accusation? for to be unable to endure the inflation of a proud soul is arrogant. And why fearest thou these things, and tremblest at these things, and on account of these things which are worthy of no account, dreadest poverty also? For if thou be rich, thou wilt stand in need of more, yea of more and meaner. For just in proportion to thy wealth dost thou subject thyself to this curse. So ignorant art thou of what thou prayest when thou askest for wealth in order to be in need of no man; just as if one having come to a sea, where there is need both of sailors and a ship and endless stores of outfit, should pray that he might be in need of nothing at all. For if thou art desirous of being exceedingly independent of every one, pray for poverty; and [then] if thou art dependent on any, thou wilt be so only for bread and raiment; but in the other case thou wilt have need of others, both for lands, and for houses, and for imposts, and for wages, and for rank, and for safety, and for honor, and for magistrates, and those subject to them, both those in the city and those in the country, and for merchants, and for shopkeepers. Do you see that those words are words of extreme carelessness? For, in a word, if to be in need one of another appears to thee a dreadful thing, [know that] it is impossible altogether to escape it; but if thou wilt avoid the tumult, (for thou mayest take refuge in the waveless haven of poverty,) cut off the great tumult of thy affairs, and deem it not disgraceful to be in need of another; for this is the doing of God's unspeakable wisdom. For if we stand in need one of another, yet even the compulsion of this need draweth us not together unto love; had we been independent, should we not have been untamed wild beasts? Perforce and of compulsion God hath subjected us one to another, and every day we are in collision one with another. And had He removed this curb, who is there who would readily have longed after his neighbor's love? Let us then neither deem this to be disgraceful, nor pray against it and say, 'Grant us not to stand in need of any one; 'but let us pray and say, 'Suffer us not, when we are in need, to refuse those who are able to help us.' It is not the standing in need of others, but seizing the things of others, that is grievous. But now we have never prayed in respect to that nor said, 'Grant me not to covet other men's goods;' but to stand in need, this we think a fit subject of deprecation. Yet Paul stood in need many times, and was not ashamed; nay, even prided himself upon it, and praised those that had ministered to him, saying, "For ye sent once and again to my need;" (Phil. iv. 16.) and again, "I robbed other Churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto you." (2 Cor. xi. 8.) It is no mark therefore of a generous temper, but of weakness and of a low minded and senseless spirit, to be ashamed of this. For it is even God's decree that we should stand in need one of another. Push not therefore thy philosophy beyond the mean. 'But,' saith one, 'I cannot bear a man that is entreated often and complieth not.' And how shall God bear thee who art entreated by Him, and yet obeyest not; and entreated too in things that advantage thee? "For we are ambassadors on behalf of Christ," (2 Cor. v. 20.) saith he, "as though God were entreating by us; be ye reconciled unto God." 'And yet, I am His servant,' saith he. And what of that? For when thou, the servant, art drunken, whilst He, the Master, is hungry and hath not even necessary food, how shall thy name of servant stand thee in stead? Nay, this itself will even the more weigh thee down, when thou indeed abidest in a three-storied dwelling whilst He owns not even a decent shelter; when thou [liest] upon soft couches whilst He hath not even a pillow. 'But,' saith one, 'I have given.' But thou oughtest not to leave off so doing. For then only wilt thou have an excuse, when thou hast not what [to give], when thou possessest nothing; but so long as thou hast, (though thou have given to ten thousand,) and there be others hungering, there is no excuse for thee. But when thou both shuttest up corn and raisest the price, and devisest other unusual tricks of traffic; what hope of salvation shalt thou have henceforth? Thou hast been bidden to give freely to the hungry, but thou dost not give at a suitable price even. He emptied Himself of so great glory for thy sake, but thou dost not count Him deserving even of a loaf; but thy dog is fed to fulness whilst Christ wastes with hunger; and thy servant bursteth with surfeiting whilst thy Lord and his is in want of necessary food. And how are these the deeds of friends? "Be ye reconciled unto God," (2 Cor. v. 20.) for these are [the deeds] of enemies and such as are in hostility.
[4.] Let us then think with shame on the great benefits we have already received, the great benefits we are yet to receive. And if a poor man come to us and beg, let us receive him with much good will, comforting, raising him up with [our] words, that we ourselves also may meet with the like, both from God and from men. "For whatsoever ye would that they should do unto you, do ye also unto them." (Mat. vii. 12.) Nothing burdensome, nothing offensive, doth this law contain. 'What thou wouldest receive, that do,' it saith. The return is equal. And it said not, 'what thou wouldest not receive, that do not,' but what is more. For that indeed is an abstinence from evil things, but this is a doing of good things, in which the other is involved. Also He said not 'that do ye also wish, but do, to them.' And what is the advantage? "This is the Law and the Prophets." Wouldest thou have mercy shown thee? Then show mercy. Wouldest thou obtain forgiveness? Then grant it. Wouldest thou not be evil spoken of? Then speak not evil. Longest thou to receive praise? Then bestow it. Wouldest thou not be wronged? Then do not thou plunder. Seest thou how He shows that virtue is natural, and that we need no external laws nor teachers? For in the things we wish to receive, or not to receive from our neighbors, we legislate unto ourselves. So that if thou wouldest not receive a thing, yet doest it, or if thou wouldest receive it, yet doest it not, thou art become self-condemned and art henceforth without any excuse, on the ground of ignorance and of not knowing what ought to be done. Wherefore, I beseech you, having set up this law in ourselves for ourselves, and reading this that is written so clearly and succinctly, let us become such to our neighbors, as we would have them be to ourselves; that may we both enjoy present immunity, and obtain the future good things, though 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 thanks be to God, Which put the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus.
Again he praises Titus. For since he had discoursed of almsgiving, he afterwards discourseth also of those who are to receive the money from them and carry it away. For this was of aid towards this collection, and towards increasing the forwardness of the contributors. For he that feels confidence as to him that ministereth, and suspects not those who are to be receivers, gives with the fuller bountifulness. And that this might be the case then also, hear how he commends those that had come for this purpose, the first of whom was Titus. Wherefore also he saith, "But thanks be to God, Which put (literally, 'gave') the same earnest care into the heart of Titus." What is "the same?" Which he had also in respect to the Thessalonians, or "the same" with me. And mark here wisdom. Showing this to be the work of God, he also gives thanks to Him that gave, so as to incite by this also. 'For if God stirred him up and sent him to you, He asks through Him. Think not therefore that what has happened is of men.' And whence is it manifest that God incited him?
Ver. 17. "For indeed he accepted our exhortation, but being himself very earnest, he went forth of his own accord."
Observe how he also represents him as fulfilling his own part, and needing no prompting from others. And having mentioned the grace of God, he doth not leave the whole to be God's; again, that by this also he may win them unto greater love, having said that he was stirred up from himself also. For, "being very earnest, he went forth of his own accord," 'he seized at the thing, he rushed upon the treasure, he considered your service to be his own advantage; and because he loved you exceedingly, he needed not the exhortation I gave; but though he was exhorted by me also, yet it was not by that he was stirred up; but from himself and by the grace of God.'
Ver. 18. "And we have sent together with him the brother whose praise in the Gospel is spread through all the Churches."
And who is this brother? Some indeed say, Luke, because of the history which he wrote, but some, Barnabas; for he calls the unwritten preaching also Gospel. And for what cause does he not mention their names; whilst he both makes Titus known (vid. also ver. 23.) by name, and praises him for his cooperation in the Gospel, (seeing that he was so useful that by reason of his absence even Paul could do nothing great and noble; for, "because I found not Titus my brother, I had no relief for my spirit,"—c. ii. 13.) and for his love towards them, (for, saith he, "his inward affection is more abundant towards you;"—c. vii. 15.) and for his zeal in this matter ("for," he saith, "of his own accord he went")? But these he neither equally commends, nor mentions by name? What then is one to say? Perhaps they did not know them; wherefore he does not dwell upon their praises because as yet they had had no experience of them, but only says so much as was sufficient for their commendation unto them (i.e. the Corinthians,) and to their escaping all evil suspicion. However, let us see on what score he eulogizes this man himself also. On what score then does he eulogize? First, praising him from his preaching; that he not only preached, but also as he ought, and with the befitting earnestness. For he said not, 'he preaches and proclaims the Gospel,' but, "whose praise is in the Gospel." And that he may not seem to flatter him. he brings not one or two or three men, but whole Churches to testify to him, saying, "through all the churches." Then he makes him respected also from the judgment of those that had chosen him. And this too is no light matter. Therefore after saying, "Whose praise in the Gospel is spread through all the churches," he added,
Ver. 19. "And not only so."
What is, "and not only so?" 'Not only on this account,' he says, 'is respect due to him, that he is approved as a preacher and is praised by all.'
"But he was also appointed by the churches along with us."
Whence it seems to me, that Barnabas is the person intimated. And he signifies his dignity to be great, for he shows also for what office he was appointed. For he saith,
"To travel with us in the matter of this grace which is ministered by us." Seest thou how great are these praises of him? He shone as a preacher of the Gospel and had all the churches testifying to this. He was chosen by us; and unto the same office with Paul, and everywhere was partner with him, both in his trials and in his dangers, for this is implied in the word "travel." But what is," with this grace which is ministered by us?" So as to proclaim the word, he means, and to preach the Gospel; or to minister also in respect of the money; yea rather, he seems to me to refer to both of these. Then he adds,
"To the glory of the same Lord, and to show your readiness." What he means is this: 'We thought good,' he says, 'that he should be chosen with us and be appointed unto this work, so as to become a dispenser and a minister of the sacred money.' Nor was this a little matter. For, "Look ye out," it saith, "from among you seven men of good report;" (Acts vi. 3.) and he was chosen by the churches, and there was a vote of the whole people taken. What is, "to the glory of the same Lord, and your readiness?" 'That both God may be glorified and ye may become the readier, they who are to receive this money being of proved character, and no one able to engender any false suspicion against them. Therefore we sought out such persons, and entrusted not the whole to one person only, that he might escape this suspicion also; but we sent both Titus and another with him. Then to interpret this same expression, "to the glory of the Lord and your ready mind:" he added,
Ver. 20. "Avoiding this, that any man should blame us in the matter of this bounty which is ministered by us."
What can this be which is said? A thing worthy of the virtue of Paul; and showing the greatness of his tender care and his condescension. 'For,' he says, 'that none should suspect us, nor have the slightest cavil against us, as though we purloined aught of the money placed in our hands; therefore we send such persons, and not one only, but even two or three. Seest thou how he clears them of all suspicions? Not on account of the Gospel, nor of their having been chosen merely; but also, from their being persons of proved character, (and for this very reason) having been chosen, that they might not be suspected. And he said not 'that ye should not blame,' but 'that no other person should,' And yet it was on their account that he did this; and he implied as much in saying, "to the glory of the same Lord, and your readiness:" however, he does not wish to wound them; and so expresses himself differently,
"Avoiding this." And he is not satisfied with this either, but by what he adds, soothes again, saying,
"In the matter of this bounty which is ministered by us," and mingling his severity with praise. For that they might not feel hurt, and say, 'Is he obliged then to eye us stealthily, and are we so miserable as ever to have been suspected of these things?' Providing a correction against this too, he says, 'the money sent by you is of large amount, and this abundance, that is, the large amount of the money, is enough to afford suspicion to the evil-minded had we not offered that security.'
Ver. 21. For "we take thought for things, honorable not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men."
What can compare with Paul? For he said not, 'Perdition and woe to him who chooses to suspect anything of the kind: so long as my conscience does not condemn me, I waste not a thought on those who suspect.' Rather, the weaker they were, the more he condescended. For it is meet not to be angry with, but help, him that is sick. And yet from what sin are we so removed as he was from any such suspicion? For not even a demon could have suspected that blessed saint of this unfaithfulness. But still although so far removed from that evil suspicion, he does everything and resorts to every expedient; so as not to leave a shadow even to those who might be desirous in any way of suspecting something wrong; and he avoids not only accusations, but also blame and the slightest censure, even bare suspicion.
[2.] Ver. 22. "And we have sent with them our brother."
Behold, again he adds yet another, and him also with an encomium; both his own judgment, and many other witnesses [to him].
"Whom," saith he, "we have many times proved earnest in many things, but now much more earnest." And having praised him from his own good works, he extols him also from his love towards them; and what he said of Titus, that "being very earnest he went forth of his own accord;" this he says of this person also, saying, "but now much more earnest;" laying up beforehand for them the seeds of [the proof of their] love toward the Corinthians.
And then, after having showed forth their virtue, he exhorts them also on their behalf, saying,
Ver. 23. "Whether any inquire about Titus; he is my partner and my fellow-worker to youward."
What is, "Whether about Titus?" 'If,' says he, 'it be necessary to say any thing, this I have to say,' "that he is my partner and fellow-worker to youward." For he either means this; or, 'if ye will do anything for Titus, ye will do it unto no ordinary person, for he is "my partner." 'And whilst appearing to be praising him, he magnifies them, showing them to be so disposed towards himself as that it were sufficient ground of honor amongst them that any one should appear to be his "partner." But, nevertheless, he was not content with this, but he also added another thing, saying, "fellow-worker to youward." Not merely "fellow-worker," 'but in matters concerning you, in your progress, in your growth, in our friendship, in our zeal for you;' which last would avail most especially to endear him unto them.
"Or our brethren:" 'or whether you wish,' he says, 'to hear any thing about the others: they too have great claims to be commended to you. For they also,' he saith, 'are our brethren, and,
"The messengers of the Churches," ' that is, sent by the Churches. Then, which is greater than all,
"The glory of Christ;" for to Him is referred whatever shall be done to them. 'Whether then ye wish to receive them as brethren, or as Apostles of the Churches, or as acting for the glory of Christ; ye have many motives for good will towards them. For on behalf of Titus, I have to say, that he is both "my partner," and a lover of you; on behalf of these, that they are "brethren," that they are "the messengers of the churches," that they are "the glory of Christ." Seest thou that it is plain from hence also, that they were of such as were unknown to them? For otherwise he would have set them off by those things with which he had also set off Titus, namely, his love towards them. But whereas as yet they were not known to them, 'Receive them,' he says, 'as brethren, as messengers of the churches, as acting for the glory of Christ.' On which account he adds;
Ver. 24. "Wherefore show ye unto them, to the person of the churches, the proof of your love, and of our glorying on your behalf."
'Now show,' he saith, 'how ye love us; and how we do not lightly nor vainly boast in you: and this ye will show, if ye show forth love towards them.' Then he also makes his words more solemn, by saying, "unto the person of the churches." He means, to the glory, the honor, of the churches. 'For if ye honor them, ye have honored the churches that sent them. For the honor passeth not to them alone, but also to those that sent them forth, who ordained them, and more than these, unto the glory of God.' For when we honor those that minister to Him, the kind reception passeth unto Him, unto the common body of the churches. Now this too is no light thing, for great is the potency of that assembly.
[3.] Certain it is at least that the prayer of the churches loosed Peter from his chains, opened the mouth of Paul; their voice in no slight degree equips those that arrive unto spiritual rule. Therefore indeed it is that both he who is going to ordain calleth at that time for their prayers also, and that they add their votes and assent by acclamations which the initiated know: for it is not lawful before the uninitiated to unbare all things. But there are occasions in which there is no difference at all between the priest and those under him; for instance, when we are to partake of the awful mysteries; for we are all alike counted worthy of the same things: not as under the Old Testament [when] the priest ate some things and those under him others, and it was not lawful for the people to partake of those things whereof the priest partook. But not so now, but before all one body is set and one cup. And in the prayers also, one may observe the people contributing much. For in behalf of the possessed, in behalf of those under penance, the prayers are made in common both by the priest and by them; and all say one prayer, the prayer replete with pity. Again when we exclude from the holy precincts those who are unable to partake of the holy table, it behoveth that another prayer be offered, and we all alike fall upon the ground, and all alike rise up. Again, in the most awful mysteries themselves, the priest prays for the people and the people also pray for the priest; for the words, "with thy spirit," are nothing else than this. The offering of thanksgiving again is common: for neither doth he give thanks alone, but also all the people. For having first taken their voices, next when they assent that it is "meet and right so to do," then he begins the thanksgiving. And why marvellest thou that the people any where utter aught with the priest, when indeed even with the very Cherubim, and the powers above, they send up in common those sacred hymns? Now I have said all this in order that each one of the laity also may be wary, that we may understand that we are all one body, having such difference amongst ourselves as members with members; and may not throw the whole upon the priests but ourselves also so care for the whole Church as for a body common to us. For this course will provide for our greater safety, and for your greater growth unto virtue. Here, at least, in the case of the Apostles, how frequently they admitted the laity to share in their decisions. For when they ordained the seven, (Acts vi. 2, 3.) they first communicated with the people; and when Peter ordained Matthias, with all that were then present, both men and women. (Acts i. 15, &c.) For here is no pride of rulers nor slavishness in the ruled; but a spiritual rule, in this particular usurping most, in taking on itself the greater share of the labor and of the care which is on your behalf, not in seeking larger honors. For so ought the Church to dwell as one house; as one body so to be all disposed; just as therefore there is both one Baptism, and one table, and one fountain, and one creation, and one Father. Why then are we divided, when so great things unite us; why are we torn asunder? For we are compelled again to bewail the same things, which I have lamented often. The state in which we are calls for lamentation; so widely are we severed from each other, when we ought to image the conjunction of one body. For in this way will he that is greater, be able to gain even from him that is less. For if Moses learnt from his father-in-law somewhat expedient which himself had not perceived, (Exod. xviii. 14, &c.) much more in the Church may this happen. And how then came it that what he that was an unbeliever perceived, he that was spiritual perceived not? That all those of that time might understand that he was a man; and though he divide the sea, though he cleave the rock, he needeth the influence of God, and that those acts were not of man's nature, but of God's power. And so let another rise up and speak; and so now, if such and such an one doth not say expedient things, let another rise up and speak; though he be an inferior, yet if he say somewhat to the purpose, confirm his opinion; and even if he be of the very meanest, do not show him disrespect. For no one of these is at so great a distance from his neighbor, as Moses' father-in-law was from him, yet he disdained not to listen to him, but even admitted his opinion, and was persuaded, and recorded it; and was not ashamed to hand down the circumstances to history; casting down [so] the pride of the many. Wherefore also he left this story to the world engraven as it were on a pillar, for he knew that it would be use fill to many. Let us then not overlook those who give us behoveful counsel, even though they be of the meaner sort, nor insist that those counsels prevail which we have ourselves introduced; but whatever shall appear to be best, let that be approved by all. For many of duller sight have perceived things sooner than those of acute vision, by means of diligence and attention. And say not, "why dost thou call me to council, if thou hearkenest not to what I say?" These accusations are not a counsellor's, but a despot's. For the counsellor hath only power to speak his own opinion; but if something else appear more profitable, and yet he will carry his own opinion into effect, he is no longer a counsellor but a despot, as I said. Let us not, then, act in this manner; but having freed our souls from all arrogancy and pride, let us consider, not how our counsels only may stand, but how that opinion which is best may prevail, even though it may not have been brought forward by us. For no light gain will be ours, even though we should not have discovered what behoveth, if ourselves accepted what has been pointed out by others; and abundant is the reward we shall receive from God, and so too shall we best attain to glory. For as he is wise that speaketh that which is behoveful, so shall we that have accepted it, ourselves. also reap the praise of prudence and of candor. Thus if both houses and states, thus too if the Church be ordered, she will receive a larger increase; and so too shall we ourselves, having thus best ordered our present lives, receive the good things to come: whereunto may we all attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you.
Though he had said so much about it, he says here, "It is superfluous for me to write to you." And his wisdom is shown not only in this, that though he had said so much about it, he saith, "it is superfluous for me to write to you," but in that be yet again speaketh of it. For what he said indeed a little above, he said concerning those who received the money, to ensure them the enjoyment of great honor: but what he said before that, (his account of the Macedonians, that "their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality," and all the rest,) was concerning loving- kindness and alms-giving. But nevertheless even though he had said so much before and was going to speak again, he says, "it is superfluous for me to write to you." And this he does the rather to win them to himself. For a man who has so high a reputation as not to stand in need even of advice, is ashamed to appear inferior to, and come short of, that opinion of him. And he does this often in accusation also, using the rhetorical figure, omission, for this is very effective. For the judge seeing the magnanimity of the accuser entertains no suspicions even. For he argues, 'he who when he might say much, yet saith it not, how should he invent what is not true?' And he gives occassion to suspect even more than he says, and invests himself with the presumption of a good disposition. This also in his advice and in his praises he does. For having said, "It is superfluous for me to write to you," observe how he advises them.
"For I know your readiness of which I glory on your behalf to them of Macedonia." Now it was a great thing that he even knew it himself, but much greater, that he also published it to others: for the force it has is greater: for they would not like to be so widely disgraced. Seest thou his wisdom of purpose? He exhorted them by others' example, the Macedonians, for, he says, "I make known to you the grace of God which hath been given in the Churches of Macedonia." He exhorted them by their own, for he saith, "who were the first to make a beginning a year ago not only to do, but also to will." He exhorted them by the Lord's, for "ye know" he saith, "the grace of our Lord, that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor." (ibid. 9.) Again he retreats upon that strong main point, the conduct of others. For mankind is emulous. And truly the example of the Lord ought to have had most power to draw them over: and next to it, the [consideration] of the recompense: but because they were somewhat weak, this draws them most. For nothing does so much as emulation. But observe how he introduces it in a somewhat novel way. For He did not say, 'Imitate them;' but what?
"And your zeal has stirred up very many." What sayest thou? A little before thou saidst, [they did it] "of their own accord, beseeching us with much entreaty," how then now," your zeal?" 'Yes,' he saith, 'we did not advise we did not exhort, but we only praised you, we only boasted of you, and this was enough to incite them." Seest thou how he rouses them each by the other, these by those, and those by these, and, along with the emulation, has intermingled also a very high encomium. Then, that he may not elate them, he follows it up in a tempered tone, saying, "Your zeal hath stirred up very many." Now consider what a thing it is that those who have been the occasion to others of this munificence, should be themselves behind hand in this contribution. Therefore he did not say, 'Imitate them,' for it would not have kindled so great an emulation, but how? 'They have imitated you; see then that ye the teachers appear not inferior to your desciples.'
And see how, whilst stirring up and inflaming them still more, he feigns to be standing by them, as if espousing their party in some rivalry and contention. For, as he said above, "Of their own accord, with much entreaty they came to us, insomuch that we exhorted Titus, that as he had made a beginning before, so he would complete this grace;" so also he says here,
Ver. 3. "For this cause have I sent the brethren that our glorying on your behalf may not be made void."
Seest thou that he is in anxiety and terror, lest he should seem to have said what he said only for exhortation's sake? 'But because so it is,' saith he, "I have sent the brethren;" 'so earnest am I on your behalf,' "that our glorying may not be made void." And he appears to make himself of the Corinthians' party throughout, although caring for all alike. What he says is this; 'I am very proud of you, I glory before all, I boasted even unto them , so that if ye be found wanting, I am partner in the shame.' And this indeed he says under limitation, for he added,
"In this respect," not, in all points;
"That even as I said, ye may be prepared." 'For I did not say, 'they are purposing,' but 'all is ready; and nothing is now wanting on their part. This then,' he says, 'I wish to be shown by your deeds.' Then he even heightens the anxiety, saying,
Ver. 4. "Lest by any means if there come with me any from Macedonia, we, (that we say not ye,) should be put to shame in this confidence." The shame is greater when the spectators he has arrayed against them are many, even those same persons who had heard [his boasting.] And he did not say, 'for I am bringing with me Macedonians;' 'for there are Macedonians coming with me;' lest he should seem to do it on purpose; but how [said he?] "Lest by any means, if there come with me any from Macedonia?" 'For this may happen,' he says, 'it is matter of possibility.' For thus he also made what he said unsuspected, but had he expressed himself in that other way, he would have even made them the more contentious. See how he leads them on, not from spiritual motives only, but from human ones as well. 'For,' says he, 'though you make no great account of me, and reckon confidently on my excusing you, yet think of them of Macedonia,' "lest by any means, if they come and find you;" and he did not say 'unwillingly,' but "unprepared," not having got all completed. But if this be a disgrace, not to contribute quickly; consider how great it were to contribute either not at all, or less than behoved. Then he lays down what would thereupon follow, in terms at once gentle and pungent, thus saying, "We, (that we say not ye,) should be put to shame." And he tempers it again, saying, "in this confidence" not as making them more listless, but as showing that they who were approved in all other respects, ought in this one also to have great fearlessness.
[2.] Ver. 5. "I thought it necessary therefore to entreat the brethren, that they would make up beforehand this your bounty, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty and not of extortion."
Again, he resumed the subject in a different manner: and that he may not seem to be saying these things without object, he asserts that the sole reason for this journey was, that they might not be put to shame. Seest thou how his words, "It is superfluous for me to write," were the beginning of advising? You see, at least, how many things he discourses concerning this ministering. And along with this, one may further remark that, (lest he should seem to contradict himself as having said, "It is superfluous," yet discoursing at length about it,) he passed on unto discourse of quickness and largeness and forwardness [in contributing,] by this means securing that point also. For these three things he requires. And indeed he moved these three main points even at the first, for when he says, "In much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy, and their deep poverty, abounded unto the riches of their I liberality," he says nothing else than that they contributed both much and gladly and quickly; and that not only did not giving much pain them, but not even being in trials, which is more grievous than giving. And the words, "they gave themselves to us;" these also show both their forwardness and the greatness of their faith. And here too again he treats of those heads. For since these are opposed to [each other,] munificence and forwardness, and one that has given much is often sorrowful, whilst another, that he may not be sorry, gives less; observe how he takes care for each, and with the wisdom which belongs to him. For he did not say, 'it is better to give a little and of free choice, than much of necessity;' because he wished them to contribute both much and of free choice; but how saith he? "that they might make up beforehand this your bounty, that the same might be ready as a matter of bounty, and not extortion. He begins first with that which is pleasantest and lighter; namely, the 'not of necessity,' for, it is "bounty" he says. Observe how in the form of his exhortation he represents at once the fruit as springing up, and the givers as filled with blessing. And by the term employed he won them over, for no one gives a blessing with pain. Yet neither was he content with this; but added, "not as of extortion." 'Think not,' he says, 'that we take it as extortioners, but that we may be the cause of a blessing unto you.' For extortion belongs to the unwilling, so that whoso giveth alms unwillingly giveth of extortion. Then from this he passed on again unto that, the giving munificently.
Ver. 6. "But this I say:" that is, along with this I say also that. What?
"He that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." And he did not say niggardly, but a milder expression, employing the the name of the sparing. And he called the thing sowing; that thou mightest at once look unto the recompense, and having in mind the harvest, mightest feel that thou receivest more than thou givest. Wherefore he did not say, 'He that giveth,' but "He that soweth:" and he said not 'ye, if ye sow,' but made what he said general. Neither did he say, 'largely,' but "bountifully," which is far greater than this. And again, he betakes himself to that former point of gladness; saying,
Ver. 7. "Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart." For a man when left to himself, does a thing more readily than when compelled. Wherefore also he dwells upon this: for having said, "according as he is disposed," he added,
"Not grudgingly, nor of necessity." And neither was he content with this, but he adds a testimony from Scripture also, saying,
"For God loveth a cheerful giver." Seest thou how frequently he lays this down? "I speak not by commandment:" and, "Herein I give my advice:" and, "as a matter of bounty, and not as of extortion," and again, "not grudgingly, nor of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver." In this passage I am of opinion that a large [giver] is intended; the Apostle however has taken it as giving with readiness. For because the example of the Macedonians and all those other things were enough to produce sumptuousness, he does not say many things on that head, but upon giving without reluctance. For if it is a work of virtue, and yet all that is done of necessity is shorn of its reward, with reason also he labors at this point. And he does not advise merely, but also adds a prayer, as his wont is to do, saying,
Ver. 8. "And may God, that is able, fulfill all grace towards you."
By this prayer he takes out the way a thought which lay in wait against this liberality and which is now also an hinderance to many. For many persons are afraid to give alms, saying, 'Lest perchance I become poor,' 'lest perchance I need aid from others.' To do away with this fear then, he adds this prayer, saying, May "He make all grace abound towards you." Not merely fulfil, but "make it abound." And what is "make grace abound?" 'Fill you,' he means, 'with so great things, that ye may be able to abound in this liberality.'
"That ye, having always all sufficiency in every thing, may abound to every good work."
Observe, even in this his prayer, his great philosophy. He prays not for riches nor for abundance, but for all sufficiency. Nor is this all that is admirable in him; but that as he prayed not for superfluity, so he doth not press sore on them nor compel them to give of their want, condescending to their weakness; but asks for a "sufficiency," and shows at the same time that they ought not to abuse the gifts received from God. "That ye may abound," he saith, "to every good work." 'It is therefore,' saith he, 'I ask for this, that ye may bestow on others also.' Yet he did not say, 'bestow,' but 'abound.' For in carnal things he asks for a sufficiency for them, but in spiritual things for abundance even; not in almsgiving only, but in all other things also, "unto every good work." Then he brings forward unto them the prophet for a counsellor, having sought out a testimony inviting them to bountifulness, and says,
Ver. 9. "As it is written,
He hath scattered abroad, he hath given to the poor; His righteousness abideth for ever."
This is the import of "abound;" for the words, "he hath dispersed abroad," signify nothing else but the giving plentifully. For if the things themselves abide not, yet their results abide. For this is the thing to be admired, that when they are kept they are lost; but when dispersed abroad they abide, yea, abide for ever. Now by "righteousness," here, he means love towards men. For this maketh righteous, consuming sins like a fire when it is plentifully poured out.
[3.] Let us not therefore nicely calculate, but sow with a profuse hand. Seest thou not how much others give to players and harlots? Give at any rate the half to Christ, of what they give to dancers. As much as they give of ostentation to those upon the stage, so much at any rate give thou unto the hungry. For they indeed even clothe the persons of wantons with untold gold; but thou not even with a threadbare garment the flesh of Christ, and that though beholding it naked. What forgiveness doth this deserve, yea, how great a punishment doth it not deserve, when he indeed bestoweth so much upon her that ruineth and shameth him, but thou not the least thing on Him that saveth thee and maketh thee brighter? But as long as thou spendest it upon thy belly and on drunkenness and dissipation, thou never thinkest of poverty: but when need is to relieve poverty, thou art become poorer than any body. And when feeding parasites and flatterers, thou art as joyous as though thou hadst fountains to spend from; but if thou chance to see a poor man, then the fear of poverty besets thee. Therefore surely we shall in that day be condemned, both by ourselves and by others, both by those that have done well and those that have done amiss. For He will say to thee, 'Wherefore wast thou not thus magnanimous in things where it became thee? But here is a man who, when giving to an harlot, thought not of any of these things; whilst thou, bestowing upon thy Master Who hath bid thee "not be anxious" (Matt. vi. 25. ), art full of fear and trembling.' And what forgiveness then shalt thou deserve? For if a man who hath received will not overlook, but will requite the favor, much more will Christ. For He that giveth even without receiving, how will He not give after receiving? 'What then,' saith one, when some who have spent much come to need other men's help?' Thou speakest of those that have spent their all; when thou thyself bestowest not a farthing. Promise to strip thyself of every thing and then ask questions about such men; but as long as thou art a niggard and bestowest little of thy substance, why throw me out excuses and pretenses? For neither am I leading thee to the lofty peak of entire poverty but for the present I require thee to cut off superfluities and to desire a sufficiency alone. Now the boundary of sufficiency is the using those things which it is impossible to live without. No one debars thee from these; nor forbids thee thy daily food. I say food, not feasting; raiment, not ornament. Yea rather, if one should enquire accurately, this is in the best sense feasting. For, consider. Which should we say more truly feasted, he whose diet was herbs, and who was in sound health and suffered no uneasiness: or he who had the table of a Sybarite, and was full of ten thousand disorders? Very plainly the former. Therefore let us seek nothing more than this, if we would at once live luxuriously and healthfully: and let us set these boundaries to sufficiency. And let him that can be satisfied with pulse and can keep in good health, seek for nothing more; but let him who is weaker and requires to be dieted with garden herbs, not be hindered of this. But if any be even weaker than this and require the support of flesh in moderation, we will not debar him from this either. For we do not advise these things, to kill and injure men but to cut off what is superfluous; and that is superfluous which is more than we need. For when we are able even without a thing to live healthfully and respectably, certainly the addition of that thing is a superfluity.
[4.] Thus let us think also in regard of clothing and of the table and of a dwelling house and of all our other wants; and in every thing inquire what is necessary. For what is superfluous is also useless. When thou shall have practised living on what is sufficient; then if thou hast a mind to emulate that widow, we will lead thee on to greater things than these. For thou hast not yet attained to the philosophy of that woman, whilst thou art anxious about what is sufficient. For she soared higher even than this; for what was to have been her support; that she cast in, all of it. Wilt thou then still distress thyself about such things as be necessary; and dost thou not blush to be vanquished by a woman; and not only not to emulate her, but to be left even of her far behind? For she did not say the things we say, 'But what, if when I have spent all I be compelled to beg of another?' but in her munificence stripped herself of all she had. What shall we say of the widow in the Old Testament in the time of the prophet Elias? For the risk she ran was not of poverty, but even of death and extinction, and not her own only, but her children's too. For neither had, she any expectation of receiving from others, but of presently dying. 'But,' saith one, 'she saw the prophet, and that made her munificent.' But do not ye see saints without number? And why do I speak of saints? Ye see the Lord of the prophets asking an alms, and yet not even so do ye become humane; but though ye have coffers spewing one into another, do not even impart of your superfluity. What sayest thou? Was he a prophet that came to her, and did this persuade her to so great a magnanimity? This of itself deserves much admiration, that she was persuaded of his being a great and wonderful person. For how was it she did not say, as it would have been likely that a barbarian woman and a foreigner would Have reasoned, ' If he were a prophet, he would not have begged of me. If he were a friend of God, He would not have neglected him. Be it that because of sins the Jews suffer this punishment: but whence, and wherefore, doth this man suffer?' But she entertained none of these thoughts; but opened to him her house, and before her house, her heart; and set before him all she had; and putting nature on one side and disregarding her children, preferred the stranger unto all. Consider then how great punishment will be laid up for us, if we shall come behind and be weaker than a woman, a widow, poor, a foreigner, a barbarian, a mother of children, knowing nothing of these things which we know! For because we have strength of body, we are not therefore manly persons. For he alone hath this virtue, yea though he be laid upon his bed, whose strength is from within; since without this, though a man should tear up a mountain by his strength of body, I would call him nothing stronger than a girl or wretched crone. For the one struggles with incorporeal ills, but the other dares not even look them in the face. And that thou mayest learn that this is the measure of manliness, collect it from this very example. For what could be more manly than that woman who both against the tyranny of nature, and against the force of hunger, and against the threat of death, stood nobly fast, and proved stronger than all? Hear at least how Christ proclaimeth her. For, saith He, "there were many widows in the days of Elias, and to none of them was the prophet sent but to her." (Luke iv. 25, 26.) Shall I say something great and startling? This woman gave more to hospitality, than our father Abraham. For she "ran" not "unto the herd," as he, (Gen. xviii. 7.) but by that "handful" (1 Kings xvii. 12.) outstripped all that have been renowned for hospitality. For in this was his excellence that he set himself to do that office; but hers, in that for the sake of the stranger she spared not her children even, and that too, though she looked. not for the things to come. But we, though a heaven exists, though a hell is threatened, though (which is greater than all ) God hath wrought such great things for us and is made glad and rejoiceth over such things, sink back supinely. Not so, I beseech you: but let us "scatter abroad," let us "give to the poor" as we ought to give. For what is much and what little, God defines, not by the measure of what is given, but by the extent of the substance of him that gives. Often surely hast thou who didst east in an hundred staters of gold offered less than he that offered but one obol, for thou didst cast in of thy superfluity. Howbeit do if but this, and thou wilt come quickly even to greater munificence. Scatter wealth that thou mayest gather righteousness. For along with wealth this refuseth to come to us; yet through it, though not with it, it is made present to us. For it is not possible that lust of wealth and righteousness should dwell together; they have their tents apart. Do not then obstinately strive to bring things together which are incompatible, but banish the usurper covetousness, if thou wouldest obtain the kingdom. For this is the [rightful] queen, and of slaves makes freemen, the contrary of which the other doth. Wherefore with all earnestness let us shun the one and welcome the other, that we may both gain freedom in this life and obtain the kingdom of heaven, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, new and for ever, and 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.