Fathers of the Church
Homilies on Second Corinthians, 20-30
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
Now He that supplied seed to the sower, both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness.
Herein one may particularly admire the wisdom of Paul, that after having exhorted from spiritual considerations and from temporal, in respect of the recompense also he again does the very same, making the returns he mentions of either kind. This, (for instance,) "He hath scattered abroad, he hath given to the poor, his righteousness abideth for ever," belongs to a spiritual return; that again, "multiply your seed for sowing," to a temporal recompense. Still, however, he rests not here, but even again passes back to what is spiritual, placing the two continually side by side; for "increase the fruits of your righteousness," is spiritual. This he does, and gives variety by it to his discourse, tearing up by the roots those their unmanly and faint-hearted reasonings, and using many arguments to dissipate their fear of poverty, as also the example which he now brings. For if even to those that sow the earth God gives, if to those that feed the body He grants abundance; much more will He to those who till the soilof heaven, to those who take care for the soul; for these things He willeth should yet more enjoy His providing care. However, he does not state this in the way of inference nor in the manner I have done, but in the form of a prayer; thus at once making the reference plain, and the rather leading them on to hope, not only from what [commonly] takes place, but also from his own prayer: for, 'May He minister,' saith he, 'and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.' Here also again he hints, in an unsuspicious way, at largeness [in giving], for the words, "multiply and increase," are by way of indicating this; and at the same time he allows them to seek for nothing more than necessaries, saying, "bread for food." For this also is particularly worthy of admiration in him, (and it is a point he successfully established even before,)namely, that in things which be necessary, he allows them to seek for nothing more than need requires; but in spiritual things counsels them to get for themselves a large superabundance. Wherefore he said above also, "that having a sufficiency ye may abound to every good work:" and here, "He that ministereth bread for food, multiply your seed for sowing;" that is to say, the spiritual [seed]. For he asks not almsgiving merely, but with largeness. Wherefore also I he continually calls it "seed." For like as the corn cast into the ground showeth luxuriant crops, so also many are the handfuls almsgiving produceth of righteousness, and unspeakable the fruits it showeth. Then having prayed for great affluence unto them, he shows again in what they ought to expend it, saying,
Ver. 11. "That being enriched in every thing to all liberality, which worketh through us thanksgiving to God."
Not that ye may consume it upon things not fitting, but upon such as bring much thanksgiving to God. For God made us to have the disposal of great things, and reserving to Himself that which is less yielded to us that which is greater. For corporeal nourishment is at His sole disposal, but mental He permitted to us; for we have it at our Own disposal whether the crops we have to show be luxuriant. For no need is here of rains and of variety of seasons, but of the will only, and they run up to heaven itself. And largeness in giving is what he here calls liberality. "Which worketh through us thanksgiving to God." For neither is that which is done almsgiving merely, but also the ground of much thanksgiving: yea rather, not of thanksgiving only, but of many other things besides. And these as he goes on he mentions, that by showing it to be the cause of many good works, he may make them thereby the forwarder.
[2.] What then are these many good works? Hear him saying:
Ver. 12—14. "For the ministration of this service, not only filleth up the measure of the wants of the saints, but aboundeth also through many thanksgivings unto God; seeing that through the proving of you by this ministration, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession unto the Gospel, and for the liberality of your contribution unto them and unto all; while they also with supplication on your behalf, long after you by reason of the exceeding grace of God in you."
What he says is this; 'in the first place ye not only supply the wants of the saints, but ye are abundant even;' that is, 'ye furnish them with even more than they need: next, through them ye send up thanksgiving to God, for they glorify Him for the obedience of your confession.' For that he may not represent them as giving thanks on this account solely, (I mean, because they received somewhat,) see how high-minded he makes them, exactly as he himself says to the Philippians, "Not that I desire a gift." (Phil. iv. 17.) 'To them too I bear record of the same thing. For they rejoice indeed that ye supply their wants and alleviate their poverty; but far more, in that ye are so subjected to the Gospel; whereof this is an evidence, your contributing so largely.' For this the Gospel enjoins.
"And for the liberality of your contribution unto them and unto all." 'And on this account,' he says, 'they glorify God that ye are so liberal, not unto them only, but also unto all.' And this again is made a praise unto them that they gave thanks even for that which is bestowed upon others. ' For,' saith he, 'they do honor, not to their own concerns only, but also to those of others, and this although they are in the extremest poverty; which is an evidence of their great virtue. For nothing is so full of envy as the whole race of such as are in poverty. But they are pure from this passion; being so far from feeling pained because of the things ye impart to others, that they even rejoice over it no less than over the things themselves receive.'
"While they themselves also with supplication." 'For in respect of these things,' saith he, 'they give thanks to God, but in respect of your love and your coming together, they beseech Him that they may be counted worthy to see you. For they long after this, not for the money's sake, but that they may be witnesses of the grace that hath been bestowed upon you.' Seest thou Paul's wisdom, how after having exalted them, he ascribed the whole to God by calling the thing "grace?" For seeing he had spoken great things of them, in that he called them ministers and exalted them unto a great height, (since they offered service whilst he himself did but administer,) and termed them 'proved,' he shows that God was the Author of all these things. And he himself again, along with them, sends up thanksgiving, saying,
Ver. 15. "Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift."
And here he calls "gift," even those so many good things which are wrought by almsgiving, both to them that receive and them that give; or else, those unspeakable good things which through His advent He gave unto the whole world with great munificence, which one may suspect to be the most probable. For that he may at once both sober, and make them more liberal, he puts them in mind of the benefits they had received from God. For this avails very greatly in inciting unto all virtue; and therefore he concluded his discourse with it. But if His Gift be unspeakable, what can match their frenzy who raise curious questions as to His Essence? But not only is His Gift unspeakable, but that "peace" also "passeth all understanding," Phil. iv. 7.) whereby He reconciled the things which are above with those which are below.
[3.] Seeing then that we are in the enjoyment of so great grace, let us strive to exhibit a virtue of life worthy of it, and to make much account of almsgiving. And this we shall do, if we shun excess and drunkenness and gluttony. For God gave meat and drink not for excess, but for nourishment. For it is not the wine that produceth drunkenness, for if that were the case, every body would needs be drunken. 'But,' saith one, 'it would be better, if even to drink it largely did not injure.' These are drunkards' words. For if to drink it largely doth injure, and yet not even so thou desistest from thy excess in it; if this is so disgraceful and injurious, and yet thou ceasest not even so from thy depraved longing; if it were possible both to drink largely and be nothing harmed, where wouldest thou have stayed in thine excess? Wouldest thou not have longed that the rivers even might become wine? wouldest thou not have destroyed and ruined everything? If there is a mean in food which when we overpass we are injured, and yet even so thou canst not bear the curb, but snapping it as under seizest on what every body else hath, to minister to the wicked tyranny of this gluttony; what wouldest thou not have done, if this natural mean were abolished? wouldest thou not have spent thy whole time upon it? Would it then have been well to strengthen a lust so unreasonable, and not prevent the harm arising from excess? and to how many other harms would not this have given birth?
But O the senseless ones! who wallowing as in mire, in drunkeness and all other debauchery, when they have got a little sober again, sit down and do nothing but utter such sort of sayings, 'Why doth this end in this way?' when they ought to be condemning their own transgressions. For instead of what thou now sayest, 'Why hath He set bounds? why do not all things go on without any order?' say, ' Why do we not cease from being drunken? why are we never satiated? why are we more senseless than creatures without reason?' For these things they ought to ask one another, and to hearken to the voice of the Apostle and learn how many good things he witnesseth to the Corinthians proceed from almsgiving, and to seize upon this treasure. For to contemn money maketh men approved, as he said; and provideth that God be glorified; and warmeth love; and worketh in men loftiness of soul; and constituteth them priests, yea of a priesthood that bringeth great reward. For the merciful man is not arrayed in a vest reaching to the feet, nor does he carry about bells, nor wear a crown; but he is wrapped in the robe of loving-kindness, a holier than the sacred vestment; and is anointed with oil, not composed of material elements, but produced by the Spirit, and he beareth a crown of mercies, for it is said, "Who crowneth thee with pity and mercies;" (Ps. ciii. 4.) and instead of wearing a plate bearing the Name of God, is himself like to God. For how? "Ye," saith He, "shall be like unto your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. v. 45.)
Wouldest thou see His altar also? Bezaleel built it not, nor any other but God Himself; not of stones, but of a material brighter than the heaven, of reasonable souls. But the priest entereth into the holy of holies. Into yet more awful places mayest thou enter when thou offerest this sacrifice, where none is present but "thy Father, Which seeth in secret," (Matt. vi. 4.) where no other beholdeth. 'And how,' saith one, 'is it possible that none should behold, when the altar standeth in public view?' Because this it is that is admirable, that in those times double doors and veils made the seclusion: but now, though doing thy sacrifice in public view, thou mayest do it as in the holy of holies, and in a far more awful manner. For when thou doest it not for display before men; though the whole world hath seen, none hath seen, because thou hast so done it. For He said not simply, "Do" it "not before men," but added, "to be seen of them." (Matt. vi. 1.) This altar is composed of the very members of Christ, and the body of the Lord is made thine altar. That then revere; on the flesh of the Lord thou sacrificest the victim. This altar is more awful even than this which we now use, not only than that used of old. Nay, clamor not. For this altar is admirable because of the sacrifice that is laid upon it: but that, the merciful man's, not only on this account, but also because it is even composed of the very sacrifice which maketh the other to be admired. Again, this is but a stone by nature; but become holy because it receiveth Christ's Body: but that is holy because it is itself Christ's Body. So that this beside which thou, the layman, standest, is more awful than that. Whether then does Aaron seem to thee aught in comparison of this, or his crown, or his bells, or the holy of holies? For what need is there henceforth to make our comparison refer to Aaron's altar, when even compared with this, it has been shown to be so glorious? But thou honorest indeed this altar, because it receiveth Christ's body; but him that is himself the body of Christ thou treatest with contumely, and when perishing, neglectest. This altar mayest thou everywhere see lying, both in lanes and in market places, and mayest sacrifice upon it every hour; for on this too is sacrifice performed. And as the priest stands invoking the Spirit, so dost thou too invoke the Spirit, not by speech, but by deeds. For nothing doth so sustain and kindle the fire of the Spirit, as this oil largely poured out. But if thou wouldest see also what becomes of the things laid upon it, come hither, and I will show thee them. What then is the smoke, what the sweet savor of this altar? Praise and thanksgiving. And how far doth it ascend? as far as unto heaven? By no means, but it passeth beyond the heaven itself, and the heaven of heaven, and arriveth even at the throne of the King. For, "Thy prayers," saith he, "and thine alms are come up before God." (Acts x. 4.) And the sweet savor which the sense perceives pierceth not far into the air, but this opened the very vault of heaven. And thou indeed art silent, but thy work speaketh: and a sacrifice of praise is made, no heifer slain nor hide burnt, but a spiritual soul presenting her proper offering. For such a sacrifice is more acceptable than any loving-kindness. When then thou seest a poor believer, think that thou beholdest an altar: when thou seest such an one a beggar, not only insult him not, but even reverence him, and if thou seest another insulting him, prevent, repel it. For so shalt thou thyself be able both to have God propitious to thee, and to obtain the promised good things, whereunto may we all attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom and with Whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and forever, and world without end. Amen.
Now I Paul myself entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I who in your presence am lowly among you, but being absent am of good courage toward you: yea, I beseech you, that I may not when present show courage with the confidence, wherewith I count to be bold against some, which count of us as if we walked according to the flesh.
Having completed, in such sort as behoved his discourse of almsgiving, and having shown that he loves them more than he is loved, and having recounted the circumstances of his patience and trials, he now opportunely enters upon points involving more of reproof, making allusion to the false apostles, and concluding his discourse with more disagreeable matter, and with commendations of himself. For he makes this his business also throughout the Epistle. Which also perceiving, he hence oftentimes corrects himself, saying in so many words; "Do we begin again to commend ourselves?" (Ch. iii. 1.) and further on; "We commend not ourselves again, but give you occasion to glory:" (Ch. v. 12.) and afterwards; "I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me." (Ch. xii. 11.) And many such correctives doth he use. And one would not be wrong in styling this Epistle an eulogium of Paul; he makes such large mention both of his grace and his patience. For since there were some amongst them who thought great things of themselves, and set themselves above the Apostle, and accused him as a boaster, and as being nothing, and teaching no sound doctrine; (now this was in itself the most certain evidence of their own corruptness;) see how he begins his rebuke of them; "Now I Paul myself." Seest thou what severity, what dignity, is here? For what he would say is this, ' I beseech you do not compel me, nor leave me to use my power against those that hold us cheap, and think of us as carnal.' This is severer than those threats towards them uttered in the former Epistle; "Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of meekness?" (1 Cor. iv. 21.)and then again; "Now some are puffed up as though I were not coming to you; but I will come, and will know, not the word of them that are puffed up, but the power." (ib. 18 19.) For in this place he shows both things, both his power, and his philosophy and forbearance; since he so beseeches them, and with such earnestness, that he may not be compelled to come to a display of the avenging power pertaining to him, and to smite and chastise them and exact the extreme penalty. For he implied this in saying, "But I beseech you, that I may not when present show courage with the confidence, wherewith I count to be bold against some which count of us as if we walked according to the flesh." For the present, however, let us speak of the commencement. "Now I Paul myself." Great emphasis, great weight is here. So he says elsewhere, "Behold I Paul say unto you;" (Gal. v. 2.) and again, "As Paul the aged;" (Phile. 9.)and again in another place, "Who lath been a succorer of many, and of me." Rom. xvi. 2.) So also here, "Now I Paul myself." This even is a great thing, that himself beseecheth; but that other is greater which he added, saying, "by the meekness and gentleness of Christ." For with the wish of greatly shaming them, he puts forward that "meekness and gentleness," making his entreaty in this way more forcible; as if he had said, ' Reverence the gentleness of Christ by which I beseech you.' And this he said, at the same time also showing that although they should lay ever so strong a necessity upon him, he himself is more inclined to this: it is from being meek, not from want of power, that he does not proceed against them: for Christ also did in like manner.
"Who in your presence am lowly among you, but being absent am of good courage toward you." What, pray, is this? Surely he speaks in irony, using their speeches. For they said this, that ' when he is present indeed, he is worthy of no account, but poor and contemptible; but when absent, swells, and brags, and sets himself up against us, and threatens.' This at least he implies also afterwards, saying, "for his letters," say they, "are weighty, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account." (v. 10.) He either then speaks in irony, manifesting great severity and saying, 'I, the base, I, the mean, when present, (as they say,) and when absent, lofty:' or else meaning that even though he should utter great things, it is not out of pride, but out of his confidence in them.
"But I beseech you, that I may hot when present show courage with the confidence, wherewith I count to be bold against some which count of us as if we walked according to the flesh. Seest thou how great his indignation, and how complete his refutation of those sayings of theirs? For he saith, 'I beseech you, do not compel me to show that even present I am strong and have power.' For since they said that 'when absent, he is quite bold against us and exalteth himself,' he uses their very words, 'I beseech therefore that they compel me not to use my power.' For this is the meaning of, "the confidence." And he said not, 'wherewith I am prepared,' but ' wherewith I count.' 'For I have not yet resolved upon this; they however give me reason enough, but not even so do I wish it.' And yet he was doing this not to vindicate himself, but the Gospel. Now if where it was necessary to vindicate the Message, he is not harsh, but draws back and delays, and beseeches that there may be no such necessity; much more would he never have done any thing of the kind in his own vindication. ' Grant me then this favor,' he saith, ' that ye compel me not to show, that even when present I am able to be bold against whomsoever it may be necessary i that is, to chastise and punish them.' Seest thou how free he was from ambition, how he did nothing for display, since even where it was matter of necessity, he hesitates not to call the act, boldness. "For I beseech you," he says, "that I may not when present show courage with the confidence, wherewith I think to be bold" against some. For this especially is the part of a teacher, not to be hasty in taking vengeance, but to work a reformation, and ever to be reluctant and slow in his punishments. How, pray, does he describe those whom he threatens? "Those that count of us as though we walked according to the flesh:" for they accused him as a hypocrite, as wicked, as a boaster.
[2.] Ver. 3. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.
Here he goes on to alarm them also by the figure he uses, ' for,' says he, 'we are indeed encompassed with flesh; I own it, but we do not live by the flesh;' or rather, he said not even this, but for the present reserves it, for it belongs to the encomium on his life: but first discourseth of the Preaching, and shows that it is not of man, nor needeth aid from beneath. Wherefore he said not, 'we do not live according to the flesh,' but, "we do not war according to the flesh," that is, ' we have undertaken a war and a combat; but we do not war with carnal weapons, nor by help of any human succors.'
Ver. 4. "For our weapons are not of the flesh." For what sort of weapons are of the flesh? Wealth, glory, power, fluency, cleverness, circumventions, flatteries, hypocrisies, whatsoever else is similar to these. But ours are not of this sort: but of what kind are they?
"Mighty before God."
And he said not, 'we are not carnal,' but, "our weapons." For as I said, for the present he discourseth of the Preaching, and refers the whole power to God. And he says not, 'spiritual,' although this was the fitting opposite to "carnal," but "mighty," in this implying the other also, and showing that their weapons are weak and powerless. And mark the absence of pride in him; for he said not, 'we are mighty,' but, "our weapons are mighty before God." 'We did not make them such, but God Himself.' For because they were scourged, were persecuted, and suffered wrongs incurable without number, which things were proofs of weakness: to show the strength of God he says, "but they are mighty before God." For this especially shows His strength, that by these things He gains the victory. So that even though we are encompassed with them, yet it is He that warreth and worketh by them. Then he goes through a long eulogium upon them, saying,
"To the casting down of strong holds." And lest when hearing of strong holds thou shouldest think of aught material, he says,
Ver. 5. "Casting down imaginations."
First giving emphasis by the figure, and then by this additional expression declaring the spiritual character of the warfare. For these strongholds besiege souls, not bodies. Whence they are stronger than the others, and therefore also the weapons they require are mightier. But by strongholds he means the Grecian pride, and the strength of their sophisms and their syllogisms. But nevertheless, 'these weapons,' he says, ' confounded every thing that stood up against them; for they cast down imaginations,
'And every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God.' He persisted in the metaphor that he might make the emphasis greater. ' For though there should be strongholds,' he saith, 'though fortifications, though any other thing soever, they yield and give way before these weapons.
"And bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." And yet the name, "captivity," hath an ill sound with it; for it is the destruction of liberty. Wherefore then has he used it? With a meaning of its own, in regard to another point. For the word "captivity" conveys two ideas, the loss of liberty, and the being so violently overpowered as not to rise up again. It is therefore in respect to this second meaning that he took it. As when he shall say "I robbed other churches," (2 Cor. xi. 8.) he does not intend the taking stealthily, but the stripping and taking their all, so also here in saying, "bringing into captivity." For the fight was not equally maintained, but he conquered with great ease. Wherefore he did not say, 'we conquer and have the better,' only; but 'we even bring "into captivity;" ' just as above, he did not say, ' we advance engines against the "strongholds: "' but, ' we cast them down, for great is the superiority of our weapons." For we war not with words,' he saith, but with deeds against words, not with fleshly wisdom, but with the spirit of meekness and of power. How was it likely then I should hunt after honor, and boast in words, and threaten by letters;' (as they accused him, saying, "his letters are weighty,") ' when our might lay not in these things?' But having said, "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," because the name of "captivity" was unpleasant, he presently afterwards put an end to the metaphor, saying, "unto the obedience of Christ:" from slavery unto liberty, from death unto life, from destruction to salvation. For we came not merely to strike down, but to bring over to the truth those who are opposed to us.
[3.] Ver. 6. "And being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be fulfilled."
Here he alarmed these also, not those alone: 'for,' says he, 'we were waiting for you, that when by our exhortations and threatenings we have reformed you, and purged and separated you from their fellowship; then, when those only are left who are incurably diseased, we may visit with punishment, after we see that you have really separated from them. For even now indeed ye obey, but not perfectly. 'And yet if thou hadst done it now,' saith one, 'thou wouldest have wrought greater gain.' 'By no means, for if I had done it now, I should have involved you also in the punishment. Howbeit it behoved to punish them, indeed, but to spare you. Yet if I spared, I should have seemed to do it out of favor: now this I do not desire, but first to amend you, and then to proceed against them.' What can be tenderer than the heart of the Apostle? who because he saw his own mixed up with aliens, desires indeed to inflict the blow, but forbears, and restrains his indignation until these shall have withdrawn, that he may smite these alone; yea rather, not these even. For he therefore threatens this, and says he is desirous to separate unto punishment them alone, that they also being amended by the fear may change, and he let loose his anger against no one. For just like a most excellent physician, and common father, and patron, and guardian, so did he all things, so cared he for all, removing impediments, checking the pestilent, running about every whither. For not by fighting did he so achieve the work, but advancing as if to a ready and an easy victory, he planted his trophies, undermining, casting down, overthrowing the strongholds of the devil, and the engines of the demons; and carried over their whole booty to the camp of Christ. Nor did he even take breath a little, bounding off from these to those, and from those again to others, like some very able general, raising trophies every day, or rather every hour. For having entered into the battle with nothing but a little tunic, the tongue of Paul took the cities of his enemies with their men and bows and spears and darts and all.
For he spake only; and, falling upon his enemies more fiercely than any fire, his words drave out the demons and brought over unto him the men that were possessed of them. For when he cast out that demon, the evil one, fifty thousand sorcerers coming together burnt their books of magic and revolted to the truth. (See Acts xix. 19.) And like as in a war, when a tower has fallen or a tyrant been brought low, all his partizans cast away their arms and run unto the [opposing] general; so truly did it happen then also. For when the demon was cast out, they all having been besieged, and having cast away, yea rather having destroyed, their books, ran unto the feet of Paul. But he setting himself against the world as though against a single army, no where stayed his march, but did all things as if he were some man endued with wings: and now restored a lame, now raised a dead man, now blinded a third, (I mean the sorcerer,) nor even when shut up in a prison indulged in rest, but even there brought over to himself the jailor, effecting the goodly captivity we treat of.
[4.] Let us also imitate him after our power. And why do I say, after our power? For he that wills may come even near unto him, and behold his valor, and imitate his heroism. For still he is doing this work, "casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God." And although many heretics have attempted to cut him in pieces'; yet still, even though dismembered, he displayeth a mighty strength. For both Marcion and Manichaeus use him indeed, but after cutting him in pieces; but still even so they are refuted by the several members. For even a hand only of this champion being found among them puts them utterly to the rout; and a foot only, left amongst others, pursues and prostrates them, in order that thou mayest learn the superabundance of his power, and that, although shorn of his limbs even, he is able to destroy all his adversaries. ' This however,' saith one, 'is an instance of perversion, that those who are battling with each other should all use him.' An instance of perversion certainly, but not in Paul, (God forbid,) but in them who use him. For he was not parti-colored, but uniform and clear, but they perverted his words to their own notions. ' And wherefore,' saith one, ' were they so spoken as to give handles to those that wished for them?' He did not give handles, but their frenzy used his words not rightly; since this whole world also is both wonderful and great, and a sure proof of the wisdom of God, and "the heavens declare the glory of God, and day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night declareth knowledge;" (Ps. xix. 1, 2.) but nevertheless, many have stumbled at it and in contrary directions to one another. And some have admired it so much above its worth as to think it God; whilst others have been so insensible of its beauty as to assert it to be unworthy of God's creating hand, and to ascribe the greater share in it to a certain evil matter. And yet God provided for both points by making it beautiful and great that it might not be deemed alien from his wisdom; yet defective and not sufficient unto itself that it might not be suspected to be God. But nevertheless those who were blinded by their own reasonings fell away into contradictory notions, refuting one another, and becoming each the other's accuser, and vindicating the wisdom of God even by the very reasonings which led them astray. And why do I speak of the sun and the heaven? The Jews saw so many marvels happen before their eyes, yet straightway worshipped a calf. Again they saw Christ casting out demons, yet called him one that had a demon. But this was no imputation against him that cast them out, but an accusation of their understanding who were so blinded. Condemn not then Paul on account of their judgment who have used him amiss; but understand well the treasures in him, and develop his riches, so shalt thou make noble stand against all, fenced by his armor. So shalt thou be able to stop the mouths both of Greeks and Jews. 'And how,' saith one, 'seeing they believe him not?' By the things wrought through him, by the reformation effected in the world. For it was not of human power that so great things could be done, but the Might of the Crucified, breathing on him, made him such as he was, and showed him more powerful than orators and philosophers and tyrants and kings and all men. He was net only able to arm himself and to strike down his adversaries, but to make others also such as himself. Therefore in order that we may become useful both to ourselves and to others, let us continually have him in our hands, using his writings for a meadow and garden of delight. For so shall we be able both to be delivered from vice and to choose virtue, and to obtain the promised good things, 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.
Ye look at the things that are before your face. If any man trusteth in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again with himself that even as he is Christ's, so also are we.
What one may especially admire in Paul amongst other things is this, that when he has fallen upon an urgent necessity for exalting himself, he manages both to accomplish this point, and also not to appear offensive to the many on account of this egotism; a thing we may see particularly in his Epistle to the Galatians. For having there fallen upon such an argument, he provides for both these points; a matter of the very utmost difficulty and demanding much prudence; he is at once modest and says somewhat great of himself. And observe how in this place also he makes it of great account, "Ye look at the things that are before your face." Behold here also prudence. For having rebuked those that deceived them, he confined not his remarks to them, but he leaps away from them to these too; and he does so constantly. For, in truth, he scourgeth not those only that lead astray, but the deceived also. For had he let even them go without calling them to an account, they would not so easily have been reformed by what was said to the others; but would have been greatly elated even, as not being amenable to accusations. Therefore he scourgeth them also. And this is not all that is to be admired in him, but this farther, that he rebukes either party in a manner suitable to each. Hear at least what he says to these, "Ye look at the things that are before your face." The accusation is no light one; but a mark of men exceedingly easy to be deceived. Now what he says is this, 'ye test by what appear, by things carnal, by things bodily.' What is meant by 'what appear?' If one is rich, if one is puffed up, if one is surrounded by many flatterers, if one says great things of himself, if one is vain-glorious, if one makes a pretence of virtue without having virtue, for this is the meaning of, "ye look at the things that are before your face."
"If any man trust in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again with himself, that even as he is Christ's, even so also are we." For he does not wish to be vehement at the beginning, but he increases and draws to a head by little and little. But observe here how much harshness and covert meaning there is. He shows this by using the words "with himself." For he saith, ' Let him not wait to learn this from us; that is, by our rebuke of himself,' but "let him consider this with himself, that even as he is Christ's, so also are we;" not that he was Christ's in such manner as the other was, but, "that even as he is Christ's, so l also am I Christ's. Thus far the community holds good: for it is not surely the case that he indeed is Christ's, but I some other's. Then having laid down this equality between them, he goes on to add wherein he exceeded, saying,
Ver. 8. "For though I should glory somewhat abundantly concerning our authority which the Lord gave for building you up, and not for casting you down, I shall not be put to shame.
For since he was going to say somewhat great, observe how he softens it. For nothing doth so offend the majority of hearers as for any one to praise himself. Wherefore to cut at the root of this offensiveness, he says, "For though I should glory somewhat abundantly." And he did not say, 'if any man trust that he is Christ's let him think that he is far short of us. For I possess much authority from Him, so as to punish and to kill whomsoever I choose;' but what? "For though I should glory even somewhat abundantly." And yet he possessed more than can be told, but nevertheless he lowers it in his way of speaking. And he said not, 'I glory,' but, "if I should glory," if I should choose to do so: at once both showing modesty, and declaring his superiority. If therefore he says, "I should glory concerning the authority which the Lord gave me." Again, he ascribes the whole to Him, and makes the gift common. "For building up, and not for casting down." Seest thou how again he allays the envy his praises might give rise to, and draws the hearer over to himself by mentioning the use for which he received it? Then why doth he say, "Casting down imaginations?" Because this is itself an especial form of building up, the removing of hindrances, and detecting the unsound, and laying the true together in the building. For this end therefore we received it, that we might build up. But if any should spar and battle with us, and be incurable, we will use that other power also, destroying and overthrowing him. Wherefore also he says, "I shall not be put to shame," that is, I shall not be proved a liar or a boaster.
[2.] Ver. 9, 10, 11. "But that l may not seem as if I would terrify you: for his letters, say they, are weighty and strong: but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account. Let such a one reckon this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such are we also in deed when we are present."
What he says is this: 'I could boast indeed, but that they may not say the same things again, to wit, that I boast in my letters, and am contemptible when present, I will say nothing great.' And yet afterwards he did say something great, but not about this power by which he was formidable, but about revelations and at greater lengths about trials. ' Therefore, that I may not seem to be terrifying you, "let such an one reckon this, that what we are by letters when we are absent, such are we also in deed when we are present.'" For since they said, 'he writes great things of himself, but when he is present he is worthy of no consideration,' therefore he says these things, and those again in a moderated form. For he did not say, ' as we write great things, so when we are present we also do great things,' but in more subdued phrase. For when he addressed himself to the others indeed, he stated it with vehemency, saying, "I beseech you that I may not when present show courage with the confidence wherewith I think to be bold against some :" but when to these, he is more subdued. And therefore he says, ' what we are when present, such too when absent, that is, lowly, modest, no where boasting. And it is plain from what follows,
Vet. 12. "For we are not bold to number, or compare in ourselves with some that commend themselves."
Here he both shows that those false Apostles are boasters and say great things of themselves: and ridicules them as commending themselves. 'But we do no such thing: but even if we shall do any thing great, we refer all unto God, and compare ourselves with one another.' Wherefore also he added,
"But they themselves measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves among themselves are without understanding." Now what he says is this: ' we do not compare ourselves with them, but with one another.' For further on he says, "in nothing am I behind the very chiefest Apostles;" (Chap. xii. x 11. ) and in the former Epistle, "I labored more abundantly than they all;" (1 Cor. xv. 10.) and again, "Truly the signs of an Apostle were wrought among you in all patience." (Chap. xii. 12.) 'So that we compare ourselves with ourselves, not with those that have nothing: for such arrogance cometh of folly.' Either then he says this with reference to himself, or with reference to them, that ' we dare not compare ourselves with those who contend with one another and boast great things and do not understand:' that is, do not perceive how ridiculous they are in being thus arrogant, and in exalting themselves amongst one another.
Ver. 13. "But we will not glory beyond our measure:" as they do.
For it is probable that in their boasting they said, 'we have converted the world, we have reached unto the ends of the earth,' and vented many other such like big words. 'But not so we,' he says,
"But according to the measure of the province which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even unto you." So that his humility is evident on either hand, both in that he boasted nothing more than he had wrought, and that he refers even this itself to God. For, "according to the measure of the province," saith he, "which God apportioned to us, a measure to reach even unto you." Just as if portioning out a vine to husbandmen, even so He meted out unto us. As far then as we have been counted worthy to attain to, so far we boast.
Ver. 14. 'For we stretch not ourselves overmuch, as though we reached not unto you: for we came even as far as unto you in preaching the Gospel of Christ."
Not simply 'we came,' but, 'we announced, we preached, we persuaded, we succeeded.' For it is probable that they having merely come to the disciples of the Apostles, ascribed the whole to themselves, from their bare presence among them. ' But not so we: nor can any one say that we were not able to come as far as to you, and that we stretched our boasting as far as to you in words only; for we also preached the word to you.'
[3.] Ver. 15, 16. "Not glorying beyond" our "measure, ' that is, "in other men's labors, but having hope that as your faith groweth, we shall be magnified in you according to our province unto further abundance, so as to preach the Gospel even unto the parts beyond you, and not to glory in another's province in regard of things ready to our hand."
He sets forth a large accusation of them on these grounds, both that they boasted of things without their measure, and of other men's labors; and that whilst the whole of the toil was the Apostles', they plumed themselves upon their labors. 'But we,' says he, ' showed these things in our deeds. We will not imitate those men therefore, but will say such things where our deeds bear us witness. And why,' saith he, 'do I say, you?' "for I have hope that as your faith groweth;" for he doth not assert absolutely, preserving his own character, but, 'I hope,' he says, ' if you make progress, that our province will be extended even farther, "to preach the Gospel in the regions beyond." For we shall advance farther yet,' he says, 'so as to preach and labor, not so as to boast in words of what other men have labored.' And well did he call it "province and measure," as though he had come into possession of the world, and a rich inheritance; and showing that the whole was wholly God's. 'Having then such works,' he says, 'and expecting greater, we do not boast as they do who have nothing, nor do we ascribe any part to ourselves, but the whole to God. Wherefore also he adds,
Ver. 17. "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." This also, he saith, accrueth to us from God. Ver. 18. "For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth."
He did not say, we are so, "but whom the Lord commendeth. Seest thou how modestly he speaks? But if as he proceeds he stirreth up loftier words, wonder not, for this also cometh of Paul's prudence. For if he had gone on in every part to speak lowly words, he would not have hit these men so effectually, nor have extricated the disciples from their error. For it is possible both by modesty ill-timed to do harm, and by saying something admirable of one's self at a proper time to do good. As therefore he also did. For there was no little danger in the disciples being persuaded into any mean opinion of Paul. Not that Paul sought the glory that cometh of men. For had he sought this, he would not have kept silence so long on those great and marvellous matters of "fourteen years ago;" (Chap. xii. 20) nor would he, when necessity was laid upon him, have so shrunk back and hesitated to speak of them; very evidently he would not even then have spoken, had he not been compelled. Certainly then it was not from a desire after the glory which cometh from men that he said these things, but out of tender care for the disciples. For since they cast reproaches at him as a braggart, and as boastful in words but able to show nothing in deeds, he is compelled subsequently to come to those revelations. Although he had it in his power to convince them by his deeds, at the time when he said these things: yet he still persists, nevertheless, in using menaces in words. For he was most especially free from vain-glory; and this his whole life proves, both before and after this. For instance, it was because of this that he changed all at once; and having changed, confounded the Jews and cast away all that honor he had from them, although he was himself their head and their champion. But he considered none of those things when he had found the truth; but took instead their insults and contumely; for he looked to the salvation of the many, thinking this everything. For he that thinketh nothing of hell nor of heaven nor of ten thousand worlds in regard of his longing after Christ, how should he hunt after the glory which cometh from the many? By no means; but he is even very lowly when he may be so, and brands his former life with infamy when he calls himself, "a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious." (1 Tim. i. 13.) And his disciple Luke too says many things of him, evidently having learnt them from himself, himself displaying fully his former life no less than that after his conversion.
[4.] Now I say these things, not that we may hear merely, but that we may learn also. For if he remembered those transgressions before the Laver, although they were all effaced, what forgiveness can we have who are unmindful of those after the Laver ourselves? What sayest thou, O man? Thou hast offended God, and dost thou forget? This is a second offence, a second enmity. Of what sins then dost thou ask forgiveness? Of those which thou even knowest not thyself? Surely, (for is it not so?) thou art deeply anxious and thoughtful how thou mayest give account of them, thou who dost not so much as care to remember them, but sportest with what is no sporting matter. But there will come a time when our sport can go on no longer. For we must needs die: (for the great insensibility of the many obliges me to speak even of things that are evident:) and must needs rise again, and be judged, and be punished; nay rather this needs not, if we choose. For those other things are not at our own disposal; neither our end, nor our resurrection, nor our judgment, but at our Lord's; but our suffering punishment or not is at our own disposal; for this is of those things that may or may not happen. But if we choose, we shall make it of the number of impossible things; just as Paul, as Peter, as all the saints did; for it is even impossible for them to be punished. If therefore we have a mind, it is in like manner impossible also that we should suffer ought. For even if we have offended in ten thousand things, it is possible to recover ourselves so long as we are here. Let us then recover ourselves: and let the old man consider that in a little while hence he will depart, since he took his pleasure long enough in his lifetime; (although what sort of pleasure is this, to live in wickedness? but for the present I so speak in respect to his way of thinking;) let him consider, besides, that it is possible for him in a short time to wash away all. The young man again, let him also consider the uncertainty of death, and that oftentimes, when many older persons continued here, the young were carried off before them. For, for this reason, that we may not make traffic of our death, it is left in uncertainty. Wherefore also a certain wise man adviseth, saying, "Make no tarrying to turn unto the Lord, and put not off from day to day: for thou knowest not what to-morrow shall bring forth." (Ecclus. v. 7; Prov. xxvii. 1) For by putting off there is danger and fear; but by not putting off manifest and secure salvation. Hold fast then by virtue. For so, even if thou have departed young, thou hast departed in safety; and if thou shouldst come to old age, thou shalt arrive [at death] with great provision made, and shaft have a double feast all thy life long; both in that thou abstainest from vice, and layest hold on virtue. Say not, 'there will come a time when it may be well to turn,' for this language provokes God exceedingly. And why so? Because He hath promised thee countless ages, but thou art not even willing to labor during this present life, this short life that dureth but a season; but art so indolent and unmanly as to seek a shorter even than this. Are there not the same revellings daily? Are there not the same tables, the same harlots, the same theatres, the same wealth? How long wilt thou love those things as though they were aught? How long will thy appetite for evil remain insatiate? Consider that as often as thou hast fornicated, so often hast thou condemned thyself. For such is the nature of sin: once committed, the Judge hath also passed his sentence. Hast thou been drunken, been gluttonous, or robbed? Hold now, turn right back, acknowledge it to God as a mercy that He snatched thee not away in the midst of thy sins; seek not yet another set time wherein to work evil. Many have been snatched away in the midst of their covetousness, and have departed to manifest punishment. Fear lest thou also shouldest suffer this, and without excuse. `But God gave to many a set time for confession in extreme old age.' What then? Will He give it to thee also? ' Perhaps He will,' says one. Why sayest thou 'perhaps,' and ' sometimes,' and ' often? ' Consider that thou art deliberating about thy soul, and put also the contrary case, and calculate, and say, ' But what if He should not give it ?' 'But what if He should give it? ' saith he. God hath indeed given it; but still this supposition is safer and more profitable than that. For if thou begin now, thou hast gained all, whether thou hast a set time granted thee or not; but if thou art always putting off, for this very cause perhaps thou shalt not have one given thee. When thou goest out to battle, thou dost not say, ' there is no need to make my will, perhaps I shall come back safe ;' nor dost thou when deliberating about marriage, say ' suppose I take a poor wife, many have even m this way got rich contrary to expectation;' nor when building a house, ' suppose I lay a rotten foundation, many houses have stood even so;' yet in deliberating about the soul, thou leanest on things more rotten still; urging thy 'perhaps,' and 'often,' and 'sometimes,' and trustest thyself to these uncertainties. 'Nay,' saith one, 'not to an uncertainty, but to the mercy of God, for God is merciful.' I know it too; but still this merciful God snatched those away of whom I spoke. And what if after thou hast had time given thee, thou shalt still continue as thou weft? for this sort of man will be listless even in old age. ' Nay,' he said, ' not so.' For this mode of reasoning even after the eighty years desireth ninety, and after the ninety an hundred, and after the hundred will be yet more indisposed to act. And so the whole of life will have been consumed in vain, and what was spoken of the Jews will happen also to thee; "Their days were consumed in vanity." (Ps. lxxviii. 33.) And would that in vanity only, and not unto evil also. For when we have departed thither bearing the heavy burden of our sins, this will be unto evil also. For we shall carry away fuel for the fire and a plentiful feast for the worm. Wherefore I pray and conjure you to halt at length in noble wise, and to desist from wickedness, that we may also obtain the promised good things: whereunto may we all attain, 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, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
Would that ye could bear with me in a little foolishness and, indeed ye do bear with me.(*)
Being about to enter upon his own praises he uses much previous correction. And he does this not once or twice, although the necessity of the subject, and what he had often said, were sufficient excuse for him. For he that remembereth sins which God remembered not, and who therefore saith that he was unworthy of the very name of the Apostles, even by the most insensate is seen clearly not to be saying what he is now going to say, for the sake of glory. For if one must say something startling, even this would be especially injurious to his glory, his speaking something about himself; and to the more part it is offensive. But nevertheless he regarded not timidly any of these things, but he looked to one thing, the salvation of his hearers. But still in order that he might not cause harm to the unthinking by this, by saying, I mean, great things of himself, he employs out of abundant caution these many preparatory correctives, and says, "Would that ye could bear with me," whilst I play the fool in some little things, yea, rather, "ye do indeed bear with me." Beholdest thou wisdom? For when he says, "would that," it is as putting it at their disposal: but when he even asserts [that they do], it is as confiding greatly in their affection, and as declaring that he both loves and is loved. Yea, rather, not from bare love merely, but from a sort of warm and insane passion he says that they ought to bear with him even when he plays the fool. And therefore he added, "For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy." He did not say, 'for I love you,' but uses a term far more vehement than this. For those souls are jealous which burn ardently for those they love, and jealousy can in no other way be begotten than out of a vehement affection. Then that they may not think, that it is for the sake of power, or honor, or wealth, or any other such like thing, that he desires their affection, he added, "with a jealousy of God." For God also is said to be jealous, not that any i should suppose passion, (for the Godhead is impassible,) but that all may know that He doeth all things from no other regard than their sakes over whom He is jealous; not that Himself may gain aught, but that He may save them. Among men indeed jealousy ariseth not from this cause, but for the sake of their own repose; not because the beloved ones sustain outrage, but lest these who love them should be wounded, and be outshone in the good graces, and stand lower in the affections, of the beloved. But here it is not so. 'For I care not,' he says, ' for this, lest I should stand lower in your esteem; but lest I should see you corrupted. For such is God's jealousy; and such is mine also, intense at once and pure.' Then there is also this necessary reason;
"For I espoused you to one husband, as a pure virgin." 'Therefore I am jealous, not for myself, but for him to whom I have espoused you.' For the present time is the time of espousal, but the time of the nuptials is another; when they sing, 'the Bridegroom hath risen up.' Oh what things unheard of! In the world they are virgins before the marriage, but after the marriage no longer. But here it is not so: but even though they be not virgins before this marriage, after the marriage they become virgins. So the whole Church is a virgin. For addressing himself even to all, both husbands and wives, he speaks thus. But let us see what he brought and espoused us with, what kind of nuptial gifts. Not gold, not silver, but the kingdom of heaven. Where fore also he said, "We are ambassadors on behalf of Christ," and beseeches them, when he was about to receive the Bride. What happened in Abraham's case was a type of this. (Gen. xxiv. 4, &c.) For he sent his faithful servant to seek a Gentile maiden in marriage; and in this case God sent His own servants to seek the Church in marriage for His son, and prophets from of old saying, "Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and forget thine own people and thy father's house, and the King shall desire thy beauty." (Ps. xlv. 10, 11.) Seest thou the prophet also espousing? seest thou the Apostle too expressing the same thing himself with much boldness, and saying, "I espoused you to one husband that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ?" Seest thou wisdom again? For having said, 'Ye ought to bear with me,' he did not say, ' for I am your teacher and I speak not for mine own sake:' but he uses this expression which invested them with especial dignity, placing himself in the room of her who promotes a match, and them in the rank of the bride; and he adds these words;
Ver. 3. "But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is toward Christ."
'For although the destruction be yours [alone], yet is the sorrow mine as well.' And consider his wisdom. For he does not assert, although they were corrupted; and so he showed when he said, "When your obedience is fulfilled," (c. x. 6.) and "I shall bewail many which have sinned already;" (c. xii. 21.) but still he does not leave them to get shameless. And therefore he says, "lest at any time." For this neither condemns nor is silent; for neither course were safe, whether to speak out plainly or to conceal perpetually. Therefore he employs this middle form, saying, "lest at any time." For this is the language neither of one that entirely distrusts, nor entirely relies on them, but of one who stands between these two. In this way then he palliated, but by his mention of that history threw them into an indescribable terror, and cuts them off from all forgiveness. For even although the serpent was malignant, and she senseless, yet did none of these things snatch the woman from punishment. 'Beware then,' he says, 'lest such be your fate, and there be naught to screen you. For he too promising greater things, so deceived.' Whence it is plain that these too, by boasting and puffing themselves up, deceived. And this may be conjectured not from this place only, but also from what he says afterwards,
Ver. 4. "If he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if ye receive a different Spirit which ye did not receive, or a different Gospel which ye did not accept, ye do well to bear with him."
And he does not say, 'Lest by any means as Adam was deceived:' but shows that those men are but women who are thus abused, for it is the part of woman to be deceived. And he did not say, 'so ye also should be deceived:' but keeping up the metaphor, he says, "so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is toward Christ." 'From the simplicity, I say, not from wickedness; neither out of wickedness [is it], nor out of your not believing, but out of simplicity.' But, nevertheless, not even under such circumstances are the deceived entitled to forgiveness, as Eve showed. But if this does not entitle to forgiveness, much more will it not do so, when through vain-glory any is so..
[2.] "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus whom we did not preach:" showing hereby that their deceivers were not Corinthians, but persons from some other quarter previously corrupted: wherefore he saith, "he that cometh."
"If ye receive a different Spirit, if a different Gospel which ye did not accept, ye do well to bear" with him. What sayest thou? Thou that saidst to the Galatians, "If any preach another Gospel to you than that ye have received, let him be anathema;" dost thou now say, "ye do well to bear" with him? And yet on this account it were meet not to bear with, but to recoil, from them; but if they say the same things, it is meet to bear with them. How then dost thou say, 'because they say the same things, it is not meet to bear with them?' for he says, 'if they said other things, it were meet to bear with them.' Let us then give good heed, for the danger is great, and the precipice deep, if men run past this carelessly; and what is here said giveth an entrance to all the heresies. What then is the sense of these words? Those persons so boasted as if the Apostles taught incompletely, and they were introducing somewhat more than they. For it is probable that with much idle talk, they were bringing in senseless rubbish so as to overlay these doctrines. And therefore he made mention of the serpent and of Eve who was thus deceived by the expectation of acquiring more. And alluding to this in the former Epistle also, he said, "Now ye are become rich, ye have reigned as kings without us;" and again, "we are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ." (1 Cor. iv. 8; ib. 10.) Since then it was probable that using the wisdom which is without, they talked much idly, what he says is this: that ' if these persons said any thing more, and preached a different Christ who ought to have been preached, but we omitted it, "ye do well to bear" with them.' For on this account he added, "whom we did not preach." 'But if the chief points of the faith are the same, what have ye the more of them? for whatsoever things they may say, they will say nothing more than what we have said.' And observe with what precision he states the case. For he did not say, 'if he that cometh saith any thing more;' for they did say something more, haranguing with more authority and with much beauty of language; wherefore he did not say this, but what? [If] "he that cometh preacheth another Jesus," a thing which had no need of that array of words: 'or ye receive a different Spirit," (for neither was there need of words in this case;) that is to say, 'makes you richer in grace; ' or "a different Gospel which ye did not accept," (nor did this again stand in need of words,) "ye do well to bear" with him. But consider, I pray thee, how he every where uses such a definition as shows that nothing very great, nor indeed any thing more, had been introduced by them. For when he had said, "If he that cometh preacheth another Jesus," he added, "whom we did not preach;" and "ye receive a different Spirit," he subjoined, "which ye did not receive; or a different Gospel," he added, "which ye did not accept," by all these showing that it is meet to attend to them, not simply if they say something more, but if they said any thing more which ought to have been said and was by us omitted. But if it ought not to have been said, and was therefore not said by us; or if they say only the same things as we, why gape ye so admiringly upon them? 'And yet if they say the same things,' saith one, 'wherefore dost thou hinder them?' Because that using hypocrisy, they introduce strange doctrines. This however for the present he doth not say, but afterwards asserts it, when he says, "They fashion themselves into Apostles of Christ;" (Ver. 13.) for the present he withdraws the disciples from their authority by less offensive considerations; and this not out of envy to them, but to secure these. Else why does he not hinder Apollos, who was, however, a "learned man, and mighty in the Scriptures;" (Acts xviii. 24; 1 Cor. xvi. 12) but even beseeches him, and promises he will send him? Because together with his learning he preserved also the integrity of the doctrines; but with these it was the reverse. And therefore he wars with them and blames the disciples for gaping admiringly upon them, saying, 'if aught that should have been said we omitted and they supplied, we do not hinder you from giving heed to them: but if all has been fully completed by us and nothing left deficient, whence is it that they caught you?' Wherefore also he adds,
Ver. 5. "For I reckon that I am not a whit behind the very chiefest Apostles," no longer making comparison of himself with them, but with Peter and the rest. 'So that if they know more than I do, [they know more] than they also.' And observe how here also he shows modesty. For he did not say, 'the Apostles said nothing more than I,' but what? "I reckon," so I deem, "that I am not a whit behind the very chiefest Apostles." For since this also appeared to bespeak an inferiority in him, that those having preceded him were of greater name; and more respect was entertained for them, and these persons were intending to foist themselves in; therefore he makes this comparison of himself with them with the dignity that becomes him. Therefore he also mentions them with encomiums, not speaking simply of "the Apostles," but "the very chiefest," meaning Peter and James and John.
[3.] Ver. 6. "But though I be rude in speech, yet am I not in knowledge."
For since those that corrupted the Corinthians had the advantage in this, that they were not rude; he mentions this also, showing that he was not ashamed of, but even prided himself upon it. And he said not, "But though I be rude in speech," yet so also are they, for this would have seemed to be accusing them as well as himself, and exalting these: but he overthrows the thing itself, the wisdom from without. And indeed in his former Epistle he contends even vehemently about this thing, saying that it not only contributes nothing to the Preaching, but it even throws a shadow on the glory of the Cross; (1 Cor. ii. 1.) for he says, "I came net with excellency of speech or of wisdom unto you, lest the cross of Christ should be made void; (1 Cor. i. 17.) and many other things of the same kind; because "in knowledge" they were "rude," which is also the extremest form of rudeness. When therefore it was necessary to institute a comparison in those things which were great, he compares himself with the Apostles: but when to show that which appeared to be a deficiency, he no longer does this, but grapples with the thing itself and shows that it was a superiority. And when indeed no necessity urged him, he says that he is "the least of the Apostles," and not worthy even of the title; but here again when occasion called, he says that he is "not a whit behind the very chiefest Apostles." For he knew that this would most advantage the disciples. Wherefore also he adds,
"Nay, in every thing we have made it manifest among all men to you ward." For here again he accuses the false Apostles as "walking in craftiness." (Chap. iv. 2.) And he said this of himself before also, that he did not live after the outward appearance, nor preach "handling the word deceitfully (ibid.) and corrupting it. But those men were one thing and appeared another. But not so he. Wherefore also he every where assumes a high tone, as doing nothing with a view to men's opinion nor concealing aught about himself. As he also said before, "by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience," (ibid.) so now again he saith "in every thing we have made it manifest to you." But what does this mean? 'We are rude,' he said, 'and do not conceal it: we receive from some persons and we do not keep it secret. We receive then from you, and we pretend not that we do not receive, as they do when they receive, but we make every thing that we do manifest unto you;' which was the conduct of one that both had exceeding confidence in them, and told them every thing truly. Wherefore he also calls them witnesses, saying now, "among all men to you-ward," and also before, "For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or even acknowledge." (Chap. i. 13.)
[4.] Then after he had defended his own conduct he goes on next to say with severity,
Ver. 7. "Or did I commit a sin in abasing myself that ye might be exalted?"
And in explanation of this, he adds,
Ver. 8. "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto you."
What he says is this; 'I lived in straitness;' for this is the force of "abasing myself." 'Can you then lay this to my charge? and do ye therefore lift up yourselves against me, because I abased myself by begging, by enduring straits, by suffering, by hungering, that ye might be exalted?' And how were they exalted by his being in straits? They were more edified and were not offended; which also might [well] be a very great accusation of them and a reproach of their weakness; that it was not possible in any other way to lead them on than by first abasing himself. 'Do ye then lay it to my charge that I abased myself? But thereby ye were exalted.' For since he said even above that they accused him, for that when present he was lowly, and when absent bold, in defending himself he here strikes them again, saying, ' this too was for your sakes.'
"I robbed other churches." Here finally he speaks reproachfully, but his former words prevent these from seeming offensive; for he said, "Bear with me in a little foolishness:" and before all his other achievements makes this his first boast. For this worldly men look to especially, and on this also those his adversaries greatly prided themselves. Therefore it is that he does not first enter on the subject of his perils, nor yet of his miracles, but on this of his contempt of money, because they prided themselves on this; and at the same time he also hints that they were wealthy. But what is to be admired in him is this, that when he was able to say that he was even supported by his own hands, he did not say this; but says that which especially shamed them and yet was no encomium on himself, namely, 'I took from others.' And he did not say "took," but "robbed," that is, 'I stripped them, and made them poor.' And what surely is greater, that it was not for superfluities, but for his necessities, for when he says 'wages,' he means necessary subsistence. And what is more grievous yet, "to minister unto you." We preach to you; and when I ought to be supported by you, I have enjoyed this at others' hands. The accusation is twofold, or rather three-fold; that when both living amongst them and ministering to them, and seeking necessary support, he had others supplying his wants. Great the excess, of the one negligence, of the other in zeal! For these sent to him even when at a great distance, and those did not even support him when amongst them.
[5.] Then because he had vehemently scourged them, he quietly again relaxes the vehemence of his rebuke, saying,
Ver. 9. "And when I was present with you, and was in want, I was not a burden on any man."
For he did not say, 'ye did not give to me,' but, 'I did not take,' for as yet he spares them. But nevertheless even in the subduedness of his language he covertly strikes them again, for the word, "present," is exceedingly emphatic, and so is "in want." For that they might not say, 'what matter then, if you had [enough]?' he added, "and was in want."
"I was not a burden" on you. Here again he hits them gently, as making such contributions reluctantly, as feeling them a burden. Then comes the reason also, full of accusation and fraught with jealousy. Wherefore also he introduced it, not in the way of a leading point, but as informing them whence and by whom he was supported, so as to stimulate them again, in an unsuspicious way, as to the point of alms-giving;
"For the measure of my want," he says, "the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied." Seest thou how he provokes them again, by bringing forward those that had ministered to him? For inspiring them first with a desire of knowing who these could be, when he said, "I robbed other churches;" he then mentions them also by name; which would incite them also unto almsgiving. For he thus persuades those who had been beaten [by them] in the matter of supporting the Apostle, not to be also beaten in the succor they gave to the poor. And he says this also in his Epistle to the Macedonians themselves, "For in my necessities ye sent unto me once and again, even in the beginning of the Gospel;" (Philipp. iv. 16, 15.) which point also was a very great commendation of them, that from the very beginning they shone forth. But observe how everywhere he mentions his "necessity," and no where a superfluity. Now therefore by saying "present," and in "want" he showed that he ought to have been supported by the Corinthians; and by the words, "they supplied the measure of my want," he shows that he did not so much as ask. And he assigns a reason which was not the real one. What then is this? That he had received from others; "for," says he, "the measure of my want those that came supplied." 'For this reason,' he says, 'I was not a burden; not because I had no confidence in you.' And yet it is for this latter reason that he so acts, and he shows it in what follows; but does not say it plainly, but throws it into the shade, leaving it to the conscience of his hearers. And he gives proof of it covertly in what follows, by saying,
"And in every" thing "I kept myself from being burdensome, and so will I keep" myself. "For think not," says he, "that I say these things that I may receive." Now the words "so will I keep myself," are severer, if he has not even yet confidence in them; but once for all had given up the idea of receiving aught from them. He shows, moreover, that they even considered this to be a burden; wherefore he said, "I have kept myself from being burdensome, and so will I keep myself." He says this in his former Epistle also, "I write not this that it may be so done unto me; for" it were "good for me rather to die, than that any man should make my glorying void." (1 Cor. ix. 15.) And here again, "I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep" myself.
[6.] Then, that he may not seem to speak these things for the sake of winning them on the better [to do this], he saith,
Ver. 10. "As the truth of Christ is in me." 'Do not think that I therefore have spoken, that I may receive, that I may the rather draw you on: for,' saith he, "as the truth is in me,
"No man shall stop me of this glorying in the regions of Achaia." For that none should think again that he is grieved at this, or that he speaks these things in anger, he even calls the thing a "glorying." And in his former Epistle too he dressed it out in like terms. For so that he may not wound them there either, he says, "What then is my reward?" "That when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without charge." (1 Cor. ix. 18.) And as he there calls it "reward," so doth he here "glorying," that they may not be excessively ashamed at what he said, as if he were asking and they gave not to him. 'For, what, if even ye would give?' saith he, 'Yet I do not accept it.' And the expression, "shall not stop me," is a metaphor taken from rivers, or from the report, as if running every where, of his receiving nothing. 'Ye stop not with your giving this my freedom of speech.' But he said not, 'ye stop not,' which would have been too cutting, but it "no man shall stop me in the regions of Achaia." This again was like giving them a fatal blow, and exceedingly apt to deject and pain them, since they were the only persons he refused [to take from]. 'For if he made that his boast, it were meet to make it so every where: but if he only does so among us, perchance this is owing to our weakness." Lest therefore they should so reason and be dejected, see how he corrects this.
Ver. 11. "Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth."
Quickly [is it done], and by an easy method. But still, not even so did he rid them of those charges. For he neither said, 'ye are not weak,' nor yet, 'ye are strong;' but, "I love you," which very greatly aggravated the accusation against them. For the not receiving from them, because they felt it an exceeding grievance, was a proof of special love toward them. So he acted in two contrary ways out of love; he both did receive, and did not receive: but this contrariety was on account of the disposition of the givers. And he did not say, 'I therefore do not take of you, because I exceedingly love you,' for this would have contained an accusation of their weakness and have thrown them into distress; but he turned what he said to another reason. What then is this?
Ver. 12. "That I may cut on occasion from them that desire an occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we."
For since this they sought earnestly, to find some handle against him, it is necessary to remove this also. For this is the one point on which they pique themselves. Therefore that they might not have any advantage whatever, it was necessary to set this right; for in other things they were inferior. For, as I have said, nothing doth so edify worldly people as the receiving nothing from them. Therefore the devil in his craftiness dropped this bait especially, when desirous to injure them in other respects. But it appears to me that this even was in hypocrisy. And therefore he did not say, 'wherein they have well done,' but what? "wherein they glory;" which also was as jeering at their glorying; for they gloried also of that which they were not. But the man of noble spirit not only ought not to boast of what he has not, but not even of what he possesses; as this blessed saint was wont to do, as the patriarch Abraham did, saying, "But I am earth and ashes." (Gen. xviii. 27.) For since he had no sins to speak of, but shone with good works; having run about in every direction and found no very great handle against himself, he betakes himself to his nature; and since the name of "earth" is in some way or other one of dignity, he added to it that of "ashes." Wherefore also another saith, "Why is earth and ashes proud?" (Ecclus. x. 9.)
[7.] For tell me not of the bloom of the countenance, nor of the uplifted neck, nor of the mantle, and the horse, and the followers; but reflect where all these things do end, and put that to them. But and if thou tell me of what appears to the eye, I too will tell thee of things in pictures, brighter far than these. But as we do not admire those for their appearance, as seeing what their nature is, that all is clay; so therefore let us not these either, for these too are but clay. Yea rather, even before they are dissolved and become dust, show me this uplifted [neck] a prey to fever and gasping out life; and then will I discourse with thee and will ask, What has become of all that profuse ornament? whither has that crowd of flatterers vanished, that attendance of slaves, that abundance of wealth and possessions? What wind hath visited and blown all away? Nay, even stretched upon the bier, he beareth the tokens of that wealth and that pride; a splendid garment thrown over him, poor and rich following him forth, the assembled crowds breathing words of good omen. Surely this also is a very mockery; howbeit even this besides is presently proved naught, like a blossom that perishes. For when we have passed over the threshold of the city gates, and after having delivered over the body to the worms, return, I will ask thee again, where is that vast crowd gone to? What has become of the clamor and uproar? where are the torches? where the bands of women? are not these things, then, a dream? And what too has become of the shouts? where are those many lips that cried, and bade him 'be of good cheer, for no man is immortal?' These things ought not now to be said to one that heareth not, but when he made prey of others, when he was overreaching, then with a slight change should it have been said to him, `Be not of good cheer, no man is immortal; hold in thy madness, extinguish thy lust;' but `Be of good cheer' is for the injured party. For to chant such things over this man now, is but like men exulting over him and speaking irony; for he ought not for this now to be of good cheer, but to fear and tremble.
And if even this advice is now of no use to him since he has run his course, yet at least let those of the rich who labor under the same disease, and follow him to the tomb, hear it. For although beforehand through the intoxication of wealth, they have no such thing in mind, yet at that season when the sight of him that is laid out even confirms what is said, let them be sober, let them be instructed: reflecting that yet a little while and they will come that shall bear them away to that fearful account, and to suffer the penalty of their acts of rapacity and extortion. 'And what is this to the poor?' saith one. Why, to many this also is a satisfaction, to see him that hath wronged them punished. 'But tons it is no satisfaction, but the escaping suffering ourselves.' I praise you exceeedingly and approve of you in that ye exult not over the calamities of others, but seek only your own safety. Come then, I will ensure you this also. For if we suffer evil at the hands of men, we cut off no small part of our debt by bearing what is done to us nobly. We receive therefore no injury; for God reckons the ill-treatment towards our debt, not according to the principle of justice but of His loving-kindness; and because He succored not him that suffered evil. 'Whence doth this appear?' saith one. The Jews once suffered evil at the hand of the Babylonians; and God did not prevent it: but they were carried away, children and women; yet afterwards did this captivity become a consolation to them in respect of their sins. Therefore He saith to Isaiah, "Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, ye priests: speak unto the heart of Jerusalem, for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for sins." (Is. xl. 1, 2.) And again; "Grant us peace, for Thou hast repaid us every thing." (ib. xxvi. 12, LXX.) And David saith; "Behold mine enemies, for they are multiplied; and forgive all my sins." (Ps. xxv. 19, 18.) And when he bore with Shimei cursing him, he said, "Let him alone, that the Lord may see my abasement, and requite me good for this day." (2 Sam. xvi. 11, 12.) For when He aideth us not when we suffer wrong, then most of all are we advantaged; for He sets it to the account of our sins, if we bear it thankfully.
[8.] So that when thou seest a rich man plundering spoor, leave him that suffereth wrong, and weep for the plunderer. For the one putteth off filth, the other bedaubeth himself with more filth. Such was the fate of Elisha's servant in the story of Naaman (2 Kings v. 20, &c.) For though he took not by violence, yet he did a wrong; for to get money by deceit is a wrong. What then befel? With the wrong he received also the leprosy; and he that was wronged was benefited, but he that did the wrong received the greatest possible harm. The same happens now also in the case of the soul. And this is of so great force that often by itself it hath propitiated God; yea though he who suffereth evil be unworthy of aid; yet when he so suffers in excess, by this alone he draweth God unto the forgiveness of himself, and to the punishment of him that did the wrong. Wherefore also God said of old to the heathen, "I indeed delivered them over unto a few things, but they have set themselves on together unto evil things;" (Zech. i. 15. LXX.) they shall suffer ills irremediable. For there is nothing, no, nothing, that doth so much exasperate God as rapine and violence and extortion. And why forsooth? Because it is very easy to abstain from this sin. For here it is not any natural desire that perturbeth the mind, but it ariseth from wilful negligence. How then doth the Apostle call it, "a root of evils." (1 Tim. vi. 10.) Why, I say so too, but this root is from us, and not from the nature of the things. And, if ye will,let us make a comparison and see which is the more imperious, the desire of money or of beauty; for that which shall be found to have struck down great men is the more difficult to master. Let us see then what great man the desire of money ever got possession of. Not one; only of exceeding pitiful and abject persons, Gehazi, Ahab, Judas, the priests of the Jews: but the desire for beauty overcame even the great prophet David. And this I say, not as extending forgiveness to those who are conquered by such a lust, but rather, as preparing them to be watchful. For when I have shown the strength of the passion, then, most especially, I show them to be deprived of every claim to forgiveness. For if indeed thou hadst not known the wild beast, thou wouldest have this to take refuge in; but now, having known, yet falling into it, thou wilt have no excuse. After him, it took possession of his son still more completely. And yet there was never man wiser than he, and all other virtue did he attain; still, however, he was seized so violently by this passion, that even in his vitals he received the wound. And the father indeed rose up again and renewed the struggle, and was crowned again; but the son showed nothing of the kind.
Therefore also Paul said, "It is better to marry than to burn:"(1 Cor. vii. 9.) and Christ, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." (Matt. xiv. 12.) But concerning money He spake not so, but, "whoso hath forsaken" his goods "shall receive an hundredfold. "(ib. 29.) 'How then,' saith one, 'did He say of the rich, that they shall hardly obtain the kingdom?' Again implying their weakness of character; not the imperiousness of money, but their utter slavery. And this is evident also from the advice which Paul gave. For from that lust he leads men quite away, saying. "But they that desire to be rich fall into temptation ;"(1 Tim. vi. 9.) but in the case of the other not so; but having separated them "for a season" only, and that by "consent," he advises to 'come together again' (1 Cor. vii. 5.) For he feared the billows of lust lest they should occasion a grievous shipwreck. This passion is even more vehement than anger. For it is not possible to feel anger when there is nothing provoking it, but a man cannot help desiring even when the face which moveth to it is not seen. Therefore this passion indeed He did not cut off altogether, but added the words, "without a cause." (Matt. v. 22. ) Nor again did He abolish all desire, but only that which is unlawful, for he saith, "Nevertheless, because of desires, let every man have his own wife." (1 Cor. vii. 2.) But to lay up treasure He allowed not, either with cause or without. For those passions were implanted in our nature for a necessary end; desire, for the procreation of children, and anger, for the succor of the injured, but desire of money not so. Therefore neither is the passion natural to us. So then if thou art made captive by it, thou wilt suffer so much the more the vilest punishment. Therefore surely, it is, that Paul, permitting even a second marriage, demands in the case of money great strictness, saying, "Why not rather take wrong? why not rather be defrauded?" (1 Cor. vi. 7.) And when treating of virginity, he says, "I have no commandment," (ib. vii. 25.)and "I speak this for your profit, not that I may cast a snare upon you;" (ib. 35.) but when his discourse is of money, he says, "Having raiment and food, let us be therewith content." (1 Tim. vi. 8. ) `How then is it,' saith one, ' that by this, more than the other, are many overcome?' Because they stand not so much on their guard against it as against lasciviousness and fornication; for if they had thought it equally dangerous, they would not, perhaps, have been made its captives. So also were those wretched virgins cast out of the bridechamber, because that, having struck down the great adversary, they were wounded by one weaker, and who was nothing. (Mat. xxv. 1, &c.) Besides this, one may say further, that if any, subduing lust, is overcome by money, often he does not in fact subdue lust, but has received from nature the gift of suffering no great uneasiness of that sort; for all are not equally inclined to it. Knowing then these things, and revolving frequently with ourselves the example of the virgins, let us shun this evil wild beast. For if virginity profited them nothing, but after countless toils and labors they perished through the love of money, who shall deliver us if we fall into this passion? Wherefore I beseech you to do all you can, both that ye be not taken captive by it, and that if taken, ye continue not in captivity, but break asunder those hard bonds. For so shall we be able to secure a footing in heaven and to obtain the countless good things; 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 for ever, and world without end. Amen.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into Apostles of Christ.
What sayest thou? they that preach Christ, they that take not money, they that bring not in a different gospel, "false apostles?" 'Yes,' he saith, and for this very reason most of all, because they make pretense of all these things for the purpose of deceiving. "Deceitful workers," for they do work indeed, but pull up what has been planted. For being well aware that otherwise they would not be well received, they take the mask of truth and so enact the drama of error. 'And yet,' saith one, 'they take no money.' That they may take greater things; that they may destroy the soul. Yea rather, even that was a falsehood; and they took money but did it secretly: and he shows this in what follows. And indeed he already hinted this where he said, "that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we:"(Ver. 12.) in what follows, however, he hinted it more plainly, saying, "If a man devour you, if a man take you captive, if a man exalt himself, ye bear with him. "(Ver. 20.) But at present he accuses them on another account, saying," fashioning themselves." They had only a "fashion;" the skin of the sheep was but outside clothing. Ver. 14, 15. "And no marvel; for if even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light, is it a great thing if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness?"
So that if one ought to marvel, this is what he ought to marvel at, and not at their transformation. For when their teacher dares do any thing, no marvel that the disciples also follow. But what is "an angel of light?" That hath free liberty to speak, that standeth near to God. For there are also angels of darkness; those which be the devil's, those dark and cruel ones. And the devil hath deceived many so, fashioning himself "into," not becoming, "an angel of light." So do also do these bear about them the form of an Apostle, not the power itself, for this they cannot. But nothing is so like the devil as to do things for display. But what is "a ministry of righteousness?" That which we are who preach to you a Gospel having righteousness. For he either means this, or else that they invest themselves with the character of righteous men. How then shall we know them? "By their works," as Christ said. Wherefore he is compelled to place his own good deeds and their wickedness side by side, that the spurious may become evident by the comparison. And when about again to enter upon his own praises, he first accuses them, in order to show that such an argument was forced upon him, lest any should accuse him for speaking about himself, and says,
Ver. 16. "Again I say." For he had even already used much preparatory corrective: 'But nevertheless I am not contented with what I have said, but I say yet again,'
"Let no man think me foolish." For this was what they did—boasted without a reason.—But observe, I pray you, how often, when about to enter upon his own praises, he checks himself. 'For indeed it is the act of folly,' he says, 'to boast: but I do it, not as playing the fool, but because compelled. But if ye do not believe me, but though ye see there is a necessity will condemn me; not even so will I decline the task.' Seest thou how he showed that there was great necessity for his speaking. For he that shunned not even this suspicion, consider what violent impulsion to speak he must have undergone, how he travailed and was constrained to speak. But, nevertheless, even so he employs this thing with moderation. For he did not say, 'that I may glory.' And when about to do "a little," again he uses yet another deprecatory expression, saying,
Ver. 17. "That which I speak, I speak not after the Lord, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of glorifying."
Seest thou how glorying is not "after the Lord?" For He saith, "When ye shall have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants." (Luke xvii. 10.) Howbeit, by itself indeed it is not "after the Lord," but by the intention it becomes so. And therefore he said, "That which I speak," not accusing the motive, but the words. Since his aim is so admirable as to dignify the words also. For as a manslayer, though his action be of those most strictly forbidden, has often been approved from the intention; and as circumcision, although it is not 'after the Lord, has become so from the intention, so also glorying. And wherefore then does he not use so great strictness of expression? Because he is hastening on to another point, and he freely gratifies even to superfluity those who are desirous to find a handle against him, so that he may say only the things that are profitable; for when said they were enough to extinguish all that suspicion. "But as in foolishness." Before he says, "Would that ye could bear with me in a little foolishness,' (Ver. 4.) but now "as in foolishness;" for the farther he proceeds, the more he clears his language. Then that thou mayest not think that he plays the fool on all points, he added, "in this confidence of glorying." In this particular he means: just as in another place he said, "that we be not put to shame, "and added, "in this confidence of glorying." (Chap. ix. 4.) And again, in another place, having said, "Or what I purpose do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be the yea yea, and the nay nay?" (Chap. i. 17.) And having shown that he cannot in all cases even fulfil what he promises, because he does not purpose after the flesh, lest any should make this suspicion stretch to the doctrine also, he adds, "But as God is faithful our word towards you was not yea and nay." (Ibid. 18.)
[2.] And observe how after having said so many things before, he again sets down yet other grounds of excuse, saying further thus,
Ver. 18. "Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also."
What is, "after the flesh?" Of things external, of high birth, of wealth, of wisdom, of being circumcised, of Hebrew ancestry, of popular renown. And behold wisdom. He sets down those things which he shows to be nothings, and then, folly also. For if to glory in what are really good things be folly, much more is it so [to glory in] those that are nothing. And this is what he calls, "not after the Lord." For it is no advantage to be a Hebrew, or any such like things soever. 'Think not, therefore, that I set these down as a virtue; no; but because those men boast I also am compelled to institute my comparison on these points.' Which he does also in another place, saying, "If any man thinketh that he may trust in the flesh, I more:" (Phil. iii. 4.) and there, it is on their account that trusted in this. Just as if one who was come of an illustrious race but had chosen a philosophic life, should see others priding themselves greatly on being well-born; and being desirious of taking down their vanity, should be compelled to speak of his own distinction; not to adorn himself, but to humble them; so, truly, does Paul also do. Then leaving those, he empties all his censure upon the Corinthians, saying,
Ver. 19. "For ye bear with the foolish gladly." 'So that ye are to blame for this, and more than they. For if ye had not borne with them, and so far as it lay in them received damage, I would not have spoken a word; but I do it out of a tender care for your salvation, and in condescension. And behold, how he accompanies even his censure with praise. For having said, "ye bear with the foolish gladly;" he added,
"Being wise yourselves." For it was a sign of folly to glory, and on such matters. And yet it behoved to rebuke them, and say, 'Do not bear with the foolish;' he does this, however, at greater advantage. For in that case he would have seemed to rebuke them because he himself was destitute of these advantages; but now having showed himself to be their superior even in these points, and to esteem them to be nothing, he corrects them with greater effect. At present, however, before entering upon his own praises and the comparison, he also reproaches the Corinthians with their great slavishness, because they were extravagantly submissive to them. And observe how he ridicules them.
Ver. 20. "For ye bear with a man," he says, "if he devour you."
How then saidst thou, "that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we?" (Ver. 12. ) Seest thou that he shows that they did take of them, and not simply take, but even in excess: for the term "devour" plainly shows this,
"If a man bring you into bondage." 'Ye have given away both your money,' he says, 'and your persons, and your freedom. For this is more than taking of you; to be masters not only of your money, but of yourselves also.' And he makes this plain even before, where he says, "If others partake of this right over you, do not we much more?" (1 Cor. ix. 12.) Then he addeth what is more severe, saying,
"If a man exalt himself." 'For neither is your slavery of a moderate sort, nor are your masters gentle, but burdensome and odious.'
"If a man smite you on the face." Seest thou again a further stretch of tyranny? He said this, not meaning that they were stricken on the face, but that they spat upon and dishonored them; wherefore he added,
Ver. 21. "I speak by way of disparagement," for ye suffer no whir less than men smitten on the face. What now can be stronger than this? What oppression more bitter than this? when having taken from you both your money and your freedom and your honor, they even so are not gentle towards you nor suffer you to abide in the rank of servants, but have used you more insultingly than any bought slave.(*)
"As though we had been weak." The expression is obscure. For since it was a disagreeable subject he therefore so expressed it as to steal away the offensiveness by the obscurity. For what he wishes to say is this. 'For cannot we also do these things? Yes, but we do them not. Wherefore then do ye bear with these men, as though we could not do these things? Surely it were something to impute to you that ye even bear with men who play the fool; but that ye do this, even when they so despise you, plunder you, exalt themselves, smite you, can admit neither of excuse nor any reason at all. For this is a new fashion of deceiving. For men that deceive both give and flatter; but these both deceive, and take and insult you. Whence ye cannot have a shadow of allowance, seeing that ye spit on those that humble themselves for your sakes that ye may be exalted, but admire those who exalt themselves that ye may be humbled. For could not we too do these things? Yes, but we do not wish it, looking to your advantage. For they indeed sacrificing your interests seek their own, but we sacrificing our own interests seek for yours.' Seest thou how in every instance, whilst speaking plainly to them, he also alarms them by what he says. 'For,' he says, 'if it be on this account that ye honor them, because they smite and insult you, we also can do this, enslave, smite, exalt ourselves against you.'
[3.] Seest thou how he lays upon them the whole blame, both of their senseless pride and of what seems to be folly in himself. 'For not that I may show myself more conspicuous, but that I may set you free from this bitter slavery, am I compelled to glory some little. But it is meet to examine not simply things that are said, but, in addition, the reason also. For Samuel also put together a high panegyric upon himself, when he anointed Saul, saying, "Whose ass have I taken, or calf, or shoes? or have I oppressed any of you?" (1 Sam. xii. 3, LXX.) And yet no one finds fault with him. And the reason is because he did not say it by way of setting off himself; but because he was going to appoint a king, he wishes under the form of a defence [of himself] to instruct him to be meek and gentle. And observe the wisdom of the prophet, or rather the loving kindness of God. For because he wished to turn them from [their design,] bringing together a number of grievous things he asserted them of their future king, as, for instance, that he would make their wives grind at the mill, (1 Sam. viii. 11-18.) the men shepherds and muleteers; for he went through all the service appertaining to the kingdom with minuteness. But when he saw that they would not be hindered by any of these things, but were incurably distempered; he thus both spareth them and composeth their king to gentleness. (1 Sam. xii. 5.) Therefore he also takes him to witness. For indeed no one was then bringing suit or charge against him that he needed to defend himself, but he said those things in order to make him better. And therefore also he added, to take down his pride, "If ye will hearken, ye and your king," (ibid. 14.) such and such good things shall be yours; "but if ye will not hearken, then the reverse of all." Amos also said, "I was no prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but only a herdsman, a gatherer of sycamore fruit. And God took me." (Amos vii. 14, 15.) But he did not say this to exalt himself, but to step their mouths that suspected him as no prophet, and to show that he is no deceiver, nor says of his own mind the things which he says. Again, another also, to show the very same thing, said, "But truly I am full of power by the spirit and might of the Lord." (Micah iii. 8.) And David also when he related the matter of the lion and of the bear, (1 Sam. xvii. 34, &c.) spake not to glorify himself, but to bring about a great and admirable end. For since it was not believed possible he could conquer the barbarian unarmed, he that was not able even to bear arms; he was compelled to give proofs of his own valor. And when he cut off Saul's skirt, he said not what he said out of display, but to repel an ill suspicion which they had scattered abroad against him, saying, that he wished to kill him. (1 Sam. xxiv. 4, &c.) It is meet therefore every where to seek for the reason. For he that looks to the advantage of his hearers even though he should praise himself, not only deserves not to be found fault with, but even to be crowned; and if he is silent, then to be found fault with. For if David had then been silent in the matter of Goliath, they would not have allowed him to go out to the battle, nor to have raised that illustrious trophy. On this account then he speaks being compelled; and that not to his brethren, although he was distrusted by them too as well as by the king; but envy stopped their ears. Therefore leaving them alone, he tells his tale to him who was not as yet envious of him.
[4.] For envy is a fearful, a fearful thing, and persuades men to despise their own salvation. In this way did both Cain destroy himself, and again, before his time, the devil who was the destroyer of his father. So did Saul invite an evil demon against his own soul; and when he had invited, he again envied his physician. For such is the nature of envy; he knew that he was saved, yet he would rather have perished than see him that saved him had in honor. What can be more grievous than this passion? One cannot err in calling it the devil's offspring. And in it is contained the fruit of vainglory, or rather its root also; for both these evils are wont mutually to produce each other. And thus in truth it was that Saul even thus envied, when they said, "David smote by ten thousands," (1 Sam. xviii. 7.) than which what can be more senseless? For why dost thou envy? tell me! 'Because such an one praised him?' Yet surely thou oughtest to rejoice; besides, thou dost not know even whether the praise be true. And dost thou therefore grieve because without being admirable he hath been praised as such? And yet thou oughtest to feel pity. For if he be good, thou oughtest not to envy him when praised, but thyself to praise along with those that speak well of him; but if not such, why art thou galled? why thrust the sword against thyself? 'Because admired by men?' But men to-day are and to- morrow are not.' But because he enjoys glory?' Of what sort, tell me? That of which the prophet says that it is "the flower of grass." (Isa. xl. 6. LXX.) Art thou then therefore envious because thou bearest no burden, nor carriest about with thee such loads of grass? But if he seems to thee to be enviable on this account, then why not also woodcutters who carry burdens every day and come to the city [with them]? For that burden is nothing better than this, but even worse. For theirs indeed galls the body only, but this hath oftentimes harmed the soul even and occasioned greater solicitude than pleasure. And should one have gained renown through eloquence, the fear he endures is greater than the good report he bears; yea, what is more, the one is short, the other perpetual. 'But he is in favor with those in authority?' In that too again is danger and envy. For as thou feelest towards him, so do many others feel. 'But he is praised continually?' This produces bitter slavery. For he will not dare to do fearlessly aught of what according to his judgment he should, lest he should offend those that extol him, for that distinction is a hard bondage to him. So that the more he is known to, so many the more masters he has, and his slavery becomes the greater, as masters of his are found in every quarter. A servant indeed, when he is released from the eye of his master, both takes breath and lives in all freedom; but this man meets with masters at every turn, for he is the slave of all that appear in the forum. And even should some necessary object press, he dares not set foot in the forum, except it be with his servants following, and his horse, and all his other show set in array, lest his masters condemn him. And if he sees some friend of those who are truly so, he has not the boldness to talk with him on an equal footing: for he is afraid of his masters, lest they depose him from his glory. So that the more distinguished he is, so much the more he is enslaved. And if he suffer aught that is disagreeable, the insult is the more annoying, both in that he has more to witness it and it seems to infringe his dignity. It is not only an insult, but a calamity also, for he has also many who exult at it; and in like way if he come to the enjoyment of any good thing, he has more who envy and detract and do their vigilance to destroy him. Is this then a good? tell me. Is this glory? By no means; but ingloriousness, and slavery, and bonds, and every burdensome thing one can say. But if the glory that cometh of men be so greatly to be coveted in thy account, and if it quite disquiets thee that such and such an one is applauded of the many; when thou beholdest him in the enjoyment of that applause, pass over in thy thought to the world to come and the glory which is there. And just as when hurrying to escape the onset of a wild beast, thou enterest into a cabin and shuttest to the doors; so now also flee unto the life to come, and that unspeakable glory. For so shalt thou both tread this under thy feet, and wilt easily lay hold upon that, and wilt enjoy the true liberty, and the eternal good things; 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 ever, and world without end. Amen.
Yet whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak in foolishness,) I am bold also.
See him again drawing back and using depreciation and correctives beforehand, although he has already even said many such things: "Would that ye could bear with me in a little foolishness;" (Ver. 1.) and again, "Let no man think me foolish: if ye do, yet as foolish receive me." (Ver. 16.) "That which I speak, I speak not after the Lord, but as in foolishness." (Ver. 17.) "Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also;" (Ver. 18.) and here again, "Whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak in foolishness) I am bold also." Boldness and folly he calls it to speak aught great of himself, and that though there was a necessity, teaching us even to an excess to avoid any thing of the sort. For if after we have done all, we ought to call ourselves unprofitable; of what forgiveness can he be worthy who, when no reason presses, exalts himself and boasts? Therefore also did the Pharisee meet the fate he did, and even in harbor suffered shipwreck because he struck upon this rock. Therefore also doth Paul, although he sees very ample necessity for it, draw back nevertheless, and keep on observing that such speaking is a mark of foolishness. And then at length he makes the venture, putting forward the plea of necessity, and says,
Ver. 22. "Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I."
For it was not all Hebrews that were Israelites, since both the Ammonites and Moabites were Hebrews. Wherefore he added somewhat to clear his nobility of descent, and says,
Ver. 22, 23. "Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ. (I speak as one beside himself,) I more."
He is not content with his former deprecation, but uses it again here also. "I speak as one beside himself, I more." I am their superior and their better. And indeed he possessed clear proofs of his superiority, but nevertheless even so he terms the thing a folly. And yet if they were false Apostles, he heeded not to have introduced his own superiority by way of comparison, but to have destroyed their claim to "be ministers" at all. Well, he did destroy it, saying, "False Apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into Apostles of Christ," (Ver. 13.) but now he doth not proceed in that way, for his discourse was about to proceed to strict examination; and no one when an examination is in hand simply asserts; but having first stated the case in the way of comparison, he shows it to be negatived by the facts, a very strong negative. But besides, it is their opinion he gives, not his own assertion, when he says, "Are they ministers of Christ?" And having said, "I more," he proceeds in his comparison, and shows that not by bare assertions, but by furnishing the proof that facts supply, he maintains the impress of the Apostleship. And leaving all his miracles, he begins with his trials; thus saying,
"In labors more abundantly, in stripes above measure." This latter is greater than the former; to be both beaten and scourged.
"In prisons more abundantly." Here too again is there an increase. "In deaths oft." (1 Cor. xv. 31.) For, "I die," saith he, "daily." But here, even in reality; 'for I have oft been delivered into mortal dangers."
Ver. 24. "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one."
Why, "save one?" There was an ancient law that he who had received more than the forty should be held disgraced amongst them. Lest then the vehemence and impetuosity of the executioner by inflicting more than the number should cause a man to be disgraced, they decreed that they should be inflicted, "save one," that even if the executioner should exceed, he might not overpass the forty, but remaining within the prescribed number might not bring degradation on him that was scourged.
Ver. 25. "Thrice was I beaten with rods once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck."
And what has this to do with the Gospel? Because he went forth on long journeys; and those by sea.
"A night and a day I have been in the deep." Some say this means out on the open sea, others, swimming upon it, which is also the truer interpretation. There is nothing wonderful, at least, about the former, nor would he have placed it as greater than his shipwrecks.
Ver. 26. "In perils of rivers."
For he was compelled also to cross rivers. "In perils of robbers, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness." 'Everywhere were contests set before me, in places, in countries, in cities, in deserts.'
"In perils from the Gentiles, in perils amongst false brethren."
Behold another kind of warfare. For not only did such as were enemies strike at him, but those also who played the hypocrite; and he had need of much firmness, much prudence.
[2.] Ver. 27. "In labor and travail."
Perils succeed to labors, labors to perils, one upon other and unintermitted, and allowed him not to take breath even for a little.
Ver. 27, 28. "In journeyings often, in hunger and thirst and nakedness, besides those things that are without."
What is left out is more than what is enumerated. Yea rather, one cannot count the number of those even which are enumerated; for he has not set them down specifically, but has mentioned those the number of which was small and easily comprehended, saying, "thrice" and "thrice," (Ver. 25.) and [again] "once ;" but of the others he does not mention the number because he had endured them often. And he recounts not their results as that he had converted so many and so many, but only what he suffered on behalf of the Preaching; at once out of modesty, and as showing that even should nothing have been gained but labor, even so his title to wages has been fulfilled.
"That which presseth upon me daily." The tumults, the disturbances, the assaults of mobs, onsets of cities. For the Jews waged war against this man most of all because he most of all confounded them, and his changing sides all at once was the greatest refutation of their madness. And there breathed a mighty war against him, from his own people, from strangers, from false brethren; and every where were billows and precipices, in the inhabited world, in the uninhabited, by land, by sea, without, within. And he had not even a full supply of necessary food, nor even of thin clothing, but the champion of the world wrestled in nakedness and fought in hunger; so far was he from enriching himself. Yet he murmured not, but was grateful for these things to the Judge of the combat.
"Anxiety for all the Churches." This was the chief thing of all, that his soul too was distracted, and his thoughts divided. For even if nothing from without had assailed him; yet the war within was enough, those waves on waves, that sleet of cares, that war of thoughts. For if one that hath charge of but a single house, and hath servants and superintendents and stewards, often cannot take breath for cares, though there be none that molests him: he that hath the care not of a single house, but of cities and peoples and nations and of the whole world; and in respect to such great concerns, and with so many spitefully entreating him, and single-handed, and suffering so many things, and so tenderly concerned as not even a father is for his children—consider what he endured. For that thou mayest not say, What if he was anxious, yet the anxiety was slight, he added further the intensity of the care, saying,
Ver. 29. "Who is weak, and I am not weak?" He did not say, 'and I share not in his dejection?' but, 'so am I troubled and disturbed, as though I myself were laboring under that very affection, that very infirmity.'
"Who is made to stumble, and I burn not?" See, again, how he places before us the excess of his grief by calling it "burning." 'I am on fire,' 'I am in a flame,' he says, which is surely greater than any thing he has said. For those other things, although violent, yet both pass quickly by, and brought with them that pleasure which is unfading; but this was what afflicted and straightened him, and pierced his mind through and through; the suffering such things for each one of the weak, whosoever he might be. For he did not feel pained for the greater sort only and despise the lesser, but counted even the abject amongst his familiar friends. Wherefore also he said, "who is weak?" whosoever he may be; and as though he were himself the Church throughout the world, so was he distressed for every member.
Ver. 30. "If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern my weakness."
Seest thou that he no where glorieth of miracles, but of his persecutions and his trials? For this is meant by "weaknesses." And he shows that his warfare was of a diversified character. For both the Jews warred upon him, and the Gentiles stood against him, and the false brethren fought with him, and brethren caused him sorrow, through their weakness and by taking offense:—on every side he found trouble and disturbance, from friends and from strangers. This is the especial mark of an Apostle, by these things is the Gospel woven.
Ver. 31, 32. "The God and Father of the Lord Jesus knoweth that I lie not. The Governor under Aretas the king guarded the city of the Damascenes, desiring to apprehend me."
What can be the reason that he here strongly confirms and gives assurance of [his truth], seeing he did not so in respect to any of the former things? Because, perhaps, this was of older date and not so well known; whilst of those other facts, his care for the churches, and all the rest, they were themselves cognisant. See then how great the war [against him] was, since on his account the city was "guarded." And when I say this of the war, I say it of the zeal of Paul; for except this had breathed intensely, it had not kindled the governor to so great madness. These things are the part of an apostolic soul, to suffer so great things and yet in nothing to veer about, but to bear nobly whatever befalls; yet not to go out to meet dangers, nor to rush upon them. See for instance here, how he was content to evade the siege, by being "let down through a window in a basket." For though he were even desirous "to depart hence;" still nevertheless he also passionately affected the salvation of men. And therefore he ofttimes had recourse even to such devices as these, preserving himself for the Preaching; and he refused not to use even human contrivances when the occasion called for them; so sober and watchful was he. For in cases where evils were inevitable, he needed only grace; but where the trial was of a measured character, he devises many things of himself even, here again ascribing the whole to God. And just as a spark of unquenchable fire, if it fell into the sea, would be merged as many waves swept over it, yet would again rise shining to the surface; even so surely the blessed Paul also would now be overwhelmed by perils, and now again, having dived through them, would come up more radiant, overcoming by suffering evil.
[3.] For this is the brilliant victory, this is the Church's trophy, thus is the Devil overthrown when we suffer injury. For when we suffer, he is taken captive; and himself suffers harm, when he would fain inflict it on us. And this happened in Paul's case also; and the more he plied him with perils, the more was he defeated. Nor did he raise up against him only one kind of trials, but various and diverse. For some involved labor, others sorrow, others fear, others pain, others care, others shame, others all these at once; but yet he was victorious in all. And like as if a single soldier, having the whole world fighting against him, should move through the mid ranks of his enemies, and suffer no harm: even so did Paul, showing himself singly, among barbarians, among Greeks, on every land, on every sea, abide unconquered. And as a spark, falling upon reeds and hay, changes into its own nature the things so kindled; so also did this man setting upon all make things change over unto the truth; like a winter torrent, sweeping over all things and overturning every obstacle. And like some champion who wrestles, runs, and boxes too; or soldier engaged by turns in storming, fighting on foot, on shipboard; so did he try by turns every form of fight, and breathed out fire, and was unapproachable by all; with his single body taking possession of the world, with his single tongue putting all to flight. Not with such force did those many trumpets fall upon the stones of Jericho and throw them down, as did the sound of this man's voice both dash to the earth the devil's strong-holds and bring over to himself those that were against him. And when he had collected a multitude of captives, having armed the same, he made them again his own army, and by their means conquered. Wonderful was David who laid Goliah low with a single stone; but if thou wilt examine Paul's achievements, that is a child's exploit, and great as is the difference between a shepherd and a general, so great the difference thou shall see here. For this man brought down no Goliath by the hurling of a stone, but by speaking only he scattered the whole array of the Devil; as a lion roaring and darting out flame from his tongue, so was he found by all irresistible; and bounded everywhere by turns continually; he ran to these, he came to those, he turned about to these, he bounded away to others, swifter in his attack than the wind; governing the whole world, as though a single house or a single ship; rescuing the sinking, steadying the dizzied, cheering the sailors, sitting at the tiller, keeping an eye to the prow, tightening the yards, handling an oar, pulling at the mast, watching the sky; being all things in himself, both sailor, and pilot, and pilot's mate, and sail, and ship; and suffering all things in order to relieve the evils of others. For consider. He endured shipwreck that he might stay the shipwreck of the world; "a day and a night he passed in the deep," that he might draw it up from the deep of error; he was "in weariness" that he might refresh the weary; he endured smiting that he might heal those that had been smitten of the devil; he passed his time in prisons that he might lead forth to the light those that were sitting in prison and in darkness; he was "in deaths oft" that he might deliver from grievous deaths; "five times he received forty stripes save one" that he might free those that inflicted them from the scourge of the devil; he was "beaten with rods" that he might bring them under "the rod and the staff" of Christ; (Ps. xxiii. 4.) he "was stoned," that he might deliver them from the senseless stones; he "was in the wilderness, that he might take them out of the wilderness; "in journeying," to stay their wanderings and open the way that leadeth to heaven; he "was in perils in the cities," that he might show the city which is above; "in hunger and thirst," to deliver from a more grievous hunger; "in nakedness," to clothe their unseemliness with the robe of Christ; set upon by the mob, to extricate them from the besetment of fiends; he burned, that he might quench the burning darts of the devil: "through a window was let down from the wall," to send up from below those that lay prostrate upon the ground. Shall we then talk any more, seeing we do not so much as know what Paul suffered? shall we make mention an y more of goods, or even of wife, or city, or freedom, when we have seen him ten thousand times despising even life itself? The martyr dies once for all: but that blessed saint in his one body and one soul endured so many perils as were enough to disturb even a soul of adamant; and what things all the saints together have suffered in so many bodies, those all he himself endured in one: he entered into the world as if a race-course, and stripped himself of all, and so made a noble stand. For he knew the fiends that were wrestling with him. Wherefore also he shone forth brightly at once from the beginning, from the very starting-post, and even to the end he continued the same; yea, rather he even increased the intensity of his pursuit as he drew nearer to the prize. And what surely is wonderful is that though suffering and doing such great things, he knew how to maintain an exceeding modesty. For when he was driven upon the necessity of relating his own good deeds, he ran quickly over them all; although he might have filled books without number, had he wished to unfold in detail every thing he mentioned; if he had specified the Churches he was in care for, if his prisons and his achievments in them, if of the other things one by one, the besetments, the assaults. But he would not. Knowing then these things, let us also learn to be modest and not to glory at any time in wealth or other worldly things, but in the reproaches we suffer for Christ's sake, and in these, only when need compels; for if there be nothing urging it, let us not mention these even, (lest we be puffed up,) but our sins only. For so shall we both easily be released from them and shall have God propitious to us, and shall attain the life 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 Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.
It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory,(*) [for] I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
What is this? Doth he who has spoken such great things say, [It is not expedient] "doubtless to glory?" as if he had said nothing? No; not as if he had said nothing: but because he is going to pass to another species of boasting, which is not intended indeed by so great a reward, but which to the many (though not to careful examiners) seems to set him off in brighter colors, he says, "It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory." For truly the great grounds of boasting were those which he had recounted, those of his trials; he has however other things also to tell of, such as concern the revelations, the unspeakable mysteries. And wherefore, says he, "It is not expedient for me?" he means, 'lest it lift me up to pride.' What sayest thou? For if thou speak not of them, yet dost thou not know of them? But our knowing of them ourselves doth not lift us up so much as our publishing them to others. For it is not the nature of good deeds that useth to lift a man up, but their being witnessed to, and known of, by the many. For this cause therefore he saith, "It is not expedient for me;" and, 'that I may not implant too great an idea of me in those who hear.' For those men indeed, the false apostles, said even what was not true about themselves; but this man hides even what is true, and that too although so great necessity lies upon him, and says, "It is not expedient for me;" teaching one and all even to superfluity to avoid any thing of the sort. For this thing is attended with no advantage, but even with harm, except there be some necessary and useful reason which induceth us thereto. Having then spoken of his perils, trials, snares, dejections, shipwrecks, he passeth to another species of boasting, saying,
Ver. 2, 3. "I knew a man, fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not; or out of the body, I know not: God knoweth;) such an one caught up even to the third heaven. And I know how that he was caught up into Paradise, (whether in the body, I know not; or out of the body, I know not;) and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. On behalf of such an one will I glory: but on mine own behalf I will not glory."
Great indeed was this revelation. But this was not the only one: there were many others besides, but he mentions one out of many. For that there were many, hear what he says: "Lest I should be exalted overmuch through the exceeding greatness of the revelations." 'And yet,' a man may say, 'if he wished to conceal them, he ought not to have given any intimation whatever or said any thing of the sort; but if he wished to speak of them, to speak plainly. ' Wherefore then is it that he neither spoke plainly nor kept silence? To show by this also that he resorts to the thing unwillingly. And therefore also he has stated the time, "fourteen years." For he does not mention it without an object, but to show that he who had refrained for so long a time would not now have spoken out, except the necessity for doing so had been great. But he would have still kept silence, had he not seen the brethren perishing. Now if Paul from the very beginning was such an one as to be counted worthy of such a revelation, when as yet he had not wrought such good works; consider what he must have grown to in fourteen years. And observe how even in this very matter he shows modesty, by his saying some things, but confessing that of others he is ignorant. For that he was caught up indeed, he declared, but whether "in the body" or "out of the body" he says he does not know. And yet it would have been quite enough, if he had told of his being caught up and had been silent [about the other]; but as it is, in his modesty he adds this also. What then? Was it the mind that was caught up and the soul, whilst the body remained dead? or was the body caught up? It is impossible to tell. For if Paul who was caught up and whom things unspeakable, so many and so great, had befallen was in ignorance, much more we. For, indeed, that he was in Paradise he knew, and that he was in the third heaven he was not ignorant, but the manner he knew not clearly. And see from yet another consideration how free he is from pride. For in his narrative about "the city of the Damascenes" (2 Cor. xi. 32.) he confirms what he says, but here not; for it was not his aim to establish this fact strongly, but to men- mention and intimate it only. Wherefore also he goes on to say, "Of such an one will I glory;" not meaning that he who was caught up was some other person, but he so frames his language in the best manner he possibly could, so as at once to mention the fact, and to avoid speaking of himself openly. For what sequence would there be in bringing some one else forward, when discoursing about himself? Wherefore then did he so put it? It was not all one to say, 'I was caught up,' and, "I knew one that was caught up;" and ' I will glory of myself,' and, "I will glory of such an one." Now if any should say, 'And how is it possible to be caught up without a body?' I will ask him, ' How is it possible to be caught up with a body?' for this is even more inexplicable than the other, if you examine by reasonings and do not give place to faith.
[2.] But wherefore was he also caught up? As I think, that he might not seem to be inferior to the rest of the Apostles. For since they had companied with Christ, but Paul had not: He therefore caught up unto glory him also. "Into Paradise." For great was the name of this place, and it was everywhere celebrated. Wherefore also Christ said, "To-day thou shalt he with Me in Paradise." (Luke xxiii. 43.)
"On behalf of such an one will I glory?" wherefore? For if another were caught up, wherefore dost thou glory? Whence it is evident that he said these things .of himself. And if he added, "but of myself I will not glory," he says nothing else than this, that, 'when there is no necessity, I will say nothing of that kind fruitlessly and at random;' or else he is again throwing obscurity over what he had said, as best he might. For that the whole discourse was about himself, what follows also clearly shows; for he went on to say,
Ver. 6. "But if I should even desire to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I shall speak the truth. "
How then saidst thou before, "Would that ye could bear with me a little in my foolishness;" (Chap. xi. 1.) and, "That which I speak, I speak not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly;" (Chap. xi. 17) but here, "Though I should even desire to glory, I shall not be foolish?" Not in regard of glorying, but of lying; for if glorying be foolishness, how much more lying?
It is then with regard to this that he says, "I shall not be foolish." Wherefore also he added,
"For I shall speak the truth; but I forbear, lest any man should account of me above that which he seeth, or that he heareth from me." Here you have the acknowledged reason; for they even deemed them to he gods, on account of the greatness of their miracles. As then in the case of the elements, God hath done both things, creating them at once weak and glorious; the one, to proclaim His own power; the other, to prevent the error of mankind: so truly here also were they both wonderful and weak, so that by the facts themselves were the unbelievers instructed. For if whilst continuing to be wonderful only and giving no proof of weakness, they had by words tried to draw away the many from conceiving of them more than the truth; not only would they have nothing succeeded, but they would even have brought about the contrary. For those dissuasions in words would have seemed rather to spring of lowliness of mind, and would have caused them to be the more admired. Therefore in act and by deeds was their weakness disclosed. And one may see this exemplified in the men who lived under the old dispensation. For Elias was wonderful, but on one occasion he stood convicted of faint-heartedness; and Moses was great, but he also fled under the influence of the same passion. Now such things befel them, because God stood aloof and permitted their human nature to stand confessed. For if because he led them out they said, 'Where is Moses?' what would they net have said, if he had also led them in? Wherefore also [Paul] himself says, "I forbear, lest any should account of me." He said not, 'say of me,' but, "lest any should even account of me" beyond my desert.' Whence it is evident from this also that the whole discourse relates to himself. Wherefore even when he began, he said, "It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory," which he would not have said, had he been going to speak the things which he said of another man. For wherefore is it "not expedient to glory" about another? But it was himself that was counted worthy of these things; and therefore it is that he goes on to say,
Ver. 7. "And that I should not be exalted overmuch, through the exceeding greatness of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to buffet me."
What sayest thou? He that counted not the kingdom to be any thing; no, nor yet hell in respect of his longing after Christ; did he deem honor from the many to be any thing, so as both to be lifted up and to need that curb continually? for he did not say, ' that he "might" buffet me,' but "that he" may "buffet me." Yet who is there would say this? What then is the meaning of what is said? When we have explained what is meant at all by the "thorn," and who is this "messenger of Satan," then will we declare this also. There are some then who have said that he means a kind of pain in the head which was inflicted of the devil; but God forbid! For the body of Paul never could have been given over to the hands of the devil, seeing that the devil himself submitted to the same Paul at his mere bidding; and he set him laws and bounds, when he delivered over the fornicator for the destruction of the flesh, and he dared not to transgress them. What then is the meaning of what is said? An adversary is called, in the Hebrew, Satan; and in the third Book of Kings the Scripture has so termed such as were adversaries; and speaking of Solomon, says, 'In his days there was no Satan,' that is, no adversary, enemy, or opponent. (1 Kings v, 4.) What he says then is this: God would not permit the Preaching to progress, in order to check our high thoughts; but permitted the adversaries to set upon us. For this indeed was enough to pluck down his high thoughts; not so that, pains in the head. And so by the "messenger of Satan," he means Alexander the coppersmith, the party of Hymenaeus and Philetus, all the adversaries of the word; those who contended with and fought against him, those that cast him into a prison, those that beat him, that led him away to death; for they did Satan's business. As then he calls those Jews children of the devil, who were imitating his deeds, so also he calls a "messenger of Satan" every one that opposeth. He says therefore, "There was given to me a thorn to buffet me; "not as if God putteth arms into such men's hands, God forbid! not that He doth chastise or punish, but for the time alloweth and permitteth them.
[3.] Ver. 8. "Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice."
That is, oftentimes. This also is a mark of great lowliness of mind, his not concealing that he could not bear those insidious plottings, that he fainted under them and was reduced to pray for deliverance.
Ver. 9. "And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my power is made perfect in weakness."
That is to say, 'It is sufficient for thee that thou raisest the dead, that thou curest the blind, that thou cleansest lepers, that thou workest those other miracles; seek not also exemption from danger and fear and to preach without annoyances. But art thou pained and dejected lest it should seem to be owing to My weakness, that there are many who plot against and beat thee and harass and scourge thee? Why this very thing doth show My power. "For My power," He saith, "is made perfect in weakness," when being persecuted ye overcome your persecutors; when being harassed ye get the better of them that harass you; when being put in bonds ye convert them that put you in bonds. Seek not then more than is needed.' Seest thou how he himself assigns one reason, and God another? For he himself says, "Lest I should be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn;" but he says that God said He permitted it in order to show His power. 'Thou seekest therefore a thing which is not only not needed, but which also obscureth the glory of My power.' For by the words, "is sufficient for thee," He would signify this, that nothing else need be added, but the whole was complete. So that from this also it is plain that he does not intend pains in the head; for in truth they did not preach when they were sick, for they could not preach when ill; but that harassed and persecuted, they overcame all. 'After having heard this then,' he says,
"Most gladly therefore will I glory in my weaknesses." For that they may not sink down, when those false Apostles are glorying over their contrary lot and these are suffering persecution, he shows that he shineth all the brighter for this, and that thus the power of God shines forth the rather, and what happens is just matter for glorying. Wherefore he says, "Most gladly therefore will I glory." ' Not as therefore sorrowing did I speak of the things which I enumerated, or of that which I have just now said, "there was given to me a thorn;" but as priding myself upon them and drawing to myself greater power.' Wherefore also he adds,
"That the strength of Christ may rest upon me." Here he hints at another thing also, namely, that in proportion as the trials waxed in intensity, in the same proportion the grace was increased and continued.
Ver. 10. "Wherefore I take pleasure in many weaknesses." Of what sort? tell me. "In injuries, in persecutions, in necessities, in distresses. "'
Seest thou how he has now revealed it in the clearest manner? For in mentioning the species of the infirmity he spake not of fevers, nor any return of that sort, nor any other bodily ailment, but of "injuries, persecutions, distresses." Seest thou a single-minded soul? He longs to be delivered from those dangers; but when he heard God's answer that this befitteth not, he was not only not sorry that he was disappointed of his prayer, but was even glad. Wherefore he said, "I take pleasure," 'I rejoice, I long, to be injured, persecuted, distressed for Christ's sake.' And he said these things both to check those, and to raise the spirits of these that they might not be ashamed at Paul's sufferings. For that ground was enough to make them shine brighter than all men. Then he mentions another reason also.
"For when I am weak, then am I strong." 'Why marvellest thou that the power of God is then conspicuous? I too am strong "then;" ' for then most of all did grace come upon him. "For as His sufferings abound, so doth our consolation abound also." (Chap. i. 5.)
[4.] Where affliction is, there is also consolation; where consolation, there is grace also. For instance when he was thrown into the prison, then it was he wrought those marvellous things; when he was shipwrecked and cast away upon that barbarous country, then more than ever was he glorified. When he went bound into the judgment-hall, then he overcame even the judge. And so it was too in the Old Testament; by their trials the righteous flourished. So it was with the three children, so with Daniel, with Moses, and Joseph; thence did they all shine and were counted worthy of great crowns. For then the soul also is purified, when it is afflicted for God's sake: it then enjoys greater assistance as needing more help and worthy of more grace. And truly, before the reward which is proposed to it by God, it reaps a rich harvest of good things by becoming philosophic. For affliction rends pride away and prunes out all listlessness and exerciseth unto patience: it revealeth the meanness of human things and leads unto much philosophy. For all the passions give way before it, envy, emulation, lust, rule desire of riches, of beauty, boastfulness, pride, anger; and the whole remaining swarm of these distempers. And if thou desirest to see this in actual working, I shall be able to show thee both a single individual and a whole people, as well under affliction as at ease; and so to teach thee how great advantage cometh of the one, and how great listlessness from the other.
For the people of the Hebrews, when they were vexed and persecuted, groaned and besought God, and drew down upon themselves great influences from above: but when they waxed fat, they kicked. The Ninevities again, when they were in the enjoyment of security, so exasperated God that He threatened to pluck up the entire city from its foundations: but after they had been humbled by that preaching, they displayed all virtue. But if thou wouldest see also a single individual, consider Solomon. For he, when deliberating with anxiety and trouble concerning the government of that nation, was vouchsafed that vision: but when he was in the enjoyment of luxury, he slid into the very pit of iniquity. And what did his father? When was he admirable and passing belief? Was it not when he was in trials? And Absalom, was he not sober-minded, whilst still an exile; but after his return, became both tyrannical and a parricide? And what did Job? He indeed shone even in prosperity, but showed yet brighter after his affliction. And why must one speak of the old and ancient things? for if one do but examine our own state at present, he will see how great is the advantage of affliction. For now indeed that we are in the enjoyment of peace, we are become supine, and lax and have filled the Church with countless evils; but when we were persecuted, we were more sober-minded, and kinder, and more earnest, and more ready as to these assemblies and as to hearing. For what fire is to gold, that is affliction unto souls; wiping away filth, rendering men clean, making them bright and shining. It leadeth unto the kingdom, that unto hell. And therefore the one way is broad, the other narrow. Wherefore also, He Himself said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation," (John xvi. 33.) as though he were leaving some great good behind unto us. If then thou art a disciple, travel thou the straight and narrow way, and be not disgusted nor discouraged. For even if thou be not afflicted in that way; thou must inevitably be afflicted on other grounds, of no advantage to thee. For the envious man also, and the lover of money, and he that burneth for an harlot, and the vainglorious, and each one of the rest that follow whatsoever is evil, endureth many disheartenings and afflictions, and is not less afflicted than they who mourn. And if he doth not weep nor mourn, it is for shame and insensibility: since if thou shouldest look into his soul, thou wilt see it filled with countless waves. Since then whether we follow this way of life or that, we must needs be afflicted: wherefore choose we not this way which along with affliction bringeth crowns innumerable? For thus hath God led all the saints through affliction and distress, at once doing them service, and securing the rest of men against entertaining a higher opinion of them than they deserve. For thus it was that idolatries gained ground at first; men being held in admiration beyond their desert. Thus the Roman senate decreed Alexander to be the thirteenth God, for it possessed the privilege of electing and enrolling Gods. For instance, when all about Christ had been reported, the ruler of the nation sent to inquire, whether they would be pleased to elect Him also a God. They however refused their consent, being angry and indignant that previous to their vote and decree, the Power of the Crucified flashing abroad had won over the whole world to its own worship. But thus it was ordered even against their will that the Divinity of Christ was not proclaimed by man's decree, nor was He counted one of the many that were by them elected. For they counted even boxers to be Gods, and the favorite of Hadrian; after whom the city Antinous is named. For since death testifies against their moral nature, the devil invented another way, that of the soul's immortality; and mingling therewith that excessive flattery, he seduced many into impiety. And observe what wicked artifice. When we advance that doctrine for a good purpose, he overthrows our words; but when he himself is desirous of framing an argument for mischief, he is very zealous in setting it up. And if any one ask, 'How is Alexander a God.? Is he not dead? and miserably too?' ,Yes, but the soul is immortal?' he replies. Now thou arguest and philosophizest for immortality, to detach men from the God Who is over all: but when we declare that this is God's greatest gift, thou persuadest thy dupes that men are low and grovelling, and in no better case than the brutes. And if we say, ' the Crucified lives,' laughter follows immediately: although the whole world proclaims it, both in old time and now; in old time by miracles, now by converts; for truly these successes are not those of a dead man: but if one say, ' Alexander lives,' thou believest, although thou hast no miracle to allege.
[5.] 'Yes,' one replies; ' I have; for when he lived he wrought many and great achievements; for he subdued both nations and cities, and in many wars and battles he conquered, and erected trophies.'
If then I shall show [somewhat] which he when alive never dreamed of, neither he, nor any other man that ever lived, what other proof of the resurrection wilt thou require? For that whilst alive one should win battles and victories, being a king and having armies at his disposal, is nothing marvelous, no, nor startling or novel; but that after a Cross and Tomb one should perform such great things throughout every land and sea, this it is which is most especially replete with such amazement, and proclaims His divine and unutterable Power. And Alexander indeed after his decease never restored again his kingdom which had been rent in pieces and quite abolished: indeed how was it likely he, dead, should do so? but Christ then most of all set up His after He was dead. And why speak I of Christ? seeing that He granted to His disciples also, after their deaths, to shine? For, tell me, where is the tomb of Alexander? show it me and tell me the day on which he died. But of the servants of Christ the very tombs are glorious, seeing they have taken possession of the most loyal city; and their days are well known, making festivals for the world. And his tomb even his own people know not, but this man's the very barbarians know. And the tombs of the servants of the Crucified are more splendid than the palaces of kings; not for the size and beauty of the buildings, (yet even in this they surpass them,) but, what is far more, in the zeal of those who frequent them. For he that wears the purple himself goes to embrace those tombs, and, laying aside his pride, stands begging the saints to be his advocates with God, and he that hath the diadem implores the tent-maker and the fisherman, though dead, to be his patrons. Wilt thou dare then, tell me, to call the Lord of these dead; whose servants even after their decease are the patrons of the kings of the world? And this one may see take place not in Rome only, but in Constantinople also. For there also Constantine the Great, his son considered he should be honoring with great honor, if he buried him in the porch of the fisherman; and what porters are to kings in their palaces, that kings are at the tomb to fisherman. And these indeed as lords of the place occupy the inside, whilst the others as though but sojourners and neighbors were glad to have the gate of the porch assigned them; showing by what is done in this world, even to the unbelievers, that in the Resurrection the fisherman will be yet more their superiors. For if here it is so in the burial [of each], much more will it in the resurrection. And their rank is interchanged; kings assume that of servants and ministers, and subjects the dignity of kings, yea rather a brighter still. And that this is no piece of flattery, the truth itself demonstrates; for by those these have become more illustrious. For far greater reverence is paid to these tombs than to the other royal sepulchres; for there indeed is profound solitude, whilst here there is an immense concourse. But if thou wilt compare these tombs with the royal palaces, here again the palm remains with them. For there indeed there are many who keep off, but here many who invite and draw to them rich, poor, men, women, bond, free; there, is much fear; here, pleasure unutterable. 'But,' saith one, 'it is a sweet sight to look on a king covered with gold and crowned, and standing by his side, generals, commanders, captains of horse and foot, lieutenants. Well, but this of ours is so much grander and more awful that that must be judged, compared with it, to be stage scenery and child's play. For the instant thou hast stepped across the thresh-hold, at once the place sends up thy thoughts to heaven, to the King above, to the army of the Angels, to the lofty throne, to the unapproachable glory. And here indeed He hath put in the ruler's power, of his subjects to loose one, and bind another; but the bones of the saints possess no such pitiful and mean authority, but that which is far greater. For they summon demons and put them to the torture, and loose from those bitterest of all bonds, them that are bound. What is more fearful than this tribunal? Though no one is seen, though no one piles the sides of the demon, yet are there cries, and tearings, lashes, tortures, burning tongues, because the demon cannot endure that marvellous power. And they that once wore bodies, are victorious over bodiless powers; [their] dust and bones and ashes rack those invisible natures. And therefore in truth it is that none would ever travel abroad to see the palaces of kings, but many kings and have often traveled to see this spectacle. For the Martyries of the saints exhibit outlines and symbols of the judgment to come; in that demons are scourged, men chastened and delivered. Seest thou the power of saints, even dead? seest thou the weakness of sinners, even living? Flee then wickedness, that thou mayest have power over such; and pursue virtue with all thy might. For if the case be thus here, consider what it will be in the world to come. And as being evermore possessed with this love, lay hold on the life eternal; whereunto may we all attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
I am become foolish in glorying; ye compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you.
Having fully completed what he had to say about his own praises, he did not stay at this; but again excuses himself and asks pardon for what he said, declaring that his doing so was of necessity and not of choice. Still nevertheless, although there was necessity, he calls himself "a fool." And when he began indeed, he said, "As foolish receive me, "and" as in foolishness;" but now, leaving out the 'as,' he calls himself "foolish." For after he had established the point he wished by saying what he did, he afterwards boldly and unsparingly grapples with all failing of the sort, teaching all persons that none should ever praise himself where there is no necessity, seeing that even where a reason for it existed, Paul termed himself a fool [for so doing]. Then he turns the blame also of his so speaking not upon the false Apostles, but wholly upon the disciples. For "ye," he saith, "compelled me." 'For if they gloried, but were not by doing so leading you astray nor causing your destruction, I should not have been thus led on to descend unto this discussion: but because they were corrupting the whole Church, with a view to your advantage I was compelled to become foolish.' And he did not say, 'For I feared lest if they obtained the highest estimation with you, they should sow their doctrines,' yet this indeed he set down above when he said, "I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve, so your minds should be corrupted." (Chap. xi. 3.) Here however he does not so express himself, but in a more commanding manner and with more authority, having gained boldness from what he had said, "For I ought to have been commended of you." Then he also assigns the reason; and again he mentions not his revelations nor his miracles only, but his temptations also.
"For in nothing was I behind the chiefest Apostles." See how he here too again speaks out with greater authoritativeness. For, before indeed he said, "I reckon I am not a whit behind," but here, after those proofs, he now boldly speaks out asserting the fact, as I said, thus absolutely. Not that even thus he departs from the mean, nor from his proper character. For as though he had uttered something great and exceeding his deserts, in that he numbered himself with the Apostles, he thus again speaks modestly, and adds,
Ver. 12. "Although I be nothing, the signs of an Apostle were wrought among you."
'Look not thou at this,' he says, 'whether I be mean and little, but whether thou hast not enjoyed those things which from an Apostle it was meet thou shouldest enjoy.' Yet he did not say 'mean,' but what was lower, "nothing." For where is the good of being great, and of use to nobody? even as there is no advantage in a skilful physician if he heals none of those that be sick. 'Do not then,' he says, 'scrutinize this that I am nothing, but consider that, that wherein ye ought to have been benefitted, I have failed in nothing, but have given proof of mine Apostleship. There ought then to have been no need for me to say aught.' Now he thus spoke, not as wanting to be commended, (for how should he, he who counted heaven itself to be a small thing in comparison with his longing after Christ?) but as desiring their salvation. Then lest they should say, 'And what is it to us, even though thou wast not a whit behind the very chiefest Apostles?' he therefore added,
"The signs of an Apostle were wrought among you in all patience, and by signs and wonders." Amazing! what a sea of good works hath he traversed in a few words! And observe what it is he puts first, "patience." For this is the note of an Apostle, bearing all things nobly. This then he expressed shortly by a single word; but upon the miracles, which were not of his own achieving, he employs more. For consider how many prisons, how many stripes, how many dangers, how many conspiracies, how many sleet-showers of temptations, how many civil, how many foreign wars, how many pains, how many attacks he has implied here in that word, "patience!" And by "signs" again, how many dead raised, how many blind healed, how many lepers cleansed, how many devils cast out! Hearing these things, let us learn if we happen upon a necessity for such recitals to cut our good deeds short, as he too did.
[2.] Then lest any should say, 'Well! if thou be both great, and have wrought many things, still thou hast not wrought such great things, as the Apostles have in the other Churches,' he added,
Ver. 13. "For what is there wherein ye were made inferior to the rest of the Churches?"
'Ye were partakers,' he says, 'of no less grace than the others.' But perhaps some one will say, 'What can be the reason that he turns the discourse upon the Apostles, abandoning the contest against the false Apostles?' Because he is desirous to erect their spirits yet further, and to show that he is not only superior to them, but not even inferior to the great Apostles. Therefore, surely, when he is speaking of those he says, "I am more;" but when he compares himself with the Apostles, he considers it a great thing not to be "behind," although he labored more than they. And thence he shows that they insult the Apostles, in holding him who is their equal second to these men.
"Except it be that I myself was not a burden to you?" Again he has pronounced their rebuke with great severity. And what follows is of yet more odious import.
"Forgive me this wrong." Still, nevertheless, this severity contains both words of love and a commendation of themselves; if, that is, they consider it a wrong done to them, that the Apostle did not consent to receive aught from them, nor relied on them enough to be supported by them. 'If,' says he, 'ye blame me for this: ' he did not say, ' Ye blame me wrongly,' but with great sweetness, 'I ask your pardon, forgive me this fault.' And observe his prudence. For because the mooring this continually tended to bring disgrace upon them, he continually softens it down; saying above, for instance, "As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting shall not be stopped in me;" (Chap. xi. 10.) then again, "Because I love you not? God knoweth. ... But that I may cut off occasion from them that desire occasion, and that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we."; (Chap. xi. xx, 12.) And in the former Epistle "What is my reward then?" Verily, "that when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel without charge." (1 Cor. ix. 18.) And here;" Forgive me this wrong." For every where he avoids showing that it is on account of their weakness he taketh not [from them]; and here not to wound them. And therefore here he thus expresses himself; 'If ye think this to be an offense, I ask forgiveness.' Now he spoke thus, at once to wound and to heal. For do not say this, I pray thee; ' If thou meanest to wound, why excuse it? but if thou excusest it, why wound?' For this is wisdom's part, at once to lance, and to bind up the sore. Then that he may not seem, as he also said before, to be continually harping upon this for the sake of receiving from them, he remedies this [suspicion], even in his former Epistle, saying, "But I write not these things that it may be so done in my case; for it were good for me rather to die, than that any man should make my glorying void;" (1 Cor. ix. 15.) but here with more sweetness and gentleness. How, and in what manner?
Ver. 14 "Behold this is the third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children." What he says is this; ' It is not because I do not receive of you that I do not come to you; nay, I have already come twice; and I am prepared to come this third time, "and I will not be a burden to you.'" And the reason is a noble one. For he did not say, 'because ye are mean,' 'because ye are hurt at it,' 'because, ye are weak:' but what? "For I seek not yours, but you." ' I seek greater things; souls instead of goods; instead of gold, salvation.' Then because there still hung about the matter some suspicion, as if he were displeased at them; he therefore even states an argument. For since it was likely they would say, ' Can you not have both us and ours?' he adds with much grace this excuse for them, saying, "For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children;" instead of teachers and disciples, employing the term parents and children, and showing that he does as a matter of duty what was not of duty. For Christ did not so command, but he says this to spare them; and therefore he adds also something further. For he did not only say that" the children ought not to lay up," but also that the parents ought to. Therefore since it is meet to give,
Ver. 15. "I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls."
`For the law of nature indeed has commanded the parents to lay up for the children; but I do not do this only, but I give myself also besides.' And this lavishness of his, the not only not receiving, but giving also besides, is not in common sort but accompanied with great liberality, and out of his own want; for the words, "I will be spent," are of one who would imply this.' For should it be necessary to spend my very flesh, I will not spare it for your salvation.' And that which follows contains at once accusation and love, "though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved." ` And I do this,' he says, ' for the sake of those who are beloved by me, yet love me not equally.' Observe then, now, how many steps there are in this matter. He had a right to receive, but he did not receive; here is good work the first: and this, though in want; [good work] the second; and though preaching to them, the third; he gives besides, the fourth; and not merely gives, but lavishly too, the fifth; not money only, but himself, the sixth; for those who loved him not greatly, the seventh; and for those whom he greatly loved, the eighth.
[3.] Let us then also emulate this man! For it is a serious charge, the not loving even; but becomes more serious, when although one is loved he loveth not. For if he that loveth one that loveth him be no better than the publicans; (Matt. v. 46.) he that doth not so much as this ranks with the beasts; yea rather, is even below them. What sayest thou, O man? Lovest thou not him that loveth thee? What then dost thou live for? Wherein wilt thou be of use hereafter? in what sort of matters? in public? in private? By no means; for nothing is more useless than a man that knows not to love. This law even robbers have oftentimes respected, and murderers, and housebreakers; and having only taken salt with one, have been made his friends, letting the board change their disposition, and thou that sharest not salt only, but words and deeds, and comings in and goings out, with him, dost thou not love? Nay: those that live impurely lavish even whole estates on their strumpets; and thou who hast a worthy love, art thou so cold, and weak, and unmanly, as not to be willing to love, even when it costs thee nothing? 'And who,' one asks, ' would be so vile, who such a wild beast, as to turn away from and to hate him that loves him?' Thou dost well indeed to disbelieve it, because of the unnaturalness of the thing; but if I shall show that there are many such persons, how shall we then bear the shame? For when thou speakest ill of him whom thou lovest, when thou hearest another speak ill of him and thou defendest him not, when thou grudgest that he should be well accounted of, what sort of affection is this? And yet it is not sufficient proof of love, not grudging, nor yet again not being at enmity or war with, but only supporting and advancing him that loves thee: but when a man does and says everything to pull down his neighbor even, what can be more wretched than such a spirit? Yesterday and the day before his friend, thou didst both converse and eat with him: then because all at once thou sawest thine own member highly thought of, casting off the mask of friendship, thou didst put on that of enmity, or rather of madness. For glaring madness it is, to be annoyed at the goodness of neighbors; for this is the act of mad and rabid dogs. For like them, these also fly at all men's faces, exasperated with envy. Better to have a serpent twining about one's entrails than envy crawling in us. For that it is often possible to vomit up by means of medicines, or by food to quiet: but envy twineth not in entrails but harboreth in the bosom of the soul, and is a passion hard to be effaced. And indeed if such a serpent were within one, it would not touch men's bodies so long as it had a supply of food; but envy, even though thou spread for it ever so endless a banquet, devoureth the soul itself, gnawing on every side, tearing, tugging, and it is not possible to find any palliative whereby to make it quit its madness, save one only, the adversity of the prosperous; so is it appeased, nay rather, not so even. For even should this man suffer adversity, yet still he sees some other prosperous, and is possessed by the same pangs, and everywhere are wounds, everywhere blows. For it is not possible to live in the world and not see persons well reputed of. And such is the extravagance of this distemper, that even if one should shut its victim up at home, he envies the men of old who are dead.
Now, that men of the world should feel in this way, is indeed a grievous thing, yet it is not so very dreadful; but that those who are freed from the turmoils of busy life should be possessed by this distemper,—this is most grievous of all. And I could have wished indeed to be silent: and if silence took away too the disgrace of those doings, it were a gain to say nothing: if however, though I should hold my peace the doings will cry out more loudly than my tongue, no harm will accrue from my words, because of their parading these evils before us, but possibly some gain and advantage. For this distemper has infected even the Church, it has turned everything topsy-turvy, and dissevered the connection of the body, and we stand opposed to each other, and envy supplies us arms. Therefore great is the disruption. For if when all build up, it is a great thing if our disciples stand; when all at once are pulling down, what will the end be?
[4.] What doest thou, O man? Thou thinkest to pull down thy neighbor's; but before his thou pullest down thine own. Seest thou not them that are gardeners, that are husbandmen, how they all concur in one object? One hath dug the soil, another planted, a third carefully covered the roots, another watereth what is planted, another hedges it round and fortifies it, another drives off the cattle; and all look to one end, the safety of the plant. Here, however, it is not so: but I plant indeed myself, and another shakes and disturbs [the plant.] At least, allow it to get nicely fixed, that it may be strong enough to resist the assault. Thou destroyest not my work, but abandonest thine own. I planted, thou oughtest to have watered. If then thou shake it it, thou hast torn it up by the roots, and hast not wherein to display thy watering. But thou seest the planter highly esteemed. Fear not: neither am I anything, nor thou. "For neither is he that planteth nor he that watereth any thing;" (1 Cor. iii. 7.) one's is the work, God's. So it is with Him thou tightest and warrest, in plucking up what is planted.
Let us then at length come to our sober senses again, let us watch. For I fear not so much the battle without, as the fight within; for the root also, when it is well fitted into the ground, will suffer no damage from the winds; but if it be itself shaken, a worm gnawing through it from within, the tree will fall, even though none molest it. How long gnaw we the root of the Church like worms? For of earth such imaginings are begotten also, or rather not of earth, but of dung, having corruption for their mother; and they cease not from the detestable flattery that is from women. Let us at length be generous men, let us be champions of philosophy, let us drive back the violent career of these evils. For I behold the mass of the Church prostrate now, as though it were a corpse. And as in a body newly dead, one may see eyes and hands and feet and neck and head, and yet no one limb performing its proper office; so, truly, here also, all who are here are of the faithful, but their faith is not active; for we have quenched its warmth and made the body of Christ a corpse. Now if this sounds awful when said, it is much more awful when it appears in actions. For we have indeed the name of brothers, but do the deeds of foes; and whilst all are called members, we are divided against each other like wild beasts. I have said this not from a desire to parade our condition, but to shame you and make you desist. Such and such a man goes into a house; honor is paid to him; thou oughtest to give God thanks because thy member is honored and God is glorified; but thou doest the contrary: thou speakest evil of him to the man that honored him, so that thou trippest up the heels of both, and, besides, disgracest thyself. And wherefore, wretched and miserable one? Hast thou heard thy brother praised, either amongst men or women? Add to his praises, for so thou shalt praise thyself also. But if thou overthrow the praise, first, thou hast spoken evil of thyself, having so acquired an ill character, and thou hast raised him the higher. When thou hearest one praised, become thou a partner in what is said; if not in thy life and virtue, yet still in rejoicing over his excellencies. Hath such an one praised? Do thou too admire: so shall he praise thee ago as good and candid. Fear not, as though thou wast ruining thine own interest by thy praises of another: for this is [rather] the result of accusation of him. For mankind is of a contentious spirit; and when it sees thee speaking ill of any, it heaps on its praises, wishing to mortify by so doing; and reprobates those that are accusers, both in its own mind arid to others. Seest thou what disgrace we are the causes of to ourselves? how we destroy and rend the flock? Let us at length be members (of one another), let us become one body. And let him that is praised repudiate the praises, and transfer the encomium to his brother; and let him that hears another praised, feel pleasure to himself. If we thus come together ourselves, we shall also draw unto ourselves the Head; but if we live parted" from each other, we shall also put from us the aid which comes from thence; and when that is put aside, the body will receive great damage, not being bound together from above. That this then may not happen, let us, banishing ill will and envy, and despising what the many may think of us, embrace love and concord. For thus we shall obtain both the present good things and those to come; where-unto may we all attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and forever, and world without end. Amen.
But be it so, I myself did not burden you: but being crafty, I caught you with guile. Did I take advantage of you by any one of them whom I have sent unto you? I exhorted Titus, and with him I sent the brother. Did Titus take any advantage of you? Walked we not by the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?
Paul has spoken these words very obscurely, but not without a meaning or purpose. For seeing he was speaking about money, and his defence on that score, it is reasonable that what he says must be wrapt in obscureness. What then is the meaning of what he says? He had said, 'I received not, nay I am ready even to give besides, and to spend;' and much discourse is made on this subject both in the former Epistle and in this. Now he says something else, introducing the subject in the form of an objection and meeting it by anticipation. What he says is something like this; 'I indeed have not made a gain of you: but perhaps some one has it to say that I did not receive [of you] indeed myself, but, being crafty, I procured those who were sent by me to ask for something of you as for themselves, and through them I myself received, yet keeping myself clear of seeming to receive, by receiving through others. But none can have this to say either; and you are witnesses.' Wherefore also he proceeds by question, saying, "I exhorted Titus, and with him I sent the brother. Did Titus make a gain of you?" 'walked he not just as I walked.' That is to say, neither did he receive. Seest thou how intense a strictness [is here], in that he not only keeps himself clear of that receiving, but so modulates those also who are sent by him that he may not give so much as a slight pretence to those who were desirous of attacking him. For this is far greater than that which the Patriarch did. (Gen. xiv. 24.) For he indeed, when he had returned from his victory, and the king would have given him the 'spoil, refused to accept aught save what the men had eaten; but this man neither himself enjoyed [from them] his necessary food, nor allowed his partners to partake of such: thus abundantly stopping the mouths of the shameless. Wherefore he makes no assertion, nor does he say that they did not receive either; but what was far more than this, he cites the Corinthians themselves as witnesses that they had received nothing, that he may not seem to be witnessing in his own person, but by their verdict; which course we are accustomed to take in matters fully admitted and about which we are confident. 'For tell me,' he says, 'Did any one of those who were sent by us make unfair gain of you?' He did not say, 'Did any one receive aught from you?' but he calls the things 'unfair gain; 'attacking them and shaming them exceedingly, and showing that to receive of an unwilling [giver] is 'unfair gain.' And he said not 'did Titus?' but, "did any?" 'For ye cannot say this either,' he says, 'that such an one certainly did not receive, but another did. No single one of those who came did so. '"I exhorted Titus." This too is severely said. For he did not say, 'I sent Titus,' but, 'I exhorted' him; showing that if he had received even, he would have done so justly; but, nevertheless, even so he remained pure. Wherefore he asks them again, saying, "Did Titus take any advantage of you? Walked we not by the same spirit?" What means, "by the same spirit?" He ascribes the whole to grace and shows that the whole of this praise is the good result not of our labors, but of the gift of the Spirit and of Grace. For it was a very great instance of grace that although both in want and hunger they would receive nothing for the edification of the disciples. "Walked we not in the same steps?" That is to say, they did not depart the least from this strictness, but preserved the same rule entire.
Ver. 19. "Again, think ye that we are excusing ourselves unto you? "
Seest thou how he is continually in fear, lest he should incur the suspicion of flattery? Seest thou an Apostle's prudence, how constantly he mentions this? For he said before, "We commend not ourselves again, but give you occasion to glory;" (2 Cor. v. 12.) and in the commencement of the Epistle, "Do we need letters of commendation?" (ib. iii. 1.)
"But all things are for your edifying." Again he is soothing them. And he does not here either say clearly, 'on this account we receive not, because of your weakness;' but, 'in order that we may edify you;' speaking out indeed more clearly than he did before, and revealing that wherewith he travailed; but yet without severity. For he did not say, 'because of your weakness;' but, 'that ye may be edified.'
Ver. 20. "For I fear, lest by any means when I come, I should not find you such as I would, and should myself be found of you such as ye would not."
He is going to say something great and offensive. And therefore he also inserts this excuse [for it], both by saying, "All things are for your edifying," and by adding, "I fear," softening the harshness of what was presently going to be said. For it was not here out of arrogance nor the authority of a teacher, but out of a father's tender concern, when he is more fearful and trembling than the sinners themselves at that which is likely to reform them. And not even so does he run them down or make an absolute assertion; but says doubtingly, "lest by any means when I come, I should not find you such as I would." He did not say, 'not virtuous,' but "not such as I would," everywhere employing the terms of affection. And the words, "I should find," are of one who would express what is out of natural expectation, as are also those, "I shall be found by you." For the thing is not of deliberate choice, but of a necessity originating with you. Wherefore he says, "I should be found such as ye would not." He said not here, "such as I would not," but, with more severity, "such as ye wish not." For it would in that case become his own will, not indeed what he would first have willed, but his will nevertheless. For he might indeed have said again, 'such as I would not,' and so have showed his love: but he wishes not to relax his hearer. Yea rather, his words would in that case have been even harsher; but now he has at once dealt them a smarter blow and showed himself more gentle. For this is the characteristic of his wisdom; cutting more deeply, to strike more gently. Then, because he had spoken obscurely, he unveils his meaning, saying,
"Lest there be strife, jealousy, wraths, backbitings, whisperings, swellings."
And what he might well put first, that he puts last: for they were very proud against him. Therefore, that he may not seem principally to be seeking his own, he first mentions what was common. For all these things were gendered of envy, their slanderings, accusations, dissensions. For just like some evil root, envy produced wrath, accusation, pride, and all thee other evils, and by them was increased further,
Vet. 21. And "lest when I come again, my God should humble me among you."
And the word "again," too, is as smiting them. For he means, 'What happened before is enough;' as he said also in the beginning [of the Epistle], "to spare you, I came not as yet to Corinth." (Chap. i. 18, 23.) Seest thou how he shows both indignation and tender affection? But what means, "will humble me?" And yet this is glorious rather, to accuse, to take vengeance, to call to account, to be seated in the place of judge; howbeit he calls it a humbling. So far was he from being ashamed of that [cause of] humbling, because, "his bodily presence was weak, and his speech of no account," that he wished to be even for ever in that case, and deprecated the contrary. And he says this more clearly as he proceeds; and he counts this to be especially humbling, to be involved in such a necessity as the present, of punishing and taking vengeance. And wherefore did he not say, 'lest when I come I shall be humbled,' but, "lest when I come my God will humble me." 'Because had it not been for His sake, I should have paid no attention nor been anxious. For it is not as possessing authority and for my own pleasure, that I demand satisfaction, but because of His commandment.' Now above, indeed, he expressed himself thus, "I shall be found;" here, however, he relaxes and adopts milder and gentler language, saying,
"I shall mourn for many of them who have sinned." Not simply, "who have sinned," but,
"Who have not repented." And he said not, 'all,' but "many;" nor made it clear who these were either, thereby making the return unto repentance easy to them; and to make it plain that a repentance is able to right transgressions, he bewails those that repent not, those who are incurably diseased, those who continue in their wounds. Observe then Apostolic virtue, in that, conscious of no evil in himself, he laments over the evils of others and is humbled for other men's transgressions. For this is the especial mark of a teacher, so to sympathize with the calamities of his disciples, and to mourn over the wounds of those who are under him. Then he mentions also the specific sin.
"Of the lasciviousness and uncleanness which they committed." Now in these words he alludes indeed to fornication; but if one carefully examine the subject, every kind of sin can be called by this name. For although the fornicator and adulterer is preeminently styled unclean, yet still the other sins also produce uncleanness in the soul. And therefore it is that Christ also calls the Jews unclean, not charging them with fornication only, but with wickedness of other kinds as well. Wherefore also He says that they made the outside clean, and that "not the things which enter in defile the man, but those which come out from him;" (Mat. xv. 11.) and it is said in another place, "Every one that is proud in heart is unclean before the Lord." (Prov. xvi. 5. LXX.)
[3.] For nothing is purer than virtue, nothing uncleaner than vice; for the one is brighter than the sun, the other more stinking than mire. And to this they will themselves bear witness, who are wallowing in that mire and living in that darkness; at any rate, when one prepares them a little to see clearly. For as long as they are by themselves, and inebriate with the passion, just as if living in darkness they lie in unseemly wise to their much infamy, conscious even then where they are, although not fully; but after they have seen any of those who live in virtue reproving them or even showing himself, then they understand their own wretchedness more clearly; and as if a sunbeam had darted upon them, they cover up their own unseemliness and blush before those who know of their doings, yea, though the one be a slave and the other free, though the one be a king and the other a subject. Thus when Ahab saw Elijah, he was ashamed, even when he had as yet said nothing; standing convicted by the mere sight of him; and when his accuser was silent, he pronounced a judgment condemnatory of himself; uttering the language of such as are caught, and saying, "Thou hast found me, O mine enemy!" (1 Kings xxi. 20.) Thus Elijah himself conversed with that tyrant then with great boldness. Thus Herod, unable to bear the shame of those reproofs, (which [shame] the sound of the prophet's tongue with mighty and transparent clearness exposed more evidently,) cast John into the prison: like one who was naked and attempting to put out the light, that he might be in the dark again; or rather he himself dared not put it out, but, as it were, placed it in the house under a bushel; and that wretched and miserable woman compelled it to be done. But not even so could they cover the reproof, nay, they lit it up the more. For both they that asked, 'Wherefore doth John dwell in prison?' learnt the reason, and all they that since have dwelt on land or sea, who then lived, or now live, and who shall be hereafter, both have known and shall know clearly these wicked tragedies, both that of their lewdness and that of their bloodguiltiness, and no time shall be able to wipe out the remembrance of them.
So great a thing is virtue: so immortal is its memory, so completely even by words only cloth it strike down its adversaries. For wherefore did he cast him into the prison? Wherefore did he not despise him? Was he going to drag him before the judgment-seat? Did he demand vengeance upon him for his adultery? Was not what he said then simply a reproof? Why then doth he fear and tremble? Was it not words and talk merely? But they stung him more than deeds. He led him not to any judgment-seat, but he dragged him before that other tribunal of conscience; and he sets as judges upon him all who freely gave their verdicts in their thought. Therefore the tyrant trembled, unable to endure the lustre of virtue. Seest thou how great a thing is philosophy? It made a prisoner more lustrous than a king, and the latter is afraid and trembles before him. He indeed only put him in bonds; but that polluted woman rushed on to his slaughter also, although the rebuke was leveled rather against him, [than herself.] For he did not then meet "her" and say, 'Why cohabitest thou with the king?' not that she was guiltless, (how should she be so?) but he wished by that other means to put all to rights. Wherefore he blamed the king, and yet not him with violence of manner. For he did not say, 'O polluted and all-polluted and lawless and profane one, thou hast trodden under foot the law of God, thou hast despised the commandments, thou hast made thy might law. 'None of these things; but even in his rebukings great was the gentleness of the man, great his meekness. For, "It is not lawful for! thee," lie says, "to have thy brother Philip's wife." The words are those of one who teacheth rather than reproveth, instructeth rather than chasteneth, who composeth to order rather than exposeth, who amendeth rather than trampleth on him. But, as I said, the light is hateful to the thief, and the mere sight of the just man is odious to sinners; "for he is grievous unto us even to behold." (Wisd. ii. 15.) For they cannot bear his radiance, even as diseased eyes cannot bear the sun's. But to many of the wicked he is grievous not to behold only, but even to hear of. And therefore that polluted and all-polluted woman, the procuress of her girl, yea rather her murderess, although she had never seen him nor heard his voice, rushed on to his slaughter; and prepareth her whom she brought up in lasciviousnss to proceed also to murder, so extravagantly did she fear him.
[4.] And what says she? "Give me here in a charger the head of John the Baptist." (Mat. xiv. 8.) Whither rushest thou over precipices, wretched and miserable one? What? is the accuser before thee? is he in sight and troubleth thee? Others said, "He is grievous unto us even to behold;" but to her, as I said, he was grievous to even hear of. Wherefore she saith, "Give me here in a charger the head of John." And yet because of thee he inhabits a prison, and is laden with chains, and thou art free to wanton over thy love and to say, 'So completely have I subdued the king, that though publicly reproached he yielded not, nor desisted from his passion, nor tore asunder his adulterous connection with me, but even put him that reproached him in bonds. 'Why art thou mad and rabid, when even after that reproof of his sin thou retainest thy paramour? Why seekest thou a table of furies, and preparest a banquet of avenging demons? Seest thou how nothing- worth, how cowardly, how unmanly, is vice; how when it shall most succeed, it then becomes more feeble? For this woman was not so much disturbed before she had cast John into prison, as she is troubled after he is bound, and she is urgent, saying, "Give me here in a charger the head of John." And wherefore so? 'I fear,' she says, lest there be any hushing up of his murder, lest any should rescue him from his peril.' And wherefore requirest thou not the whole corpse, but the head? 'The tongue,' she says, 'that pained me, that I long to see silent. ' But the contrary will happen, as indeed it also hath done, thou wretched and miserable one! it will cry louder afterwards, when it is cut out. For then indeed it cried in Judaea only, but now it will reach to the ends of the world; and wheresoever thou enterest into a church, whether it be among the Moors, or among the Persians, or even unto the British isles themselves, thou hearest John crying, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother Phillip's wife." But she, unknowing to reason in any such way, urges and presses, and thrusts on the senseless tyrant to the murder, fearing lest he change his mind. But from this too learn thou again the power of virtue. Not even when he was shut up and bound and silent, does she bear the righteous man. Seest thou how weak a thing vice is? how unclean? For in the place of meats it bringeth in a human head upon a charger. What is more polluted, what more accursed, what more immodest, than that damsel? what a voice she uttered in that theatre of the devil, in that banquet of demons! Seest thou this tongue and that; the one bringing healthful medicines, the other one with poison on it, and made the purveyor to a devilish banquet. But wherefore did she not command him to be murdered within there, at the feast, when her pleasure would have been greater? She feared lest if he should come thither and be seen, he should change them all by his look, by his boldness. Therefore surely it is that she demandeth his head, wishing to set up a bright trophy of fornication; and give it to her mother. Seest thou the wages of dancing, seest thou the spoils of that devilish plot? I mean not the head of John, but her paramour himself. For if one examine it carefully, against the king that trophy was set up, and the victress was vanquished, and the beheaded was crowned, and proclaimed victor, even after his death shaking more vehemently the hearts of the offenders. And that what I have said is no [mere] boast, ask of Herod himself; who, when he heard of the miracles of Christ, said, "This is John, he is risen from the dead: and therefore do these powers work in him." (Mat. xiv. 2.) So lively was the fear, so abiding the agony he retained; and none had power to cast down the terror of his conscience, but that incorruptible Judge continued to take him by the throat, and day by day to demand of him satisfaction for the murder. Knowing, then, these things, let us not fear to suffer evil, but to do evil; for that indeed is victory, but this defeat.
Wherefore also Paul said, "Why not rather take wrong, why not rather be defrauded. Nay, ye yourselves do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren." For by the suffering evil [come] those crowns, those prizes, that proclamation [of victory]. And this may be seen in all the saints. Since then they all were thus crowned, thus proclaimed, let us too travel this road, and let us pray indeed that we enter not into temptation; but if it should come, let us make stand with much manliness and display the proper readiness of mind, that we may obtain the good things to come, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.
This is the third time I am coming to you. At the mouth of two witnesses or three shall every word be established.
The wisdom of Paul and his much tender affection, one may observe in many other circumstances, but especially in this, his being so abundant and vehement in his admonitions, but so tardy and procrastinating in his punishments. For he did not chastise them immediately on their sinning, but warned them once and again; and not even so, upon their paying no attention, does he exact punishment, but warns again, saying, "This is the third time I am coming to you; "and 'before I come I write again.' Then, that his procrastinating may not produce indifference, see how he corrects this result also, by threatening continually and holding the blow suspended over them, and saying, "If I come again I will not spare;" and "lest when I come again I should mourn for many." These things, then, he doeth and speaketh, in this too imitating the Lord of all: because that God also threateneth indeed continually and warneth often, but not often chastiseth and punisheth. And so in truth also doth Paul, and therefore he said also before, "To spare you I came net as yet to Corinth." What is, "to spare you?" Lest finding you to have sinned and to continue unamended, I should visit with chastisement and punishment. And here, "This is the third time I am coming to you. At the mouth of two witnesses or three shall every word be established." He joins the unwritten to the written, as he has done also in another place, saying, "He that is joined to an harlot is one body; for the twain," saith He, "shall become one flesh." (1 Cor. vi. 16.) Howbeit, this was spoken of lawful marriage; but he diverted its application unto this thing conveniently, so as to terrify them the more. And so he doth here also, setting his comings and his warnings in the place of witnesses. And what he says is this: 'I spoke once and again when I was with you; I speak also now by letter. And if indeed ye attend to me, what I desired is accomplished; but if ye pay no attention, it is necessary henceforth to stop speaking, and to inflict the punishment.' Wherefore he says,
Ver. 2. "I have said beforehand, and I do say beforehand when I was present the second time; so now being absent I write to them that sinned heretofore and to all the rest, that if I come again, I will not spare."
'For if at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word shall be established, and I have come twice and spoken, and speak now also by this Epistle; it follows, I must after this keep my word. For think not, I pray you, that my writing is of less account than my coming; for as I spoke when present, so now I write also when absent.' Seest thou his fraternal solicitude? Seest thou forethought becoming a teacher? He neither kept silence nor punished, but he both foretells often, and continues ever threatening, and puts off the punishment, and if they should continue unamended, then he threatens to bring it to the proof.' But what didst thou tell them before when present, and when absent writest?' "That if I come again, I will not spare." Having showed before that he is unable to do this unless he is compelled, and having called the thing a mourning, and a humbling; (for he saith, "lest my God should humble me before you, and I should mourn for them that have sinned heretofore, and not repented;—Chap. xii. 21.) and having made his excuse unto them, namely, that he had told them before, once and twice and thrice, and that he does and contrives all he can so as to hold back the punishment, and by the fear of his words to make them better, he then used this unpleasing and terrifying expression, "If I come again, I will not spare." He did not say, 'I will avenge and punish and exact satisfaction:' but again expresses even punishment itself in paternal language; showing his tender affection, and his heart to be grieved along with them; be, cause that he always to " spare" them put off. Then that they may not think now also that there will be again a putting off, and merely a threat in words, therefore he both said before, "At the mouth of two witnesses or three shall every word be established; "and [now], "If I come again, I will not spare." Now what he means is this: 'I will no longer put off, if (which God forbid) I find you unamended; but will certainly Visit it, and make good what I have said.'
[2.] Then with much anger and vehement indignation against those who make a mock of him as weak, and ridicule his presence, and say," his presence is weak, and his speech of no account;" (Chap. x. 10.) aiming his efforts at these men, he says,
Ver. 3. "Seeing that ye seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me."
For he said this, dealing at once a blow at these, and at the same time lashing those also. Now what he means is this; 'Since ye are desirous of proving whether Christ dwelleth in me, and call me to an account, and on this score make a mock of me as mean and despicable, as I 'were destitute of that Power; ye shall know that we are not destitute, if ye give us occasion, which God forbid.' What then? tell me. Dost thou therefore punish, because they seek a proof? 'No,' he says; for had he sought this, he would have punished them at the first on their sinning, and would not have put off. But that he does not seek this, he has shown more clearly as he proceeds, saying, "Now I pray that ye do no evil, not that we may appear approved, but that ye may be approved, though we be as reprobates." (Ver. 7.)
He doth not employ those words then as assigning a reason, but rather in indignation, rather as attacking those that despise him. 'For,' he says, 'I have no desire indeed to give you such a proof, but if you yourselves should furnish cause and should choose to challenge me, ye shall know by very deeds.' And observe how grievous he makes what he says. For he said not, 'Since ye seek a proof of me,' but "of Christ that speakest in me, showing that it was against Him they sinned." And he did not say merely, 'dwelling in me,' but "speaking in me," showing that his words are spiritual. But if he doth not display His power nor punish, (for thenceforward the Apostle transferred what he said from himself to Christ, thus making his threat' more fearful,) it is not from weakness; for He can do it: but from long suffering. Let none then think His forbearance to be weakness. For why marvellest thou that He doth not now proceed against sinners, nor in his forbearance and long suffering exacts satisfaction, seeing that He endured even to be crucified, and though suffering such things punished not? Wherefore also he added,
Ver. 3, 4. "Who to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth through the Power of God."
These words have much obscurity and give disturbance to the weaker sort. Wherefore it is necessary to unfold them more clearly, and to explain the signification of the expression as to which the obscurity exists, that no one may be offended, even of the simpler sort.
What then, at all, is that which is here said, and what the term "weakness" designates, and in what signification it is used, it is necessary to learn. For the term is indeed one, but it has many meanings. For bodily sickness is termed 'weakness:' whence it is even said in the Gospel, "Behold, he whom Thou lovest is weak, " (John xi. 3, 4.) concerning Lazarus; and He Himself said, "This weakness is not unto death;" and Paul, speaking of Epaphras, "For indeed he was weak nigh unto death, but God had mercy on him;" (Phil. ii. 57.) and of Timothy, "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often weaknesses." (1 Tim. v. 23.) For all these denote bodily sickness. Again, the not being established firmly in the faith is called 'weakness;' the not being perfect and complete. And denoting this Paul said, "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye but not to doubtful disputations :" (Rom. xiv. 1, 2.) and again, "One believeth that he may eat all things; another, who is weak, eateth herbs," denoting him who is weak in the faith. Here then are two significations of the term 'weakness;' there is yet a third thing which is called 'weakness.' What then is this? Persecutions, plottings, insults, trials, assaults. And denoting this Paul said, "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My power is made perfect in weakness." (Chap. xii., 8, 9.) What is "in weakness?" In persecutions, in dangers, in trials, in plottings, in deaths. And denoting this he said, Wherefore, I take pleasure in weakness. Then showing what kind of weakness he means, he spake not of fever, nor of doubt about the faith; but what? "in injuries, in necessities, in distressses, in stripes, in imprisonments, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For when I am weak, then am I strong." (Chap. xii. 10.) That is to say 'when I am persecuted, when I am driven up and down, when I am plotted against, then am I strong, then the rather I prevail over, and get the better of them that plot against me. because that grace resteth upon me, more largely, It is then in this third sense that Paul useth "weakness;" and this is what he means by it; aiming again, as I said also before, at that point, his seeming to them to be mean and contemptible. For indeed he had no desire to boast, nor to seem to be what he really was, nor yet to display the power which he possessed of punishing and revenging; whence also he was accounted to be mean. When then as so accounting they were going on in great indifference and insensibility, and repented not of their sins, he seizes a favorable opportunity, discourses with much vigor upon these points also, and shows that it was not from weakness he did nothing, but from long-suffering.
[3.] Then, as I said, by transferring the argument from himself to Christ, he enhances their fear, he increases his threat. And what he says is this; 'for even supposing I should do something and chastise and take vengeance on the guilty ones, is it I that chastise and take vengeance? it is He that dwelleth in me, Christ Himself. But if ye do not believe this, but are desirous of receiving a proof by deeds of Him that dwelleth in me, ye shall know presently; "For he is not weak to you-ward, but is even powerful."' And wherefore added he "to you-ward," seeing He is mighty everywhere? for should He be minded to punish unbelievers, He is able; or demons, or anything whatsoever. What then is the import of the addition? The expression is either as shaming them exceedingly by remembrance of the proofs they have already received; or else as declaring this, that meanwhile He shows His power in you who ought to be corrected. As he said also in another place, "For what have I to do to judge them also that are without?" (1 Cor. v. 12.) 'For those that are without,' he says, 'He will then call to account in the day of judgment, but you even now, so as to rescue you from that punishment.' But nevertheless even this instance of his solicitude, although arising from tender affection, observe how he combines with fear and much anger, saying, "Who to you-ward is not weak, but is powerful in you."
Ver. 4. "For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth through the Power of God."
What is, "though He was crucified through weakness?" 'For though He chose,' he says, 'to endure a thing which seems to carry a notion of weakness, still this in no way breaks in upon His Power. That still remains invincible, and that thing which seemeth to be of weakness, hath nothing harmed it, nay this very thing itself shows His Power most of all, in that He endured even such a thing, and yet His Power was not mutilated.' Let not then the expression "weakness" disturb thee; for elsewhere also he says, "The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men;" (1 Cor. i. 55.) although in God is nothing either foolish or weak: but he called the Cross so, as setting forth the conception of the unbelieving regarding it. Hear him, at least, interpreting himself. "For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (Ib. 18.) And again; "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (Ib. 23, 24.) And again; "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness unto him." (1. Cor. ii. 14.) Observe, how in every place he expresseth the conception of the unbelieving, who look upon the Cross as foolishness and weakness. And so, in truth, here also he means not "weakness" really such, but what was suspected to be such with the unbelieving. He doth not then say this, that because He was weak He was crucified. Away with the thought! For that He had it in His power not to have been crucified He showed throughout; when He now cast men down prostrate, now turned back the beams of the sun, and withered a fig-tree, and blinded their eyes that came against Him, and wrought ten thousand other things. What then is this which he says, "through weakness!" That even although He was crucified after enduring peril and treachery, (for we have showed that peril and treachery are called weakness,) yet still He was nothing harmed thereby. And he said this to draw the example unto his own case. For since the Corinthians beheld them persecuted, driven about, despised, and not avenging nor visiting it, in order to teach them that neither do they so suffer from want of power, nor from being unable to visit it, he leads on the argument up to The Master, because 'He too,' saith he, 'was crucified, was bound, suffered ten thousand things, and He visited them not, but continued to endure things which appeared to argue weakness, and in this way displaying His Power, in that although He punishes not nor requites, He is not injured any thing at all. For instance, the Cross did not cut asunder His life, nor yet impeded His resurrection, but He both rose again and liveth.' And when thou hearest of the Cross and of life, expect to find the doctrine concerning the Incarnation? for all that is said here hath reference to that. And if he says "though the Power of God," it is not as though He were Himself void of strength to quicken His flesh; but it was indifferent with him to mention either Father or Son. For when he said, "the Power of God, he said by His own Power. For that both He Himself raised it up and sustains it, hear Him saying, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John ii. 19.) But if that which is His, this he saith to be the Father's, be not disturbed; "For," He saith, "all My Father's things are Mine." (John xvi. 15.) And again, "All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine." (Ib. xvii. 10.) 'As then He that was crucified was nothing harmed,' he says, 'so neither are we when persecuted and warred against;' wherefore also he adds,
"For even we also if we are weak in Him, yet we shall live with Him through the Power of God."
What is the meaning of "we are weak in Him?" We are persecuted, are driven here and there, suffer extremity. But what is "with Him?" 'Because of the preaching,' he says, 'and our faith in Him. But if for His sake we undergo what is sad and disagreeable, it is quite plain that we shall what is pleasant also: ' and so he added, "but we are saved with Him by the Power of God."
[4.] Ver. 5, 6. "Try your own selves, whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves. Know ye not as to your own selves, that Christ is in you, unless indeed ye be reprobate? But I hope that ye shall know that we are net reprobate."
For since by what he has said he hath shown that even if he does not punish, it is not because he hath not Christ in himself, but because he intimates His long-suffering, Who was crucified and yet avenged not Himself; he again, in another manner, produces the same effect, and still more irrefragably, establishing his argument by the disciples. 'For why speak I of myself,' he says 'the teacher, who have so much care upon me and am entrusted with the whole world and have done such great miracles. For if ye will but examine yourselves who are in the rank of disciples, ye will see that Christ is in you also. But if in you, then much more in your teacher. For if ye have faith, Christ is in you also.' For they who then believed wrought miracles. Wherefore also he added, "Try your own selves, prove your own selves, whether ye be in the faith. Know ye not as to your own selves, unless indeed that Christ is in you, ye be reprobate?" 'But if in you, much more in your teacher?' He seems to me here to speak of the "faith" which relates to miracles. 'For if ye have faith,' he says, "Christ is in you, except ye have become reprobates." Seest thou how again he terrifies them, and shows even to superfluity that Christ is with Him. For he seems to me to be here alluding to them, even as to their lives. For since faith is not enough [by itself] to draw down the energy of the Spirit, and he had said that '"if ye are in the faith" ye have Christ in you,' and it happened that man y who had faith were destitute of that energy; in order to solve the difficulty, he says, "except ye be reprobate," except [that is] ye are corrupt in life. "But I hope that ye shall know that we are not reprobate." What followed naturally was to have said, "but if ye have become reprobate, yet we have not." He doth not, however, say so, for fear of wounding them, but he hints it in an obscure manner, without either making the assertion thus, 'ye are reprobate,' or proceeding by question and saying, ' But if ye are reprobate,' but leaving out even this way of putting it by question, he indicates it obscurely by adding, "But I hope that ye shall know that we are not reprobate." Here also again, great is the threat, great the alarm. ' For since ye desire,' he says, ' in this way, by your own punishment to receive the proof, we shall have no difficulty in giving you that demonstration.' But he does 'not indeed so express himself, but with more weight and threatening. "But I hope that ye shall know that we are not reprobate." ' For ye ought indeed,' he saith, 'to have known even without this what we are, and that we have Christ speaking and working in us; but since ye desire to receive the proof of it by deeds also, ye shall know that we are not reprobate.' Then when he has held the threat suspended over their heads, and brought the punishment now up to their doors, and has set them a trembling, and made them look for vengeance; see how again he sweetens down his words and soothes their fear, and shows his unambitious temper, his tender solicitude towards his disciples, his high-principledness of purpose, his loftiness and freedom from vain-glory. For he exhibits all these qualities in what he adds, saying,
Ver. 7, 8, 9. "Now I pray to God that ye do no evil, not that we may appear approved, but that ye may do that which is honorable, though we be as reprobate. For we can do nothing against the truth but for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak, and ye are strong. For this also we pray for even your perfecting.
[5.] What can be equal to this soul? He was despised, he was spit upon, he was ridiculed, he was mocked, as mean, as contemptible, as a braggart, as boastful in his words but in his deeds unable to make even a little show; and although seeing so great a necessity for showing his own power, he not only puts off, not only shrinks back, but even prays that he may not fall into such a position. For he says, "I pray that ye do no evil, not that we may appear approved, but that ye may do that which is honorable, though we be as reprobate." What is it he says? 'I entreat God. I beseech Him, ' he says, 'that I may find no one unreformed, may find no one' that has not repented? yea, rather, not this alone, but that none may have sinned at all. For, ' he says, ' that ye have done no [evil], but if ye have perchance sinned, then that ye may have changed your conduct, and been beforehand with me in reforming, and arresting all wrath. For this is not what I am eager about, that we should be approved in this way, but clean the contrary, that we should not appear approved. For if ye should continue, ' he says, 'sinning and not repenting, it will be necessary for us to chastise, to punish, to maim your bodies; (as happened in the case of Sapphira and of Magus ;) and we have given proof of our power. But we pray not for this, but the contrary, that we may not be shown to be approved in this way, that we may not in this way exhibit the proof of the power which is in us, by chastising you and punishing you as sinning and as incurably diseased, but what? "That ye should do that which is honorable," we pray for this, that ye should ever live in virtue, ever in amendment; "and we should be as reprobate," not displaying our power of punishing. ' And he said not, "reprobate" for he would not "be" reprobate, even though he did not punish, nay rather for this very reason he would be "approved;" 'but even if some suspect us,' he says, 'on account of our not displaying our power, to be contemptible and cast away, we care nothing for this. Better we should be so deemed of by those, than display the power which God hath given to us in those stripes, and in that unreformedness of heart.'
"For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth." For that he may not seem [merely] to be gratifying them, (for this is what one who was void of vain-glory might do,) but to be doing what the nature of the thing demanded, he added this, "for we can do nothing against the truth." 'For if we find you,' he says, ' in good repute, having driven away your sins by repentance and having boldness towards God; we shall not be able thereafter, were we never so willing, to punish you, but should we attempt it even, God will not work with us. For to this end gave He us our power that the judgment we give should be true and righteous, not contrary to the truth.' Seest thou how in every way he can, he makes what he says void of offensiveness, and softens the harshness of his menace? Moreover as he has eagerly endeavored this, so is he desirous also to show that his mind was quite joined to them; wherefore also he added, "For we rejoice when we are weak and ye are strong, and this also we pray for even your perfecting." 'For most certainly,' he says, 'we cannot do any thing against the truth, that is, punish you if you are well pleasing [to God]; besides, because we cannot, we therefore do not wish it, and even desire the contrary. Nay, we are particularly glad of this very thing, when we find you giving us no occasion to show that power of ours for punishment. For even if the doing of such things shows men glorious and approved and strong; still we desire the contrary, that ye should be approved and unblamable, and that we should never at any time reap the glory thence arising.' Wherefore he says, "For we are glad when we are weak." What is, "are weak?" 'When we may be thought weak.' Not when we are weak, but when we are thought weak; for they were thought so by their enemies, because they displayed not their power of punishing. 'But still we are glad, when your behavior is of such a sort as to give us no pretence for punishing you. And it is a pleasure to us to be in this way considered weak, so that only ye be blameless ;' wherefore he adds, "and ye are strong," that is, 'are approved, are virtuous. And we do not only wish for this, but we pray for this, that ye may be blameless, perfect, and afford us no handle. '
[6.] This is paternal affection, to prefer the salvation of the disciples before his own good name. This is the part of a soul free from vainglory; this best releaseth from the bonds of the body and makes one to rise aloft from earth to heaven, the being pure from vain-glory; just as therefore the contrary leadeth unto many sins. For it is impossible that one who is not from vain-glory, should be lofty and great and noble; but he must needs grovel on the ground, and do much damage, whilst the slave of a polluted mistress, more cruel than any barbarian. For what can be fiercer than she who, when most courted, is then most savage? Even wild beasts are not this, but are tamed by much attention. But vain-glory is quite the contrary, by being contemned she is made tame, by being honored she is made savage and is armed against her honorer. The Jews honored her and were punished with exceeding severity; the disciples slighted her and were crowned. And why speak I of punishment and crowns? for to this very point of being seen to be glorious, it contributes more than any thing, to spit upon vainglory. And thou shalt see even in this world that they who honor it are damaged, whilst those who slight it are benefited. For the disciples who slighted it, (for there is no obstacle to our using the same example again,) and preferred the things of God, outshine the sun, having gained themselves an immortal memory even after their death; whilst the Jews who crouched to it are become cityless, heartless, degraded, fugitives, exiles, mean, contemptible. Do thou, therefore, if thou desirest to receive glory, repel glory; but if thou pursuest glory, thou shalt miss glory. And, if ye will, let us also try this doctrine in worldly matters. For whom do we make sport of in our jests? Is it not of those whose minds are set upon it? Certainly then, these men are the most entirely destitute of it, having countless accusers and being slighted by all. And whom do we admire, tell me; is it not those who despise it? Certainly then, these are they that are glorified. For as he is rich, not who is in need of many things, but who is in need of nothing; so he is glorious, not who loveth glory, but who despiseth it; for this glory is but a shadow of glory. No one having seen a loaf painted, though he should be pressed with hunger ever so much, will attack the picture. Neither then do thou pursue these shadows, for this is a shadow of glory, not glory. And that thou mayest know that this is the manner of it and that it is a shadow, consider this that it must be so, when the thing hath a bad name amongst men, when all consider it a thing to be avoided, they even who desire it; and when he who hath it and he covets it are ashamed to be called after it. ' Whence then is this desire,' saith one, ' and how is the passion engendered? ' By littleness of soul, (for one ought not only to accuse it, but also to correct it,) by an imperfect mind, by a childish judgment. Let us then cease to be children, and let us become men: and let us every where pursue the reality, not the shadows, both in wealth, and in pleasure, and in luxury, and in glory, and in power; and this disease will cease, and many others also. For to pursue shadows is a madman's part. Wherefore also Paul said, "Awake up righteously and sin not." (1 Cor. xv. 34.) For there is yet another madness, sorer than that caused by devils, than that from frenzy. For that admits of forgiveness, but this is destitute of excuse, seeing the soul itself is corrupted and its right judgment lost; and that of frenzy indeed is an affection of the body, but this madness hath its seat in the artificer mind. As then of fevers those are sorer, yea incurable, which seize upon firm bodies and lurk in the recesses of the nerves and are hidden away in the veins, so truly is this madness also, seeing it lurks in the recesses of the mind itself, perverting and destroying it. For how is it not clear and evident madness, yea, a distemper sorer than any madness, to despise the things which abide forever, and to cling with great eagerness to those which perish? For, tell me, if one were to chase the wind or try to hold it, should we not say that he was mad? And what? if one should grasp a shadow and neglect the reality; if one should hate his own wife and embrace her shadow; or loathe his son and again love his shadow, wouldest thou seek any other clearer sign in proof of madness? Such are they also who greedily follow the present things. For they are all shadow, yea, whether thou mention glory, or power, or good report, or wealth, or luxury, or any other thing of this life. And therefore truly it is that the prophet said, "Surely man walketh in a shadow, yea, he disquieth himself in vain;" (Ps. xxxix. 6.) and again, "Our days decline like a shadow." (Ps. cii. 11.) And in another place, he calls human things smoke and the flower of grass. But it is not only his good things which are shadow, but his evils also, whether it be death thou mention, or poverty, or disease, or any other thing. What then are those things which abide, both good and evil? The eternal kingdom and the everlasting hell. For "neither shall the worm die, nor shall the fire be quenched:" (Mark ix. 44.) and "these shall rise again to everlasting life: and these to everlasting punishment." (Mat. xxv. 46.) That then we may escape the one and enjoy the other, letting go the shadow, let us cling to the real things with all earnestness, for so shall we obtain the kingdom of heaven, which may we all obtain though the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory and might for ever and ever Amen.
For this cause I write these things while absent, that I may not when present deal sharply, according to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up, and not for casting down.
He was sensible he had spoken more vehemently than his wont, and especially towards the end of the Epistle. For he said before, "Now I Paul myself entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ; I who in your presence am lowly among you, but being absent am of good courage towards you: Yea, I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present, with the confidence wherewith I count to be bold against some which count of us as if we walked according to the flesh;" (Chap. x. 1, 2. ) and, "being in readiness to avenge all disobedience when your obedience shall be fulfilled:" (Ib. 6.) and, "I fear lest when I come, I should find you not such as I would, and should myself be found of you such as ye would not ;" (Chap. xii. 20.) and again, "lest when I come my God should humble me before you, and that I should mourn many of them which have sinned heretofore, and repented not of the lasciviousness and uncleanness which they committed :" (Ib. 21.) and afterwards, "I told you before and foretell you, as if I were present the second time, and being absent now I write, that, if I come again, I will not spare; seeing that ye seek a proof of Christ, that speaketh in me." (Chap. xiii. 2, 3.) Since then he had said these things and more besides, terrifying, shaming, reproaching, lashing them, he says, in excuse for all, "For this cause I write these things while absent, that I may not when present deal sharply." For I am desirous the sharpness should lie in my letters and not in my deeds. I wish my threats to be vehement, that they may continue threats and never go forth into action. Again even in this his apology he makes what he says more terrible, showing that it is not himself who is to punish, but God; for he added, "according to the authority which the Lord gave me;" and again, to show that he desires not to use his power to their punishment, he added, "not for casting down, but for building up." And he hinted indeed this now, as I said, but he left it to them to draw the conclusion that if they should continue unamended, even this again is building up, to punish those that are of such a mind. For so it is, and he knew it and showed it by his deeds.
Ver. 11. "For the rest, brethren, rejoice, be perfected, be comforted, be of the same mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you."
What means, "for the rest, brethren, rejoice?"' Thou hast pained, terrified, thrown them into an agony, made them to tremble and fear, and how biddest thou them rejoice? 'Why, for this very reason I bid them rejoice. For,' he says, ' if what is your part follow' upon mine, there will be nothing to prevent that joy. For all my part has been done; I have suffered long, I have delayed, I have forborne to cut off, I have besought, I have advised, I have alarmed, I have threatened, so as by every means to gather you in unto the fruit of repentance. And now it behoveth that your part be done, and so your joy will be unfading.'
"Be perfected." What is, "be perfected?" 'Be complete, fill up what is deficient.'
"Be comforted." For, since their trials were numerous, and their perils great, he says, '"be comforted," both by one another, and by us, and by your change unto the better. For if ye should have joy of conscience and become complete, nothing is wanting unto your cheerfulness and comfort. For nothing doth so produce comfort as a pure conscience, yea, though innumerable trials surround.'
"Be of the same mind, live in peace." The request he made in the former Epistle also, at the opening. For it is possible to be of one mind, and yet not to live in peace, [for instance], when people agree in doctrine, but in their dealings with each other are at variance. But Paul requires both.
"And the God of love and peace shall be with you." For truly he not only recommends and advises, but also prays. For either he prays for this, or else foretells what shall happen; or rather, both. 'For if ye do these things,' he says, ' for instance, if ye be "of one mind" and "live in peace," God also will be with you, for He is "the God of love and of peace," and in these things He delighteth, He rejoiceth. Hence shall peace also be yours from His love; hence shall every evil be removed. This saved the world, this ended the long war, this blended together heaven and earth, this made men angels. This then let us also imitate, for love is the mother of countless good things. By this we were saved, by this all those unspeakable good things [come] to us.'
[2.] Then to lead them on unto it, he says,
Ver. 12. "Salute one another with a holy kiss."
What is "holy?" not hollow, not treacherous, like the kiss which Judas gave to Christ. For therefore is the kiss given, that it may be fuel unto love, that it may kindle the disposition, that we may so love each other, as brothers brothers, as children parents, as parents children; yea, rather even far more. For those things are a disposition implanted by nature, but these by spiritual grace. Thus our souls bound unto each other. And therefore when we return after an absence we kiss each other, our souls hastening unto mutual intercourse. For this is that member which most of all declares to us the workings of the soul. But about this holy kiss somewhat else may yet be said. To what effect? We are the temple of Christ; we kiss then the porch and entrance of the temple when we kiss each other. See ye not how many kiss even the porch of this temple, some stooping clown, others grasping it with their hand, and putting their hand to their mouth. And through these gates and doors Christ both had entered into us, and doth enter, whensoever we communicate. Ye who partake of the mysteries understand what I say. For it is in no common manner that our lips are honored, when they receive the Lord's Body. It is for this reason chiefly that we here kiss. Let them give ear who speak filthy things, who utter railing, and let them shudder to think what that mouth is they dishonor; let those give ear who kiss obscenely. Hear what things God hath proclaimed by thy mouth, and keep it undefiled. He hath discoursed of the life to come, of the resurrection, of immortality, that death is not death, of those other innumerable mysteries. For he that is about to be initiated comes to the priest's mouth as it were an oracle, to hear things full of awe. For he lost his life even from his forefathers, and comes to seek it again, and to ask how he may haply find and get it back. Then God announceth to him how it may be found, and that mouth becomes more awful than the very mercy-seat. For that mercy-seat never sent forth a voice like this, but spake much of lesser things, of wars and such peace as is here below: but this speaks all about heaven and the life to come, and things new and that pass understanding. And having said,
Ver. 13. "Salute one another with an holy kiss," he added, "All the saints salute you."
By this also giving them good hopes. He has added this in the place of the kiss, knitting them together by the salutation, for the words also proceed from the same mouth from which the kiss. Seest thou how he brings them all together, both those who are widely separated in the body and those who are near, these by the kiss and those by the written message?
[3.] Ver. 14. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God," and the Father, "and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all." After having united them to one other by the salutations and the kisses, he again closes his speech with prayer, with much carefulness uniting them unto God also. Where now are they who say that because the Holy Spirit is not inserted in the beginnings of the Epistles, He is not of the same substance? For, behold, he hath now enumerated Him with the Father and Son. And besides this, one may remark, that when writing to the Colossians and saying, "Grace to you, and peace from God our Father," he was silent of the Son, and added not, as in all his Epistles, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Is then the Son not of the same substance either, because of this? Nay, these reasonings are of extreme folly. For this very thing especially shows Him to be of the same substance, that Paul useth the expression [or not] indifferently. And that what is here said is no conjecture, hear how he mentions Son and Spirit, and is quite silent of the Father. For, writing to the Corinthians, he says, "But ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. vi. 11.) What then, tell me? were these not baptized into the Father? Then assuredly they were neither washed nor sanctified. But did they baptize them? doubtless then just as also they did baptize. How then did he not say, 'Ye are washed in the name of the Father?' Because it was indifferent in his view, at one time to make mention of this, at another of that Person; and you may observe this custom in many places of the Epistles. For writing to the Romans he says, "I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God," (Rom. xii. 1.) although those mercies are of the Son; and, "I beseech you by the love of the Spirit," (Rom. xv. 30.) although love is of the Father. Wherefore then mentioned he not the Son in "the mercies," nor the Father in "the love?" Because as being things plain and admitted, he was silent about them. Moreover, he will be found again, to put the gifts also themselves transposedly. For having said here, "The grace of Christ, and the love of God and the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost;" he in another place speaks of "the communion of the Son," and of "the love of the Spirit." For, "I beseech you," he says, "by the love of the Spirit." (Rom. xv. 30.) And in his Epistle to the Corinthians, "God is faithful, by Whom ye were called into the communion of His Son." (1 Cor. i. 9.) Thus the things of the Trinity are undivided: and whereas the communion is of the Spirit, it hath been found of the Son; and whereas the grace is of the Son, it is also of the Father and of the Holy Spirit; for [we read], "Grace be to you from God the Father." And in another place, having enumerated many forms of it, he added, "But all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally as He will." (1 Cor. xii. 11.) And I say these things, not confounding the Persons, (away with the thought!)but knowing both the individuality and distinctness of These, and the Unity of the Substance.
[4.] Let us then continue both to hold these doctrines in their strictness, and to draw to us the love of God. For before indeed He loved us when hating Him, and reconciled us who were His enemies; but henceforth He wishes to love us as loving Him. Let us then continue to love Him, so that we may be also loved by Him. For if when beloved by powerful men we are formidable to all, much more when [beloved] by God, And should it be needful to give wealth, or body, or even life itself for this love, let us not grudge them. For it is not enough to say in words that we love, but we ought to give also the proof of deeds; for neither did He show love by words only, but by deeds also. Do thou then also show this by thy deeds and do those things which please Him, for so shalt thou thyself reap again the advantage. For He needeth nothing that we have to bestow, and this is also a special proof of a sincere love, when one who needeth nothing and is not in any necessity, doth all for the sake of being loved by us. Wherefore also Moses said, "For what doth the Lord God require of you, but to love Him, and that thou shouldest be ready to walk after Him?" (Deut. x. 12.) So that when He biddeth thee love Him, He then most of all showeth that He loves thee. For nothing doth so secure our salvation as to love Him. See then, how that all His commandments even tend together to our repose and salvation and good report. For when he says, "Blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the meek, blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the peacemakers;" (Matt. v. 3-9.) He Himself indeed reaps no advantage from these, but he enjoins them for our adorning and attuning; and when He says, "I was an hungred," it is not as needing that ministry from us, but as exciting thee to humanity. For He was well able even without thee to feed the poor man; but as bestowing upon thee an exceeding treasure, he laid these commands upon thee. For if the sun, which is but a creature, needeth not our eyes; for he abideth in his own proper brightness, even though none should look upon him, and we it is who are the gainers when we enjoy his beams; much more is this so with God. But that thou mayest learn this in yet another way; how great wilt thou have the distance to be between God and us? as great as between gnats and us, or much greater? Quite plainly it is much greater, yea, infinite. If then we vainglorious creatures need not service nor honor from gnats, much rather the Divine Nature [none from us], seeing It is impassible and needing nothing. The measure of that which He enjoyeth by us is but the greatness of our benefit, and the delight He taketh in our salvation. For this reason He also oftentimes relinquisheth His own, and seeketh thine. "For if any," he saith," have a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away;" (1 Cor. vii. 12.) and, "He that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery." Seest thou what unspeakable goodness? ' If a wife be a harlot,' He says, ' I do not compel the husband to live with her; and if she be an unbeliever, I do not forbid him,' Again, 'if thou be grieved against any one, I command him that hath grieved thee to leave My gift and to run to thee.' For He saith, "If thou art offering thy gift, and there remember that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Matt. v. 23, 24.) And what saith the parable of him that had devoured his all? (Matt. xviii. 24, &c.) Doth it not show this? For when he had eaten up those ten thousand talents, He had mercy on him, and let him go; but when he demanded of his fellowservant an hundred pence, he both called him wicked and delivered him over to the punishment. So great account doth He make of thy ease. The barbarian was about to sin against the wife of the just man, and He says, "I spared thee from sinning against me." (Gen. xx. 6.) Paul persecuted the Apostles, and He saith to him, "Why persecutest thou Me?" Others are hungry, and He Himself saith He is an hungred, and wanders about naked and a stranger, wishing to shame thee, and so to force thee into the way of almsgiving.
Reflecting then upon the love, how great He hath shown in all things, and still shows it to be, both having vouchsafed to make Himself known to us, (which is the greatest crown of good things, and light to the understanding and instruction in virtue,) and to lay down laws for the best mode of life, and having done all things for our sakes, having given His Son, and promised a kingdom, and invited us to those unspeakable good things, and prepared for us a most blessed life, let us do and say every thing so as both to appear worthy of His love and to obtain 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 now and 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.