Fathers of the Church
Homilies on Ephesians, 1-11
by John Chrysostom in Unknown (between 398-404) | translated by Translated By the Rev. William John Copeland, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford; Revised By the Rev. Gross Alexander, D.d., Professor of new Testament Greek, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn
Ephesus is the metropolis of Asia. It was dedicated to Diana, whom especially they worshipped there as their great goddess. Indeed so great was the superstition of her worshippers, that when her temple was burnt, they would not so much as divulge the name of the man who burnt it.
The blessed John the Evangelist spent the chief part of his time there: he was there when he was banished, and there he died. It was there too that Paul left Timothy, aS he says in writing to him, "As I exhorted thee to tarry at Ephesus. (1 Tim. 1: 3.)
Most of the philosophers also, those more particularly who flourished in Asia, were there; and even Pythagoras himself is said to have come from thence; perhaps because Samos, whence he really came, is an island of Ionia. It was the resort also of the disciples of Parmenides, and Zeno, and Democritus, and you may see a number of philosophers there even to the present day.
These facts I mention, not merely as such, but with a view of showing that Paul would needs take great pains and trouble in writing to these Ephesians. He is said indeed to have entrusted them, as being persons already well-instructed, with his profoundest conceptions; and the Epistle itself is full of sublime thoughts and doctrines.
He wrote the Epistle from Rome, and, as he himself informs us, in bonds. "Pray for me, that utterance may be given unto me, in opening my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains." (Eph. vi: 19.) It abounds with sentiments of overwhelming loftiness and grandeur. Thoughts which he scarcely so much as utters any where else, he here plainly declares i as when he says, "To the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God." (Eph. iii: 10.) And again; "He raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in heavenly places. (Eph. ii: 6.) And again; "Which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit, that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ." (Eph. iii: 5.)
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Observe, he applies the word "through" to the Father. But what then? Shall we say that He is inferior? Surely not.
"To the saints, "saith he, "which are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus."
Observe that he calls saints, men with wives, and children, and domestics. For that these are they whom he calls by this name is plain from the end of the Epistle, as, when he says, "Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands." (Eph. v: 22. ) And again, "Children, obey your parents: "( Eph. vi: 1. ) and, "Servants, be obedient to your masters." (Eph. vi: 5. ) Think how great is the indolence that possesses us now, how rare is any thing like virtue now and how great the abundance of virtuous men must have been then, when even secular men could be called "saints and faithful." "Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father; and the Lord Jesus Christ." "Grace" is his word; and he calls God, "Father," since this name is a sure token of that gift of grace. And how so? Hear what he saith elsewhere; "Because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Gal. iv: 6.)
"And from the Lord Jesus Christ."
Because for us men Christ was born, and appeared in the flesh.
Ver. 3. "Blessed be the God," he saith, "and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Observe; The God of Him that was Incarnate. And though thou wilt not, The Father of God the Word.
Ver. 3. "Who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ."
He is here alluding to the blessings of the Jews; for that was blessing also, but it was not spiritual blessing. For how did it run? "The Lord bless thee, He will bless the fruit of thy body;" (Deut. vii: 13.) and "He will bless thy going out and thy coming in." (Deut. xxviii: 4.) But here it is not thus, but how? "With every spiritual blessing." And what lackest thou yet? Thou art made immortal, thou art made free, thou art made a son, thou art made righteous, thou art made a brother, thou art made a fellow-heir, thou reignest with Christ, thou art glorified with Christ; all things are freely given thee. "How," saith he, "shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Rom. viii: 32.) Thy First-fruits is adored by Angels, by the Cherubim, by the Seraphim! What lackest thou yet? "With every spiritual blessing." There is nothing carnal here. Accordingly He excluded all those former blessings, when He said, "In the world ye have tribulation," (John xvi: 33.) to lead us on to these. For as they who possessed carnal things were unable to hear of spiritual things, so they who aim at spiritual things cannot attain to them unless they first stand aloof from carnal things.
What again is "spiritual blessing in the heavenly places?" It is not upon earth, he means, as was the case with the Jews. "Ye shall eat the good of the land." (Isa. i: 19.) "Unto a land flowing with milk and honey." (Ex. iii: 8.) "The Lord shall bless thy land." (Deut. vii: 13.) Here we have nothing of this sort, but what have we? "If a man love Me, he will keep My word, and I and My Father will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (Jo. xiv: 23.) "Every one therefore which heareth these words of Mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man which built his house upon the rock, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded upon the rock." (Mat. vii: 24, 25.) And what is that rock but those heavenly things which are above the reach of every change? "Every one therefore who," saith Christ, "shall confess Me before men him will I also confess before My Father which is in Heaven: But whosoever shall deny Me, him will I also deny." (Mat. x: 32, 33.) Again, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Mat. v: 8.) And again, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." (Mat. v: 3.) And again, "Blessed are ye which are persecuted for righteousness sake, for great is your reward in Heaven." (Mat. v: 11, 12.) Observe, how every where He speaketh of Heaven, no where of earth, or of the things on the earth. And again, "Our citizenship is in Heaven, from whence also we wait for a Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ." (Phil. iii: 20. ) And again, "Not setting your mind on the things that are on the earth, but on the things which are above." (Col. iii: 30.)
That is to say, this blessing was not by the hand of Moses, but by Christ Jesus: so that we surpass them not only in the quality of the blessings, but in the Mediator also. As moreover he saith in the Epistle to the Hebrews; "And Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were afterward to be spoken; but Christ as a Son over His house, whose house are we." (Heb. iii: 5-6.)
Ver. 4. "Even as," he proceeds, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before Him in love." His meaning is somewhat of this sort. Through whom He hath blessed us, through Him He hath also chosen us. And He, then, it is that shall bestow upon us all those rewards hereafter. He is the very Judge that shall say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Mat. xxv: 34.) And again, "I will that where I am they will also be with Me." (John xvii: 24.) And this is a point which he is anxious to prove. in almost all his Epistles, that ours is no novel system, but that it had thus been figured from the very first, that it is not the result of any change of purpose, but had been in fact a divine dispensation and fore-ordained.And this is a mark of great solicitude for us.
What is meant by, "He chose us in Him?" By means of the faith which is in Him, Christ, he means, happily ordered this for us before we were born; nay more, before the foundation of the world. And beautiful is that word "foundation," as though he were pointing to the world as cast down from some vast height. Yea, vast indeed and ineffable is the height of God, so far removed not in place but in incommunicableness of nature; so wide the distance between creation and Creator t A word which heretics may be ashamed to hear.
But wherefore hath He chosen us? "That we should be holy and without a blemish before Him." That you may not then, when you hear that "He hath chosen us," imagine that faith alone is sufficient, he proceeds to add life and conduct. To this end, saith he, hath He chosen us, and on this condition, "that we should be holy and without blemish." And so formerly he chose the Jews. On what terms? "This nation, saith he, hath He chosen from the rest of the nations." (Deut. xiv: 2.) Now if men in their choices choose what is best, much more doth God. And indeed the fact of their being chosen is at once a token of the loving kindness of God, and of their moral goodness. For by all means would he have chosen those who were approved. He hath Himself rendered us holy, but then we must continue holy. A holy man is he who is a partaker of faith; a blameless man is he who leads an irreproachable life. It is not however simply holiness and irreproachableness that He requires, but that we should appear such "before Him." For there are holy and blameless characters, who yet are esteemed as such only by men those who are like whited sepulchres, and like such as wear sheep's clothing. It is not such, however, He requires, but such as the Prophet speaks of; "And according to the cleanness of my hands." (Ps. xviii: 24.) What cleanness? That which is so "in His eyesight." He requires that holiness on which the eye of God may look.
Having thus spoken of the good works of these, he again recurs to His grace. "In love," saith he, "having predestinated us." Because this comes not of any pains, nor of any good works of ours, but of love; and yet not of love alone, but of our virtue also. For if indeed of love alone, it would follow that all must be saved; whereas again were it the result of our virtue alone, then were His coming needless, and the whole dispensation. But it is the result neither of His love alone, nor yet of our virtue, but of both. "He chose us," saith the Apostle; and He that chooseth, knoweth what it is that He chooseth. "In love," he adds, "having foreordained us;" for virtue would never have saved any one, had there not been love. For tell me, what would Paul have profited, how would he have exhibited what he has exhibited, if God had not both called him from the beginning, and, in that He loved him, drawn him to Himself? But besides, His vouchsafing us so great privileges, was the effect of His love, not of our virtue. Because our being rendered virtuous, and believing, and coming nigh unto Him, even this again was the work of Him that called us Himself, and yet, notwithstanding, it is ours also. But that on our coming nigh unto Him, He should vouchsafe us so high privileges, as to bring us at once from a state of enmity, to the adoption of children, this is indeed the work of a really transcendent love.
Ver. 4, 5. "In love," saith he, "having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself."
Do you observe how that nothing is done without Christ? Nothing without the Father? The one hath predestinated, the other hath brought us near. And these words he adds by way of heightening the things which have been done, in the same way as he says also elsewhere, "And not only so, but we also rejoice in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. v: II.) For great indeed are the blessings bestowed, yet are they made far greater in being bestowed through Christ; because He sent not any servant, though it was to servants He sent, but the Only-begotten Son Himself.
Ver. 5. "According to the good pleasure," he continues, "of His will."
That is to say, because He earnestly willed it. This is, as one might say, His earnest desire. For the word "good pleasure" every where means the precedent will, for there is also another will. As for example, the first will is that sinners should not perish; the second will is, that, if men become wicked, they shall perish. For surely it is not by necessity that He punishes them, but because He wills it. You may see something of the sort even in the words of Paul, where he says, "I would that all men were even as I myself." (1 Cor. vii: 7.) And again, "I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children." (I Tim. v: 14.) By "good pleasure" then he means the first will, the earnest will, the will accompanied with earnest desire, as in case of us, for I shall not refuse to employ even a somewhat familiar expression, in order to speak with clearness to the simpler sort; for thus we ourselves, to express the intentness of the will, speak of acting according to our resolve. What he means to say then is this, God earnestly aims at, earnestly desires, our salvation. Wherefore then is it that He so loveth us, whence hath He such affection? It is of His goodness alone. For grace itself is the fruit of goodness. And for this cause, he saith, hath He predestinated us to the adoption of children; this being His will, and the object of His earnest wish, that the glory of His grace may be displayed. "According to the good pleasure of His will," he proceeds,
Ver. 6. "To the praise of the glory of His grace which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."
That the glory of His grace may be displayed, he saith, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Now then if for this He hath shown grace to us, to the praise of the glory of His grace, and that He may display His grace, let us abide therein. "To the praise of His glory." What is this? that who should praise Him? that who should glorify Him? that we, that Angels, that Archangels, yea, or the whole creation? And what were that? Nothing. The Divine nature knoweth no want. And wherefore then would He have us praise and glorify Him? It is that our love towards Him may be kindled more fervently within us. He desireth nothing we can render; not our service, not our praise, nor any thing else, nothing but our salvation; this is His object in every thing He does. And he who praises and marvels at the grace displayed towards himself will thus be more devoted and more earnest.
"Which He freely bestowed on us," he saith. He does not say, "Which He hath graciously given us," (echari'sato) but, "wherein He hath shown grace to us." (echari'twsen) That is to say, He hath not only released us from our sins, but hath also made us meet objects of His love. It is as though one were to take a leper, wasted by distemper, and disease, by age, and poverty, and famine, and were to turn him all at once into a graceful youth, surpassing all mankind in beauty, shedding a bright lustre from his cheeks, and eclipsing the sun-beams with the glances of his eyes; and then were to set him in the very flower of his age, and after that array him in purple and a diadem and all the attire of royalty. It is thus that God hath arrayed and adorned this soul of ours, and clothed it with beauty, and rendered it an object of His delight and love. Such a soul Angels desire to
look into, yea, Archangels, and all the holy ones. Such grace hath He shed over us, so dear hath He rendered us to Himself. "The King," saith the Psalmist, "shall greatly desire thy beauty." (Ps. xlv. 11.) Think what injurious words we uttered heretofore, and look, what gracious words we utter now. Wealth has no longer charms for us, nor the things that are here below, but only heavenly things, the things that are in the heavens. When a child has outward beauty, and has besides a pervading grace in all its sayings, do we not call it a beautiful child? Such as this are the faithful. Look, what words the initiated utter! What can be more beautiful than that mouth that breathes those wondrous words, and with a pure heart and pure lips, and beaming with cheerful confidence, partaketh of such a mystical table? What more beautiful than the words, with which we renounce the service of the Devil, and enlist in the service of Christ? than both that confession which is before the Baptismal laver, and that which is after it? Let us reflect as many of us as have defiled our Baptism, and weep that we may be able again to repair it.
Ver. 6. "In the Beloved," he saith, "in whom we have our redemption through His Blood."
And how is this? Not only is there this marvel, that He hath given His Son, but yet further that He hath given Him in such a way, as that the Beloved One Himself should be slain!
Yea, and more transcendent still! He hath given the Beloved for them that were hated. See, how high a price he sets upon us. If, when we hated Him and were enemies, He gave the Beloved, what will He not do now, when we are reconciled by Him through grace?
Ver. 7. "The forgiveness," saith he, "of our trespasses."
Again he descends from high to low: first speaking of adoption, and sanctification, and blamelessness, and then of the Passion, and in this not lowering his discourse and bringing it down from greater things to lesser, no rather, he was heightening it, and raising it from the lesser to the greater. For nothing is so great as that the blood of this Son should be shed for us. Greater this than both the adoption, and all the other gifts of grace, that He spared not even the Son. For great indeed is the forgiveness of sins, yet this is the far greater thing, that it should be done by the Lord's blood. For that this is far greater than all, look how here again he exclaims,
Ver. 7, 8. "According to the riches of His grace, which He made to abound toward us."
The abovementioned gifts are riches, yet is this far more so. "Which," saith he, "He made to abound toward us." They are both "riches" and "they have abounded," that is to say, were poured forth in ineffable measure. It is not possible to represent in words what blessings we have in fact experienced. For riches indeed they are, abounding riches, and He hath given in abundance riches not of man but of God, so that on all hands it is impossible that they should be expressed. And to show us how He gave it to such abundance, he adds,
Ver. 8, 9. "In all wisdom and prudence, having made known unto us the mystery of His will."
That is to say, Making us wise and prudent, in that which is true wisdom, and that which is true prudence. Strange! what friendship! For He telleth us His secrets; the mysteries, saith he, of His will, as if one should say, He hath made known to us the things that are in His heart. For here is indeed the mystery which is full of all wisdom and prudence. For what will you mention equal to this wisdom! These that were worth nothing, it hath discovered a way of raising them to wealth and abundance. What can equal this wise contrivance? He that was an enemy, he that was hated, he is in a moment lifted up on high. And not this only,—but, yet more, that it should be done at this particular time, this again was the work of wisdom; and that it should be done by means of the Cross. It were matter of long
discourse here to point out, how all this was the work of wisdom, and how He had made us wise. And therefore he repeats again the words,
"According to His good pleasure which He purposed in Him." That is to say, this He desired, this He travailed for, as one might say, that He might be able to reveal to us the mystery. What mystery? That He would have man seated up on high. And this hath come to pass.
Ver. 10. "Unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth, even in Him."
Heavenly things, he means to say, had been severed from earthly. They had no longer one Head. So far indeed as the system of the creation went, there was over all One God, but so far as management of one household went, this, amid the wide spread of Gentile error, was not the case, but they had been severed from His obedience.
"Unto a dispensation," saith he, "of the fulness of the times."
The fulness of the times, he calls it. Observe with what nicety he speaks. And whereas he points out the origination, the purpose, the will, the first intention, as proceeding from the Father, and the fulfillment and execution as effected by the agency of the Son, yet no where does he apply to him the term minister.
"He chose us," saith he, "in Him, having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself;" and, "to the praise of the glory of His grace, in whom we have redemption through His blood,—which He purposed in Him, unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ;" and no where hath he called Him minister. If however the word "in" and the word "by" implies a mere minister, look what the matter comes to. Just in the very beginning of the Epistle, he used the expression "through the will of the Father." The Father, he means, willed, the Son wrought. But neither does it follow, that because the Father willed, the Son is excluded from the willing; nor because the Son wrought, that the Father is deprived of the working. But to the Father and the Son, all things are common. "For all Mine are Thine," saith He, "and Thine are Mine." (Jo. xvii: 10.)
The fullness of the times, however, was His coming. After, then, He had done everything, by the ministry both of Angels, and of Prophets, and of the Law, and nothing came of it, and it was well nigh come to this, that man had been made in vain, brought into the world in vain, nay, rather to his ruin; when all were absolutely perishing, more fearfully than in the deluge, He devised this dispensation, that is by grace; that it might not be in vain, might not be to no purpose that man was created. This he calls "the fulness of the times," and "wisdom." And why so? Because at that time when they were on the very point of perishing, then they were rescued.
That "He might sum up" he saith.
What is the meaning of this word, "sum up?" It is "to knit together." Let us, however, endeavor to get near the exact import. With ourselves then, in common conversation, the word means the summing into a brief compass things spoken at length, the concise account of matters described in detail. And it has this meaning. For Christ hath gathered up in Himself the dispensations carried on through a lengthened period, that is to say, He hath cut them short. For "by finishing His word and cutting it short in righteousness." (Romans ix: 28.) He both comprehended former dispensations, and added others beside. This is the meaning of "summing up."
It has also another signification; and of what nature is this? He hath set over all one and the same Head, i.e., Christ according to the flesh, alike over Angels and men. That is to say, He hath given to Angels and men one and the same government; to the one the Incarnate, to the other God the Word. Just as one might say of a house which has some part decayed and the other sound, He hath rebuilt the house, that is to say, He has made it stronger, and laid a firmer foundation. So also here He hath brought all under one and the same Head. For thus will an union be effected, thus will a close bond be effected, if one and all can be brought under one and the same Head, and thus have some constraining bond of union from above. Honored then as we are with so great a blessing, so high a privilege, so great loving-kindness, let us not shame our Benefactor, let us not render in vain so great grace. Let us exemplify the life of Angels, the virtue of Angels, the conversation of Angels, yea, I entreat and conjure you, that all these things turn not to our judgment, nor to our condemnation, but to our enjoyment of those good things, which may God grant we may all attain, in Christ Jesus, our Lord, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, strength, &c. &c.
"In whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will."
Paul earnestly endeavors on all occasions to display the unspeakable loving-kindness of God towards us, to the utmost of his power. For that it is impossible to do so adequately, hear his own words. "O! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past tracing out." (Rom. xi: 33.) Still, notwithstanding, so far as it is possible, he does display it. What then is this which he is saying; "In whom also we were made a heritage, being predestinated?" Above he used the word, "He chose us;" here he saith, "we were made a heritage." But inasmuch as a lot is a matter of chance, not of deliberate choice, nor of virtue, (for it is closely allied to ignorance and accident, and oftentimes passing over the virtuous, brings forward the worthless into notice,) observe how he corrects this very point: "having been foreordained," saith he, "according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things." That is to say, not merely have we been made a heritage, as, again, we have not merely been chosen, (for it is God who chooses,) and so neither have we merely been allotted, (for it is God who allots,) but it is "according to a purpose." This is what he says also in the Epistle to the Romans, (Rom. viii: 28-30.) "To them that are called according to His purpose;" and "whom He called, them He also justified, and whom He justified, them he also glorified." Having first used the expression, "to them that are called according to a purpose," and at the same time wishing to declare their privilege compared with the rest of mankind, he speaks also of inheritance by lot, yet so as not to divest them of free will. That point then, which more properly belongs to happy fortune, is the very point he insists upon. For this inheritance by lot depends not on virtue, but, as one might say, on fortuitous circumstances. It is as though he had said, lots were cast, and He hath chosen us; but the whole is of deliberate choice. Men predestinated, that is to say, having chosen them to Himself, He hath separated. He saw us, as it were, chosen by lot before we were born. For marvellous is the foreknowledge of God, and acquainted with all things before their beginning.
But mark now how on all occasions he takes pains to point out, that it is not the result of any change of purpose, but that these matters had been thus modeled from the very first, so that we are in no wise inferior to the Jews in this respect; and how, in consequence, he does every thing with this view. How then is it that Christ Himself saith, "I was not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel?" (Mat. xv: 24.) And said again to his disciples, "Go not into any way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans." (Mat. x: 5.) And Paul again himself says, "It was necessary that the word of God should first be spoken to you. Seeing ye thrust it from you and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." (Acts xiii: 46.) These expressions, I say, are used with this design, that no one may suppose that this work came to pass incidentally only. "According to the purpose," he says, "of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will." That is to say, He had no after workings; having modeled all things from the very first, thus he leads forward all things "according to the counsel of His will." So that it was not merely because the Jews did not listen that He called the Gentiles, nor was it of mere necessity, nor was it on any inducement arising from them.
Ver. 12, 13. "To the end that we should be unto the praise of His glory, we who had before hoped in Christ. In whom ye also having heard the word of the truth, the Gospel of your salvation."
That is to say, through whom. Observe how he on all occasions speaks of Christ, as the Author of all things, and in no case gives Him the title of a subordinate agent, or a minister. And so again, elsewhere, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, he says, "that God, having of old time spoken unto the Fathers in the prophets, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in His Son," (Heb. I: I.) that is "through" His Son.
"The word of truth," he says, no longer that of the type, nor of the image.
"The Gospel of your salvation." And well does be call it the Gospel of salvation, intimating in the one word a contrast to the law, in the other, a contrast with punishment to come. For what is the message, but the Gospel of salvation, which forbears to destroy those that are worthy of destruction.
Ver. 14. "In whom having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is an earnest of our inheritance."
Here again, the word "sealed," is an indication of especial forecast. He does not speak of our being predestinated only, nor of our being allotted, but further, of our being sealed. For just as though one were to make those who should fall to his lot manifest, so also did God separate them for believing, and sealed them for the allotment of the things to come.
You see how, in process of time, He makes them objects of wonder. So long as they were in His foreknowledge, they were manifest to no one, but when they were sealed, they became manifest, though not in the same way as we are; for they will be manifest except a few. The Israelites also were sealed, but that was by circumcision, like the brutes and reasonless creatures. We too are sealed, but it is as sons, "with the Spirit."
But what is meant by, "with the Spirit of promise?" Doubtless it means that we have received that Spirit according to promise. For there are two promises, the one by the prophets, the other from the Son.
By the Prophets.—Hearken to the words of Joel; "I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions," (Joel ii: 28.) And hearken again to the words of Christ; "But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts. i: 8.) And truly, the Apostle means, He ought, as God, to have been believed; however, he does not ground his affirmation upon this, but examines it like a case where man is concerned, speaking ranch as he does in the Epistle to the Hebrews; (Heb. vi: 18.) where he says, "That by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie we may have a strong encouragement." Thus here also he makes the things already bestowed a sure token of the promise of those which are yet to come. For this reason he further calls it an "earnest," (Cf. also 2. Cot. i: 22.) for an earnest is a part of the whole. He hath purchased what we are most concerned in, our salvation; and hath given us an earnest in the mean while. Why then did He not give the whole at once? Because neither have we, on our part, done the whole of our work. We have believed. This is a beginning; and He too on His part hath given an earnest. When we show cur faith by our works, then He will add the rest. Nay, more, He hath given yet another pledge, His own blood, and hath promised another still. In the same way as in case of war between nation and nation they give hostages: just so hath God also given His Son as a pledge of peace and solemn treaties, and, further, the Holy Spirit also which is from Him. For they, that are indeed partakers of the Spirit, know that He is the earnest of our inheritance. Such an one was Paul, who already had here a foretaste of the blessings there. And this is why he was so eager, and yearned to be released from things below, and groaned within himself. He transferred his whole mind thither, and saw every thing with different eyes. Thou hast no part in the reality, and therefore failest to understand the description. Were we all partakers of the Spirit, as we ought to be partakers, then should we behold Heaven, and the order of things that is there.
It is an earnest, however, of what? of
Ver. 14. "The redemption of God's own possession."
For our absolute redemption takes place then. For now we have our life in the world, we are liable to many human accidents, and are living amongst ungodly men. But our absolute redemption will be then, when there shall be no sins, no human sufferings, when we shall not be indiscriminately mixed with all kinds of people.
At present, however, there is but an earnest, because at present we are far distant from these blessings. Yet is our citizenship not upon earth; even now we are out of the pale of the things that are here below. Yes, we are sojourners even now. Ver. 14. "Unto the praise of His glory." This he adds in immediate connection. And why? Because it would serve to give those who heard it full assurance. Were it for our sake only, he means to say, that God did this, there might be some room for misgiving. But if it be for His own sake, and in order to display His goodness, he assigns, as a sort of witness, a reason why these things never possibly could be otherwise. We find the same language everywhere applied to the case of the Israelites. "Do Thou this for us for Thy Name's sake;" (Ps. cix: 21.) and again, God Himself said, "I do it for Mine own sake;" (Isa. xlviii: II.) and so Moses, "Do it, if for nothing else, yet for the glory of Thy Name." This gives those who hear it full assurance; it relieves them to be told, that whatever He promises, for His own goodness' sake He will most surely perform.
Moral. Let not the hearing, however, make us too much at our ease; for although He doth it for His own sake, yet notwithstanding He requires a duty on our part. If He says, "Them that honor Me I will honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed," (I Sam.ii: 30.) let us reflect that there is that which He requires of us also. True, it is the praise of His glory to save those that are enemies, but those who, after being made friends, continue His friends. So that if they were to return back to their former state of enmity, all were vain and to no purpose. There is not another Baptism, nor is there a second reconciliation again, but "a certain fearful expectation of judgment which shall devour the adversaries." (Heb. x: 27.) If we intend at the same time to be always at enmity with Him and yet to claim forgiveness at His hand, we shall never cease to beat enmity, and to be wanton, to grow in depravity, and to be blind to the Sun of Righteousness which has risen. Dost thou not see the ray that shall open thine eyes? render them then good and sound and quicksighted. He hath showed thee the true light; if thou shunnest it, and runnest back again into the darkness, what shall be thy excuse? What sort of allowance shall be made for thee? None from that moment. For this is a mark of unspeakable enmity. When indeed thou knewest not God, then if thou wert at enmity with Him, thou hadst, be it how it might, some excuse. But when thou hast tasted I the goodness and the honey, if thou again abandonest them, and turnest to thine own vomit, what else art thou doing but bringing forward evidence of excessive hatred and contempt? 'Nay,' thou wilt say, 'but I am constrained to it by nature. I love Christ indeed, but I am constrained by nature.' If thou art under the power and force of constraint, thou wilt have allowance made; but if thou yield from indolence, not for a moment.
Now then, come, let us examine this very question, whether sins are the effect of force and constraint, or of indolence and great carelessness. The law says, "Thou shalt not kill." What sort of force, what sort of violence, is there here? Violence indeed must one use to force himself to kill, for who amongst us would as a matter of choice plunge his sword into the throat of his neighbor, and stain his hand with blood? Not one. Thou seest then that, on the contrary, sin is more properly matter of violence and constraint. For God hath implanted in our nature a charm, which binds us to love one another. "Every beast (it saith) loveth his like, and every man loveth his neighbor." (Ecclus. xiii.: 15.) Seest thou that we have from our nature seeds which tend to virtue; whereas those of vice are contrary to nature? and if these latter predominate, this is but an evidence of our exceeding indolence.
Again, what is adultery? What sort of necessity is there to bring us to this? Doubtless, it will be said, the tyranny of lust. But why, tell me, should this be? What, is it not in every one's power to have his own wife, and thus to put a stop to this tyranny? True, he will say, but a sort of passion for my neighbor's wife seizes hold on me. Here the question is no longer one of necessity. Passion is no matter of necessity, no one loves of necessity, but of deliberate choice and free will. Indulgence of nature, indeed, is perhaps matter of necessity, but to love one woman rather than another is no matter of necessity. Nor is the point with you natural desire, but vanity, and wantonness, and unbounded licentiousness. For which is according to reason, that a man should have an espoused wife, and her the mother of his children, or one not acknowledged? Know ye not that it is intimacy that breeds attachment. This, therefore, is not the fault of nature. Blame not natural desire. Natural desire was bestowed with a view to marriage; it was given with a view to the procreation of children, not with a view to adultery and corruption. The laws, too, know how to make allowance for those sins which are of necessity,—or rather nothing is sin when it arises from necessity but all sin rises from wantonness. God hath not so framed man's nature as that he should have any necessity to sin, since were this the case, there would be no such thing as punishment. We ourselves exact no account of things done of necessity and by constraint, much less would God, so full of mercy and loving-kindness.
Again, what is stealing? is it matter of necessity? Yes, a man will say, because poverty causes this. Poverty, however, rather compels us to work, not to steal. Poverty, therefore, has in fact the contrary effect. Theft is the effect of idleness; whereas poverty produces usually not idleness, but a love of labor. So that this sin is the effect of indolence, as you may learn from hence. Which, I ask, is the more difficult, the more distasteful, to wander about at night without sleep, to break open houses, and walk about in the dark, and to have one's life in one's hand, and to be always prepared for murder, and to be shivering and dead with fear; or to be attending to one's daily task, in full enjoyment of safety and security? This last is the easier task; and it is because this is easier, that the
majority practise it rather than the other. Thou seest then that it is virtue which is according to nature, and vice which is against nature, in the same way as disease and health are.
What, again, are falsehood and perjury? What necessity can they possibly imply? None whatever, nor any compulsion; it is a matter to which we proceed voluntarily. We are distrusted, it will be said. True, distrusted we are, because we choose it. For we might, if we would, be trusted more upon our character, than upon our oath. Why, tell me, is it that we do not trust some, no, not on their oath, whilst we deem others trustworthy even independently of oaths. Seest thou that there is no need of oaths in any case? 'When such an one speaks,' we say, 'I believe him, even without any oath, but thee, no, not with thy oaths.' Thus then an oath is unnecessary; and is in fact an evidence rather of distrust than of confidence. For where a man is over ready to take his oath, he does not leave us to entertain any great idea of his scrupulousness. So that the man who is most constant in his use of oaths, has on no occasion any necessity for using one, and he Who never uses one on any occasion, has in himself the full benefit of its use. Some one says there is a necessity for an oath, to produce confidence; but we see that they are the more readily trusted who abstain from taking oaths.
But again, if one is a man of violence, is this a matter of necessity? Yes, he will say, because his passion carries him away, and burns within him, and does not let the soul be at rest. Man, to act with violence is not the effect of anger, but of littleness of mind. Were it the effect of anger, all men, whenever they were angry, would never cease committing acts of violence. We have anger given us, not that we may commit acts of violence on our neighbors, but that we may correct those that are in sin, that we may bestir ourselves, that we may not be sluggish. Anger is implanted in us as a sort of sting, to make us gnash with our teeth against the devil, to make us vehement against him, not to set us in array against each other. We have arms, not to make us at war amongst ourselves, but that we may employ our whole armor against the enemy. Art thou prone to anger? Be so against thine own sins: chastise thy soul, scourge thy conscience, be a severe judge, and merciless in thy sentence against thine own sins. This is the way to turn anger to account. It was for this that God implanted it within us.
But again, is plunder a matter of necessity? No, in no wise. Tell me, what manner of necessity is there to be grasping: what manner of compulsion? Poverty, a man will say, causes it, and the fear of being without common necessaries. Now this is the very reason why you ought not to be grasping. Wealth so gotten has no security in it. You are doing the very same thing as a man would do, who, if he were asked why he laid the foundation of his house in the sand, should say, he did it because of the frost and rain. Whereas this would be the very reason why he should not lay it in the sand. They are the very foundations which the rain, and blasts, and wind, most quickly overturn. So that if thou wouldest be wealthy, never be rapacious; if thou wouldest transmit wealth to thy children, get righteous wealth, at least, if any there be that is such. Because this abides, and remains firm, whereas that which is not such, quickly wastes and perishes. Tell me, hast thou a mind to be rich, and dost thou take the goods of others? Surely this is not wealth: wealth consists in possessing what is thine own. He that is in possession of the goods of others, never can be a wealthy man; since at that rate even your very silk venders, who receive their goods as a consignment from others, would be the wealthiest and the richest of men. Though for the time, indeed, it is theirs, still we do not call them wealthy. And why forsooth? Because they are in possession of what belongs to others. For though the piece itself happens to be theirs, still the money it is worth is not theirs. Nay, and even if the money is in their hands, still this is not wealth. Now, if consignments thus given render not men more wealthy because we so soon resign them, how can those which arise from rapine render them wealthy? However, if at any rate thou desirest to be wealthy, (for the matter is not one of necessity,) what greater good is it that thou wouldest fain enjoy? Is it a longer life?
Yet, surely men of this character quickly become short-lived. Oftentimes they pay as the penalty of plunder and rapaciousness, an untimely death; and not only suffer as a penalty the loss of the enjoyment of their gains, but go out of life having gained but little, and hell to boot. Oftentimes too they die of diseases, which are the fruits of self-indulgence, and of loft, and of anxiety. Fain would I understand why it is that wealth is so eagerly pursued by mankind. Why surely for this reason hath God set a limit and a boundary to our nature, that we may have no need to go on seeking wealth beyond it. For instance He hath commanded us, to clothe the body in one, or perhaps in two garments; and there is no need of any more to cover us. Where is the good of ten thousand changes of raiment, and those moth- eaten? The stomach has its appointed bound, and any thing given beyond this, will of necessity destroy the whole man. Where then is the use of your herds, and flocks, and cutting up of flesh? We require but one roof to shelter us. Where then is the use of your vast ground-plots, and costly buildings? Dost thou strip the poor, that vultures and jackdaws may have where to dwell? And what a hell do not these things deserve? Many are frequently raising edifices that glisten with pillars and costly marbles, in places which they never so much as saw. What scheme is there indeed that they have not adopted? Yet neither themselves reap the benefit, nor any one else. The desolateness does not allow them to get away thither; and yet not even thus do they desist. You see that these things are not done for profit's-sake, but in all these cases folly, and absurdity, and vainglory, is the motive. And this, I beseech you to avoid, that we may be enabled to avoid also every other evil, and may obtain those good things which are promised to them that love Him, in our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, strength, honor forever. Amen.
"For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus, which is among you, and which ye show toward all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: having the eyes of your heart enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to that working of the strength of His might, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead.
Never was anything equal to the yearnings of the Apostle, never. anything like the sympathy and the affectionateness of the blessed Paul, who made his every prayer in behalf of whole cities and peoples, and writes the same to all, "I thank my God for you, making mention of you in my prayers." Think how many he had in his mind, whom it were a labor so much as to remember; how many he made mention of in his prayers, giving thanks to God for them all as though he himself had received the greatest blessing.
"Wherefore," he says, i.e., because of what is to come, because of the good things that are laid up in store for them who rightly believe and live. And it is meet then to give thanks to God both for all the things which mankind have received at His hands, both heretofore and hereafter; and meet to give Him thanks also for the faith of them that believe.
"Having heard," saith he, "of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and which ye show toward all the saints."
He on all occasions knits together and combines faith and love, a glorious pair; nor does he mention the saints of that country only, but all.
"I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers."
What is thy prayer, and what thy entreaty? It is
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation." Two things he requires them to understand, as it is their duty to understand them; to what blessings they are called, and how they have been released from their former state. He says, however, himself that these points are three. How then are they three? In order that we may understand touching the things to come; for from the good things laid up for us, we shall know His ineffable and surpassing riches, and from understanding who we were, and how we believed, we shall know His power and sovereignty, in turning again to Himself those who had been so long time estranged from Him, "For the weakness of God is stronger than men." (I Cor. i: 25.) Inasmuch as it is by the self-same power by which He raised Christ from the dead, that He hath also drawn us to Himself. Nor is that power limited to the resurrection, but far exceeds it.
Ver. 21, 22. "And made Him to sit at His right hand, in the Heavenly places, far above all rule and authority, and power and dominion, and every name that is named: and He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."
Vast indeed are the mysteries and secrets of which He hath made us partakers. And these it is not possible for us to understand otherwise than by being partakers of the Holy Ghost, and by receiving abundant grace. And it is for this reason that Paul prays. "The Father of glory," that is, He that hath given us vast blessings, for he constantly addresses Him according to the subject he is upon, as, for instance, when he says, "The Father of mercies and God of all comfort." (2 Cor. i: 3.) And, again, the Prophet says, "The Lord is my strength and my might." (Ps. xviii: I.) "The Father of glory."
He has no name by which he may represent these things, and on all occasions calls them "glory," which is in fact, with us, the name and appellation of every kind of magnificence. Mark, he says, the Father of glory; (cf. Acts vii: 2) but of Christ the God. What then? Is the Son inferior to the glory? No, there is no one, not even a maniac, would say so.
"May give unto you,"
That is, may raise and wing your understanding, for it is not possible otherwise to understand these things. "For the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him." (I Cor. ii: 14.) So then, there is need of spiritual "wisdom," that we may perceive things spiritual, that we may see things hidden. That Spirit "revealeth" all things. He is going to set forth the mysteries of God. Now the knowledge of the mysteries of God, the Spirit alone comprehends, who also searcheth the deep things of Him. It is not said, "that Angel, or Archangel, or any other created power, may give," that is, confer upon you a spiritual gift. And if this be of revelation, then is the discovery of arguments consequently vain. For he that hath learned God, and knoweth God, shall no longer dispute concerning any thing. He will not say, This is impossible, and That is possible, and How did the other thing come to pass? If we learn God, as we ought to know Him; if we learn God from Him from whom we ought to learn Him, that is from the Spirit Himself; then shall we no longer dispute concerning any thing. And hence it is that he says,
"Having the eyes of your heart enlightened in the knowledge of Him."
He that hath learned what God is, will have no misgiving about His promises, and disbelief about what hath been already brought to pass. He prays, then, that there may be given them "a spirit of wisdom and revelation." Yet still he also establishes it, as far as he can himself, by arguments, and from "already" existing facts. For, whereas he was about to mention some things which had already come to pass, and others which had not as yet happened; he makes those which have been brought to pass, a pledge of those which have not: in some such way, I mean, as this,
"That ye may know," saith he, "what is the hope of His calling."
It is as yet, he means, hidden, but not so to the faithful.
"And," again, "what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." This too is as yet hidden.
But what is clear? that through His power we have believed that He hath raised Christ. For to persuade souls, is a thing far more miraculous than to raise a dead body. I will endeavor to make this clear. Hearken then. Christ said to the dead, "Lazarus, come forth," (John xi: 43.) and straightway he obeyed. Peter said, "Tabitha, arise," (Acts ix: 40.) and she did not refuse. He Himself shall speak the word at the last day, and all shall rise, and that so quickly, that "they which are yet alive, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep," (1 Thess. iv: 15.) and all
shall come to pass, all run together "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." (1 Cor. xv: 52.) But in the matter of believing, it is not thus, but how is it? Hearken then to Him again, how He saith, "How often would I have gathered thy children together, and ye would not." (Matt. xxiii: 37.) You perceive that this last is the more difficult. Accordingly, it is upon this that he builds up the whole argument; because by human calculations it is far more difficult to influence the choice, than to work upon nature. And the reason is this, it is because He would thus have us become good of our own will. Thus with good reason does he say,
"The exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe."
Yes, when Prophets had availed nothing, nor Angels, nor Archangels, when the whole creation, both visible and invisible, had failed, (the visible lying before us, and without any power to guide us, and much also which is invisible,) then He ordered His own coming, to show us that it was a matter which required Divine power. "The riches of the glory,"
That is, the unutterable glory; for what language shall be adequate to express that glory of which the saints shall then be partakers? None. But verily there is need of grace in order that the understanding may perceive it, and admit even so much as at least one little ray. Some things indeed they knew even before; now he was desirous that they should learn more, and know it more clearly. Seest thou how great things He hath wrought? He hath raised up Christ. Is this a small thing? But look again. He hath set Him at His right hand. And shall any language then be able to represent this? Him that is of the earth, more mute than the fishes, and made the sport of
devils, He hath in a moment raised up on high. Truly this is indeed the "exceeding greatness of His power." And behold, whither He hath raised Him.
"In the heavenly places;"
He hath made Him far above all created nature, far above all rule and authority. "Far above all rule," he saith.
Need then indeed is there of the Spirit, of an understanding wise in the knowledge of Him. Need then is there indeed of revelation. Reflect, how vast is the distance between the nature of man and of God. Yet from this vile estate hath He exalted Him to that high dignity. Nor does He mount by degrees, first one step, then another, then a third. Amazing! He does not simply say, "above," but, "far above;" for God is above those powers which are above. And thither then hath He raised Him, Him that is one of us, brought Him from the lowest point to the supremest sovereignty, to that beyond which there is no other honor. Above "all" principality, he says, not, i.e., over one and not over another, but over all,
"Rule and authority and power, and dominion, and every name that is named."
Whatever there be in Heaven, He has become above all. And this is said of Him that was raised from the dead which is worthy of our admiration; for of God the Word, it cannot possibly be, because what insects are in comparison of man, this the whole creation is in comparison of God. If all mankind are to be counted as spittle and were counted as the turn of a balance, consider the invisible powers as insects. But of Him that was one of us, this is great and surprising indeed. For He raised Him up from the very lowest parts of the earth. If all the nations are as a drop, how small a portion then of that drop is a single man! Yet Him hath, He made higher than all things, "not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." Therefore powers there are whose names are to us unintelligible, and unknown.
"And He put all things in subjection under His feet."
Not simply so set Him above them as to be honored above them, nor by way of comparison with them, but so that He should sit over them as His slaves. Amazing! Awful indeed are these things; every created power hath been made the slave of man by reason of God the Word dwelling in Him. For it is possible for a man to be above others, without having others in subjection, but only as preferred before them. But here it is not so. ' No, "He put all things in subjection under His feet." And not simply put them in subjection, but in the most abject subjection, that below which there can be none. Therefore he adds, "under His feet."
"And gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church."
Amazing again, whither hath He raised the Church? as though he were lifting it up by some engine, he hath raised it up to a vast height, and set it on yonder throne; for where the Head is, there is the body also. There is no interval to separate between the Head and the body; for were there a separation, then were it no longer a body, then were it no longer a head. "Over all things," he says. What is meant by "over all things?" He hath suffered neither Angel nor Archangel nor any other being to be above Him. But not only in this way hath He honored us, in exalting that which is of ourselves, but also in that He hath prepared the whole race in common to follow Him, to cling to Him, to accompany His train. "Which is His body."
In order then that when you hear of the Head you may not conceive the notion of supremacy only, but also of consolidation, and that you may behold Him not as supreme Ruler only, but as Head of a body.
"The fulness of Him that filleth all in all" he says.
As though this were not sufficient to show the close connection and relationship, what does he add? "The fullness of Christ is the Church." And rightly, for the complement of the head is the body, and the complement of the body is the head. Mark what great arrangement Paul observes, how he spares not a single word, that he may represent the glory of God. "The, complement," he says, i.e., the head is, as it were, filled up by the body, because the body is composed and made up of all its several parts, and he introduces Him as having need of each single one and not only of all in common and together; for unless we be many, and one be the hand, and another the foot, and another some other member, the whole body is not filled up. It is by all then that His body is filled up. Then is the head filled up, then is the body rendered perfect, when we are all knit together and united. Perceivest thou then the "riches of the glory of His inheritance? the exceeding greatness of His power towards them that believe? the hope of your calling?"
Moral. Let us reverence our Head, let us reflect of what a Head we are the body,—a Head, to whom all things are put in subjection. According to this representation we ought to be better, yea, than the very angels, and greater than the Archangels, in that we have been honored above them all. God "took not hold of Angels," as he says in writing to the Hebrews, "but He took hold of the seed of Abraham." (Heb. ii: 16.) He took hold of neither principality nor power, nor dominion, nor any other authority, but He took up our nature, and made it to sit on His right hand. And why do I say, hath made it sit? He hath made it His garment, and not only so, but hath put all things in subjection under His feet. How many sorts of death supposest thou? How many souls? ten thousand? yea, and ten thousand times told, but nothing equal to it wilt thou mention. Two things He hath done, the greatest things. He hath both Himself descended to the lowest depth of humiliation, and hath raised up man to the height of exaltation. He saved him by His blood. He spoke of the former first, how that He so greatly humbled Himself. He speaks now of what is stronger than that—a great thing, the crown of all. Surely, even had we been counted worthy of nothing, it were enough. Or, had we been counted worthy even of this honor, it were enough, without the slaying of the Son. But where there are the two, what power of language must it not transcend and surpass? The very resurrection is not great, when I reflect on these things. It is of Him that he says, "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ," not of God the Word.
Let us feel awed at the closeness of our relation, let us dread lest any one should be cut off from this body, lest any one should fall from it, lest any one should appear unworthy of it. If any one were to place a diadem about our head, a crown of gold, should we not do every thing that we might seem worthy of the lifeless jewels? But now it is not a diadem that is about our head, but, what is far greater, Christ is made our very Head, and yet we pay no regard to it. Yet Angels reverence that Head, and Archangels, and all those powers above. And shall we, which are His body, be awed neither on the one account nor the other? And what then shall be our hope of salvation? Conceive to yourself the royal throne, conceive the excess of the honor. This, at least if we chose, might more avail to startle us, yea, even than hell itself. For, even though hell were not, that we having been honored with such an honor, should be found base and unworthy of it, what punishment, what vengeance must not this carry with it? Think near whom thy Head is seated, (this single consideration is amply sufficient for any purpose whatever,) on whose right hand He is placed, far above all principality, and power, and might. Yet is the body of this Head trampled on by the very devils.
Nay, God forbid it should be thus; for were it thus, such a body could be His body no longer. Thy own head the more respectable of thy servants reverence, and dost thou subject thy body to be the sport of them that insult it? How sore punishment then shall thou not deserve? If a man should bind the feet of the emperor with bonds and fetters, will he not be liable to the extremity of punishment? Dost thou expose the whole body to fierce monsters, and not shudder?
However, since our discourse is concerning the Lord's body, come, and let us turn our thoughts to it, even that which was crucified, which was nailed, which is sacrificed. If thou art the body of Christ, bear the Cross, for He bore it: bear spitting, bear buffetings, bear nails. Such was that Body; that Body "did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth." (1 Pet. ii: 22.) His hands did every thing for the benefit of them that needed, His mouth uttered not a word of those things which are not convenient. He heard them say, "Thou hast a devil," and He answered nothing.
Further, our discourse is concerning this Body, and as many of us as partake of that Body and taste of that Blood, are partaking of that which is in no wise different from that Body, nor separate. Consider that we taste of that Body that sitteth above, that is adored by Angels, that is next to the Power that is incorruptible. Alas! how many ways to salvation are open to us! He hath made us His own body, He hath imparted to us His own body, and yet not one of these things turns us away from what is evil. Oh the darkness, the depth of the abyss, the apathy! "Set your mind," saith he, "on the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God." (Col. iii: 1.) And after all this, some set their affections upon money, or licentiousness, others are carried captive by their passions !
Do ye not see, that even in our own body, when any part is superfluous and useless, it is cut off, is cut away? It is of no use that it has belonged to the body, when it is mutilated, when it is mortified, when it is decayed, when it is detrimental to the rest. Let us not then be too confident, because we have been once made members of this body. If this body of ours, though but a natural body, nevertheless suffers amputation, what dreadful evil shall it not undergo, if the moral principle should fail? When the body partakes not of this natural food, when the pores are stopped up, then it mortifies; when the ducts are closed, then it is palsied. So is it with us also, when we stop our ears, our soul becomes palsied; when we partake not of the spiritual food, when, instead of corrupt bodily humors, evil dispositions impair us, all these things engender disease, dangerous disease, disease that wastes. And then there will be need of that fire, there will be need of that cutting asunder. For Christ cannot endure that we should enter into the bride-chamber with such a body as this. If He led away, and cast out the man that was clothed in filthy garments, what will He not do unto the man who attaches filth to the body; how will He not dispose of him?
I observe many partaking of Christ's Body lightly and just as it happens, and rather from custom and form, than consideration and understanding. When, saith a man, the holy season of Lent sets in, whatever a man may be, he partakes of the mysteries, or, when the day of the Lord's Epiphany comes. And yet it is not the Epiphany, nor is it Lent, that makes a fit time for approaching, but it is sincerity and purity of soul.
With this, approach at all times; without it, never. "For as often," (1 Cor. xi: 26.) saith he, "as ye do this, ye proclaim the Lord's death," i.e., "ye make a remembrance of the salvation that has been wrought for you, and of the benefits which I have bestowed." Consider those who partook of the sacrifices under the old Covenant, how great abstinence did they practise? How did they not conduct themselves? What did they not perform? They were always purifying themselves. And dost thou, when thou drawest nigh to a sacrifice, at which the very Angels tremble, dost thou measure the matter by the revolutions of seasons? and how shall thou present thyself before the judgment-seat of Christ, thou who presumest upon His body with polluted hands and lips? Thou wouldest not presume to kiss a king with an unclean mouth, and the King of heaven dost thou kiss with an unclean soul? It is an outrage. Tell me, wouldest thou choose to come to the Sacrifice with unwashen hands? No, I suppose, not. But thou wouldest rather choose not to come at all, than come with soiled hands. And then, thus scrupulous as thou art in this little matter, dost thou come with soiled soul, and thus dare to touch it? And yet the hands hold it but for a time, whereas into the soul it is dissolved entirely, What, do ye not see the holy vessels so thoroughly cleansed all over, so resplendent? Our souls ought to be purer than they, more holy, more brilliant. And why so? Because those vessels are made so for our sakes. They partake not of Him that is in them, they perceive Him not. But we do;-yes, verily. Now then, thou wouldest not choose to make use of a soiled vessel, and dost thou approach with a soiled soul? Observe the vast inconsistency of the thing. At the other times ye come not, no, not though often ye are clean; but at Easter, however flagrant an act ye may have committed, ye come. Oh! the force of custom and of prejudice! In vain is the daily Sacrifice, in vain do we stand before the Altar; there is no one to partake. These things I am saying, not to induce you to partake any how, but that ye should render yourselves worthy to partake. Art thou not worthy of the Sacrifice, nor of the participation? If so, then neither art thou of the prayer. Thou hearest the herald standing, and saying, "As many as are in penitence, all pray." As many as do not partake, are in penitence. If thou art one of those that are in penitence, thou oughtest not to partake; for he that partakes not, is one of those that are in penitence. Why then does he say, "Depart, ye that are not qualified to pray," whilst thou hast the effrontery to stand still? But no, thou art not of that number, thou art of the number of those who are qualified to partake, and yet art indifferent about it, and regardest the matter as nothing.
Look, I entreat: a royal table is set before you, Angels minister at that table, the King Himself is there, and dost thou stand gaping?" Are thy garments defiled, and yet dost thou make no account of it?—or are they clean? Then fall down and partake. Every day He cometh in to see the guests, and converseth with them all. Yes, at this moment is he speaking to your conscience; "Friends, how stand ye here, not having on a wedding garment?" He said not, Why didst thou sit down? no, before he sat down, He declared him to be unworthy, so much as to come in. He saith not, "Why didst thou sit down to meat," but, "Why camest thou in?" And these are the words that He is at this very moment addressing to one and all of us that stand here with such shameless effrontery. For every one, that partaketh not of the mysteries, is standing here in shameless effrontery. It is for this reason, that they which are in sins are first of all put forth; for just as when a master is present at his table, it is not right that those servants who have offended him should be present, but they are sent out of the way: just so also here when the sacrifice is brought forth, and Christ, the Lord's sheep, is sacrificed; when thou hearest the words, "Let us pray together," when thou beholdest the curtains drawn up, then imagine that the Heavens are let down from above, and that the Angels are descending !
As then it is not meet that any one of the uninitiated be present, so neither is it that one of them that are initiated, and yet at the same time defiled. Tell me, suppose any one were invited to a feast, and were to wash his hands, and sit down, and be all ready at the table, and after all refuse to partake; is he not insulting the man who invited him? were it not better for such an one never to have come at all? Now it is just in the same way that thou hast come here. Thou hast sung the Hymn with the rest: thou hast declared thyself to be of the number of them that are Worthy, by not departing with them that are unworthy. Why stay, and yet not partake of the table? I am unworthy, thou wilt say. Then art thou also unworthy of that communion thou hast had in prayers. For it is not by means of the offerings only, but also by means of those canticles that the Spirit descendeth all around. Do we not see our own servants, first scouring the table with a sponge, and cleaning the house, and then setting out the entertainment? This is what is done by the prayers, by the cry of the herald. We scour the Church, as it were, with a sponge, that all things may be set out in a pure church, that there may be "neither spot nor wrinkle." (Eph. v: 27.) Unworthy, indeed, both our eyes of these sights, and unworthy are our ears! "And if even a beast," it is said, "touch the mountain, it shall be stoned." (Ex. xix: 13.) Thus then they were not worthy so much as to set foot on it, and yet afterwards they both came near, and beheld where God had stood. And thou mayest, afterwards, come near, and behold: when, however, He is present, depart. Thou art no more allowed to be here than the Catechumen is. For it is not at all the same thing never to have reached the mysteries, and when thou hast reached them, to stumble at them and despise them, and to make thyself unworthy of this thing. One might enter upon more points, and those more awful still; not however to burden your understanding, these will suffice. They who are not brought to their right senses with these, certainly will not be with more. That I may not then be the means of increasing your condemnation, I entreat you, not to forbear coming, but to render yourselves worthy both of being present, and of approaching. Tell me, were any king to give command and to say, "If any man does this, let him partake of my table;" say, would ye not do all ye could to be admitted? He hath invited us to heaven, to the table of the great and wonderful King, and do we shrink and hesitate, instead of hastening and running to it? And what then is our hope of salvation? We cannot lay the blame on our weakness; we cannot on our nature. It is indolence and nothing else that renders us unworthy.
So far have I spoken of myself. But may He that pricketh the heart, He that giveth the Spirit of compunction, pierce your hearts, and plant the seeds in the depth of them, that so through His fear ye may conceive, and bring forth the spirit of salvation, and come near with boldness. For, "thy children," it is said, "are like olive plants round about thy table." (Ps. cxxviii: 3.) O, then, let there be nothing old, nothing wild, nothing harsh. For of such sort are the young plants that are fit for fruit, for the beautiful fruit, fruit I mean of the olive-tree. And thriving they are, so as all to be round about the table, and come together here, not in vain or by chance, but with fear and reverence. For thus shall ye behold with boldness even Christ Himself in heaven, and shall be counted worthy of that heavenly kingdom, which may God grant we may all attain, in Jesus Christ, our Lord with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, and for ages of ages. Amen.
"And you did He quicken, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, wherein aforetime ye walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience; among whom we also all once lived, in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh, and of the mind; and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest."
There is, we know, a corporal, and there is also a spiritual, dying. Of the first it is no crime to partake, nor is there any peril in it, inasmuch as there is no blame attached to it, for it is a matter of nature, not of deliberate choice It had its origin in the transgression of the first-created man, and thenceforward in its issue it passed into a nature, and, at all events, will quickly be brought to a termination; whereas this spiritual dying, being a matter of deliberate choice, has criminality, and has no termination. Observe then how Paul, having already shown how exceedingly great a thing it is, in so much that to heal a deadened soul is a far greater thing than to raise the dead, so now again lays it down in all its real greatness.
"And you," saith he "when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, wherein aforetime ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience."' You observe the gentleness of Paul, and how on all occasions he encourages the hearer, not bearing too hard upon him. For whereas he had said, Ye have arrived at the very last degree of wickedness, (for such is the meaning of becoming dead,) that he may not excessively distress them, (because men are put to shame when their former misdeeds are brought forward, cancelled though they be, and no longer attended with danger,) he gives them, as it were, an accomplice, that it may not be supposed that the work is all their own, and that accomplice a powerful one. And who then is this? The Devil. He does much the same also in the Epistle to the Corinthians, where, after saying, "Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters," (1 Cor. vi: 9.) and after enumerating all the other vices, and adding in conclusion, "shall inherit the kingdom of God;" he then adds, "and such were some of you;" he does not say absolutely, "ye were," but "some of you were," that is, thus in some sort were ye. Here the heretics attack us. They tell us that these expressions ("prince of all the power of the air," etc.) are used with reference to God, and letting loose their unbridled tongue, they fit these things to God, which belong to the Devil alone, How then are we to put them to silence? By the very words they themselves use; for, if He is righteous, as they themselves allow, and yet hath done these things, this is no longer the act of a righteous being, but rather of a being most unrighteous and corrupted; and corrupted God cannot possibly be.
Further, why does he call the Devil "the prince" of the world? Because nearly the whole human race has surrendered itself to him and all are willingly and of deliberate choice his slaves. And to Christ, though He promises unnumbered blessings, not any one so much as gives any heed; whilst to the Devil, though promising nothing of the sort, but sending them on to hell, all yield themselves. His kingdom then is in this world, and he has, with few exceptions, more subjects and more obedient subjects than God, in consequence of our indolence.
"According to the power," saith he, "of the sir, of the spirit."
Here again he means, that Satan occupies the space under Heaven, and that the incorporeal powers are spirits of the air, under his operation. For that his kingdom is of this age, i. e., will cease with the present age, hear what he says at the end of the Epistle; "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against powers, against the world rulers of this darkness;" (Eph. vi: 12.) where, lest when you hear of world-rulers you should therefore say that the Devil is uncreated, he elsewhere (Gal. i: 4.) calls a perverse time, "an evil world," not of the creatures. For he seems to me, having had dominion beneath the sky, not to have fallen from his dominion, even after his transgression.
"That now worketh," he says, "in the sons of disobedience."
You observe that it is not by force, nor by compulsion, but by persuasion, he wins us over; "disobedience" or "untractableness" is his word, as though one were to say, by guile and persuasion he draws all his votaries to himself. And not only does he give them a word of encouragement by telling them they have an associate, but also by ranking himself with them, for he says,
"Among whom we also all once lived."
"All," because he cannot say that any one is excepted.
"In the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh, and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest."
That is, having no spiritual affections. Yet, lest he should slander the flesh, or lest it should be supposed that the transgression was not great, observe how he guards the matter,
"Doing," he says, "the desires of the flesh and of the mind."
That is, the pleasurable passions. We provoked God to anger, he saith, we provoked Him to wrath, we were wrath, and nothing else. For as he who is a child of man is by nature man, so also were we children of wrath even as others; i. e., no one was free, but we all did things worthy of wrath. Ver. 4. "But God, being rich in mercy." Not merely merciful, but rich in mercy; as it is said also in another place; "In the multitude of thy mercies." (Ps. lxix: 17.) And again, "Have mercy upon me, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies." (Ps. li: 1.)
Ver. 4. "For His great love, wherewith He loved us."
Why did He love us? For these things are not deserving of love, but of the sorest wrath, and punishment. And thus it was of great mercy.
Ver. 5. "Even when we were dead through our trespasses He quickened us together with Christ."
Again is Christ introduced, and it is a matter well worthy of our belief, because if the Firstfruits live, so do we also. He hath quickened both Him, and us. Seest thou that all this is said of Christ incarnate? Beholdest thou "the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe?" (Eph. i: 19.) Them that were dead, them that were children of wrath, them hath he quickened. Beholdest thou "the hope of his calling?"
Ver. 6. "He raised us up with Him and made us sit with Him."
Beholdest thou the glory of His inheritance?
That "He hath raised us up together," is plain. But that He "hath made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus," how does this hold? It holds as truly, as that He hath raised us together. For as yet no one is actually raised, excepting that inasmuch as the Head hath risen, we also are raised, just as in the history, when Jacob did obeisance, his wife also did obeisance to Joseph. (Gen. xxxvii: 9, 10.) And so in the same way "hath He also made us to sit with Him." For since the Head sitteth, the body sitteth also with it, and therefore he adds "in Christ Jesus." Or again, if it means, not this, it means that by the layer of Baptism He hath "raised us up with Him." How then in that case hath He made "us to sit with Him?" Because, saith he, "if we suffer we shall also reign with Him," (2 Tim. ii: 12.) if we be dead with Him we shall also live with Him. Truly there is need of the Spirit and of revelation, in order to understand the depth of these mysteries. And then that ye may have no distrust about the matter, observe what he adds further.
Ver. 7. "That in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace, in kindness towards us, in Christ Jesus."
Whereas he had been speaking of the things which concerned Christ, and these might be nothing to us, (for what, it might be said, is it to us, that He rose) therefore he shows that they do moreover extend to us, inasmuch as He is made one with us. Only that our concern in the matter he states separately. "Us," saith he, "who were dead through our trespasses He raised up with Him, and made us sit with Him." Wherefore, as I was saying, be not unbelieving, take the demonstration he adduces both from former things, and from His Headship, and also from His desire to show forth His goodness. For how will He show it, unless this come to pass? And He will show it in the ages to come. What? that the blessings are both great, and more certain than any other. For now the things which are said may to the unbelievers seem to be foolishness; but then all shall know them. Wouldest thou understand too, how He hath made us sit together with Him? Hear what Christ Himself saith to the disciples, "Ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matt. xix: 28.) And again, "But to sit on My right hand and on My left hand is not Mine to give, but it is for them for whom it hath been prepared of My Father." (Matt. xx: 23.) So that it hath been prepared. And well saith he, "in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus," for to sit on His right hand is honor above all honor, it is that beyond which there is none other. This then he saith, that even we shall sit there. Truly this is surpassing riches, truly surpassing is the greatness of His power, to make us sit down with Christ, Yea, hadst thou ten thousand souls, wouldest thou not lose them for His sake? Yea, hadst thou to enter the flames, oughtest thou not readily to endure it? And He Himself too saith again, "Where I am, there shall also My servant be." (John. xii: 26.) Why surely had ye to be cut to pieces every day, ought ye not, for the sake of these promises cheerfully to embrace it? Think, where He sitteth? above all principality and power. And with whom it is that thou sittest? With Him. And who thou art? One dead, by nature a child of wrath. And what good hast thou done? None. Truly now it is high time to exclaim, "Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!" (Rom. xi:33.)
Ver. 8. "For by grace," saith he "have ye been saved."
In order then that the greatness of the benefits bestowed may not raise thee too high, observe how he brings thee down: "by grace ye have been saved," saith he, "Through faith;"
Then, that, on the other hand, our free-will be not impaired, he adds also our part in the work, and yet again cancels it, and adds, "And that not of ourselves."
Neither is faith, he means, "of ourselves." Because had He not come, had He not called us, how had we been able to believe? for "how," saith he, "shall they believe, unless they hear?" (Rom. x: 14.) So that the work of faith itself is not our own.
"It is the gift," said he, "of God," it is "not of works."
Was faith then, you will say, enough to save us? No; but God, saith he, hath required this, lest He should save us, barren and without work at all. His expression is, that faith saveth, but it is because God so willeth, that faith saveth. Since, how, tell me, doth faith save, without works? This itself is the gift of God.
Ver. 9. "That no man should glory."
That he may excite in us proper feeling touching this gift of grace. "What then?" saith a man, "Hath He Himself hindered our being justified by works?" By no means. But no one, he saith, is justified by works, in order that the grace and loving-kindness of God may be shown. He did not reject us as having works, but as abandoned of works He hath saved us by grace; so that no man henceforth may have whereof to boast. And then, lest when thou hearest that the whole work is accomplished not of works but by faith, thou shouldest become idle, observe how he continues,
Ver. 10. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them."
Observe the words he uses. He here alludes to the regeneration, which is in reality a second creation. We have been brought from non-existence into being. As to what we were before, that is, the old man, we are dead. What we are now become, before, we were not. Truly then is this work a creation, yea, and more noble than the first; for from that one, we have our being; but from this last, we have, over and above, our well being.
"For good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them."
Not merely that we should begin, but that we should walk in them, for we need a virtue which shall last throughout, and be extended on to our dying day. If we had to travel a road leading to a royal city, and then when we had passed over the greater part of it, were to flag and sit down near the very close, it were of no use to us. This is the hope of our calling; for "for good works" he says. Otherwise it would profit us nothing.
Moral. Thus here he rejoices not that we should work one work, but all; for, as we have five senses, and ought to make use of all in their proper season, so ought we also the several virtues. Now were a man to be temperate and yet unmerciful, or were he to be merciful and yet grasping, or were he to abstain indeed from other people's goods, and yet not bestow his own, it would be all in vain. For a single virtue alone is not enough to present us with boldness before the judgment-seat of Christ; no, we require it to be great, and various, and universal, and entire. Hear what Christ saith to the disciples, "Go, ye and make disciples of all the nations,—teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you." (Matt. xxviii: 19.) And again, "Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, shall be called least in the kingdom of Heaven," (Matt. v: 19.) that is, in the resurrection; nay, he shall not enter into the kingdom; for He is wont to call the time also of the resurrection, the kingdom. "If he break one," saith He, "he shall be called least," so that we have need of all. And observe how it is not possible to enter without works of mercy; but if even this alone be wanting, we shall depart into the fire. For, saith He, "Depart, ye cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the Devil and his angels." Why and wherefore? "For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink." (Matt. xxv: 42.) Beholdest thou, how without any other charge laid against them, for this one alone they perished. And for this reason alone too were the virgins also excluded from the bride-chamber, though sobriety surely they did possess. As the Apostle saith "and the sanctification, without which no man shall see the Lord." (Heb. xii: 14.) Consider then, that without sobriety, it is impossible to see the Lord; yet it does not necessarily follow that with sobriety it is possible to see Him, because often-times something else stands in the way. Again, if we do all things ever so rightly, and yet do our neighbor no service, neither in that case shall we enter into the kingdom. Whence is this evident? From the parable of the servants entrusted with the talents. For, in that instance, the man's virtue was in every point unimpaired, and there had been nothing lacking, but forasmuch as he was slothful in his business, he was rightly cast out. Nay, it is possible, even by railing only, to fall into Hell. "For whosoever" saith Christ, "shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire." (Matt. v: 22.) And if a man be ever so right in all things, and yet be injurious, he shall not enter.
And let no one impute cruelty to God, in that he excludes those who fail in this matter, from the kingdom of Heaven. For even with men, if any one do any thing whatsoever contrary to the law, he is banished from the king's presence. And if he transgresses so much as one of the established laws, if he lays a false accusation against another, he forfeits his office. And if he commits adultery, and is detected, he is disgraced, and even though he have done ten thousand right acts, he is undone; and if he commits murder, and is convicted, this again is enough to destroy him. Now if the laws of men are so carefully guarded, how much more should those of God be. "But He is good," a man says. How long are we to be uttering this foolish talk? foolish, I say, not because He is not good, but in that we keep thinking that His goodness will be available to us for these purposes, though I have again and again used ten thousand arguments on this subject. Listen to the Scripture, which saith, "Say not, His mercy is great, He will be pacified for the multitude of my sins." (Ecclus. v: 6.) He does not forbid us to say, "His mercy is great." This is not what He enjoins; rather he would have us constantly say it, and with this object Paul raises all sorts of arguments, but his object is what follows. Do not, he means, admire the loving-kindness of God with this view, with a view to sinning, and saying, "His mercy will be pacified for the multitude of my sins." For it is with this object that I too discourse so much concerning His goodness, not that we may presume upon it, and do any thing we choose, because in that way this goodness will be to the prejudice of our salvation; but that we may not despair in our sins, but may repent. For "the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance," (Rom. ii: 4.) not to greater wickedness. And if thou become depraved, because of His goodness, thou art rather belying Him before men. I see many persons thus impugning the long-suffering of God; so that if thou use it not aright, thou shalt pay the penalty. Is God a God of loving-kindness? Yes, but He is also a righteous Judge. Is He one who maketh allowance for sins? True, yet rendereth He to every man according to his works. Doth He pass by iniquity and blot out transgressions? True, yet maketh He inquisition also. How then is it, that these things are not contradictions? Contradictions they are not, if we distinguish them by their times. He doeth away iniquity here, both by the laver of Baptism, and by penitence. There He maketh inquisition of what we have done by fire and torment. "If then," some man may say, "I am cast out, and forfeit the kingdom, whether I have wrought ten thousand evil deeds or only one, wherefore may I not do all sorts of evil deeds?" This is the argument of an ungrateful servant; still nevertheless, we will proceed to solve even this. Never do that which is evil in order to do thyself good; for we shall, all alike fall short of the kingdom, yet in Hell we shall not all undergo the same punishment, but one a severer, another a milder one. For now, if thou and another have "despised God's goodness," (Rom. ii: 4.) the one in many instances, and the other in a few, ye will alike forfeit the kingdom. But if ye have not alike despised Him, but the one in a greater, the other in a less degree, in Hell ye shall feel the difference.
Now then, why, it may be said, doth He threaten them who have not done works of mercy, that they shall depart into the fire, and not simply into the fire, but into that which is "prepared for the devil and his angels?" (Matt. xxv: 41.) Why and wherefore is this? Because nothing so provokes God to wrath. He puts this before all terrible things; for if it is our duty to love our enemies, of what punishment shall not he be worthy, who turns away even from them that love him, and is in this respect worse than the heathen? So that in this case the greatness of the sin will make such an one go away with the devil. Woe to him, it is said, who doeth not alms; and if this was the case under the Old Covenant, much more is it under the New. if, where the getting of wealth was allowed, and the enjoyment of it, and the care of it, there was such provision made for the succoring the poor, how much more in that Dispensation, where we are commanded to surrender all we have? For what did not they of old do? They gave tithes, and tithes again upon tithes for orphans, widows, and strangers; whereas some one was saying to me in astonishment at another, "Why, such an one gives tithes." What a load of disgrace does this expression imply, since what was not a matter of wonder with the Jews has come to be so in the case of the Christians? If there was danger then in omitting tithes, think how great it must be now.
Again, drunkenness shall not inherit the kingdom. Yet what is the language of most people? "Well, if both I and he are in the same case, that is no little comfort." What then? First of all, that thou and he shall not reap the same punishment; but were it otherwise, neither is that any comfort. Fellowship in sufferings has comfort in it, when the miseries have any proportion in them; but when they exceed all proportion, and carry us beyond ourselves, no longer do they allow of our receiving any comfort at all. For tell the man that is being tortured, and has entered into the flames, that such an one is undergoing the same, still he will not feel the comfort. Did not all the Israelites perish together? What manner of comfort did that afford them? Rather, did not this very thing distress them? And this was why they kept saying, We are lost, we are perished, we are wasted away. What manner of comfort then is there here? In vain do we comfort ourselves with such hopes as these. There is but one only comfort, to avoid falling into that unquenchable fire; but it is not possible for one who has fallen into it to find comfort, where there is the gnashing of teeth, where there is the weeping, where is the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched. For shalt thou conceive any comfort at all, tell me, when thou art in so great tribulation and distress? Wilt thou then be any longer thyself? Let us not, I pray and entreat you, let us not vainly deceive ourselves and comfort ourselves with arguments like these; no, let us practise those virtues, which shall avail to save us. The object before us is to sit together with Christ, and art thou trifling about such matters as these? Why, were there no other sin at all, how great punishment ought we not to suffer for these very speeches themselves, because we are so insensate, so wretched, and so indolent, as, even with so vast a privilege before us, to talk thus? Oh! how much shalt thou have to lament, when thou shalt then consider them that have done good! When thou shalt behold slaves and base-born who have labored but a little here, there made partakers of the royal throne, will not these things be worse to thee than torment? For if even now, when thou seest any in high reputation, though thou art suffering no evil, thou regardest this as worse than any punishment, and by this alone art consumed, and bemoanest thyself, and weepest, and judgest it to be as bad as ten thousand deaths; what shalt thou suffer then? Why, even were there no hell at all, the very thought of the kingdom, were it not enough to destroy and consume thee? And that such will be the case, we have enough in our own experience of things to teach us. Let us not then vainly flatter our own souls with speeches like these; no, let us take heed, let us have a regard for our own salvation, let us make virtue our care, let us rouse ourselves to the practice of good works, that we may be counted worthy to attain to this exceeding glory, in Jesus Christ our Lord with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit be glory, might, honor, now and ever, and for ages of ages. Amen.
"Wherefore remember, that aforetime ye the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope, and without God in the world."
There are many things to show the loving-kindness of God. First, the fact, that by Himself He hath saved us, and by Himself through such a method as this. Secondly, that He hath saved us, as being what we were. Thirdly, that He hath exalted us to the place where we are. For all these things both contain in themselves the greatest demonstration of His loving- kindness, and they are the very subjects which Paul is now agitating in his Epistle. He had been saying, that when we were dead through our trespasses, and children of wrath, He saved us; He is now telling us further, to whom He hath made us equal. "Wherefore," saith he, "remember;" because it is usual with us, one and all, when we are raised from a state of great meanness to corresponding, or perhaps a greater, dignity, not so much as even to retain any recollection of our former condition, being nourished in this our new glory. On this account it is that he says, "Wherefore remember."—"Wherefore." Why, "wherefore?" Because we have been created unto good works, and this were sufficient to induce us to cultivate virtue; "remember,"—for that remembrance is sufficient to make us grateful to our Benefactor,—"that ye were aforetime Gentiles." Observe how he lowers the superior advantages of the Jews and admires the disadvantages of the Gentiles; disadvantage indeed it was not, but he is arguing with each respectively from their character and manner of life.
"Who are called Uncircumcision."
The honor then of the Jews is in names, their perogative is in the flesh. For uncircumcision is nothing, and circumcision is nothing.
"By that which is called," saith he, "Circumcision in the flesh made by hands, that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.
Ye, saith he, who were thus called by the Jews. But why when he is about to show that the benefit bestowed upon them consisted in this, in having fellowship with Israel, does he disparage the Israelitish prerogative? He does not disparage it. In essential points he enhances it, but only in these points, in which they had no fellowship, he disparages it. For further on he says, "Ye are fellow-citizens of the saints and of the household of God." Mark, how far he is from disparaging it. These points, saith he, are indifferent. Never think, saith he, that because ye happen not to be circumcised, and are now in uncircumcision, that there is any difference in this. No, the real trouble was this, the being "without Christ," the being "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel." Whereas this circumcision is not "the commonwealth." Again, the being strangers from the covenants of promise, the having no hope to come, the being without God in this world, all these were parts of their condition. He was speaking of heavenly things; he speaks also of those which are upon earth; since the Jews had a great opinion of these. Thus also Christ in comforting His disciples, after saying, "Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," adds the lesser point of consolation, "for so," saith He, "persecuted they the prophets which were before you." (Matt. v: 10-12.) For this, compared with the greatness of the other, is far less, yet in regard to the being nigh, and believing, it is great and sufficient, and has much force. This then was the sharing in the commonwealth. His word is not, "separated," but "alienated from the commonwealth." His word is not, "ye took no interest in," but, "ye had not so much as any part in, and were strangers." The expressions are most emphatic, and indicate the separation to be very wide. Because the Israelites themselves were without this commonwealth, not however as aliens, but as indifferent to it, and they fell from the covenants, not however as strangers, but as unworthy.
But what were "the covenants of the promise?" "To thee and to thy seed," saith He, "will I give this land," (Gen. xvii: 8.) and whatever else He promised.
"Having no hope." he adds, "and without God." Though gods indeed they worshipped, but they were no gods: "for an idol is not any thing." (1 Cor. x: 19.)
Ver. 13-15. "But now, in Christ Jesus, ye that once were far off, are made nigh in the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in His flesh the enmity."
Is this then the great privilege, it may be said, that we are admitted into the commonwealth of the Jews? What art thou saying? "He hath summed up all things that are in heaven, and that are in earth," and now dost thou tell us about Israelites? Yes, he would say. Those higher privileges we must apprehend by faith; these, by the things themselves. "But now," saith he, "in Christ Jesus, ye that once were far off, are made nigh," in reference to the commonwealth. For the "far off," and the "nigh," are matters of will and choice only.
"For He is our peace, Who made both one."
What is this, "both one?" He does not mean this, that He hath raised us to that high descent of theirs, but that he hath raised both us and them to a yet higher. Only that the blessing to us is greater, because to these it had been promised, and they were nearer than we; to us it had not been promised, and we were farther off than they. Therefore it is that he says, "And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy." (Rom. xv: 9.) The promise indeed He gave to the Israelites, but they were unworthy; to us He gave no promise, nay, we were even strangers, we had nothing in common with them; yet hath He made us one, not by knitting us to them, but by knitting both them and us together into one. I will give you an illustration. Let us suppose there to be two statues, the one of silver, the other of lead, and then that both shall be melted down, and that the two shall come out gold. Behold, thus hath He made the two one. Or put the case again in another way. Let the two be, one a slave, the other an adopted son: and let both offend Him, the one as a disinherited child, the other as a fugitive, and one who never knew a father. Then let both be made heirs, both trueborn sons. Behold, they are exalted to one and the same dignity, the two are become one, the one coming from a longer, the other from a nearer distance, and the slave becoming more noble than he was before he offended.
"And brake down," he proceeds, "the middle wall of partition."
What the middle wall of partition is, he interprets by saying, "the enmity having abolished in His flesh, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances." Some indeed affirm that he means the wall of the Jews against the Greeks, because it did not allow the Jews to hold intercourse with the Greeks. To me, however, this does not seem to be the meaning, but rather that he calls "the enmity in the flesh," a middle wall, in that it is a common barrier, cutting us off alike from God. As the Prophet says, "Your iniquities separate between you and Me;" (Isa. lix: 2.) for that enmity which He had both against Jews and Gentiles was, as it were, a middle wall. And this, whilst the law existed, was not only not abolished, but rather was strengthened; "for the law," saith the Apostle, "worketh wrath." (Rom. iv: 15.) Just in the same way then as when he says in that passage, "the law worketh wrath," he does not ascribe the whole of this effect to the law itself, but it is to be understood, that it is because we have transgressed it; so also in this place he calls it a middle wall, because through being disobeyed it wrought enmity. The law was a hedge, but this it was made for the sake of security, and for this reason was called "a hedge," to the intent that it might form an inclosure. For listen again to the Prophet, where he says, "I made a trench about it." (Isa. v: 2.) And again, "Thou hast broken down her fences, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her." (Ps. lxxx: 12.) Here therefore it means security and so again, "I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be trodden down." (Isa. v: 5.) And again, "He gave them the law for a defence." (Isa. viii: 20.) And again, "The Lord executeth righteous acts and made known His ways unto Israel." (Ps. ciii: 6, 7.) It became, however, a middle wall, no longer establishing them in security, but cutting them off from God. Such then is the middle wall of partition formed out of the hedge. And to explain what this is, he subjoins, "the enmity in His flesh having abolished, the law of commandments."
How so? In that He was slain and dissolved the enmity therein. And not in this way only but also by keeping it. But what then, if we are released from the former transgression, and yet are again compelled to keep it? Then were the case the same over again, whereas He hath destroyed the very law itself. For he says, "Having abolished the law of commandments contained in ordinances." Oh! amazing loving-kindness! He gave us a law that we should keep it, and when we kept it not, and ought to have been punished, He even abrogated the law itself. As if a man, who, having committed a child to a schoolmaster, if he should turn out disobedient, should set him at liberty even from the schoolmaster, and take him away. How great loving-kindness were this! What is meant by,
"Having abolished by ordinances?"
For he makes a wide distinction between "commandments" and "ordinances." He either then means "faith," calling that an "ordinance," (for by faith alone He saved us,) or he means "precept," such as Christ gave, when He said, "But I say unto you, that ye are not to be angry at all." (Matt. v: 22.) That is to say, "If thou shalt believe that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Rom. x: 6-9.) And again, "The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart. Say not, Who shall ascend into heaven, or who shall descend into the abyss?" or, who hath "brought. Him again from the dead?" Instead of a certain manner of life, He brought in faith. For that He might not save us to no purpose, He both Himself underwent the penalty, and also required of men the faith that is by doctrines.
"That he might create in Himself of the twain, one new man."
Observe thou, that it is not that the Gentile is become a Jew, but that both the one and the other are entered into another condition. It was not with a view of merely making this last other than he was, but rather, in order to create the two anew. And well does he on all occasions employ the word "create," and does not say "change," in order to point out the power of what was done, and that even though the creation be invisible, yet it is no less a creation than that is, and that we ought not henceforward start away from this, as from natural things.
"That He might in Himself of the twain." That is, by Himself. He gave not this charge to another, but Himself, by Himself, melted both the one and the other, and produced a glorious one, and one greater than the first creation; and that one, first, was Himself. For this is the meaning of "in Himself." He Himself first gave the type and example. Laying hold on the one hand of the Jew, and on the other of the Gentile, and Himself being in the midst, He blended them together, made all the estrangement which existed between them to disappear, and fashioned them anew from above by fire and by water; no longer with water and earth, but with water and fire. He became a Jew by circumcision, He became accursed, He became a Gentile without the law, and was over both Gentiles and Jews.
"One new man," saith he, "so making peace."
Peace for them both towards God, and towards each other. For so long as they continued still Jews and Gentiles, they could not have been reconciled. And had they not been delivered each from his own peculiar condition, they would not have arrived at another and a higher one. For the Jew is then united to the Gentile when he becomes a believer. It is like persons being in a house, with two chambers below, and one large and grand one above: they would not be able to see each other, till they had got above.
"Making peace," more especially towards God; for this the context shows, for what saith he?
Ver. 16. "And might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the Cross." He saith, not merely "might reconcile," (katalla'xh(i)) but "might reconcile thoroughly" (apokatalla'xh(i)) indicating that heretofore human nature had been easily reconciled, as, e.g., in the case of the saints and before the time of the Law.
"In one body," saith he, and that His own, "unto God." How is this effected? By Himself, he means, suffering the due penalty.
"Through the cross having slain the enmity thereby."
Nothing can be more decisive, nothing more expressive than these words. His death, saith the Apostle, hath "slain" the enmity. He hath "wounded" and "killed" it, not by giving charge to another, nor by what He wrought only, but also by what He suffered. He does not say "having dissolved," he does say "having cancelled," but what is stronger than all, "having slain," so that it never should rise again. How then is it that it does rise again? From our exceeding depravity. For as long as we abide in the body of Christ, as long as we are united, it rises not again, but lies dead; or rather that former enmity never rises again at all. But if we breed another, it is no longer because of Him, who bath destroyed and put to death the former one. It is thou, forsooth, that travailest with a fresh one. "For the mind of the flesh," saith he, "is enmity against God;" (Rom. viii: 6.) if we are in nothing carnally-minded, there will be no fresh enmity produced, but that "peace" shall remain.
MORAL. Think then, how vast an evil is it, when God hath employed so many methods to reconcile us, and hath effected it, that we should again fall back into enmity! This enmity no fresh Baptism, but hell itself awaits; no fresh remission, but searching trial. The mind of the flesh is luxury and indolence, the "mind of the flesh" is covetousness and all kinds of sin. Why is it said the mind of the flesh? While yet the flesh could do nothing without the soul. He does not say this to the disparagement of the flesh, any more than when he says the "natural man," (1 Cor. ii: 14.) he uses that expression to the disparagement of the soul, for neither body nor soul in itself, if it receive not the impulse which is far above, is able to achieve any thing great or noble. Hence he calls those acts which the soul performs of herself, "natural; psuchika' " and those which the body performs of itself "carnal." Not because these are natural, but because, inasmuch as they receive not that direction from heaven, they perish. So the eyes are good, but without light, will commit innumerable errors; this, however, is the fault of their weakness, not of nature. Were the errors natural, then should we never be able to use them aright at all. For nothing that is natural is evil. Why then does he call carnal affections sins? Because whenever the flesh exalts herself, and gets the mastery over her charioteer, she produces ten thousand mischiefs. The virtue of the flesh is, her subjection to the soul. It is her vice to govern the soul. As the horse then may be good and nimble, and yet this is not shown without a rider; so also the flesh will then show her goodness, when we cut off her prancings. But neither again is the rider shown, if He have not skill. Nay he himself will do mischief yet more fearful than that before named. So that on all hands we must have the Spirit at hand. This being at hand will impart new strength to the rider; this will give beauty both to body and soul. For just as the soul, while dwelling in the body, makes it beautiful, but when she leaves it destitute of her own native energy and departs, like a painter confounding his colors together, the greatest loathsomeness ensues, every one of the several parts hastening to corruption, and dissolution:—so is it also when the Spirit forsakes the body and the soul, the loathsomeness which ensues is worse and greater. Do not then, because the body is inferior to the soul, revile it, for neither do I endure to revile the soul because it hath no strength without the Spirit. If one need say anything at all, the soul is deserving of the greater censure than the body; for the body indeed can do no grevious harm without the soul, whereas the soul can do much without the body. Because, we know, when the one is even wasting away, and has no wantonness, the soul is busily employed. Even as those sorcerers, magicians, envious persons, enchanters, especially cause the body to waste away. But besides this, not even luxury is the effect of the necessity of the body, but rather of the inattentiveness of the soul; for food, not feasting, is the object of the necessity of the body. For if I have a mind to put on a strong curb, I stop the horse; but the body is unable to check the soul in her evil courses. Wherefore then does he call it the carnal mind? Because it comes to be wholly of the flesh, for when she has the mastery, then she goes wrong, as soon as ever she has deprived herself of reason, and of the supremacy of the soul. The virtue therefore of the body consists in this, in its submission to the soul, since of itself the flesh is neither good nor evil. For what could the body ever do of itself? It is then by its connection that the body is good, good because of its subjection, but of itself neither good nor evil, with capacity, however, both for one and for the other, and having an equal tendency either way. The body has a natural desire, not however of fornication, nor of adultery, but of pleasure; the body has a desire not of feasting, but of food; not of drunkenness, but of drink. For in proof that it is not drunkenness that is the natural desire of the body, mark how, whenever you exceed the measure, when you go beyond the boundary-lines, it cannot hold out a moment longer. Up to this point it is of the body, but all the rest of the excesses, as e.g., when she is hurried away into sensualities, when she becomes stupefied, these are of the soul. For though the body be good, still it is vastly inferior to the soul, as lead is less of value than gold, and yet gold needs lead to solder it, and just so has the soul need also of the body. Or in the same way as a noble child requires a conductor, so again does the soul stand in need of the body. For, as we speak of childish things, not to the disparagement of childhood, but only of those acts which are done during childhood; so also are we now speaking of the body.
Yet it is in our power, if we will, no longer to be in the flesh, no, nor upon the earth, but in heaven, and in the Spirit. For our being here or there, is not determined so much by our position, as by our disposition. Of many people, at least, who are in some place, we say they are not there, when we say, "Thou wast not here. And again Thou art not here." And why do I say this? We often say, "Thou art not at (en) thyself, I am not at (en) myself," and yet what can be more material (a stronger instance of corporeal locality) than this, that a man is near to himself? And yet, notwithstanding, we say that he is not at himself. Let us then be in ourselves, in heaven, in the Spirit. Let us abide in the peace and in the grace of God, that we may be set at liberty from all the things of the flesh, and may be able to attain to those good things which are promised in Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, and might, and honor, now and henceforth, and for ever and ever. Amen.
"And He came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh, for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father. So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the chief corner-stone. In whom each several building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord. In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit."
He sent not, saith the Apostle, by the hand of another, nor did He announce these tidings to us by means of any other, but Himself did it in His own person. He sent not Angel nor Archangel on the mission, because to repair so many and vast mischiefs and to declare what had been wrought was in the power of none other, but required His own coming. The Lord then took upon Himself the rank of a servant, nay, almost of a minister, "and came, and preached peace to you," saith he, "that were far off, and to them that were nigh." To the Jews, he means, who as compared with ourselves were nigh. "For through Him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father."
"Peace," saith he, that "peace" which is towards God. He hath reconciled us. For the Lord Himself also saith, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you." (Jo. xiv; 27.) And again, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (Jo. xvi: 33.) And again, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do." (Jo. xiv: 14.) And again, "For the Father loveth you." (Jo. xvi: 27.) These are so many evidences of peace. But how towards the Gentiles? "Because through Him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father," not ye less, and they more, but all by one and the same grace. The wrath He appeased by His death, and hath made us meet for the Father's love through the Spirit. Mark again, the "in" means "by" or "through." By Himself and the Spirit that is, He hath brought us unto the Father. "So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but fellow- citizens with the saints."
Perceive ye that it is not with the Jews simply, no, but with those saintly and great men, such as Abraham, and Moses, and Elias? It is for the self-same city with these we are enrolled, for that we declare ourselves. "For they that say such things," saith he, "make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own." (Heb. xi: 14.) No longer are we strangers from the saints, nor foreigners. For they who shall not attain to heavenly blessings, are foreigners. "For the Son," saith Christ, "abideth for ever." (Jo. viii: 35.)
"And of the household," he continues, "of God."
The very thing which they at the first had, by means of so many toils and troubles, hath been for you accomplished by the grace of God. Behold the hope of your calling.
"Being built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets."
Observe how he blends all together, the Gentiles, the Jews, the Apostles, the Prophets, and Christ, and illustrates the union sometimes from the body, and sometimes from the building: "built," saith he, "upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets;" that is, the Apostles and Prophets are a foundation, and he places the Apostles first, though they are in order of time last, doubtless to represent and express this, that both the one and the other are alike a foundation, and that the whole is one building, and that there is one root. Consider, that the Gentiles have the Patriachs as a foundation. He here speaks more strongly of that point than he does when he speaks of a "grafting in." There he rather attaches them on. Then he adds, that He who binds the whole together in Christ. For the chief corner-stone binds together both the walls, and the foundations. "In whom each several building."
Mark, how he knits it all together, and represents Him at one time, as holding down the whole body from above, and welding it together; at another time, as supporting the building from below, and being, as it were, a root, or base. And whereas he had used the expression, "He created in Himself of the twain one new man;" (Eph. ii: 15.) by this he clearly shows us, that by Himself Christ knits together the two walls: and again, that in Him it was created. And "He is the first-born," saith he, "of all creation," that is, He Himself supports all things.
"In whom each several building, fitly framed together."
Whether you speak of the roof, or of the walls, or of any other part whatsoever, He it is supports the whole. Thus he elsewhere calls Him a foundation. "For other foundations," saith he, "can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. iii: 11.) "In whom each several building," he saith, "fitly framed together." Here he displays the perfectness of it, and indicates that one cannot otherwise have place in it, unless by living with great exactness. "It groweth saith he into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom ye also," he adds, "are builded together." He is speaking continuously: "Into a holy temple, for a habitation of God in the Spirit." What then is the object of this building? It is that God may dwell in this temple. For each of you severally is a temple, and all of you together are a temple. And He dwelleth in you as in the body of Christ, and as in a Spiritual temple. He does not use the word which means our coming to God, (pro'sodos) but which implies God's bringing us to Himself, (prosagwgh') for we came not out of ourselves, but we were brought nigh by Him. "No one," saith Christ, "cometh unto the Father but by Me." And again, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." (Jo. xiv: 6.)
He joins them with the Saints and again returns to his former image, nowhere suffering them to be disunited from Christ. Doubtless then, this is a building that shall go on until His coming. Doubtlesss it was for this reason that Paul said, "As a wise master builder, I laid a foundation." (1 Cor; iii: 10, 11.) And again that Christ is the foundation. What then means all this? You observe that the comparisons have all referred to the subject-matters, and that we must not expound them to the very letter. The Apostle speaks from analogy as Christ does, where He calls the Father an husbandman, (Jo. xv: 1.) and Himself a root. (Rev. xxii: 16.)
Chap. iii. ver. 1. "For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus in behalf of you Gentiles."
He has mentioned Christ's great and affectionate care; he now passes on to his own, insignificant indeed as it is, and a very nothing in comparison with that, and yet this is enough to engage them to himself. For this cause, saith he, am I also bound. For if my Lord was crucified for your sakes, much more am I bound. He not only was bound Himself, but allows His servants to be bound also,—"for you Gentiles." It is full of emphasis; not only do we no longer loathe you, but we are even bound, saith he, for your sakes, and of this exceeding grace am I partaker.
Ver. 2. "If so be that ye have heard of the dispensation of that grace of God, which was given me to you-ward."
He alludes to the prediction addressed to Ananias concerning him at Damascus, when the Lord said, "Go thy way, for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles and Kings." (Acts ix: 15.)
By "dispensation of grace," he means the revelation made to him. As much as to say, "I learned it not from man. (Gal. i: 12.) He vouchsafed to reveal it even to me, though but an individual for your sakes. For Himself said unto me, saith he, "Depart, for I will send thee forth far hence unto the Gentiles." (Acts xxii: 21.) "If so be that ye have heard" for a dispensation it was, a mighty one; to call one, uninfluenced from any other quarter, immediately from above, and to say, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" and to strike him blind with that ineffable light! "if so be that ye have heard saith he, "of the dispensation of that grace of God which was given me to you-ward."
Ver. 3. "How that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote afore in few words."
Perhaps he had informed them of it by some persons, or had not long before been writing to them. Here he is pointing out that the whole is of God, that we have contributed nothing. For what? I ask, was not Paul himself, the wonderful, he that was so versed in the law, he that was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel according to the most perfect manner, was not he saved by grace? With good reason too does he call this a mystery, for a mystery it is, to raise the Gentiles in a moment to a higher rank than the Jews. "As I wrote afore," saith he, "in few words," i.e., briefly,
Vet. 4. "Whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive."
Amazing! So then he wrote not the whole, nor so much as he should have written. But here the nature of the subject prevented it. Elsewhere, as in the case of the Hebrews (Heb. v: 11.) and the Corinthians, (1 Cor. iii: 2.) the incapacity of the hearers. "Whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive," saith he, "my understanding in the mystery of Christ," i.e., how I knew, how I understood either such things as God hath spoken, or else, that Christ sitteth at the right hand of God; and then too the dignity, in that God "hath not dealt so with any nation." (Ps. cxlvii: 20.) And then to explain what nation this is with whom God hath thus dealt, he adds,
Ver. 5. "Which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto His holy Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit."
What then, tell me, did not the Prophets know it? How then doth Christ say, that Moses and the Prophets wrote "these things concerning Me?" And again, "If ye believed Moses, ye would believe Me." (John v: 46.) And again, "Ye search the Scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life, and these are they which bear witness of me." (John v: 39.) His meaning is this, either that it was not revealed unto all men, for he adds, "which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed;" or else, that it was not thus made known by the very facts and realities themselves, "as it hath now been revealed unto His holy Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit." For reflect. Peter, had he not been instructed by the Spirit, never would have gone to the Gentiles. For hear what he says, "Then hath God given unto them the Holy Ghost, as well as unto us." (Acts x: 47.) That it was by the Spirit that God chose that they should receive the grace. The Prophets then spoke, yet they knew it not thus perfectly; so far from it, that not even did the Apostles, after they had heard it. So far did it surpass all human calculation, and the common expectation.
Ver. 6. "That the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body and fellow partakers."
What is this; "fellow-heirs, and fellow-partakers of the promise, and fellow-members of the body?" This last is the great thing, that they should be one body; this exceeding closeness of relation to Him. For that they were to be called indeed, that they knew, but that it was so great, as yet they knew not. This therefore he calls the mystery. "Of the promise." The Israelites were partakers, and the Gentiles also were fellow-partakers of the promise of God.
"In Christ Jesus through the Gospel."
That is, by His being sent unto them also, and by their believing; for it is not said they are fellow-heirs simply, but "through the Gospel." However, this indeed, is nothing so great, it is in fact a small thing, and it discloses to us another and greater thing, that not only men knew not this, but that neither Angels nor Archangels, nor any other created power, knew it. For it was a mystery, and was not revealed. "That ye can perceive," he saith, "my understanding." This alludes, perhaps, to what he said to them in the Acts, that he had some knowledge that the Gentiles also were called. This, he says, is his own knowledge, "the knowledge of the mystery," which he had mentioned, viz., "that Christ will in Himself make of the twain one new man." For by revelation he was instructed, both he and Peter, that they must not spurn the Gentiles; and this he states in his defence.
Ver. 7. "Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of that grace of God which was given me according to the working of His power."
He had said, "I am a prisoner;" but now again he says, that all is of God, as he says, "according to the gift of His grace;" for according to the power of the gift is the dignity of this privilege. But the gift would not have been enough, had it not also implanted in him power.
MORAL. For a work indeed it was of power, of mighty power, and such as no human diligence was equal to. For he brought three qualifications to the preaching of the word, a zeal fervent and venturous, a soul ready to undergo any possible hardship, and knowledge and wisdom combined. For his love of enterprise, his blamelessness of life, had availed nothing, had he not also received the power of the Spirit. And look at it as seen first in himself, or rather hear his own words. "That our ministration be not blamed." (2 Cor. vi: 3.) And again, "For our exhortation, is not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile, nor a cloke of covetousness." (1 Thes. ii: 3, 5.) Thus thou hast seen his blamelessness. And again, "For we take thought for things honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." (2 Cor. viii: 21.) Then again, besides these; "I protest by that glorying in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily." (1 Cor. xv: 31.) And again; "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution?" (Rom. viii: 35.) And again; "In much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in watchings." (2 Cor. vi: 4, 5.) Then again, his prudence and management; "To the Jews I became as a Jew, to them that are without law as without law, to them that are under the law as under the law." (1 Cor. ix: 20.) He shaves his head also, (Acts. xxi: 24- 26.) and does numberless things of the sort. But the crown of all is in the power of the Holy Ghost. "For I will not dare to speak," saith he, "of any things save those which Christ wrought through me." (Rom. xv: 18.) And again, "For what is there wherein you were made inferior to the rest of the Churches?" (2 Cor. xii: 13.) And again, "For in nothing was I behind the very chiefest Apostles though I am nothing." (2 Cor. xii: 11.) Without these things, the work had been impossible.
It was not then by his miracles that men were made believers; no, it was not the miracles that did this, nor was it upon the ground of these that he claimed his high pretension, but upon those other grounds. For a man must be alike irreproachable in conduct, prudent and discreet in his dealings with others, regardless of danger, and apt to teach. It was by these qualifications that the greater part of his success was achieved. Where there were these, there was no need of miracles. At least we see he was successful in numberless such cases, quite antecedently to the use of miracles. But, now-a-days, we without any of these would fain command all things. Yet if one of them be separated from the other, it henceforth becomes useless. What is the advantage of a man's being ever so regardless of danger, if his life be open to censure. "For if the light that is in thee be darkness," saith Christ, "how great is that darkness?" (Mat. vi: 23.) Again, what the advantage of a man's being of an irreproachable life, if he is sluggish and indolent? "For, he that doth not take his cross, and follow after Me," saith He, "is not worthy of Me;" (Mat. x: 38.) and so, "The good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep." (Jo. x: 11.) Again, what is the advantage of being both these, unless a man is at the same time prudent and discreet in "knowing how he ought to answer each one?" (Col. iv: 6.) Even if miracles be not in our power, yet both these qualities are in our power. Still however, notwithstanding Paul contributed so much from himself, yet did he attribute all to grace. This is the act of a grateful servant. And we should never so much as have heard of his good deeds, had he not been brought to a necessity of declaring them.
And are we worthy then so much as even to mention the name of Paul? He, who had moreover grace to aid him, yet was not satisfied, but contributed to the work ten thousand perils; whilst we, who are destitute of that source of confidence, whence, tell me, do we expect either to preserve those who are committed to our charge, or to gain those who are not come to the fold;—men, as we are, who have been making a study of self-indulgence, who are searching the world over for ease, and who are unable, or rather who are unwilling, to endure even the very shadow of danger, and are as far distant from his wisdom as heaven is from earth? Hence it is too that they who are under us are at so great a distance behind the men of those days; because the disciples of those days were better than the teachers of these, isolated as they were in the midst of the populace, and of tyrants, and having all men on all sides their enemies, and yet not in the slightest degree dragged down or yielding. Hear at least what he saith to the Philippians, (Phil. i: 29.) "Because to you it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer in his behalf." And again to the Thessalonians, (1 Thes. ii: 14.) "For ye, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judæa." And again in writing to the Hebrews (Heb. x: 34.) he said, "And ye took joyfully the spoiling of your possessions." And to the Colossians (Col. iii: 3.) he testifies, saying, "For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God." And indeed to these very Ephesians he bears witness of many perils and dangers. And again in writing to the Galatians, (Gal. iii: 4.) he says, "Did ye suffer so many things in vain? if it be indeed in vain." And you see them too, all employed in doing good. Hence it was that both grace wrought effectually in those days, hence also that they lived in good works. Hear, moreover, what he writes to the Corinthians, against whom he brings charges out of number; yet does he not bear even them record, where he says, "Yea, what zeal it wrought in you, yea, what longing!" (1. Cor. vii: 11.) And again, in how many points does he bear them record on this subject? These things one shall not see now-a-days, even in teachers. They are all gone and perished. And the cause is, that love hath waxed cold, that sinners go unpunished; (for hear what he says writing to Timothy, (1 Tim. v; 20.) "Them that sin, reprove in the sight of all;") it is that the rulers are in a sickly state; for if the head be not sound, how can the rest of the body maintain its vigor? But mark how great is the present disorder. They, who were living virtuously, and who under any circumstance might have confidence, have taken possession of the tops of the mountains, and have escaped out of the world, separating themselves as from an enemy and an alien and not from a body to which they belonged.
Plagues too, teeming with untold mischiefs, have lighted upon the Churches. The chief offices have become saleable. Hence numberless evils are springing, and there is no one to redress, no one to reprove them. Nay, the disorder has assumed a sort of method and consistency. Has a man done wrong, and been arraigned for it? His effort is not to prove himself guiltless, but to find if possible accomplices in his crimes. What is to become of us? since hell is our threatened portion. Believe me, had not God stored up punishment for us there, ye would see every day tragedies deeper than the disasters of the Jews. What then? however let no one take offence, for I mention no names; suppose some one were to come into this church to present you that are here at this moment, those that are now with me, and to make inquisition of them; or rather not now, but suppose on Easter day any one, endued with such a spirit, as to have a thorough knowledge of the things they had been doing, should narrowly examine all that came to Communion, and were being washed [in Baptism] after they had attended the mysteries; many things would be discovered more shocking than the Jewish horrors. He would find persons who practise augury, who make use of charms, and omens and incantations, and who have committed fornication, adulterers, drunkards, and revilers,—covetous, I am unwilling to add, lest I should hurt the feelings of any of those who are standing here. What more? Suppose any one should make scrutiny into all the communicants in the world, what kind of transgression is there which he would not detect? and what if he examined those in authority? Would he not find them eagerly bent upon gain? making traffic of high places? envious, malignant, vainglorious, gluttonous, and slaves to money?
Where then there is such impiety as this going on, what dreadful calamity must we not expect? And to be assured how sore vengeance they incur who are guilty of such sins as these, consider the examples of old. One single man, a common soldier, stole the sacred property, and all were smitten. Ye know, doubtless, the history I mean? I am speaking of Acham the son of Carmi, the man who stole the consecrated spoil. (Joshua vii: 1-26.) The time too when the Prophet spoke, was a time when their country was full of soothsayers, like that of the Philistines. (Isa. ii: 6.) Whereas now there are evils out of number at the full, and not one fears. Oh, henceforth let us take the alarm. God is accustomed to punish the righteous also with the wicked; such was the case with Daniel, and with the three holy Children, such has been the case with ten thousand others, such is the case in the wars that are taking place even at the present day. For the one indeed, whatever burden of sins they have upon them, by this means lay aside even that; but not so the other.
On account of all these things, let us take heed to ourselves. Do ye not see these wars? Do ye not hear of these disasters? Do ye learn no lesson from these things? Nations and whole cities are swallowed up and destroyed, and myriads as many again are enslaved to the barbarians.
If hell bring us not to our senses, yet let these things. What, are these too mere threats, are they not facts that have already taken place? Great is the punishment they have suffered, yet a greater still shall we suffer, who are not brought to our senses even by their fate. Is this discourse wearing? I am aware it is myself, but if we attend to it, it has its advantage; because this it has not, the quality of an address to please,—nay more, nor ever shall have, but ever those topics which may avail to humble and to chasten the soul. For these will be to us the ground-work of those blessings to come hereafter, to which God grant that we may all attain, in Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost be glory and might and honor, now and henceforth, and forever and ever. Amen.
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from all ages hath been hid in God, who created all things: to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose, which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
They who go to the physician's have not merely to go there and nothing further; they have to learn how to treat themselves, and to apply remedies. And so with us then who come here, we must not do this and nothing else, we must learn our lesson, the surpassing lowliness of Paul. What? when he was about to speak of the vastness of the grace of God, hear what he saith, "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given." Lowliness indeed it was even to bewail his former sins, although blotted out, and to make mention of them, and to hold himself within his true measure as where he calls himself "a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious;" (1 Tim. i: 13.) yet nothing was equal to this: for "formerly," saith he, such was I; and again he calls himself, "one born out of due time." (1 Cor. xv: 8.) But that after so many great and good deeds and at that time he should thus humble himself, and call himself "less than the least of all," this is indeed great and surpassing moderation. "To one who am less than the least of all saints; "he saith not, "than the Apostles." So that that expression is less strong than this before us. There his words are, "I am not meet to be called an Apostle." (1 Cor. xv: 9.) Here he says that he is even "less than the least of all saints;" "to me," saith he, "who am less than the least of all saints was this grace given." What grace? "To preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from all ages hath been hid in God, who created all things, to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places, might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God." True, to man it was not revealed; and art thou enlightening Angels and Archangels and Principalities and Powers? I am, saith he. For it was "hid in God," even "in God who created all things." And dost thou venture to utter this? I do, saith he. But whence hath this been made manifest to the Angels? By the Church. Again he saith, not merely the manifold (poiki'los) but the much- manifold (polupoi'kilos) wisdom, that is, "the multiplied and varied." What then is this? Did not Angels know it? No, nothing of it; for if Principalities knew it not, much less could Angels ever have known it. What then? Did not even Archangels know it? No, nor even they. But whence were they going to know it? Who was to reveal it? When we were taught it, then were they also by us. For hear what the Angel saith to Joseph; "Thou shalt call His Name Jesus, for it is He that shall save His people from their sins." (Matt. i: 21.)
Paul himself was sent to the Gentiles, the other Apostles to the Circumsion. So that the more marvellous and astonishing commission was given, saith he, "to me, who am less than the least." And this too was of grace, that he that was least should have the greatest things entrusted to him; that he should be made the herald of these tidings. For he that is made a herald of the greater tidings, is in this way great.
"To preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."
If His "riches are unsearchable," and that too after his appearing, much more is His essence. If it is still a mystery, much more was it before it was made known; for a mystery he calls it on this. account, because neither did the Angels know it, nor was it manifest to any one else.
"And to make all men see,." saith he, "what is the dispensation of the mystery which from all ages hath been hid in God, who created all things."
Angels knew only this, that "The Lord's portion was His people." (Deut. xxxii: 8, 9.) And again it is said, "The Prince of Persia withstood me." (Dan. x: 13.) So that it is nothing to be wondered at that they were ignorant of this; for if they were ignorant of the circumstances of the return from the Captivity, much more would they be of these things. For this is the gospel. "It is He that shall save," it saith, "His people." (Matt. i: 21.) Not a word about the Gentiles. But what concerns the Gentiles the Spirit revealeth. That they were called indeed, the Angels knew, but that it was to the same privileges as Israel, yea, even to sit upon the throne of God, this, who would ever have expected? who would ever have believed?
"Which hath been hid," saith he, "in God. "
This "dispensation," however, he more clearly unfolds in the Epistle to the Romans. "In God," he continues, "who created all things by Jesus Christ." And he does well to say "by Jesus Christ;" forasmuch as He who created all things by Him, revealeth also this by Him; for He hath made nothing without Him; for "without Him," it is said, "was not any thing made." (John i: 30.)
In speaking of "principalities" and "powers," he speaks both of those above and those beneath.
"According to the eternal purpose." It hath been now, he means, brought to pass, but not now decreed, it had been planned beforehand from the very first. "According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." That is, according to the eternal foreknowledge;
foreknowing the things to come, i. e., he means the ages to come; for He knew what was to be, and thus decreed it. According to the purpose of the ages, of those, perhaps, which He hath made by Christ Jesus, because it was by Christ that every thing was made.
Ver. 12. "In whom we have," saith he, "boldness, and access in confidence through our faith in him."
"Have access," not as prisoners, he says, nor yet, as persons candidates for pardon, nor as sinners; for, saith he, we have even "boldness with confidence," that is, accompanied with cheerful trust; arising from what source? through our faith in Him."
Ver. 13. "Wherefore I ask that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which are your glory."
How is it "for them?" How is it "their glory?" It is because God so loved them, as to give even the Son for them, and to afflict His servants for them: for it was in order that they might attain so many blessings, that Paul was in prison. Surely this was from God's exceeding love towards them: it is what God also saith concerning the Prophets, "I have slain them by the words of my mouth." (Hos. vi: 5.) But how was it that they fainted, when another was afflicted? He means, they were troubled, were distressed. This also he says when writing to the Thessalonians, "that no man be moved by these afflictions." (1 Thes. iii: 3.) For not only ought we not to grieve, but we ought even to rejoice. If ye find consolation in the forewarning, we tell you beforehand that here we have tribulation. And why pray? Because thus hath the Lord ordered.
Ver. 14, 15. "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named."
He here shows the spirit of his prayer for them. He does not say simply, "I pray," but manifests the supplication to be heartfelt, by the "bowing of the knees."
"From whom every family."
That is, no longer, he means, reckoned, according to the number of Angels, but according to Him who hath created the tribes both in heaven above and in earth beneath, not as the Jewish.
Ver. 16, 17. "That He would grant you according to the riches of His glory that ye may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the
inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."
Mark with what insatiable earnestness he invokes these blessings upon them, that they may not be tossed about. But how shall this be effected? By the "Holy Spirit in your inward man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." How again shall this be?
Vet. 18, 19. "To the end that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge."
Thus is his prayer now again, the very same as when he began. For what were his words in the beginning? "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory may give unto you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints; and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe." And now again he says the same. "That ye may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth;" i.e., to know perfectly the mystery which hath been providentially ordered in our behalf: "and the breadth, and length, and height, and depth;" that is, too, the immensity of the love of God, and how it extends every where. And he outlines it by the visible dimensions of solid bodies, pointing as it were to a man. He comprehends the upper and under and sides. I have thus spoken indeed, he would say, yet is it not for any words of mine to teach you these things; that must be the work of the Holy Spirit. "By His might," saith he, is it that ye must be "strengthened" against the trials that await you, and in order to remain unshaken; so that there is no other way to be strengthened but by the Holy Ghost, both on account of trials and carnal reasonings.
But how doth Christ dwell in the hearts? Hear what Christ Himself saith, "I and my Father will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (John xiv: 23.) He dwelleth in those hearts that are faithful, in those that are "rooted" in His love, those that remain firm and unshaken.
"That ye may be" thoroughly "strong," saith he; so that there is great strength needed.
"That ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God."
What he means is this. Although the love of Christ lies above the reach of all human knowledge, yet shall ye know it, if ye shall have Christ dwelling in you, yea, not only shall know from Him this, but shall even "be filled unto all the fulness of God;" meaning by the "fulness of God," either the knowledge how God is worshipped in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, or else urging them thus to use every effort, in order to be filled with all virtue, of which God is full.
Ver. 20. "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us."
That God hath done "abundantly above all that we ask or think," is evident front what the Apostle himself hath written. For I indeed, saith he, pray, but He of Himself, even without any prayer of mine, will do works greater than all we ask, not simply "greater," nor "abundantly greater," but "exceeding abundantly." And this is evident from "the power, that worketh in us:" for neither did we ever ask these things, nor did we expect them.
Ver. 21. "Unto Him be the glory," he concludes, "in the Church and in Christ Jesus, unto all generations forever and ever. Amen."
Well does he close the discourse with prayer and doxology; for right were it that He, who hath bestowed upon us such vast gifts, should be glorified and blessed, so that this is even a proper part of our amazement at His mercies, to give glory for the things advanced to us at God's hands through Jesus Christ.
"The glory in the Church." Well might he say this, forasmuch as the Church alone can last on to eternity.
It seems necessary to state what are meant by "families." (patriai') Here on earth, indeed there are "families" that is races sprung from one parent stock; but in heaven how can this be, where none is born of another? Surely then, by "families," he means either the and orders of heavenly beings; as also we find it written in Scripture, "the family of Amattari:" (1 Sam. x: 21. See Septuagint.) or else that it is from Him from whom earthly fathers have their name of father.
However, he does not ask the whole of God, but demands of them also faith and love, and not simply love, but love "rooted and grounded," so that neither any blasts can shake it, nor any thing else overturn it. He had said, that "tribulations" are "glory," and if mine are so to you, he would say, much more will your own be: so that to be afflicted is no token of men being forsaken, for He who hath wrought so great things for us, never would do this.
Again, if in order to understand the love of God, it was necessary for Paul to pray, and there was need of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who by following mere reasonings shall understand the nature of Christ? And why is it a difficult thing to learn that God loveth us? Beloved, it is extremely difficult. For some know not even this; wherefore, they even say, numberless evils come to be in the world; and others know not the extent of this love. Nor, indeed, is Paul seeking to know its extent, nor with any view to measure it; for how could he? but only to understand this, that it is transcendent, and great. And this very thing, he says, he is able to show, even from the knowledge which hath been vouchsafed to us.
However, what is higher than the being "strengthened with might," in order to have Christ within? Vast are the things we ask, saith he, yet is He able to do above even them, so that not only doth He love us, but cloth so intensely. Be it our care therefore, beloved, to understand the love of God. A great thing indeed is this; nothing is so beneficial to us, nothing so deeply touches us: more availing this to convince our souls than the fear of hell itself. Whence then shall we understand it? Both from the sources now mentioned, and from the things which happen every day. For from what motive have these things been done for us? from what necessity on His part? None whatever. Over and over again he lays down love as the cause. But the highest degree of love is that where men receive a benefit, without any prior service on their part to call for it.
MORAL. And let us then be followers of Him; let us do good to our enemies, to them that hate us, let us draw near to those who turn their backs upon us. This renders us like unto God. "For if ye love them that love you," saith Christ, "what reward have ye?" "Do not even the Gentiles the same." (Matt. v: 46.) But what is a sure proof of love? To love him that hates thee. I wish to give you some example, (pardon me,) and since I find it not among them that are spiritual, I shall quote an instance from them that are without. See ye not those lovers? How many insults are wreaked upon them by their mistresses, how many artifices practised, how many punishments inflicted: yet they are enchained to them, they burn for them, and love them better than their own souls, passing whole nights before their thresholds. From them let us take our example, not indeed to love such as those,—women, I mean, that are harlots; no, but thus to love our enemies. For tell me, do not harlots treat their lovers with greater insolence than all the enemies in the world, and squander away their substance, and cast insult in their face, and impose upon them more servile tasks than upon their own menials? And yet still they desist not, though no one hath so great an enemy in any one, as the lover in his mistress. Yea, this beloved one disdains, and reviles, and oftentimes maltreats him, and the more she is loved, the more she scorns him. And what can be more brutal than a spirit like this? Yet notwithstanding he loves her still.
But possibly we shall find love like this in spiritual characters also, not in those of our day, (for it has "waxed cold,") (Matt. xxiv: 12.) but in those great and glorious men of old. Moses, the blessed Moses, surpassed even those that love with human passion. How, and in what way? First, he gave up the court, and the luxury, and the retinue, and the glory attending it, and chose rather to be with the Israelites. Yet is this not only what no one else would ever have done, but would have even been ashamed, were another to have discovered him, of being found to be a kinsman of men, who were slaves and not only slaves, but were looked upon as even execrable. Yet was he not only not ashamed of his kindred, but with all his spirit defended them, and threw himself into dangers for their sake. (Acts. vii: 24.) How? Seeing, it is said, one doing an injury to one of them, he defended him that suffered the injury, and slew him that inflicted it. But this is not as yet for the sake of enemies. Great indeed is this act of itself, but not so great as what comes afterwards. The next day, then, he saw the same thing taking place, and when he saw him whom he had defended doing his neighbor wrong, he admonished him to desist from his wrong-doing. But he said, with great ingratitude, "Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?" (Acts. vii: 27.) Who would not have taken fire at these words? Had then the former act been that of passion and frenzy, then would he have smitten and killed this man also; for surely he on whose behalf it was done, never would have informed against him. But because they were brethren, it is said, he spoke thus. When he [the Hebrew] was being wronged, he uttered no such word "Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?" "Wherefore saidst thou not this yesterday?" Moses would say, "Thy injustice, and thy cruelty, these make me a ruler and a judge."
But now, mark, how that some, in fact, say as much even to God Himself. Whenever they are wronged indeed, they would have Him a God of vengeance, and complain of His long suffering; but when themselves do wrong, not for a moment.
However, what could be more bitter than words like these? And yet notwithstanding, after this, when he was sent to that ungrateful, to that thankless race, he went, and shrunk not back. Yea, and after those miracles, and after the wonders wrought by his hand, oftentimes they sought to stone him to death and he escaped out of their bands. They kept murmuring too incessantly, and yet still, notwithstanding, so passionately did he love them, as to say unto God, when they committed that heinous sin, "Yet now if Thou wilt forgive, forgive their sin; and if not, blot even me also out of the book which Thou hast written." (Ex. xxxii: 32.) Fain would I perish, saith he, with them, rather than without them be saved. Here, verily, is love even to madness, verily, unbounded love. What sayest thou, Moses? Art thou regardless of Heaven? I am, saith he, for I love those who have wronged me. Prayest thou to be blotted out? Yea, saith he, what can I do, for it is love? And what again after these things? Hear what the Scripture saith elsewhere; "And it went ill with Moses for their sakes." (Ps. cvi: 32.) How often did they wax wanton? How often did they reject both himself and his brother? How often did they seek to return back to Egypt? and yet after all these things did he burn, yea, was beside himself with love for them, and was ready to suffer for their sakes.
Thus ought a man to love his enemies; by lamentation, by unwearied endurance, by doing everything, by showing all favor, to aim at their salvation.
And what again, tell me, did Paul? did he not ask even to be accursed in their stead? (Rom. ix: 3.) But the great pattern we must of necessity derive from the Lord, for thus cloth He also Himself, where he saith, "For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good." (Matt. v: 45.) adducing the example from His Father; but we from Christ Himself. He came unto them, in His Incarnation, I mean, He became a servant for their sakes, "He humbled Himself, He emptied Himself, He took the form of a servant." (Phil. ii: 7, 8.) And when He came unto them, He went not Himself aside "into any way of the Gentiles," (Matt. x: 5.) and gave the same charge to His disciples, and not only so, but "He went about healing all manner of disease, and all manner of sickness. (Matt. iv: 23.) And what then? All the rest indeed were astonished, and marvelled, and said, "Whence, then, hath this man all these things?" (Matt. xiii: 56.) But these, the objects of His beneficence, these said, "He hath a devil," (John x: 20.) and "blasphemeth," (John x: 36.) and "is mad," and is a "deceiver," (John vii: 12, and Matt. xxvii: 63.) Did he therefore cast them away? No, in no wise, but when He heard these sayings, He even yet more signally bestowed His benefits upon them, and went straightway to them that were about to crucify Him, to the intent that He might but only save them. And after He was crucified, what were His words? "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke xxiii: 34.) Both cruelly treated before this, and cruelly treated after this, even to the very latest breath, for them He did every thing, in their behalf He prayed. Yea, and after the Cross itself, what did He not do for their sakes? Did He not send Apostles? Did He not work miracles? Did He not shake the whole world?
Thus is it we ought to love our enemies, thus to imitate Christ. Thus did Paul. Stoned, suffering unnumbered cruelties, yet did he all things for their good. Hear his own words. "My heart's desire and my supplication to God is for them that they may be saved." (Rom. x: 1, 2.) And again; "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God." And again; "If thou, being a wild olive tree wast grafted in, how much more shall these be grafted into their own olive tree?" (Rom. xi: 24.) How tender, thinkest thou, must be the affection from which these expressions proceed, how vast the benevolence? it is impossible to express it, impossible.
Thus is it we ought to love our enemies. This is to love God, Who hath enjoined it, Who hath given it as His law. To imitate Him is to love our enemy. Consider it is not thine enemy thou art benefiting, but thyself; thou art not loving him, but art obeying God. Knowing therefore these things, let us confirm our love one to another, that we may perform this duty perfectly, and attain those good things that are promised in Christ Jesus our Lord, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, and honor, now, and for ever and ever. Amen.
"I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness."
IT is the virtue of teachers to aim not at praise, nor at esteem from those under their authority, but at their salvation, and to do every thing with this object; since the man who should make the other end his aim, would not be a teacher but a tyrant. Surely it is not for this that God set thee over them, that thou shouldest enjoy greater court and service, but that thine own interests should he disregarded, and every one of theirs built up. This is a teacher's duty: such an one was the blessed Paul, a man who was free from all manner of vanity, and was contented to be one of the many, nay more, to be the very least even of them. Hence he even calls himself their servant, and so generally speaks in a tone of supplication. Observe him then even now writing nothing dictatorial, nothing imperious, but all chastened and subdued.
"I therefore," saith he, "the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called." What is it, tell me, thou art beseeching? Is it that thou mayest gain any end for thyself? No, saith he, in no wise; it is that I may save others. And yet surely they who beseech, do so for things which are of importance to themselves. True; and this, saith he, is of importance to myself, according to what he says also elsewhere in his writings, "Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord;" (1 Thess. iii: 8.) for he ever earnestly desired the salvation of those whom he was instructing.
"I, the prisoner in the Lord." Great and mighty dignity! Greater than that of king or of consul, or of any other. Hence it is the very title he uses in writing to Philemon, "As Paul the aged, and now a prisoner also of Jesus Christ." (Philemon 9.) For nothing is so glorious as a bond for Christ's sake, as the chains that were bound around those holy hands; more glorious is it to be a prisoner for Christ's sake than to be an Apostle, than to be a Teacher, than to be an Evangelist. Is there any that loveth Christ, he will understand what I am saying. Is any transported and fired with devotion for the Lord, he knows the power of these bonds. Such an one would rather choose to be a prisoner for Christ's sake, than to have the Heavens for his dwelling. More glorious than any gold were the hands he was showing to them, yea, than any royal diadem. Yes, no jewelled tiara bound around the head invests it with such glory, as an iron chain for Christ's sake. Then was the prison more glorious than palaces, yea, than heaven itself. Why say I than palaces? Because it contained a prisoner of Christ. Is there any that loveth Christ, he knows the dignity of this title, he knows what a virtue is this, he knows how great a boon he bestowed upon mankind, even this, to be bound for His sake. More glorious this, perhaps to be bound for His sake, than "to sit at His right hand," (Matt. xx: 21.) more august this, than to "sit upon the twelve thrones." (Matt. xix: 28.)
And why speak I of human glories? I am ashamed to compare earthly riches and golden attire to these bonds. But forbearing to speak of those great and heavenly glories, even were the thing attended with no reward at all, this alone were a great reward, this an ample recompense, to suffer these hardships for the sake of the Beloved. They that love, even though it be not God, but man, they know what I am saying, since they are more delighted to suffer for, than to be honored by those they love. But to fully understand these things belongs to the holy company, the Apostles, I mean, and them alone. For hearken to what the blessed Luke saith, (Acts v: 11.) "that they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name." To all others indeed it seems to be foolishness, that to suffer dishonor is to be counted worthy, that to suffer dishonor is to rejoice. But to them that understand the love of Christ, this is esteemed of all things the most blessed. Were any to offer me my choice, the whole Heaven or that chain, that chain I would prefer. Were any to ask whether he should place me on high with the Angels, or with Paul in his bonds, the prison I would choose. Were any about to change me into one of those powers, that are in Heaven, that are round about the throne, or into such a prisoner as this, such a prisoner I would choose to be. Nothing is more blessed than that chain. Would that I could be at this moment in that very spot, (for the bonds are said to be still in existence,) to behold and admire those men, for their love of Christ. Would that I could behold the chains, at which the devils fear and tremble, but which Angels reverence. Nothing is more noble than to suffer any evil for Christ's sake. I count not Paul so happy, because he was "caught up into Paradise," (2 Cor. xii: 4.) as because he was cast into the dungeon; I count him not so happy, because he heard "unspeakable words," as because he endured those bonds. I count him not so happy, because he was "caught up into the third Heaven," (2 Cor. xii: 2.) as I count him happy for those bonds' sake. For that these are greater than those, hear how even he himself knew this; for he saith not, I who "heard unspeakable words," beseech you: but what? "I, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you." Nor yet are we to wonder, though he inscribes not this in all his Epistles, for he was not always in prison, but only at certain times.
I deem it more desirable to suffer evil for Christ's sake, than to receive honor at Christ's hands. This is transcendent honor, this is glory that surpasseth all things. If He Himself who became a servant for my sake, and "emptied" (Phil. ii: 7.) His glory, yet thought not Himself so truly in glory, as when He was crucified for my sake, what ought not I to endure? For hear His own words: "Father, glorify Thou Me." (John xvii: 1.) What is this thou art saying? Thou art being led to the cross with thieves and plunderers of graves, thou endurest the death of the accursed; Thou art about to be spit upon and buffeted; and callest Thou this glory? Yes, He saith, for I suffer these things for My beloved ones, and I count them altogether glory. If He who loved the miserable and wretched calleth this glory, not to be on His Father's throne, nor in His Father's glory, but in dishonor,—if this was His glory, and if this He set before the other: much more ought I to regard these things as glory. Oh! those blessed bonds! Oh! those blessed hands which that chain adorned! Not so worthy were Paul's hands when they lifted up and raised the lame man at Lystra, as when they were bound around with those chains. Had I been living in those times, how eagerly would I have embraced them, and put them to the very apple of mine eyes. Never would I have ceased kissing those hands which were counted worthy to be bound for my Lord. Marvellest thou at Paul, when the viper fastened on his hand, and did him no hurt? Marvel not. It reverenced his chain. Yea, and the whole sea reverenced it; for then too was he bound, when he was saved from shipwreck. Were any one to grant me power to raise the dead at this moment, I would not choose that power, but this chain. Were I free from the cares of the Church, had I my body strong and vigorous, I would not shrink from undertaking so long a journey, only for the sake of beholding those chains, for the sake of seeing the prison where he was bound. The traces indeed of his miracles are numerous in all parts of the world, yet are they not so dear as those of his scars. (Gal. vi: 17.) Nor in the Scriptures does he so delight me when he is working miracles, as when he is suffering evil, being scourged, and dragged about. Insomuch that from his body were carried away handkerchiefs or aprons. Marvellous, truly marvellous, are these things, and yet not so marvellous as those. "When they had laid many stripes upon him, they cast him into prison." (Acts xvi: 53.) And again; being in bonds, "they were singing hymns unto God." (Acts xvi: 25.) And again; "They stoned him, and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead." (Acts xiv: 19.) Would ye know how mighty a thing is an iron chain for Christ's sake, bound about His servant's body? Hearken to what Christ Himself saith, "Blessed are ye." (Mat. v: 11.) Why? When ye shall raise the dead? No. But why? When ye shall heal the blind? Not at all. But why then? "When men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake." (Matt. v: 11.) Now, if to be evil spoken of renders men thus blessed, to be evil entreated, what may not that achieve? Hearken to what this blessed one himself saith elsewhere; "Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness:" (2 Tim. iv: 8.) and yet, more glorious than this crown is the chain: of this, saith he, the Lord will count me worthy, and I am in no wise inquisitive about those things. Enough it is for me for every recompense, to suffer evil for Christ's sake. Let Him but grant me to say, that "I fill up that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ:" (Col. i: 24.) and I ask nothing further.
Peter also was counted worthy of this chain; for he, we read, was bound, and delivered to soldiers, and was sleeping. (Acts xii: 6.) Yet he rejoiced and was not diverted from his right mind and he fell into deep sleep which could not have been, had he been in any great anxiety. However, he was sleeping, being between two soldiers: and an Angel came unto him, and smote him on the side, and raised him up. Now then, were any one to say to me, Which wouldest thou? Wouldest thou be the Angel that struck Peter, or Peter that was delivered? I would rather choose to be Peter, for whose sake even the Angel came, yea, I would that I might enjoy those chains. And how is it, say ye, that, as being released from great evils, he prays? Marvel not: he prays, because he is afraid lest he should die; and of dying he is afraid, because he would fain have his life to be still a subject for further sufferings. For hearken to what the blessed Paul himself also saith. (Phil. i:23, 24.) "To depart, and to be with Christ, is very far better;" "Yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake." This he calls even a favor where he writes, and says, "To you it hath been granted, (as a favor echari'sthh) in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer in His behalf." (Phil. i: 29.) So that this latter is greater than the other: for He gave it of His free grace; verily, a favor it is, exceeding great, yea greater than any one of those, greater than to make the sun and the moon stand still, than to move the world! greater this than to have power over devils, or to cast out devils. The devils grieve not so much at being cast out by the faith which we exert, as when they behold us suffering any evil, and imprisoned for Christ's sake. For this increases our boldness. Not for this is it a noble thing to be in bonds for Christ's sake that it procures for us a kingdom; it is that it is done for Christ's sake. Not for this do I bless those bonds, for that they conduct on to Heaven; it is because they are worn for the sake of the Lord of Heaven. How great a boast to know that he was bound for Christ's sake! How great a happiness, how high an honor, how illustrious a distinction! Fain would I ever be dwelling on these subjects. Fain would I cling to this chain. Fain would I, though in reality I have not the power, yet still in idea, bind this chain round my soul by a temper like his.
"The foundations of the prison-house," we read, "were shaken" where Paul was bound, "and every one's bands were loosed." (Acts xvi: 26.) Beholdest thou then in bonds a nature that can dissolve bonds themselves? for as the Lord's death put death itself to death, so also did Paul's bonds loose the men in bonds, shake the house of bondage, open the doors. Yet is not this the natural effect of bonds, but the very reverse; it is to keep him that is bound in safety, not to open for him the prison walls. No, of bonds then in general this is not the nature, but of those bonds which are for Christ's sake, it is. "The jailor fell down before Paul and Silas." (Acts xvi: 29.) And yet neither is this again the effect of chains in general, to lay the binders at the feet of the bound: no, but, on the contrary, to put these last under the hands of the former. Whereas here, the man who was free was under the feet of the man who had been bound. The binder was beseeching him whom he had bound to release him from his fear. Tell me, was it not thou that didst bind him? Didst thou not cast him into the inner prison? Didst thou not make his feet fast in the stocks? Why tremblest thou? Why art thou troubled? Why weepest thou? Why hast thou drawn thy sword? Never bound I, saith he, aught like this! I knew not that the prisoners of Christ had power so mighty as this. What sayest thou? They received power to open Heaven, and should they not be able to open a prison? They loosed them that were bound by evil spirits, and was a piece of iron likely to conquer them? Thou knowest not the men. And therefore also wert thou pardoned. That prisoner is Paul, whom all the Angels reverence. He is Paul, whose very handkerchiefs and napkins cast out devils, and chase diseases to flight. And sure the bond which is of the devil is adamantine, and far more indissoluble than iron; for this indeed binds the soul, the other only the body. He therefore that released souls that were bound, shall not he have power to release his own body? He that could burst asunder the bonds of evil spirits, shall he not unloose a rivet of iron? He that by his very garments unloosed those prisoners, and released them from the spell of devils, shall not he of himself set himself at liberty? For this was he first bound himself, and then loosed the prisoners, that thou mighest understand that Christ's servants in bonds possess a power far greater than they that are at liberty. Had one who was at liberty wrought this, then had it not been so marvellous. So then the chain was not a token of weakness, but rather of a greater power, and thus is the saint's might more illustriously displayed, when, even though in bonds, he overpowers them that are at liberty, when he that is in bonds sets not only himself at liberty, but them that are in bonds also. Where is the use of walls? What the advantage of thrusting him into the inner prison, whereas he opened the outer also? and why too was it done in the night? and why with an earthquake?
Oh, bear with me a little, and give me leave while I refrain from the Apostle's words, and revel in the Apostle's deeds, and banquet on Paul's chain; grant me still longer to dwell upon it. I have laid hold on that chain, and no one shall part me from it. More securely at this moment am I bound by affection, than was he then in the stocks. This is a bond which no one can loose, for it is formed of the love of Christ; this neither the Angels, no, nor the kingdom of Heaven, has power to unloose. We may hear Paul's own words; (Rom. viii; 38, 39.) "Neither angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Now then, why did the event take place at midnight? And wherefore too with an earthquake? Hearken, and marvel at the providential orderings of God. Every one's bands were loosed, and the doors were opened. And yet was this done only for the jailor's sake, not with a view to display, but with a view to his salvation: for that the prisoners knew not that they were loosed, is evident from Paul's exclamation; for what said he? "He cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm, for we are all here." (Acts xvi: 28.) But never would they all have been within, had they seen the
doors opened, and themselves set at liberty. They who were used to cut through walls, and to scale roofs and parapets, and to venture on all sorts of attempts in chains, never would have endured to remain within, with their bands loosed, and the doors opened, with the jailer himself asleep; no, but the bond of sleep was to them instead of the bonds of iron. So that the thing took place and yet no damage ensued from the miracle to the jailer who was to be saved. And besides this too, they that are bound are bound most securely in the night, not in the day; and so accordingly might we behold them bound again with all care and sleeping: but had these things been done in the day time, there would have been great stir and tumult.
Then again, wherefore was the building shaken? It was to arouse the jailer, to behold what was done, for he alone was worthy of being saved. And do thou too, behold, I pray, the exceeding greatness of the grace of Christ, for well were it in the midst of Paul's bonds to make mention also of the grace of God, nay indeed the very bonds themselves are of the gift and grace of God. Some indeed there are who complain "Why was the jailer saved?" and from those very circumstances, for which they ought to admire the loving-kindness of God they find fault with it. Nor is it anything to be wondered at. Such are these sickly persons, that find fault even with the food that nourishes them, which they ought to prize, and who affirm that honey is bitter: and those dimsighted persons who are darkened by the very thing which ought to enlighten them. Not that these effects arise from the nature of the objects themselves, but from the weakness of the persons who are unable to use them properly. What, however, was I saying? When they ought to be admiring God's loving-kindness, in that He took a man who had fallen into the most desperate wickedness, and was making him better, they find fault: "Why, how was it that he did not take the thing to be the work of witchcraft and of sorcery, and confine them the more closely, and cry out?" Many things conspired to prevent this; first, that he heard them singing praises to God. And sorcerers never would have been singing such hymns as those, for he heard them, it is said, singing praises unto God. Secondly, the fact, that they themselves did not take flight, but even withheld him from killing himself. Now had they done it for their own sake, they never would have remained still within; they would themselves have escaped first of all. Great again was their kindness also; they withheld the man from killing himself, even him who had bound them, thus all but saying unto him, "Truly, thou didst bind us with all safety, and most cruelly, that thou thyself mightest be loosed from the most cruel of all bonds." For every one is shackled with the chains of his own sins; and those bonds are accursed, whereas these for Christ's sake are blessed, and worth many an earnest prayer. For that these bonds can loose those other bonds of sin, he showed to us by things which are matters of sense. Didst thou behold them released, who had been bound with iron? Thou shalt see thyself also delivered from other galling bonds. These bonds, the prisoners' bonds, not those of Paul, I mean, are the effect of those other bonds, the bonds of sins. They who were confined within, were doubly prisoners, and the jailer himself was a prisoner. They indeed were bound both with iron and with sins, he with sins only. Them did Paul loose to assure the faith of him, for the chains which he loosed were visible. And thus too did Christ Himself; but rather in the inverse order. In that instance, there was a double palsy. What was it? There was that of the soul by sins, and also that of the body. What then did the Lord do? "Son," saith He, "be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven." (Matt. ix: 3-6.) He first loosed the bonds of the real and true palsy, and then proceeds to the other: for when "certain of the Scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth; Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven, or to say, Arise, and walk? But, that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, and take up thy bed, and go unto thy house." Having wrought the invisible miracle, He confirmed it by the visible, the spiritual by the bodily cure. And why did He do thus? That it might be fulfilled, which is spoken, (Luke xix: 22.) "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant." For what said they? "None can forgive sins, but God alone "Of course, therefore, no Angel, nor Archangel, nor any other created power. This ye have yourselves confessed. And what then ought to be said? If I shall be shown to have forgiven sins, it is fully evident that I am God. However, He said it not thus, but what said He? "But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins; then saith He to the sick of the palsy, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go unto thy house." (Matt. ix: 6.) When therefore, He would say, I work the more difficult miracle, it is plain that there is no pretext left you, no room for gainsaying about the easier one. Hence it was that He wrought the invisible miracle first, because there were many gainsayers; and then He led them from the invisible to the visible itself.
Surely then the faith of the jailer was no light or hasty faith. He saw the prisoners. And he saw nothing, he heard nothing wrong; he saw that nothing was done by sorcery, for they were singing hymns unto God. He saw that every thing done proceeded from overflowing kindness, for they did not avenge themselves against him, although they had it in their power; for it was in their power to rescue both themselves and the prisoners, and escape; and if not the prisoners, at all events themselves; but they did not do this. Thus did they challenge his reverence, not only by the miracle, but also by their behavior. For how did Paul cry out? "He cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm, for we are all here." Thou seest at once his freedom from vain-glory and arrogance, and his fellow-feeling. He said not, "It is forus these wonders have been wrought," but as though he were merely one of the prisoners, he said, "For we are all here." And yet, even though they had not before this loosed themselves, nor had done so by means of the miracle, still they might have been silent, and have set all that were bound at liberty. For had they held their peace, and had they not with their loud crying stayed his hand, he would have thrust the sword through his throat. Wherefore also Paul cried out, because he had been cast into the inner ward: as though he had said, "To thine own injury hast thou done this, that thou hast thrust in so far those that could deliver thee from the danger." However they imitated not the treatment they had received at his hands; though, had he died, all would have escaped. Thou seest that they chose rather to remain in bonds, than to suffer him to perish. Hence too might he reason within himself, "Had they been sorcerers, doubtless they would have set the others at liberty, and have released themselves from their bonds:" (for it is likely that many such had also been imprisoned.) He was the more amazed, in that having often received sorcerers in charge, he had yet witnessed nothing done like this. A sorcerer never would have shaken the foundations, so as to startle the jailer from sleep, and thus render his own escape more difficult.
Now, however, let us proceed to look at the jailor's faith. "And," saith the Scripture, "he called for lights and sprang in, and trembling for fear fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" He grasped fire and sword, and cried, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house." (Acts xvi: 29-31.) "This is not the act of sorcerers," he would say, "to deliver a doctrine like this. No mention any where here of an evil spirit." Thou seest how worthy he was to be saved: for when he beheld the miracle, and was relieved from his terror, he did not forget what most concerned him, but even in the midst of so great peril, he was solicitous about that salvation which concerned his soul: and came before them in such a manner as it was meet to come before teachers: he fell down at their feet. "And they spake," it continues, "the word of the Lord, unto him with all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, immediately." (Acts xvi: 32, 33.) Observe the fervency of the man! He did not delay; he did not say, "Let day come, let us see, let us look about us;" but with great fervency, he was both himself baptized, and all his house. Yes, not like most men now-a-days, who suffer both servants and wives and children to go unbaptized Be ye, I beseech you, like the jailor. I say not, in authority, but in purpose; for what is the benefit of authority, where purpose is weak? The savage one, the inhuman one, who lived in the practice of unnumbered wrongs and made this his constant study, has become all at once so humane, so tenderly attentive. "He washed," it is said, "their stripes."
And mark, on the other hand, the fervency of Paul also. Bound, scourged, thus he preached the Gospel. Oh, that blessed chain, with how great travail did it travail that night, what children did it bring forth! Yea of them too may he say, "Whom I have begotten in my bonds." (Philem. x.) Mark thou, how he glories, and will have the children thus begotten, to be on that account the more illustrious! Mark thou, how transcendant is the glory of those bonds, in that they give lustre not only to him that wore them, but also to them who were on that occasion begotten by him. They have some advantage, who were begotten in Paul's bonds, I say not in respect of grace, (for grace is one and the same,) nor in respect of remission, (for remission is one and the same to all,) but in that they are thus from the very outset taught to rejoice and to glory in such things. "The same hour of the night," it is said, "he took them, and washed their stripes, and was baptized."
And now then behold the fruit. He straightway recompensed them with his carnal things. "He brought them up into his house, and set meat before them, and rejoiced greatly with all his house, having believed in God." For what was he not ready to do, now that by the opening of the prison doors, heaven itself was opened to him? He washed his teacher, he set food before him, and rejoiced. Paul's chain entered into the prison, and transformed all things there into a Church; it drew in its train the body of Christ, it prepared the spiritual feast, and travailed with that birth, at which Angels rejoice. And was it without reason then that I said that the prison was more glorious than Heaven? For it became a source of joy there; yes, if "there is joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth," (Luke xv: 7.) if, "where two or three are gathered together in His Name, there is Christ in the midst of them;" (Matt. xviii: 20.) how much more, where Paul and Silas, and the jailor and all his house were, and faith so earnest as theirs!Observe the intense earnestness of their faith.
But this prison has reminded me of another prison. And what then is that? It is that where Peter was. Not, however, that any thing like this took place there. No. He was delivered to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him and he sang not, he watched not, but he slept; neither, again, had he been scourged. And yet was the peril greater, for in the case before us indeed the end was accomplished, and the prisoners Paul and Silas, had undergone their punishment; but in his case it was yet to come. So that though there were no stripes to torture him, yet was there the anticipation of the future to distress him. And mark too the miracle there. "Behold, an angel of the Lord," it is related, "stood by him, and a light shined in the cell; and he smote Peter on the. side, and awoke him, saying, Rise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands." (Acts xii: 7.) In order that he might not imagine the transaction to be the work of the light alone, he also struck Peter, Now no one saw the light, save himself only, and he thought it was a vision. So insensible are they that are asleep to the mercies of God. "And the angel," it proceeds, "said unto him, Gird thyself and bind on thy sandals; and he did so. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out and followed, and he wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. And when they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate, that leadeth unto the city, which opened to them of his own accord; and they went out, and passed on through one street; and straightway the angel departed from him." (Acts xii: 8-10.) Why was not the same thing done here as was done in the case of Paul and Silas? Because in that case they were intending to release them. On that account God willed not that they should be released in this manner. Whereas in blessed Peter's case, they were intending to lead him forth to execution. But what then? Would it not have been far more marvellous, some one may say, had he been led forth, and delivered over into the king's hands, and then had been snatched away from the very midst of his imminent peril, and sustained no harm? For thus moreover, neither had the soldiers perished. Great is the question which has been raised upon this matter. What! did God, it is said, save His own servant with the punishment of others, with the destruction of others? Now in the first place, it was not with the destruction of others; for this did not arise from the ordering of providence, but arose from the cruelty of the judge. How so? God had so providentially ordered it, as that not only these men need not perish, but moreover that even he, the judge, should have been saved, just as in this case of the jailor. But he did not use the boon aright. "Now as soon as it was day," it continues, "there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter." And what then? Herod makes strict inquiry into the matter, "and he examined the guards," it is related, "and commanded that they should be put to death." (Acts xii: 1819.) Now, indeed, had he not examined them, there might have been some excuse for executing them. Whereas, as it is, he had them brought before him, he examined them, he found that Peter had been bound, that the prison had been well secured, that the keepers were before the doors. No wall had been broken through, no door had been opened, nor was there any other evidence whatever of false dealing. He ought upon this to have been awed by the power of God, which had snatched Peter from the very midst of perils, and to have adored Him who was able to do such mighty works. But, on the contrary, he ordered those men off to execution. How then in this case is God the cause? Had He indeed caused the wall to be broken through, and thus had extricated Peter, possibly the deed might have been put to the account of their negligence. But if He so providentially ordered it, as that the matter should be shown to be the work not of the evil agency of man, but of the miraculous agency of God, why did Herod act thus? For had Peter intended to flee, he would have fled as he was, with his chains on. Had he intended to fly, in his confusion he never would have had so great forethought as to take even his sandals, but he would have left them. Whereas, as it is, the object of the Angel's saying unto him, "Bind on thy sandals," was that they might know that he had done the thing not in the act of flight, but with full leisure. For, bound as he was, and fixed between the two soldiers, he never would have found sufficient time to unbind the chains also, and especially as he too, like Paul, was in the inner ward. Thus then was the punishment of the keepers owing to the unrighteousness of the judge. For why did not the Jews act in the same way? For now again I am reminded of yet another prison. The first was that at Rome, next, was this at Cæsarea, now we come to that at Jerusalem. When then the chief Priests and the Pharisees heard from those whom they had sent to the prison to bring Peter out, that "they found no man within," but both doors "closed," and "the keepers standing at the doors," why was it that they not only did not put the keepers to death, but, so far from it, "they were much perplexed concerning them whereunto this would grow." Now if the Jews, murderous as they were in their designs against them, yet entertained not a thought of the kind, much more shouldest not thou, who didst every thing to please those Jews. For this unrighteous sentence vengeance quickly overtook Herod.
But now if any complain of this, then complain too about those who are killed on the highway, and about the ten thousand others who are unjustly put to death, and further, of the infants also that were slaughtered at the time of Christ's birth; for Christ also, according to what thou allegest, was the cause of their deaths. But it was not Christ, but rather the madness and tyranny of Herod's father. Dost thou ask, Why then did He not snatch Him out of Herod's hands? True, He might have done so, but there would have been nothing gained by so doing. How many times, at least, did Christ. escape even from the grasp of their hands? And yet what good did this do to that unfeeling people? Whereas here there is even much profit arising to the faithful from what was done. For as there were records made, and the enemies themselves bore testimony to the facts, the testimony was above suspicion. As therefore in that instance the mouths of the enemies were stopped in no other way whatever, but only by the persons who came acknowledging the facts, so was it also here. For why did the jailor here do nothing like what Herod did? Nay, and the things which Herod witnessed were not at all less wonderful than those which this man witnessed. So far as wonder goes, it is no less wonderful to be assured that a prisoner came out when the doors were closed, than it is to behold them set open. Indeed this last might rather have seemed to be perhaps a vision of the imagination, the other never could, when exactly and circumstantially reported. So that, had this man been as wicked as Herod, he would have slain Paul, as Herod did the soldiers; but such he was not.
If any one should ask, 'Why was it that God permitted the children also to be murdered?' I should fall, probably, into a longer discourse, than was originally intended to be addressed to you.
At this point, however, let us terminate our discourse, with many thanks to Paul's chain, for that it has been made to us the source of so many blessings, and exhorting you, should ye have to suffer any thing for Christ's sake, not only not to repine, but to rejoice, as the Apostles did, yea, and to glory; as Paul said, "Most gladly, therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities," (2 Cor. xii: 9.) for because of this it was that he heard also those words, "My grace is sufficient for thee." Paul glories in bonds; and dost thou pride thyself in riches? The Apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to be scourged, and dost thou seek for ease and
self-indulgence? On what ground then, dost thou wish to attain the same end as they, if here on earth thou art traveling the contrary road from them? "And now," saith Paul, "I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there; save that the Holy Ghost testifieth unto me in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me." (Acts xx: 22.) And why then dost thou set out, if bonds and afflictions abide thee? For this very reason, saith he, that I may be bound for Christ's sake, that I may die for His sake. "For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts xxi: 13.)
Moral. Nothing can be more blessed than that soul. In what does he glory? In bonds, in afflictions, in chains, in scars; "I bear branded on my body," saith he, "the marks of Jesus," (Gal. vi: 17.) as though they were some great trophy. And again, "For because of the hope of Israel," saith he, "I am bound with this chain." (Acts xxviii: 20.) And again, "For which I am an ambassador in chains." (Eph. vi: 20.) What is this? Art thou not ashamed, art thou not afraid going about the world as a prisoner? Dost thou not fear lest any one should charge thy God with weakness? lest any one should on this account refuse to come near thee and to join the fold? No, saith he, not such are my bonds. They can shine brightly even in kings' palaces. "So that my bonds," saith he, "became manifest in Christ, throughout the whole praetorian guard: and most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear." (Phil. i: 13, 14.) Behold yea force in bonds stronger than the raising of the dead. They beheld me bound, and they are the more courageous. For where bonds are, there of necessity is something great also. Where affliction is, there verily is salvation also, there verily is solace, there verily are great achievements. For when the devil kicks, then is he, doubtless, hit. When he binds God's servants, then most of all does the word gain ground. And mark how this is every where the case. Paul was imprisoned; and in the prison he did these things, yea, saith he, by my very bonds themselves. He was imprisoned at Rome, and brought the more converts to the faith; for not only was he himself emboldened, but many others also because of him. He was imprisoned at Jerusalem, and preaching in his bonds he struck the king with amazement, (Acts xxvi: 28.) and made the governor tremble. (Acts xxiv: 25.) For being afraid, it is related, he let him go, and he that had bound him was not ashamed to receive instruction concerning the things to come at the hands of him whom he sad bound. In bonds he sailed, and retrieved the wreck, and bound fast the tempest. It was when he was in bonds that the monster fastened on him, and fell off from his hand, having done him no hurt. He was bound at Rome, and preaching in bonds drew thousands to his cause, holding forward, in the place of every other, this very argument, I mean his chain.
It is not however our lot to be bound now-a-days. And yet there is another chain if we have a mind to wear it. And what is it? It is to restrain our hand, to be not so forward to covetousness. With this chain let us bind ourselves. Let the fear of God be unto us instead of a bond of iron. Let us loose them that are bound by poverty, by affliction. There is no comparison between opening the doors of a prison, and releasing an enthralled soul. There is no comparison between loosing the bonds of prisoners and "setting at liberty them that are bruised;" (Luke iv: 18.) this last is far greater than the other; for the other there is no reward in store, for this last there are ten thousand rewards.
Paul's chain has proved a long one, and has detained us a length of time. Yea, long indeed it is, and more beautiful than any cord of gold. A chain this, which draws them that are bound by it, as it were by a kind of invisible machinery, to Heaven, and, like a golden cord let down, draws them up to the Heaven of heavens. And the wonderful thing is this, that, bound, as it is, below, it draws its captives upwards: and indeed this is not the nature of the things themselves. But where God orders and disposes, look not for the nature of things, nor for natural sentence, but for things above nature and natural sequence.
Let us learn not to sink under affliction, nor to repine; for look at this blessed saint. He had been scourged, and sorely scourged, for it is said, "When they had laid many stripes upon them." He had been bound too, and that again sorely, for the jailor cast him into the inner ward, and with extraordinary security. And though he was in so many perils, at midnight, when even the most wakeful are asleep with sleep, another and a stronger bond upon them, they chanted and sang praise unto the Lord. What can be more adamantine than these souls? They bethought them how that the holy Children sang even in fire and furnace. (Dan. iii: 1-30.) Perhaps they thus reasoned with themselves, "we have as yet suffered nothing like that."
But our discourse has done well, in that it has thus brought us out again to other bonds, and into another prison. What am I to do? I would fain be silent, but am not able. I have discovered another prison, far more wonderful and more astonishing than the former. But, come now, rouse yourselves, as though I were just commencing my discourse, and attend to me with your minds fresh. I would fain break off the discourse, but it will not suffer me; for just as a man in the midst of drinking cannot bear to break off his draught, whatever any one may promise him; so I too, now I have laid hold of this glorious cup of the prison of them that were bound for Christ's sake, I cannot leave off, I cannot hold my peace. For if Paul in the prison, and in the night, kept not silence, no, nor under the scourge; shall I, who am sitting here by daylight, and speaking so much at my ease, shall I hold my peace, when men in bonds, and under the scourge, and at midnight could not endure to do so? The holy Children were not silent, no, not in the furnace and in the fire, and are not we ashamed to hold our peace? Let us look then at this prison also. Here too, they were bound, but at once and from the very outset it was evident that they were not about to be burned, but only to enter as into a prison. For why do ye bind men who are about to be committed to the flames? They were bound, as Paul was, hand and foot. They were bound with as great violence as he was. For the jailor thrust him into the inner prison; and the king commanded the furnace to be intensely heated. And now let us see the issue. When Paul and Silas sang, the prison was shaken, and the doors were opened. When the three Children sang, the bonds both of their feet and hands were loosed. The prison was opened, and the doors of the furnace were opened: for a dewy breeze whistled through it.
But many thoughts crowd around me. I know not which to utter first, and which second. Wherefore, let no one, I entreat, require order of me, for the subjects are closely allied.
They who were bound together with Paul and Silas were loosed, and yet nevertheless they slept. In the case of the three Children, instead of that, something else took place. The men who had cast them in, were themselves burned to death. And then, as I was fain to tell you, the king beheld them loose, and fell down before them: he heard them singing their song of praise, and beheld four walking, and he called them. As Paul, though able to do so, came not forth, until he who had cast him in, called him, and brought him forth: so neither did the three Children come forth, until he who had cast them in commanded them to come forth. What lesson are we taught from this? Not to be over hasty in courting persecution, nor when in tribulation to be over eager for deliverance, and on the other hand when they release us not to continue in it. Further, the jailor, inasmuch as he was able to enter in where the saints were, fell down at their feet. The king came but to the door and fell down. He dared not approach into the prison which he had prepared for them in the fire. And now mark their words. The one cried, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts xvi: 30.) The other, though not indeed with so great humility, yet uttered a voice no less sweet, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither." (Dan. iii: 26.) Mighty dignity! "Ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither." How are they to come forth, O king? Thou didst cast them into the fire bound; they have continued this long time in the fire. Why, had they been made of adamant, had they been blocks of metal, in singing that entire hymn, must they not have perished? On this account then they were saved, because they sang praises to God. The fire reverenced their readiness to suffer and afterwards it reverenced that wonderful song, and their hymns of praise. By what title dost thou call them? I said before, "Ye servants of the most high God." Yes, to the servants of God, all things are possible; for if some, who are the servants of men, have, nevertheless, power, and authority, and the disposal of their concerns, much more have the servants of God. He called them by the name most delightful to them, he knew that by this means he flattered them most: for indeed, if it was in order to continue servants of God, that they entered into the fire, there could be no sound more delightful to them than this. Had he called them kings, had he called them lords of the world, yet would he not so truly have rejoiced them as when he said, "Ye servants of the most high God." And why marvel at this? when, in writing to the mighty city, to her who was mistress of the world, and prided herself upon her high dignities, Paul set down as equivalent in dignity, nay, as far greater, yea incomparably greater than consulship, or kingly name, or than the empire of the world, this title, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ." (Ro. i: 1.) "Ye servants of the most high God." "Yes," he would say, "if they show so great zeal as to be bond- servants, doubtless this is the title by which we shall conciliate them.
Again, observe also the piety of the Children: they showed no indignation, no anger, no gain-saying, but they came forth. Had they regarded it as an act of vengeance that they had been thrown into the furnace, they would have been grieved against the man who had cast them in; as it is, there is nothing of the kind; but, as though they were going forth from Heaven itself, so went they forth. And what the Prophet says of the Sun, that "He is as a bridegroom coming forth out of his chamber," (Ps. xix: 5.) one would not go amiss in saying also of them. But though he goes forth thus, yet came they forth there more gloriously than he, for he indeed comes forth to enlighten the world with natural light, they to enlighten the world in a different way, I mean, spiritually. For because of them the king straightway issued a decree, containing these words, "It hath seemed good unto me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God hath wrought toward me. How great are His signs! And how mighty are His wonders!" (Dan. iv: 2,3.) So that they went forth, shedding a yet more glorious radiance, beaming indeed in that region itself, but, what is more than all, capable, by means of the king's writings, of being diffused over the world and thus of dispelling the darkness which every where prevails. "Come forth," said he, "and come hither." He gave no commandment to extinguish the flame, but hereby most especially honored them, by believing that they were able not only to walk within it, but even to come out of it while it was still burning.
But let us look again, if it seem good to you, at the words of the jailor, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" What language sweeter than this? This makes the very Angels leap for joy. To hear this language, even the Only-begotten Son of God Himself became a servant. This language they who believed at the beginning addressed to Peter. (Acts ii: 37.) "What shall we do?" And what said he in answer? "Repent and be baptized." To have heard this language from the Jews, gladly would Paul have been cast even in to hell, in his eagerness for their salvation and obedience. But observe, he commits the whole matter to them, he wastes no unnecessary pains. Let us however look at the next point. The king here does not say, What must I do to be saved? but the teaching is plainer in his case than any language whatever; for he straightway becomes a preacher, he needs not to be instructed like the jailor. He proclaims God, and makes confession of His power. "Of a truth your God is the God of Gods and the Lord of Kings, because He hath sent His Angel, and hath delivered you." (Dan. ii: 47; iii: 28.) And what was the sequel? Not one single jailor, but numbers are instructed by the king's writings, by the sight of the facts. For that the king would not have told a falsehood is evident enough to every one, because he never would have chosen to bear such testimony to captives, nor to overthrow his own acts; he never would have chosen to incur the imputation of such utter madness: so that had not the truth been abundantly manifest, he would not have written in such terms, and with so many persons present.
Perceive ye how great is the power of bonds? How great the force of those praises that are sung in tribulation? Their heart failed not, they were not cast down, but were then yet more vigorous, and their courage then yet greater and justly so.
While we are considering these things one question yet remains for us: Why was it that in the prison on the one hand, the prisoners were loosed, whilst in the furnace the executioners were burnt to death: for that indeed should have been the king's fate, because neither were they who bound them, nor they who cast them into the furnace, guilty of so great sin as the man who commanded this should be done. Why then did they perish? On this point there is not any very great need of minute examination; for they were wicked men. And therefore this was providentially ordered, that the power of the fire might be shown, and the miracle might be made more signal; for
if it thus devoured them that were without, how did it show them unscathed that were within it? it was that the power of God might be made manifest. And let no one wonder that I have put the king on a level with the jailor, for he did the same thing; the one was in no wise more noble than the other, and they both had their reward.
But, as I said, the righteous, when they are in tribulations, are then especially more energetic, and when they are in bonds: for to suffer any thing for Christ's sake is the sweetest of all consolation.
Will ye that I remind you of yet another prison? It seems necessary to go on from this chain to another prison still. And which will ye? Shall it be that of Jeremiah, or of Joseph, or of John? Thanks to Paul's chain; how many prisons has it opened to our discourse? Will ye have that of John? He also was once bound for Christ's sake, and for the law of God. What then? Was he idle when he was in prison? Was it not from thence he sent, by his disciples, and said, "Art Thou He that cometh, or look we for another? "(Matt. xi: 2, 3.) Even when there, then, it seems he taught, for surely he did not disregard his duty. But again, did not Jeremiah prophesy concerning the king of Babylon, and fulfil his work even there in prison? And what of Joseph? Was he not in prison thirteen years? What then? Not even there did he forget his virtue. I have yet to mention the bonds of one and therewith will close my discourse. Our Master Himself was bound, He who loosed the world from sins. Those hands were bound, those hands that wrought ten thousand good deeds. For, "they bound Him," it saith, "and led Him away to Caiaphas;" (Matt. xxvii: 2; John. xviii: 24.) yes, He was bound who had wrought so many marvellous works.
Reflecting on these things, let us never repine; but whether we be in bonds, let us rejoice; or whether we be not in bonds, let us be as though we were bound together with Him. See how great a blessing are bonds! Knowing all these things, let us send up our thanksgiving for all things to God, through Christ Jesus our Lord with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory might and honor, now and forever and ever. Amen.
"I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you, to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Great has the power of Paul's chain been shown to be, and more glorious than miracles. It is not in vain then, as it should seem, nor without an object, that he here holds it forward, but as the means of all others most
likely to touch them. And what saith he? "I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you, to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called." And how is that? "with all lowliness and meekness, with long- suffering, forbearing one another in love."
It is not the being merely a prisoner that is honorable, but the being so for Christ's sake. Hence he saith, "in the Lord," i.e., the prisoner for Christ's sake. Nothing is equal to this. But now the chain is dragging me away still more from my subject, and pulling me back again, and I cannot bear to resist it, but am drawn along willingly,—yea, rather, with all my heart; and would that it were always my lot to be descanting on Paul's chain.
But now do not become drowsy: for I am yet desirous to solve that other question, which many raise, when they say, Why, if tribulation be a glory, how came Paul himself to say in his defence to Agrippa, "I would to God that whether with little or with much not thou only, but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am, except these bonds?" (Acts xxvi: 29.) He said not this, God forbid! as deeming the thing a matter to be deprecated; no; for had it been such, he would not have gloried in bonds, in imprisonments, in those other tribulations; and when writing elsewhere he saith, "Most gladly will I rather glory in my weaknesses." (2 Cor. xii: 9.) But what is the case? This was itself a proof how great a thing he considered those bonds; for as in writing to the Corinthians he said, "I fed you with milk, not with meat, for ye were not yet able to bear it;" (1 Cor. iii: 2.) so also here. They before whom he spoke were not able to hear of the beauty, nor the comeliness, nor the blessing of those bonds. Hence it was he added, "except these bonds." To the Hebrews however he spoke not thus, but exhorted them to "be bound with" (Heb. xiii: 3.) them that were in bonds. And hence too did he himself rejoice in his bonds, and was bound, and was led with the prisoners into the inner prison. Mighty is the power of Paul's chain! A spectacle this, which may suffice for every other, to behold Paul bound, and led forth from his prison; to behold him bound, and sitting within it, what pleasure can come up to this? What would I not give for such a sight? Do ye see the emperors, the consuls, borne along in their chariots and arrayed in gold, and their body-guard with every thing about them of gold? Their halberds of gold, their shields of gold, their raiment of gold, their horses with trappings of gold? How much more delightful than such a spectacle is his! I would rather see Paul once, going forth with the prisoners from his prison, than behold these ten thousand times over, parading along with all that retinue. When he was thus led forth, how many Angels, suppose ye, led the way before him? And to show that I speak no fiction, I will make the fact manifest to you from a certain ancient narrative.
Elisha the prophet, (perhaps ye know the man,) at the time (2 Kings vi: 8-12.) when the king of Syria was at war with the king of Israel, sitting at his own home, brought to light all the counsels which the king of Syria was taking in his chamber with them that were privy to his designs, and rendered the king's counsels of none effect, by telling beforehand his secrets, and not suffering the king of Israel to fall into the snares which he was laying. This sorely troubled the king; he was disheartened, and was reduced to greater perplexity, not knowing how to discover him who was disclosing all that passed, and plotting against him, and disappointing his schemes. Whilst therefore he was in this perplexity, and enquiring into the cause, one of his armor. bearers told him, that there was a certain prophet, one Elisha, dwelling in Samaria, who suffered not the king's designs to stand, but disclosed all that passed. The king imagined that he had discovered the whole matter. Sure, never was any one more miserably misled than he. When he ought to have honored the man, to have reverenced him, to have been awed that he really possessed so great power, as that, seated, as he was, so many furlongs off, he should know all that passed in the king's chamber, without any one at all to tell him; this indeed he did not, but being exasperated, and wholly carried away by his passion, he equips horsemen, .and soldiers, and dispatches them to bring the prophet before him.
Now Elisha had a disciple as yet only on the threshold of prophecy, (2 Kings vi: 13ff.) as yet far from being judged worthy of revelations of this kind. The king's soldiers arrived at the spot, as intending to bind the man, or rather the prophet.—Again I am falling upon bonds, so entirely is this discourse interwoven with them.—And when the disciple saw the host of soldiers, he was affrighted, and ran full of trembling to his master, and told him the calamity, as he thought, and informed him of the inevitable peril. The prophet smiled at him for fearing things not worthy to be feared, and bade him be of good cheer. The disciple, however, being as yet imperfect, did not listen to him, but being still amazed at the sight, remained in fear. Upon this, what did the prophet do? "Lord," said he, "open the eyes of this young man, and let him see that they which are with us, are more than they which are with them;" (2 Kings vi: 16, 17.) and immediately he beheld the whole mountain, where the prophet then dwelt, filled with so great a multitude of horses and chariots of fire. Now these were nothing else than ranks of Angels. But if only for an occasion like this so great a band of Angels attended Elisha what must Paul have had? This is what the prophet David tells us. "The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him." (Ps. xxxiv: 7.) And again; "They shall bear thee up in their hands, test thou dash thy foot against a stone." (Ps. xci: 2.) And why do I speak of Angels? The Lord Himself was with him then as he went forth; for surely it cannot be that He was seen by Abraham, and yet was not with Paul. No, it was His own promise, "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (Matt. xxviii: 20.) And again, when He appeared to him, He said, "Be not afraid, but speak, for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to harm thee." (Acts xviii: 9, 10.) Again, He stood by him in a dream, and said, "Be of good cheer, for as thou hast testified concerning me at Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." (Acts xxiii: II.)
The saints, though they are at all times a glorious sight, and are full of abundant grace, yet are so, most of all, when they are in perils for Christ's sake, when they are prisoners; for as a brave soldier is at all times and of himself a pleasing spectacle to them that behold him, but most of all when he is standing, and in ranks at the king's side; thus also imagine to yourselves Paul, how great a thing it was to see him teaching in his bonds.
Shall I mention, in passing, a thought, which just at this moment occurs to me? The blessed martyr Babylas was bound, and he too for the very same cause as John also was, because he reproved a king in his transgression. This man when he was dying gave charge that his bonds should be laid with his body, and that the body should be buried bound; and to this day the fetters lie mingled with his ashes, so devoted was his affection for the bonds he had worn for Christ's sake. "He was laid in chains of iron" as the Prophet saith of Joseph. (Ps. cv: 18.) And even women have before now had trial of these bonds.
We however are not in bonds, nor am I recommending this, since now is not the time for them. But thou, bind not thine hands, but bind thy heart and mind. There are yet other bonds, and they that wear not the one, shall have to wear the other. Hear what Christ saith, "Bind him hand and foot." (Matt. xxii: 13.) But God forbid we should have trial of those bonds! but of these may He grant us even to take our fill!
On these accounts he saith, "I, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called." But what is this calling? Ye were called as His body, it is said. Ye have Christ as your head; and though you were "enemies," and had commit-the misdeeds out of number, yet "hath He raised you up with Him and made you to sit with Him." (Eph. ii: 6.) A high calling this, and to high privileges, not only in that we have been called from that former state, but in that we are called both to such privileges, and by such a method.
But how is it possible to "walk worthily" of it? "With all lowliness." Such an one walks worthily. This is the basis of all virtue. If thou be lowly, and bethink thee what thou art, and how thou wast saved, thou wilt take this recollection as a motive to all virtue. Thou wilt neither be elated with bonds, nor with those very privileges which I mentioned, but as knowing that all is of grace, thou wilt humble thyself. The lowly-minded man is able to be at once a generous and a grateful servant. "For what hast thou," saith he that thou didst not receive?" (1 Cor. iv: 7.) And again, hear his words, "I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Cor. xv: 10.)
"With all lowliness," saith he; not that which is in words, nor that which is in actions only, but even in one's very bearing and tone of voice: not lowly towards one, and rude towards another; be lowly towards all men, be he friend or foe, be he great or small. This is lowliness. Even in thy good deeds be lowly; for hear what Christ saith, "Blessed are the poor in spirit;" (Matt. v: 3.) and He places this first in order. Wherefore also the Apostle himself saith, "With all lowliness, and meekness, and long- suffering." For it is possible for a man to be lowly, and yet quick and irritable, and thus all is to no purpose; for oftentimes he will be possessed by his anger, and ruin all.
"Forbearing," he proceeds, "one another in love."
How is it possible to forbear, if a man be passionate or censorious? He hath told us therefore the manner: "in love," saith he. If thou, he would say, art not forbearing to thy neighbor, how shall God be forbearing to thee? If thou bearest not with thy fellow-servant, how shall the Master bear with thee? Wherever there is love, all things are to be borne.
"Giving diligence," saith he, "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Bind therefore thy hands with moderation. Again that goodly name of "bond." We had dismissed it, and it has of itself come back on us again. A goodly bond was that, and goodly is this one also, and that other is the fruit of this. Bind thyself to thy brother. They bear all things lightly who are bound together in love. Bind thyself to him and him to thee; thou art lord of both, for whomsoever I may be desirous to make my friend, I can by means of kindliness accomplish it.
"Giving diligence," he says; a thing not to be done easily, and not in every one's power. "Giving diligence," he proceeds, "to keep the unity of the Spirit." What is this "unity of Spirit?" In the human body there is a spirit which holds all together, though in different members. So is it also here; for to this end was the Spirit given, that He might unite those who are separated by race and by different manners; for old and young, rich and poor, child and youth, woman and man, and every soul become in a manner one, and more entirely so than if there were one body. For this spiritual relation is far higher than the other natural one, and the perfectness of the union more entire; because the conjunction of the soul is more perfect, inasmuch as it is both simple and uniform And how then is this unity preserved? "In the bond of peace." It is not possible for this to exist in enmity and discord. "For whereas there is," saith he, "among you jealousy and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk after the manner of men?" (1 Cor. iii: 3.) For as fire when it finds dry pieces of wood works up all together into one blazing pile, but when wet does not act at all nor unite them; so also it is here. Nothing that is of a cold nature can bring about this union, whereas any warm one for the most part can. Hence at least it is that the glow of charity is produced; by the" bond of peace," he is desirous to bind us all together. For just in the same way, he would say,
as if thou wouldest attach thyself to another, thou canst do it in no other way except by attaching him to thyself; and if thou shouldest wish to make the tie double, he must needs in turn attach himself to thee; so also here he would have us tied one to another; not simply that we be at peace, not simply that we love one another, but that all should be only even one soul. A glorious bond is this; with this bond let us bind ourselves together with one another and unto God. This is a bond that bruises not, nor cramps the hands it binds, but it leaves them free, and gives them ample play, and greater courage than those which are at liberty. The strong if he be bound to the weak, will support him, and not suffer him to perish: and if again he be tied to the indolent, him he will rather rouse and animate. "Brother helped by brother," it is said, "is as a strong city." This chain no distance of place can interrupt, neither heaven, nor earth, nor death, nor any thing else, but it is more powerful and strong than all things. This, though it issue from but one soul, is able to embrace numbers at once; for hear what Paul saith, "Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own affections; be ye also enlarged." (2 Cor. vi: 12.)
Now then, what impairs this bond? Love of money, passion for power, for glory, and the like, loosens them, and severs them asunder. How then are we to see that they be not cut asunder? If these tempers be got rid of, and none of those things which destroy charity come in by the way to trouble us. For hear what Christ saith, (Matt. xxiv: 12.) "Because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold." Nothing is so opposed to love as sin, and I mean not love towards God, but that towards our neighbor also. But how then, it may be said, are even robbers at peace? When are they, tell me? Not when they are acting in a spirit which is that of robbers; for if they fail to observe the rules of justice amongst those with whom they divide the spoil, and to render to every one his right, you will find them too in wars and broils. So that neither amongst the wicked is it possible to find peace: but where men are living in righteousness and virtue, you may find it every where. But again, are rivals ever at peace? Never. And whom then would ye have me mention? The covetous man can never possibly be at peace with the covetous. So that were there not just and good persons, even though wronged by them, to stand between them, the whole race of them would be torn to pieces. When two wild beasts are famished, if there be not something put between them to consume, they will devour one another. The same would be the case with the covetous and the vicious. So that it is not possible there should be peace where virtue is not already put in practice beforehand. Let us form, if you please, a city entirely of covetous men, give them equal privileges, and let no one bear to be wronged, but let all wrong one another. Can that city possibly hold together? It is impossible. Again, is there peace amongst adulterers? No, not any two will you find of the same mind.
So then, to return, there is no other reason for this, than that "love hath waxed cold;" and the cause again why love hath waxed cold, is that "iniquity abounds." For this leads to selfishness, and divides and severs the body, and relaxes it and rends it to pieces. But where virtue is, it does the reverse. Because the man that is virtuous is also above money; so that were there ten thousand such in poverty they would still be peaceable; whilst the covetous, where there are but two, can never be at peace. Thus then if we are virtuous, love will not perish, for virtue springs from love, and love from virtue. And how this is, I will tell you. The virtuous man does not value money above friendship, nor does he remember injuries, nor does wrong to his neighbor; he is not insolent, he endures all things nobly. Of these things love consists. Again, he who loves submits to all these things, and thus do they reciprocally produce one another. And this indeed, that love springs from virtue, appears from hence, because our Lord when He saith, "because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold," plainly tells us this. And that virtue springs from love, Paul tells us, saying, "He that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law." (Rom. xiii: 10.) So then a man must be one of the two, either very affectionate and much beloved, or else very virtuous; for he who has the one, of necessity possesses the other; and, on the contrary, he who knows not how to love, will therefore commit many evil actions; and he who commits evil actions, knows not what it is to love.
MORAL. Let us therefore follow after charity; it is a safeguard which will not allow us to suffer any evil. Let us bind ourselves together. Let there be no deceit amongst us, no hollowness. For where friendship is, there nothing of the sort is found. This too another certain wise man tells us. "Though thou drewest a sword at thy friend, yet despair not: for there may be a returning again to favor. If thou hast opened thy mouth against thy friend, fear not; for there may be a reconciliation: except for upbraiding, or disclosing of secrets, or a treacherous wound: for for these things a friend will depart." (Ecclus. xxii: 21, 22.) For "disclosing," saith he, "of secrets." Now if we be all friends, there is no need of secrets; for as no man has any secret with himself and cannot conceal anything from himself, so neither will he from his friends. Where then no secrets exist, separation arising from this is impossible. For no other reason have we secrets, than because we have not confidence in all men. So then it is the waxing cold of love, which has produced secrets. For what secret hast thou? Dost thou desire to wrong thy neighbor? Or, art thou hindering him from sharing some benefit, and on this account concealest it? But, no, perhaps it is none of these things. What then, is it that thou art ashamed? If so, then this is a token of want of confidence. Now then if there be love, there will be no "revealing of secrets," neither any "upbraiding." For who, tell me, would ever upbraid his own soul? And suppose even such a thing were done, it would be for some good; for we upbraid children, we know, when we desire to make them feel. And so Christ too on that occasion began to upbraid the cities, saying, "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida!" (Luke x: 13.) in order that He might deliver them from upbraidings. For nothing has such power to lay hold of the mind, or can more strongly arouse it, or brace it up when relaxed. Let us then never use upbraiding to one another merely for the sake of upbraiding. For what? Wilt thou upbraid thy friend on the score of money? Surely not, if at least thou possessest what thou hast in common. Wilt thou then for his faults? No nor this, but thou wilt rather in that case correct him. Or, as it goes on, "for a treacherous wound;" who in the world will kill himself, or who wound himself? No one.
Let us then "follow after love;" he saith not simply let us love; but let us "follow after love." (1 Cor. xiv: 1.) There is need of much eagerness: she is soon out of sight, she is most rapid in her flight; so many things are there in life which injure her. If we follow her, she will not outstrip us and get away, but we shall speedily recover her. The love of God is that which united earth to Heaven. It was the love of God that seated man upon the kingly throne. It was the love of God that manifested God upon earth. It was the love of God that made the Lord a servant. It was the love of God that caused the Beloved to be delivered up for His enemies, the Son for them that hated Him, the Lord for His servants, God for men, the free. for slaves. Nor did it stop here, but called us to yet greater things. Yes, not only did it release us from our former evils, but promised, moreover, to bestow upon us other much greater blessings. For these things then let us give thanks to God, and follow after every virtue; and before all things, let us with all strictness practice love, that we may be counted worthy to attain the promised blessings; through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, and honor, now and for ever and ever. Amen.
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling."
When the blessed Paul exhorts us to anything of special importance, so truly wise and spiritual as he is, he grounds his exhortation upon things in Heaven: this itself being a lesson he had learned from the Lord. Thus he saith also elsewhere, "Walk in love, even as Christ also hath loved us." (ch. v. 2.) And again, "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God." (Phil. ii. 5, 6.) This is what he is doing here also, for whenever the examples he is setting before us are great, he is intense in his zeal and feeling. What then does he say, now he is inciting us to unity? "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling:"
Ver. 5. "One Lord, one faith, one baptism."
Now what is this one body? The faithful throughout the whole world, both which are, and which have been, and which shall be. And again, they that before Christ's coming pleased God, are "one body." How so? Because they also knew Christ. Whence does this appear? "Your father Abraham," saith He, "rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad." (John viii. 56.) And again, "If ye had believed Moses," He saith, "ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me." (John v. 46.) And the prophets too would not have written of One, of whom they knew not what they said; whereas they both knew Him, and worshiped Him. Thus then were they also "one body."
The body is not disjoined from the spirit, for then would it not be a body. Thus it is customary also with us, touching things which are united, and which have any great consistency or coherence, to say, they are one body. And thus again, touching union, we take that to be a body which is under one head. If there be one head, then is there one body. The body is composed of members both honorable and dishonorable. Only the greater is not to rise up even against the meanest, nor this latter to envy the other. They do not all indeed contribute the same share, but severally according to the proportion of need. And forasmuch as all are formed for necessary and for different purposes, all are of equal honor. Some indeed there are, which are more especially principal members, others less so: for example, the head is more a principal member than all the rest of the body, as containing within itself all the senses, and the governing principle of the soul. And to live without the head is impossible; whereas many persons have lived for a long time with their feet cut off. So that it is better than they, not only by its position, but also by its very vital energy and its function.
Now why am I saying this? There are great numbers in the Church; there are those who, like the head, are raised up to a height; who, like the eyes that are in the head, survey heavenly things, who stand far aloof from the earth, and have nothing in common with it, whilst others occupy the rank of feet, and tread upon the earth; of healthy, feet indeed, for to tread upon the earth is no crime in feet, but to run to evil. "Their feet," saith the Prophet, "run to evil." (Isa. lix. 7.) Neither then let these, the head, saith he, be high-minded against the feet, nor the feet look with evil eye at them. For thus the peculiar beauty of each is destroyed, and the perfectness of its function impeded. And naturally enough; inasmuch as he who lays snares for his neighbor will be laying snares first of all for himself. And should the feet therefore not choose to convey the head anywhere upon its necessary journey, they will at the same time be injuring themselves by their inactivity and sloth. Or again, should the head not choose to take any care of the feet, itself will be the first to sustain the damage. However, those members do not rise up one against the other; it is not likely, for it has been so ordered by nature that they should not. But with man, how is it possible for him not to rise up against man? No one, we know, ever rises up against Angels; since neither do they rise against the Archangels. Nor, on the other hand, can the irrational creatures proudly exalt themselves over us; but where the nature is equal in dignity, and the gift one, and where one has no more than another, how shall this be prevented?
And yet surely these are the very reasons why thou oughtest not to rise up against thy neighbors. For if all things are common, and one has nothing more than another, whence this mad folly? We partake of the same nature, partake alike of soul and body, we breathe the same air, we use the same food. Whence this rebellious rising of one against another? And yet truly the being able by one's virtue to overcome the incorporeal powers, that were enough to lead to arrogance; or rather arrogance it would not be, for with good reason am I high-minded, and exceedingly high-minded against the evil spirit. And behold even Paul, how high-minded he was against that evil spirit. For when the evil spirit was speaking great and marvelous things concerning him, he made him hold his peace, and endured him not even in his flattery. For when that damsel, "who had the spirit of divination," cried, saying, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation" (Acts xvi. 16, 17), he rebuked him severely, and silenced his forward tongue. And again he elsewhere writes, and says, "God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." (Rom. xvi. 20.) Will the difference of nature have any effect? Perceivest thou not that the difference between natures has no effect whatever, but only the difference of purpose? Because of their principle therefore they are far worse than all. Well, a man may say, but I am not rising up against an Angel, because there is so vast a distance between my nature and his. And yet surely thou oughtest no more to rise up against a mar than against an Angel, for the Angel indeed differs from thee in nature, a matter which can be neither an honor to him, nor a disgrace to thee: whereas man differs from man not at all in nature, but in principle; and there is such a thing as an Angel too even amongst men. So that if thou rise not up against Angels, much more shouldest thou not against men, against those who have become angels in this our nature; for should any one among men become as virtuous as an Angel, that man is in a far higher degree superior to thee, than an Angel is. And why so? Because what the one possesses by nature, the other has achieved of his own purpose. And again, because the Angel has his home far from thee in distance also, and dwelleth in Heaven; whereas this man is living with thee, and giving an impulse to thy emulation. And indeed he lives farther apart from thee than the Angel. For "our citizenship," saith the Apostle, "is in Heaven." (Phil. iii. 20.) And to show thee that this man hath his home still farther distant, hear where his Head is seated; upon the throne, saith he, the royal throne! And the farther distant that throne is from us, the farther is he also.
Well, but I see him, thou wilt say, in the enjoyment of honor, and I am led to jealousy. Why, this is the very thing which has turned all things upside down, which has filled not the world only, but the Church also, with countless troubles. And just as fierce blasts setting in across a calm harbor, render it more dangerous than any rock, or than any strait whatever; so the lust of glory entering in, overturns and confounds everything.
Ye have oftentimes been present at the burning of large houses. Ye have seen how the smoke keeps rising up to Heaven; and if no one comes near to put a stop to the mischief, but every one keeps looking to himself, the flame spreads freely on, and devours everything. And oftentimes the whole city will stand around; they will stand round indeed as spectators of the evil, not to aid nor assist. And there you may see them one and all standing round, and doing nothing but each individual stretching out his hand, and pointing out to some one who may be just come to the spot, either a flaming brand that moment flying through a window, or beams hurled down, or the whole circuit of the walls forced out, and tumbling violently to the ground. Many too there are of the more daring and venturesome, who will have the hardihood even to come close to the very buildings themselves whilst they are burning, not in order to stretch forth a hand towards them, and to put a stop to the mischief, but that they may the more fully enjoy the sight, being able from the nearer place to observe closely all that
which often escapes those at a distance. Then if the house happen to be large and magnificent, it appears to them a pitiable spectacle, and deserving of many tears. And truly there is a pitiable spectacle for us to behold; capitals of columns crumbled to dust, and many columns themselves shattered to pieces, some consumed by the fire, others thrown down often by the very hands which erected them, that they may not add fuel to the flame. Statues again, which stood with so much gracefulness, with the ceiling resting on them, these you may see all exposed, with the roof torn off, and themselves standing hideously disfigured in the open air. And why should one go on to describe the wealth stored up within? the tissues of gold, and the vessels of silver? And where the lord of the house and his consort scarcely entered, where was the treasure house of tissues and perfumes, and the caskets of the costly jewels,—all has become one blazing fire, and within now, are bath-men and street-cleaners, and runaway slaves, and everybody; and everything within is one mass of fire and water, of mud, and dust, and half-burnt beams!
Now why have I drawn out so full a picture as this? Not simply because I wish to represent to you the conflagration of a house, (for what concern is that of mine?) but because I wish to set before your eyes, as vividly as I can, the calamities of the Church. For like a conflagration indeed, or like a thunderbolt hurled from on high, have they lighted upon the roof of the Church, and yet they rouse up no one; but whilst our Father's house is burning, we are sleeping, as it were, a deep and stupid sleep. And yet who is there whom this fire does not touch? Which of the statues that stand in the Church? for the Church is nothing else than a house built of the souls of us men. Now this house is not of equal honor throughout, but of the stones which contribute to it, some are bright and shining, whilst others are smaller and more dull than they, and yet superior again to others. There we may see many who are in the place of gold also, the gold which adorns the ceiling. Others again we may see, who give the beauty and gracefulness produced by statues. Many we may see, standing like pillars. For he is accustomed to call men also "pillars" (Gal. ii. 9), not only on account of their strength but also on account of their beauty, adding as they do, much grace, and having their heads overlaid with gold. We may see a multitude, forming generally the wide middle space and the whole extent of the circumference; for the body at large occupies the place of those stones of which the outer walls are built. Or rather we must go on to a more splendid picture yet. This Church, of which I speak, is not built of these stones, such as we see around us, but of gold and silver, and of precious stones, and there is abundance of gold dispersed everywhere throughout it. But, oh the bitter tears this calls forth! For all these things hath the lawless rule of vainglory consumed; that all-devouring flame, which no one has yet got under. And we stand gazing in amazement at the flames, but no longer able to quench the evil: or if we do quench it for a short time, yet after two or three days as a spark blown up from a heap of ashes overturns all, and consumes no less than it did before, so it is here also: for this is just what is wont to happen in such a conflagration. And as to the cause, it has devoured the supports of the very pillars of the Church; those of us who supported the roof, and who formerly held the whole building together it has enveloped in the flame. Hence too was a ready communication to the rest of the outer walls: for so also in the case of buildings, when the fire lays hold of the timbers, it is better armed for its attack upon the stones; but when it has brought down the pillars and leveled them with the ground, nothing more is wanted to consume all the rest in the flames. For when the props and supports of
the upper parts fall down, those parts also themselves will speedily enough follow them. Thus is it also at this moment with the Church: the fire has laid hold on every part. We seek the honors that come from man, we burn for glory, and we hearken not to Job when he saith,
"If like Adam (or after the manner of men) I covered my transgressions By hiding mine iniquity in my bosom, Because I feared the great multitude."
Behold ye a virtuous spirit? I was not ashamed, he saith, to own before the whole multitude my involuntary sins: And if he was not ashamed to confess, much more were it our duty to do so. For saith the prophet, "Set thou forth thy cause, that thou mayest be justified." (Isa. xliii. 26.) Great is the violence of this evil, everything is overturned by it and annihilated. We have forsaken the Lord, and are become slaves of honor. We are no longer able to rebuke those who are under our rule, because we ourselves also are possessed with the same fever as they. We who are appointed by God to heal others, need the physician ourselves. What further hope of recovery is there left, when even the very physicians themselves need the healing hand of others?
I have not said these things without an object, nor am I making lamentations to no purpose, but with the view that one and all, with our women and children, having sprinkled ourselves with ashes, and girded ourselves about with sackcloth, may keep a long fast, may beseech God Himself to stretch forth His hand to us, and to stay the peril. For need is there indeed of His hand, that mighty, that marvelous hand. Greater things are required of us than of the Ninevites. "Yet three days," said the prophet, "and Nineveh shall be overthrown." (Jonah iii. 4.) A fearful message, and burdened with tremendous threat. And how should it be otherwise? to expect that within three days, the city should become their tomb, and that all should perish in one common judgment. For if, when it happens that two children die at the same time in one house, the hardship becomes intolerable, and if to Job this of all things seemed the most intolerable, that the roof fell in upon all his children, and they were thus killed; what must it be to behold not one house, nor two children, but a nation of a hundred and twenty thousand buried beneath the ruins!
Ye know how terrible a disaster is this, for lately has this very warning happened to us, not that any prophet uttered a voice, for we are not worthy to hear such a voice, but the warning crying aloud from on high more distinctly than any trumpet. However, as I was saying, "Yet three days," said the prophet, "and Nineveh shall be overthrown." A terrible warning indeed, but now we have nothing even like that; no, there are no longer "three days," nor is there a Nineveh to be overthrown, but many days are already past since the Church throughout all the world has been overthrown, and leveled with the ground, and all alike are overwhelmed in the evil; nay more, of those that are in high places the stress is so much the greater. Wonder not therefore if I should exhort you to do greater things than the Ninevites; and why? nay more, I do not now proclaim a fast only, but I suggest to you the remedy which raised up that city also when falling. And what was that? "God saw their works," saith the prophet, "that they turned from their evil way, and God repented of the evil which He said He would do unto them." (Jonah iii. 10.) This let us do, both we and you. Let us renounce the passion for riches, the lust for glory, beseeching God to stretch forth His hand, and to raise up our fallen members. And well may we, for our fear is not for the same objects as theirs; for then indeed it was only 'stones and timbers that were to fall, and bodies that were to perish; but now it is none of these; no, but souls are about to be delivered over to hell fire. Let us implore, let us confess unto Him, let us give thanks unto Him for what is past, let us entreat Him for what is to come, that we may be counted worthy to be delivered from this fierce and most terrible monster, and to lift up our thanksgivings to the loving God and Father with whom, to the Son, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, and honor, now, henceforth, and for ever and ever. Amen.
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all. But unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ."
The love Paul requires of us is no common love, but that which cements us together, and makes us cleave inseparably to one another, and effects as great and as perfect a union as though it were between limb and limb. For this is that love which produces great and glorious fruits. Hence he saith, there is "one body"; one, both by sympathy, and by not opposing the good of others, and by sharing their joy, having expressed all at once by this figure. He then beautifully adds, "and one Spirit," showing that from the one body there will be one Spirit: or, that it is possible that there may be indeed one body, and yet not one Spirit; as, for instance, if any member of it should be a friend of heretics: or else he is, by this expression, shaming them into unanimity, saying, as it were, "Ye who have received one Spirit, and have been made to drink at one fountain, ought not to be divided in mind"; or else by spirit here he means their zeal. Then he adds, "Even as ye were called in one hope of your calling," that is, God hath called you all on the same terms. He hath bestowed nothing upon one more than upon another. To all He hath freely given immortality, to all eternal life, to all immortal glory, to all brotherhood, to all inheritance. He is the common Head of all; "He hath raised all" up, "and made them sit with Him." (Eph. ii. 6.) Ye then who in the spiritual world have so great equality of privileges, whence is it that ye are high- minded? Is it that one is wealthy and another strong? How ridiculous must this be? For tell me, if the emperor some day were to take ten persons, and to array them all in purple, and seat them on the royal throne, and to bestow upon all the same honor, would any one of these, think ye, venture to reproach another, as being more wealthy or more illustrious than he? Surely never. And I have not yet said all; for the difference is not so great in heaven as here below we differ. There is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Behold "the hope of your calling. One God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all." For can it be, that thou art called by the name of a greater God another, of a lesser God? That thou art saved by faith, and another by works? That thou hast received remission in baptism, whilst another has not? "There is one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all." "Who is over all," that is, the Lord and above all; and "through all," that is, providing for, ordering all; and "in you all," that is, who dwelleth in you all. Now this they own to be an attribute of the Son; so that were it an argument of inferiority, it never would have been said of the Father.
"But unto each one of us was the grace given."
What then? he saith, whence are those diverse spiritual gifts? For this
subject was continually carrying away both the Ephesians themselves and the Corinthians, and many others, some into vain arrogance, and others into despondency or envy. Hence he everywhere takes along with him this illustration of the body. Hence it is that now also he has proposed it, inasmuch as he was about to make mention of diverse gifts. He enters indeed into the subject more fully in the Epistle to the Corinthians, because it was among them that this malady most especially reigned: here however he has only alluded to it. And mark what he says: he does not say, "according to the faith of each," lest he should throw those who have no large attainments into despondency. But what saith he? "According to the measure of the gift of Christ." The chief and principal points of all, he saith,— Baptism, the being saved by faith, the having God for our Father, our all partaking of the same Spirit,—these are common to all. If then this or that man possesses any superiority in any spiritual gift, grieve not at it; since his labor also is greater. He that had received the five talents, had five required of him; whilst he that had received the two, brought only two, and yet received no less a reward than the other. And therefore the Apostle here also encourages the hearer on the same ground, showing that gifts are bestowed not for the honor of one above another, but for the work of the church, even as he says further on:
"For the perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministering unto the building up of the body of Christ."
Hence it is that even he himself saith, "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel." (1 Cor. ix. 16.) For example: he received the grace of Apostleship, but for this very reason, "woe unto him," because he received it: whereas thou art free from the danger. "According to the measure."
What is meant by, "according to the measure"? It means, "not according to our merit," for then would no one have received what he has received: but of the free gift we have all received. And why then one more, and another less? There is nothing to cause this, he would say, but the matter itself is indifferent; for every one contributes towards "the building." And by this too he shows, that it is not of his own intrinsic merit that one has received more and another less, but that it is for the sake of others, as God Himself hath measured it; since he saith also elsewhere, "But now hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased Him." (1 Cor. xii. 18.) And he mentions not the reason, lest he should deject or dispirit the hearers.
Ver. 8. "Wherefore he saith, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men."
As though he had said, Why art thou high-minded? The whole is of God. The Prophet saith in the Psalm, "Thou hast received gifts among men" (Ps. lxviii. 18), whereas the Apostle saith, "He gave gifts unto men." The one is the same as the other.
Ver. 9, 10. "Now this, He ascended, what is it, but that He also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended, is the same also that ascended far above all the Heavens, that He might fill all things."
When thou hearest these words, think not of a mere removal from one place to another; for what Paul establishes in the Epistle to the Philippians (Phil. ii. 5-8), that very argument is he also insisting upon here. In the same way as there, when exhorting them concerning lowliness, he brings forward Christ as an example, so does he here also, saying, "He descended into the lower parts of the earth." For were not this so, this expression which he uses, "He became obedient even unto death" (Phil. ii. 8, 9), were superfluous; whereas from His ascending, he implies His descent, and by "the lower parts of the earth," he means "death," according to the notions of men; as Jacob also said, "Then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave." (Gen. xxxii. 48.) And again as it is in the Psalm, "Lest I become like them that go down into the pit" (Ps. cxliii. 7), that is like the dead. Why does he descant upon this region here? And of what captivity does he speak? Of that of the devil; for He took the tyrant captive, the devil, I mean, and death, and the curse, and sin. Behold His spoils and His trophies.
"Now this, He ascended, what is it but that He also descended?"
This strikes at Paul of Samosata and his school.
"He that descended, is the same also that ascended far above all the Heavens, that He might fill all things."
He descended, saith he, into the lower parts of the earth, beyond which there are none other: and He ascended up far above all things, to that place, beyond which there is none other. This is to show His divine energy, and supreme dominion. For indeed even of old had all things been filled.
Ver. 11, 12. "And He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ."
What he said elsewhere, "Wherefore also God hath highly exalted Him" (Phil. ii. 9), that saith he also here. "He that descended, is the same also that ascended." It did Him no injury that He came down into the lower parts of the earth, nor was it any hindrance to His becoming far higher than the Heavens. So that the more a man is humbled, so much the more. is
he exalted. For as in the case of water, the more a man presses it downwards, the more he forces it up; and the further a man retires to hurl a javelin, the surer his aim; so is it also with humility. However, when we speak of ascents with reference to God, we must needs conceive a descent first; but when with reference to man, not at all so. Then he goes on to show further His providential care, and His wisdom, for He who hath wrought such things as these, who had such might, and who refused not to go down even to those lower parts for our sakes, never would He have made these distributions of spiritual gifts without a purpose. Now elsewhere he tells us that this was the work of the Spirit, in the words, "In the which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops to feed the Church of God." And here he saith that it is the Son; and elsewhere that it is God. "And He gave to the Church some apostles, and some prophets." But in the Epistle to the Corinthians, he saith, "I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." And again, "Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor." (1 Cor. iii. 6-8.) So is it also here; for what if thou bring in but little? Thou hast received so much. First, he says, "apostles"; for these had all gifts; secondarily, "prophets;" for there were some who were not indeed apostles, but prophets, as Agabus; thirdly, "evangelists," who did not go about everywhere, but only preached the Gospel, as Priscilla and Aquila; "pastors and teachers," those who were entrusted with the charge of a whole nation. What then? are the pastors and the teachers inferior? Yes, surely; those who were settled and employed about one spot, as Timothy and Titus, were inferior to those who went about the world and preached the Gospel. However, it is not possible from this passage to frame the subordination and precedence, but from another Epistle. "He gave," saith he; thou must not say a word to gainsay it. Or perhaps by "evangelists" he means those who wrote the Gospel.
"For the perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ."
Perceive ye the dignity of the office? Each one edifies, each one perfects, each one ministers.
Ver. 13. "Till we all attain," he proceeds, "unto the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
By "stature" here he means perfect "knowledge"; for as a man will stand firmly, whereas children are carried about and waver in mind so is it also with believers.
"To the unity," saith he, "of the faith."
That is, until we shall be shown to have all one faith: for this is unity of faith, when we all are one, when we shall all alike acknowledge the common bond. Till then thou must labor to this end. If for this thou hast received a gift, that thou mightest edify others, look well that thou overturn not thyself, by envying another. God hath honored thee, and ordained thee, that thou shouldest build up another. Yea, for about this was the Apostle also engaged; and for this was the prophet prophesying and persuading, and the Evangelist preaching the Gospel, and for this was the pastor and teacher; all had undertaken one common work. For tell me not of the difference of the spiritual gifts; but that all had one work. Now when we shall all believe alike then shall there be unity; for that this is what he calls "a perfect man," is plain. And yet he elsewhere calls us "babes" (1 Cor. xiii. 11), even when we are of mature age; but he is there looking to another comparison, for there it is in comparison with our future knowledge that he there calls us babes. For having said, "We know in part" (1 Cor. xiii. 9, 12), he adds also the word "darkly," and the like: whereas here he speaks with reference to another thing, with reference to changeableness, as he saith also elsewhere, "But solid food is for full- grown men." (Heb. v. 14.) Do you see then also in what sense he there calls them full-grown? Observe also in what sense he calls men "perfect here, by the words next added, where he says, "that we may be no longer children." That we keep, he means to say, that little measure, which we may have received, with all diligence, with firmness and steadfastness.
Ver. 14. "That we may be no longer."—The word, "no longer," shows that they had of old been in this case, and he reckons himself moreover as a subject for correction, and corrects himself. For this cause, he would say, are there so many workmen, that the building may not be shaken, may not be "carried about," that the stones may be firmly fixed. For this is the character of children, to be tossed to and fro, to be carried about and shaken. "That we may be no longer," saith he, "children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error." "And carried about," saith he, "with every wind." He comes to this figure of speech, to point out in how great peril doubting souls are. "With every wind," saith he, "by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error." The word "sleight" means the art of gamesters. Such are the "crafty," whenever they lay hold on the simpler sort. For they also change and shift about everything. He here glances also at human life.
Ver. 15, 16. "But speaking truth," saith he, "in love, may grow up in all things into Him, which is the Head, even Christ, from whom," (that is, from Christ,) "all the body filly framed and knit together, through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love."
He expresses himself with great obscurity, from his desire to utter everything at once. What he means, however, is this. In the same way as the spirit, or vital principle, which descends from the brain, communicates the sensitive faculty which is conveyed through the nerves, not simply to all the members, but according to the proportion of each member, to that which is capable of receiving more, more, to that which is capable of less, less, (for the spirit is the root or source;) so also is Christ. For the souls of men being dependent upon Him as members, His provident care, and supply of the spiritual gifts according to a due proportion in the measure of every single member, effects their increase. But what is the meaning of this, "by the touch of the supply"? that is to say, by the sensitive faculty. For that spirit which is supplied to the members from the head, "touches," each single member, and thus actuates it. As though one should say, "the body receiving the supply according to the proportion of its several members, thus maketh the increase"; or, in other words, "the members receiving the supply according to the proportion of their proper measure, thus make increase"; or otherwise again thus, "the spirit flowing plenteously from above, and touching all the members, and supplying them as each is capable of "receiving it, thus maketh increase." But wherefore doth he add, "in love"? Because in no other way is it possible for that Spirit to descend. For as, in case a band should happen to be torn from the body, the spirit which proceeds from the brain seeks the limb, and if it finds it not, does not leap forth from the body, and fly about and go to the hand, but if it finds it not in its place, does not touch it; so also will it be here, if we be not bound together in love. All these expressions he uses as tending to humility. For what, he seems to say, if this or that man receives more than another? He has received the same Spirit, sent forth from the same Head, effectually working in all alike, communicating itself to all alike.
"Fitly framed and knit together."
That is, having great care bestowed upon it; for the body must not be put together anyhow, but with exceeding art and nicety, since if it gets out of place, it is no longer. So that each must not only be united to the body, but also occupy his proper place, since if thou shalt go beyond this, thou art not united to it, neither dost thou receive the Spirit. Dost thou not see, that in those dislocations of the bones which take place in any accident, when a bone gets out of its proper place and occupies that of another, how it injures the whole body, and oftentimes will produce, death? So that sometimes it will be found to be no longer worth preserving. For many in many cases will cut it off, and leave a void in its place; because everywhere what is in excess is an evil. And so again with the elements, if they lose their proper proportion and be in excess, they impair the whole system. This is the meaning of the being "fitly framed and knit together." Consider then of how vast importance it is, that each should remain in his own proper place, and not encroach on another which in nowise appertains to him. Thou puttest the members together, He supplieth them from above. For as there are in the body such recipient organs, as we have seen, so is it also with the Spirit, the whole root or source being from above. For example, the heart is the recipient of the breath, the liver of the blood, the spleen of the bile, and the other organs, some of one thing, others of another, but all these have their source from the brain. So also hath God done, highly honoring man, and being unwilling to be far from him, He hath made Himself indeed the source of his dependence, and hath constituted them fellow-workers with Himself; and some He hath appointed to one office, and others to another. For example, the Apostle is the most vital vessel of the whole body, receiving everything from Him; so that He maketh eternal life to run through them to all, as through veins and arteries, I mean through their discourse. The Prophet foretells things to come, whilst He alone ordereth the same; Thou puttest the members together, but He supplies them with life, "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry." Love builds up, and makes men cleave one to another, and be fastened and fitted together.
MORAL. If therefore we desire to have the benefit of that Spirit which is from the Head, let us cleave one to another. For there are two kinds of separation from the body of the Church; the one, when we wax cold in love, the other, when we dare commit things unworthy of our belonging to that body; for in either way we cut ourselves off from the "fullness of Christ." But if we are appointed to build up others also, what shall not be done to them who are first to make division? Nothing will so avail to divide the Church as love of power. Nothing so provokes God's anger as the division of the Church. Yea, though we have achieved ten thousand glorious acts, yet shall we, if we cut to pieces the fullness of the Church, suffer punishment no less sore than they who m. angled His body. For that indeed was brought to pass for the benefit of the world, even though it was done with no such intention; whereas this produces no advantage in any case, but the injury is excessive. These remarks I am addressing not to the governors only, but also to the governed. Now a certain holy man said what might seem to be a bold thing; yet, nevertheless, he spoke it out. What then is this? He said, that not even the blood of martyrdom can wash out this sin? For tell me for what dost thou suffer as a martyr? Is it not for the glory of Christ? Thou then that yieldest up thy life for Christ's sake, how dost thou lay waste the Church, for whose sake Christ yielded up His life? Hear what Paul saith, "I am not meet to be called an Apostle (1 Cor. xv. 9), because I persecuted the Church of God and made havoc of it." (Gal. i. 13.) This injury is not less than that received at the hands of enemies, nay, it is far greater. For that indeed renders her even more glorious, whereas this, when she is warred upon by her own children, disgraces her even before her enemies. Because it seems to them a great mark of hypocrisy, that those who have been born in her, and nurtured in her bosom, and have learned perfectly her secrets, that these should of a sudden change, and do her enemies' work.
I mean these remarks for those who give themselves up indiscriminately to the men who are dividing the Church. For if on the one hand those men have doctrines also contrary to ours, then on that account further it is not right to mix with them: if, on the other hand, they hold the same opinions, the reason for not mixing with them is greater still. And why so? Because then the disease is from lust of authority. Know ye not what was the fate of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram? (Num. xvi. 1-35.) Of them only did I say? Was it not also of them that were with them? What wilt thou say? Shall it be said, "Their faith is the same, they are orthodox as well as we"? If so, why then are they not with us? There is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." If their cause is right, then is ours wrong; if ours is right, then is theirs wrong. "Children," saith he, "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind." Tell me, dost thou think this is enough, to say that they are orthodox? Is then the ordination of clergy past and done away? And what is the advantage of other things, if this be not strictly observed? For as we must needs contend for the faith; so must we for this also. For if it is lawful for any one, according to the phrase of them of old, "to fill his hands," and to become. a priest, let all approach to minister. In vain has this altar been raised, in vain the fullness of the Church, in vain the number of the priests. Let us take them away and destroy them. "God forbid!" ye will say. You are doing these things, and do ye say, "God forbid"? How say ye, "God forbid," when the very things are taking place? I speak and testify, not looking to my own interest, but to your salvation. But if any one be indifferent, he must see to it himself: if these things are a care to no one else, yet are they a care to me. "I planted," saith he, "Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." (1 Cor. iii. 6.) How shall we bear the ridicule of the Greeks? For if they reproach us on account of our heresies, what will they not say of these things? "If they have the same doctrines, if the same mysteries, wherefore does a ruler in one Church invade another? See ye," say they, "how all things amongst the Christians are full of vainglory? And there is an ambition among them, and hypocrisy. Strip them," say they, "of their numbers, and they are nothing. Cut out the disease, the corrupt multitude." Would ye have me tell what they say of our city, how they accuse us on the score of our easy compliances? Any one, say they, that chooses may find followers, and would never be at a loss for them. Oh, what a sneer is that, what a disgrace are these things! And yet the sneer is one thing, the disgrace is another. If any amongst us are convicted of deeds the most disgraceful, and are about to meet with some penalty, great is the alarm, great is the fear on all sides, lest he should start away, people say, and join the other side. Yea, let such an one start away ten thousand times, and let him join them. And I speak not only of those who have sinned, but if there be any one free from offense, and he has a mind to depart, let him depart. I am grieved indeed at it, and bewail and lament it, and am cut to the very heart, as though I were being deprived of one of my own limbs; and yet I am not so grieved, as to be compelled to do anything wrong through such fear as this. We have "not lordship over your faith" (2 Cor. i. 24), beloved, nor command we these things as your lords and masters. We are appointed for the teaching of the word, not for power, nor for absolute authority. We hold the place of counselors to advise you. The counselor speaks his own sentiments, not forcing the hearer, but leaving him full master of his choice upon what is said; in this case alone is he blameable, if he fail to utter the things which present themselves. For this cause do we also say these things, these things do we assert, that it may not be in your power in that day to say, "No one told us, no one gave us commandment, we were ignorant, we thought it was no sin at all." Therefore I assert and protest, that to make a schism in the Church is no less an evil than to fall into heresy. Tell me, suppose a subject of some king, though he did not join himself to another king, nor give himself to any other, yet should take and keep hold of his king's royal purple, and should tear it all from its clasp, and rend it into many shreds; would he suffer less punishment than those who join. themselves to the service of another? And what, if withal he were to seize the king himself by the throat and slay him, and tear his body limb from limb, what punishment could he undergo, that should be equal to his deserts? Now if in doing this toward a king, his fellow- servant, he would be committing an act too great for any punishment to reach; of what hell shall not he be worthy who slays Christ, and plucks Him limb from limb? of that one which is threatened? No, I think not, but of another far more dreadful.
Speak, ye women, that are present,—for this generally is a failing of women,—relate to them that are absent this similitude which I have made; startle them. If any think to grieve me and thus to have their revenge, let them be well aware that they do these things in vain. For if thou wishest to revenge thyself on me, I will give thee a method by which thou mayest take vengeance without injury to thyself; or rather without injury it is not possible to revenge thyself, but at all events with less injury. Buffet me, woman, spit upon me, when thou meetest me in the public way, and aim blows at me. Dost thou shudder at hearing this? When I bid thee buffet me, dost thou shudder, and dost thou tear thy Lord and Master and not shudder? Dost thou pluck asunder the limbs of thy Lord and Master, and not tremble? The Church is our Father's house. "There is one body, and one Spirit." But dost thou wish to revenge thyself on me? Yet stop at me. Why dost thou revenge thyself on Christ in my stead? nay, rather, why kick against the nails? In no case indeed is revenge good and right, but to assault one when another has done the wrong is far worse. Is it I that wronged you? Why then inflict pain on Him who hath not wronged you? This is the very extreme of madness. I speak not in irony what I am about to say, nor without purpose, but as I really think and as I feel. I would that every one of those who with you are exasperated against me, and who by this exasperation are injuring themselves, and departing elsewhere, would direct his blows at me in my very face, would strip me and scourge me, be his charge against me just or unjust, and let loose his wrath upon me, rather than that they should dare to commit what they now dare. If this were done, it were nothing; nothing, that a man who is a mere nothing and of no account whatever, should be so treated. And besides, I, the wronged and injured person, might call upon God, and He might forgive you your sins. Not because I have so great confidence; but because when he who has been wronged, entreats for him who has done the wrong, he gains great confidence. "If one man sin against another," it is said, "then shall they pray for him "a (1 Sam. ii. 25); and if I were unable, I might seek for
other holy men, and entreat them, and they might do it. But now whom shall we even entreat, when God is outraged by us?
Mark the consistency; for of those who belong to this Church, some never approach to communicate at all, or but once in the year, and then without purpose, and just as it may happen; others more regularly indeed, yet they too carelessly and without purpose, and while engaged in conversation, and trifling about nothing: whilst those who, forsooth, seem to be in earnest, these are the very persons who work this mischief. Yet surely, if it is for these things ye are in earnest, it were better that ye also were in the ranks of the indifferent; or rather it were better still, that neither they should be indifferent, nor you such as ye are. I speak not of you that are present, but of those who are deserting from us. The act is adultery. And if ye bear not to hear these things of them, neither should ye of us. There must be breach of the law either on the one side or the other. If then thou hast these suspicions concerning me, I am ready to retire from my office, and resign it to whomsoever ye may choose. Only let the Church be one. But if I have been lawfully made and consecrated, entreat those who have contrary to the law mounted the episcopal throne to resign it.
These things I have said, not as dictating to you, but only to secure and protect you. Since every one of you is come to age, and will have to give account of the things which he has done, I entreat you not to cast the whole matter on us, and consider yourselves to be irresponsible, that ye may not go on fruitlessly deceiving yourselves, and at last bewail it. An account indeed we shall have to give of your souls; but it will be when we have been wanting on our part, when we fail to exhort, when we fail to admonish, when we fail to protest. But after these words, allow even me to say that "I am pure from the blood of all men" (Acts xx. 26); and that "God will deliver my soul." (Ezek. iii. 19, 21.) Say what ye will, give a just cause why ye depart, and I will answer you. But no, ye will not state it. Wherefore I entreat you, endeavor hence-forward both to resist nobly and to bring back those who have seceded, that we may with one accord lift up thanksgiving to God; for to Him belongs the glory for ever and ever. 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/XIII, Schaff). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.