Fathers of the Church
Homilies on Ephesians, 12-24
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
"This I say therefore and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, bring darkened in their understanding."
It is the duty of the teacher to build up and restore the souls of his disciples, not only by counselling and instructing them, but also by alarming them, and delivering them up to God. For when the words spoken by men as coming from fellow-servants are not sufficient to kindle the soul, it then becomes necessary to make over the case to God. This accordingly Paul does also; for having discoursed concerning lowliness, and concerning unity, and concerning our duty not to rise up one against another, hear what he says. "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk." He does not say, "That ye henceforth walk not as ye are now walking," for that expression would have struck too hard. But he plainly indicates the same thing, only he brings his example from others. And so in writing to the Thessalonians, he does this very same thing, where he says, "Not in the passion of lust even as the Gentiles which know not God." (1 Thess. iv. 5.) Ye differ from them, he means to say, in doctrine, but that is wholly God's work: what I require on your path is the life and the course of behavior that is after God. This is your own. And I call the Lord to witness what I have said, that I have not shrunk, but have told you how ye ought to walk. "In the vanity," saith he, "of their mind." What is vanity of mind? It is the being busied about vain things. And what are those vain things, but all things in the present life? Of which the Preacher saith, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." (Eccles. i. 2.) But a man will say If they be vain and vanity, wherefore were they made? If they are God's works, how are they vain? And great is the dispute concerning these things. But hearken, beloved: it is not the works of God which he calls vain; God forbid! The Heaven! is not vain the earth is not vain,—God forbid!—nor the sun, nor the moon and stars, nor our own body. No, all these are "very good." (Gen. i. 31.) But what is vain? Let us hear the Preacher himself, what he saith; "I planted me vineyards, I gat me men singers and women singers, I made me pools of water, I had great possession of herds and flocks, I gathered me ago silver and gold, and I saw that these are vanity." (Eccles. ii. 4-8.) And again, "Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity." (Eccles. xii. 8.) Hear also what the Prophet saith, "He healpeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them." (Ps. xxxix. 6.) Such is "vanity of vanities" your splendid buildings, your vast and overflowing richest, the herds of slaves that bustle along the public square, your pomp and vainglory, your high thoughts, and your ostentation. For all these are vain; they came not from the hand of God, but are of our own creating. But why then are they vain? Because they have no useful end. Riches are vain when they are spent upon in luxury; but they cease to be vain when they are "dispersed and given to the needy." (Ps. cxii. 9.) But when thou hast spent them upon luxury, let us look at the end of them, what it is;—grossness of body, flatulence, pantings, fullness of belly, heaviness of head, softness of flesh, feverishness, enervation; for as a man who shall draw into a leaking vessel labors in vain, so also does the one who lives in luxury and self- indulgence draw into a leaking vessel. But again that is called "vain," which is expected indeed to contain something, but contains it not;—that which men call empty, as when they speak of "empty hopes." And generally that is called "vain," which is bare and purposeless, which is of no use. Let us see then whether all human things are not of this sort. "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die?" (1 Cor. xv. 32.) What then, tell me, is the end? Corruption. Let us put on clothing and raiment. And what is the result? Nothing. Such are the lives of the Greeks. They philosophized, but in vain. They made a show of a life of hardship, but of mere hardship, not looking to any beneficial end, but to vainglory, and to honor from the many. But what is the honor of the many? It is nothing, for if they themselves which render the honor perish, much more does the honor. He that renders honor to another, ought first to render it to himself; for if he gain not honor for himself, how can he ever render it to another? Whereas now we seek even honors from vile and despicable characters, themselves dishonorable, and objects of reproach. What kind of honor then is this? Perceive ye, how that all things are "vanity of vanities"? Therefore, saith he, "in the vanity of their mind."
But further, is not their religion of this sort, wood and stone? He hath made the sun to shine for a lamp to light us. Who will worship his own lamp? The sun supplies us with light, but where he cannot, a lamp can do it. Then why not worship thy lamp? "Nay," one will say, "I worship the fire." Oh, how ridiculous! So great is the absurdity, and yet look again at another absurdity. By extinguish the object of thy worship? Why destroy, why annihilate thy god? Wherefore, dost thou not suffer thy house to be filled with him? For if the fire be god, let him feed upon thy body. Put not thy god under the bottom of thy kettle, or thy cauldron. Bring him into thy inner chambers bring him within thy silken draperies. Whereas not only dost thou not bring him in, but if by any accident he has found entrance, thou drivest him out from every place, thou callest everybody together, and, as though some wild beast had entered, thou weepest and wailest, and callest the presence of thy god an overwhelming calamity. I have a God, and I do all I can to enshrine Him in my bosom, and I deem it my true bliss, not when He visits my dwelling, but when I can draw Him even to my heart. Do thou too draw the fire to thee heart. This is folly and vanity. Fire is good for use, not for adoration; good for ministration and for service, to be my slave, not to be my master. It was made for me, not I for it. If thou art a worshiper of fire, why recline upon thy couch thyself, and order thy cook to stand before thy god? Take up the art of cookery thyself, become a baker if thou wilt, or a coppersmith, for nothing can be more honorable than these arts, since these are they that thy god visits. Why deem that art a disgrace, where thy god is all in all? Why commit it to thy slaves, and not be ambitious of it thyself? Fire is good, inasmuch as it is the work of a good Creator, but it is not God. It is the work of God, it was not called God. Seest thou not how ungovernable is its nature;—how when it lays hold on a building it stops nowhere? But if it seizes anything continuous, it destroys all; and, except the hands of workmen or others quench its fury, it knows not friends nor foes, but deals with all alike. Is this then your god, and are ye not ashamed? Well indeed does he say, "in the vanity of their mind."
But the sun, they say, is God. Tell me, how and wherefore. Is it that he sheds abundance of light? Yet dost thou not see him overcome by clouds, and in bondage to the necessity of nature, and eclipsed, and hidden by the moon? And yet the cloud is weaker than the sun; but still it often gains the mastery of him. And this indeed is the work of God's wisdom. God must needs be all sufficient: but the sun needs many things; and this is not like a god. For he requires air to shine in, and that, too, thin air; since the air, when it is greatly condensed, suffers not the rays to pass through it. He requires also water, and other restraining power, to prevent him from consuming. For were it not that fountains, and lakes, and rivers, and seas, formed some moisture by the emission of their vapor, there would be nothing to prevent an universal conflagration. Dost thou see then, say ye, that he is a god? What folly, what madness! A god, say ye, because he has power to do harm. Nay, rather, for this very reason is he no god, because where he does harm he needs nothing; whereas where he does good, he requires many things besides. Now to do harm, is foreign to God's nature; to do good, is His property. Where then the reverse is the case, how can he be God? Seest thou not that poisonous drugs injure, and need nothing; but when they are to do good, need many things? For thy sake then b he such as he is, both good, and powerless; good, that thou mayest acknowledge his Lord; and powerless, that thou mayest not say that he is lord. "But," say they, "he nourishes the plants and the seeds." What then, at that rate is not the very dung a god? for even that also nourishes. And why not at that rate the scythe as well, and the hands of the husbandman? Prove to me that the sun alone does the work of nourishing without needing the help of either earth, or water, or tillage; but let the seeds be sown, and let him shed forth his rays, and produce the ears of corn. But now if this work be not his alone, but that of the rains also, wherefore is not the water a god also? But of this I speak not yet. Why is not the earth too a god, and why not the dung, and the hoe? Shall we then, tell me, worship all? Alas, what trifling! And indeed rather might the ear of corn be produced without sun, than without earth and water; and so with plants and all other things. Were there no each, none of these things could ever appear. And if any one, as children and women do, were to put some earth into a pot, and to fill up the pot with a quantity of dung, and to place it under the roof, plants, though they may be weak ones, will be produced from it. So that the contribution of the each and of the dung is greater, and these therefore we ought to worship rather than the sun. He requires the sky, he requires the air, he requires these waters, to prevent his doing harm, to be as bridles to curb the fierceness of his power, and to restrain him from letting loose his rays over the world, like some furious horse. And now tell me, where is he at night? Whither has your god token his departure? For this is not like a god, to be circumscribed and limited. This is in fact the property of bodies only. But, say they, there is some sort of power residing in him, and he has motion. Is this power then, I pray you, itself God? Why then is it insufficient in itself, and why does it not restrain the fire? For again, I come to the same argument. But what is that power? Is it productive of light, or does it by the sun give light, though of itself possessing none of these qualities? If so, then is the sun superior to it. How far shall we unwind this maze?
Again, what is water? is not that too, they say, a god? This again is a matter of truly absurd disputation. Is that not a god, they say, which we make use of for so many purposes? And so again, in like manner, of the earth. Truly "they walk in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding."
But these words he is now using concerning life and conduct. The Greeks are fornicators and adulterers. Of course. They who paint to themselves such gods as these, will naturally do all these things; and if they can but escape the eyes of men, there is no one to restrain them. For what will avail the argument of a resurrection, if it appear to them a mere fable? Yea, and what that of the torments of hell?—they too are but a fable. And mark the Satanic notion. When they are told of gods who are fornicators, they deny that these are fables, but believe them. Yet whenever any shall discourse to them of punishment, "these," they say, "are poets, men who turn everything into fable, that man's happy condition may be on all sides overturned."
But the philosophers, it is said, discovered something truly grand, and far better than these. How? They who introduced fate, and who tell us that nothing is providential, and that there is no one to care for anything, but that all things consist of atoms? Or, others again who say that God is a body? Or who, tell me, are they? Are they those who would turn the souls of men into the souls of dogs, and would pervade mankind that one was once a dog, and a lion, and a fish? How long will ye go on and never cease trifling, "being darkened in the understanding"? for they say and do all things as though they were indeed in the dark, both in those things which concern doctrine, and those which concern fife and conduct; for the man who is in darkness sees none of the things which lie before him, but oftentimes when he sees a rope, he will take it for a live serpent; or again, if he is caught by a hedge, he will think that a man or an evil spirit has hold of him, and great is the alarm, and great the perturbation. Such aS these are the things they fear. "There were they in great fear," it saith, "where no fear was" (Ps. liii. 5); but the things which they ought to fear, these they fear not. But just as children in their nurse arms thrust their hands incautiously into the fire, and boldly into the candle also, and yet are scared at a man clothed in sackcloth; just so these Greeks, as if they were really always children, (as some one also amongst themselves has said, the Greeks are always children,) fear those things that are no sins, such as filthiness of the body, the pollution of a funeral, a bed, or the keeping of days, and the like: whereas those which are really sins, unnatural lust, adultery, fornication, of these they make no account at all. No, you may see a man washing himself from the pollution of a dead body, but from dead works never; and, by the crowing of a single cock. "So darkened are they in their understanding." Their soul is filled with all sorts of terrors. For instance: "Such a person," one will say, "was the first who met me, as I was going out of the house"; of course ten thousand evils must certainly ensue. At another time, "the wretch of a servant in giving me my shoes, held out the left shoe first,"—terrible mishaps and mischiefs! "I myself in coming out set forth with the left foot foremost "; and this too is a token of misfortune. And these are the evils that occur about the house. Then, as I go out, my right eye shoots up from beneath. This is a sure sign of tears. Again the women, when the reeds strike against the standards, and ring, or when they themselves are scratched by the shuttle, turn this also into a sign. And again, when they strike the web with the shuttle, and do it with some vehemence, and then the reeds on the top from the intensity of the blow strike against the standards and ring this again they make a sign, and ten thousand things besides, deserving of ridicule. And so if an ass should bray, or a cock should crow, or a man should sneeze, or whatever else may happen, like men bound with ten thousand chains, or, as I was saying, like men confined in the dark, they suspect everything, and are more slavish than all the slaves in the world.
But let it not be so with us. But scorning all these things, as men living in the light, and having our citizenship in Heaven, and having nothing in common with earth, let us regard but one thing as terrible, that is, sin, and offending against God. And if there be not this, let us scorn all the rest, and him that brought them in, the Devil. For these things let us give thanks to God. Let us be diligent, not only that we ourselves be never caught by this slavery, but if any of those who are dear to us have been caught, let us break his bonds asunder, let us release him from this most bitter and contemptible captivity, let us make him free and unshackled for his course toward Heaven, let us raise up his flagging wings, and teach him to be wise for life and doctrine's sake. Let us give thanks to God for all things. Let us beseech Him that He will not declare us unworthy of the gifts offered to us, and let us ourselves withal endeavor to contribute our own part, that we may teach not only by speaking, but by acting also. For thus shall we be able to attain His unnumbered blessings, of which God grant we may all be counted worthy, in Christ Jesus our Lord with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost together, be glory, might, and honor, now, henceforth, and for ever and ever. Amen.
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart: who being past feeling, gave themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."
These words are not addressed to the Ephesians only, but are now addressed also to you; and that, not from me, but from Paul; or rather neither from me nor from Paul, but from the grace of the Spirit. And we then ought so to feel, as though that grace itself were uttering them. And now hear what it saith. "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart." If then it is ignorance, if it is hardening, why blame it? if a man is ignorant, it were just, not that he should be ill-treated for it, nor be blamed, but that he should be informed of those things of which he is ignorant. But mark how at once he cuts them off from all excuse. "Who bring past feeling" saith he, "gave themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness but ye did not so learn Christ." Here he shows us, that the cause of their hardening was their way of life, and that their life was the consequence of their own indolence and want of feeling.
"Who bring past feeling," saith he, "gave themselves up."
Whenever then ye hear, that "God gave them up unto a reprobate mind" (Rom. i. 28), remember this expression, that "they gave themselves up." If then they gave themselves over, how did God give them over? and if again God gave them over, how did they give themselves over? Thou seest the seeming contradiction. The word, "gave them over," then, means this, He permitted them to be given over. Seest thou, that the impure life is the ground for like doctrines also? "Every one," saith the Lord, "that doeth ill hateth the light, and cometh not to the light." (John iii. 20.) For how could a profligate man, one more immersed in the practice of indiscriminate lewdness than the swine that wallow in the mire, and who is a lover of money, and has not so much as any desire after temperance, enter upon a life like this? They made the thing, saith he, their "work." Hence their "hardening" (ver. 19), hence the "darkness of their understanding." There is such a thing as bring in the dark, even while the light is shining, when the eyes are weak; and weak they become, either joy the influx of ill humors, or by superabundance of rheum. And so surely is it also here; when the strong current of the affairs of this life overwhelms the perceptive power of the understanding, it is thrown into a state of darkness. And in the same way as if we were placed in the depths under water, we should be unable to see the sun through the quantity of water lying, like heart takes place, that is, an insensibility, whenever there is no fear to agitate the soul. "There is no fear of God," it saith, "before his eyes" (Ps. xxxvi. 1); and again, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." (Ps. xiv. 1.) Now blindness arises from no other cause than from want of feeling; this dogs the channel; for whenever the fluids are curdled and collected into one place, the limb becomes dead and void of feeling; and though thou burn it, or cut it, or do what thou wilt with it, still it feels not. So is it also with those persons, when they have once given themselves over to lasciviousness: though thou apply the word to them like fire, or steel, yet noting touches, nothing reaches them; their limb is utterly dead. And unless thou canst remove the insensibility, so as to touch the healthy members, everything thou doest is vain.
"With greediness," saith he.
Here he has most completely token away their excuse; for it was in their power, if at least they chose it, not to be "greedy," nor to be "lascivious," nor gluttonous, and yet to enjoy their desires. It was in their power to partake in moderation of riches, and even of pleasure and of luxury; but when they indulged the thing immoderately, they destroyed all.
"To work all uncleanness," saith he.
Ye see how he strips them of all excuse by speaking of "working uncleanness." They did not sin, he means, by making a false step, but they worked out these horrid deeds, and they made the thing a matter of study. "All uncleanness"; uncleanness is all adultery, fornication, unnatural lust, envy, every kind of profligacy and lasciviousness.
Ver. 20, 21. "But ye did not so learn Christ," he continues, "if so be that ye heard Him, and were taught in Him even as truth is in Jesus."
The expression, "If so be that ye heard Him," is not that of one doubting, but of one even strongly affirming: as he also speaks elsewhere, "If so be that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to them that afflict you." (2 Thess. i. 6.) That is to say, It was not for these purposes that "ye learned Christ."
Ver. 22. "That ye put away as concerning your former manner of life, the old man."
This then surely is to learn Christ, to live rightly; for he that lives wickedly knows not God, neither is known of Him; for hear what he saith elsewhere, "They profess that they know God, but by their works they deny Him." (Tit. i. 16.)
"As truth is in Jesus; that ye put away as concerning your former manner of life, the old man."
That is to say, It was not on these terms that thou enteredst into covenant. What is found among us is not vanity, but truth. As the doctrines are true, so is the life also. Sin is vanity and falsehood; but a right life is truth. For temperance is indeed truth, for it has a great end; whereas profligacy ends in nothing.
"Which waxeth corrupt," saith he, "after the lusts of deceit." As his lusts became corrupt, so himself also. How then do his lusts become corrupt? By death alI things are dissolved; for hear the Prophet, how he saith, "In that very day his thoughts perish." (Ps. cxlvi. 4.) And not by death only, but by many things besides; for instance, beauty, at the advance of either disease or old age, withdraws and dies away, and suffers corruption. Bodily vigor again is destroyed by the same means; nor does luxury itself afford the same pleasure in old age, as is evident from the case of Barzillai: the history, no doubt, ye know. Or again, in another sense, lust corrupts and destroys the old man; for as wool is destroyed by the very same means by which it is produced, so likewise is the old man. For love of glory destroys him, and pleasures will often destroy him, and "lust" will utterly "deceive" him. For this is not really pleasure but bitterness and deceit, all pretense and outward show. The surface, indeed, of the things is bright, but the things themselves are only full of misery and extreme wretchedness, and loath-someness, and utter poverty. Take off the mask, and lay bare the true face, and thou shalt see the cheat, for cheat it is, when that which is, appears not, and that which is not, is displayed. And it is thus that impositions are effected.
The Apostle delineates for us four men. Of these I shall give an explanation. In this place he mentions two, speaking thus, "Putting away the old man, be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man." And in the Epistle to the Romans, two more, as where he saith, "But I see a different law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members." (Rom. vii. 23.) And "old man" to the "outer main" However, three of these four were subject to corruption. Or rather there are three, the new man the old, and this, man in his substance and nature.
Ver. 23. "And that ye be renewed," saith he, "in the spirit of your mind."
In order that no one may suppose that, whereas he speaks of old and new, he is introducing a different person, observe his expression, "That ye be renewed." To be renewed is, when the selfsame thing which has grown old is renewed, Changed from one thing into the other. So that the subject indeed is the same, but the change is in that which is accidental. Just as the body indeed is the same, and the change in that which is accidental, so is it here. How then is the renewal to take place? "In the spirit of your mind," saith he. Whosoever therefore has the Spirit, will perform no old deed, for the Spirit will not endure old deeds. "In the spirit," saith he, "of your mind," that is, in the spirit which is in your mind.
Ver. 24. "And put on the new man."
Seest thou that the subject is one, but the clothing is twofold, that which is put off, and that which is put on? "The new man," he continues, "which after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth." Now wherefore does he call virtue a man? And wherefore vice, a man? Because a man cannot be shown without acting; so that these things, no less than nature, show a man, whether he be good or evil. Now as to undress one's self and to dress one's self is easy, so may we see it is with virtue and vice. The young man is strong; wherefore let us also become strong for the performance of good actions. The young man has no wrinkle, therefore neither should we have. The young man wavers not, nor is he easily taken with diseases, therefore neither should we be.
Observe here how he calls this realizing of virtue, this bringing of it into being from nothing, a "creation." But what? was not that other former creation after God? No, in no wise, but after the devil. He is the sole creator of sin.
How is this? For man is created henceforth, not of water, nor of each, but "in righteousness and holiness of truth." What is this? He straightway created him, he means, to be a son: for this takes place from Baptism. This it is which is the reality," in righteousness and holiness of truth." There was of old a righteousness, there was likewise a holiness with the Jews. Yet was that righteousness not in truth, but in figure. For the being clean in body was a type of purity, not the truth of purity; was a type of righteousness, not the truth of righteousness. "In righteousness," saith he, "and holiness," which are "of truth."
And this expression is used with reference to falsehood; for many there are, who to them that are without, seem to be righteous, yet are false. Now by righteousness is meant universal virtue. For hearken to Christ, how He saith, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in nowise enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. v. 20.) And again, he is called righteous, who has no charge against him; for so even in courts of justice we say that that man is righteous, who has been unrighteously treated, and has not done unrighteously in return. If therefore we also before the terrible Tribunal shall be able to appear righteous one towards another, we may meet with some lovingkindness. Toward God indeed it is impossible we should appear so, whatever we may have to show. For everywhere He overcometh in what is righteous, as the Prophet also saith, "That Thou mightest prevail when Thou comest into judgment." But if we violate not what is righteous towards each other, then shall we be righteous. If we shall be able to show that we have been treated unrighteously, then Shall we be righteous.
How does he say to them who are already clothed, "put on"? He is now speaking of that clothing which is from life and good works. Before, the clothing was from Baptism, whereas now it is from the daily life and from works; no longer "after the lusts of deceit," but "after God." But what means the word "holy"? It is that which is pure, that which is due; hence also we use the word of the last duty in the case of the departed, as much as to say, "I owe them nothing further, I have nothing else to answer for." Thus it is usual for us to say, "I have acquitted myself of all obligations," and the like, meaning, "I owe nothing more."
Moral. Our part then is, never to put off the garment of righteousness, which also the Prophet calls, "the garment of salvation" (Isa. lxi. 10), that so we may be made like unto God. For He indeed hath put on righteousness. This garment let us put on. Now the word, "put on," plainly declares nothing else, than that we should never at all put it off. For hear the Prophet, where he saith, "He clothed himself also with cursing as with his garment, and it came into his inward parts." (Ps. cix. 18.) And again, "Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment." (Ps. civ. 2.) And again, it is usual with us to speak concerning men, such an one has "put on" such an one. So then it is not for one day, nor for two, nor for three, but he would have us ever arrayed in virtue, and never stripped of this garment. For a man is not so disfigured when he is stripped of his clothing, as when he is stripped of his virtue. In the former case his fellow-servants behold his nakedness, in the latter his Lord and the Angels If ever thou happen to see any one going out naked through the public square, tell me, art thou not distressed? When then thou goest about stripped of this garment, what shall we say? Seest not those beggars whom we are wont to call strollers, how they roam about, how we pity even them? And yet nevertheless they are without excuse. We do not excuse them when they have lost their clothes by gaming; and how then, if we lose this garment, shall God pardon us? For whenever the devil sees a man stripped of his virtue, he straightway disguises and disfigures his face, and wounds him, and drives him to great straits.
Let us strip ourselves of our riches, that we be not stripped of righteousness. The garb of wealth mars this garment. It is a robe of thorns. Thorns are of this nature; and the more closely they are wrapped around us, the more naked are we made. Lasciviousness strips us of this garment; for it is a fire, and the fire will consume this garment. Wealth is a moth; and as the moth eats through all things alike, and spares not even silken garments, so does this also. All these therefore let us put off, that we may become righteous, that we may "put on the new man." Let us keep nothing old, nothing outward, nothing that is "corrupt." Virtue is not toilsome, she is not difficult to attain. Dost thou not see them that are in the mountains? They forsake both houses, and wives, and children, and all preeminence, and shut themselves away from the world, and clothe themselves in sackcloth, and strew ashes beneath them; they wear collars hung about their necks, and have pent themselves up in a narrow cell. Nor do they stop here, but torture themselves with fastings and continual hunger. Did I now enjoin you to do the like, would ye not all start away? Would ye not say, it is intolerable? But no, I say not that we must needs do anything like this:—I would fain indeed that it were so, still I lay down no law. What then? Enjoy thy baths, take care of thy body, and throw thyself freely into the world, and keep a household, have thy servants to wait on thee, and make free use of thy meats and drinks! But everywhere drive out excess, for that it is which causes sin, and the same thing, whatever it be, if it becomes excessive, becomes a sin; so that excess is nothing else than sin. For observe, when anger is excited above what is meet, then it rushes out into insult, then it commits every sort of injury; so does inordinate passion for beauty, for riches, for glory, or for anything else. And tell me not, that indeed, those of whom I spoke were strong; for many far weaker and richer, and more luxurious than thou art, have taken upon them that austere and rugged life. And why speak I of men? Damsels not yet twenty years old, who have spent their whole time in inner chambers, and in a delicate and effeminate mode of life, in inner chambers full of sweet ointments and perfumes, reclining on soft couches, themselves soft in their nature, and rendered yet more tender by their over indulgence, who all the day long have had no other business than to adorn themselves, to wear jewels, and to enjoy every luxury, who never waited on themselves, but had numerous handmaids standing beside them, who wore soft raiment softer than their skin, fine linen and delicate, who reveled continually in roses and such like sweet odors,—yea, these very ones, in a moment, seized with Christ's flame, have put off all that indolence and even their very nature, have forgotten their delicateness and youth, and like so many noble wrestlers, have stripped themselves of that soft clothing, and rushed into the midst of the contest. And perhaps I shall appear to be telling things incredible, yet nevertheless are they true. These then, these very tender damsels, as I myself have heard, have brought themselves to such a degree of severe training, that they will wrap the coarsest horsehair about their own naked bodies, and go with those tender soles unsandaled, and will lie upon a bed of leaves: nay more, that they watch the greater part of the night, and that they take no heed of perfumes nor of any other of their old delights, but will even let their head, once so carefully dressed, go without special care, with the hair just plainly and simply bound up, so as not to fall into unseemliness. And their only meal is in the evening, a meal not even of herbs nor of bread, but of flour and beans and pulse and olives and figs. They spin without intermission, and labor far harder than their handmaids at home. What more? they will take upon them to wait upon women who are sick, carrying their beds, and washing their feet. Nay, many of them even cook. So great is the power of the flame of Christ; so far does their zeal surpass their very nature.
However, I demand nothing like this of you, seeing ye have a mind to be outstripped by women. Yet at least, if there be any tasks not too laborious, at least perform these: restrain the rude hand, and the incontinent eye. What is there, tell me, so hard, what so difficult? Do what is just and right, wrong no man, be ye poor or rich, shopkeepers or hired servants; for unrighteousness may extend even to the poor. Or see ye not how many broils these engage in, and turn all things upside down? Marry freely, and have children. Paul also gave charge to such, to such he wrote. Is that struggle I spoke of too great, and the rock too lofty, and its top too nigh unto Heaven, and art thou unable to attain to such an height? At least then lay hold on lesser things, and aim at those which are lower. Hast thou not courage to get rid of thine own riches? At least then forbear to seize on the things of others, and to do them wrong. Art thou unable to fast? At least then give not thyself to self-indulgence. Art thou unable to lie upon a bed of leaves? Still, prepare not for yourselves couches inlaid with silver; but use a couch and coverings formed not for display, but for refreshment; not couches of ivory. Make thyself small. Why fill thy vessel with overwhelming cargoes? If thou be lightly equipped, thou shalt have nothing to fear, no envy, no robbers, no liers in wait. For indeed thou art not so rich in money as thou art in cares. Thou aboundest not so much in possessions, as in anxieties and in perils, "which bring in many temptations and lusts." (1 Tim. vi. 9.) These things they endure, who desire to gain great possessions. I say not, minister unto the sick; yet, at least, bid thy servant do it. Seest thou then how that this is no toilsome task? No, for how can it be, when tender damsels surpass us by so great a distance? Let us be ashamed of ourselves, I entreat you; for in worldly matters, to be sure, we in no point yield to them, neither in wars, nor in games; but in the spiritual contest they get the advantage of us, and are the first to seize the prize, and soar higher, like so many eagles: whilst we, like jackdaws, are ever living in the steam and smoke; for truly is it the business of jackdaws, and of greedy dogs, to be setting one's thoughts upon caterers and cooks. Hearken about the women of old; they were great characters, great women and admirable; such were Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Deborah, and Hannah; and such there were also in the days of Christ. Yet did they in no case outstrip the men, but occupied the second rank. But now it is the very contrary; women outstrip and eclipse us. How contemptible! What a shame is this! We hold the place of the head, and are surpassed by the body. We are ordained to rule over them; not merely that we may rule, but that we may rule in goodness also; for he that ruleth, ought especially to rule in this respect, by excelling in virtue; whereas if he is surpassed, he is no longer ruler Perceive ye how great is the power of Christ's coming? how He dissolved the curse? For indeed there are more virgins than before among women, there is more modesty in those virgins, and there are more widows. No woman would lightly utter so much as an unseemly word. Wherefore then, tell me, dost thou use filthy speech? For tell me not that they were virgins in despondency or despair.
The sex is fond of ornament, and it has this failing. Yet even in this you husbands surpass them, who pride yourselves even upon them, as your own proper ornament; for I do not think that the wife is so ostentatious of her own jewels, as the husband is of those of his wife. He is not so proud of his own golden girdle, as he is of his wife's wearing jewels of gold. So that even of this you are the causes, who light the spark and kindle up the flame. But what is more, it is not so great a sin in a woman as in a man. Thou art ordained to regulate her; in every way thou claimest to have the preeminence. Show her then in this also, that thou takest no interest in this costliness of hers, by thine own apparel. It is more suitable for a woman to adorn herself, than for a man. If then thou escape not the temptation, how shall she escape it? They have moreover their share of vainglory, but this is common to them with men. They are in a measure passionate, and this again is common to them with men. But as to those things wherein they excel, these are no longer common to them with men; their sanctity, I mean, their fervency, their devotion, their love towards Christ. Wherefore then, one may say, did Paul exclude them from the teacher's seat? And here again is a proof how great a distance they were from the men, and that the women of those days were great. For, tell me, while Paul was teaching, or Peter, or those saints of old, had it been right that a woman should intrude into the office? Whereas we have gone on till we have come so debased, that it is worthy of question, why women are not teachers. So truly have we come to the same weakness as they. These things I have said not from any desire to elate them, but to shame ourselves, to chastise, and to admonish us, that so we may resume the authority that belongs to us, not inasmuch as we are greater in size, but because of our foresight, our protection of them, and our virtue. For thus shall the body also be in the order which befits it, when it has the best head to rule. And God grant that all, both wives and husbands, may live according to His good pleasure, that we may all in that terrible day be counted worthy to enjoy the lovingkindness of our Master, and to attain those good things which are promised in Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, and honor, now and forever and ever. Amen.
"Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one with his neighbor; for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil."
Having spoken of the "old man" generally, he next draws him also in detail; for this kind of teaching is more easily learned when we learn by particulars. And what saith he? "Wherefore, putting away falsehood." What sort of falsehood? Idols does he mean? Surely not; not indeed but that they are falsehood also. However, he is not now speaking of them, because these persons had nothing to do with them; but he is speaking of that which passes between one man and another, meaning that which is deceitful and false. "Speak ye truth, each one," saith he, "with his neighbor"; then what is more touching to the conscience still, "because we are members one of another." Let no man deceive his neighbor. As the Psalmist says here and there; "With flattering lip and with a double heart do they speak." (Ps. xii. 2.) For there is nothing, no, nothing so productive of enmity as deceit and guile.
Observe how everywhere he shames them by this similitude of the body. Let not the eye, saith he, lie to the foot, nor the foot to the eye. For example, if there shall be a deep pit, and then by having reeds laid across upon the mouth of it upon the earth, and yet concealed under earth, it shall by its appearance furnish to the eye an expectation of solid ground, will not the eye use the foot, and discover whether it yields and is hollow underneath, or whether it is firm and resists? Will the foot tell a lie, and not report the truth as it is? And what again? If the eye were to spy a serpent or a wild beast, will it lie to the foot? Will it not at once inform it, and the foot thus informed by it refrain from going on? And what again, when neither the foot nor the eye shall know how to distinguish, but all shall depend upon the smelling, as, for example, whether a drug be deadly or not; will the smelling lie to the mouth? And why not? Because it will be destroying itself also. But it tells the truth as it appears to itself. And what again? Will the tongue lie to the stomach? Does it not, when a thing is bitter, reject it, and, if it is sweet, pass it on? Observe ministration, and interchange of service; observe a provident care arising from truth, and, as one might say, spontaneously from the heart. So surely should it be with us also; let us not lie, since we are "members one of another." This is a sure token of friendship; whereas the contrary is of enmity. What then, thou wilt ask, if a man shall use treachery against thee? Hearken to the truth. If he use treachery, he is not a member; whereas he saith, "lie not towards the members." "Be ye angry, and sin not."
Observe his wisdom. He both speaks to prevent our sinning, and, if we do not listen, still does not forsake us; for his fatherly compassion does not desert him. For just as the physician prescribes to the sick what he must do, and if he does not submit to it, still does not treat him with contempt, but proceeding to add what advice he can by persuasion, again goes on with the cure; so also does Paul. For he indeed who: does otherwise, aims only at reputation, and is annoyed at being disregarded; whereas he who on all occasions aims at the recovery of the patient, has this single object in view, how he may restore the patient, and raise him up again. This then is what Paul is doing. He has said, "Lie not." Yet if ever lying should produce anger, he goes on again to cure this also. For what saith he? "Be ye angry, and sin not." It were good indeed never to be angry. Yet if ever any one should fall into passion, still let him not fall into so great a degree. "For let not the sun," saith he, "go down upon your wrath." Wouldest thou have thy fill of anger? One hour, or two, or three, is enough for thee; let not the sun depart, and leave you both at enmity. It was of God's goodness that he rose: let him not depart, having shone on unworthy men. For if the Lord of His great goodness sent him, and hath Himself forgiven thee thy sins, and yet thou forgivest not thy neighbor, look, how great an evil is this! And there is yet another besides this. The blessed Paul dreads the night, lest overtaking in solitude him that was wronged, still burning with anger, it should again kindle up the fire. For as long as there are many things in the daytime to banish it, thou art free to indulge it; but as: soon as ever the evening comes on, be reconciled, extinguish the evil whilst it is yet fresh; for should night overtake it, the morrow will not avail to extinguish the further evil which will have been collected in the night. Nay, even though thou shouldest cut off the greater portion, and yet not be able to cut off the whole, it will again supply from what is left for the following night, to make the blaze more violent. And just as, should the sun be unable by the heat of the day to soften and disperse that part of the air which has been during the night condensed into cloud, it affords material for a tempest, night overtaking the remainder, and feeding it again with fresh vapors: so also is it in the case of anger.
"Neither give place to the devil."
So then to be at war with one another, is "to give place to the devil"; for, whereas we had need to be all in close array, and to make our stand against him, we have relaxed our enmity against him, and are giving the signal for turning against each other; for never has the devil such place as in our enmities. Numberless are the evils thence produced. And as stones in a building, so long as they are closely fitted together and leave no interstice, will stand firm, while if there is but a single needle's passage through, or a crevice no broader than a hair, this destroys and ruins all; so is it with the devil. So long indeed as we are closely set and compacted together, he cannot introduce one of his wiles; but when he causes us to relax a little, he rushes in like a torrent. In every case he needs only a beginning, and this is the thing which it is difficult to accomplish; but this done, he makes room on all sides for himself. For henceforth he opens the ear to slanders, and they who speak lies are the more trusted: they have enmity which plays the advocate, not truth which judges justly. And as, where friendship is, even those evils which are true appear false, so where there is enmity, even the false appear true. There is a different mind, a different tribunal, which does not hear fairly, but with great bias and partiality. As, in a balance, if lead is cast into the scale, it will drag down the whole; so is it also here, only that the weight of enmity is far heavier than any lead. Wherefore, let us, I beseech you, do all we can to extinguish our enmities before the going down of the sun. For if you fail to master it on the very first day, both on the following, and oftentimes even for a year, you will be protracting it, and the enmity will thenceforward augment itself, and require nothing to aid it. For by causing us to suspect that words spoken in one sense were meant in another, and gestures also, and everything, it infuriates and exasperates us, and makes us more distempered than madmen, not enduring either to utter a name, or to hear it, but saying everything in invective and abuse. How then are we to allay this passion? How shall we extinguish the flame? By reflecting on our own sins, and how much we have to answer for to God; by reflecting that we are wreaking vengeance, not on an enemy, but on ourselves; by reflecting that we are delighting the devil, that we are strengthening our enemy, our real enemy, and that for him we are doing wrong to our own members. Wouldest thou be revengeful and be at enmity? Be at enmity, but be so with the devil, and not with a member of thine own. For this purpose it is that God hath armed us with anger, not that we should thrust the sword against our own bodies, but that we should baptize the whole blade in the devil's breast. There bury the sword up to the hilt; yea, if thou wilt, hilt and all, and never draw it out again, but add yet another and another. And this actually comes to pass when we are merciful to those of our own spiritual family and peaceably disposed one towards another. Perish money, perish glory and reputation; mine own member is dearer to me than they all. Thus let us say to ourselves; let us not do violence to our own nature to gain wealth, to obtain glory.
Ver. 28. "Let him that stole," saith he. "steal no more."
Seest thou what are the members of the old man? Falsehood, revenge, theft. Why said he not, "Let him that stole" be punished, be tortured, be racked; but, "let him steal no more"? "But rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need."
Where are they which are called pure; they that are full of all defilement, and yet dare to give themselves a name like this? For it is possible, very possible, to put off the reproach, not only by ceasing from the sin, but by working some good thing also. Perceive ye how we ought to get quit of the sin? "They stole." This is the sin. "They steal no more." This is not to do away the sin. But how shall they? If they labor, and charitably communicate to others, thus will they do away the sin. He does not simply desire that we should work, but so "work" as to "labor," so as that we may "communicate" to others. For the thief indeed works, but it is that which is evil.
Ver. 29. "Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth."
What is "corrupt speech"? That which is said elsewhere to be also "idle, backbiting, filthy communication, jesting, foolish talking." See ye how he is cutting up the very roots of anger? Lying, theft, unseasonable conversation. The words, however, "Let him steal no more," he does not say so much excusing them, as to pacify the injured parties, and to recommend them to be content, if they never suffer the like again. And well too does he give advice concerning conversation; inasmuch as we shall pay the penalty, not for our deeds only, but also for our words.
"But such as is good," he proceeds, "for edifying, as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear."
That is to say, What edifies thy neighbor, that only speak, not a word more. For to this end God gave thee a mouth and a tongue, that thou mightest give thanks to Him, that thou mightest build up thy neighbor. So that if thou destroy that building, better were it to be silent, and never to speak at all. For indeed the hands of the workmen, if instead of raising the walls, they should learn to pull them down, would justly deserve to be cut off. For so also saith the Psalmist; "The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips." (Ps. xii. 3.) The mouth,—this is the cause of all evil; or rather not the mouth, but they that make an evil use of it. From thence proceed insults, revilings, blasphemies, incentives to lusts, murders, adulteries, thefts, all have their origin from this. And how, you will say, do murders? Because from insult thou wilt go on to anger, from anger to blows, from blows to murder. And how, again, adultery? "Such a woman," one will say, "loves thee, she said something nice about thee." This at once unstrings thy firmness, and thus are thy passions kindled within thee.
Therefore Paul said, "such as is good." Since then there is so vast a flow of words, he with good reason speaks indefinitely, charging us to use expressions of that kind, and giving us a pattern of communication. What then is this? By saying, "for edifying," either he means this, that he who hears thee may be grateful to thee: as, for instance, a brother has committed fornication; do not make a display of the offense, nor revel in it; thou wilt be doing no good to him that hears thee; rather, it is likely, thou wilt hurt him, by giving him a stimulus. Whereas, advise him what to do, and thou art conferring on him a great obligation. Discipline him how to keep silence, teach him to revile no man, and thou hast taught him his best lesson, thou wilt have conferred upon him the highest obligation. Discourse with him on contrition, on piety, on almsgiving; all these things will soften his soul, for all these things he will own his obligation. Whereas by exciting his laughter, or by filthy communication, thou wilt rather be inflaming him. Applaud the wickedness, and thou wilt overturn and ruin him.
Or else he means thus, "that it may make them, the hearers, full of grace." For as sweet ointment gives grace to them that partake of it, so also does good speech. Hence it was moreover that one said, "Thy name is as ointment poured forth." (Cant. i. 3.) It caused them to exhale that sweet perfume. Thou seest that what he continually recommends, he is saying now also, charging every one according to his several ability to edify his neighbors. Thou then that givest such advice to others, how much more to thyself!
Ver. 30. "And grieve not," he adds, "the Holy Spirit of God."
A matter this more terrible and startling, as he also says in the Epistle to the Thessalonians; for there too he uses an expression of this sort. "He that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God." (1 Thess. iv. 8.) So also here. If thou utter a reproachful word, if thou strike thy brother, thou art not striking him, thou art "grieving the Holy Spirit." And then is added further the benefit bestowed, in order to heighten the rebuke.
"And grieve not the Holy Spirit," saith He, "in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption."
He it is who marks us as a royal flock; He, who separates us from all former things; He, who suffers us not to lie amongst them that are exposed to the wrath of God,—and dost thou grieve Him? Look how startling are his words there; "For he that rejecteth," saith he, "rejecteth not man, but God:" and how cutting they are here, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit," saith he, "in whom ye were sealed."
Moral. Let this seal then abide upon thy mouth, and never destroy the impression. A spiritual mouth never utters a thing of the kind. Say not, "It is nothing, if I do utter an unseemly word, if I do insult such an one." For this very reason is it a great evil, because it seems to be nothing. For things which seem to be nothing are thus easily thought lightly of; and those which are thought lightly of go on increasing; and those which go on increasing become incurable.
Thou hast a spiritual mouth. Think what words thou didst utter immediately upon being born,—what words are worthy of thy mouth. Thou callest God, "Father," and dost thou straightway revile thy brother? Think, whence is it thou callest God, "Father"? Is it from nature? No, thou couldest never say so. Is it from thy goodness? No, nor is it thus. But whence then is it? It is from pure lovingkindness, from tenderness, from His great mercy. Whenever then thou callest God, "Father," consider not only this, that by reviling thou art committing things unworthy of that, thy high birth, but also that it is of lovingkindness that thou hast that high birth. Disgrace it not then, after receiving it from pure lovingkindness, by showing cruelty towards thy brethren. Dost thou call God "Father," and yet revile? No, these are not the works of the Son of God. These are very far from Him. The work of the Son of God was to forgive His enemies, to pray for them that crucified Him, to shed His blood for them that hated Him. These are works worthy of the Son of God, to make His enemies,—the ungrateful, the dishonest, the reckless, the treacherous,—to make these brethren and heirs: not to treat them that are become brethren with ignominy like slaves.
Think what words thy mouth uttered,—of what table these words are worthy. Think what thy mouth touches, what it tastes, of what manner of food it partakes! Dost thou deem thyself to be doing nothing grievous in railing at thy brother? How then dost thou call him brother? And yet if he be not a brother, how sayest thou, "Our Father"? For the word "Our" is indicative of many persons. Think with whom thou standest at the time of the mysteries! With the Cherubim, with the Seraphim! The Seraphim revile not: no, their mouth fulfills this one only duty, to sing the Hymn of praise, to glorify God. And how then shall thou be able to say with them, "Holy, Holy, Holy," if thou use thy mouth for reviling? Tell me, I pray. Suppose there were a royal vessel, and that always full of royal dainties, and set apart for that purpose, and then that any one of the servants were to take and use it for holding dung. Would he ever venture again, after it had been filled with dung, to store it away with those other vessels set apart for those other uses? Surely not. Now railing is like this, reviling is like this. "Our Father!" But what? is this all? Hear also the words, which follow, "which art in Heaven." The moment thou sayest, "Our Father, which art in Heaven," the word raises thee up, it gives wings to thy mind, it points out to thee that thou hast a Father in Heaven. Do then nothing, speak nothing of things upon earth. He hath set thee amongst that host above, He hath numbered thee with that heavenly choir. Why dost thou drag thyself down? Thou art standing beside the royal throne, and thou revilest? Art thou not afraid lest the king should deem it an outrage? Why, if a servant, even with us, beats his fellow-servant or assaults him, even though he do it justly, yet we at once rebuke him, and deem the act an outrage; and yet dost thou, who art standing with the Cherubim beside the king's throne, revile thy brother? Seest thou not these holy vessels? Are they not used continually for only one purpose? Does any one ever venture to use them for any other? Yet art thou holier than these vessels yea, far holier. Why then defile, why contaminate thyself? Standest thou in Heaven, and dost thou revile? Hast thou thy citizenship with Angels, and dost thou revile? Art thou counted worthy the Lord's kiss, and dost thou revile? Hath God graced thy mouth with so many and great things, with hymns angelic, with food, not angelic, no, but more than angelic, with His own kiss, with His own embrace, and dost thou revile? Oh, no, I implore thee. Vast are the evils of which this is the source; far be it from a Christian soul. Do I not convince thee as I am speaking, do I not shame thee? Then does it now become my duty to alarm you. For hear what Christ saith: "Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire." (Matt. V. 22.) Now if that which is lightest of all leads to hell, of what shall not he be worthy, who utters presumptuous words? Let us discipline our mouth to silence. Great is the advantage from this, great the mischief from ill language. We must not spend our riches here. Let us put door and bolt upon them. Let us devour ourselves alive if ever a vexatious word slip out of our mouth. Let us entreat God, let us entreat him whom we have reviled. Let us not think it beneath us to do so. It is ourselves we have wounded, not him. Let us apply the remedy, prayer, and reconciliation with him whom we have reviled. If in our words we are to take such forethought, much more let us impose laws upon ourselves in our deeds. Yea, and if we have friends, whoever they may be, and they should speak evil to any man or revile him, demand of them and exact satisfaction. Let us by all means learn that such conduct is even sin; for if we learn this, we shall soon depart from it.
Now the God of peace keep both your mind and your tongue, and fence you with a sure fence, even His fear, through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory forever. Amen.
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice."
AS bees will never settle down in an unclean vessel,—and this is the reason why those who are skilled in these matters sprinkle the spot with perfumes, and scented ointments, and sweet odors; and the wicker baskets also, in which they will have to settle as soon as they come out of the hives they sprinkle with fragrant wines, and all other sweets, that there may be no noisome smell to annoy them, and drive them away again,—so in truth is it also with the Holy Spirit. Our soul is a sort of vessel or basket, capable of receiving the swarms of spiritual gifts; but if there shall be within it gall, and "bitterness, and wrath," the swarms will fly away. Hence this blessed and wise husbandman well and thoroughly cleanses our vessels, withholding neither knife nor any other instrument of iron, and invites us to this spiritual swarm; and as he gathers it, he cleanses us with prayers, and labors, and all the rest. Mark then how he cleanses out our heart. He has banished lying, he has banished anger. Now, again, he is pointing out how that evil may be yet more entirely eradicated; if we be not, saith he, "bitter" in spirit. For it is as is wont to happen with our bile, if there chance to be but little of it, there will be but little disturbance if the receptacle should burst: but if ever the strength and acridness of this quality becomes excessive, the vessel which before held it, containing it no longer, is as if it were eaten through by a scorching fire, and it is no longer able to hold it and contain it within its appointed bounds, but, rent asunder by its intense sharpness, it lets it escape and injure the whole body. And it is like some very fierce and frightful wild beast, that has been brought into a city; as long as it is confined in the cages made for it, however it may rage, however it may roar, it will be unable to do harm to any one; but if it is overcome by rage, and breaks through the intervening bars, and is able to leap out, it fills the city with all sorts of confusion and disturbance, and puts everybody to flight. Such indeed is the nature also of bile. As long as it is kept within its proper limits, it will do us no great mischief; but as soon as ever the membrane that incloses it bursts, and there is nothing to hinder its being at once dispersed over the whole system, then, I say, at that moment, though it be so very trifling in quantity, yet by reason of the inordinate strength of its quality it taints all the other elements of our nature with its own peculiar virulence. For finding the blood, for instance, near to it, alike in place and in quality, and rendering the heat which is in that blood more acrid, and everything else in fact which is near it; passing from its just temperature it overflows its bounds, turns all into gall, and therewith at once attacks likewise the other parts of the body; and thus infusing into all its own poisonous quality, it renders the man speechless, and causes him to expire, expelling life. Now, why have I stated all these things with such minuteness? It is in order that, understanding from this bitterness which is of the body the intolerable evil of that bitterness which is of the soul, and how entirely it destroys first of all the very soul that engenders it, making everything bitter, we may escape experience of it. For as the one inflames the whole constitution, so does the other the thoughts, and carries away its captive to the abyss of hell. In order then that by carefully examining these matters we may escape this evil, and bridle the monster, or rather utterly root it out, let us hearken to what Paul saith, "Let all bitterness be" (not destroyed, but) "put away" from you. For what need have I of trouble to restrain it, what necessity is there to keep watch on a monster, when it is in my power to expel him from my soul, to remove him and drive him out, as it were, into banishment? Let us hearken then to Paul when he saith, "Let all bitterness be put away from you." But, ah, the perversity that possesses us! Though we ought to do everything to effect this, yet are there some so truly senseless as to congratulate themselves upon this evil, and to pride themselves upon it, and to glory in it, and who are envied by others. "Such a one," say they, "is a bitter man, he is a scorpion, a serpent, a viper." They look upon him as one to be feared. But wherefore, good man, dost thou fear the bitter person? "I fear," you say, "lest he injure me, lest he destroy me; I am not proof against his malice, I am afraid lest he should take me who am a simple man, and unable to foresee any of his schemes, and throw me into his snares, and entangle us in the toils which he has set to deceive us." Now I cannot but smile. And why forsooth? Because these are the arguments of children, who fear things which are not to be feared. Surely there is nothing we ought so to despise, nothing we ought so to laugh to scorn, as a bitter and malicious man. For there is nothing so powerless as bitterness. It makes men fools and senseless.
Do ye not see that malice is blind? Have ye never heard, that he that diggeth a pit for his neighbors, diggeth it for himself? How, it may be said, ought we not to fear a soul full of tumult? If indeed we are to fear the bitter in the same way as we fear evil spirits, and fools and madmen, (for they indeed do everything at random,) I grant it myself; but if we are to fear them as men skillful in the conduct of affairs, that never. For nothing is so necessary for the proper conduct of affairs as prudence; and there is no greater hindrance to prudence than wickedness, and malice, and hollowness. Look at bilious persons, how unsightly they are, with all their bloom withered away. How weak they are, and puny, and unfit for anything. So also are souls of this nature. What else is wickedness, but a jaundice of the soul? Wickedness then has no strength in it, indeed it has not. Have yea mind that I again make what I am saying plain to you by an instance, by setting before you the portraits of a treacherous and a guileless man? Absalom was a treacherous man, and "stole all men's hearts." (2 Sam. xv. 6.) And observe how great was his treachery. "He went about," it saith, "and said, 'Hast thou no judgment?'" wishing to conciliate every one to himself. But David was guileless. What then? Look at the end of them both, look, how full of utter madness was the former! For inasmuch as he looked solely to the hurt of his father, in all other things he was blinded. But not so David. For "he that walketh uprightly, walketh surely" (Prov. x. 9); and reasonably; he is one that manages nothing over-subtilely, the man who devises no evil. Let us listen then to the blessed Paul, and let us pity, yea, let us weep for the bitter-minded, and let us practice every method, let us do everything to extirpate this vice from their souls. For how is it not absurd, that when there is bile within us (though that indeed is a useful element, for without bile a man cannot possibly exist, that bile, I mean, which is an element of his nature,) how then, I say, is it not absurd that we should do all we can to get rid of this, though we are so highly benefited by it; and yet that we should do nothing, nor take any pains, to get rid of that which is in the soul, though it is in no case beneficial, but even in the highest degree injurious. He that thinketh that he is "wise among you," saith he, "let him become a fool, that he may become wise." (1 Cor. iii. 18.) Hearken too again to what Luke saith, "They did take their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people." (Acts ii. 46, 47.) Why, do we not see even now that the simple and guileless enjoy the common esteem of all? No one envies such an one when he is in prosperity, no one tramples upon him when he is in adversity, but all rejoice with him when he does well, and grieve with him in misfortune. Whereas whenever a bitter man fares prosperously, one and all lament it, as though some evil thing happened; but if he is unfortunate, one and all rejoice. Let us then pity them, for they have common enemies all over the world. Jacob was a guileless man, yet he overcame the treacherous Esau. "For into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter." (Wisd. i. 4.) "Let all bitterness be put away from you.", Let not even a remnant remain, for it will be sure, if stirred, as if from a smouldering brand, to turn all within to an entire blaze. Let us then distinctly understand what this bitterness is. Take, for example, the hollow-hearted man, the crafty, the man who is on the watch to do mischief, the man of evil suspicion. From him then "wrath" and "anger" are ever produced; for it is not possible for a soul like this to be in tranquillity, but the very root of "anger" and "wrath" is "bitterness." The man of this character is both sullen, and never unbends his soul; he is always moody, always gloomy. For as I was saying, they themselves are the first to reap the fruit of their own evil ways.
"And clamor," he adds.
What now, and dost thou take away clamor also? Yes, for the mild man must needs be of such a character, because clamor carries anger, as a horse his rider; trip the horse, and you will throw the rider.
Moral. This let women above all attend to, them who on every occasion cry aloud and bawl. There is but one thing in which it is useful to cry aloud, in preaching and in teaching. But in no other case whatever, no, not even in prayer. And if thou wouldest learn a practical lesson, never cry aloud at all, and then wilt thou never be angry at all. Behold a way to keep your temper; for as it is not possible that the man that does not cry out should be enraged, so is it not that the man who does cry out should be otherwise than enraged. For tell me not of a man being implacable, and revengeful, and of pure natural bitterness, and natural choler. We are now speaking of the sudden paroxysm of this passion.
It contributes then no little to this end, to discipline the soul never to raise the voice and cry aloud at all. Cut off clamor, and thou wilt clip the wings of anger, thou dost repress the first rising of the heart. For as it is impossible for a man to wrestle without lifting up his hands, so is it not possible that he should be entangled in a quarrel without lifting up his voice. Bind the hands of the boxer, and then bid him strike. He will be unable to do so. So likewise will wrath be disarmed. But clamor raises it, even where it does not exist. And hence it is especially that the female sex are so easily overtaken in it. Women, whenever they are angry with their maid-servants, fill the whole house with their own clamor. And oftentimes too, if the house happens to be built along a narrow street, then all the passers-by hear the mistress scolding, and the maid weeping and wailing. What can possibly be more disgraceful than the sound of those wailings? What in the world has happened there? All the women round immediately peep in and one of them says, "Such a one is beating her own maid." Whatever can be more shameless than this? "What then, ought one not to strike at all?" No, I say not so, (for it must be done,) but then it must be neither frequently, nor immoderately, nor for any wrongs of thine own, as I am constantly saying, nor for any little failure in her service, but only if she is doing harm to her own soul. If thou chastise her for a fault of this kind, all will applaud, and there will be none to upbraid thee; but if thou do it for any reasons of thine own, all will condemn thy cruelty and harshness. And what is more base than all, there are some so fierce and so savage as to lash them to such a degree, that the bruises will not disappear with the day. For they will strip the damsels, and call their husbands for the purpose, and oftentimes tie them to the pallets. Alas! at that moment tell me, does no recollection of hell come over thee? What? dost thou strip thy handmaid, and expose her to thy husband? And art thou not ashamed, lest he should condemn thee for it? And then dost thou exasperate him yet more, and threaten to put her in chains, having first taunted the wretched and pitiable creature with ten thousand reproachful names, and called her "Thessalian witch, runaway, and prostitute"?
For her passion allows her not to spare even her own mouth, but she looks to one single object, how she may wreak her vengeance on the other, even though she disgrace herself. And then after all these things forsooth, she will sit in state like any tyrant, and call her children, and summon her foolish husband, and treat him as a hangman. Ought these things to take place in the houses of Christians? "Aye" say ye, "but slaves are a troublesome, audacious, impudent, incorrigible race." True, I know it myself, but there are other ways to keep them in order; by terrors, by threats, by words; which may both touch her more powerfully, and save thee from disgrace. Thou who art a free woman hast uttered foul words, and dost thou not disgrace thyself more than her? Then if she shall have occasion to go out to the bath, there are bruises on her back when she is naked, and she carries about with her the marks of thy cruelty. "But," say ye, "the whole tribe of slaves is intolerable if it meet with indulgence." True, I know it myself. But then, as I was saying, correct them in some other way, not by the scourge only, and by terror, but even by flattering them, and by acts of kindness. If she is a believer, she is thy sister. Consider that thou art her mistress, and that she ministers unto thee. If she be intemperate, cut off the occasions of drunkenness; call thy husband, and admonish her. Or dost thou not feel how disgraceful a thing it is for a woman to be beaten? They at least who have enacted ten thousand punishments for men,—the stake, and the rack,—will scarcely ever hang a woman, but limit men's anger to smiting her on the cheek; and so great respect have they observed towards the sex, that not even when there is absolute necessity have they often hung a woman, if she happen to be pregnant. For it is a disgrace for a man to strike a woman: and if for a man, much more for one of her own sex. It is moreover by these things that women become odious to their husbands. "What then," ye may say, "if she shall act the harlot?" Marry her to a husband; cut off the occasions of fornication, suffer her not to be too high fed. "What then, if she shall steal?" Take care of her, and watch her.—"Extravagant!" thou wilt say; "What, am I to be her keeper? How absurd!" And why, I pray, art thou not to be her keeper? Has she not the same kind of soul as thou? Has she not been vouchsafed the same privileges by God? Does she not partake of the same table? Does she not share with thee the same high birth? "But what then," ye will say, "if she shall be a railer, or a gossip, or a drunkard?" Yet, how many free women are such? Now, with all the failings of women God hath charged men to bear: only, He saith, let not a woman be an harlot, but every other failing besides bear with. Yea, be she drunkard, or railer, or gossip, or evil- eyed, or extravagant, and a squanderer of thy substance, thou hast her for the partner of thy life. Train and restrain her. Necessity is upon thee. It is for this thou art the head. Regulate her therefore, do thy own part. Yea, and if she remain incorrigible, yea, though she steal, take care of thy goods, and do not punish her so much. If she be a gossip, silence her. This is the very highest philosophy.
Now, however, some are come to such a height of indecency as to uncover the head, and to drag their maid-servants by the hair.—Why do ye all blush? I am not addressing myself to all, but to those who are carried away into such brutal conduct. Paul saith, "Let not a woman be uncovered." (1 Cor. xi. 5-15.) And dost thou then entirely strip off her headdress? Dost thou see how thou art doing outrage to thyself? If indeed she makes her appearance to thee with her head bare, thou callest it an insult. And dost thou say that there is nothing shocking when thou barest it thyself? Then ye will say, "What if she be not corrected?" Chasten her then with the rod and with stripes. And yet how many failings hast thou also thyself, and yet thou art not corrected! These things I am saying not for their sakes, but for the sake of you free-women, that ye do nothing so unworthy, nothing to disgrace you, that ye do yourselves no wrong. If thou wilt learn this lesson in thy household in dealing with thy maid-servant, and not be harsh but gentle and forbearing, much more wilt thou be so in thy behavior to thy husband. For she who, though having authority, does nothing of the sort, will do it much less where there is a check. So that the discipline employed about your maid-servants, will be of the greatest service to you in gaining the goodwill of your husbands. "For with what measure ye mete," He saith, "it shall be measured unto you." (Matt. vii. 2.) Set a bridle upon thy mouth. If thou art disciplined to bear bravely with a servant when she answers back, thou wilt not be annoyed with the insolence of an equal, and in being above annoyance, wilt have attained to the highest philosophy. But some there are who add even oaths, but there is nothing more shocking than a woman so enraged. But what again, ye will say, if she dress gaily? Why then, forbid this; thou hast my consent; but check it by first beginning with thyself, not so much by fear as by example. Be in everything thyself a perfect pattern.
"And let railing," saith he, "be put away from you." Observe the progress of mischief. Bitterness produces wrath, wrath anger, anger clamor, clamor railing, that is, revilings; next from evil-speaking it goes on to blows, from blows to wounds, from wounds to death. Paul, however, did not wish to mention any of these, but only this, "let this," saith he, "be put away from you, with all malice." What is "with all malice"? It ends with this. For there are some, like those dogs that bite secretly, which do not bark at all at those that come near them, nor are angry, but which fawn, and display a gentle aspect; but when they catch us off our guard, will fix their teeth in us. These are more dangerous than those that take up open enmity. Now since there are men too that are dogs, who neither cry out, nor fly in a passion, nor threaten us when they are offended, yet in secret are weaving plots, and contriving ten thousand mischiefs, and revenging themselves not in words but in deeds; he hints at these. Let those things be put away from you, saith he, "with all malice." Do not spare thy words, and then revenge thyself in acts. My purpose in chastising my tongue and curtailing its clamor, is to prevent its kindling up a more violent blaze. But if thou without any clamor art doing the same thing, and art cherishing the fire and the live coals within, where is the good of thy silence? Dost thou not know that those conflagrations are the most destructive of all which are fed within, and appear not to those that are without? And that those wounds are the deadliest which never break out to the surface; and those fevers the worst which burn up the vitals? So also is this anger the most dangerous that preys upon the soul. But let this too be put away from you, saith he, "with all malice," of every kind and degree, great and little. Let us then hearken to him, let us cast out all "bitterness and all malice," that we "grieve not the Holy Spirit." Let us destroy all bitterness; let us cut it up by the very roots. Nothing good, nothing healthful, can ever come from a bitter soul; nothing but misfortunes, nothing but tears, nothing but weeping and wailing. Do ye not see those beasts that roar or cry out, how we turn away from them; the lion, for instance, and the bear? But not so from the sheep; for there is no roaring, but a mild and gentle voice. And so again with musical instruments, those which are loud and harsh are the most unpleasant to the ear, such as the drum and trumpet; whereas those which are not so, but are soothing, these are pleasant, as the flute and lyre and pipe. Let us then prepare our soul so as never to cry aloud, and thus shall we be enabled also to gain the mastery over our anger. And when we have cut out this, we ourselves shall be the first to enjoy the calm, and we shall sail into that peaceful haven, which God grant we may all attain, in Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, together with the Holy Ghost, be unto the Father, glory, might, and honor, now, and ever, and throughout all ages. Amen.
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing be put away from you, with all malice And be ye kind one to another, tender- hearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you."'
If we are to attain to the kingdom of Heaven, it is not enough to abandon wickedness, but there must be abundant practice of that which is good also. To be delivered indeed from hell we must abstain from wickedness; but to attain to the kingdom we must cleave fast to virtue? Know ye not that even in the tribunals of the heathen, when examination is made of men's deeds, and the whole city is assembled, this is the case? Nay, there was an ancient custom amongst the heathen, to crown with a golden crown,—not the man who had done no evil to his country, for this were in itself no more than enough to save him from punishment;—rebut him who had displayed great public services. It was thus that a man was to be advanced to this distinction. But what I had especial need to say, had, I know not how, well nigh escaped me. Accordingly having made some slight correction of what I have said, I retract the first portion of this division.
For as I was saying that the departure from evil is sufficient to prevent our falling into hell, whilst I was speaking, there stole upon me a certain awful sentence, which does not merely bring down vengeance on them that dare to commit evil, but which also punishes those who omit any opportunity of doing good. What sentence then is this? When the day, the dreadful day, He saith, was arrived, and the set time was come, the Judge, seated on the judgment seat set the sheep on the right hand and the goats on the left; and to the sheep He said, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat." (Matt. xxv. 34.) So far, well. For it was meet that for such compassion they should receive this reward. That those, however, who did not communicate of their own possessions to them that were in need, that they should be punished, not merely by the loss of blessings, but by being also sent to hell-fire, what just reason, I say, can there be in this? Most certainly this too will have a fair show of reason, no less than the other case: for we are hence instructed, that they that have done good shall enjoy those good things that are in heaven, but they, who, though they have no evil indeed to be charged with, yet have omitted to do good, will be hurried away with them that have done evil into hell-fire. Unless one might indeed say this, that the very not doing good is a part of wickedness, inasmuch as it comes of indolence, and indolence is a part of vice, or rather, not a part, but a source and baneful root of it. For idleness is the teacher of all vice. Let us not then foolishly ask such questions as these, what place shall he occupy, who has done neither any evil nor any good? For the very not doing good, is in itself doing evil. Tell me, if thou hadst a servant, who should neither steal, nor insult, nor contradict thee, who moreover should keep from drunkenness and every other kind of vice, and yet should sit perpetually in idleness, and not doing one of those duties which a servant owes to his master, wouldest thou not chastise him, wouldest thou not put him to the rack? Tell me. And yet forsooth he has done no evil. No, but this is in itself doing evil. But let us, if you please, apply. this to other cases in life. Suppose then that of an husbandman. He does no damage to our property, he lays no plots against us, and he is not a thief, he only ties his hands behind him, and sits at home, neither sowing, nor cutting a single furrow, nor harnessing oxen to the yoke, nor looking after a vine, nor in fact discharging any one of those other labors required in husbandry. Now, I say, should we not punish such a man? And yet he has done no wrong to any one; we have no charge to make against him. No, but by this very thing has he done wrong. He does wrong in that he does not contribute his own share to the common stock of good. And what again, tell me, if every single artisan or mechanic were only to do no harm, say to one of a different craft,—nay, were to do no harm, even to one of his own, but only were to be idle, would not our whole life at that rate be utterly at an end and perish? Do you wish that I yet further extend the discourse with reference to the body also? Let the hand then neither strike the head, nor cut out the tongue, nor pluck out the eye, nor do any evil of this sort, but only remain idle, and not render its due service to the body at large; would it not be more fitting that it should be cut off, than that one should carry it about in idleness, and a detriment to the whole body? And what too, if the mouth, without either devouring the hand, or biting the breast, should nevertheless fail in all its proper duties; were it not far better that it should be stopped up? If therefore both in the case of servants, and of mechanics, and of the whole body, not only the commission of evil, but also the omission of what is good, is great unrighteousness, much more will this be the case in regard to the body of Christ.
MORAL. And therefore the blessed Paul also, in leading us away from sin, leads us on to virtue. For where, tell me, is the advantage of all the thorns being cut out, if the good seeds be not sown? For our labor, remaining unfinished, will come round and end in the same mischief. And therefore Paul also, in his deep and affectionate anxiety for us, does not let his admonitions stop at eradicating and destroying evil tempers, put urges us at once to evidence the implanting of good ones. For having said, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and clamor, and railing be put away from you, with all malice," he adds, "And be ye kind one to another, tender- hearted, forgiving each other." For all these are habits and dispositions. And our abandonment of the one thing is not sufficient to settle us in the habitual practice of the other, but there is need again of some fresh impulse, and of an effort not less than that made in our avoidance of evil dispositions, in order to our acquiring good ones. For so in the case of the body, the black man, if he gets rid of this complexion, does not straightway become white. Or rather let us not conduct our discourse with an argument from physical subjects, but draw our example from those which concern moral choice. He who is not our enemy, is not necessarily our friend; but there is an intermediate state, neither of enmity nor of friendship, which is perhaps that in which the greater part of mankind stand toward us. He that is not crying is not therefore necessarily also laughing, but there is a state between the two. And so, I say, is the case here. He that is not "bitter" is not necessarily "kind," neither is he that is not "wrathful" necessarily "tender-hearted"; but there is need of a distinct effort, in order to acquire this excellence. And now look how the blessed Paul according to the rules of the best husbandry, thoroughly cleans and works the land entrusted to him by the Husbandman. He has taken away the bad seeds; he now exhorts us to retain the good plants. "Be ye kind," saith he, for if, when the thorns are plucked up, the field remains idle, it will again bear unprofitable weeds. And therefore there is need to preoccupy its unoccupied and fallow state by the setting of good seeds and plants. He takes away "anger," he puts in "kindness"; he takes away "bitterness," he puts in "tender-heartedness"; he extirpates "malice" and "railing," he plants "forgiveness" in their stead. For the expression, "forgiving one another," is this; be disposed, he means, to forgive one another. And this forgiveness is greater than that which is shown in money- matters. For he indeed who forgives a debt of money to him that has borrowed of him, does, it is true, a noble and admirable deed, but then the kindness is confined to the body, though to himself indeed he repays a full recompense by that benefit which is spiritual and concerns the soul; whereas he who forgives trespasses will be benefiting alike his own soul, and the soul of him who receives the forgiveness. For by this way of acting, he not only renders himself, but the other also, more charitable. Because we do not so deeply touch the souls of those who have wronged us by revenging ourselves, as by pardoning them, and thus shaming them and putting them out of countenance. For by the other course we shall be doing no good, either to ourselves or to them, but shall be doing harm to both by seeking ourselves for retaliation, like the rulers of the Jews, and by kindling up the wrath that is in them; but if we return injustice with gentleness, we shall disarm all his anger, and shall be setting up in his breast a tribunal which will give a verdict in our favor, and will condemn him more severely than we ourselves could. For he will convict and will pass sentence upon himself, and will look for every pretext for repaying the share of long-suffering granted him with fuller measure, knowing that, if he repay it in equal measure, he is thus at a disadvantage, in not having himself made the beginning, but received the example from us. He will strive accordingly to exceed in measure, in order to eclipse, by the excess of his recompense, the disadvantage he himself sustains in having been second in making advances towards requital; and the disadvantage again which accrues to the other from the time, if he was the first sufferer, this he will make up by excess of kindness. For men, if they are right- minded, are not so affected by evil as by the good treatment they may receive at the hands of those whom they have injured. For it is a base sin, and it is matter of reproach and scorn for a man who is well-treated not to return it; whilst for a man who is ill-treated, not to go about to resent it, this has the praise and applause, and the good word of all. And therefore they are more deeply touched by this conduct than any.
So that if thou hast a wish to revenge thyself, revenge thyself in this manner. Return good for evil, that thou mayest render him even thy debtor, and achieve a glorious victory. Hast thou suffered evil? Do good; thus avenge thee of thine enemy. For if thou shalt go about to resent it, all will blame both thee and him alike. Whereas if thou shall endure it, it will be otherwise. Thee they will applaud and admire; but him they will reproach. And what greater punishment can there be to an enemy, than to behold his enemy admired and applauded by all men? What more bitter to an enemy, than to behold himself reproached by all before his enemy's face? If thou shalt avenge thee on him, thou wilt both be condemned perhaps thyself, and wilt be the sole avenger; whereas, if thou shalt forgive him, all will be avengers in thy stead. And this will be far more severe than any evil he can suffer, that his enemy should have so many to avenge him. If thou openest thy mouth, they will be silent; but if thou art silent, not with one tongue only, but with ten thousand tongues of others, thou smitest him, and art the more avenged. And on thee indeed, if thou shalt reproach him, many again will cast imputations (for they will say that thy words are those of passion); but when others who have suffered no wrong from him thus overwhelm him with reproaches, then is the revenge especially clear of all suspicion. For when they who have suffered no mischief, in consequence of thy excessive forbearance feel and sympathize with thee, as though they had been wronged themselves, this is a vengeance clear of all suspicion. "But what then," ye will say, "if no man should take vengeance?" It cannot be that men will be such stones, as to behold such wisdom and not admire it. And though they wreak not their vengeance on him at the time; still, afterwards, when they are in the mood, they will do so, and they will continue to scoff at him and abuse him. And if no one else admire thee, the man himself will most surely admire thee, though he may not own it. For our judgment of what is right, even though we be come to the very depth of wickedness, remains impartial and unbiased. Why, suppose ye, did our Lord Christ say, "Whosoever smiteth thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also"? (Matt. v. 39.) Is it not because the more long-suffering a man is, the more signal the benefit he confers both on himself and on the other? For this cause He charges us to "turn the other also," to satisfy the desire of the enraged. For who is such a monster as not to be at once put to shame? The very dogs are said to feel it; for if they bark and attack a man, and he throws himself on his back and does nothing, he puts a stop to all their wrath. If they then reverence the man who is ready to suffer evil from them, much more will the race of man do so, inasmuch as they are more rational.
However, it is right not to overlook what a little before came into my recollection, and was brought forward for a testimony. And what then was this? We were speaking of the Jews, and of the chief rulers amongst them, how that they were blamed, as seeking retaliation. And yet this the law permitted them; "eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." (Lev. xxiv. 20.) True, but not to the intent that men should pluck out each other's eyes, but that they should check boldness in aggression, by fear of suffering in return, and thus should neither do any evil to others, nor suffer any evil from others themselves. Therefore it was said, "eye for eye," to bind the hands of the aggressor, not to let thine loose against him; not to ward off the hurt from thine eyes only, but also to preserve his eyes safe and sound.
But, as to what I was enquiring about,—why, if retaliation was allowed, were they arraigned who practiced it? Whatever can this mean? He here speaks of vindictiveness; for on the spur of the moment he allows the sufferer to act, as I was saying, in order to check the aggressor; but to bear a grudge he permits no longer; because the act then is no longer one of passion, nor of boiling rage, but of malice premeditated. Now God forgives those who may be carried away, perhaps upon a sense of outrage, and rush out to resent it. Hence He says, "eye for eye"; and yet again, "the ways of the revengeful lead to death." Now, if, where it was permitted to put out eye for eye, so great a punishment is reserved for the revengeful, how much more for those who are bidden even to expose themselves to ill-treatment. Let us not then be revengeful, but let us quench our anger, that we may be counted worthy of the lovingkindness, which comes from God ("for with what measure," saith Christ, "ye mete, it shall be measured unto you, and with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged") (Matt. vii. 2), and that we may both escape the snares of this present life, and in the day that is at hand, may obtain pardon at His hands, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, both now and forever and ever. Amen.
"And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you. Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell."
The events which are past have greater force than those which are yet to come, and appear to be both more wonderful and more convincing. And hence accordingly Paul founds his exhortation upon the things which have already been done for us, inasmuch as they, on Christ's account, have a greater force. For to say, "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven" (Matt. vi. 14), and "if ye forgive not, ye shall in nowise be forgiven" (Matt. vi. 15),—this addressed to men of understanding, and men who believe in the things to come, is of great weight; but Paul appeals to the conscience not by these arguments only, but also by things already done for us. In the former way we may escape punishment, whereas in this latter we may have our share of some positive good. Thou imitatest Christ. This alone is enough to recommend virtue, that it is "to imitate God." This is a higher principle than the other, "for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust." (Matt. v. 45.) Because he does not merely say that we are "imitating God," but that we do so in those things wherein we receive ourselves such benefits. He would have us cherish the tender heart of fathers towards each other. For by heart, here, is meant lovingkindness and compassion. For inasmuch as it cannot be that, being men, we shall avoid either giving pain or suffering it, he does the next thing, he devises a remedy,—that we should forgive one another. And yet there is no comparison. For if thou indeed shouldest at this moment forgive any one, he will forgive thee again in return; whereas to God thou hast neither given nor forgiven anything. And thou indeed art forgiving a fellow-servant; whereas God is forgiving a servant, and an enemy, and one that hates Him.
"Even as God," saith he, "also in Christ forgave you."
And this, moreover, contains a high allusion. Not simply, he would say, hath He forgiven us, and at no risk or cost, but at the sacrifice of His Son; for that He might forgive thee, He sacrificed the Son; whereas thou, oftentimes, even when thou seest pardon to be both without risk and without cost, yet dost not grant it.
"Be ye therefore imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us an offering and sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell."
That thou mayest not then think it an act of necessity, hear how He saith, that "He gave Himself up." As thy Master loved thee, love thou thy friend. Nay, but neither wilt thou be able so to love; yet still do so as far as thou art able. Oh, what can be more blessed than a sound like this! Tell me of royalty or whatever else thou wilt, there is no comparison. Forgive: another, and thou art "imitating God," thou art made like unto God. It is more our duty to forgive trespasses than debts of money; for if thou forgive debts, thou hast not "imitated God"; whereas if thou shalt forgive trespasses, thou art "imitating God." And yet how shalt thou be able to say, "I am poor, and am not able to forgive it," that is, a debt, when thou forgivest not that which thou art able to forgive, that is, a trespass? And surely thou dost not deem that in this case there is any loss. Yea, is it not rather wealth, is it not abundance, is it not a plentiful store?
And behold yet another and a nobler incitement:—"as beloved children," saith he. Ye have yet another cogent reason to imitate Him, not only in that ye have received such good at His hands, but also in that ye are called His children. And since not all children imitate their fathers, but those which are beloved, therefore he saith, "as beloved children."
Ver. 2. "Walk in love."
Behold, here, the groundwork of all! So then where this is, there is no "wrath, no anger, no clamor, no railing," but all are done away. Accordingly he puts the chief point last. Whence wast thou made a child? Because thou wast forgiven. On the same ground on which thou hast had so vast a privilege vouchsafed thee, on that selfsame ground forgive thy neighbor. Tell me, I say, if thou wert in prison, and hadst ten thousand misdeeds to answer for, and some one were to bring thee into the palace; or rather to pass over this argument, suppose thou wert in a fever and in the agonies of death, and some one were to benefit thee by some medicine, wouldest thou not value him more than all, yea and the very name of the medicine? For if we thus regard occasions and places by which we are benefited, even as our own souls, much more shall we the things themselves. Be a lover then of love; for by this art thou saved, by this hast thou been made a son. And if thou shalt have it in thy power to save another, wilt thou not use the same remedy, and give the advice to all, "Forgive, that ye may be forgiven"? Thus to incite one another, were the part of grateful, of generous, and noble spirits.
"Even as Christ also," he adds, "loved you."
Thou art only sparing friends, He enemies. So then far greater is that boon which cometh from our Master. For how in our case is the "even as" preserved. Surely it is clear that it will be, by our doing good to our enemies.
"And gave Himself up for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell."
Seest thou that to suffer for one's enemies is "a sweet-smelling savor," and an "acceptable sacrifice"? And if thou shalt die, then wilt thou be indeed a sacrifice. This it is to "imitate God."
Ver. 3. "But fornication, and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints."
He has spoken of the bitter passion, of wrath; he now comes to the lesser evil: for that lust is the lesser evil, hear how Moses also in the law says, first, "Thou shalt do no murder" (Ex. xx. 13), which is the work of wrath, and then, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Ex. xx. 14), which is of lust. For as "bitterness," and "clamor," and "all malice," and "railing," and the like, are the works of the passionate man, so likewise are "fornication, uncleanness, covetousness," those of the lustful; since avarice and sensuality spring from the same passion. But just as in the former case he took away "clamor" as being the vehicle of" anger," so now does he "filthy talking" and "jesting" as being the vehicle of lust; for he proceeds,
Ver. 4. "Nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting; but rather giving of thanks."
Have no witticisms, no obscenities, either in word or in deed, and thou wilt quench the flame—"let them not even be named," saith he, "among you," that is, let them not anywhere even make their appearance. This he says also in writing to the Corinthians. "It is actually reported that there is fornication among you" (1 Cor. v. 1 ); as much as to say, Be ye all pure. For words are the way to acts. Then, that he may not appear a forbidding kind of person and austere, and a destroyer of playfulness, he goes on to add the reason, by saying, "which are not befitting," which have nothing to do with us—"but rather giving of thanks." What good is there in uttering a witticism? thou only raisest a laugh. Tell me, will the shoemaker ever busy himself about anything which does not belong to or befit his trade? or will he purchase any tool of that kind? No, never. Because the things we do not need, are nothing to us.
MORAL. Let there not be one idle word; for from idle words we fall also into foul words. The present is no season of loose merriment, but of mourning, of tribulation, and lamentation: and dost thou play the jester? What wrestler on entering the ring neglects the struggle with his adversary, and utters witticisms? The devil stands hard at hand, "he is going about roaring" (1 Pet. v. 8) to catch thee, he is moving everything, and turning everything against thy life, and is scheming to force thee from thy retreat, he is grinding his teeth and bellowing, he is breathing fire against thy salvation; and dost thou sit uttering witticisms, and "talking folly," and uttering things "which are not befitting." Full nobly then wilt thou be able to overcome him! We are in sport, beloved. Wouldest thou know the life of the saints? Listen to what Paul saith. "By the space of three years I ceased not to admonish every one night and day with tears." (Acts xx. 31.) And if so great was the zeal he exerted in behalf of them of Miletus and Ephesus, not making pleasant speeches, but introducing his admonition with tears, what should one say of the rest? But hearken again to what he says to the Corinthians. "Out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears." (2 Cor. ii. 4.) And again, "Who is weak, and I am not weak?" "Who is made to stumble, and I burn not?" (2 Cor. xi. 29.) And hearken again to what he says elsewhere, desiring every day, as one might say, to depart out of the world. "For indeed we that are in this tabernacle do groan" (2 Cor. v. 4); and dost thou laugh and play? It is war-time, and art thou handling the dancers' instruments? Look at the countenances of men in battle, their dark and contracted mien, their brow terrible and full of awe. Mark the stern eye, the heart eager and beating and throbbing, their spirit collected, and trembling and intensely anxious. All is good order, all is good discipline, all is silence in the camps of those who are arrayed against each other. They speak not, I do not say, an impertinent word, but they utter not a single sound. Now if they who have visible enemies, and who are in nowise injured by words, yet observe so great silence, dost thou who hast thy warfare, and the chief of thy warfare in words, dost thou leave this part naked and exposed? Or art thou ignorant that it is here that we are most beset with snares? Art thou amusing and enjoying thyself, and uttering witticisms and raising a laugh, and regarding the matter as a mere nothing? How many perjuries, how many injuries, how many filthy speeches have arisen from witticisms! "But no," ye will say, "pleasantries are not like this." Yet hear how he excludes all kinds of jesting. It is a time now of war and fighting, of watch and guard, of arming and arraying ourselves. The time of laughter can have no place here; for that is of the world. Hear what Christ saith: "The world shall rejoice, but ye shall be sorrowful." (John xvi. 20.) Christ was crucified for thy ills, and dost thou laugh? He was buffeted, and endured so great sufferings because of thy calamity, and the tempest that had overtaken thee; and dost thou play the reveler? And how wilt thou not then rather provoke Him?
But since the matter appears to some to be one of indifference, which moreover is difficult to be guarded against, let us discuss this point a little, to show you how vast an evil it is. For indeed this is a work of the devil, to make us disregard things indifferent. First of all then, even if it were indifferent, not even in that case were it right to disregard it, when one knows that the greatest evils are both produced and increased by it, and that it oftentimes terminates in fornication. However, that it is not even indifferent is evident from hence. Let us see then whence it is produced. Or rather, let us see what sort of a person a saint ought to be:- -gentle, meek, sorrowful, mournful, contrite. The man then who deals in jests is no saint. Nay, were he even a Greek, such an one would be scorned. These are things allowed to those only who are on the stage. Where filthiness is, there also is jesting; where unseasonable laughter is, there also is jesting. Hearken to what the Prophet saith, "Serve the Lord in fear, and rejoice with trembling." (Ps. ii. II.) Jesting renders the soul soft and indolent. It excites the soul unduly, and often it teems with acts of violence, and creates wars. But what more? In fine, hast thou not come to be among men? then "put away childish things." (I Cor. xiii. II.) Why, thou wilt not allow thine own servant in the market place to speak an impertinent word: and dost thou then, who sayest thou art a servant of God, go uttering thy witticisms in the public square? It is well if the soul that is "sober" be not stolen away; but one that is relaxed and dissolute, who cannot carry off? It will be its own murderer, and will stand in no need of the crafts or assaults of the devil.
But, moreover, in order to understand this, look too at the very name. It means the versatile man, the man of all complexions, the unstable, the pliable, the man that can be anything and everything. But far is this from those who are servants to the Rock. Such a character quickly turns and changes; for he must needs mimic both gesture and speech, and laugh and gait, and everything, aye, and such an one is obliged to invent jokes: for he needs this also. But far be this from a Christian, to play the buffoon. Farther, the man who plays the jester must of necessity incur the signal hatred of the objects of his random ridicule, whether they be present, or being absent hear of it.
If the thing is creditable, why is it left to mountebanks? What, dost thou make thyself a mountebank, and yet art not ashamed? Why is it ye permit not your gentlewomen to do so? Is it not that ye set it down as a mark of an immodest, and not of a discreet character? Great are the evils that dwell in a soul given to jesting; great is the ruin and desolation. Its consistency is broken, the building is decayed, fear is banished, reverence is gone. A tongue thou hast, not that thou mayest ridicule another man, but that thou mayest give thanks unto God. Look at your merriment-makers, as they are called, those buffoons. These are your jesters. Banish from your souls, I entreat you, this graceless accomplishment. It is the business of parasites, of mountebanks, of dancers, of harlots; far be it from a generous, far be it from a highborn soul, aye, far too even from slaves. If there be any one who has lost respect, if there be any vile person, that man is also a jester. To many indeed the thing appears to be even a virtue, and this truly calls for our sorrow. Just as lust by little and little drives headlong into fornication, so also does a turn for jesting. It seems to have a grace about it, yet there is nothing more graceless than this. For hear the Scripture which says, "Before the thunder goeth lightning, and before a shamefaced man shall go favor." Now there is nothing more shameless than the jester; so that his mouth is not full of favor, but of pain. Let us banish this custom from our tables. Yet are there some who teach it even to the poor! O monstrous! they make men in affliction play the jester. Why, where shall not this pest be found next? Already has it been brought into the Church itself. Already has it laid hold of the very Scriptures. Need I say anything to prove the enormity of the evil? I am ashamed indeed, but still nevertheless I will speak; for I am desirous to show to what a length the mischief has advanced, that I may not appear to be trifling, or to be discoursing to you on some trifling subject; that even thus I may be enabled to withdraw you from this delusion. And let no one think that I am fabricating, but I will tell you what I have really heard. A certain person happened to be in company with one of those who pride themselves highly on their knowledge (now I know I shall excite a smile, but still I will say it notwithstanding); and when the platter was set before him, he said, "Take and eat, children, lest your belly be angry!" And again, others say, "Woe unto thee, Mammon, and to him that hath thee not" and many like enormities has jesting introduced; as when they say, "Now is there no nativity." And this I say to show the enormity of this base temper; for these are the expressions of a soul destitute of all reverence. And are not these things enough to call down thunderbolts? And one might find many other such things which have been said by these men.
Wherefore, I entreat you, let us banish the custom universally, and speak those things which become us. Let not holy mouths utter the words of dishonorable and base men. "For what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity, or what communion hath light with darkness?" (2 Cor. vi. 14.) Happy will it be for us, if, having kept ourselves aloof from all such foul things, we be thus able to attain to the promised blessings; far indeed from dragging such a train after us, and sullying the purity of our minds by so many. For the man who will play the jester will soon go on to be a railer, and the railer will go on to heap ten thousand other mischiefs on himself. When then we shall have disciplined these two faculties of the soul, anger and desire (vid. Plat. Phaedr. cc. 25, 34), and have put them like well-broken horses under the yoke of reason, then let us set over them the mind as charioteer, that we may "gain the prize of our high calling" (Phil. iii. 14); which God grant that we may all attain, through Jesus Christ our Lord, with Whom, together with the Holy Ghost, be unto the Father, glory, might, and honor, now, and ever, and throughout all ages. Amen.
"For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, which is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience."
There were, it is likely, in the time of our forefathers also, some who "weakened the hands of the people" (Jer. xxxviii. 4), and brought into practice that which is mentioned by Ezekiel,—or rather who did the works of the false prophets, who "profaned God among His people for handfuls of barley" (Ezek. xiii. 19); a thing, by the way, done methinks by some even at this day. When, for example, we say that he who calleth his brother a fool shall depart into hell-fire, others say, "What? Is he that calls his brother a fool to depart into hell-fire? Impossible," say they. And again, when we say that "the covetous man is an idolater," in this too again they make abatements, and say the expression is hyperbolical. And in this manner they underrate and explain away all the commandments. It was in allusion then to these that the blessed Paul, at this time when he wrote to the Ephesians, spoke thus, "For this ye know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, which is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God"; adding, "let no man deceive you with empty words." Now "empty words" are those which for a while are gratifying, but are in nowise borne out in facts; because the whole case is a deception.
"Because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience."
Because of "fornication," he means, because of "covetousness," because of "uncleanness," or both because of these things, and because of the "deceit," inasmuch as there are deceivers. "Sons of disobedience"; he thus calls those who are utterly disobedient, those who disobey Him.
Ver. 7, 8. "Be not ye, therefore, partakers with them. For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord."
Observe how wisely he urges them forward; first, from the thought of Christ, that ye love one another, and do injury to no man; then, on the other hand, from the thought of punishment and hell-fire. "For ye were once darkness," says he, "but are now light in the Lord." Which is what he says also in the Epistle to the Romans; "What fruit then had ye at that time in the things whereof ye are now ashamed?" (Rom. vi. 21), and reminds them of their former wickedness. That is to say, thinking what ye once were, and what ye are now become, do not run back into your former wickedness, nor do "despite to the grace" (Heb. x. 29) of God.
"Ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord!"
Not, he says, by your own virtue, but through the grace of God has this accrued to you. That is to say, ye also were sometime worthy of the same punishments, but now are so no more. "Walk" therefore "as children of light." What is meant however by "children of light," he adds afterwards.
Ver. 9, 10. "For the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth, proving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord."
"In all goodness," he says: this is opposed to the angry, and the bitter: "and righteousness"; this to the covetous: "and truth"; this to false pleasure: not those former things, he says, which I was mentioning, but their opposites. "In all"; that is, the fruit of the Spirit ought to be evinced in everything. "Proving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord"; so that those things are tokens of a childish and imperfect mind.
Ver. 11, 12, 13. "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them. For the things which are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of. But all things when they are reproved, are made manifest by the light."
He had said, "ye are light." Now the light reproves by exposing the things which take place in the darkness. So that if ye, says he, are virtuous, and conspicuous, the wicked will be unable to lie hidden. For just as when a candle is set, all are brought to light, and the thief cannot enter; so if your light shine, the wicked being discovered shall be caught. So then it is our duty to expose them. How then does our Lord say, "Judge not, that ye be not judged"? (Matt. vii. I, 3.) Paul did not say "judge," he said "reprove," that is, correct. And the words, "Judge not, that ye be not judged," He spoke with reference to very small errors. Indeed, He added, "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" But what Paul is saying is of this sort. As a wound, so long as it is imbedded and concealed outwardly, and runs beneath the surface, receives no attention, so also sin, as long as it is concealed, being as it were in darkness, is daringly committed in full security; but as soon as "it is made manifest," becomes "light"; not indeed the sin itself, (for how could that be?) but the sinner. For when he has been brought out to light, when he has been admonished, when he has repented, when he has obtained pardon, hast thou not cleared away all his darkness? Hast thou not then healed his wound? Hast thou not called his unfruitfulness into fruit? Either this is his meaning, or else what I said above, that your life "being manifest, is light." For no one hides an irreproachable life; whereas things which are hidden, are hidden by darkness covering them.
Ver. 14. "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee."
By the "sleeper" and the "dead," he means the man that is in sin; for he both exhales noisome odors like the dead, and is inactive like one that is asleep, and like him he sees nothing, but is dreaming, and forming fancies and illusions. Some indeed read, "And thou shalt touch Christ "; but others, "And Christ shall shine Upon thee "; and it is rather this latter. Depart from sin, and thou shalt be able to behold Christ. "For every one that doeth ill, hateth the light, and cometh not to the light." (John iii. 20. ) He therefore that doeth it not, cometh to the light.
Now he is not saying this with reference to the unbelievers only, for many of the faithful, no less than unbelievers, hold fast by wickedness; nay, some far more. Therefore to these also it is necessary to exclaim, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee." To these it is fitting to say this also, "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matt. xxii. 32.) If then he is not the God of the dead, let us live.
Now there are some who say that the words, "the covetous man is an idolater," are hyperbolical. However, the statement is not hyperbolical, it is true. How, and in what way? Because the covetous man apostatizes from God, just as the idolater does. And lest you should imagine this is a bare assertion, there is a declaration of Christ which saith, "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." (Matt. vi. 24.) If then it is not possible to serve God and Mammon, they who serve Mammon have thrown themselves out of the service of God; and they who have denied His sovereignty, and serve lifeless gold, it is plain enough that they are idolaters. "But I never made an idol," a man will say, "nor set up an altar, nor sacrificed sheep, nor poured libations of wine; no, I came into the church, and lifted up my hands to the Only-begotten Son of God; I partake of the mysteries, I communicate in prayer, and in everything else which is a Christian's duty. How then," he will say, "am I a worshiper of idols?" Yes, and this is the very thing which is the most astonishing of all, that when thou hast had experience, and hast "tasted" the lovingkindness of God, and "hast seen that the Lord is gracious" (Ps. xxxiv. 8), thou shouldest abandon Him who is gracious, and take to thyself a cruel tyrant, and shouldest pretend to be serving Him, whilst in reality thou hast submitted thyself to the hard and galling yoke of covetousness. Thou hast not yet told me of thy own duty done, but only of thy Master's gifts. For tell me, I beseech thee, whence do we judge of a soldier? Is it when he is on duty guarding the king, and is fed by him, and called the king's own, or is it when he is minding his own affairs and interests? To pretend to be with him, and to be attentive to his interests whilst he is advancing the cause of the enemy, we declare to be worse than if he breaks away from the king's service, and joins the enemy. Now then thou art doing despite to God, just as an idolater does, not with thine own mouth singly, but with the ten thousands of those whom thou hast wronged. Yet you will say, "an idolater he is not." But surely, whenever they say, "Oh! that Christian, that covetous fellow," then not only is he himself committing outrage by his own act, but he frequently forces those also whom he has wronged to use these words; and if they use them not, this is to be set to the account of their reverence.
Do we not see that such is the fact? What else is an idolater? Or does not he too worship passions, oftentimes not mastering his passions? I mean, for example, when we say that the pagan idolater worships idols, he will say, "No, but it is Venus, or it is Mars." And if we say, Who is this Venus? the more modest amongst them will say, It is pleasure. Or what is this Mars? It is wrath. And in the same way dost thou worship Mammon. If we say, Who is this Mammon? It is covetousness, and this thou art worshiping. "I worship it not," thou wilt say. Why not? Because thou dost not bow thyself down? Nay, but as it is, thou art far more a worshiper in thy deeds and practices; for this is the higher kind of worship. And that you may understand this, look in the case of God; who more truly worship Him, they who merely stand up at the prayers, or they who do His will? Clearly enough, these latter. The same also is it with the worshipers of Mammon; they who do his will, they truly are his worshipers. However, they who worship the passions are oftentimes free from the passions. One may see a worshiper of Mars oftentimes governing his wrath. But this is not true of thee; thou makest thyself a slave to thy passion.
Yes, but thou slayest no sheep? No, thou slayest men, reasonable souls, some by famine, others by blasphemies. Nothing can be more frenzied than a sacrifice like this. Who ever beheld souls sacrificed? How accursed is the altar of covetousness! When thou passest by this idol's altar here, thou shalt see it reeking with the blood of bullocks and goats; but when thou shalt pass by the altar of covetousness, thou shalt see it breathing the shocking odor of human blood. Stand here before it in this world, and thou shalt see, not the wings of birds burning, no vapor, no smoke exhaled, but the bodies of men perishing. For some throw themselves among precipices, others tie the halter, others thrust the dagger through their throat. Hast thou seen the cruel and inhuman sacrifices? Wouldest thou see yet more shocking ones than these? Then I will show thee no longer the bodies of men, but the souls of men slaughtered in the other world. Yes, for it is possible for a soul to be slain with the slaughter peculiar to the soul; for as there is a death of the body, so is there also of the soul. "The soul that sinneth," saith the Prophet," it shall die." (Ezek. xviii. 4.) The death of the soul, however, is not like the death of the body; it is far more shocking. For this bodily death, separating the soul and the body the one from the other, releases the one from many anxieties and toils, and transmits the other into a manifest abode: then when the body has been in time dissolved and crumbled away, it is again gathered together in incorruption, and receives back its own proper soul. Such we see is this bodily death. But that of the soul is awful and terrific. For this death, when dissolution takes place, does not let it pass, as the body does, but binds it down again to an imperishable body, and consigns it to the unquenchable fire. This then is the death of the soul. And as therefore there is a death of the soul, so is there also a slaughter of the soul. What is the slaughter of the body? It is the being turned into a corpse, the being stripped of the energy derived from the soul. What is the slaughter of the soul? It is its being made a corpse also. And how is the soul made a corpse? Because as the body then becomes a corpse when the soul leaves it destitute of its own vital energy, so also does the soul then become a corpse, when the Holy Spirit leaves it destitute of His spiritual energy.
Such for the most part are the slaughters made at the altar of covetousness. They are not satisfied, they do not stop at men's blood no, the altar of covetousness is not glutted, unless it sacrifice the very soul itself also, unless it receive the souls of both, the sacrificer and the sacrificed. For he who sacrifices must first be sacrificed, and then he sacrifices; and the dead sacrifices him who is yet living. For when he utters blasphemies, when he reviles, when he is irritated, are not these so many incurable wounds of the soul?
Thou hast seen that the expression is no hyperbole. Wouldest thou hear again another argument, to teach you how covetousness is idolatry, and more shocking than idolatry? Idolaters worship the creatures of God ("for they worshiped," it is said, "and served the creature rather than the Creator") (Rom. i. 25); but thou art worshiping a creature of thine own. For God made not covetousness but thine own insatiable appetite invented it. And look at the madness and folly. They that worship idols, honor also the idols they worship; and if any one speak of them with disrespect or ridicule, they stand up in their defense; whereas thou, as if in a sort of intoxication, art worshiping an object, which is so far from being free from accusation, that it is even full of impiety. So that thou, even more than they, excellest in wickedness. Thou canst never have it to say as an excuse, that it is no evil. If even they are in the highest degree without excuse, yet art thou in a far higher, who art forever censuring covetousness, and reviling those who devote themselves to it, and who yet doth serve and obey it.
We will examine, if you please, whence idolatry took its rise. A certain wise man (Wisd. xiv. 16) tells us, that a certain rich man afflicted with untimely mourning for his son, and having no consolation for his sorrow, consoled his passion in this way: having made a lifeless image of the dead, and constantly gazing at it, he seemed through the image to have his departed one still; whilst certain flatterers, "whose God was their belly" (Phil. iii. 19), treating the image with reverence in order to do him honor, carried on the custom into idolatry. So then it took its rise from weakness of soul, from a senseless custom, from extravagance. But not so covetousness: from weakness of soul indeed it is, only that it is from a worse weakness. It is not that any one has lost a son, nor that he is seeking for consolation in sorrow. nor that he is drawn on by flatterers. But how is it? I will tell you. Cain in covetousness overreached God; what ought to have been given to Him, he kept to himself; what he should have kept himself, this he offered to Him; and thus the evil began even from God. For if we are God's, much more are the first- fruits of our possessions. Again, men's violent passion for women arose from covetousness. "They saw the daughters of men" (Gen. vi. 2), and they rushed headlong into lust. And from hence again it went on to money; for the wish to have more than one's neighbor of this world's goods, arises from no other source, than from "love waxing cold." The wish to have more than one's share arises from no other source than recklessness, misanthropy, and arrogance toward others. Look at the earth, how wide is its extent? How far greater than we can use the expanse of the sky and the heaven? It is that He might put an end to thy covetousness, that God hath thus widely extended the bounds of the creation. And art thou then still grasping and even thus? And dost thou hear that covetousness is idolatry, and not shudder even at this? Dost thou wish to inherit the earth? Then hast thou no inheritance in heaven. Art thou eager to leave an inheritance to others, that thou mayest rob thyself of it? Tell me, if any one were to offer thee power to possess all things, wouldest thou be unwilling? It is in thy power now, if thou wilt. Some, however, say, that they are grieved when they transmit the inheritance to others, and would fain have consumed it themselves, rather than see others become its masters. Nor do I acquit thee of this weakness; for this too is characteristic of a weak soul. However, at least let as much as this be done. In thy will leave Christ thine heir. It were thy duty indeed to do so in thy lifetime, for this would show a right disposition. Still, at all events, be a little generous, though it be but by necessity. For Christ indeed charged us to give to the poor with this object, to make us wise in our lifetime, to induce us to despise money, to teach us to look down upon earthly things. It is no contempt of money, as you think, to bestow it upon this man and upon that man when one dies, and is no longer master of it. Thou art then no longer giving of thine own, but of absolute necessity: thanks to death, not to thee. This is no act of affection, it is thy loss. However, let it be done even thus; at least then give up thy passion.
MORAL. Consider how many acts of plunder, how many acts of covetousness, thou hast committed. Restore all fourfold. Thus plead thy cause to God. Some, however, there are who are arrived at such a pitch of madness and blindness, as not even then to comprehend their duty; but who go on acting in all cases, just as if they were taking pains to make the judgment of God yet heavier to themselves. This is the reason why our blessed Apostle writes and says, "Walk as children of light." Now the covetous man of all others lives in darkness, and spreads great darkness over all things around.
"And have no fellowship," he adds, "with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them; for the things which are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of; but all things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light." Hearken, I entreat you, all, as many of you as like not to be hated for nothing, but to be loved. "What need is there to be hated?" one says. A man commits a robbery, and dost thou not reprove him, but art afraid of his hatred? though this, however, is not being hated for nothing. But dost thou justly convict him, and yet fear the hatred? Convict thy brother, incur enmity for the love's sake which thou owest to Christ, for the love's sake which thou owest to thy brother. Arrest him as he is on his road to the pit of destruction. For to admit him to our table, to treat him with civil speeches, with salutations, and with entertainments, these are no signal proofs of friendship. No, those I have mentioned are the boons which we must bestow upon our friends, that we may rescue their souls from the wrath of God. When we see them lying prostrate in the furnace of wickedness, let us raise them up. "But," they say, it is of no use, he is incorrigible." However, do thou thy duty, and then thou hast excused thyself to God. Hide not thy talent. It is for this that thou hast speech, it is for this thou hast a mouth and a tongue, that thou mayest correct thy neighbor. It is dumb and reasonless creatures only that have no care for their neighbor, and take no account of others. But dost thou while calling God, "Father," and thy neighbor, "brother," when thou seest him committing unnumbered wickednesses, dost thou prefer his good-will to his welfare? No, do not so, I entreat you. There is no evidence of friendship so true as never to overlook the sins of our brethren. Didst thou see them at enmity? Reconcile them. Didst thou see them guilty of covetousness? Check them. Didst thou see them wronged? Stand up in their defense. It is not on them, it is on thyself thou art conferring the chief benefit. It is for this we are friends, that we may be of use one to another. A man will listen in a different spirit to a friend, and to any other chance person. A chance person he will regard perhaps with suspicion, and so in like manner will he a teacher, but not so a friend.
"For," he says, "the things which are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of: but all things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light." What is it he means to say here? He means this. That some sins in this world are done in secret, and some also openly; but in the other it shall not be so. Now there is no one who is not conscious to himself of some sin. This is why he says," But all the things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light." What then? Is this again, it will be said, meant concerning idolatry? It is not; the argument is about our life and our sins. "For everything that is made manifest," says he, "is light."
Wherefore, I entreat you, be ye never backward to reprove, nor displeased at being reproved. For as long indeed as anything is carried on in the dark, it is carried on with greater security; but when it has many to witness what is done, it is brought to light. By all means then let us do all we can to chase away the deadness which is in our brethren, to scatter the darkness, and to attract to us the "Sun of righteousness." For if there be many shining lights, the path of virtue will be easy to themselves, and they which are in darkness will be more easily detected, while the light is held forth and puts the darkness to flight. Whereas if it be the reverse, there is fear lest as the thick mist of darkness and of sin overpowers the light, and dispels its transparency, those shining lights themselves should be extinguished. Let us be then disposed to benefit one another, that one and all, we may offer up praise and glory to the God of lovingkindness, by the grace and loving-kindness of the only begotten Son with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, strength, honor now and forever and forever. Amen.
"Look then carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."
He is still cleansing away the root of bitterness, still cutting off the very groundwork of anger) For what is he saying? "Look carefully how ye walk." "They are sheep in the midst of wolves," and he charges them to be also "as doves." For "ye shall be harmless," saith he, "as doves." (Matt. x. 16.) Forasmuch then as they were both amongst wolves, and were besides commanded not to defend themselves, but to suffer evil, they needed this admonition. Not indeed but that the former was sufficient to render them stronger; but now that there is besides the addition of the two, reflect how exceedingly it is heightened. Observe then here also, how carefully he secures them, by saying, "Look how ye walk." Whole cities were at war with them; yea, this war made its way also into houses. They were divided, father against son, and son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against mother. What then? Whence these divisions? They heard Christ say, "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me." (Matt. x. 37.) Lest therefore they should think that he was without reason introducing wars and fightings, (since there was likely to be much anger produced, if they on their part were to retaliate,) to prevent this, he says, "See carefully how ye walk." That is to say, "Except the Gospel message, give no other handle on any score whatever, for the hatred which you will incur." Let this be the only ground of hatred. Let no one have any other charge to make against you; but show all deference and obedience, whenever it does no harm to the message, whenever it does not stand in the way of godliness. For it is said, "Render to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute, custom to whom custom." (Rom. xiii. 7.) For when amongst the rest of the world they shall see us forbearing, they will be put to shame.
"Not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming the time."
It is not from any wish that you should be artful, and versatile, that he gives this advice. But what he means is this. The time is not yours. At present ye are strangers, and sojourners, and foreigners, and aliens; seek not honors, seek not glory, seek not authority, nor revenge; bear all things, and in this way, "redeem the time"; give up many things, anything they may require. Imagine now, I say, a man had a magnificent house, and persons were to make their way in, on purpose to murder him, and he were to give a large sum, and thus to rescue himself. Then we should say, he has redeemed himself. So also hast thou a large house, and a true faith in thy keeping. They will come to take all away. Give whatever they may demand, only preserve the principal thing, I mean the faith.
"Because the days" saith he "are evil."
What is the evil of the day? The evil of the day ought to belong to the day. What is the evil of a body? Disease. And what again the evil of the soul? Wickedness. What is the evil of water? Bitterness. And the evil of each particular thing, is with reference to that nature of it which is affected by the evil. If then there is an evil in the day, it ought to belong to the day, to the hours, to the day-light. So also Christ saith, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matt. vi. 34.) And from this expression we shall understand the other. In what sense then does he call "the days evil "? In what sense the "time" evil? It is not the essence of the thing, not the things as so created, but it is the things transacted in them. In the same way as we are in the habit of saying, "I have passed a disagreeable and wretched day." And yet how could it be disagreeable, except from the circumstances which took place in it? Now the events which take place in it are, good things from God, but evil things from bad men. So then of the evils which happen in the times, men are the creators, and hence it is that the times are said to be evil. And thus we also call the times evil.
Ver. 17, 18. "Wherefore," he adds, "be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is; and be not drunk with wine, wherein is riot."
For indeed intemperance in this renders men passionate and violent, and hot-headed, and irritable and savage. Wine has been given us for cheerfulness, not for drunkenness. Whereas now it appears to be an unmanly and contemptible thing for a man not to get drunk. And what sort of hope then is there of salvation? What? contemptible, tell me, not to get drunk, where to get drunk ought of all things in the world to be most contemptible? For it is of all things right for even a private individual to keep himself far from drunkenness; but how much more so for a soldier, a man who lives amongst swords, and bloodshed, and slaughter: much more, I say, for the soldier, when his temper is sharpened by other causes also, by power, by authority, by being constantly in the midst of stratagems and battles. Wouldest thou know where wine is good? Hear what the Scripture saith, "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto the bitter in soul." (Prov. xxxi. 6.) And justly, because it can mitigate asperity and gloominess, and drive away clouds from the brow. "Wine maketh glad the heart of man" (Ps. civ. 15), says the Psalmist. How then does wine produce drunkenness? For it cannot be that one and the same thing should work opposite effects. Drunkenness then surely does not arise from wine, but from intemperance. Wine is bestowed upon us for no other purpose than for bodily health; but this purpose also is thwarted by immoderate use. But hear moreover what our blessed Apostle writes and says to Timothy, "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities."
This is the reason why God has formed our bodies in moderate proportions, and so as to be satisfied with a little, from thence at once instructing us that He has made us adapted to another life. And that life He would fain have bestowed upon us even from the very beginning; but since we rendered ourselves unworthy of it, He deferred it; and in the time during which He deferred it, not even in that does He allow us immoderate indulgence; for a little cup of wine and a single loaf is enough to satisfy a manes hunger. And man the lord of all the brute creation has He formed so as to require less food in proportion than they, and his body small; thereby declaring to us nothing else than this, that we are hastening onward to another life. "Be not drunk," says he, "with wine, wherein is riot"; for it does not save but it destroys; and that, not the body only, but the soul also.
Ver. 18, 19, 20, 21. "But be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God even the Father; subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ."
Dost thou wish, he says, to be cheerful, dost thou wish to employ the day? I give thee spiritual drink; for drunkenness even cuts off the articulate sound of our tongue; it makes us lisp and stammer, and distorts the eyes, and the whole frame together. Learn to sing psalms, and thou shall see the delightfulness of the employment. For they who sing psalms are filled with the Holy Spirit, as they who sing satanic songs are filled with an unclean spirit.
What is meant by "with your hearts to the Lord"? It means, with close attention and understanding. For they who do not attend closely, merely sing, uttering the words, whilst their heart is roaming elsewhere.
"Always," he says, "giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ unto God even the Father, subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ."
That is, "let your requests be made known unto God, with thanksgiving" (Phil. iv. 6); for there is nothing so pleasing to God, as for a man to be thankful. But we shall be best able to give thanks unto God, by withdrawing our souls from the things before mentioned, and by thoroughly cleansing them by the means he has told us.
"But be filled," says he, "with the Spirit."
And is then this Spirit within us? Yes, indeed, within us. For when we have driven away lying, and bitterness, and fornication, and uncleanness, and covetousness, from our souls, when we are become kind, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, when there is no jesting, when we have rendered ourselves worthy of it, what is there to hinder the Holy Spirit from coming and lighting upon us? And not only will He come unto us, but He will fill our hearts; and when we have so great a light kindled within us, then will the way of virtue be no longer difficult to attain, but will be easy and simple.
"Giving thanks always, he says, "for all things."
What then? Are we to give thanks for everything that befalls us? Yes; be it even disease, be it even penury. For if a certain wise man gave this advice in the Old Testament, and said, "Whatsoever is brought upon thee take cheerfully, and be patient when thou art changed to a low estate" (Ecclus. ii, 4); much more ought this to be the case in the New. Yes, even though thou know not the word, give thanks. For this is thanksgiving. But if thou give thanks when thou art in comfort and in affluence, in success and in prosperity, there is nothing great, nothing wonderful in that. What is required is, for a man to give thanks when he is in afflictions, in anguish, in discouragements. Utter no word in preference to this, "Lord, I thank thee." And why do I speak of the afflictions of this world? It is our duty to give God thanks, even for hell itself, for the torments and punishments of the next world. For surely it is a thing beneficial to those who attend to it, when the dread of hell is laid like a bridle on our hearts. Let us therefore give thanks not only for blessings which we see, but also for those which we see not, and for those which we receive against our will. For many are the blessings He bestows upon us, without our desire, without our knowledge. And if ye believe me not, I will at once proceed to make the case clear to you. For consider, I pray, do not the impious and unbelieving Gentiles ascribe everything to the sun and to their idols? But what then? Doth He not bestow blessings even upon them? Is it not the work of His providence, that they both have life, and health, and children, and the like? And again they that are called Marcionites, and the Manichees, do they not even blaspheme Him? But what then? Does He not bestow blessings on them every day? Now if He bestows blessings on them that know them not, much more does he bestow them upon us. For what else is the peculiar work of God if it be not this, to do good to all mankind, alike by chastisements and by enjoyments? Let us not then give thanks only when we are in prosperity, for there is nothing great in this. And this the devil also well knows, and therefore he said, "Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast Thou not made an hedge about him and about all that he hath on every side? Touch all that he hath; no doubt, he will renounce Thee to Thy face!" (Job i. 10, 11.) However, that cursed one gained no advantage; and God forbid he should gain any advantage of us either; but whenever we are either in penury, or in sicknesses, or in disasters, then let us increase our thanksgiving; thanksgiving, I mean, not in words, nor in tongue, but in deeds and works, in mind and in heart. Let us give thanks unto Him with all our souls. For He loves us more than our parents; and wide as is the difference between evil and goodness, so great is the difference between the love of God and that of our fathers. And these are not my words, but those of Christ Himself Who loveth us. And hear what He Himself saith, "What man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" (Matt. vii. 9, 11.) And again, bear what He saith also elsewhere: "Can a woman forget her sucking child that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will not I forget thee, saith the Lord." (Isa. xlix. 15.) For if He loveth us not, wherefore did He create us? Had He any necessity? Do we supply to Him any ministry and service? Needeth He anything that we can render? Hear what the Prophet says; "I have said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord, I have no good beyond Thee." (Ps. xvi. 2.)
The ungrateful, however, and unfeeling say, that this were worthy of God's goodness, that there should be an equality amongst all. Tell me, ungrateful mortal, what sort of things are they which thou deniest to be of God's goodness, and what equality meanest thou? "Such an one," thou wilt say, "has been a cripple from his childhood; another is mad, and is possessed; another has arrived at extreme old age, and has spent his whole life in poverty; another in the most painful diseases: are these works of Providence? One man is deaf, another dumb, another poor, whilst another, impious, yea, utterly impious, and full of ten thousand vices, enjoys wealth, and keeps concubines, and parasites, and is owner of a splendid mansion, and lives an idle life." And many instances of the sort they string together, and weave a long account of complaint against the providence of God.
What then are we to say to them? Now if they were Greeks, and were to tell us that the universe is governed by some one or other, we should in turn address. to them the self-same words, "What then, are things without a providence? How then is it that ye reverence gods, and worship genii and heroes? For if there is a providence, some one or other superintends the whole." But if any, whether Christians or Heathen, should be impatient at this, and be wavering, what shall we say to them? "Why, could so many good things, tell me, arise of themselves? The daily light? The beautiful order and the forethought that exist in all things? The mazy dances of the stars? The equable course of nights and days? The regular gradation of nature in vegetables, and animals, and men? Who, tell me, is it that ordereth these? If there were no superintending Being, but all things combined together of themselves, who then was it that made this vault revolve, so beautiful, so vast, I mean the sky, and set it upon the earth, nay more, upon the waters? Who is it that gives the fruitful seasons? Who implanted so great power in seeds and vegetables? For that which is accidental is necessarily disorderly; whereas that which is orderly implies design. For which, tell me, of the things around us that are accidental, is not full of great disorder, and of great tumult and confusion? Nor do I speak of things accidental only, but of those also which imply some agent, but an unskillful agent. For example, let there be timber and stone, and let there be lime withal; and let a man unskilled in building take them, and begin building, and set hard to work; will he not spoil and destroy everything? Again, take a vessel without a pilot, containing everything which a vessel ought to contain, without a shipwright; I do not say that it is unequipped and unfinished, but though well equipped, it will not be able to sail. And could the vast extent of earth standing on the waters, tell me, ever stand so firmly, and so long a time, without some power to hold it together? And can these views have any reason? Is it not the extreme of absurdity to conceive such a notion? And if the earth supports the heaven, behold another burden still; but if the heaven also is borne upon the waters, there arises again another question. Or rather not another question, for it is the work of providence. For things which are borne upon the water ought not to be made convex, but concave. Wherefore? Because the whole body of anything which is concave is immersed in the waters, as is the case with a ship; whereas of the convex the body is entirely above, and only the rim rests upon the surface; so that it requires a resisting body, hard, and able to sustain it, in order to bear the burden imposed. But does the atmosphere then support the heaven? Why, that is far softer, and more yielding even than water, and cannot sustain anything, no, not the very lightest things, much less so vast a bulk. In fine, if we chose to follow out the argument of providence, both generally and in detail, time itself would fail us. For I will now ask him who would start those questions above mentioned, are these things the result of providence, or of the want of providence? And if he shall say, that they are not from providence, then again I will ask, how then did they arise? But no, he will never be able to give any account at all. And dost thou not know that?
Much more then is it thy duty not to question, not to be over curious, in those things which concern man. And why not? Because man is nobler than all these, and these were made for his sake, not he for their sake. If then thou knowest not so much as the skill and contrivance that are visible in His providence, how shalt thou be able to know the reasons, where he himself is the subject? Tell me, I pray, why did God form him so small, so far below the height of heaven, as that he should even doubt of the things which appear above him? Why are the northern and southern climes uninhabitable? Tell me, I say, why is the night made longer in winter and shorter in summer? Why are the degrees of cold and heat such as they are? Why is the body mortal? And ten thousand questions besides I will ask thee, and if thou wilt, will never cease asking. And in one and all thou wilt surely be at a loss to answer. And thus is this of all things most providential, that the reasons of things are kept secret from us. For surely, one would have imagined man to be the cause of all things, were there not this to humble our understanding.
"But such an one," you will say, "is poor, and poverty is an evil. And what is it to be sick, and what is it to be crippled?" Oh, man, they are nothing. One thing alone is evil, that is to sin; this is the only thing we ought to search to the bottom. And yet we omit to search into the causes of what are really evils, and busy ourselves about other things. Why is. it that not one of us ever examines why he has sinned? To sin,—is it then in my power, or is it not in my power? And why need I go round about me for a number of reasons? I will seek for the matter within myself. Now then did I ever master my wrath? Did I ever master my anger, either through shame, or through fear of man? Then whenever I discover this done, I shall discover that to sin is in my own power. No one examines these matters, no one busies himself about them: But only according to Job, "Man in a way altogether different swims upon words." For why does it concern thee, if such an one is blind, or such an one poor? God hath not commanded thee to look to this, but to what thou thyself art doing. For if on the one hand thou doubtest that there is any power superintending the world, thou art of all men the most senseless; but if thou art persuaded of this, why doubt that it is our duty to please God?
"Giving thanks always," he says, "for all things to God."
Go to the physician's, and thou wilt see him, whenever a man is discovered to have a wound, using the knife and the cautery. But no, in thy case, I say not so much as this; but go to the carpenter's. And yet thou dost not examine his reasons, although thou understandest not one of the things which are done there, and many things will appear to thee to be difficulties; as, for instance, when he hollows the wood, when he alters its outward shape. Nay, I would bring thee to a more intelligible craft still, for instance, that of the painter, and there thy head will swim. For tell me, does he not seem to be doing what he does, at random? For what do his lines mean, and the turns and bends of the lines? But when he puts on the colors, then the beauty of the art will become conspicuous. Yet still, not even then wilt thou be able to attain to any accurate understanding of it. But why do I speak of carpenters, and painters, our fellow-servants? Tell me, how does the bee frame her comb, and then shalt thou speak about God also. Master the handiwork of the ant, the spider, and the swallow, and then shalt thou speak about God also. Tell me these things. But no, thou never canst. Wilt thou not cease then, O man, thy vain enquiries? For vain indeed they are. Wilt thou not cease busying thyself in vain about many things? Nothing so wise as this ignorance, where they that profess they know nothing are wisest of all, and they that spend overmuch labor on these questions, the most foolish of all. So that to profess knowledge is not everywhere a sign of wisdom, but sometimes of folly also. For tell me, suppose there were two men, and one of them should profess to stretch out his lines, and to measure the expanse that intervenes between the earth and heaven, and the other were to laugh at him, and declare that he did not understand it, tell me, I pray, which should we laugh at, him that said he knew, or him that knew not? Evidently, the man that said that he knew. He that is ignorant, therefore, is wiser than he that professes to know. And what again? If any one were to profess to tell us how many cups of water the sea contains, and another should profess his ignorance, is not the ignorance here again wiser than the knowledge? Surely, vastly so. And why so? Because that knowledge itself is but intense ignorance. For he indeed who says that he is ignorant, knows something. And what is that? That it is incomprehensible to man. Yes, and this is no small portion of knowledge. Whereas he that says he knows, he of all others knows not what he says he knows, and is for this very reason utterly ridiculous.
MORAL. Alas! how many things are there to teach us to bridle this unseasonable impertinence and idle curiosity; and yet we refrain not, but are curious about the lives of others; as, why one is a cripple, and why another is poor. And so by this way of reasoning we shall fall into another sort of trifling which is endless, as, why such an one is a woman? and, why all are not men? why there is such a thing as an ass? why an ox? why a dog? why a wolf? why a stone? why wood? and thus the argument will run out to an interminable length. This in truth is the reason, why God has marked out limits to our knowledge, and has laid them deep in nature. And mark, now, the excess of this busy curiosity. For though we look up to so great a height as from earth to heaven, and are not at all affected by it; yet as soon as ever we go up to the top of a lofty tower, and have a mind to stoop over a little, and look down, a sort of giddiness and dizziness immediately seizes us. Now, tell me the reason of this. No, thou couldest never find out a reason for it. Why is it that the eye possesses greater power than other senses, and is caught by more distant objects? And one might see it by comparison with the case of hearing. For no one will ever be able to shout so loudly, as to fill the air as far as the eye can reach, nor to hear at so great a distance. Why are not all the members of equal honor? Why have not all received one function and one place? Paul also searched into these questions; or rather he did not search into them, for he was wise; but where he comes by chance upon this topic, he says, "Each one of them, hath God set even as it hath pleased Him." (1 Cor. xii. 18.) He assigns the whole to His will. And so then let us only "give thanks for all things." "Wherefore," says he, "give thanks for all things." This is the part of a well-disposed, of a wise, of an intelligent servant; the opposite is that of a tattler, and an idler, and a busy-body. Do we not see amongst servants, that those among them who are worthless and good far nothing, are both tattlers, and triflers and that they pry into the concerns of their masters, which they are desirous to conceal: whereas the intelligent and well-disposed look to one thing only, how they may fulfill their service. He that says much, does nothing: as he that does much, never says a word out of season. Hence Paul said, where he wrote concerning widows, "And they learn not only to be idle, but tattlers also." (1 Tim. v. 13.) Tell me, now, which is the widest difference, between our age and that of children, or between God and men? between ourselves compared with gnats, or God compared with us? Plainly between God and us. Why then dost thou busy thyself to such an extent in all these questions? "Give thanks for all things." "But what," say you, "if a heathen should ask the question? How am I to answer him? He desires to learn from me whether there is a Providence, for he himself denies that there is any being thus exercising foresight." Turn round then, and ask him the same question thyself. He will deny therefore that there is a Providence. Yet that there is a Providence, is plain from what thou hast said; but that it is incomprehensible, is plain from those things whereof we cannot discover the reason. For if in things where men are the disposers, we oftentimes do not understand the method of the disposition, and in truth many of them appear to us inconsistent, and yet at the same time we acquiesce, how much more will this be so in the case of God? However, with God nothing either is inconsistent, or appears so to the faithful. Wherefore let us "give thanks for all things," let us give Him glory for all things.
"Subjecting yourselves one to another," he says, "in the fear of Christ." For if thou submit thyself for a ruler's sake, or for money's sake, or from respectfulness, much more from the fear of Christ. Let there be an interchange of service and submission. For then will there be no such thing as slavish service. Let not one sit down in the rank of a freeman, and the other in the rank of a slave; rather it were better that both masters and slaves be servants to one another;—far better to be a slave in this way than free in any other; as will be evident from hence. Suppose the case of a man who should have an hundred slaves, and he should in no way serve them; and suppose again a different case, of an hundred friends, all waiting upon one another. Which will lead the happier life? Which with the greater pleasure, with the more enjoyment? In the one case there is no anger, no provocation, no wrath, nor anything else of the kind whatever; in the other all is fear and apprehension. In the one case too the whole is forced, in the other is of free choice. In the one case they serve one another because they are forced to do so, in the other with mutual gratification. Thus does God will it to be; for this He washed His disciples' feet. Nay more, if thou hast a mind to examine the matter nicely, there is indeed on the part of masters a return of service. For what if pride suffer not that return of service to appear? Yet if the slave on the one hand render his bodily service, and thou maintain that body, and supply it with food and clothing and shoes, this is an exchange of service: because unless thou render thy service as well, neither will he render his, but will be free, and no law will compel him to do it if he is not supported. If this then is the case with servants, where is the absurdity, if it should also become the case with free men. "Subjecting yourselves in the fear," saith he, "of Christ." How great then the obligation, when we shall also have a reward. But he does not choose to submit himself to thee? However do thou submit thyself; not simply yield, but submit thyself. Entertain this feeling towards all, as if all were thy masters. For thus shalt thou soon have all as thy slaves, enslaved to thee with the most abject slavery. For thou wilt then more surely make them thine, when without receiving anything of theirs, thou of thyself renderest them of thine own. This is "subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ," in order that we may subdue all the passions, be servants of God, and preserve the love we owe to one another. And then shall we be able also to be counted worthy of the lovingkindness which cometh of God, through the grace and mercies of His only-begotten Son, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and forever and ever. Amen.
"Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the Church: being Himself the Saviour of the body. But as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything."
A certain wise man, setting down a number of things in the rank of blessings, set down this also in the rank of a blessing, "A wife agreeing with her husband." (Ecclus. xxv. 1.) And elsewhere again he sets it down among blessings, that a woman should dwell in harmony with her husband. (Ecclus. xl. 23.) And indeed from the beginning, God appears to have made special provision for this union; and discoursing of the twain as one, He said thus, "Male and female created He them" (Gen. i. 27); and again, "There is neither male nor female." (Gal. iii. 28.) For there is no relationship between man and man so close as that between man and wife, if they be joined together as they should be. And therefore a certain blessed man too, when he would express surpassing love, and was mourning for one that was dear to him, and of one soul with him, did not mention father, nor mother, nor child, nor brother, nor friend, but what? "Thy love to me was wonderful," saith he, "passing the love of women." (2 Sam. i. 26.) For indeed, in very deed, this love is more despotic than any despotism: for others indeed may be strong, but this passion is not only strong, but unfading. For there is a certain love deeply seated in our nature, which imperceptibly to ourselves knits together these bodies of ours. Thus even from the very beginning woman sprang from man, and afterwards from man and woman sprang both man and woman. Perceivest thou the close bond and connection? And how that God suffered not a different kind of nature to enter in from without? And mark, how many providential arrangements He made. He permitted the man to marry his own sister; or rather not his sister, but his daughter; nay, nor yet his daughter, but something more than his daughter, even his own flesh. And thus the whole He framed from one beginning, gathering all together, like stones in a building, into one. For neither on the one hand did He form her from without, and this was that the man might not feel towards her as towards an alien; nor again did He confine marriage to her, that she might not, by contracting herself, and making all center in herself, be cut off from the rest. Thus as in the case of plants, they are of all others the best, which have but a single stem, and spread out into a number of branches; (since were all confined to the root alone, all would be to no purpose, whereas again had it a number of roots, the tree would be no longer worthy of admiration;) so, I say, is the case here also. From one, namely Adam, He made the whole race to spring, preventing them by the strongest necessity from being ever torn asunder, or separated; and afterwards, making it more restricted, He no longer allowed sisters and daughters to be wives, lest we should on the other hand contract our love to one point, and thus in another manner be cut off from one another. Hence Christ said, "He which made them from the beginning, made them male and female." (Matt. xix. 4.)
For great evils are hence produced, and great benefits, both to families and to states. For there is nothing which so welds our life together as the love of man and wife. For this many will lay aside even their arms, for this they will give up life itself. And Paul would never without a reason and without an object have spent so much pains on this subject, as when he says here, "Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." And why so? Because when they are in harmony, the children are well brought up, and the domestics are in good order, and neighbors, and friends, and relations enjoy the fragrance. But if it be otherwise, all is turned upside down, and thrown into confusion. And just as when the generals of an army are at peace one with another, all things are in due subordination, whereas on the other hand, if they are at variance, everything is turned upside down; so, I say, is it also here. Wherefore, saith he, "Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord."
Yet how strange! for how then is it, that it is said elsewhere, "If one bid not farewell both to wife and to husband, he cannot follow me"? (Luke xiv. 26.) For if it is their duty to be in subjection "as unto the Lord," how saith He that they must depart from them for the Lord's sake? Yet their duty indeed it is, their bounden duty. But the word "as" is not necessarily and universally expressive of exact equality. He either means this, " 'as' knowing that ye are servants to the Lord"; (which, by the way, is what he says elsewhere, that, even though they do it not for the husband's sake, yet must they primarily for the Lord's sake;) or else he means, "when thou obeyest thy husband, do so as serving the Lord." For if he who resisteth these external authorities, those of governments, I mean, "withstandeth the ordinance of God" (Rom. xiii. 2), much more does she who submits not herself to her husband. Such was God's will from the beginning.
Let us take as our fundamental position then that the husband occupies the place of the "head," and the wife the place of the "body."
Ver. 23, 24. Then, he proceeds with arguments and says that "the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the Church, being Himself the Saviour of the body. But as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their husbands in everything."
Then after saying, "The husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is of the Church," he further adds, "and He is the Saviour of the body." For indeed the head is the saving health of the body. He had already laid down beforehand for man and wife, the ground and provision of their love, assigning to each their proper place, to the one that of authority and forethought, to the other that of submission. As then "the Church," that is, both husbands and wives, "is subject unto Christ, so also ye wives submit yourselves to your husbands, as unto God."
Ver. 25. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church."
Thou hast heard how great the submission; thou hast extolled and marvelled at Paul, how, like an admirable and spiritual man, he welds together our whole life. Thou didst well. But now hear what he also requires at thy hands; for again he employs the same example.
"Husbands," saith he, "love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church."
Thou hast seen the measure of obedience, hear also the measure of love. Wouldest thou have thy wife obedient unto thee, as the Church is to Christ? Take then thyself the same provident care for her, as Christ takes for the Church. Yea, even if it shall be needful for thee to give thy life for her, yea, and to be cut into pieces ten thousand times, yea, and to endure and undergo any suffering whatever,—refuse it not. Though thou shouldest undergo all this, yet wilt thou not, no, not even then, have done anything like Christ. For thou indeed art doing it for one to whom thou art already knit; but He for one who turned her back on Him and hated Him. In the same way then as He laid at His feet her who turned her back on Him, who hated, and spurned, and disdained Him, not by menaces, nor by violence, nor by terror, nor by anything else of the kind, but by his unwearied affection; so also do thou behave thyself toward thy wife. Yea, though thou see her looking down upon thee, and disdaining, and scorning thee, yet by thy great thoughtfulness for her, by affection, by kindness, thou wilt be able to lay her at thy feet. For there is nothing more powerful to sway than these bonds, and especially for husband and wife. A servant, indeed, one will be able, perhaps, to bind down by fear; nay not even him, for he will soon start away and be gone. But the partner of one's life, the mother of one's children, the foundation of one's every joy, one ought never to chain down by fear and menaces, but with love and good temper. For what sort of union is that, where the wife trembles at her husband? And what sort of pleasure will the husband himself enjoy, if he dwells with his wife as with a slave, and not as with a free-woman? Yea, though thou shouldest suffer anything on her account, do not upbraid her; for neither did Christ do this.
Ver. 26. "And gave Himself up," he says, "for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it."
So then she was unclean! So then she had blemishes, so then she was unsightly, so then she was worthless! Whatsoever kind of wife thou shalt take, yet shalt thou never take such a bride as the Church, when Christ took her, nor one so far removed from thee as the Church was from Christ, And yet for all that, He did not abhor her, nor loathe her for her surpassing deformity. Wouldest thou hear her deformity described? Hear what Paul saith, "For ye were once darkness." (Eph. v. 8.) Didst thou see the blackness of her hue? What blacker than darkness? But look again at her boldness, "living," saith he, "in malice and envy." (Tit. iii. 3.) Look again at her impurity; "disobedient, foolish." But what am I saying? She was both foolish, and of an evil tongue; and yet notwithstanding, though so many were her blemishes, yet did He give Himself up for her in her deformity, as for one in the bloom of youth, as for one dearly beloved, as for one of wonderful beauty. And it was in admiration of this that Paul said, "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die (Rom. v. 7); and again, "in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. v. 8.) And though such as this, He took her, He arrayed her in beauty, and washed her, and refused not even this, to give Himself for her.
Ver. 26, 27. "That He might sanctify it having cleansed it," he proceeds, "by the washing of water with the word; that He might present the Church to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish."
"By the washing or layer" He washeth her uncleanness. "By the word," saith he. What word? "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matt. xxviii. 19.) And not simply hath He adorned her, but hath made her "glorious, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." Let us then also seek after this beauty ourselves, and we shall be able to create it. Seek not thou at thy wife's hand, things which she is not able to possess. Seest thou that the Church had all things at her Lord's hands? By Him was made glorious, by Him was made pure, by Him made without blemish? Turn not thy back on thy wife because of her deformity. Hear the Scripture that saith, "The bee is little among such as fly, but her fruit is the chief of sweet things." (Ecclus. xi. 3.) She is of God's fashioning. Thou reproachest not her, but Him that made her; what can the woman do? Praise her not for her beauty. Praise and hatred and love based on personal beauty belong to unchastened souls. Seek thou for beauty of soul. Imitate the Bridegroom of the Church. Outward beauty is full of conceit and great license, and throws men into jealousy, and the thing often makes thee suspect monstrous things. But has it any pleasure? For the first or second month, perhaps, or at most for the year: but then no longer; the admiration by familiarity wastes away. Meanwhile the evils which arose from the beauty still abide, the pride, the folly, the contemptuousness. Whereas in one who is not such, there is nothing of this kind. But the love having begun on just grounds, still continues ardent, since its object is beauty of soul, and not of body. What better, tell me, than heaven? What better than the stars? Tell me of what body you will, yet is there none so fair. Tell me of what eyes you will, yet are there none so sparkling. When these were created, the very Angels gazed with wonder, and we gaze with wonder now; yet not in the same degree as at first. Such is familiarity; things do not strike us in the same degree. How much more in the case of a wife! And if moreover disease come too, all is at once fled. Let us seek in a wife affectionateness, modest-mindedness, gentleness; these are the characteristics of beauty. But loveliness of person let us not seek, nor upbraid her upon these points, over which she has no power, nay, rather, let us not upbraid at all, (it were rudeness,) nor let us be impatient, nor sullen. Do ye not see how many, after living with beautiful wives, have ended their lives pitiably, and how many, who have lived with those of no great beauty, have run on to extreme old age with great enjoyment. Let us wipe off the "spot" that is within, let us smooth the "wrinkles" that are within, let us do away the "blemishes" that are on the soul. Such is the beauty God requires. Let us make her fair in God's sight, not in our own. Let us not look for wealth, nor for that high-birth which is outward, but for that true nobility which is in the soul. Let no one endure to get rich by a wife; for such riches are base and disgraceful; no, by no means let any one seek to get rich from this source. "For they that desire to be rich, fall into a temptation and a snare, and many foolish and hurtful lusts, and into destruction and perdition." (1 Tim. vi. 9.) Seek not therefore in thy wife abundance of wealth, and thou shall find everything else go well. Who, tell me, would overlook the most important things, to attend to those which are less so? And yet, alas! this is in every case our feeling. Yes, if we have a son, we concern ourselves not how he may be made virtuous, but how we may get him a rich wife; not how he may be well-mannered, but well-monied: if we follow a business, we enquire not how it may be clear of sin, but how it may bring us in most profit. And everything has become money; and thus is everything corrupted and ruined, because that passion possesses us.
Ver. 28. "Even so ought husbands to love their own wives," saith he, "as their own bodies."
What, again, means this? To how much greater a similitude, and stronger example has he come; and not only so, but also to one how much nearer and clearer, and to a fresh obligation. For that other one was of no very constraining force, for He was Christ, and was God, and gave Himself. He now manages his argument on a different ground, saying, "so ought men "; because the thing is not a favor, but a debt. Then, "as their own bodies." And why?
Ver. 29. "For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it."
That is, tends it with exceeding care. And how is she his flesh? Hearken; "This now is bone of my bones," saith Adam, "and flesh of my flesh." (Gen. ii. 23.) For she is made of matter taken from us. And not only so, but also, "they shall be," saith God, "one flesh." (Gen. ii. 24.)
"Even as Christ also the Church." Here he returns to the former example.
Ver. 30. "Because we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones."
Ver. 31. "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the twain shall become one flesh."
Behold again a third ground of obligation; for he shows that a man leaving them that begat him, and from whom he was born, is knit to his wife; and that then the one flesh is, father, and mother, and the child, from the substance of the two commingled. For indeed by the commingling of their seeds is the child produced, so that the three are one flesh. Thus then are we in relation to Christ; we become one flesh by participation, and we much more than the child. And why and how so? Because so it has been from the beginning.
Tell me not that such and such things are so. Seest thou not that we have in our own flesh itself many defects? For one man, for instance, is lame, another has his feet distorted, another his hands withered, another some other member weak; and yet nevertheless he does not grieve at it, nor cut it off, but oftentimes prefers it even to the other. Naturally enough; for it is part of himself. As great love as each entertains towards himself, so great he would have us entertain towards a wife. Not because we partake of the same nature; no, this ground of duty towards a wife is far greater than that; it is that there are not two bodies but one; he the head, she the body. And how saith he elsewhere "and the Head of Christ is God "? (1 Cor. xi. 3.) This I too say, that as we are one body, so also are Christ and the Father One. And thus then is the Father also found to be our Head. He sets down two examples, that of the natural body and that of Christ's body. And hence he further adds,
Ver. 32. "This is great mystery: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the Church."
Why does he call it a great mystery? That it was something great and wonderful, the blessed Moses, or rather God, intimated. For the present, however, saith he, I speak regarding Christ, that having left the Father, He came down, and came to the Bride, and became one Spirit. "For he that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit." (1 Cor. vi. 17.) And well saith he, "it is a great mystery." And then as though he were saying, "But still nevertheless the allegory does not destroy affection," he adds,
Ver. 33. "Nevertheless do ye also severally love each one his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she fear her husband."
For indeed, in very deed, a mystery it is, yea, a great mystery, that a man should leave him that gave him being, him that begat him, and that brought him up, and her that travailed with him and had sorrow, those that have bestowed upon him so many and great benefits, those with whom he has been in familiar intercourse, and be joined to one who was never even seen by him and who has nothing in common with him, and should honor her before all others. A mystery it is indeed. And yet are parents not distressed when these events take place, but rather, when they do not take place; and are delighted when their wealth is spent and lavished upon it.—A great mystery indeed! and one that contains some hidden wisdom. Such Moses prophetically showed it to be from the very first; such now also Paul proclaims it, where he saith, "concerning Christ and the Church."
However not for the husband's sake alone it is thus said, but for the wife's sake also, that "he cherish her as his own flesh, as Christ also the Church," and, "that the wife fear her husband." He is no longer setting down the duties of love only, but what? "That she fear her husband." The wife is a second authority; let not her then demand equality, for. she is under the head; nor let him despise her as being in subjection, for she is the body; and if the head despise the body, it will itself also perish. But let him bring in love on his part as a counterpoise to obedience on her part. For example, let the hands and the feet, and all the rest of the members be given up for service to the head, but let the head provide for the body, seeing it contains every sense in itself. Nothing can be better than this union.
And yet how can there ever be love, one may say, where there is fear? It will exist there, I say, preeminently. For she that fears and reverences, loves also; and she that loves, fears and reverences him as being the head, and loves him as being a member, since the head itself is a member of the body at large. Hence he places the one in subjection, and the other in authority, that there may be peace; for where there is equal authority there can never be peace; neither where a house is a democracy, nor where all are rulers; but the ruling power must of necessity be one. And this is universally the case with matters referring to the body, inasmuch as when men are spiritual, there will be peace. There were "five thousand souls," and not one of them said, "that aught of the things which he possessed was his own" (Acts iv. 32), but they were subject one to another; an indication this of wisdom, and of the fear of God. The principle of love, however, he explains; that of fear he does not. And mark, how on that of love he enlarges, stating the arguments relating to Christ and those relating to one's own flesh, the words," For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother." (Ver. 31.) Whereas upon those drawn from fear he forbears to enlarge. And why so? Because he would rather that this principle prevail, this, namely, of love; for where this exists, everything else follows of course, but where the other exists, not necessarily. For the man who loves his wife, even though she be not a very obedient one, still will bear with everything. So difficult and impracticable is unanimity, where persons are not bound together by that love which is founder in supreme authority; at all events, fear will not necessarily effect this. Accordingly, he dwells the more upon this, which is the strong tie. And the wife though seeming to be the loser in that she was charged to fear, is the gainer, because the principal duty, love, is charged upon the husband. "But what," one may say, "if a wife reverence me not?" Never mind, thou art to love, fulfill thine own duty. For though that which is due from others may not follow, we ought of course to do our duty. This is an example of what I mean. He says, "submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ." And what then if another submit not himself? Still obey thou the law of God. Just so, I say, is it also here. Let the wife at least, though she be not loved, still reverence notwithstanding, that nothing may lie at her door; and let the husband, though his wife reverence him not, still show her love notwithstanding, that he himself be not wanting in any point. For each has received his own.
This then is marriage when it takes place according to Christ, spiritual marriage, and spiritual birth, not of blood, nor of travail, nor of the will of the flesh. Such was the birth of Christ, not of blood, nor of travail. Such also was that of Isaac. Hear how the Scripture saith, "And it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women." (Gen. xviii. 11.) Yea, a marriage it is, not of passion, nor of the flesh, but wholly spiritual, the soul being united to God by a union unspeakable, and which He alone knoweth. Therefore he saith, "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." (1 Cor. vi. 17.) Mark how earnestly he endeavors to unite both flesh with flesh, and spirit with spirit. And where are the heretics? Never surely, if marriage were a thing to be condemned, would he have called Christ and the Church a bride and bridegroom; never would he have brought forward by way of exhortation the words, "A man shall leave his father and his mother "; and again have added, that it was "spoken in regard of Christ and of the Church." For of her it is that the Psalmist also saith, "Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house. So shall the king desire thy beauty." (Ps. xlv. 10, 11.) Therefore also Christ saith, "I came out from the Father, and am come." (John xvi. 28.) But when I say, that He left the Father, imagine not such a thing as happens among men, a change of place; for just in the same way as the word "go forth" is used, not because He literally came forth, but because of His incarnation, so also is the expression, "He left the Father."
Now why did he not say of the wife also, She shall be joined unto her husband? Why, I say, is this? Because he was discoursing concerning love, and was discoursing to the husband. For to her indeed be discourses concerning reverence, and says, "the husband is the head of the wife" (ver. 23), and again, "Christ is the Head of the Church." Whereas to him he discourses concerning love, and commits to him this province of love, and declares to him that which pertains to love, thus binding him and cementing him to her. For the man that leaves his father for the sake of his wife, and then again, leaves this very wife herself and abandons her, what forbearance can he deserve?
Seest thou not how great a share of honor God would have her enjoy, in that he hath taken thee away from thy father, and hath linked thee to her? What then, a man may say, if our duty is done, and yet she does not follow the example? "Yet if the unbelieving departeth, let him depart; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases." (1 Cor. vii. 15.)
However, when thou hearest of "fear," demand that fear which becomes a free woman, not as though thou wert exacting it of a slave. For she is thine own body; and if thou do this, thou reproachest thyself in dishonoring thine own body. And of what nature is this "fear"? It is the not contradicting, the not rebelling, the not being fond of the preeminence. It is enough that fear be kept within these bounds. But if thou love, as thou art commanded, thou wilt make it yet greater. Or rather it will not be any longer by fear that thou wilt be doing this, but love itself will have its effect. The sex is somehow weaker, and needs much support, much condescension.
But what will they say, who are knit together in second marriages? I speak not at all in condemnation of them, God forbid; for the Apostle himself permits them, though indeed by way of condescension.
Supply her with everything. Do everything and endure trouble for her sake. Necessity is laid upon thee.
Here he does not think it right to introduce his counsel, as he in many cases does, with examples from them that are without. That of Christ, so great and forcible, were alone enough; and more especially as regards the argument of subjection. "A man shall leave," he saith, "his father and mother." Behold, this then is from without. But he does not say, and "shall dwell with," but "shall cleave unto," thus showing the closeness of the union, and the fervent love. Nay, he is not content with this, but further by what he adds, he explains the subjection in such a way as that the twain appear no longer twain. He does not say, "one spirit," he does not say, "one soul" (for that is manifest, and is possible to any one), but so as to be "one flesh." She is a second authority, possessing indeed an authority, and a considerable equality of dignity; but at the same time the husband has somewhat of superiority. In this consists most chiefly the well-being of the house. For he took that former argument, the example of Christ, to show that we ought not only to love, but also to govern; "that she may be," saith he, "holy and without blemish." But the word "flesh" has reference to love—and the word "shall cleave" has in like manner reference to love. For if thou shalt make her "holy and without blemish," everything else will follow. Seek the things which are of God, and those which are of man will follow readily enough. Govern thy wife, and thus will the whole house be in harmony. Hear what Paul saith. "And if they would learn any thing, let them ask their own husbands at home." (1 Cor. xiv. 35.) If we thus regulate our own houses, we shall be also fit for the management of the Church. For indeed a house is a little Church. Thus it is possible for us by becoming good husbands and wives, to surpass all others.
Consider Abraham, and Sarah, and Isaac, and the three hundred and eighteen born in his house. (Gen. xiv. 14.) How the whole house was harmoniously knit together, how the whole was full of piety and fulfilled the Apostolic injunction. She also "reverenced her husband"; for hear her own words, "It hath not yet happened unto me even until now, and my lord is old also." (Gen. xviii. 12.) And he again so loved her, that in all things he obeyed her commands. And the young child was virtuous, and the servants born in the house, they too were so excellent that they refused not even to hazard their lives with their master; they delayed not, nor asked the reason. Nay, one of them, the chief, was so admirable, that he was even entrusted with the marriage of the only-begotten child, and with a journey into a foreign country. (Gen. xxiv. 1-67.) For just as with a general, when his soldiery also is well organized, the enemy has no quarter to attack; so, I say, is it also here: when husband and wife and children and servants are all interested in the same things, great is the harmony of the house. Since where this is not the case, the whole is oftentimes overthrown and broken up by one bad servant; and that single one will often mar and utterly destroy the whole.
MORAL. Let us then be very thoughtful both for our wives, and children, and servants; knowing that we shall thus be establishing for ourselves an easy government, and shall have our accounts with them gentle and lenient, and say, "Behold I, and the children which God hath given me." (Isa. viii. 18.) If the husband command respect, and the head be honorable, then will the rest of the body sustain no violence. Now what is the wife's fitting behavior, and what the husband's, he states accurately, charging her to reverence him as the head, and him to love her as a wife; but how, it may be said, can these things be? That they ought indeed so to be, he has proved. But how they can be so, I will tell you. They will be so, if we will despise money, if we will look but to one thing only, excellence of soul, if we will keep the fear of God before our eyes. For what he says in his discourse to servants, "whatsoever any man doeth, whether it be good or evil, the same shall he receive of the Lord" (Eph. vi. 8); this is also the case here. Love her therefore not for her sake so much as for Christ's sake. This, at least, he as much as intimates, in saying, "as unto the Lord." So then do everything, as in obedience to the Lord, and as doing everything for His sake. This were enough to induce and to persuade us, and not to suffer that there should be any teasing and dissension. Let none be believed when slandering the husband to his wife; no, nor let the husband believe anything at random against the wife, nor let the wife be without reason inquisitive about his goings out and his comings in. No, nor on any account let the husband ever render himself worthy of any suspicion whatever. For what, tell me, what if thou shall devote thyself all the day to thy friends, and give the evening to thy wife, and not even thus be able to content her, and place her out of reach of suspicion? Though thy wife complain, yet be not annoyed—it is her love, not her folly—they are the complaints of fervent attachment, and burning affection, and fear. Yes, she is afraid lest any one have stolen her marriage bed, lest any one have injured her in that which is the summit of her blessings, lest any one have taken away from her him who is her head, lest any one have broken through her marriage chamber.
There is also another ground of petty jealousy. Let neither claim too much service of the servants, neither the husband from the maid-servant, nor the wife from the man-servant. For these things also are enough to beget suspicion. For consider, I say, that righteous household I spoke of. Sarah herself bade the patriarch take Hagar. She herself directed it, no one compelled her, nor did the husband attempt it; no, although he had dragged on so long a period childless, yet he chose never to become a father, rather than to grieve his wife. And yet even after all this, what said Sarah? "The Lord judge between me and thee." (Gen. xvi. 5.) Now, I say, had he been any one else would he not have been moved to anger? Would he not also have stretched forth his hand, saying as it were, "What meanest thou? I had no desire to have anything to do with the woman; it was all thine own doing; and dost thou turn again and accuse me?"—But no, he says nothing of the sort;—but what? "Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her that which is good in thine eyes." (Gen. xvi. 6.) He delivered up the partner of his bed, that he might not grieve Sarah. And yet surely is there nothing greater than this for producing affection. For if partaking of the same table produces unanimity even in robbers towards their foes, (and the Psalmist saith, "Who didst eat sweet food at the same table with me"); much more will the becoming one flesh—for such is the being the partner of the bed—be effectual to draw us together. Yet did none of these things avail to overcome him; but he delivered Hagar up to his wife, to show that nothing had been done by his own fault. Nay, and what is more, he sent her forth when with child. Who would not have pitied one that had conceived a child by himself? Yet was the just man unmoved, for he set before everything else the love he owed his wife.
Let us then imitate him ourselves. Let no one reproach his neighbor with his poverty; let no one be in love with money; and then all difficulties will be at an end.
Neither let a wife say to her husband, "Unmanly coward that thou art, full of sluggishness and dullness, and fast asleep! here is such a one, a low man, and of low parentage, who runs his risks, and makes his voyages, and has made a good fortune; and his wife wears her jewels, and goes out with her pair of milk-white mules; she rides about everywhere, she has troops of slaves, and a swarm of eunuchs, but thou hast cowered down and livest to no purpose." Let not a wife say these things, nor anything like them. For she is the body, not to dictate to the head, but to submit herself and obey. "But how," some one will say, "is she to endure poverty? Where is she to look for consolation?" Let her select and put beside her those who are poorer still. Let her again consider how many noble and high- born maidens have not only received nothing of their husbands, but have even given dowries to them, and have spent their all upon them. Let her reflect on the perils which arise from such riches, and she will cling to this quiet life. In short, if she is affectionately disposed towards her husband, she will utter nothing of the sort. No, she will rather choose to have him near her, though gaining nothing, than gaining ten thousand talents of gold, accompanied with that care and anxiety which always arise to wives from those distant voyages.
Neither, however, let the husband, when he hears these things, on the score of his having the supreme authority, betake himself to revilings and to blows; but let him exhort, let him admonish her, as being less perfect, let him persuade her with arguments. Let him never once lift his hand,—far be this from a noble spirit,—no, nor give expression to insults, or taunts, or revilings; but let him regulate and direct her as being wanting in wisdom. Yet how shall this be done? If she be instructed in the true riches, in the heavenly philosophy, she will make no complaints like these. Let him teach her then, that poverty is no evil. Let him teach her, not by what he says only, but also by what he does. Let him teach her to despise glory; and then his wife will speak of nothing, and will desire nothing of the kind. Let him, as if he had an image given into his hands to mould, let him, from that very evening on which he first receives her into the bridal chamber, teach her temperance, gentleness, and how to live, casting down the love of money at once from the outset, and from the very threshold. Let him discipline her in wisdom, and advise her never to have bits of gold hanging at her ears, and down her cheeks, and laid round about her neck, nor laid up about the chamber, nor golden and costly garments stored up. But let her chamber be handsome, still let not what is handsome degenerate into finery. No, leave these things to the people of the stage. Adorn thine house thyself with all possible neatness, so as rather to breathe an air of soberness than much perfume. For hence will arise two or three good results. First then, the bride will not be grieved, when the apartments are opened, and the tissues, and the golden ornaments, and silver vessels, are sent back to their several owners. Next, the bridegroom will have no anxiety about the loss, nor for the security of the accumulated treasures. Thirdly again, in addition to this, which is the crown of all these benefits, by these very points he will be showing his own judgment, that indeed he has no pleasure in any of these things, and that he will moreover put an end to everything else in keeping with them, and will never so much as allow the existence either of dances, or of immodest songs. I am aware that I shall appear perhaps ridiculous to many persons, in giving such admonitions. Still nevertheless, if ye will but listen to me, as time goes on, and the benefit of the practice accrues to you, then ye will understand the advantage of it. And the laughter will pass off, and ye will laugh at the present fashion, and will see that the present practice is really that of silly children and of drunken men. Whereas what I recommend is the part of soberness, and wisdom, and of the sublimest way of life. What then do I say is our duty? Take away from marriage all those shameful, those Satanic, those immodest songs, those companies of profligate young people, and this will avail to chasten the spirit of thy bride. For she will at once thus reason with herself; "Wonderful! What a philosopher this man is! he regards the present life as nothing, he has brought me here into his house, to be a mother, to bring up his children, to manage his household affairs." "Yes, but these things are distasteful to a bride?" Just for the first or second day;—but not afterwards; nay, she will even reap from them the greatest delight, and relieve herself of all suspicion. For a man who can endure neither flute-players, nor dancers, nor broken songs, and that too at the very time of his wedding, that man will scarcely endure ever to do or say anything shameful. And then after this, when thou hast stripped the marriage of all these things, then take her, and form and mould her carefully, encouraging her bashfulness to a considerable length of time, and not destroying it suddenly. For even if the damsel be very bold, yet for a time she will keep silence out of reverence for her husband, and feeling herself a novice in the circumstances. Thou then break not off this reserve too hastily, as unchaste husbands do, but encourage it for a long time. For this will be a great advantage to thee. Meanwhile she will not complain, she will not find fault with any laws thou mayest frame for her. During that time therefore, during which shame, like a sort of bridle laid upon the soul, suffers her not to make any murmur, nor to complain of what is done, lay down all thy laws. For as soon as ever she acquires boldness, she will overturn and confound everything without any sense of fear. When is there then another time so advantageous for moulding a wife, as that during which she reverences her husband, and is still timid, and still shy? Then lay down all thy laws for her, and willing or unwilling, she will certainly obey them. But how shalt thou help spoiling her modesty? By showing her that thou thyself art no less modest than she is, addressing to her but few words, and those too with great gravity and collectedness. Then entrust her with the discourses of wisdom, for her soul will receive them. And establish her in that loveliest habit, I mean modesty. If you wish me, I will also tell you by way of specimen, what sort of language should be addressed to her. For if Paul shrank not from saying, "Defraud ye not one the other" (2 Cor. vii. 5), and spoke the language of a bridesmaid, or rather not of a bridesmaid, but of a spiritual soul, much more will not we shrink from speaking. What then is the language we ought to address to her? With great delicacy then we may say to her, "I have taken thee, my child, to be partner of my life, and have brought thee in to share with me in the closest and most honorable ties, in my children, and the superintendence of my house. And what advice then shall I now recommend thee?" But rather, first talk with her of your love for her; for there is nothing that so contributes to persuade a hearer to admit sincerely the things that are said, as to be assured that they are said with hearty affection. How then art thou to show that affection? By saying, "when it was in my power to take many to wife, both with better fortunes, and of noble family, I did not so choose, but I was enamoured of thee, and thy beautiful life, thy modesty, thy gentleness, and soberness of mind." Then immediately from these beginnings open the way to your discourse on true wisdom, and with some circumlocution make a protest against riches. For if you direct your argument at once against riches, you will bear too heavily upon her; but if you do it by taking an occasion, you will succeed entirely. For you will appear to be doing it in the way of an apology, not as a morose sort of person, and ungracious, and over-nice about trifles. But when you take occasion from what relates to herself, she will be even pleased. You will say then, (for I must now take up the discourse again,) that "whereas I might have married a rich woman, and with good fortune, I could not endure it. And why so? Not capriciously, and without reason; but I was taught well and truly, that money is no real possession, but a most despicable thing, a thing which moreover belongs as well to thieves, and to harlots, and to grave-robbers. So I gave up these things, and went on till I fell in with the excellence of thy soul, which I value above all gold. For a young damsel who is discreet and ingenuous, and whose heart is set on piety, is worth the whole world. For these reasons then, I courted thee, and I love thee, and prefer thee to my own soul. For the present life is nothing. And I pray, and beseech, and do all I can, that we may be counted worthy so to live this present life, as that we may be able also there in the world to come to be united to one another in perfect security. For our time here is brief and fleeting. But if we shall be counted worthy by having pleased God to so exchange this life for that one, then shall we ever be both with Christ and with each other, with more abundant pleasure. I value thy affection above all things, and nothing is so bitter or so painful to me, as ever to be at variance with thee. Yes, though it should be my lot to lose my all, and to become poorer than Irus, and undergo the extremest hazards, and suffer any pain whatsoever, all will be tolerable and endurable, so long as thy feelings are true towards me. And then will my children be most dear to me, whilst thou art affectionately disposed towards me. But thou must do these duties too." Then mingle also with your discourse the Apostle's words, that "thus God would have our affections blended together; for listen to the Scripture, which saith, 'For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife.' Let us have no pretext for narrow-minded jealousy. Perish riches, and retinue of slaves, and all your outward pomps. To me this is more valuable than all." What weight of gold, what amount of treasures, are so dear to a wife as these words? Never fear that because she is beloved she will ever rave against thee, but confess that thou lovest her. For courtezans indeed, who now attach themselves to one and now to another, would naturally enough feel contempt towards their lovers, should they hear such expressions as these; but a free-born wife or a noble damsel would never be so affected with such words; no, she will be so much the more subdued. Show her too, that you set a high value on her company, and that you are more desirous to be at home for her sake, than in the market-place. And esteem her before all your friends, and above the children that are born of her, and let these very children be beloved by thee for her sake. If she does any good act, praise and admire it; if any foolish one, and such as girls may chance to do, advise her and remind her. Condemn out and out all riches and extravagance, and gently point out the ornament that there is in neatness and in modesty; and be continually teaching her the things that are profitable.
Let your prayers be common. Let each go to Church; and let the husband ask his wife at home, and she again ask her husband, the account of the things which were said and read there. If any poverty should overtake you, cite the case of those holy men, Paul and Peter, who were more honored than any kings or rich men; and yet how they spent their lives, in hunger and in thirst. Teach her that there is nothing in life that is to be feared, save only offending against God. If any marry thus, with these views, he will be but little inferior to monks; the married but little below the unmarried.
If thou hast a mind to give dinners, and to make entertainments, let there be nothing immodest, nothing disorderly. If thou shouldest find any poor saint able to bless your house, able only just by setting his foot in it to bring in the whole blessing of God, invite him. And shalt I say moreover another thing? Let no one of you make it his endeavor to marry a rich woman, but much rather a poor one. When she comes in, she will not bring so great a source of pleasure from her riches, as she will annoyance from her taunts, from her demanding more than she brought, from her insolence, her extravagance, her vexatious language. For she will say perhaps, "I have not yet spent anything of thine, I am still wearing my own apparel, bought with what my parents settled upon me." What sayest thou, O woman? Still wearing thine own! And what can be more miserable than this language? Why, thou hast no longer a body of thine own, and hast thou money of thine own? After marriage ye are no longer twain, but are become one flesh, and are then your possessions twain, and not one? Oh! this love of money! Ye both are become one man, one living creature; and dost thou still say "mine own"? Cursed and abominable word that it is, it was brought in by the devil. Things far nearer and dearer to us than these hath God made all common to us, and are these then not common? We cannot say, "my own light, my own sun, my own water": all our greater blessings are common, and are riches not common? Perish the riches ten thousand times over! Or rather not the riches, but those tempers of mind which know not how to make use of riches, but esteem them above all things.
Teach her these lessons also with the rest, but with much graciousness. For since the recommendation of virtue has in itself much that is stern, and especially to a young and tender damsel, whenever discourses on true wisdom are to be made, contrive that your manner be full of grace and kindness. And above all banish this notion from her soul, of "mine and thine." If she say the word "mine," say unto her, "What things dost thou call thine? For in truth I know not; I for my part have nothing of mine own. How then speakest thou of 'mine,' when all things are thine?" Freely grant her the word. Dost thou not perceive that such is our practice with children? When, whilst we are holding anything, a child snatches it, and wishes again to get hold of some other thing, we allow it, and say, "Yes, and this is thine, and that is thine." The same also let us do with a wife; for her temper is more or less like a child's; and if she says "mine," say, "why, everything is thine, and I am thine." Nor is the expression one of flattery, but of exceeding wisdom. Thus wilt thou be able to abate her wrath, and put an end to her disappointment. For it is flattery when a man does an unworthy act with an evil object: whereas this is the highest philosophy. Say then, "Even I am thine, my child; this advice Paul gives me where he says, ' The husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife.' (1 Cor. vii. 4.) If I have no power over my body, but thou hast, much more hast thou over my possessions." By saying these things thou wilt have quieted her, thou wilt have quenched the fire, thou wilt have shamed the devil, thou wilt have made her more thy slave than one bought with money, with this language thou wilt have bound her fast. Thus then, by thine own language, teach her never to speak of "mine and thine." And again, never call her simply by her name, but with terms of endearment, with honor, with much love. Honor her, and she will not need honor from others; she will not want the glory that comes from others, if she enjoys that which comes from thee. Prefer her before all, on every account, both for her beauty and her discernment, and praise her. Thou wilt thus persuade her to give heed to none that are without, but to scorn all the world except thyself. Teach her the fear of God, and all good things will flow from this as from a fountain, and the house will be full of ten thousand blessings. If we seek the things that are incorruptible, these corruptible things will follow. "For," saith He, "seek first His kingdom, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. vi. 33.) What sort of persons, think you, must the children of such parents be? What the servants of such masters? What all others who come near them? Will not they too eventually be loaded with blessings out of number? For generally the servants also have their characters formed after their master's, and are fashioned after their humors, love the same objects, which they have been taught to love, speak the same language, and engage with them in the same pursuits. If thus we regulate ourselves, and attentively study the Scriptures, in most things we shall derive instruction from them. And thus shall be able to please God, and to pass through the whole of the present life virtuously, and to attain those blessings which are promised to those that love Him, of which God grant that we may all be counted worthy, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, together with the Holy Ghost, be unto the Father, glory, power, and honor, now, and ever, through all ages. Amen.
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise), that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth."
As a man in forming a body, places the head first, after that the neck, then the feet, so does the blessed Paul proceed in his discourse. He has spoken of the husband, he has spoken of the wife, who is second in authority, he now goes on by gradual advances to the third rank—which is that of children. For the husband has authority over the wife, and the husband and the wife over the children. Now then mark what he is saying.
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is the first commandment with promise."
Here he has not a word of discourse concerning Christ, not a word on high subjects, for he is as yet addressing his discourse to tender understandings. And it is for this reason, moreover, that he makes his exhortation short, inasmuch as children cannot follow up a long argument. For this reason also he does not discourse at all about a kingdom, (because it does not belong to the tender age of childhood to understand these subjects,) but what a child's soul most especially longs to hear, that he says, namely, that it shall "live long." For if any one shall enquire why it is that he omitted to discourse concerning a kingdom, but set before them the commandment laid down in the law, he does this because he speaks to them as infantile, and because he is well aware that if the husband and the wife are thus disposed according to the law which he has laid down, there will be but little trouble in securing the submission of the children. For whenever any matter has a good and sound and orderly principle and foundation, everything will thenceforward go on with method and regularity, with much facility: the more difficult thing is to settle the foundation, to lay down a firm basis. "Children," saith he, "obey your parents in the Lord," that is, according to the Lord. This, he means to say, is what God commands you. But what then if they shall command foolish things? Generally a father, however foolish he may be himself, does not command foolish things. However, even in that case, the Apostle has guarded the matter, by saying, "in the Lord"; that is, wherever you will not be offending against God. So that if the father be a gentile or a heretic, we ought no longer to obey, because the command is not then, "in the Lord." But how is it that he says, "Which is the first commandment"? For the first is, "Thou shalt not commit adultery;—Thou shalt not kill." He does not speak of it then as first in rank, but in respect of the promise. For upon those others there is no reward annexed, as being enacted with reference to evil things, and to departure from evil things. Whereas in these others, where there is the practice of good, there is further a promise held out. And observe how admirable a foundation he has laid for the path of virtue, that is, honor and reverence towards parents. When he would lead us away from wicked practices, and is just about to enter upon virtuous ones, this is the first thing he enjoins, honor towards parents; inasmuch as they before all others are, after God, the authors of our being, so that it is reasonable they should be the first to reap the fruits of our right actions; and then all the rest of mankind. For if a man have not this honor for parents he will never be gentle toward those unconnected with him.
However, having given the necessary injunctions to children, he passes to the fathers, and says,
Ver. 4. "And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but nurture them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord."
He does not say, "love them," because to this nature draws them even against their own will, and it were superfluous to lay down a law on such subjects. But what does he say? "Provoke not your children to wrath," as many do by disinheriting them, and disowning them, and treating them overbearingly, not as free, but as slaves. This is why he says, "Provoke not your children to wrath." Then, which is the chief thing of all, he shows how they will be led to obedience, referring the whole source of it to the head and chief authority. And in the same way as he has shown the husband to be the cause of the wife's obedience, (which is the reason also why he addresses the greater part of his arguments to him, advising him to attach her to himself by the power of love,) so, I say, here also, he refers the efficiency to him, by saying, "But bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." Thou seest that where there are spiritual ties, the natural ties will follow. Do you wish your son to be obedient? From the very first "Bring him up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." Never deem it an unnecessary thing that he should be a diligent hearer of the divine Scriptures. For there the first thing he hears will be this, "Honor thy father and thy mother"; so that this makes for thee. Never say, this is the business of monks. Am I making a monk of him? No. There is no need he should become a monk. Why be so afraid of a thing so replete with so much advantage? Make him a Christian. For it is of all things necessary for laymen to be acquainted with the lessons derived from this source; but especially for children. For theirs is an age full of folly; and to this folly are super added the bad examples derived from the heathen tales, where they are made acquainted with those heroes so admired amongst them, slaves of their passions, and cowards with regard to death; as, for example, Achilles, when he relents, when he dies for his concubine, when another gets drunk, and many other things of the sort. He requires therefore the remedies against these things. How is it not absurd to send children out to trades, and to school, and to do all you can for these objects, and yet, not to "bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord "? And for this reason truly we are the first to reap the fruits, because we bring up our children to be insolent and profligate, disobedient, and mere vulgar fellows. Let us not then do this; no, let us listen to this blessed Apostle's admonition. "Let us bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." Let us give them a pattern. Let us make them from the earliest age apply themselves to the reading of the Scriptures. Alas, that so constantly as I repeat this, I am looked upon as trifling! Still, I shall not cease to do my duty. Why, tell me, do ye not imitate them of old? Ye women, especially, emulate those admirable women. Has a child been born to any one? Imitate Hannah's example (1 Sam. i. 24); look at what she did. She brought him up at once to the temple. Who amongst you would not rather that his son should become a Samuel than that he should be king of the whole world ten thousand times over? "And how," you will say, "is it possible he should become such a one?" Why is it not possible? It is because thou dost not choose it thyself, nor committest him to the care of those who are able to make him such a one. "And who," it will be said, "is such a one as this?" God. Since she put him into the hands of God. For not even Eli himself was one of those in any great degree qualified to form him; (how could he be, he who was not able to form even his own children?) No, it was the faith of the mother and her earnest zeal that wrought the whole. He was her first child, and her only one, and she knew not whether she should ever have others besides. Yet she did not say, "I will wait till the child is grown up, that he may have a taste of the things of this life, I will allow him to have his pastime in them a little in his childish years." No, all these thoughts the woman repudiated, she was absorbed in one object, how from the very beginning she might dedicate the spiritual image to God. Well may we men be put to the blush at the wisdom of this woman. She offered him up to God, and there she left him. And therefore was her married state more glorious, in that she had made spiritual objects her first care, in that she dedicated the first-fruits to God. Therefore was her womb fruitful, and she obtained other children besides. And therefore she saw him honorable even in. the world. For if men when they are honored, render honor in return, will not God much more, He who does this, even without being honored? How long are we to be mere lumps of flesh? How long are we to be stooping to the earth? Let everything be secondary with us to the provident care we should take of our children, and to our "bringing them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." If from the very first he is taught to be a lover of true wisdom, then wealth greater than all wealth has he acquired and a more imposing name. You will effect nothing so great by teaching him an art, and giving him that outward learning by which he will gain riches, as if you teach him the art of despising riches. If you desire to make him rich, do this. For the rich man is not he who desires great riches, and is encircled with great riches; but the man who has need of nothing. Discipline your son in this, teach him this. This is the greatest riches. Seek not how to give him reputation and high character in outward learning, but consider deeply how you shall teach him to despise the glory that belongs to this present life. By this means would he become more distinguished and more truly glorious. This it is possible for the poor man and the rich man alike to accomplish. These are lessons which a man does not learn from a master, nor by art, but by means of the divine oracles. Seek not how he shall enjoy a long life here, but how he shall enjoy a boundless and endless life hereafter. Give him the great things, not the little things. Hear what Paul saith, "Bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord"; study not to make him an orator, but train him up to be a philosopher. In the want of the one there will be no harm whatever; in the absence of the other, all the rhetoric in the world will be of no advantage. Tempers are wanted, not talking; character, not cleverness; deeds, not words. These gain a man the kingdom. These confer what are benefits indeed. Whet not his tongue, but cleanse his soul. I do not say this to prevent your teaching him these things, but to prevent your attending to them exclusively. Do not imagine that the monk alone stands in need of these lessons from Scripture. Of all others, the children just about to enter into the world specially need them. For just in the same way as the man who is always at anchor in harbor, is not the man who requires his ship to be fitted out and who needs a pilot and a crew, but he who is always out at sea; so is it with the man of the world and the monk. The one is entered as it were into a waveless harbor, and lives an untroubled life, and far removed from every storm; whilst the other is ever on the ocean, and lives out at sea in the very midst of the ocean, battling with billows without number.
And though he may not need it himself, still he ought to be so prepared as to stop the mouths of others. Thus the more distinguished he is in the present life, so much the more he stands in need of this education. If he passes his life in courts, there are many Heathens, and philosophers, and persons puffed up with the glory of this life. It is like a place full of dropsical people. Such in some sort is the court. All are, as it were, puffed up, and in a state of inflammation. And they who are not so are studying to become so. Now then reflect how vast a benefit it is, that your son on entering there, should enter like an excellent physician, furnished with instruments which may allay every one's peculiar inflammation, and should go up to every one, and converse with him, and restore the diseased body to health, applying the remedies derived from the Scriptures, and pouring forth discourses of the true philosophy. For with whom is the recluse to converse? with his wall and his ceiling? yea, or again with the wilderness and the woods? or with the birds and the trees? He therefore has not so great need of this sort of discipline. Still, however, he makes it his business to perfect this work, not so much with a view of disciplining others as himself. There is then every need of much discipline of this sort to those that are to mix in the present world, because such an one has a stronger temptation to sin than the other. And if you have a mind to understand it, he will further be a more useful person even in the world itself. For all will have a reverence for him from these words, when they see him in the fire without being burnt, and not desirous of power. But power he will then obtain, when he least desires it, and will be a still higher object of respect to the king; for it is not possible that such a character should be hid. Amongst a number of healthy persons, indeed, a healthy man will not be noticed; but when there is one healthy man amongst a number of sick, the report will quickly spread and reach the king's ears, and he will make him ruler over many nations. Knowing then these things, "bring up your children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord."
"But suppose a man is poor." Still he will be in no wise more insignificant than the man who lives in kings' courts, because he is not in kings' courts; no, he will be held in admiration, and will soon gain that authority which is yielded voluntarily, and not by any compulsion. For if a set of Greeks, men worthless as they are, and dogs, by taking up that worthless philosophy of theirs, (for such the Grecian philosophy is,) or rather not itself but only its mere name, and wearing the threadbare cloak, and letting their hair grow, impress many; how much more will he who is a true philosopher? If a false appearance, if a mere shadow of philosophy at first sight so catches us, what if we should love the true and pure philosophy? Will not all court it, and entrust both houses, and wives, and children, with full confidence to such men? But there is not, no, there is not such a philosopher existing now. And therefore, it is not possible to find an example of the sort. Amongst recluses, indeed, there are such, but amongst people in the world no longer. And that amongst recluses there are such, it would be possible to adduce a number of instances. However, I will mention one out of many. Ye know, doubtless, and have heard of, and some, perhaps, have also seen, the man. whom I am now about to mention. I mean, the admirable Julian. This man was a rustic, in humble life, and of humble parentage, and totally uninstructed in all outward accomplishments, but full of unadorned wisdom. When he came into the cities, (and this was but rarely,) never did such a concourse take place, not when orators, or sophists, or any one else rode in. But what am I saying? Is not his very name more glorious than that of any king's, and celebrated even to this day? And if these things were in this world, in the world in which the Lord promised us no one good thing, in which He hath told us we are strangers, let us consider how great will be the blessings laid up for us in the heavens. If, where they were sojourners they enjoyed so great honor, how great glory shall they enjoy where their own city is! If, where He promised tribulation, they meet with such attentive care, then where He promises true honors, how great shall be their rest!
And now would ye have me exhibit examples of secular men? At present, indeed, we have none; still there are perhaps even secular men who are excellent, though not arrived at the highest philosophy. I shall therefore quote you examples from the saints of the ancient times. How many, who had wives to keep and children to bring up, were inferior in no respect, no, in no respect to those who have been mentioned? Now, however, it is no longer so, "by reason of the present distress" (1 Cor. vii. 26), as this blessed Apostle saith. Now then whom would ye have me mention? Noah, or Abraham? The son of the one or of the other? Or again, Joseph? Or would ye have me go to the Prophets? Moses I mean, or Isaiah? However, if you will, let us carry our discourse to Abraham, whom all are continually bringing forward to us above all others. Had he not a wife? Had he not children? Yes, for I too use the same language to you, as you do to me. He had a wife, but it was not because he had a wife that he was so remarkable. He had riches, but it was not because he had riches that he pleased God. He begat children, but it was not because he begat children that he was pronounced blessed. He had three hundred and eighteen servants born in his house, but it was not on this account that he was accounted wonderful. But would you know why it was? It was for his hospitality, for his contempt of riches, for his chastened conduct. For what, tell me, is the duty of a philosopher? Is it not to despise both riches and glory? Is it not to be above both envy and every other passion? Come now then, let us bring him forward and strip him, and show you what a philosopher he was. First of all, he esteemed his fatherland as nothing. God said, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred" (Gen. xii. 1), and immediately he went forth. He was not bound to his house, (or surely he would never have gone forth,) nor to his love of familiar friends, nor to anything else whatever. But what? glory and money he despised above all others. For when he had put an end to war by turning the enemy to flight, and was requested to take the spoil, he rejected it. (Gen. xiv. 21-23.)
Again, the son of this great man was reverenced, not because of his riches, but for his hospitality: not because of his children, but for his obedience: not because of his wife, but for the barrenness inflicted on his wife. (Gen. XXV. 21.)
They looked upon the present life as nothing, they followed not after gain, they despised all things. Tell me, which sort of plants are the best? Are not those which have their strength from themselves and are injured neither by rains, nor by hailstorms, nor by gusts of wind, nor by any other vicissitude of the sort, but stand naked in defiance of them all, and needing neither wall nor fence to protect them? Such is the true philosopher, such is that wealth of which we spoke. He has nothing, and has all things: he has all things, and has nothing. For a fence is not within, but only without; a wall is not a thing of nature, but only built round from without. And what again, I ask, what sort of body is a strong one? Is it not that which is in health, and which is overcome neither by hunger nor repletion, nor by cold, nor by heat; or is it that which in view of all these things, needs both caterers, and weavers, and hunters, and physicians, to give it health? He is the rich man, the true philosopher, who needeth none of these things. For this cause it was that this blessed Apostle said, "Bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." Surround them not with outward defenses. For such is wealth, such is glory; for when these fall, and they do fall, the plant stands naked and defenseless, not only having derived no profit from them during the time past, but even injury. For those very shelters that prevented its being inured to the attacks of the winds, will now have prepared it for perishing all at once. And so wealth is injurious rather, because it renders us undisciplined for the vicissitudes of life. Let us therefore train up our children to be such, that they shall be able to bear up against every trial, and not be surprised at what may come upon them; "let us bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." And great will be the reward which will be thus laid up in store for us. For if men for making statues and painting portraits of kings enjoy so great honor, shall not we who adorn the image of the King of kings, (for man is the image of God,) receive ten thousand blessings, if we effect a true likeness? For the likeness is in this, in the virtue of the soul, when we train our children to be good, to be meek, to be forgiving, (because all these are attributes of God,) to be beneficent, to be humane; when we train them to regard the present world as nothing. Let this then be our task, to mold and to direct both ourselves and them according to what is right. Otherwise with what sort of boldness shall we stand before the judgment-seat of Christ? If a man who has unruly children is unworthy to be a Bishop (Tit. i. 6), much more is he unworthy of the kingdom of Heaven. What sayest thou? If we have an unruly wife, or unruly children, shall we have to render account? Yes, we shall, if we do not with exactness bring in that which is due from ourselves; for our own individual virtue is not enough in order to salvation. If the man who laid aside the one talent gained nothing, but was punished even in such a manner, it is plain that one's own individual virtue is not enough in order to salvation, but there is need of that of another also. Let us therefore entertain great solicitude for our wives, and take great care of our children, and of our servants, and of ourselves. And in our government both of ourselves and of them, let us beseech God that He aid us in the work. If He shall see us interested in this work, and solicitous about it, He will aid us; but if He shall see us paying no regard to it, He will not give us His hand. For He does not vouchsafe us His assistance when we sleep, but when we labor also ourselves. For a helper, (as the name implies,) is not a helper of one that is inactive, but of one who works also himself. But the good God is able of Himself to bring the work to perfection, that we may be all counted worthy to attain to the blessings promised us, through the grace and compassions of His only begotten Son, with Whom together with the Holy Ghost be unto the Father, glory, might, and honor, now and ever, and throughout all ages. Amen.
"Servants, be obedient unto them that, according to the flesh, are your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers: but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good-will doing service, as unto the Lord, and not unto men: knowing that whatsoever good thing each one doeth, the same shall he receive again from the Lord, whether he be bond or free."
Thus then it is not husband only, nor wife, nor children, but virtuous servants also that contribute to the organization and protection of a house. Therefore the blessed Paul has not overlooked this department even. He comes to it, however, in the last place, because it is last in dignity and rank. Still he addresses much discourse also to them, no longer in the same tone as to children, but in a far more advanced way, inasmuch as he does not hold out to these the promise in this world, but in that which is to come. "Knowing," saith he, "that whatsoever good or evil thing each one doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord," and thus at once instructs them to love wisdom. For though they be inferior to the children in dignity, still in mind they are superior to them.
"Servants," saith he, "be obedient to them that, according to the flesh, are your masters."
Thus at once he raises up, at once soothes the wounded soul. Be not grieved, he seems to say, that you are inferior to the wife and the children. Slavery is nothing but a name. The mastership is "according to the flesh," brief and temporary; for whatever is of the flesh, is transitory. "With fear," he adds, "and trembling." Thou seest that he does not require the same fear from slaves as from wives: for in that case he simply said, "and let the wife see that she fear her husband "; whereas in this case he heightens the expression, "with fear," he saith, "and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ." This is what he constantly says. What meanest thou, blessed Paul? He is a brother, or rather he has become a brother, he enjoys the same privileges, he belongs to the same body. Yea, more, he is the brother, not of his own master only, but also of the Son of God, he is partaker of all the same privileges; yet sayest thou, "obey your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling"? Yes, for this very reason, he would say, I say it. For if I charge free men to submit themselves one to another in the fear of God,—as he said above, "submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ";—if I charge moreover the wife to fear and reverence her husband, although she is his equal; much more must I so speak to the servant. It is no sign of low birth, rather it is the truest nobility, to understand how to lower ourselves, to be modest and unassuming, and to give way to our neighbor. And the free have served the free with much fear and trembling. "In singleness of heart," he says.
And it is well said, since it is possible to serve with fear and trembling, and yet not of good will, but in just any way that may be possible. Many servants in many instances secretly cheat their masters. And this cheating accordingly he does away, by saying, "in singleness of your heart as unto Christ, not in the way of eye-service as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good-will doing service, as unto the Lord, and not unto men." Seest thou how many words he requires, in order to implant this good principle, "with goodwill," I mean, and "from the heart"? That other service, "with fear and trembling" I mean, we see many rendering to their masters, and the master's threat goes far to secure that. But show, saith he, that thou servest as "the servant of Christ," not of man. Make the right action your own, not one of compulsion. Just as in the words which follow, he persuades and instructs the man who is ill-treated by another to make the right action his own, and the work of his own free choice. Because inasmuch as the man that smites the cheek, is not supposed to come to that act in consequence of any intention in the person struck, but only of his own individual malice, what saith He? "Turn to him the other also" (Matt. v. 39); to show him that in submitting to the first thou wert not unwilling. For he that is lavish in suffering wrong, makes that his own which is not his own act, by suffering himself to be smitten on the other cheek also, and not merely by enduring the first blow. For this latter will have perhaps the appearance even of cowardice; but that of a high philosophy.—Thus thou wilt show that it was for the sake of wisdom that thou didst bear the first blow also. And so in the present case, show here too, that thou bearest this slavery also willingly. The man-pleaser then is no servant of Christ. The servant of Christ is not a man-pleaser. (Gal. i. 10.) For who that is the servant of God, makes it his object to please men? And who that pleases men, can be a servant of God?
"From the heart," saith he, "with good-will doing service." For since it is possible to do service even with singleness of heart and not wrongfully, and yet not with all one's might, but only so far as fulfilling one's bounden duty, therefore he says, do it with alacrity, not of necessity, upon principle, not upon constraint. If thus thou do service, thou art no slave; if thou do it upon principle, if with good-will, if from the heart, and if for Christ's sake. For this is the servitude that even Paul, the free man, serves, and exclaims, "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus, as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake." (2 Cor. iv. 5.) Look how he divests thy slavery of its meanness. For just in the same way as the man who has been robbed, if he gives still more to him who has taken, is not ranked among those robbed, but rather amongst liberal givers; not amongst those who suffer evil, but amongst those who do good; and rather clothes the other with disgrace by his liberality, than is clothed with disgrace by being robbed,—so, I say, in this case, by his generosity he will appear at once more high-minded, and by showing that he does not feel the wrong, will put the other to shame.
Let us then do service to our masters for Christ's sake, "knowing," he continues, "that whatsoever good thing each one doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free." For inasmuch as it was probable that many masters, as being unbelievers, would have no sense of shame, and would make no return to their slaves for their obedience, observe how he has given them encouragement, so that they may have no misgiving about the remuneration, but may have full confidence respecting the recompense. For as they who receive a benefit, when they make no return, make God a debtor to their benefactors; so, I say, do masters also, if, when well-treated by thee, they fail to requite thee, requite thee the more, by rendering God thy debtor.
Ver. 9. "And ye masters," he continues, "do the same things unto them."
The same things. What are these? "With good-will do service." However he does not actually say, "do service," though by saying, "the same things," he plainly shows this to be his meaning. For the master himself is a servant. "Not as men-pleasers," he means, "and with fear and trembling": that is, toward God, fearing lest He one day accuse you for your negligence toward your slaves.
"And forbear threatening;" be not irritating, he means, nor oppressive.
"Knowing that both their Master and yours is in Heaven." Ah! How mighty a Master does he hint at here! How startling the suggestion! It is this. "With what measure thou metest, it shall be measured unto thee again" (Matt. vii. 2); lest thou hear the sentence, "Thou wicked servant. I forgave thee all that debt." (Matt. xviii. 32.)
"And there is no respect of persons," he saith, "with Him."
Think not, he would say, that what is done towards a servant, He will therefore forgive, because done to a servant. Heathen laws indeed as being the laws of men, recognize a difference between these kinds of offenses. But the law of the common Lord and Master of all, as doing good to all alike, and dispensing the same rights to all, knows no such difference.
But should any one ask, whence is slavery, and why it has found entrance into human life, (and many I know are both glad to ask such questions, and desirous to be informed of them,) I will tell you. Slavery is the fruit of covetousness, of degradation, of savagery; since Noah, we know, had no servant, nor had Abel, nor Seth, no, nor they who came after them. The thing was the fruit of sin, of rebellion against parents. Let children hearken to this, that whenever they are undutiful to their parents, they deserve to be servants. Such a child strips himself of his nobility of birth; for he who rebels against his father is no longer a son; and if he who rebels against his father is not a son, how shall he be a son who rebels against our true Father? He has departed from his nobility of birth, he has done outrage to nature. Then come also wars, and battles, and take their prisoners. Well, but Abraham, you will say, had servants. Yes, but he used them not as servants.
Observe how everything depends upon the head; the wife, by telling him "to love her"; the children, by telling him "to bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord"; the servants, by the words, "knowing that both their Master and yours is in Heaven." So, saith he, ye also in like manner, as being yourselves servants, shall be kind and indulgent. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might."
But if, before considering this next, ye have a mind to hearken, I shall make the same remarks concerning servants, as I have also made before concerning children. Teach them to be religious, and everything else will follow of necessity. But now, when any one is going to the theater, or going off to the bath, he drags all his servants after him; but when he goes to church, not for a moment; nor does he compel them to attend and hear. Now how shall thy servant listen, when thou his master art attending to other things? Hast thou purchased, hast thou bought thy slave? Before all things enjoin him what God would have him do, to be gentle towards his fellow-servants, and to make much account of virtue.
Every one's house is a city; and every man is a prince in his own house. That the house of the rich is of this character, is plain enough, where there are both lands, and stewards, and rulers over rulers. But I say that the house of the poor also is a city. Because here too there are offices of authority; for instance, the husband has authority over the wife, the wife over the servants, the servants again over their own wives; again the wives and the husbands over the children. Does he not seem to you to be, as it were, a sort of king, having so many authorities under his own authority? and that it were meet that he should be more skilled both in domestic and general government than all the rest? For he who knows how to manage these in their several relations, will know how to select the fittest men for offices, yes, and will choose excellent ones. And thus the wife will be a second king in the house, lacking only the diadem; and be who knows how to choose this king, will excellently regulate all the rest.
Ver. 10. "Finally," saith he, "be strong in the Lord."
Whenever the discourse is about to conclude, he always employs this turn. Said I not well from the first, that every man's house is a camp in itself? For look, having disposed of the several offices, he proceeds to arm them, and to lead them out to war. If no one usurps the other's office, but every one remains at his post, all will be well ordered.
"Be strong," saith he, "in the Lord, and in the strength of His might."
That is, in the hope which we have in Him, by means of His aid. For as he had enjoined many duties, which were necessary to be done, fear not, he seems to say, cast your hope upon the Lord, and He will make all easy.
Ver. 11. "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
He saith not, against the fightings, nor against the hostilities, but against the "wiles." For this enemy is at war with us, not simply, nor openly, but by" wiles." What is meant by wiles? To use "wiles," is to deceive and to take by artifice or contrivance; a thing which takes place both in the case of the arts, and by words, and actions, and stratagems, in the case of those who seduce us. I mean something like this. The Devil never proposes to us sins in their proper colors; he does not speak of idolatry, but he sets it off in another dress, using "wiles," that is, making his discourse plausible, employing disguises. Now therefore the Apostle is by this means both rousing the soldiers, and making them vigilant, by persuading and instructing them, that our conflict is with one skilled in the arts of war, and with one who wars not simply, nor directly, but with much wiliness. And first then he arouses the disciples from the consideration of the Devil's skill; but in the second place, from his nature, and the number of his forces. It is not from any desire to dispirit the soldiers that stand under him, but to arouse, and to awaken them, that he mentions these stratagems, and prepares them to be vigilant; for had he merely detailed their power, and there stopped his discourse, he must have dispirited them. But now, whereas both before and after this, he shows that it is possible to overcome such an enemy, he rather raises their courage; for the more clearly the strength of our adversaries is stated on our part to our own people, so much the more earnest will it render our soldiers.
Ver. 12. "For our wrestling is not," saith he, "against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness, in the heavenly places."
Having stimulated them by the character of the conflict, he next goes on to arouse them also by the prizes set before them. For what is his argument? Having said that the enemies are fierce, he adds further, that they despoil us of vast blessings. What are these? The conflict lies "in the heavenlies"; the struggle is not about riches, not about glory, but about our being enslaved. And thus is the enmity irreconcilable. The strife and the conflict are fiercer when for vast interests at stake; for the expression "in the heavenlies" is equivalent to, "for the heavenly things." It is not that they may gain anything by the conquest, but that they may despoil us. As if one were to say, "In what does the contract lie?" In gold. The word "in," means, "in behalf of"; the word "in," also means, "on account of." Observe how the power of the enemy startles us; how it makes us all circumspection, to know that the hazard is on behalf of vast interests, and the victory for the sake of great rewards. For he is doing his best to cast us out of Heaven.
He speaks of certain "principalities, and powers, and world-rulers of this darkness." What darkness? Is it that of night? No, but of wickedness. "For ye were," saith he, "once darkness" (Eph. v. 8); so naming that wickedness which is in this present life; for beyond it, it will have no place, not in Heaven, nor in the world to come.
"World-rulers " he calls them, not as having the mastery over the world, but the Scripture is wont to call wicked practices "the world," as, for example, where Christ saith, "They are not of this world, even as I am not of the world." (John xvii. 16.) What then, were they not of the world? Were they not clothed with flesh? Were they not of those who are in the world? And again; "The world hateth Me, but you it cannot hate." (John vii. 7.) Where again He calls wicked practices by this name. Thus the Apostle here by the world means wicked men, and the evil spirits have more especial power over them. "Against the spiritual hosts of wickedness," saith he, "in the heavenly places." "Principalities, and powers," he speaks of; just as in the heavenly places there are "thrones and dominions, principalities and powers." (Col. i. 16.)
Ver. 13. "Wherefore," saith he, "take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand."
By "evil day" he means the present life, and calls it too "this present evil world" (Gal. i. 4), from the evils which are done in it. It is as much as to say, Always be armed. And again, "having done all," saith he; that is, both passions, and vile lusts, and all things else that trouble us. He speaks not merely of doing the deed, but of completing it, so as not only to slay, but to stand also after we have slain. For many who have gained this victory, have fallen again. "Having done," saith he, "all"; not having done one, but not the other. For even after the victory, we must stand. An enemy may be struck, but things that are struck revive again if we do not stand. But if after having fallen they rise up again, so long as we stand, they are fallen. So long as we waver not, the adversary rises not again.
"Let us put on the whole armor of God." Seest thou how he banishes all fear? For if it be possible "to do all, and to stand," his describing in detail the power of the enemy does not create cowardice and fear, but it shakes off indolence. "That ye may be able," he saith, "to withstand in the evil day." And he further gives them encouragement too from the time; the time, he seems to say, is short; so that ye must needs stand; faint not when the slaughter is achieved.
MORAL. If then it is a warfare, if such are the forces arrayed against us, if "the principalities" are incorporeal, if they are "rulers of the world," if they are "the spiritual hosts of wickedness," how, tell me, canst thou live in self-indulgence? How canst thou be dissolute? How if we are unarmed, shall we be able to overcome? These words let every one repeat to himself every day, whenever he is under the influence of anger, or of lust, whenever he is aiming, and all to no profit, after this languid life. Let him hearken to the blessed Paul, saying to him, "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers." A harder warfare this than that which is matter of sense, a fiercer conflict. Think how long time this enemy is wrestling, for what it is that he is fighting, and be more guarded than ever. "Nay," a man will say, "but as he is the devil, he ought to have been removed out of the way, and then all had been saved." These are the pretenses to which some of your indolent ones m self-defense give utterance. When thou oughtest to be thankful, O man, that, if thou hast a mind, thou hast the victory over such a foe, thou art on the contrary even discontented, and givest utterance to the words of some sluggish and sleepy soldier. Thou knowest the points of attack, if thou choosest. Reconnoiter on all sides, fortify thyself. Not against the devil alone is the conflict, but also against his powers. How then, you may say, are we to wrestle with the darkness? By becoming light. How with the "spiritual hosts of wickedness"? By becoming good. For wickedness is contrary to good, and light drives away darkness. But if we ourselves too be darkness, we shall inevitably be taken captive. How then shall we overcome them? If, what they are by nature, that we become by choice, free from flesh and blood, thus shall we vanquish them. For once it was probable that the disciples would have many persecutors, "imagine not," he would say, "that it is they who war with you. They that really war with you, are the spirits that work in them. Against them is our conflict." Two things he provides for by these considerations; he renders them in themselves more courageous and he lets loose their wrath against those who war against them. And wherefore is our conflict against these? Since we have also an invincible ally, the grace of the Spirit. We have been taught an art, such as shall enable us to wrestle not against men, but against spirits. Nay, if we have a mind, neither shall we wrestle at all; for it is because we choose it, that there is a struggle, since so great is the power of Him that dwelleth in us, as that He said, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy." (Luke x. 19.) All power hath He given us, both of wrestling and of not wrestling. It is because we are slothful, that we have to wrestle with them; for that Paul wrestled not, hear what he saith himself, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (Rom. viii. 35.) And again hear his words, "God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." (Rom. xvi. 20.) For he had him under his subjection; whence also he said, "I charge thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." (Acts xvi. 18.) And this is not the language of one wrestling; for he that wrestles has not yet conquered, and he that has conquered no longer wrestles; he has subdued, has taken his captive. And so Peter again wrestled not with the devil, but he did that which was better than wrestling. In the case of the faithful, the obedient, the catechumens, they prevailed over him to vast advantage and over his powers. Hence too was it that the blessed Paul said, "For we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. ii. 11), which was the way moreover in which he especially overcame him; and again hear his words, "And no marvel—if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness." (2 Cor. xi. 14, 15.) So well knew he every part of the conflict, and nothing escaped him. Again, "For the mystery of lawlessness," saith he, "doth already work." (2 Thess. ii. 7.)
But against its is the struggle; for hearken again to him, saying, "I am persuaded, that neither angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of Christ." (Rom. viii. 38.) He saith not simply, "from Christ," but, "from the love of Christ." For many there are who are united forsooth to Christ, and who yet love Him not. Not only, saith he, shalt thou not persuade me to deny Him, but, not even to love Him less. And if the powers above had not strength to do this, who else should move him? Not, however, that he saith this, as though they were actually attempting it, but upon the supposition; wherefore also he said, "I am persuaded." So then he did not wrestle, yet nevertheless he fears his artifices; for hear what he saith, "I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is toward Christ." (2 Cor. xi. 3.) True, you will say, but he uses this word touching himself also where he saith, "For I fear lest, by any means, after that I have preached to others I myself should be rejected." How then art thou "persuaded that no one shall separate thee"? Perceivest thou that the expression is that of lowliness and of humility? For he already dwelt in Heaven. And hence also it was that he said, "For I know nothing against myself" (1 Cor. iv. 4); and again, "I have finished the course." (2 Tim. iv. 7.) So that it was not with regard to these matters that the devil placed obstacles in his way, but with reference to the interests of the disciples. And why forsooth? Because in these points he was not himself sole master, but also their own will. There the devil prevailed in some cases; nay, neither there was it over him that he prevailed, but over the indolence of persons who took no heed. If indeed, whether from slothfulness, or anything else of the sort, he had failed to fulfill his own duty, then had the devil prevailed over him; but if he himself on his part did all he could, and they obeyed not it was not over him he prevailed, but over their disobedience; and the disease prevailed not over the physician, but over the unruliness of the patient; for, when the physician takes every precaution, and the patient undoes all, the patient is defeated, not the physician. Thus then in no instance did he prevail over Paul. But in our own case, it is matter for contentment that we should be so much as able to wrestle. For the Romans indeed this is not what he asks, but what? "He shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." (Rom. xvi. 20.) And for these Ephesians he invokes, "Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." (Eph. iii. 20.) He that wrestles is still held fast, but it is enough for him that he has not fallen. When we depart hence, then, and not till then, will the glorious victory be achieved. For instance, take the case of some evil lust. The extraordinary thing would be, not even to entertain it, but to stifle it. If, however, this be not possible, then though we may have to wrestle with it, and retain it to the last, yet if we depart still wrestling, we are conquerors. For the case is not the same here as it is with wrestlers; for there if thou throw not thy antagonist, thou hast not conquered; but here if thou be not thrown, thou hast conquered; if thou art not thrown, thou hast thrown him; and with reason, because there both strive for the victory, and when the one is thrown, the other is crowned; here, however, it is not thus, but the devil is striving for our defeat; when then I strip him of that upon which he is bent, I am conqueror. For it is not to overthrow us, but to make us share his overthrow that he is eager. Already then am I conqueror, for he is already cast down, and in a state of ruin; and his victory consists not in being himself crowned, but in effecting my ruin; so that though I overthrow him not, yet if I be not overthrown, I have conquered. What then is a glorious victory? It is, over and above, to trample him underfoot, as Paul did, by regarding the things of this present world as nothing. Let us too imitate him, and strive to become above them, and nowhere to give him a hold upon us. Wealth, possessions, vain-glory, give him a hold. And oftentimes indeed this has roused him, and oftentimes exasperated him. But what need is there of wrestling? What need of engaging with him? He who is engaged in the act of wrestling has the issue in uncertainty, whether he may not be himself defeated and captured. Whereas he that tramples him under foot, has the victory certain.
Oh then, let us trample under foot the power of the devil; let us trample under foot our sins, I mean everything that pertains to this life, wrath, lust, vain-glory, every passion; that when we depart to that world, we may not be convicted of betraying that power which God hath given us; for thus shall we attain also the blessings that are to come. But if in this we are unfaithful, who will entrust us with those things which are greater? If we were not able to trample down one who had fallen, who had been disgraced, who had been despised, who was lying beneath our feet, how shall the Father give us a Father's rewards? If we subdue not one so placed in subjection to us, what confidence shall we have to enter into our Father's house? For, tell me, suppose thou hadst a son, and, that he, disregarding the well-disposed part of thy household, should associate with them that have distressed thee, with them that have been expelled his father's house, with them that spend their time at the gaming table, and that he should go on so doing to the very last; will he not be disinherited? It is plain enough he will. And so too shall we; if, disregarding the Angels who have well pleased our Father and whom He hath set over us, we have our conversation with the devil, inevitably we shall be disinherited, which God forbid; but let us engage in the war we have to wage with him.
If any one hath an enemy, if any one hath been wronged by him, if any one is exasperated, let him collect together all that wrath, all that fierceness, and pour it out upon the head of the devil. Here wrath is a good thing, here anger is profitable, here revenge is praiseworthy, for just as amongst the heathen, revenge is a vice, so truly here is revenge a virtue. So then if thou hast any failings, rid thyself of them here. And if thou art not able thyself to put them away, do it, though with thy members also. Hath any one struck thee? Bear malice against the devil, and never relinquish thy hatred towards him. Or again, hath no one struck thee? Yet bear him malice still, because he insulted, because he offended thy Lord and Master, because he injures and wars against thy brethren. With him be ever at enmity, ever implacable, ever merciless. Thus shall he be humbled, thus despicable, thus shall he be an easy prey. If we are fierce towards him, he shall never be fierce towards us. If we are compliant, then he will be fierce; it is not with him as it is with our brethren. He is the foe and enemy, both of life and salvation, both ours and his own. If he loves not himself, how shall he be able to love us? Let us then put ourselves in array and wound him, having for our mighty confederate the Lord Jesus Christ, who can both render us impregnable to his snares, and worthy of the good things to come; which God grant that we may all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, together with the Holy Ghost, be unto the Father, glory, might, and honor, now and ever, and throughout all ages. Amen.
"Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth."
Having drawn up this army, and roused their zeal,—for both these things were requisite, both that they should be drawn up in array and subject to each other, and that their spirit should be aroused,—and having inspired them with courage, for this was requisite also, he next proceeds also to arm them. For arms had been of no use, had they not been first posted each in his own place, and had not the spirit of the soldier's soul been roused; for we must first arm him within, and then without.
Now if this is the case with soldiers, much more is it with spiritual soldiers. Or rather in their case, there is no such thing as arming them without, but everything is within. He hath roused their ardor, and set it on fire, he hath added confidence. He hath set them in due array. Observe how he also puts on the armor. "Stand therefore," saith he. The very first feature in tactics is, to know how to stand well, and many things will depend upon that. Hence he discourses much concerning standing, saying also elsewhere, "Watch ye, stand fast." (1 Cor. xvi. 13.) And again, "So stand fast in the Lord." (Phil. iv. 1.) And again, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed test he fall." (1 Cor. x. 12.) And again, "That ye may be able, having done all, to stand." (Eph. vi. 13.) Doubtless then he does not mean merely any way of standing, but a correct way, and as many as have had experience in wars know how great a point it is to know how to stand. For if in the case of boxers and wrestlers, the trainer recommends this before anything else, namely, to stand firm, much more will it be the first thing in warfare, and military matters.
The man who, in a true sense, stands, is upright; he stands not in a lazy attitude, not leaning upon anything. Exact uprightness discovers itself by the way of standing, so that they who are perfectly upright, they stand. But they who do not stand, cannot be upright, but are unstrung and disjointed. The luxurious man does not stand upright, but is bent; so is the lewd man, and the lover of money. He who knows how to stand will from his very standing, as from a sort of foundation, find every part of the conflict easy to him.
"Stand therefore," saith he, "having girded your loins with truth." He is not speaking of a literal, physical girdle, for all the language in this passage he employs in a spiritual sense. And observe how methodically he proceeds. First he girds up his soldier? What then is the meaning of this? The man that is loose in his life, and is dissolved in his lusts, and that has his thoughts trailing on the ground, him he braces up by means of this girdle, not suffering him to be impeded by the garments entangling his legs, but leaving him to run with his feet well at liberty. "Stand therefore, having girded your loins," saith he. By the "loins" here he means this; just what the keel is in ships, the same are the loins with us the basis or groundwork of the whole body: for they are, as it were, a foundation, and upon them as the schools of the physicians tell you, the whole frame is built. So then in "girding up the loins" he compacts the foundation of our soul; for he is not of course speaking of these loins of our body, but is discoursing spiritually: and as the loins are the foundation alike of the parts both above and below, so is it also in the case of these spiritual loins. Oftentimes, we know, when persons are fatigued, they put their hands there as if upon a sort of foundation, and in that manner support themselves; and for this reason it is that the girdle is used in war, that it may bind and hold together this foundation, as it were, in our frame; for this reason too it is that when we run we gird ourselves. It is this which guards our strength. Let this then, saith he, be done also with respect to the soul, and then in doing anything whatsoever we shall be strong; and it is a thing most especially becoming to soldiers.
True, you may say, but these our natural loins we gird with a leathern band; but we, spiritual soldiers, with what? I answer, with that which is the head and crown of all our thoughts, I mean, "with .truth." "Having girded your loins," saith he, "with truth." What then is the meaning of "with truth"? Let us love nothing like falsehood, all our duties let us pursue "with truth," let us not lie one to another. Whether it be an opinion, let us seek the truth, or whether it be a line of life, let us seek the true one. If we fortify ourselves with this, if we "gird ourselves with truth," then shall no one overcome us. He who seeks the doctrine of truth, shall never fall down to the earth; for that the things which are not true are of the earth, is evident from this, that all they that are without are enslaved to the passions, following their own reasonings; and therefore if we are sober, we shall need no instruction in the tales of the Greeks. Seest thou how weak and frivolous they are? incapable of entertaining about God one severe thought or anything above human reasoning? Why? Because they are not "girded about with truth"; because their loins, the receptacle of the seed of life, and the main strength of their reasonings, are ungirt; nothing then can be weaker than these. And the Municheans again, seest thou, how all the things they have the boldness to utter, are from their own reasonings? "It was impossible," say they, "for God to create the world without matter." Whence is this so evident? These things they say, groveling, and from the earth, and from what happens amongst ourselves; because man, they say, cannot create otherwise. Marcion again, look what he says. "God, if He took upon Him flesh, could not remain pure." Whence is this evident? "Because," says he, "neither can men." But men are able to do this. Valentinus again, with his reasonings all trailing along the ground, speaks the things of the earth; and in like manner Paul of Samosata. And Arius, what does he say? "It was impossible for God when He begat, to beget without passion." Whence, Arius, hast thou the boldness to allege this; merely from the things which take place amongst ourselves? Seest thou how the reasonings of all these trail along on the ground? All are, as it were, let loose and unconfined, and savoring of the earth? And so much then for doctrines. With regard to life and conduct, again, whoremongers, lovers of money, and of glory, and of everything else, trail on the ground. They have not their loins themselves standing firm, so that when they are weary they may rest upon them; but when they are weary, they do not put their hands upon them and stand upright, but flag. He, however, who "is girt about with the truth," first, never is weary; and secondly, if he should be weary, he will rest himself upon the truth itself. What? Will poverty, tell me, render him weary? No, in nowise; for he will repose on the true riches, and by this poverty will understand what is true poverty. Or again, will slavery make him weary? No, in nowise, for he will know what is the true slavery. Or shall disease? No, nor even that. "Let your loins," saith Christ, "be girded about, and your lamps burning" (Luke xii. 35 ), with that light which shall never be put out. This is what the Israelites also, when they were departing out of Egypt (Ex. xii. 11), were charged to do. For why did they eat the passover with their loins girded? Art thou desirous to hear the ground of it? According to the historical fact, or according to its mystical sense, shall I state it? But I will state them both, and do ye retain it in mind, for I am not doing it without an object, merely that I may tell you the solution, but also that my words may become in you reality. They had, we read, their loins girded, and their staff in their hands, and their shoes on their feet, and thus they ate the Passover. Awful and terrible mysteries, and of vast depth; and if so terrible in the type, how much more in the reality? They come forth out of Egypt, they eat the Passover. Attend. "Our Passover hath been sacrificed, even Christ," it is said. Wherefore did they have their loins girded? Their guise is that of wayfarers; for their having shoes, and staves in their hands, and their eating standing, declares nothing else than this. Will ye hear the history first, or the mystery? Better the history first. What then is the design of the history? The Jews were continually forgetting God's benefits to them. Accordingly then, God tied the sense of these, His benefits, not only to the time, but also to the very habit of them that were to eat. For this is why they were to eat girded and sandalled, that when they were asked the reason, they might say, "we were ready for our journey, we were just about to go forth out of Egypt to the land of promise and we were ready for our exodus." This then is the historical type. But the reality is this; we too eat a Passover, even Christ; "for," saith he, "our Passover hath been sacrificed, even Christ." (1 Cor. v. 7.) What then? We too ought to eat it, both sandalled and girded. And why? That we too may be ready for our Exodus, for our departure hence.
MORAL. Let not any one of them that eat this Passover look towards Egypt, but towards Heaven, towards "Jerusalem that is above." (Gal. iv. 26.) On this account thou eatest with thy loins girded, on this account thou eatest with shoes on thy feet, that thou mayest know, that from the moment thou first beginnest to eat the Passover, thou oughtest to set out, and to be upon thy journey. And this implies two things, both that we must depart out of Egypt, and that, whilst we stay, we must stay henceforth as in a strange country; "for our citizenship," saith he, "is in Heaven" (Phil. iii. 20); and that all our life long we should ever be prepared, so that when we are called we may not put it off, but say, "My heart is fixed." (Ps. cviii. 1.) "Yes, but this Paul indeed could say, who knew nothing against himself; but I, who require a long time for repentance, I cannot say it." Yet that to be girded is the part of a waking soul, hearken to what God says to that righteous man, "Gird up now thy loins like a man, for I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto Me." (Job xxxviii. 3.) This He says also to all the prophets, and this He says again to Moses, to be girded. And He Himself also appears to Ezekiel (Ezek. ix. 11, Sept.) girded. Nay more, and the Angels, too, appear to us girded (Rev. xv. 6), as being soldiers. From our being girded about, it comes that we also stand bravely as from our standing our being girded Collies.
For we also are going to depart, and many are the difficulties that intervene. When we have crossed this plain, straightway the devil is upon us, doing everything, contriving every artifice, to the end that those who have been saved out of Egypt, those who have passed the Red Sea, those who are delivered at once from the evil demons, and from unnumbered plagues, may be taken and destroyed by him. But, if we be vigilant, we too have a pillar of fire, the grace of the Spirit. The same both enlightens and overshadows us. We have manna; yea rather not manna, but far more than manna. Spiritual drink we have, not water, that springs forth from the Rock. So have we too our encampment (Rev. xx. 9), and we dwell in the desert even now; for a desert indeed without virtue, is the earth even now, even more desolate than that wilderness. Why was that desert so terrible? Was it not because it had scorpions in it, and adders? (Deut. viii. 15.) "A land," it is said, "which none passed through." (Jer. ii. 6.). Yet is not that wilderness, no, it is not so barren of fruits, as is this human nature. At this instant, how many scorpions, how many asps are in this wilderness, how many serpents, how many "offsprings of vipers" (Matt. iii. 7) are these through whom we at this instant pass! Yet let us not be afraid; for the leader of this our Exodus is not Moses, but Jesus.
How then is it that we shall not suffer the same things? Let us not commit the same acts, and then shall we not suffer the same punishment. They murmured, they were ungrateful; let us therefore not cherish these passions. How was it that they fell all of them? "They despised the pleasant land." (Ps. cvi. 24.) "How 'despised' it? Surely they prized it highly." By becoming indolent and cowardly, and not choosing to undergo any labors to obtain it. Let not us then "despise" Heaven! This is what is meant by "despising." Again, among us also has fruit been brought, fruit from Heaven, not the cluster of grapes borne upon the staff (Num. xiii. 23), but the "earnest of the Spirit" (2 Cor. i. 22), "the citizenship which is in Heaven" (Phil. iii. 20), which Paul and the whole company of the Apostles, those marvelous husbandmen, have taught us. It is not Caleb the son of Jephunneh, nor Jesus the son of Nun, that hath brought these fruits; but Jesus the Son of "the Father of mercies" (2 Cor. i. 3), the Son of the Very God, hath brought every virtue, hath brought down from Heaven all the fruits that are from thence, the songs of heaven hath He brought. For the words which the Cherubim above say, these hath He charged us to say also, "Holy, Holy, Holy." He hath brought to us the virtue of the Angels. "The Angels marry not, neither are given in marriage" (Matt. xxii. 30) this fair plant hath He planted here also. They love not money, nor anything like it; and this too hath He sown amongst us. They never die and this hath He freely given us also, for death is no longer death, but sleep. For hearken to what He saith, "Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep." (John xi. 11.)
Seest thou then the fruits of "Jerusalem that is above"? (Gal. iv. 26.) And what is indeed more stupendous than all is this, that our war-fire is not decided, but all these things are given us before the attainment of the promise For they indeed toiled even after they had entered into the land of promise;—rather, they toiled not, for had they chosen to obey God, they might have taken all the cities, without either arms or array. Jericho, we know, they overturned, more after the fashion of dancers than of warriors. We however have no warfare after we have entered into the land of promise, that is, into Heaven, but only so long as we are, in the wilderness, that is, in the present life. "For he that is entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his works as God did from His." (Heb. iv. 10.) "Let us not then be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Gal. vi. 9.) Seest thou how that just as He led them, so also He leads us? In their case, touching the manna and the wilderness, it is said, "He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack." (Ex. xvi. 18.) And we have this charge given us, "not to lay up treasure upon the earth." (Matt. vi. 19.) But if we do lay up treasure, it is no longer the earthly worm that corrupts it, as was the case with the manna, but that which dwelleth eternally with fire. Let us then "subdue all things," that we furnish not food to this worm. For "he," it is said, "who gathered much had nothing over." For this too happens with ourselves also every day. We all of us have but the same capacity of hunger to satisfy. And that which is more than this, is but an addition of cares. For what He intended in after-times to deliver, saying, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matt. vi. 34), this had He thus been teaching even from the very beginning, and not even thus did they receive it. But as to us, let us not be insatiable, let us not be discontented, let us not be seeking out for splendid houses; for we are on our pilgrimage, not at home; so that if there be any that knows that the present life is a sort of journey, and expedition, and, as one might say, it is what they call an entrenched camp, he will not be seeking for splendid buildings. For who, tell me, be he ever so rich, would choose to build a splendid house in an encampment? No one; he would be a laughing stock, he would be building for his enemies, and would the more effectually invite them on; and so then, if we be in our senses, neither shall we. The present life is nothing else than a march and an encampment.
Wherefore, I beseech you, let us do all we can, so as to lay up no treasure here; for if the thief should come, we must in a moment arise and depart. "Watch," saith He, "for ye know not at what hour the thief cometh" (Matt. xxiv. 42, 43), thus naming death. O then, before he cometh, let us send away everything before us to our native country; but here let us be "well girded," that we may be enabled to overcome our enemies, whom God grant that we may overcome, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom together with the Holy Ghost, be unto the Father glory, strength, honor forever and ever. Amen.
"Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
"Having girded your loins," saith he, "with truth." What can be the meaning of this? I have stated in the preceding discourse, that he ought to be lightly accoutered, in order that there should be no impediment whatever to his running.
"And having on," he continues, "the breastplate of righteousness." As the breastplate is impenetrable, so also is righteousness, and by righteousness here he means a life of universal virtue. Such a life no one shall ever be able to overthrow; it is true, many wound him, but no one cuts through him, no, not the devil himself. It is as though one were to say, "having righteous deeds fixed in the breast "; of these it is that Christ saith, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled." (Matt. v. 6.) Thus is he firm and strong like a breastplate. Such a man will never be put out of temper.
"And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace." It is more uncertain in what sense this was said. What then is its meaning? They are noble greaves, doubtless, with which he invests us. Either then he means this, that we should be prepared for the gospel, and should make use of our feet for this, and should prepare and make ready its way before it; or if not this, at least that we ourselves should be prepared for our departure. "The preparation," then, "of the gospel of peace," is nothing else than a most virtuous life; according to what the Prophet saith. "Thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear." (Ps. x. 17.) "Of the gospel," he says, "of peace," and with reason; for inasmuch as he had made mention of warfare and fighting, he shows us that this conflict with the evil spirits we must needs have: for the gospel is "the gospel of peace"; this war which we have against them, puts an end to another war, that, namely, which is between us and God; if we are at war with the devil, we are at peace with God. Fear not therefore, beloved; it is a "gospel," that is, a word of good news; already is the victory won.
"Withal taking up the shield of faith."
By "faith" in this place, he means, not knowledge, (for that he never would have ranged last,) but that gift by which miracles are wrought. And with reason does he term this " 'faith' a shield"; for as the shield is put before the whole body, as if it were a sort of rampart, just so is this faith; for all things yield to it.
"Wherewith ye shall be able," saith he, "to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one."
For this shield nothing shall be able to resist; for hearken to what Christ saith to His disciples, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove." (Matt. xvii. 20.) But how are we to have this faith? When we have rightly performed all those duties.
"By the darts of the evil one," he means, both temptations, and vile desires; and "fiery," he says, for such is the character of these desires. Yet if faith can command the evil spirits, much more can it also the passions of the soul.
"And take the helmet," he continues, "of salvation," that is, of your salvation. For he is casing them in armor.
"And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." He either means the Spirit, or else, "the spiritual sword": for by this all things are severed, by this all things are cleft asunder, by this we cut off even the serpent's head.
Ver. 18, 19, 20. "With all prayer and supplication," saith he, "praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints; and on my behalf 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, that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
As the word of God has power to do all things, so also has he who has the spiritual gift. " For the word of God," saith he, "is living, and active and sharper than any two-edged sword." (Heb. iv. 12.) Now mark the wisdom of this blessed Apostle. He hath armed them with all security. What then is necessary after that? To call upon the King, that He may stretch forth His hand. "With all prayer, and supplication, praying at all seasons in the Spirit"; for it is possible "to pray" not "in the Spirit," when one "uses vain repetitions" (Matt. vi. 7); "and watching thereunto," he adds, that is, keeping sober; for such ought the armed warrior, he that stands at the King's side, to be wakeful and temperate:—"in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints; and on my behalf that utterance may be given unto me in opening my mouth." What sayest thou, blessed Paul? Hast thou, then, need of thy disciples? And well does he say, "in opening my mouth." He did not then study what he used to say, but according to what Christ said, "When they deliver you up, be not anxious how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak" (Matt. x. 19): so truly did he do everything by faith, everything by grace. "With boldness," he proceeds, "to make known the mystery of the Gospel"; that is, that I may answer for myself in its defense, as I ought. And art thou bound in thy chain, and still needest the aid of others? Yea, saith he, for so was Peter also bound in his chain, and yet nevertheless "was prayer made earnestly for him." (Acts xii. 5.) "For which I am an ambassador in chains, that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak"; that is, that I may answer with confidence, with courage, with great prudence.
Ver. 21. "But that ye also may know my affairs, how I do, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things."
As soon as he had mentioned his chains, he leaves something for Tychicus also to relate to them of his own accord. For whatever topics there were of doctrine and of exhortation, all these he explained by his letter: but what were matters of bare recital, these he entrusted to the bearer of the letter. "That ye may know my affairs," that is, may be informed of them. This manifests both the love which he entertained towards them, and their love towards him.
Ver. 22. "Whom I have sent unto you," saith he," for this very purpose, that ye may know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts."
This language he employs, not without a purpose, but in consequence of what he had been saying previously; "having girded your loins, having on the breastplate," &c., which are a token of a constant and unceasing advance; for hear what the Prophet saith," Let it be unto him as the raiment wherewith he covereth himself, and for the girdle wherewith he is girded continually" (Ps. cix. 19); and the Prophet Isaiah again saith, that God hath "put on righteousness as a breastplate" (Isa. lix. 17); by these expressions instructing us that these are things which we must have, not for a short time only, but continually, inasmuch as there is continual need of warfare. "For it is said the righteous are bold as a lion." (Prov. xxviii. 1.) For he that is armed with such a breastplate, it cannot be that he should fear the array that is against him, but he will leap into the midst of the enemy. And again Isaiah saith, "How beautiful are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings." (Isa. lii. 7.) Who would not run, who would not serve in such a cause; to publish the good tidings of peace, peace between God and man, peace, where men have toiled not, but where God hath wrought all?
But what is the "preparation of the Gospel"? Let us hearken to what John saith, "Make ye ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." (Matt. iii. 3.) But again there is need also of another "preparation" after baptism, so that we may do nothing unworthy of "peace." And then, since the feet are usually a token of the way of life, hence he is constantly exhorting in this language, "Look, therefore, carefully how ye walk." (Eph. v. 15.) On this account, he would say, let us exhibit a practice and example worthy of the Gospel; that is, make our life and conduct pure. The good tidings of peace have been proclaimed to you, give to these good tidings a ready way; since if ye again become enemies, there is no more "preparation of peace." Be ready, be not backward to embrace this peace. As ye were ready and disposed for peace and faith, so also continue. The shield is that which first receives the assaults of the adversary, and preserves the armor uninjured. So long then as faith be right and the life be right, the armor remains uninjured.
He discourses, however, much concerning faith, but most especially in writing to the Hebrews, as he does also concerning hope. Believe, saith he, in the good things to come, and none of this armor shall be injured. In dangers, in toils, by holding out thy hope and thy faith to protect thee, thou wilt preserve thy armor uninjured. "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek after Him." (Heb. xi. 6.) Faith is a shield; but wherever there are quibbles, and reasonings, and scrutinizings, then is it no longer a shield, but it impedes us. Let this our faith be such as shall cover and screen the whole frame. Let it not then be scanty, so as to leave the feet or any other part exposed, but let the shield be commensurate with the whole body.
"Fiery darts." For many doubtful reasonings there are, which set the soul, as it were, on fire, many difficulties, many perplexities, but all of them faith sets entirely at rest; many things does the devil dart in, to inflame our soul and bring us into uncertainty; as, for example, when some persons say, "Is there then a resurrection?" "Is there a judgment?" "Is there a retribution?" "But is there faith?" the apostle would say, "thou shalt with it quench the darts of the devil. Has any base lust assaulted thee? Hold before thee thy faith in the good things quenched, and others not. Hearken to what Paul saith, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed to us-ward." (Rom. viii. 18.) Seest thou how many darts the righteous quenched in those days? Seemeth it not to thee to be "fiery darts," when the patriarch burned with inward fire, as he was offering up his son? Yea, and other righteous men also have quenched "all his darts." Whether then they be reasonings that assault us, let us hold out this; or whether they be base desires, let us use this; or whether again labors and distresses, upon this let us repose. Of all the other armor, this is the safeguard; if we have not this, they will be quickly pierced through. Withal," saith he, "taking up the shield of faith." What is the meaning of "withal"? It means both "in truth," and "in righteousness," and "in the preparation of the gospel "; that is to say, all these have need of the aid of faith.
And therefore he adds further, "and take the helmet of salvation"; that is to say, finally by this shall ye be able to be in security. To receive the helmet of salvation is to escape the peril. For as the helmet covers the head perfectly in every part, and suffers it not to sustain any injury, but preserves it, so also does faith supply alike the place of a shied, and of a helmet to preserve us. For if we quench his darts, quickly shall we receive also those saving thoughts that suffer not our governing principle to sustain any harm; for if thee, the thoughts that are adverse to our salvation, are quenched, those which are not so, but which contribute to our salvation, and inspire us with good hopes, will be generated within us, and will rest upon our governing principle as a helmet does upon the head.
And not only this, but we shall take also "the sword of the Spirit," and thus not only ward off his missiles, but smite the devil himself. For a soul that does not despair of herself, and is proof against those fiery darts, will stand with all intrepidity to face the enemy, and will cleave open his breastplate with this very sword with which Paul also burst through it, and "brought into captivity his devices" (2 Cor. x. 5); he will cut off and behead the serpent.
"Which is the word of God."
By the "word of God" in this place, he means on the one hand the ordinance of God, or the word of command; or on the other that it is in the Name of Christ. For if we keep his commandments, by these we shall kill and slay above all things they stand in need of God; for what does he say?
"With all prayer and supplication," he says, these things shall be done, and ye shall accomplish all by praying. But when thou drawest near, never ask for thyself only: thus shalt thou have God favorable to thee.
"With all prayer and supplication, praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and washing thereunto in all perseverance for all the saints." Limit it not, I say to certain times of the day, for, hear what he is saying; approach at all times; "pray," saith he, "without ceasing." (1 Thess. v. 17.) Hast thou never heard of that widow, how by her importunity she prevailed? (Luke xviii. 1-7.) Hast thou never heard of that friend, who at midnight shamed his friend into yielding by his 25-30), how by the constancy of her entreaty she called forth the Lord's compassion? These all of them gained their object by their importunity
"Praying at all seasons," saith he, "in the Spirit."
That is to say, let us seek for the things which are according to God, nothing of this world, nothing pertaining to this life.
Therefore, is there need not only that we "pray without ceasing," but also, that we should do so "watching;—and watching," saith he, "thereunto." Whether he is here speaking of vigils; or of the wakefulness of the soul, I admit both meanings. Seest thou how that Canaanitish woman watched unto prayer? and though the Lord gave her no answer, nay, even crumbs which fall from their masters' table" (Matt. xv. 27), and desisted not until she obtained her request How, too, did that widow cry, and persist so long, until she was able to shame into yielding that ruler, that neither feared God, nor regarded man (Luke xviii. 1-7)? And how, again, did the friend persist, remaining before the door in the dead of night, till he shamed the other into yielding by his importunity, and made him arise. (Luke xi. 5-8.) This is to be watchful.
Wouldest thou understand what watchfulness in prayer is? Go to Hannah, hearken to her very words, "Adonai Eloi Sabaoth." (1 Sam. i. II.) Nay, rather, hear what preceded those words; "they all rose up," says the history, "from the table" (I Sam. i. 9), and she, forthwith, did not betake herself to sleep, nor to repose. Whence she appears to me even when she was sitting at the table to have partaken lightly, and not to have been made heavy with viands. Otherwise never could she have shed so many tears; for if we, when we are fasting and foodless, hardly pray thus, or rather never pray thus, much more would not she ever have prayed thus after a meal, unless even at the meal she had been as they that eat not. Let us be ashamed, us that are men, at the example of this woman; let us be ashamed, that are suing and gasping for a kingdom, at her, praying and weeping for a little child. "And she stood," it says, "before the Lord" (1 Sam. i. 10); and what are her words? "Adonai, Lord, Eloi Sabaoth!" and this is, being interpreted, "O Lord, the God of Hosts." Her tears went before her tongue; by these she hoped to prevail with God to bend to her request. Where tears are there is always affliction also: where affliction is, there is great wisdom and heedfulness. "If thou wilt indeed," she continues, "look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then will I give him unto the Lord all the days of his life." (I Sam. i. II.) She said not, "for one year," or, "for two," as we do;—nor said she, "if thou wilt give me a child, I will give thee money"; but, "I give back to Thee the very gift itself entire, my first-born, the son of my prayer." Truly here was a daughter of Abraham. He gave when it was demanded of him. She offers even before it is demanded.
But observe even after this her deep reverence." Only her lips moved, but her voice," it saith, "was not heard." (I Sam. i. 13.) And thus does he who would gain his request draw nigh unto God; not consulting his ease, nor gaping, nor lounging, nor scratching his head, nor with utter listlessness. What, was not God able to grant, even without any prayer at all? What, did He not know the woman's desire even before she asked? And yet had He granted it before she asked, then the woman's earnestness would not have been shown, her virtue would not have been made manifest, she would not have gained so great a reward. So that the delay is not the result of envy or of witchcraft, but of providential kindness. When therefore ye hear the Scripture saying, that "the Lord had shut up her womb" (ver. 5, 6), and that, "her rival provoked her sore"; consider that it is His intention to prove the woman's seriousness. For, mark, she had a husband devoted to her, for he said (ver. 8), "Am I not better to thee than ten sons?" "And her rival," it saith, "provoked her sore," that is, reproached her, insulted over her. And yet did she never once retaliate, nor utter imprecation against her, nor say, "Avenge me, for my rival reviles me." The other had children, but this woman had her husband's love to make amends. With this at least he even consoled her, saying, "Am not I better to thee than ten sons?"
But let us look, again, at the deep wisdom of this woman. "And Eli," it says, "thought she handmaid for a daughter of Belial, for out of the abundance of my complaint and my provocation have I spoken hitherto." (Ver. 16.) Here is truly the proof of a contrite heart, when we are not angry with those that revile us, when we are not indignant against them, when we reply but in self-defense. Nothing renders the heart so wise as affliction; nothing is there so sweet as "godly mourning." (2 COR. vii. 10.) "Out of the abundance" saith she, "of my complaint and my provocation have I spoken hitherto." Her let us imitate, one and all. Hearken, ye that are barren, hearken, ye that desire children, hearken, both husbands and wives; yes, for husbands, too used oftentimes to contribute their part; for hear what the Scripture saith, "And Isaac intreated the Lord for Rebekah his wife, because she was barren." (Gen. xxv. 21.) For prayer is able to accomplish great things.
"With all prayer and supplication," saith he "for all the saints, and for me," placing himself last. What doest thou, O blessed Paul, in thus placing thyself last? Yea, saith he, "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." And where art thou an ambassador? "To mankind," saith he. Oh amazing lovingkindness of God! He sent from Heaven in His own Name ambassadors for peace, and lo, men took them, and bound them, and reverenced not so much as the law of nations, that an ambassador never suffers any hurt. "But, however, I am an ambassador in bonds. The chain lies like a bridle upon me, restraining my boldness, but your prayer shall open my mouth" in order that I may speak all things I was sent to speak.
"But that ye also may know my affairs, how I do, Tychicus, the beloved brother, and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things." If" faithful," he will tell no falsehood, he will in everything speak the truth:—"whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that ye might know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts." Amazing, transcendent affection I "that it may not be in the power" he means, "of them that would, to affright you." For it is probable that they were in tribulation; for the expression, "may confort your hearts," intimates as much; that is, "may not suffer you to sink under it."
Ver. 23. "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."
He invokes upon them, "peace and love with faith." He saith well: for he would not that they should have regard to bye by itself, and mince themselves with those of a different faith. Either he means this, or that above described, namely, that they should have faith also, so as to have a cheerful confidence of the good things to come. The "peace" which is towards God, and the "love." And if there be peace, there will also be bye; if bye, there will be peace also. "With faith," because without faith, love amounts to nothing; or rather love could not exist at all without it.
Ver. 24. "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in uncorruptness."
Why does he separate the two here, placing "peace" by itself, and "grace" by itself?
"In uncorruptness," he concludes.
What is this "in uncorruptness"? It either means, "in purity"; or else, "for the sake of those things which are incorruptible," as, for example, not in riches, nor in glory, but in those treasures which are incorruptible. The "in" means, "through." "Through uncorruptness," that is, "through virtue." Because all sin is corruption. And in the same way as we say a virgin is corrupted, so also do we speak of the soul. Hence Paul says, "Lest by any means your minds should be corrupted." ( COR. xi. 3.) And again elsewhere, he says, "In doctrine, showing uncorruptness." For what, tell me, is corruption of the body? Is it not the dissolution of the whole frame, and of its union? This then is what takes place also in the soul when sin enters. The beauty of the soul is temperance, and righteousness; the heath of the soul is courage, and prudence; for the base man is hideous in our eyes, so is the covetous, so is the man who gives himself up to evil practices, and so the coward and unmanly man is sick, and the foolish man is out of health. Now that sins work corruption, is evident from this, that they render men base, and weak, and cause them to be sick and diseased. Nay, and when we say that a virgin is corrupted, we say so, strictly speaking, on this account also, not only because the body is defiled, but became of the transgression. For the mere act is natural; and if in that consisted the "corruption," then were marriage corruption. Hence is it not the act that is corruption, but the sin, for it dishonors and puts her to shame. And again, what would be corruption in the case of a house? Its dissolution. And so, one. For hear what the Scripture saith, "All flesh had corrupted his way" (Gen. vi. 12); and again, "In intolerable corruption" (Ex. xviii. 18); and again, "Men corrupted in mind." ( Tim. iii. 8.) Our body is corruptible, but our soul is incorruptible: Oh then, let us not make that corruptible also. This, the corruption of the body, was the work of former sin; but sin which is after the Laver, has the power also to render the soul corruptible, and to make it an easy prey to "the worm that dieth not." For never had that worm touched it, had it not found the soul corruptible. The worm touches not adamant, and even if he touches it, he can do it no harm. Oh then, corrupt not the soul; for that which is corrupted is full of foul stench; for hearken to the Prophet who saith, "My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness." (Ps. xxxviii. 5.)
However, "this corruption" of the body "shall put on incorruption" (I COR. XV. 53), but the other of the soul, never; for where incorruption is, there is no corruption. Thus is it a corruption which is incorruptible, which hath no end, a deathless death; which would have been, had the body remained deathless. Now if we shall depart into the next world having not burnt up, ever wasted by the worm, is corruption 'incorruptible; like as was the case with the blessed Job. He was corrupted, and died not, and that through a lengthened period, and "wasted continually, scraping the clods of dust from his sore." Some such torment as this shall it undergo, when the worms surround and devour you, let us dread the words, that we meet not with the realties. Covetousness is corruption, corruption more dangerous than any other, and leading on to idolatry. Let us shun the corruption, let us choose the incorruption. Hast thou in covetousness overreached and defrauded some one? The fruits of thy covetousness perish, but the covetousness remains; a corruption which is the foundation of incorruptible corruption. The enjoyment indeed passes away, but the sin remains imperishable. A fearful evil is it for us not to strip ourselves of everything in this present world; a great calamity to depart into the next with loads of sins about us. "For in Sheol," it is said "who shall give Thee thanks?" (Ps. vi. 5.) There is the place of judgment; then is there no longer season for repentance. How many things did the rich man bewail then? (Luke xvi. 23.) And yet it availed him nothing. How many things did they say who had neglected to feed Christ? (Matt. xxv. 41.) Yet were they led away notwithstanding into the everlasting fire. How many things had they then to say: "that had wrought iniquity"; "Lord, did we not prophesy by Thy Name, and by Thy Name cast out devils?" And yet notwithstanding, they were not owned. All these things therefore will take place then; but it will be of no avail, if they be not done now. Let us fear then, lest ever we should have to say then, "Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered, and fed Thee not?" (Matt. xxv. 44.) Let us feed Him now, not one day, nor two, nor three days. "For let not mercy and truth," saith the Wise Man, "forsake thee." (Prov. iii. 3.) He saith not "do it once, nor twice" The Virgins, we know, had oil, but not enough to last out. (Matt. xxv. 3, 8.) And thus we need much oil, and thus should we be "like a green olive tree in the house of God." (Ps. lii. 8.) Let us reflect then how many burdens of sins each of us has about him, and let us make our acts of mercy counterbalance them; nay rather, far exceed them, that not only the sins may be quenched, but that the acts of righteousness may be also accounted unto us for righteousness. For if the good deeds be not so many in number as to put aside the crimes laid against us, and out of the reminder to be counted unto us for righteousness, then shall no one rescue us from that punishment, from which God grant that we may be all delivered, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father, &c.
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.