Fathers of the Church
Homilies on Philippians, 1-7
by John Chrysostom in Unknown (between 398-404) | translated by Translated By the Rev. W. C. Cotton, M.A., of Christ Church, Chaplain to the Bishop of New Zealand; Revised By the Rev. John A. Broadus, D.d., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky
The Philippians are of a city in Macedonia, a city that is a colony, as Luke saith. Here that seller of purple was converted, a woman of uncommon piety and heedfulness. Here the ruler of the synagogue believed. Here was Paul scourged with Silas. Here the magistrates requested them to depart, and were afraid of them, and the preaching had an illustrious commencement. And he bears them many and high testimonies himself, calling them his own crown, and saying they had suffered much. For, "To you," he saith, "it hath been granted of God, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer in His behalf." (Phil. i. 29.) But when he wrote to them, it happened that he was in bonds. Therefore he says, "So that my bonds became manifest in Christ in the whole praetorium," calling the palace of Nero the praetorium. But he was bound and let go again, and this he showed to Timothy by saying, "At my first defence no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their account. But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me." (2 Tim. iv. 16.) He speaks of the bonds then in which he was before that defence. For that Timothy was not present then, is evident: for, "At my first defence," he says, "no man took my part"; and this, by writing, he was making known to him. He would not then, had he already known it, have written thus to him. But when he wrote this epistle, Timothy was with him. And he shows it by what he says: " But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you." (Phil. ii. 19.) And again, "Him I hope to send forthwith so soon as I shall see how it will go with me." For he was loosed from his bonds and again bound after he had been to them. But if he saith, "Yea, and I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith," it is not as though this were now come to pass, but as much as to say, "and whenever this takes place I am glad," raising them from their dejection at his bonds. For that he was not about to die at that time is plain from what he saith: "But I hope in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly unto you." (Phil. ii. 24.) And again, "And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide, yea, and abide with you all."
2. But the Philippians had sent to him Epaphroditus, to carry him money, and to know the things concerning him, for they were most lovingly disposed toward him. For that they sent, hear himself, saying, "I have all things, and abound; I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things that came from you." At the same time they sent to know this. For that they sent also to know this he shows at once in the beginning of the epistle, writing of his own matters, and saying, "But I would have you know that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the Gospel." (Phil. i. 12.) And again, "I hope to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort when I know your state." This, "that I also," is as if he meant "as you for full assurance sent to know the things concerning me, so I also, that I may be of good comfort when I know the things concerning you." Since then they had also been a long time without sending (for this he proves by saying, "Now at length you have revived your thought for me") (Phil. iv. 10), and then they heard that he was in bonds (Phil. ii. 26); for if they heard about Epaphroditus, that he was sick, he being no such very remarkable person as Paul was, much more did they hear about Paul, and it was reasonable that they should be disturbed; therefore, in the opening of the epistle he offers them much consolation about his bonds, showing that they should not merely not be disturbed, but even rejoice. Then he gives them counsel about unanimity and humility, teaching them that this was their greatest safety, and that so they could easily overcome their enemies. For it is not being in bonds that is painful to your teachers, but their disciples not being of one mind. For the former brings even furtherance to the Gospel, but the latter distracts.
3. So then after admonishing them to be of one mind, and showing that unanimity comes of humility, and then aiming a shaft at those Jews who were everywhere corrupting the doctrine under a show of Christianity, and calling them "dogs" and "evil workers" (Phil. iii. 2), and giving admonition to keep away from them, and teaching to whom it is right to attend, and discoursing at length on moral points, and bringing them to order, and recalling them to themselves, by saying, "The Lord is at hand" (Phil. iv. 5), he makes mention also, with his usual wisdom, of what had been sent, and then offers them abundant consolation. But he appears in writing to be doing them special honor, and never in any place writes any thing of reproof, which is a proof of their virtue, in that they gave no occasion to their teacher, and that he has written to them not in the way of rebuke, but throughout in the way of encouragement. And as I said also at first, this city showed great readiness for the faith; inasmuch as the very jailor, (and you know it is a business full of all wickedness,) at once, upon one miracle, both ran to them, and was baptized with all his house. For the miracle that took place he saw alone, but the gain he reaped not alone, but jointly with his wife and all his house. Nay, even the magistrates who scourged him seem to have done this I rather of sudden impulse than out of wickedness, both from their sending at once to let him go, and from their being afterwards afraid. And he bears testimony to them not only in faith, or in perils, but also in well-doing, where he says, "That even in the beginning of the Gospel, ye sent once and again unto my need" (Phil. iv. 15, 16), when no one else did so; for he says, "no Church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving"; and that their intermission had been rather from lack of opportunity than from choice, saying, "Not that ye took no thought for me, but ye lacked opportunity." (Phil. iv. 10.) Let us also, knowing these things, and having so many patterns, and the love that he bore them—for that he loved them greatly appears in his saving, "For I have no man like minded, who will care truly for your state" (Phil. ii. 20); and again, "Because I have you in my heart, and in my bonds,"—
4. let us also, knowing these things, show ourselves worthy of such examples, by being ready to suffer for Christ. But now the persecution is no more. So then, if there is nothing else, let us imitate their earnestness in well doing, and not think, if we have given once or twice, that we have fulfilled all. For we must do this through our whole life. For it is not once that we have to please God, but constantly. The racer, if, after running even ten heats, he leave the remaining one undone, has lost all; and we, if we begin with good works, and afterward faint, have lost all, have spoiled all. Listen to that profitable admonition that saith, "Let not mercy and truth forsake thee." (Prov. iii. 3.) He saith not do so once, nor the second time, nor the third, nor the tenth, nor the hundredth, but continually: "let them not forsake thee." And he did not say, Do not forsake them, but, "Let them not forsake thee," showing that we are in need of them, and not they of us; and teaching us that we ought to make every effort to keep them with us. And "bind them," saith he, "about thy neck." For as the children of the wealthy have an ornament of gold about their neck, and never put it off, because it exhibits a token of their high birth, so should we too wear mercy ever about us, showing that we are children of the compassionate one, "who makes the sun to rise upon the evil and the good" (Matt. v. 45). "But the unbelievers," you say, "do not believe it." I say then, hereby shall they believe, if we do these works. If they see that we take pity on all, and are enrolled under Him for our Teacher, they will know that it is in imitation of Him that we so act. For " mercy," it says, "and true faith." He well said "true." For He willeth it not to be of rapine or fraud. For this were not "faith"; this were not "truth." For he that plundereth must lie and forswear himself. So do not thou, saith he, but have faith with thy mercy.
Let us put on this ornament. Let us make a golden chain for our soul, of mercy I mean, while we are here. For if this age pass, we can use it no longer. And why? THERE there are no poor, THERE there are no riches, no more want THERE. While we are children, let us not rob ourselves of this ornament. For as with children, if they become men, these are taken away, and they are advanced to other adornment; so too is it with us. There will be no more alms by money, but other and far nobler. Let us not then deprive ourselves of this! Let us make our soul appear beautiful! Great is alms, beautiful, and honorable, great is that gift, but greater is goodness. If we learn to despise riches, we shall learn other things besides. For behold how many good things spring from hence! He that giveth alms, as he ought to give, learns to despise wealth. He that has learned to despise wealth has cut up the root of evils. So that he does not do a greater good than he receives, not merely in that there is a due recompense and a requital for alms, but also in that his soul becomes philosophic, and elevated, and rich. He that gives alms is instructed not to admire riches or gold. And this lesson once fixed in his mind, he has gotten a great step toward mounting to Heaven, and has cut away ten thousand occasions of strife, and contention, and envy, and dejection. For ye know, ye too know, that all things are done for riches, and unnumbered wars are made for riches. But he that has learned to despise them, has placed himself in a quiet harbor, he no longer fears damage. For this hath alms taught him. He no longer desires what is his neighbor's; for how should he, that parts with his own, and gives? He no longer envies the rich man; for how should he, that is willing to become poor? He clears the eye of his soul. And these are but here. But hereafter it is not to be told what blessings he shall win. He shall not abide without with the foolish virgins, but shall enter in with those that were wise, together with the Bridegroom, having his lamps bright. And though they have endured hardship in virginity, he that hath not so much as tasted these hardships shall be better than they. Such is the power of Mercy. She brings in her nurslings with much boldness. For she is known to the porters in Heaven, that keep the gates of the Bride-Chamber, and not known only, but reverenced; and those whom she knows to have honored her, she will bring in with much boldness, anti none will gainsay, but all make room. For if she brought God down to earth, and persuaded him to become man, much more shall she be able to raise a man to Heaven; for great is her might. If then from mercy and loving-kindness God became man, and He persuaded Himself to become a servant, much rather will He bring His servants into His own house. Her let us love, on her let us set our affection, not one day, nor two, but all our life long, that she may acknowledge us. If she acknowledge us, the Lord will acknowledge us too. If she disown us, the Lord too will disown us, and will say, "I know you not." But may it not be ours to hear this voice, but that happy one instead, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matt. xxv. 34.) Which may we all obtain, by His grace and lovingkindness, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, strength, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.
"Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, fellow-Bishops and Deacons: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Here, as writing to those of equal honor, he does not set down his rank of Teacher, but another, and that a great one. And what is that? He calls himself a "servant," and not an Apostle. For great truly is this rank too, and the sum of all good things, to be a servant of Christ, and not merely to be called so. "The servant of Christ," this is truly a free man in respect to sin, and being a genuine servant, he is not a servant to any other, since he would not be Christ's servant, but by halves. And in again writing to the Romans also, he says, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ." (Rom. i. 1.) But writing to the Corinthians and to Timothy he calls himself an "Apostle." On what account then is this? Not because they were superior to Timothy. Far from it. But rather he honors them, and shows them attention, beyond all others to whom he wrote. For he also bears witness to great virtue in them, For besides, there indeed he was about to order many things, and therefore assumed his rank as an Apostle. But here he gives them no injunctions but such as they could perceive of themselves.
"To the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi." Since it was likely that the Jews too would call themselves "saints" from the first oracle, when they were called a "holy people, a people for God's own possession" (Ex. xix. 6; Deut. vii. 6, etc.); for this reason he added, "to the saints in Christ Jesus." For these alone are holy, and those hence- forward profane. "To the fellow-Bishops and Deacons." What is this? were there several Bishops of one city? Certainly not; but he called the Presbyters so. For then they still interchanged the titles, and the Bishop was called a Deacon. For this cause in writing to Timothy, he said, "Fulfil thy ministry," when he was a Bishop. For that he was a Bishop appears by his saying to him, "Lay hands hastily on no man." (1 Tim. v. 22.) And again, "Which was given thee with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery." (1 Tim. iv. 14.) Yet Presbyters would not have laid hands on a Bishop. And again, in writing to Titus, he says, "For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge. If any man is blameless, the husband of one wife" (Tit. i. 5, 6); which he says of the Bishop. And after saying this, he adds immediately, "For the Bishop must be blameless, as God's steward, not self willed:" (Tit. i. 7.) So then, as I said, both the Presbyters were of old called Bishops and Deacons of Christ, and the Bishops Presbyters; and hence even now many Bishops write, "To my fellow-Presbyter," and, "To my fellow- Deacon." But otherwise the specific name is distinctly appropriated to each, the Bishop and the Presbyter. "To the fellow-Bishops," he says, "and Deacons,
Ver. 2. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
How is it that though he nowhere else writes to the Clergy, not in Rome, nor in Corinth, nor in Ephesus, nor anywhere, but in general, to "all the saints, the believers, the beloved," yet here he writes to the Clergy? Because it was they that sent, and bare fruit, and it was they that dispatched Epaphroditus to him.
Ver. 3. "'I thank my God," he says, "upon all my remembrance of you."
He said in another of his writings, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief." (Heb. xiii. 17.) If then the "grief" be due to the wickedness of the disciples, the doing it" with joy" would be due to their advancement. As often as I remember you, I glorify God. But this he does from his being conscious of many good things in them. I both glorify, he says, and pray. I do not, because ye have advanced unto virtue, cease praying for you. But "I thank my God," he says, "upon all my remembrance of you,"
Ver. 4. "Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request also with joy."
"Always," not only while I am praying. "With joy." For it is possible to do this with grief too, as when he says elsewhere, "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears." (2 Cor. ii. 4.)
Ver. 5. "For your fellowship in furtherance of the Gospel from the first day even until now."
Great is that he here witnesseth of them, and very great, and what one might have witnessed of Apostles and Evangelists. Ye did not, because ye were entrusted with one city, he saith, care for that only, but ye leave nothing undone to be sharers of my labors, being everywhere at hand and working with me, and taking part in my preaching. It is not once, or the second, or third time, but always, from the time ye believed until now, ye have assumed the readiness of Apostles. Behold how those indeed that were in Rome turned away from him; for hear him saying, "This thou knowest, that all that are in Asia turned away from me." (2 Tim. i. 15.) And again, "Demas forsook me": and " at my first defence no one took my part." (2 Tim. iv. 10, 16.) But these, although absent, shared in his tribulations, both sending men to him, and ministering to him according to their ability, and leaving out nothing at all. And this ye do not now only, saith he, but always, in ever), way assisting me. So then it is a "fellowship in furtherance of the Gospel." For when one preacheth, and thou waitest on the preacher, thou sharest his crowns. Since even in the contests that are without, the crown is not only for him that striveth, but for the trainer, and the attendant, and all that help to prepare the athlete. For they that strengthen him, and recover him, may fairly participate in his victory. And in wars too, not only he that wins the prize of valor, but all they too that attend him, may fairly claim a share in the trophies, and partake of the glory, as having shared in his conflict by their attendance on him. For it availeth not a little to wait on saints, but very much. For it makes us sharers in the rewards that are laid up for them. Thus; suppose some one hath given up great possessions for God, continually devotes himself to God, practices great virtue, and even to words, and even to thoughts, and even in everything observes extreme strictness. It is open to thee too, even without showing such strictness, to have a share in the rewards that are laid up for him for these things. How? If thou aid him both in word and deed. If thou encourage him both by supplying his needs, and by doing him every possible service. For then the smoother of that rugged path will be thyself. So then if ye admire those in the deserts that have adopted the angelic life, those in the churches that practice the same virtues with them; if ye admire, and are grieved that ye are far behind them; ye may, in another way, share with them, by waiting on them, and aiding them. For indeed this too is of God s lovingkindness, to bring those that are less zealous, and are not able to undertake the hard and rugged and strict life, to bring, I say, even those, by another way, into the same rank with the others. And this Paul means by "fellowship." They give a share to us, he means, in carnal things, and we give a share to them in spiritual things. For if God for little and worthless things granteth the kingdom, His servants too, for little and material things, give a share in spiritual things: or rather it is He that giveth both the one and the other by means of them. Thou canst not fast, nor be alone, nor lie on the ground, nor watch all night? Yet mayest thou gain the reward of all these things, if thou go about the matter another way, by attending on him that laboreth in them, and refreshing and anointing him constantly, and lightening the pains of these works. He, for his part, stands fighting and taking blows. Do thou wait on him when he returns from the combat, receive him in thy arms, wipe off the sweat, and refresh him; comfort, soothe, restore his wearied soul. If we will but minister to the saints with such readiness, we shall be partakers of their rewards. This Christ also tells us. "Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that they may receive you into their eternal tabernacles." (Luke xvi. 9.) Seest thou that they are become sharers? "From the first day," he says, "even until now." And "I rejoice" not only for what is past, but also for the future; for from the past I guess that too.
Ver. 6. "Being confident of this very thing, that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ."
See how he also teaches them to be unassuming. For since he had witnessed a great thing of them, that they may not feel as men are apt to do, he presently teaches them to refer both the past and the future to Christ. How? By saying, not, "Being confident that as ye began ye will also finish," but what? "He which began a good work in you will perfect it." He did not rob them of the achievement, (for he said, "I rejoice for your fellowship," clearly as if making it their act,) nor did he call their good deeds solely their own, but primarily of God. "For I am confident," saith he, "that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ." That is, God will. And it is not about yourselves, he implies, but about those descending from you that I feel thus. And indeed it is no small praise, that God should work in one. For if He is "no respecter of persons," as indeed He is none, but is looking to our purpose when He aids us in good deeds, it is evident that we are agents in drawing Him to us; so that even in this view he did not rob them of their praise. Since if His in working were indiscriminate, there would have been nothing to hinder but that even Heathens and all men might have Him working in them, that is, if He moved us like logs and stones, and required not our part. So that in saying "God will perfect it," this also again is made their praise, who have drawn to them the grace of God, so that He aids them in going beyond human nature. And in another way also a praise, as that "such are your good deeds that they cannot be of man, but require the divine impulse." But if God will perfect, then neither shall there be much labor, but it is right to be of good courage, for that they shall easily accomplish all, as being assisted by Him.
Ver. 7. "Even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace."
Greatly still does he show here his longing desire, in that he had them in his heart; and in the very prison, and though bound, he remembered the Philippians. And it is not a little to the praise of these men, since it is not of prejudice that this Saint conceived his love, but of judgment, and right reasons. So that to be loved of Paul so earnestly is a proof of one's being something great and admirable. "And in the defense," he says, "and confirmation of the Gospel." And what wonder if he had them when in prison, since not even at the moment of going before the tribunal to make my defense, he says, did ye slip from my memory. For so imperial a thing is spiritual love, that it gives way to no season, but ever keeps hold of the soul of him who loves, and allows no trouble or pain to overcome that soul. For as in the case of the Babylonian furnace, when so vast a flame was raised, it was a dew to those blessed Children. So too does friendship occupying the soul of one who loves, and who pleases God, shake off every flame, and produce a marvelous dew.
"And in the confirmation of the Gospel," he says. So then his bonds were a confirmation of the Gospel, and a defense. And most truly so. How? For if he had shunned bonds, he might have been thought a deceiver; but he that endures every thing, both bonds and affliction, shows that he suffers this for no human reason, but for God, who rewards. For no one would have been willing to die, or to incur such great risks, no one would have chosen to come into collision with such a king, I mean Nero, unless he looked to another far greater King. Truly a "confirmation of the Gospel" were his bonds. See how he more than succeeded in turning all things to their opposite. For what they supposed to be a weakness and a detraction, that he calls a confirmation; and had this not taken place, there had been a weakness. Then he shows that his love was not of prejudice, but of judgment. Why? I have you (in my heart), he says, in my bonds, and in my defense, because of your being "partakers of my grace." What is this? Was this the "grace" of the Apostle, to be bound, to be driven about, to suffer ten thousand evils? Yes. For He says, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. xii. 9.) "Wherefore," saith he, "I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries." Since then I see you in your actions giving proof of your virtue, and being partakers of this grace, and that with readiness, I reasonably suppose thus much. For I that have had trial of you, and more than any have known you, and your good deeds; how that even when so distant from us, ye strive not to be wanting to as in our troubles, but to partake in our trials for the Gospel's sake, and to take no less share than myself, who am engaged in the combat, far off as ye are; am doing but justice in witnessing to these things.
And why did he not say "partakers," but "partakers with me" ? I myself too, he means, share with another, that I may be a partaker of the Gospel; that is, that I may share in the good things laid up for the Gospel. And the wonder indeed is. that they were all so minded; for he says that "ye all are fellow-partakers of grace." From these beginnings, then, I am confident that such ye will be even to the end. For it cannot be that so bright a commencement should be quenched, and fail, but it points to great results.
Since then it is possible also in other ways to partake of grace, and of trials, and of tribulations, let us also, I beseech you, be partakers. How many of those who stand here, yea, rather all, would fain share with Paul in the good things to come! It is in your power if ye are willing, on behalf of those who have succeeded to his ministry, when they suffer any hardship for Christ's sake, to take their part and succor them. Hast thou seen thy brother in trial? Hold out a hand! Hast thou seen thy teacher in conflict? Stand by him! But, says one, there is no one like Paul! now for disdain! now for criticism! So there is no one like Paul? Well, I grant it. But, "He that receiveth," saith He, "a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward." (Matt. x. 41.) For was it for this that these were honored, that they cooperated with Paul? Not for this, but because they cooperated with one who had undertaken the preaching. Paul was honorable for this, that he suffered these things for Christ's sake.
There is indeed no one like Paul. No. not even but a little approaching to that blessed one. But the preaching is the same as it was then.
And not only in his bonds did they have fellowship with him, but also from the beginning. For hear him saying, "And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the Gospel, no Church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving, but ye only." (Phil. iv. 15 .) And even apart from trials, the teacher has much labor, watching, toiling in the word, teaching, complaints, accusations, imputations, envyings. Is this a little matter, to bear ten thousand tongues, when one might have but one's own anxieties? Alas! what shall I do? for I am in a strait between two things. I long to urge you on and encourage you to the alliance and succor of the saints of God; but I fear lest some one should suspect another thing, that I say this not for your sakes, but for theirs. But know that it is not for their sakes I say these things, but for your own. And if ye are willing to attend, I convince you by my very words; the gain is not equal to you and to them. For ye, if ye give, will give those things from which, willing or unwilling, ye must soon after part, and give place to others; but what thou receivest is great and far more abundant. Or, are ye not so disposed, that in giving ye will receive? For if ye are not so disposed, I do not even wish you to give. So far am I from making a speech for them! Except one have first I so disposed himself, as receiving rather than giving, as gaining ten thousand fold, as benefited rather than a benefactor, let him not give. If as one granting a favor to the receiver, let him not give. For this is not so much my care, that the saints may be supported. For even if thou give not, another will give. So that what I want is this, that you may have a relief from your own sins. But he that gives not so will have no relief. For it is not giving that is doing alms, but the doing it with readiness; the rejoicing, the feeling grateful to him that receives. For, "not grudgingly," saith he, "or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. ix. 7.) Except then one so give, let him not give: for that is loss, not alms. If then ye know that ye will gain, not they, know that your gain becomes greater. For as for them the body is fed, but your soul is approved; for them, not one of their sins is forgiven when they receive, but for you, the more part of your offenses is removed. Let us then share with them in their great prizes. When men adopt kings they do not think they give more than they receive: Adopt thou Christ, and thou shalt have great security. Wilt thou also share with Paul? Why do I say Paul when it is Christ that receiveth?
But that ye may know that all is for your sakes that I say and do, and not of care for the comfort of others, if there is any of the rulers of the church that lives in abundance and wants nothing, though he be a saint, give not, but prefer to him one that is in want, though he be not so admirable. And wherefore? Because Christ too so willeth, as when He saith, "If thou make a supper or a dinner, call not thy friends, neither thy kinsmen, but the maimed, the lame, the blind, that cannot recompense thee." (Luke xiv. 12.) For it is not indiscriminately that one should pay such attentions, but to the hungry, but to the thirsty, but to those who need clothing, but to strangers, but to those who from riches have been reduced to poverty. For He said not simply, "I was fed," but 'I was an hungered," for, "Ye saw me an hungered," He says," and fed me." (Matt. xxv. 35.) Twofold is the claim, both that he is a saint and that he is hungry. For if he that is simply hungry ought to be fed, much more when he is a saint too that is hungry. If then he is a saint, but not in need, give not; for this were no gain. For neither did Christ enjoin it; or rather, neither is he a saint that is in abundance and receiveth. Seest thou that it is not for filthy lucre that these things have been said to you, but for your profit? Feed the hungry, that thou mayest not feed the fire of hell. He, eating of what is thine, sanctifies also what remains. (Luke xi. 41.) Think how the widow maintained Elias; and she did not more feed than she was fed: she did not more give than receive. This now also takes place in a much greater thing. For it is not a "barrel of meal," nor "a cruse of oil" (1 Kings xvii. 14), but what? "An hundred fold, and eternal life" (Matt. xix. 21, 29), is the recompense for such—the mercy of God thou becomest; the spiritual food; a pure leaven. She was a widow, famine was pressing, and none of these things hindered her. Children too she had, and not even so was she withheld. (1 Kings xvii. 12.) This woman is become equal to her that cast in the two mites. She said not to herself, "What shall I receive from this man? He stands in need of me. If he had any power he had not hungered, he had broken the drought, he had not been subject to like sufferings. Perchance he too offends God." None of these things did she think of. Seest thou how great a good it is to do well with simplicity, and not to be over curious about the person benefited? If she had chosen to be curious she would have doubted; she would not have believed. So, too, Abraham, if he had chosen to be curious, would not have received angels. For it cannot, indeed it cannot be, that one who is exceeding nice in these matters, should ever meet with them. No, such an one usually lights on impostors; and how that is, I will tell you. The pious man is not desirous to appear pious, and does not clothe himself in show, and is likely to be rejected. But the impostor, as he makes a business of it, puts on a deal of piety that is hard to see through. So that while he who does good, even to those who seem not pious, will fall in with those who are so, he who seeks out those who are thought to be pious, will often fall in with those who are not so. Wherefore, I beseech you, let us do all things in simplicity. For let us even suppose that he is an impostor that comes; you are not bidden to be curious about this. For, "Give," saith he, "to every one that asketh thee" (Luke vi. 30); and, "Forbear not to redeem him that is to be slain." (Prov. xxiv. 11.) Yet most of those that are slain suffer this for some evil they are convicted of; still he saith, "Forbear not." For in this shall we be like God, thus shall we be admired, and shall obtain those immortal blessings, which may we all be thought worthy of, through the grace and lovingkindness of Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, honor, now and forever, and world without end. Amen.
"For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the tender mercies of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offense unto the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."
He calls not God to witness as though he should be doubted, but does this from his great affection, and his exceeding persuasion and confidence; for after saying that they had fellowship with him, he adds this also, "in the tender mercies of Christ," lest they should think that his longing for them was for this cause, and not simply for their own sake. And what mean these words, "in the tender mercies of Christ "? They stand for "according to Christ." Because ye are believers, because ye love Christ, because of the love that is according to Christ. He does not say "love," but uses a still warmer expression, "the tender mercies of Christ," as though he had said, "having become as a father to you through the relationship which is in Christ." For this imparts to us bowels warm and glowing. For He gives such bowels to His true servants. "In these bowels," saith He, as though one should say, "I love you with no natural bowels, but with warmer ones, namely, those of Christ." "How I long after you all." I long after all, since ye are all of this nature; I am unable in words to represent to you my longing; it is therefore impossible to tell. For this cause I leave it to God, whose range is in the heart, to know this. Now had he been flattering them, he would not have called God to witness, for this cannot be done without peril.
Ver. 9. "And this," saith he, "I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more." For this is a good of which there is no satiety; for see, being so loved he wished to be loved still more, for he who loves the object of his love, is willing to stay at no point of love, for it is impossible there should be a measure of so noble a thing. Paul desires that the debt of love should always be owing; "Owe no man any thing, save to love one another." (Rom. xiii. 8.) The measure of love is, to stop nowhere; "that your love," says he, "may abound yet more and more." Consider the character of the expression, "that it may abound yet more and more," he says, "in knowledge and all discernment." He does not extol friendship merely, nor love merely, but such as comes of knowledge; that is, Ye should not apply the same love to all: for this comes not of love, but from want of feeling. What means he by "in knowledge "? He means, with judgment, with reason, with discrimination. There are who love without reason, simply and any how, whence it comes that such friendships are weak. He says, "in knowledge and all discernment, that ye may approve the things that are excellent," that is, the things that are profitable. This I say not for my own sake, says he, but for yours, for there is danger lest any one be spoiled by the love of the heretics; for all this he hints at, and see how he brings it in. Not for my own sake, says he, do I say this, but that ye may be sincere, that is, that ye receive no spurious doctrine under the pretence of love. How then, says he, "If it be possible, live peaceably with all men "? "Live peaceably" (Rom. xii. 18), he says, not, Love so as to be harmed by that friendship; for he says, "if thy right eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; that ye may be sincere" (Matt. V. 29), that is, before God, "and without offence," that is, before men, for many men's friendships are often a hurt to them. Even though it hurts thee not, says he, still another may stumble thereat. "Unto the day of Christ"; i.e. that ye may then be found pure, having caused no one to stumble.
Ver. 11. "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are through Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God;" i.e. holding, together with true doctrine, an upright life. And not merely upright, but "filled with the fruits of righteousness." For there is indeed a righteousness not according to Christ, as, for example, a moral life. "Which are through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God." Seest thou that I speak not of mine own: glory, but the righteousness of God; and oftentimes he calls mercy itself too righteousness; let not your love, he says, indirectly injure you, by hindering your perception of things profitable, and take heed lest you fall through your love to any one. For I would indeed that your love should be increased, but not so that ye should be injured by it. And I would not that it should be simply of prejudice, but upon proof whether I speak well or no. He says not, that ye may take up my opinion, but that ye may "prove" it. He does not say outright, join not yourself to this or that man, but, I would that your love should have respect to what is profitable, not that ye should be void of understanding. For it is a foolish thing if ye work not righteousness for Christ's sake and through Him. Mark the words, "through Him." Does he then use God as a mere assistant? Away with the thought. Not that I may receive praise, says he, but that God may be glorified.
Ver. 12, 13. "Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the Gospel, so that my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest."
It was likely they would grieve when they heard he was in bonds, and imagine that the preaching was at a stand. What then? He straightway destroys this suspicion. And this also shows his affection, that he declares the things which had happened to him, because they were anxious. What say you? you are in bonds! you are hindered! how then does the Gospel advance? He answers, "so that my bonds in Christ became manifest in all the praetorium." This thing not only did not silence the rest, nor affright them, but contrariwise rather encouraged them. If then they who were near the dangers were not only nothing hurt, but even received greater confidence, much more should you. Had he when in bonds taken it hardly, and held his peace, it were probable that they would be affected in like sort. But as he spoke more boldly when in bonds, he gave them more confidence than if he had not been bound. And how have his bonds "turned to the progress of the Gospel "? So God in His dispensation ordered, he means, that my bonds were not hid, my bonds which were "in" Christ, which were "for" Christ.
"In the whole praetorium." For up to that time they so called the palace. And in the whole city, says he.
Ver. 14. "And that most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word without fear."
This shows that they were of good courage even before, and spoke with boldness, but much more now. If others then, says he, are of good courage through my bonds, much more am I if I am the cause of confidence to others, much more to myself. "And most of the brethren in the Lord." As it was a great thing to say, My bonds gave confidence to them, he therefore adds beforehand, "in the Lord." Do you see how, even when he sees himself constrained to speak great things, he departs not from moderation? "Are more abundantly bold," he says, "to speak the word without fear"; the words" more abundantly" show that they had already begun.
Ver. 15. "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of good will."
And what this means is worth enquiry. Since Paul was under restraint, many of the unbelievers, willing to stir up more vehemently the persecution from the Emperor, themselves also preached Christ, in order that the Emperor's wrath might be increased at the spread of the Gospel, and all his anger might fall on the head of Paul. From my bonds then two lines of action have sprung. One party took great courage thereat; the other, from hope to work my destruction, set themselves to preach Christ; "some of them through envy," that is, envying my reputation and constancy, and from desire of my destruction, and the spirit of strife, work with me; or that they themselves may be esteemed, and from the expectation that they will draw to themselves somewhat of my glory. "And some also of good will," that is, without hypocrisy, with all earnestness.
Ver. 16. "The one proclaim Christ of faction not sincerely."
That is, not with pure motives, nor from regard to the matter itself; but why? "thinking to add affliction to my bonds." As they think that I shall thus fill into greater peril, they add affliction to affliction. O cruelty! O devilish instigation! They saw him in bonds, and cast into prison, and still they envied him. They would increase his calamities, and render him subject to greater anger: well said he, "thinking," for it did not so turn out. They thought indeed to grieve me by this; but I rejoiced that the Gospel was furthered.
Ver. 17. "But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the Gospel."
What means, "that I am set for the defense of the Gospel"? It is, They are preparing for the account which I must give to God, and assisting me.
What is meant by "for the defense"? I have been appointed to preach, I must give account, and answer for the work to which I have been appointed; they assist me, that my defense may be easy; for if there be found many who have been instructed and have believed, my defense will be easy. So it is possible to do a good work, from a motive which is not good. And not only is there no reward in store for such an action, but punishment. For as they preached Christ from a desire to involve the preacher of Christ in greater perils, not only shall they receive no reward, but shall be subject to vengeance and punishment. "And some of love." That is, they know that I must give account for the Gospel.
Ver. 18. "What then? only that every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is proclaimed."
But see the wisdom of the Man. He did not vehemently accuse them, but mentioned the result; what difference does it make to me, says he, whether it be done in this or that way? only that every way, "whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed." He did not say, "Let him be proclaimed," as some suppose, stating that he opens the way for the heresies, but, "He is proclaimed." For in the first place he did not lay down the law and say, as if laying down the law, "Let Him be proclaimed," but he reported what was taking place; secondly, if he even spoke as laying down the law, not even thus would he be opening the way for the heresies.
For let us examine the matter. For even if he gave permission to preach as they preached, not even thus was he opening the way for the heresies. How so? In that they preached healthfully; though the aim and purpose on which they acted was corrupted, still the preaching itself was not changed, and they were forced so to preach. And why? Because, had they preached otherwise than as Paul preached, had they taught otherwise than as he taught, they would not have increased the wrath of the Emperor. But now by furthering his preaching, by teaching in the same way, and making disciples as he did, they had power to exasperate the Emperor, when he saw the multitude of the disciples numerous. But then some wicked and senseless man, taking hold of this passage, says, Verily they would have done the contrary, they would have driven off those who had already believed, instead of making believers to abound, had they wished to annoy him. What shall we answer? That they looked to this thing only, how they might involve him in present danger, and leave him no escape; and thus they thought to grieve him, and to quench the Gospel, rather than in the other way.
By that other course they would have extinguished the wrath of the Emperor, they would have let him go at large and preach again; but by this course they thought that because of him all would be ruined, could they but destroy him. The many however could not have this intention, but certain bitter men alone.
Then "and therein," says he, "I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." What means, "yea, I will rejoice"? Even if this be done still more, he means. For they cooperate with me even against their will; and will receive punishment for their toil, whilst I, who contributed nothing thereto, shall receive reward. Is there anything beyond this villainy of the Devil, to contrive the punishment of the preaching, and vengeance for the toils? Seest thou with how many evils he pierces through his own. How else would a hater and an enemy of their salvation have arranged all this? Seest thou how he who wages war against the truth has no power, but rather wounds himself, as one who kicks against the goads?
Ver. 19. "For I know," says he, "that this shall turn to my salvation through your supplication, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ."
Nothing is more villainous than the Devil. So does he everywhere involve his own in unprofitable toils, and rends them. Not only does he not suffer them to obtain the prizes, but he even subjects them to punishment.
For not only does he command them the preaching of the Gospel, but likewise fasting and virginity, in such sort as will not only deprive them of their reward, but will bring down heavy evil on those who pursue that course. Concerning whom he says elsewhere, also, "Branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron." (1 Tim. iv. 2.)
Wherefore, I beseech you, let us give thanks to God for all things, since he hath both lightened our toil, and increased our reward. For such as among them live in virginity enjoy not the rewards, which they do who among us live chastely in wedlock; but they who live as virgins among the heretics are subject to the condemnation of the fornicators. All this springs from their not acting with a right aim, but as accusing God's creatures, and His unspeakable Wisdom.
Let us not then be sluggish. God hath placed before us contests within measure, having no toil. Yet let us not despise them for this. For if the heretics put themselves to the stretch in unprofitable toils, what excuse shall we have if we will not endure those which are less, and which have a greater reward? For which of Christ's ordinances is burdensome? which is grievous? Art thou unable to live a virgin life? Thou art permitted to marry. Art thou unable to strip thyself of all thou hast? Thou art permitted to supply the needs of others from what thou hast. Let "your abundance be a supply for their want." (2 Cor. viii. 14.) These things indeed appear burdensome. What things? I mean to despise money, and to overcome the desires of the body. But His other commands require no cost, no violence. For tell me, what violence is there in speaking no ill, in simply abstaining from slander? What violence is there in envying not another man's goods? What violence in not being led away by vain-glory? To be tortured, and endure it, is the part of strength. The exercise of philosophy is the part of strength. To bear poverty through life is the part of strength. It is the part of strength to wrestle with hunger and thirst. Where none of these things are, but where you may enjoy your own, as becomes a Christian, without envying others, what violence is there?
From this source springs envy; nay, rather all evils spring from no other source than this, that we cleave to things present. For did you hold money and the glory of this world to be nought, you would not cast an evil eye on its possessors. But since you gape at these things, and idolize them, and are flattered by them, for this reason envy troubles you, and vain-glory; it all springs from idolizing the things of the present life. Art thou envious because another man is rich? Nay, such an one is an object for pity and for tears. But you laugh and answer straight, I am the object for tears, not he l Thou also art an object for tears, not because thou art poor, but because thou thinkest thyself wretched. For we weep for those who have nothing the matter, and are discontented, not because they have anything the matter, but because, without having, they think they have. For example: if any one, cured of a fever, still is restless and rolls about, lying in health on his bed, is he not more to be wept for than those in fever, not that he has a fever, for he has none, but because having no sickness he still thinks he has? And thou art an object for tears just because thou thinkest thyself wretched, not for thy poverty. For thy poverty thou art to be thought happy.
Why enviest thou the rich man? Is it because he has subjected himself to many cares? to a harder slavery? because he is bound like a dog, with ten thousand chains—namely, his riches? Evening overtakes him, night overtakes him, but the season of rest is to him a time of trouble of anguish, of pain, of anxiety. There is a noise he straightway jumps up. Has his neighbor been plundered? He who has lost nothing cares more for it than the loser. For that man has lost once, but having endured the pain he lays aside his care; but the other has it always with him. Night comes on, the haven of our ills, the solace of our woes, the medicine of our wounds. For they who are weighed down by excess of grief, often give no ear to their friends, to their relations, to their intimates,—ofttimes not even to a father when he would give comfort, but take their very words amiss; but when sleep bids them rest, none has the power to look him in the face. For worse than any burning does the bitterness of grief afflict our souls. And as the body, when parched and worn down by struggling against the violence of the sunbeams, is brought to a caravansary with many fountains, and the soothing of a gentle breeze, so does night hand over our soul to sleep. Yea, rather, I should say, not night nor sleep does this, but God, who knoweth our toil-worn race, has wrought this, while we have no compassion on ourselves, but, as though at enmity with ourselves, have devised a tyranny more powerful than natural want of rest—the sleeplessness which comes of wealth. For it is said, "The anxieties of wealth drive away sleep." (Ecclus. xxxi. 1.) See how great is the care of God. But He hath not committed rest to our will, nor our need of sleep to choice, but hath bound it up in the necessities of nature, that good may be done to us even against our wills. For to sleep is of nature. But we, as mighty haters of ourselves, like enemies and persecutors of others, have devised a tyranny greater than this necessity of nature that, namely, which comes of money. Has day dawned? Then such an one is in dread of the informers. Hath night overtaken him? He trembles at robbers. Is death at hand? The thought that he must leave his goods to others preys upon him worse than death. Hath he a son? His desires are increased; and then he fancies himself poor. Has he none? His pains are greater. Deemest thou him blessed who is unable to receive pleasure from any quarter? Can you envy him thus tempest-tossed, while you yourself are placed in the quiet haven of poverty? Of a truth this is the imperfection of human nature; that it bears not its good nobly, but casts insults on its very prosperity.
And all this on earth; but when we depart thither, listen what the rich man, who was lord of innumerable goods, as you say (since for my part I call not these things good, but indifferent), listen to what this lord of innumerable goods says, and of what he stands in need: "Father Abraham," he exclaims, "send Lazarus, that with the tip of his finger he may drop water on my tongue, for I am scorched in this flame." For even if that rich man had endured none of the things I have mentioned, if he had passed his whole life without dread and care—why say I his whole life? rather that one moment (for it is a moment, our whole life is but one moment, compared with that eternity which has no end)—if all things had turned out according to his desire; must he not be pitied for these words, yea, rather, for this state of things? Was not your table once deluged with wine? Now you are not master even of a drop of water, and that, too, in your greatest need. Did not you neglect that poor man full of sores? But now you ask a sight of him, and no one gives leave. He lay at your gate; but now in Abraham's bosom. You then lay under your lofty ceiling; but now in the fire of hell.
These things let the rich men hear. Yea, rather not the rich, but the pitiless. For not in that he was rich was he punished, but because he showed no pity; for it is possible that a man who is at the same time rich and pitiful, should meet with every good. And for this cause the rich man's eyes were fixed on no one else, but on him alone, who then begged his alms; that he might learn from memory of his former actions, that his punishment was just. Were there not ten thousand poor men who were righteous? But he, who then lay at his gate, alone is seen by him, to instruct him and us, how great a good it is to put no trust in riches. His poverty hindered not the one in obtaining the kingdom; his riches helped not the other to avoid hell. Where is the point at which a man is poor? where is the point at which he is reduced to beggary? He is not, he is not poor, who has nought, but he who desires many things! He is not rich who has large possessions, but he who stands in need of nothing. For what profit is there to possess the whole world, and yet live in greater despondency than he who has nothing? Their dispositions make men rich and poor, not the abundance or the want of money. Would you, who are a poor man, become rich? You may have your will, and no one can hinder you. Despise the world's wealth, think it nought, as it is nought. Cast out the desire of wealth, and you are straightway rich. He is rich who does not desire to become rich i he who is unwilling to be poor, is the poor man. As he is the diseased man, who even in health bemoans his case, and not the man who bears his disease more lightly than perfect health, so also he is poor who cannot endure poverty, but in the midst of wealth thinks himself poorer than the poor; not he who bears his poverty more lightly than they their riches, for he is a richer man.
For tell me, wherefore fearest thou poverty? wherefore tremblest thou? is it not by reason of hunger? is it not for thirst? is it not for cold? Is it not indeed for these things? There is not, there is not any one who is ever destitute in these things! "For look at the generations of old, and see, did ever any one trust in the Lord, and was forsaken? or did any one hope in Him, and was made ashamed?" (Ecclus. ii. 11.)
And again, "Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them." (Matt. vi. 26.) No one can readily point us out any one who has perished by hunger and cold. Wherefore then dost thou tremble at poverty? Thou canst not say. For if thou hast necessaries enough, wherefore dost thou tremble at it? Because thou hast not a multitude of servants? This truly is to be quit of masters; this is continual happiness, this is freedom from care. Is it because your vessels, your couches, your furniture are not formed of silver? And what greater enjoyment than thine has he who possesses these things? None at all. The use is the same, whether they are of this or that material. Is it because thou art not an object of fear to the many? May you never become so! For what pleasure is it that any should stand in dread and fear of thee? Is it because thou art afraid of others? But thou canst not be alarmed. For "wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same." (Rom. xiii. 3.) Does any say, It is because we are subject to contempt, and apt to suffer ill? It is not poverty but wickedness which causes this; for many poor men have quietly passed through life, whilst rulers, and the rich, and powerful, have ended their days more wretchedly than all evil doers, than bandits, than grave-robbers. For what poverty brings in thy case, that doth wealth in theirs. For that which they who would ill-treat thee do through thy contemptible estate, they do to him from envy and the evil eye they cast upon him, and the latter still more than the former, for this is the stronger craving to ill-treat another. He who envies does everything with all his might and main, while the despiser ofttimes has even pity on the despised; and his very poverty, and utter want of power, has often been the cause of his deliverance.
And sometimes by saying to him, "A great deed it will be if you make away with such an one! If you slay one poor man, what vast advantage will you reap?" we may lulls soften down his anger. But envy sets itself against the rich, and ceases not until it has wrought its will, and has poured forth its venom. See you, neither poverty nor wealth is good in itself, but our own disposition. Let us bring it to a good tone, let us discipline it in true wisdom. If this be well affected, riches cannot cast us out of the kingdom, poverty will not make us come short. But we shall meekly bear our poverty, and receive no loss in respect to the enjoyment of future goods, nor even here on earth. But we shall both enjoy what is good on earth, and obtain the good things in heaven, which may we all obtain, through the grace and lovingkindness, &c.
"And therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your supplication, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing shall I be put to shame, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death."
None of the grievous things which are in this present life can fix their fangs upon that lofty soul, which is truly philosophic, neither enmity, nor accusations, nor slanders, nor dangers, nor plots. It flies for refuge as it were to a mighty fortress, securely defended there against all that attack it from this lower earth. Such was the soul of Paul; it had taken possession of a place higher than any fortress, the seat of spiritual wisdom, that is, true philosophy. For that of those without, i.e. the heathen, is mere words, and childish toys. But it is not of these we now speak, but at present concerning the things of Paul. That blessed one had both the Emperor for his enemy, and in addition, many other foes many ways afflicting him, even with bitter slander. And what says he? Not only do I not grieve nor sink beneath these things, but "I even rejoice, yea, and will rejoice," not for a season, but always will I rejoice for these things. "For I know that this shall turn out to my salvation," that which is to come, when even their enmity and jealousy towards me further the Gospel. "Through your supplication," he adds, "and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ according to my earnest expectation and hope.' Behold the humble-mindedness of this blessed one; he was striving in the contest, he was now close to his crown, he had done ten thousand exploits, for he was Paul, and what can one add to this? still he writes to the Philippians, I may be saved "through your supplication," I who have gained salvation through countless achievements. "And the supply," saith he, "of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." It is as though he said, if I am thought worthy of your prayers, I shall also be thought worthy of more grace. For the meaning of "supply" is this, if the Spirit be supplied to me, be given to me more abundantly. Or he is speaking of deliverance, "unto salvation"; that is, I shall also escape the present as I did the former danger. Of this same matter he says, "At my first defense no one took my part, but all forsook me; may it not be laid to their account. But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me." (2 Tim. iv 16.) This then he now predicts: "Through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope," for thus do I hope. For that he may persuade us not to leave the whole matter to the prayers made for us, and contribute nothing ourselves, behold how he lays down his own part, which is Hope, the source of all good, as the Prophet says. "Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in Thee." (Ps. xxxiii. 22.) And as it is written in another place, "Look to the generations of old and see, did any one hope in the Lord, and was made ashamed?" (Ecclus. ii. 10.) And again, this same blessed one says, "Hope putteth not to shame." (Rom. v. 5.) This is Paul's hope, the hoping that I shall nowhere be put to shame.
"According to my earnest expectation and hope," says he, "that in nothing shall I be put to shame." Do you see how great a thing it is to hope in God? Whatever happens, he says, I shall not be put to shame, i.e. they will not obtain the mastery over me, "but with all boldness, as always, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body." They forsooth expected to catch Paul in this snare, and to quench the preaching of the Gospel, as though their craftiness were of any power. This then, he says, shall not be so, I shall not now die, but "as always, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body." How so? Ofttimes have I fallen into dangers, when all men gave us up, and what is more, when I myself did. For "we had the answer of death within ourselves" (2 Cor. i. 9), but from all the Lord delivered me, so now too he shall be magnified in my body. What then? Lest any one should suppose and say, If you die, will He not then be magnified? Yes, he answers, I know He will; for this cause I did not say that my life alone shall magnify him, but my death too. At present he means "by life "; they will not destroy me; even did they so, Christ will even thus be magnified. How so? Through life, because He delivered me, but through my death, because even death itself could not persuade me to deny Him, since He gave me such readiness, and made me stronger than death. On the one hand because He freed me from peril; on the other, because He suffered me not to fear the tyranny of death: thus shall he be magnified through life and death. And this he says, not as though he were about to die, but lest on his death they should be affected as men are apt to be.
But that you may know these his words did not point to immediate death, the thought that pained them most, see how be relieves it by almost saying, These things I say, not as one about to die; wherefore he soon after adds, "And having this confidence I know that I shall abide, yea and abide with you all." "In nothing," says he," shall I be put to shame; that is, death brings no shame to me, but rather great gain. Why so? Because I am not immortal, but I shall shine more brightly than if I were so, for it is not the same thing for one immortal, and for one who is mortal, to despise death; so that not even instant death is shame to me, yet shall I not die; "in nothing shall I be put to shame," neither in life nor death. For I will bear either nobly, whether life or death. Well says he! This is the part of a Christian soul! but he adds, "with all boldness." Seest thou how entirely I am freed from shame? For if the fear of death had cut short my boldness, death would have been worthy of shame, but if death at its approach cast no terror on me, no shame is here; but whether it be through life I shall not be put to shame, for I still preach the Preaching, or whether it be through death I shall not be put to shame; fear does not hold me back, since I still exhibit the same boldness. Do not, when I mention my bonds, think shame of the matter; so manifold good hath it caused to me, that it hath even given confidence to others. For that we should be bound for Christ, is no shame, but for fear of bonds to betray aught that is Christ's, this is shame. When there is no such thing, bonds are even a cause of boldness. But since I have ofttimes escaped dangers, and have this to boast of to the unbelievers, do not straightway think I am put to shame, if now it should turn out otherwise. The one event no less than the other gives you boldness. Note how he brings this forward in his own person, which he does in many places, as in the Epistle to the Romans; "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel." (Rom. i. 16.) And again in that to the Corinthians; "And these things I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos." (1 Cor. iv. 6.)—"Whether by life or by death": this he says not as in ignorance, (for he knew that he was not then to die, but some time after); yet even now does he prepare their soul.
Ver. 21. "For to me," he says, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
For even in dying, he means, I shall not have died, for I have my life in myself: then would they truly have slain me, had they had power through this fear to cast faith out of my soul. But as long as Christ is with me, even though death overtake me, still I live, and in this present life, not this, but Christ is my life. Since, then, not even in the present life is it so, "but that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith;" so I say in that state also, "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." (Gal. ii. 20. ) Such ought a Christian to be! I live not, he says, the common life. How livest thou then, O blessed Paul? Dost thou not see the sun, dost thou not breathe the common air? art thou not nourished with the same food as others? dost thou not tread the earth as we? needest thou not sleep, nor clothing, nor shoes? what meanest thou by, "I live not"? how dost thou not live? Why boastest thou thyself? No boasting is here. For if indeed the fact did not witness to him, a man might with some show have called it boasting; but if facts do witness, how is boasting here? Let us then learn how he lives not, for he himself says in another place, "I have been crucified to the world, and the world to me. " (Gal. vi. 14.) Hear then how he says, "I no longer live." And how he says, "to me to live is Christ." The word "life" is much significant, beloved, as also the word "death." There is this life of the body, there is the life of sin, as he himself elsewhere says, "But if we died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?" (Rom. vi. 2.) It is then possible to live the life of sin. Attend diligently, I entreat you, lest my labor be vain. There is the life everlasting and immortal; with eternal life the heavenly; "for our citizenship" says he "is in heaven" (Phil. iii 20.) There is the life of the body whereof he speaks, "through him we live and move and have our being." (Acts xvii. 28.) He does not then deny that he lives the natural life, but that of sin, which all men live. He who desires not the present life, how does he live it? He who is hastening to another, how does he live this life? He who despiseth death, how does he live this life? He who desires nothing, how does he live it? For as one made of adamant, though he were struck a thousand blows, would never attend to it, no more would Paul. And "I live," says he, "but no longer I," that is, no longer the old man; as again elsewhere, "Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me out of the body of this death!" (Rom. vii. 24.) How too does he live who does hough( for the sake of food, nought for the sake of clothing, nought for any of these present things? Such an one does not even live the natural life: he who takes thought for none of the things which sustain life, lives not. We live this life, whose every action regards it. But he lived not; he busied himself about nought of the things here. How then lived he? Just as we are accustomed to say, in common matters, such an one is not with me, when he does nothing that pertains to me. Again, in like sort, such a man lives not for me. Elsewhere he shows that he rejects not the natural life: "The life which I now live in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. ii. 20); i.e. a certain new life I live, an altered one. And truly all these things he said to comfort the Philippians. Think not, says he, that I shall be deprived of this life, for neither whilst alive did I live this life, but that which Christ willed. For tell me? He who despises money, luxury, hunger, thirst, dangers, health, safety, does he live this life? He who has nothing here, and is ofttimes willing to cast life away, if need be, and clings not to it, does he live this life? By no means. This I must make dear to you by a kind of example. Let us imagine some one in great wealth, with many servants, and much gold, and who makes no use of all these things; is such an one rich for all his wealth? By no means. Let him see his children dissipating his property, strolling idly about; let him feel no concern for them; when beaten let him not even be pained; shall we call him a man of wealth? By no means; although his wealth is his own. "To me," he says, "to live is Christ;" if you will enquire of my life, it is He. "And to die is gain." Wherefore? Because I shall more clearly be present with Him; so that my death is rather a coming to life; they who kill me will work on me no dreadful thing, they will only send me onward to my proper life, and free me from that which is not mine. What then, while thou wert here, wert thou not Christ's? Yes, and in a high degree.
Ver. 22. "But if to live in the flesh,—if this is the fruit of my work, then what I shall choose I wot not."
Lest any should say, If what you say is life, wherefore hath Christ left you here? "It is," he says, "the fruit of my work;" so that it is possible to use to good purpose the present life, while not living it. Lest you should think that reproach is cast upon life. For if we gain no advantage here, wherefore do we not make away with ourselves, nor slay ourselves? By no means, he answers. It is open to us to profit even here, if we live not this, but another life. But perchance one will say, does this bear thee fruit? Yes! he answers. Where are now the heretics? Behold now; "to live in the flesh," this is "the fruit of his work." "That which I now live in the flesh, I live in faith;" therefore it is "the fruit of my work."
"And what I shall choose I know not." Marvelous! How great was his philosophy! How hath he both cast out the desire of the present life, and yet thrown no reproach upon it! For in that he saith, "to die is gain," by this he hath cast out the desire, but in that he saith, "to live in the flesh is the fruit of my work," here he shows that the present life also is needful, if we use it as need is, if we bear fruit; since if it be unfruitful, it is no longer life. For we despise those trees which bear no fruit, as though they were dry, and give them up to the fire. Life itself belongs to that middle class of indifferent things, whilst to live well or ill is in ourselves. We do not then hate life, for we may live well too. So even if we use it ill, we do not even then cast the blame on it. And wherefore? Because not itself, but the free choice of those who use it ill is to blame. For God hath made thee live, that thou mayest live to Him. But thou, by living through corruption unto sin, makest thyself accountable for all blame. What sayest thou, tell me. Thou knowest not what to choose? Here hath he revealed a great mystery, in that his departure was in his own power; for where choice is, there have we power. "What I shall choose," says he, "I know not." Is it in thine own power? Yes, he answers, if I would ask this grace of God.
Ver. 23. "I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire."
See the affection of this blessed one; in this way too he comforts them, when they see that he is master of his own choice, and that this is done not by man's sin, but by the dispensation of God. Why mourn ye, says he, at my death? It had been far better to have passed away long since. "For to depart," he says, "and to be with Christ, is very far better."
Ver. 24. "Yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake."
These words were to prepare them for his death when it came, that they might bear it nobly: this was to teach true wisdom. "It is good for me to depart and be with Christ," for even death is a thing indifferent; since death itself is no ill, but to be punished after death is an ill. Nor is death a good, but it is good after our departure "to be with Christ." What follows death is either good or ill.
Let us then not simply grieve for the dead, nor joy for the living simply. But how? Let us grieve for sinners, not only when dying, but also while living. Let us joy for the just, not only while living, but also when dead. For those though living are dead, while these although dead, yet live: those even while here are to be pitied of all, because they are at enmity with God; the other even when they have departed Thither, are blessed, because they are gone to Christ. Sinners, wherever they are, are far from the King. Therefore they are subjects for tears; while the just, be they here, or be they there, are with the King; and there, in a higher and nearer degree, not through an entrance, or by faith, but "face to face." (1 Cor. xiii. 12.)
Let us then not make wailings for the dead simply, but for those who have died in sins. They deserve wailing; they deserve beating of the breast and tears. For tell me what hope is there, when our sins accompany us Thither, where there is no putting off sins? As long as they were here, perchance there was great expectation that they would change, that they would become better; but when they are gone to Hades, where nought can be gained from repentance (for it is written, "In Sheol who shall give thee thanks?") (Ps. vi. 5), are they not worthy of our lamentation? Let us wail for those who depart hence in such sort; let us wail, I hinder you not; yet in no unseemly way, not in tearing our hair, or baring our arms, or lacerating our face, or wearing black apparel, but only in soul, shedding in quiet the bitter tear. For we may weep bitterly without all that display. And not as in sport only. For the laments which many make differ not from sport. Those public mournings do not proceed from sympathy, but from display, from emulation and vainglory. Many women do this as of their craft. Weep bitterly; moan at home, when no one sees you; this is the part of true sympathy; by this you profit yourself too. For he who laments another in such sort, will be much the more earnest never to fall into the same sins. Sin henceforth will be an object of dread to thee. Weep for the unbelievers; weep for those who differ in nowise from them, those who depart hence without the illumination, without the seal! they indeed deserve our wailing, they deserve our groans; they are outside the Palace, with the culprits, with the condemned: for, "Verily I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven." Mourn for those who have died in wealth, and did not from their wealth think of any solace for their soul, who had power to wash away their sins and would not. Let us all weep for these in private and in public, but with propriety, with gravity, not so as to make exhibitions of ourselves; let us weep for these, not one day, or two, but all our life. Such tears spring not from senseless passion, but from true affection. The other sort are of senseless passion. For this cause they are quickly quenched, whereas if they spring from the fear of God, they always abide with us. Let us weep for these; let us assist them according to our power; let us think of some assistance for them, small though it be, yet still let us assist them. How and in what way? By praying and entreating others to make prayers for them, by continually giving to the poor on their behalf. This deed hath some consolation; for hear the words of God Himself, when He says, "I will defend this city for Mine own sake, and for My servant David's sake." (2 Kings xx. 6.) If the remembrance only of a just man had so great power when deeds are done for one, how great power will it not have? Not in vain did the Apostles order that remembrance should be made of the dead in the dreadful Mysteries. They know that great gain resulteth to them, great benefit; for when the whole people stands with uplifted hands, a priestly assembly, and that awful Sacrifice lies displayed, how shall we not prevail with God by our entreaties for them? And this we do for those who have departed in faith, whilst the catechumens are not thought worthy even of this consolation, but are deprived of all means of help save one. And what is this? We may give to the poor on their behalf. This deed in a certain way refreshes them. For God wills that we should be mutually assisted; else why hath He ordered us to pray for peace and the good estate of the world? why on behalf of all men? since in this number are included robbers, violaters of tombs, thieves, men laden with untold crimes; and yet we pray on behalf of all; perchance they may turn. As then we pray for those living, who differ not from the dead, so too we may pray for them. Job offered sacrifice for his children, and freed them from their sins. "It may be," said he, "that they have renounced God in their hearts." (Job i. 5 .) Thus does one provide for one's children! He said not, as many do nowadays, I will leave them property; he said not, I will procure them honor; he said not, I will purchase an office; he said not, I will buy them land; but, "it may be that they have renounced God in their hearts." For what profit is there in those things? None at all, in those that remain here. I will make the King of all things favorable to them, and then they will no more want any thing. "The Lord," saith one, "is my Shepherd, I shall not want." (Ps. xxiii. 4.) This is great wealth, this is treasure. If we have the fear of God, we want nothing; if we have not this, though we have royalty itself, we are the poorest of all men. Nothing is like the man that feareth the Lord. For "the fear of the Lord," it is said, "surpasseth all things." (Ecclus. xxv. 11.) This let us procure; let us do all things for its sake. If need be that we lay down our lives, if our body must be mangled, let us not spare them; let us do all, to obtain this fear. For thus shall we abound above all men; and shall obtain those good things to come in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom, &c.
"Then what I shall choose I wot not. But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; which is very far better: yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide, yea and abide with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith; that your glorying may abound in Jesus Christ in me, through my presence with you again."
Nothing can be more blessed than the spirit of Paul, for the reason that nothing is more noble. We all shudder at death, I am wont to say, some by reason of our many sins, of whom I too am one, others from love of life, and cowardice, of whom may I never be one; for they who are subject to this fear are mere animals. This then, which we all shudder at, he prayed for, and hasted toward Him; saying, "To depart is very far better." What sayest thou? when thou art about to change from earth to heaven, and to be with Christ, dost thou not know what to choose? Nay, far is this from the spirit of Paul; for if such an offer were made to any one on sure grounds, would he not straightway seize it? Yes, for as it is not ours "to depart and be with Christ," neither, if we were able to attain to this, were it ours to remain here. Both are of Paul, and of his spirit. He was confidently persuaded. What? Art thou about to be with Christ? and dost thou say, "What I shall choose I wot not "? and not this only, but dost thou choose that which is here, "to abide in the flesh "? What in the world? didst thou not live an exceeding bitter life, in "watchings," in shipwrecks, in "hunger and thirst," and "nakedness," in cares and anxiety? "with the weak" thou wert "weak," and for those who "were made to stumble" thou dost "burn." (2 Cor. xi. 23, 29.) "In much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in fastings, in pureness." (2 Cor. vi. 5, 6.) "Five times" didst thou "receive forty stripes save one," "thrice" wast thou "beaten with rods, once" wast thou "stoned" "a night and a day" thou hast "been in the deep, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils among false brethren." (2 Cor. xi. 24-26.) Didst thou not, when the whole nation of the Galatians returned to the observance of the law, didst thou not cry aloud, and say, "Whosoever of you would be justified by the law, ye are fallen away from grace"? (Gal. v. 4.) How great was then thy grief, and still dost thou desire this perishing life? Had none of these things befallen thee, but had thy success, wherever success attended thee, been without fear, and full of delight, yet shouldest not thou hasten to some harbor, from fear of the uncertain future? For tell me, what trader, whose vessel is full of untold wealth, when he may run into port, and be at rest, would prefer to be still at sea? what wrestler, when he might be crowned, would prefer to contend? what boxer, when he might put on his crown, would choose to enter afresh into the contest, and offer his head to wounds? what general is there, who when he might be quit of war with good report, and trophies, and might with the king refresh himself in the palace, would choose still to toil, and to stand in battle array? How then dost thou, who livest a life so exceeding bitter, wish to remain still here? Didst thou not say, I am in dread, "lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected?" (1 Cor. ix. 27.) If for no other cause, yet surely for this, thou oughtest to desire thy release; were the present full of innumerable goods, yet for the sake of Christ thy Desire.
Oh that spirit of Paul! nothing was ever like it, nor ever will be! Thou fearest the future, thou art compassed by innumerable dreadful things, and wilt thou not be with Christ? No, he answers, and this for Christ's sake, that I may render more loving unto Him those whom I have made his servants, that I may make the plot which I have planted bear much fruit. (1 Cor. iii. 9). Didst thou not hear me, when I declared that I sought not "that which profited myself" (1 Cor. x. 33), but my neighbor? Heardest thou not these words, "I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ" (Rom. ix. 3), that many might come unto Him? I, who chose that part, shall I not much rather choose this, shall I not with pleasure harm myself by this delay and postponement, that they may be saved?
"Who shall utter Thy mighty acts, O Lord" (Psa. cvi. 2), because Thou sufferedst not Paul to be hidden, because Thou madest manifest to the world such a man? All the Angels of God praised Thee with one accord, when Thou madest the stars (Job xxxviii. 7), and so too surely when Thou madest the sun, but not so much as when Thou didst manifest Paul to the whole world. By this, the earth was made more brilliant than the heaven, for he is brighter than the solar light, he hath shot forth more brilliant rays, he hath shed abroad more joyous beams. What fruit hath this man borne for us! not by making fat our corn, not by nurturing our pomegranates, but by producing and perfecting the fruit of holiness, and when falling to pieces, continually recovering them. For the sun itself can nothing profit fruits that are once decayed, but Paul has called out of their sins those who had manifold decays. And it gives place to the night, but he had mastery over the Devil. Nothing ever subdued him, nothing mastered him. The sun, when it mounts the heavens, darts down its rays, but he, as he rose from beneath, filled not the mid space of heaven and earth with light, but as soon as he opened his mouth, filled the Angels with exceeding joy. For if "there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth" (Luke xv. 7), while he at his first address caught multitudes, does he not fill with, joy the Powers above? What say I? It sufficeth that Paul should only be named, and the heavens leap for joy. For if when the Israelites "went forth out of Egypt, the mountains skipped like rams" (Psa. cxiv. 4), how great, thinkest thou, was the joy, when men ascended from earth to heaven!
Ver. 24. For this cause "to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake."
And what excuse is left to us? ofttimes it happens that a man who possesses a little and poor city, chooses not to depart to another place, preferring his own rest. Paul might depart to Christ, and would not, (Christ whom he so desired, as for his sake to choose even hell,) but still remained in the contest on behalf of man. What excuse shall we have? May we then even make mention of Paul? Look to his deeds. He showed that to depart was better, persuading himself not to grieve: he showed them, that if he remained, he remained for their sake, that it proceeded not from wickedness of those who plotted against him. He subjoined also the reason, that he might secure their belief. For if this is necessary, that is, I shall by all means remain, and I will not "remain" simply, but "will remain with you." For this is the meaning of the word, "and I shall abide with," i.e. I shall see you. For what cause? "For your progress and joy in the faith." Here too he rouses them, to take heed unto themselves. If, says he, for your sakes I abide, see that ye shame not my abiding. "For your progress," I have chosen to remain, when I was about to see Christ. I have chosen to remain, because my presence advances both your faith and your joy. What then? Did he remain for the sake of the Philippians only? He stayed not for their sake only; but this he says, that he may show regard to them. And how were they to "progress" in "the faith "? That you may be more strengthened, like young fowl, who need their mother until their feathers are set. This is a proof of his great love. In like sort, we also rouse some of you, when we say, for your sake have I remained, that I may make you good.
Ver. 26. "That your glorying may abound in Christ Jesus in me, through my presence with you again."
You see that this explains the word "abide with you." Behold his humility. Having said, "for your progress," he shows that it was for his own profit too. This also he does, when he writes to the Romans, and says, "That is, that we may be comforted together in you." (Rom. i. 11, 12.) Having previously said, "That I may impart unto you some spiritual gift." And what means, "That your glorying may abound"? This glorying was, their establishment in the faith. For an upright life is glorying in Christ. And sayest thou, "Your glorying in me, through my presence with you again"? Yes, he answers; "For what is our hope, or crown of glorying? Are not even ye?" (1 Thess. ii. 19.) Because "you are our glorying, even as we also are yours" (2 Cor. i. 14), i.e. that I may be able to rejoice in you greatly. How sayest thou, "That your glorying may abound "? I may glory the more when you make progress.
"Through my presence with you again." What then! Did he come to them? Search ye whether he came.
Ver. 27. "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ."
Do you see, how all that he has said, tends to turn them to this one thing, advancement in virtue? "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ." What means this word" only," but that this, and nought else, is the only thing we should seek? If we have this, nothing grievous will befall us. "That whether I come and see you, or be absent, I may hear of your state." This he says not as if he had changed his purpose, and no longer meant to visit them. But if this come to pass, he says, even though absent, I am able to rejoice. "If," that is, "I hear that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul." This is what above all things unites believers, and maintains love unbroken, "that they may be one." (John xvii. 11.) For a "kingdom divided against itself shall not stand." (Mark iii. 24. ) For this cause he everywhere counsels his disciples much to be of one mind. And Christ says, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye love one another." (John xiii. 35.) That is, do not look with expectation toward me, and therefore slumber, as waiting for my coming, and then, when ye see me not coming faint. For even from report I can receive pleasure likewise.
What means, "In one spirit "? By the same gift of grace, viz. that of concord, and zeal; for the Spirit is one, and he shows it; for then are we able to stand in "one soul," also, when we all have "one Spirit." See how the word "one" is used for concord. See how their souls being many are called one. Thus was it of old. "For they were all," it is written, "of one heart and of one soul. Striving together for the faith of the Gospel." (Acts iv. 32.) Does he say, striving together for each other, as though the faith did strive? For did they wrestle against each other? But help each other, he says, in your striving for the faith of the Gospel.
Ver. 28. "And in nothing affrighted by the adversaries; which is for them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation."
Well said he, "affrighted," this is what befalls us from our enemies, they only frighten. "In nothing" therefore, he says, whatever happens, whether dangers—whether plots. For this is the part of those who stand upright; the enemy can do nought but frighten only. Since it was likely that they should be greatly troubled, when Paul suffered such numberless ills, he says, I exhort you not only not to be shaken, but not to be affrighted, yea rather to despise them heartily; for if ye are thus affected, ye will straightway, by this means, make evident at once their destruction, and your salvation. For when they see, that with their innumerable plots they are unable to frighten you, they will take it as a proof of their own destruction. For when the persecutors prevail not over the persecuted, the plotters over the objects of their plots, the powerful over those subject to their power, will it not be self-evident, that their perdition is at hand, that their power is nought, that their part is false, that their part is weak? "And this," he says, "comes from God."
Ver. 29. "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer in his behalf."
Again does he teach them moderation of spirit by referring all to God, and saying that sufferings in behalf of Christ are of grace, the gift of grace, a free gift. Be not then ashamed of the gift of grace, for it is more wonderful than the power of raising the dead, or working miracles; for there I am a debtor, but here I have Christ for my debtor. Wherefore ought we not only not to be ashamed, but even to rejoice, in that we have this girl. Virtues he calls gifts, yet not in like sort as other things, for those are entirely of God, but in these we have a share. But since even here the greatest part is of God, he ascribes it entirely to Him, not to overturn our free will, but to make us humble and rightly disposed.
Ver. 30. "Having the same conflict which ye saw in me"; i.e. ye have also an example. Here again he raises them up, by showing them that everywhere their conflicts were the same with his, their struggles were the same with his, both severally, and in that they united with him in bearing trials. He said not, ye have heard, but "ye saw," for he strove too at Philippi. Truly this is an exceeding virtue. Wherefore writing to the Galatians, also he said, "Did ye suffer so many things in vain, if it be indeed in vain." (Gal. iii. 4.) And again, writing to the Hebrews, he said, "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were enlightened, ye endured a great conflict of suffering; partly, being made a gazing-stock both by reproaches and afflictions." (Heb. x. 32, 33.) And writing again to Macedonians, that is, to the Thessalonians, he said, "For they themselves report concerning us, what manner of entering in we had unto you." (1 Thess. i. 9.) And again, "For yourselves, brethren, know our entering in unto you, that it hath not been found vain." (1 Thess. ii. 1.) And in like sort does he witness the same things of them all, labors and strivings. But such things ye will not now find among us; now it is much if one suffer a little in goods alone. And in respect of their goods also he witnesses great things of them. For to some he says, "For ye took joyfully the spoiling of your possessions" (Heb. x. 34); and to others, "For it hath been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor" (Rom. xv. 26); and "your zeal hath stirred up very many of them." (3 Cor. ix. 2.)
Seest thou the praises of the men of that time? But we endure not so much as buffetings or blows, neither insult nor loss of our possessions: they were straightway zealous, and all of them strove as martyrs, whilst we hive grown cold in love toward Christ. Again I am constrained to accuse things present; and what shall I do? It is against my will, yet am I constrained. Were I able by my silence of things which are done, by holding my peace, and not mentioning aught, to remove them, it would behoove me to be silent. But if the contrary comes to pass; if not only are these things not removed by our silence but even become worse, we are forced to speak. For he who rebukes sinners, if he does nought else, suffers them not to go farther. For there is no such shameless and rash soul, as not to turn, and remit the extravagance of its evil deeds, on hearing any one continually rebuking it. There is, there is indeed, even in the shameless, a small portion of shame. For God hath sown in our nature the seeds of shame; for since fear was insufficient to bring us to a right tone, He hath also prepared many other ways for avoiding sin. For example, that a man should be accused, fear of the enacted laws, love of reputation, the desire of forming friendships; for all these are paths to avoid sin. Ofttimes that which was not done for God's sake, was done through shame; that which was not done for God's sake, was done for fear of men. That which we seek for is, in the first place not to sin, and we shall afterwards succeed in doing this for God's sake. Else why did Paul exhort those, who were about to overcome their enemies, not by the fear of God, but on the score of waiting for the vengeance? "For by so doing," he says, "thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head." (Rom. xii. 20.) For this is his first wish, that our virtue should be established. As I said then, there is in us a sense of shame. We have many good natural affections, which lead to virtue; as, for example, all of us men are naturally moved to pity, and no other good thing so inheres in our nature, but this alone. Whence any one might reasonably enquire, wherefore these seeds have above all others been sown in our nature, by which we melt at tears, by which we are turned to compassion, and are ready to pity. No one is naturally idle, no one is naturally regardless of his reputation, no one is naturally above emulation, but pity lies deep in every one's nature, however fierce and ungentle he be. And what wonder? we pity beasts, such a superabundance of pity lies deep in us. If we see a lion's whelp, we are somewhat affected; much more in the case of one of our race. See, how many maimed are there! and this is sufficient to lead us to pity. Nothing so much pleases God as mercy. Wherefore with this the priests were anointed, and the kings, and the prophets, for they had, in oil, a type of God's love to man; and they further learnt, that rulers should have a greater share of mercy. It showed that the Spirit is to come to men through mercy, since Grid pities and is kind to man. For, "Thou hast mercy upon all," it is written, "for Thou canst do all things." (Wisd. xi. 23.) For this cause they were anointed with oil: and indeed it was from mercy He appointed the priesthood. And kings were anointed with oil; and would one praise a ruler, he can make mention of nothing so becoming him as mercy. For pity is peculiar to power. Consider that the world was established by pity, and then imitate thy Lord. "The mercy of man is toward his neighbor, but the mercy of the Lord is upon all flesh." (Ecclus. xviii. 13.) How "upon all flesh"? Whether you mean sinners, or just men, we all need the mercy of God; we all enjoy it, be it Paul, be it Peter, or be it John. And listen to their own words; there is no need of mine. For what says this blessed one? "But I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly." (1 Tim. i. 13.) What then, was there afterwards no need of mercy? Hear what he says; "But I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Cor. xv. 10.) And of Epaphroditus he says, "For indeed he was sick, nigh unto death; but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow." (Phil. ii. 27.) And again he says, "We were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, insomuch that we despaired even of life. Yea, we ourselves have had the answer of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, who delivered us out of so great a death, and will deliver." (2 Cor. i. 8, 9, 10.) And again, "And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion; and the Lord will deliver me." (2 Tim. iv. 17, 18.) And everywhere we shall find him glorying in this, that by mercy he was saved. Peter, too, became so great, because mercy was shown him. For hear Christ saying to him, "Satan hath desired to sift you as wheat; and I made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not." (Luke xxii. 31, 32.) John, too, became so great through mercy, and in short all of them. For listen to Christ when He says, "Ye did not choose Me, but I chose you." (John xv. 16.) For we all have need of the mercy of God, as it is written, "The mercy of God is upon all flesh." But if these men needed the mercy of God, what should one say of the rest? For why, tell me, doth He "make the sun to rise on the evil and the good"? Did He withhold the rain for one year, would He not destroy all? And what if He caused overwhelming rain? what if He rained down fire? what if He sent flies? But what do I say? if He were so to do as He once did, would not all perish? If He were to shake the earth, would not all perish? It is now seasonable to say, "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?" (Ps. viii. 4.) Were He only to threaten the earth, all men would become one tomb. "As a drop of water from the bucket," it is written, "so are the nations in His sight, they shall be counted as very small dust, as the turning of the balance." (Isa. xl. 15.) It were as easy for Him to destroy all things, and to make them again, as for us to turn the balance. He then who has such power over us, and sees us sinning every day, and yet punishes us not, how is it but by mercy He bears with us? Since beasts too exist by mercy: "Thou, Lord, wilt preserve both men and beasts." (Ps. xxxvi. 7.) He looked upon the earth, and filled it with living things. And wherefore? For thy sake! And wherefore did He make thee? Through His goodness.
There is nothing better than oil. It is the cause of light, and there also it is the cause of light "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning" (Isa. lviii. 8), saith the Prophet, if thou showest pity upon thy neighbour. And as natural oil contains light, so then doth mercy [alms] grant Us a great, a marvelous light. Much mention doth Paul, too, make of this mercy. In one place, hear him say, "Only that we should remember the poor." (Gal. ii. 10.) And in another, "If it be meet for me to go also." (1 Cor. xvi. 4.) And in every place, turn where you will, ye see him anxious about this very thing. And again, "And let our people also learn to maintain good works." (Tit. iii. 14.) And again, "These things are good and profitable unto men." (Tit. iii. 8.) Listen to a certain other one who saith, "Alms do deliver from death" (Tob. xii. 9); If Thou takest away pity, "Lord, Lord, who shall stand" (Ps. cxxx. 3); and it is said, If Thou enterest "into judgment with thy servant" (Ps. cxliii. 2); "A great thing is man"; why? "and an honorable thing is a merciful man." (Prov. xx. 6, LXX.) For this is the true character of man, to be merciful, yea rather the character of God, to show mercy. Dost thou see, how strong is the mercy of God? This made all things, this formed the world, this made the angels, it was through mere goodness. For this cause, too, He threatened hell, that we may attain unto the kingdom, and through mercy we do attain unto the kingdom. For wherefore did God, being alone, create so many beings? was it not through goodness? was it not through love to men? If you ask why such and such things are, you will always find your answer in Goodness. Let us show mercy to our neighbors, that mercy may be shown to us. These acts of mercy we show not so much to them, as lay up for ourselves against That Day. When the flame of the fire is great, this oil (mercy) is that which quenches the fire, and this brings light to us. Thus by this means shall we be freed from the fire of hell. For whence will He be compassionate and show mercy? Mercy comes of love! Nothing incenses God so much as to be pitiless. "A man was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents, and he was moved with compassion, and forgave him. And there were owing to that man from his fellow-servant a hundred pence, and he caught him by the throat. Therefore the Lord delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay what was due." Let us on hearing this be merciful to those who are our debtors in money or in sins. Let no one remember evils, if at least he does not wish to injure himself; for he does not so much aggrieve the other (as he injures himself). For he either will follow him with vengeance, or he has not done so; but dost thou thyself, while not forgiving thy neighbor his sins, seek for a kingdom? Lest this should happen to us, let us forgive all, (for it is ourselves that we pardon,) that God may forgive us our sins, and so we may obtain the good things which are in store, through the grace and lovingkindness, &c.
"If there is therefore any comfort in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doing nothing through faction or through vainglory; but in lowliness of mind, each counting other better than himself; not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others."
There is nothing better, there is nothing more affectionate, than a spiritual teacher; such an one surpasses the kindness of any natural father. Do but consider, how this blessed one entreats the Philippians concerning the things which were to their own advantage. What says he, in exhorting them concerning concord, that cause of all good things? See how earnestly, how vehemently, with how much sympathy he speaks, "If there be therefore any comfort in Christ," that is, if ye have any comfort in Christ, as if he had said, If thou makest any account of me, if thou hast any care of me, if thou hast ever received good at my hands, do this. This mode of earnestness we use when we claim a matter which we prefer to everything else. For if we did not prefer it to everything, we should not wish to receive in it our recompense for all things, nor say that through it all is represented. We indeed remind men of our carnal claims; for example, if a father were to say, If thou hast any reverence for thy father, if any remembrance of my care in nourishing thee, if any affection towards me, if any memory of the honor thou hast received of me, if any of my kindness, be not at enmity with thy brother; that is, for all those things, this is what I ask in return.
But Paul does not so; he calls to our remembrance no carnal, but all of them spiritual benefits. That is, if ye wish to give me any comfort in my temptations, and encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if ye wish to show any communion in the Spirit, if ye have any tender mercies and compassions, fulfil ye my joy. "If any tender mercies and compassions." Paul speaks of the concord of his disciples as compassion towards himself, thus showing that the danger was extreme, if they were not of one mind. If I can obtain comfort from you, if I can obtain any consolation from our love if I can communicate with you in the Spirit, if I can have fellowship with you in the Lord, if I can find mercy and compassion at your hands, show by your love the return of alI this. All this have I gained, if ye love one another.
Ver. 2. "Fulfil ye my joy."
That the exhortation might not seem to be made to people who were still deficient, see how he says not, "do me joy," but "fulfil my joy"; that is, Ye have begun to plant it in me, ye have already given me some portion of peacefulness, but I desire to arrive at its fulness? Say, what wouldest thou? that we deliver thee from dangers? that we supply somewhat to thy need? Not so, but "that ye be of the same mind, having the same love," in which ye have begun, "being of one accord, of one mind." Just see, how often he repeats the same thing by reason of his great affection! "That ye be of the same mind," or rather, "that ye be of one mind." For this is more than "the same."
"Having the same love." That is, let it not be simply about faith alone, but also in all other things; for there is such a thing as to be of the same mind, and yet not to have love. "Having the same love," that is, love and be loved alike; do not thou enjoy much love, and show less love, so as to be covetous even in this matter; but do not suffer it in thyself. "Of one accord," he adds, that is, appropriating with one soul, the bodies of all, not in substance, for that is impossible, but in purpose and intention. Let all things proceed as from one soul. What means "of one accord "? He shows when he says "of one mind." Let your mind be one, as if from one soul.
Ver. 3. "Doing nothing through faction."
He finally demands this of them, and tells them the way how this may be. "Doing nothing through faction or vainglory." This, as I always say, is the cause of all evil. Hence come fightings and contentions. Hence come envyings and strifes. Hence it is that love waxes cold, when we love the praise of men, when we are slaves to the honor which is paid by the many, for it is not possible for a man to be the slave of praise, and also a true servant of God. How then shall we flee vainglory? for thou hast not yet told us the way. Listen then to what follows.
"But in lowliness of mind, each counting other better than himself." Oh how full of true wisdom, how universal a gathering-word of our salvation is the lesson he has put forth! If thou deemest, he means, that another is greater than thyself, and persuadest thyself so, yea more, if thou not only sayest it, but art fully assured of it, then thou assignest him the honor, and if thou assignest him the honor, thou wilt not be displeased at seeing him honored by another. Do not then think him simply greater than thyself, but "better," which is a very great superiority, and thou dost not think it strange nor be pained thereby, if thou seest him honored. Yea, though he treat thee with scorn, thou dost bear it nobly, for thou hast esteemed him greater than thyself. Though he revile thee, thou dost submit; Though he treat thee ill, thou bearest it in silence. For when once the soul is fully assured that he is greater, it falls not into anger when it is ill-treated by him, nor yet into envy, for no one would envy those who are very far above himself, for all things belong to his superiority.
Here then he instructs the one party to be thus minded. But when he too, who enjoys such honor from thee, is thus affected toward thee, consider what a double wall there is erected of gentle forbearance [comp. Phil. iv. 5 ]; for when thou esteemest him thus worthy of honor, and he thee likewise, no painful thing can possibly arise; for if this conduct when shown by one is sufficient to destroy all strife, who shall break down the safeguard, when it is shown by both? Not even the Devil himself. The defense is threefold, and fourfold, yea manifold, for humanity is the cause of all good; and that you may learn this, listen to the prophet, saying, "Hadst thou desired sacrifice, I would have given it: Thou wilt not delight in burnt offerings. The sacrifice for God is a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise." (Ps. li. 16, 17.) Not simply humility, but intense humility. As in the case of bodily substances, that which is "broken" will not rise against that which is "solid," but, how many ills soever it may suffer, will perish itself rather than attack the other, so too the soul, even if constantly suffering ill, will choose rather to die, than to avenge itself by attack.
How long shall we be puffed up thus ridiculously? For as we laugh, when we see children drawing themselves up, and looking haughty, or when we see them picking up stones and throwing them, thus too the haughtiness of men belongs to a puerile intellect, and an unformed mind. "Why are earth and ashes proud?" (Ecclus. x. 9.) Art thou highminded, O man? and why? tell me what is the gain? Whence art thou highminded against those of thine own kind? Dost not thou share the same nature? the same life? Hast not thou received like honor from God? But thou art wise? Thou oughtest to be thankful, not to be puffed up. Haughtiness is the first act of ingratitude, for it denies the gift of grace. He that is puffed up, is puffed up as if he had excelled by his own strength, and he who thinks he has thus excelled is ungrateful toward Him who bestowed that honor. Hast thou any good? Be thankful to Him who gave it. Listen to what Joseph said, and what Daniel. For when the king of Egypt sent for him, and in the presence of all his host asked him concerning that matter in which the Egyptians, who were most learned in these things, had forsaken the field, when he was on the point of carrying off everything from them, and of appearing wiser than the astrologers, the enchanters, the magicians, and all the wise men of those times, and that from captivity and servitude, and he but a youth (and his glory was thus greater, for it is not the same thing to shine when known, and contrary to expectation, so that its being unlooked for rendered him the more admirable); what then, when he came before Pharaoh? Was it "Yea, I know"? But what? When no one urged it on him, he said from his own excellent spirit, "Do not interpretations belong to God?" Behold he straightway glorified his Master, therefore he was glorified. And this also is no small thing. For that God had revealed it to him was a far greater thing than if he had himself excelled. For he showed that his words were worthy of credit, and it was a very great proof of his intimacy with God. There is no one thing so good as to be the intimate friend of God. "For if," says the Scripture, "he [Abraham] was justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not toward God." (Rom. iv. 2.) For if he who has been vouchsafed grace maketh his boast in God, that he is loved of Him, because his sins are forgiven, he too that worketh hath whereof to boast, but not before God, as the other (for it is a proof of our excessive weakness); he who has received wisdom of God, how much more admirable is he? He glorifies God and is glorified of Him, for He says, "Them that honor Me, I will honor." (1 Sam. ii. 30.)
Again, listen to him who descended from Joseph, than whom no one was wiser. "Art thou wiser," says he, "than Daniel?" (Ezek. xxviii. 3.) This Daniel then, when all the wise men that were in Babylon, and the astrologers moreover, the prophets, the magicians, the enchanters, yea when the whole of their wisdom was not only coming to be convicted, but to be wholly destroyed (for their being destroyed was a clear proof that they had deceived before), this Daniel coming forward, and preparing to solve the king's question, does not take the honor to himself, but first ascribes the whole to God, and says, "But as for me, O king, it is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have beyond all men." (Dan. ii. 30) And "the king worshiped him, and commanded that they should offer an oblation." (Dan. ii. 46.) Seest thou his humility? seest thou his excellent spirit? seest thou this habit of lowliness? Listen also to the Apostles, saying at one time, "Why fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man to walk? (Acts iii. 12.) And again, "We are men of like passions with you." (Acts xiv. 15.) Now if they thus refused the honors paid them, men who by reason of the humility and power of Christ wrought greater deeds than Christ (for He says, "He that believeth in Me shall do greater works than those that I do" (John xiv. 12, abr.)), shall not we wretched and miserable men do so, who cannot even beat away gnats, much less devils? who have not power to benefit a single man, much less the whole world, and yet think so much of ourselves that the Devil himself is not like us?
There is nothing so foreign to a Christian soul as haughtiness. Haughtiness, I say, not boldness nor courage, for these are congenial. But these are one thing, and that another; so too humility is one thing, and meanness, flattery, and adulation another.
I will now, if you wish, give you examples of all these qualities. For these things which are contraries, seem in some way to be placed near together, as the tares to the wheat, and the thorns to the rose. But while babes might easily be deceived, they who are men in truth, and are skilled in spiritual husbandry, know how to separate what is really good from the bad. Let me then lay before you examples of these qualities from the Scriptures. What is flattery, and meanness, and adulation? Ziba flattered David out of season, and falsely slandered his master. (2 Sam. xvi. 1- 3.) Much more did Ahitophel flatter Absalom. (2 Sam. xvii. 1-4.) But David was not so, but he was humble. For the deceitful are flatterers, as when they say, "O king, live for ever." (Dan. ii. 4.) Again, what flatterers the magicians are.
We shall find much to exemplify this in the case of Paul in the Acts. When he disputed with the Jews he did not flatter them, but was humble- minded (for he knew how to speak boldly), as when he says, "I, brethren, though I had done nothing against the people, or the customs of our fathers, yet was delivered prisoner from Jerusalem." (Acts xxviii. 17.)
That these were the words of humility, listen how he rebukes them in what follows, "Well spake the Holy Ghost, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in nowise understand, and seeing ye shall see, and in nowise perceive." (Acts xxviii. 25; ib. 26.)
Seest thou his courage? Behold also the courage of John the Baptist, which he used before Herod; when he said, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother Philip's wife." (Mark vi. 18.) This was boldness, this was courage. Not so the words of Shimei, when he said, "Begone, thou man of blood" (2 Sam. xvi. 7), and yet he too spake with boldness; but this is not courage, but audacity, and insolence, and an unbridled tongue. Jezebel too reproached Jehu, when she said, "The slayer of his master" (2 Kings ix. 31), but this was audacity, not boldness. Elias too reproached, but this was boldness and courage; "I do not trouble Israel, but thou and thy father's house." (1 Kings xviii. 18.) Again, Elias spake with boldness to the whole people, saying, "How long will ye go lame on both your thighs?" (1 Kings xviii. 21, LXX.) Thus to rebuke was boldness and courage. This too the prophets did, but that other was audacity.
Would you see words both of humility and not of flattery, listen to Paul, saying," But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment; yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing against myself, yet am I not hereby justified." (1 Cor. iv. 3, 4.) This is of a spirit that becomes a Christian; and again, "Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints"? (1 Cor. vi. 1.)
Would you see the flattery of the foolish Jews? listen to them, saying, "We have no king but Caesar." (John xix. 15.) Would you see humility? listen to Paul again, when he says," For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake." (2 Cor. iv. 5.) Would you see both flattery and audacity? "Audacity" (1 Sam. xxv. 10) in the case of Nabal, and "flattery" (1 Sam. xxiii. 20) in that of the Ziphites? For in their purpose they betrayed David. Would you see "wisdom" (1 Sam. xxvi. 5-12) and not flattery, that of David, how he gat Saul into his power, and yet spared him? Would you see the flattery of those who murdered Mephibosheth, whom also David slew? In fine, and as it were in outline, to sum up all, audacity is shown when one is enraged, and insults another for no just cause, either to avenge himself, or in some unjust way is audacious; but boldness and courage are when we dare to face perils and deaths, and despise friendships and enmities for the sake of what is pleasing to God. Again, flattery and meanness are when one courts another not for any right end, but hunting after some of the things of this life; but humility, when one does this for the sake of things pleasing to God, and descends from his own proper station that he may perform something great and admirable. If we know these things, happy are we if we do them. For to know them is not enough. For Scripture says, "Not the hearers of a law, but the doers of a law shall be justified." (Rom. ii. 13.) Yea, knowledge itself condemneth, when it is without action and deeds of virtue. Wherefore that we may escape the condemnation, let us follow after the practice, that we may obtain those good things that are promised to us, by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross."
Our Lord Jesus Christ, when exhorting His disciples to great actions, places before them Himself, and the Father, and the Prophets, as examples; as when He says, "For thus they did unto the Prophets which were before you" (Matt. v. 12; Luke vi. 23); and again, "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John xv. 20); and, "Learn of me, for I am meek" (Matt. xi. 29); and again, "Be ye merciful, as your Father which is in heaven is merciful." (Luke vi. 36.) This too the blessed Paul did; in exhorting them to humility, he brought forward Christ. And he does so not here only, but also when he discourses of love towards the poor, he speaks in this wise. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor." (2 Cor. viii. 9.) Nothing rouses a great and philosophic soul to the performance of good works, so much as learning that in this it is likened to God. What encouragement is equal to this? None. This Paul well knowing, when he would exhort them to humility, first beseeches and supplicates them, then to awe them he says, "That ye stand fast in one Spirit"; he says also, that it "is for them an evident token of perdition, but of your salvation." (Phil. i. 27, 28.) And last of all he says this, "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking upon Him the form of a servant." (Phil. ii. 5-7.) Attend, I entreat you, and rouse yourselves. For as a sharp two-edged sword, wheresoever it falls, though it be among ten thousand phalanxes, easily cuts through and destroys, because it is sharp on every side, and nought can bear its edge; so are the words of the Spirit. (Heb. iv. 12; Rev. i. 16.) For by these words he has laid low the followers of Arius of Alexandria, of Paul of Samosata, of Marcellus the Galatian, of Sabellius the Libyan, of Marcion that was of Pontus, of Valentinus, of Manes, of Apollinarius of Laodicea, of Photinus, of Sophronius, and, in one word, all the heresies. Rouse yourselves then to behold so great a spectacle, so many armies falling by one stroke, lest the pleasure of such a sight should escape you. For if when chariots contend in the horse race there is nothing so pleasing as when one of them dashes against and overthrows whole chariots with their drivers, and after throwing down many with the charioteers that stood thereon, drives by alone towards the goal, and the end of the course, and amid the applause and clamor which rises on all sides to heaven, with coursers winged as it were by that joy and that applause, sweeps over the whole ground; how much greater will the pleasure be here, when by the grace of God we overthrow at once and in a body the combinations and devilish machinations of all these heresies together with their charioteers?
And if it seem good to you, we will first arrange the heresies themselves in order. Would you have them in the order of their impiety, or of their dates? In the order of time, for it is difficult to judge of the order of their impiety. First then let Sabellius the Libyan come forward. What does he assert? that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are mere names given to one Person. Marcion of Pontus says, that God the Creator of all things is not good, nor the Father of the good Christ, but another righteous one, and that he did not take flesh for us. Marcellus, and Photinus, and Sophronius assert, that the Word is an energy, and that it was this energy that dwelt in Him who was of the seed of David, and not a personal substance.
Arius confesses indeed the Son, but only in word; he says that He is a creature, and much inferior to the Father. And others say that He has not a soul. Seest thou the chariots standing? See then their fall, how he overthrows them all together, and with a single stroke. How? "Have the same mind in you," he says, "which was in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God." And Paul of Samosata has fallen, and Marcellus, and Sabellius. For he says, "Being in the form of God." If "in the form" how sayest thou, O wicked one, that He took His origin from Mary, and was not before? and how dost thou say that He was an energy? For it is written, "The form of God took the form of a servant." "The form of a servant," is it the energy of a servant, or the nature of a servant? By all means, I fancy, the nature of a servant. Thus too the form of God, is the nature of God, and therefore not an energy. Behold also Marcellus of Galatia, Sophronius and Photinus have fallen.
Behold Sabellius too. It is written, "He counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God." Now equality is not predicated, where there is but one person, for that which is equal hath somewhat to which it is equal. Seest thou not the substance of two Persons, and not empty names without things? Hearest thou not the eternal pre-existence of the Only-begotten?
Lastly, What shall we say against Arius, who asserts the Son is of a different substance? Tell me now, what means, "He took the form of a servant"? It means, He became man. Wherefore "being in the form of God," He was God. For one "form" and another "form" is named; if the one be true, the other is also. "The form of a servant" means, Man by nature, wherefore "the form of God" means, God by nature. And he not only bears record of this, but of His equality too, as John also doth, that he is no way inferior to the Father, for he saith, "He thought it not a thing to seize, to be equal with God." Now what is their wise reasoning? Nay, say they, he proves the very contrary; for he says, that," being in the form of God, He seized not equality with God." How if He were God, how was He able "to seize upon it"? and is not this without meaning? Who would say that one, being a man, seized not on being a man? for how would any one seize on that which he is? No, say they, but he means that being a little God, He seized not upon being equal to the great God, Who was greater than He. Is there a great and a little God? And do ye bring in the doctrines of the Greeks upon those of the Church? With them there is a great and a little God. If it be so with you, I know not. For you will find it nowhere in the Scriptures: there you will find a great God throughout, a little one nowhere. If He were little, how would he also be God? If man is not little and great, but one nature, and if that which is not of this one nature is not man, how can there be a little God and a great one?
He who is not of that nature is not God. For He is everywhere called great in Scripture; "Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised." (Ps. xlviii. 1.) This is said of the Son also, for it always calls Him Lord. "Thou art great, and doest wondrous things. Thou art God alone." (Ps. lxxxvi. 10.) And again, "Great is our Lord, and great is His power, and of His greatness there is no end." (Ps. cxlv. 3.)
But the Son, he says, is little. But it is thou that sayest this, for the Scripture says the contrary: as of the Father, so it speaks of the Son; for listen to Paul, saying, "Looking for the blessed hope, and appearing of the glory of our great God." (Tit. ii. 13.) But can he have said "appearing" of the Father? Nay, that he may the more convince you, he has added with reference to the appearing "of the great God." Is it then not said of the Father? By no means. For the sequel suffers it not which says, "The appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ." See, the Son is great also. How then speakest thou of small and great?
Listen to the Prophet too, calling him "The Messenger of great counsel." (Isa. ix. 6.) "The Messenger of great counsel," is He not great Himself? "The mighty God," is He small and not great? What mean then these shameless and reckless men when they say, that being little He is a God? I repeat ofttimes what they say, that ye may the more avoid them. He being a lesser God seized not for Himself to be like the greater God! Tell me now (but think not that these words are mine), if he were little, as they say, and far inferior to the Father in power, how could He possibly have seized to Himself equality with God? For an inferior nature could not seize for himself admission into that which is great; for example, a man could not seize on becoming equal to an angel in nature; a horse could not, though he wished it, seize on being equal to a man in nature. But besides all that, I will say this too. What does Paul wish to establish by this example? Surely, to lead the Philippians to humility. To what purpose then did he bring forward this example? For no one who would exhort to humility speaks thus; "Be thou humble, and think less of thyself than of thine equals in honor, for such an one who is a slave has not risen against his master; do thou imitate him." This, any one would say, is not humility, but arrogance. Learn ye what humility is, ye who have a devilish pride! What then is humility? To be lowly minded. And he is lowly minded who humbles himself, not he who is lowly by necessity. To explain what I say; and do ye attend; he who is lowly minded, when he has it in his power to be high minded, is humble, but he who is so because he is not able to be high minded, is no longer humble. For instance, If a King subjects himself to his own officer, he is humble, for he descends from his high estate; but if an officer does so, he will not be lowly minded; for how? he has not humbled himself from any high estate. It is not possible to show humble- mindedness except it be in our power to do otherwise. For if it is necessary for us to be humble even against our will, that excellency comes not from the spirit or the will, but from necessity. This virtue is called humble-mindedness, because it is the humbling of the mind.
If he who has it not in his power to snatch at another's goods, continues in the possession of his own; should we praise him, think you, for his justice? I trow not, and why? The praise of free choice is taken away by the necessity. If he, who has it not in his power to usurp and be a king, remains a private citizen, should we praise him for his quietness? I trow not. The same rule applies here. For praise, O ye most senseless ones, is not given for abstaining from these things, but for the performance of good deeds; for the former is free indeed from blame, but partakes not yet of praise, while eulogy of the other is meet. Observe accordingly that Christ gives praise on this principle, when He says, "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; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink." (Matt. xxv. 34, 35.) He did not say, Because ye have not been covetous, because ye have not robbed; these are slight things; but because "ye saw Me an hungered, and fed Me." Who ever praised either his friends or his enemies in this sort? No one ever praised even Paul. Why say Paul? no one ever praised even a common man, as thou dost praise Christ, because he did not take that rule which was not his due. To admire for such things as this, is to give evidence of much evil. And why? because with evil men this is a matter of praise, as of one that stealeth, if he steal no more; but it is otherwise among good men. (Eph. iv. 28.) Because a man has not seized on a rule and an honor which was not his due, is he praiseworthy? What folly is this?
Attend, I entreat you, for the reasoning is long. Again, who would ever exhort to humility from such grounds as this? Examples ought to be much greater than the subject, to which we are exhorting, for no one will be moved by what is foreign to the subject, For instance, when Christ would lead us to do good to our enemies, He brought a great example, even that of His Father, "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.) When He would lead to endurance of wrong He brought an example, "Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." (Matt. xi. 29.) And again, "If I your Lord and Master do these things, how much more should ye"? (John xiii. 14.) Seest thou how these examples are not distant, for there is no need they should be so distant, for indeed we also do these things, especially as in this case the example is not even near. And how? If He be a servant, He is inferior, and subject to Him that is greater; but this is not lowliness of mind. It was requisite to show the contrary, namely, that the greater person subjected himself to the lesser. But since he found not this distinction in the case of God, between greater and lesser, he made at least an equality. Now if the Son were inferior, this were not a sufficient example to lead us to humility. And why? because it is not humility, for the lesser not to rise against the greater, not to snatch at rule, and to be "obedient unto death."
Again, consider what he says after the example, "In lowliness of mind, each counting other better than themselves." (Phil. ii. 3.) He says, "counting," for as ye are one in substance, and in the honor which cometh of God, it follows that the matter is one of estimation. Now in the case of those who are greater and lesser, he would not have said "counting," but honor them that are better than yourselves, as he says in another place, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them." (Heb. xiii. 17.) In that instance subjection is the result of the nature of the case, in this of our own judgment. "In lowliness of mind," he says, "each counting other better than themselves," as Christ also did.
Thus are their explanations overthrown. It remains that I speak of our own after I have first spoken of theirs summarily. When exhorting to lowliness of mind, Paul would never have brought forward a lesser one, as obedient to a greater. If he were exhorting servants to obey their masters, he might have done so with propriety, but when exhorting the free to obey the free, to what purpose could he bring forward the subjection of a servant to a master? of a lesser to a greater? He says not, "Let the lesser be subject to the greater," but ye who are of equal honor with each other be ye subject, "each counting other better than themselves." Why then did he not bring forward even the obedience of the wife, and say, As the wife obeys her husband, so do ye also obey. Now if he did not bring forward that state in which there is equality and liberty, since in that the subjection is but slight, how much less would he have brought forward the subjection of a slave? I said above, that no one so praises a man for abstaining from evil, nor even mentions him at all; no one who desires to praise a man for continence would say, he has not committed adultery, but, he has abstained from his own wife; for we do not consider abstinence from evil as a matter of praise at all, it would be ridiculous.
I said that the "form of a servant" was a true form, and nothing less. Therefore "the form of God" also is perfect, and no less. Why says he not, "being made in the form of God," but "being in the form of God"? This is the same as the saying, "I am that I am." (Ex. iii. 14.) Form" implies unchangeableness, so far as it is form. It is not possible that things of one substance should have the form of another, as no man has the form of an angel, neither has a beast the form of a man. How then should the Son?
Now in our own case, since we men are of a compound nature, form pertains to the body, but in the case of a simple and altogether uncompounded nature it is of the substance. But if thou contendest that he speaks not of the Father, because the word is used without the article, in many places this is meant, though the word be used without the article. Why say I, in many places? for in this very place he says, "He counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God," using the word without the article, though speaking of God the Father.
I would add our own explanation, but I fear that I shall overwhelm your minds. Meanwhile remember what has been said for their refutation; meanwhile let us root out the thorns, and then we will scatter the good seed after that the thorns have been rooted out, and a little rest has been given to the land; that when rid of all the evil thence contracted, it may receive the divine seed with full virtue.
Let us give thanks to God for what has been spoken; let us entreat Him to grant us the guarding and safe keeping thereof, that both we and ye may rejoice, and the heretics may be put to shame. Let us beseech Him to open our mouth for what follows, that we may with the same earnestness lay down our own views. Let us supplicate Him to vouchsafe us a life worthy of the faith, that we may live to His glory, and that His name may not be blasphemed through us. For, "woe unto you," it is written, "through whom the name of God is blasphemed." (Isa. lii. 5, LXX. nearly.) For if, when we have a son, (and what is there more our own than a son,) if therefore when we have a son, and are blasphemed through him, we publicly renounce him, turn away from him, and will not receive him; how much more will God, when He has ungrateful servants who blaspheme and insult Him, turn away from them and hate them? And who will take up him whom God hates and turns away from, but the Devil and the demons? And whomsoever the demons take, what hope of salvation is left for him? what consolation in life?
As long as we are in the hand of God, "no one is able to pluck us out" (John x. 28), for that hand is strong; but when we fall away from that hand and that help, then are we lost, then are we exposed, ready to be snatched away, as a "bowing wall, and a tottering fence" (Ps. lxii. 3); when the wall is weak, it will be easy for all to surmount. Think not this which I am about to say refers to Jerusalem alone, but to all men. And what was spoken of Jerusalem? "Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching His vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill, and I made a fence about it, and surrounded it with a dike, and planted it with the vine of Sorech, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also dug a wine press in it, and I looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth thorns. And now, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, judge between Me and My vineyard. What should have been done to My vineyard, that I have not done to it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth thorns? Now therefore I will tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be for a prey, and I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down. And I will leave My vineyard, and it shall not be pruned or digged, but thorns shall come up upon it, as upon a desert land. I will also command the clouds, that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant. I looked that it should do judgment, but it did iniquity, and a cry instead of righteousness." (Isa. v. 1-7, LXX.) This is spoken also of every soul. For when God who loveth man hath done all that is needful and man then bringeth forth thorns instead of grapes, He will take away the fence, and break down the wall, and we shall be for a prey. For hear what another prophet speaks in his lamentations: "Why hast thou broken down her fences, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth ravage it, and the wild beasts of the field feed on it." (Ps. lxxx. 12, 13.) In the former place He speaks of the Mede and the Babylonian, here nought is said of them, but "the boar," and "the solitary beast" is the Devil and all his host, because of the ferocity and impurity of his disposition. For when it would show us his rapacity, it saith, "As a roaring lion he walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. v. 8): when his poisonous, his deadly, his destructive nature, it calleth him a snake, and a scorpion; "For tread," saith He, "upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy" (Luke x. 19): when it would represent his strength as well as his venom, it calleth him a dragon; as when it says, This dragon "whom thou hast formed to take his pastime therein." (Ps. civ. 26.) Scripture everywhere calleth him a dragon, and a crooked serpent, and an adder (Ps. lxxiv. 13, 14); he is a beast of many folds, and varied in his devices, and his strength is great, he moves all things, he disturbs all things, he turns all things up and down. (Isa. xxvii. 1; li. 9; Ezek. xxix. 3; xxxii. 2.) But fear not, neither be afraid; watch only, and he will be as a sparrow; "for," saith He, "tread upon serpents and scorpions." If we will, He causes him to be trodden down under our feet.
See now what scorn is it, yea, what misery, to see him standing over our heads, who has been given to us to tread down. And whence is this? it is of ourselves. If we choose, he becomes great; and if we choose, he becomes of small power. If we take heed to ourselves, and take up our stand with Him who is our King, he draws himself in, and will be no better than a little child in his warfare against us. Whensoever we stand apart from Him, he puffeth himself up greatly, he uttereth terrible sounds, he grindeth his teeth, because he finds us without our greatest help. For he will not approach to us, except God permit him; for if he dared not to enter into the herd of swine, except by God's permission, how much less into men's souls. But God does permit him, either chastening or punishing us, or making us more approved, as in the case of Job. Seest thou that he came not to him, neither dared to be near him, but trembled and quaked? Why speak I of Job? When he leaped upon Judas, he dared not to seize on him wholly, and to enter into him, until Christ had severed him from the sacred band. He attacked him indeed from without, but he dared not enter in, but when he saw him cut off from that holy flock, he leaped upon him with more than wolfish vehemence, and left him not till he had slain him with a double death.
These things are written for our admonition. What gain have we from knowing that one of the twelve was a traitor? what profit? what advantage? Much. For, when we know whence it was that he arrived at this deadly counsel, we are on our guard that we too suffer not the like. Whence came he to this? From the love of money. He was a thief. For thirty pieces of silver he betrayed his Lord. So drunken was he with the passion, he betrayed the Lord of the world for thirty pieces of silver. What can be worse than this madness? Him to whom nothing is equivalent, nothing is equal, "before whom the nations are as nothing" (Isa. xl. 15), Him did he betray for thirty pieces of silver. A grievous tyrant indeed is the love of gold, and terrible in putting the soul beside itself. A man is not so beside himself through drunkenness as through love of money, not so much from madness and insanity as from love of money.
For tell me, why didst thou betray Him? He called thee, when a man unmarked and unknown. He made thee one of the twelve, He gave thee a share in His teaching, He promised thee ten thousand good things, He caused thee to work wonders, thou wert sharer of the same table, the same journeys, the same company, the same intercourse, as the rest. And were not these things sufficient to restrain thee? For what reason didst thou betray Him? What hadst thou to charge Him with, O wicked one? Rather, what good didst thou not receive at His hands? He knew thy mind, and ceased not to do His part. He often said, "One of you shall betray Me." (Matt. xxvi. 21.) He often marked thee, and yet spared thee, and though He knew thee to be such an one, yet cast thee not out of the band. He still bore with thee, He still honored thee, and loved thee, as a true disciple, and as one of the twelve, and last of all (oh, for thy vileness!), He took a towel, and with His own unsullied hands He washed thy polluted feet, and even this did not keep thee back. Thou didst steal the things of the poor, and that thou mightest not go on to greater sin, He bore this too. Nothing persuaded thee. Hadst thou been a beast, or a stone, wouldest thou not have been changed by these kindnesses towards thee, by these wonders, by these teachings? Though thou wast thus brutalized, yet still He called thee, and by wondrous works He drew thee, thou wast more senseless than a stone, to Himself. Yet for none of these things didst thou become better.
Ye wonder perhaps at such folly of the traitor; dread therefore that which wounded him. He became such from avarice, from the love of money. Cut out this passion, for to these diseases does it give birth; it makes us impious, and causes us to be ignorant of God, though we have received ten thousand benefits at His hands. Cut it out, I entreat you, it is no common disease, it knoweth how to give birth to a thousand destructive deaths. We have seen his tragedy. Let us fear lest we too fall into the same snares. For this is it written, that we too should not suffer the same things. Hence did all the Evangelists relate it, that they might restrain us. Flee then far from it. Covetousness consisteth not alone in the love of much money, but in loving money at all. It is grievous avarice to desire more than we need. Was it talents of gold that persuaded the traitor? For thirty pieces of silver he betrayed his Lord. Do ye not remember what I said before, that covetousness is not shown in receiving much, but rather in receiving little things? See how great a crime he committed for a little gold, rather not for gold, but for pieces of silver.
It cannot, it cannot be that an avaricious man should ever see the face of Christ! This is one of the things which are impossible. It is a root of evils, and if he that possesses one evil thing, falls from that glory, where shall he stand who bears with him the root? He who is the servant of money cannot be a true servant of Christ. Christ Himself hath declared that the thing is impossible. "Ye cannot," He says, "serve God and Mammon," and, "No man can serve two masters" (Matt. vi. 24), for they lay upon us contrary orders. Christ says, "Spare the poor"; Mammon says, "Even from the naked strip off the things they have." Christ says, "Empty thyself of what thou hast"; Mammon says, "Take also what thou hast not." Seest thou the opposition, seest thou the strife? How is it that a man cannot easily obey both, but must despise one? Nay, does it need proof? How so? Do we not see in very deed, that Christ is despised, and Mammon honored? Perceive ye not how that the very words are painful? How much more then the thing itself? But it does not appear so painful in reality, because we are possessed with the disease. Now if the soul be but a little cleansed of the disease, as long as it remains here, it can judge right; but when it departs elsewhere, and is seized by the fever, and is engaged in the pleasure of the thing, it hath not its perception clear, it hath not its tribunal uncorrupt. Christ says, "Whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke xiv. 33); Mammon says, "Take the bread from the hungry." Christ says, "Cover the naked" (Isa. lviii. 7); the other says, "Strip the naked." Christ says, "Thou shalt not hide thyself from thine own flesh," (Isa. lviii. 7) and those of thine own house; Mammon says, "Thou shall not pity those of thine own seed; though thou seest thy mother or thy father in want, despise them." Why say I father or mother? "Even thine own soul," he says, "destroy it also." And he is obeyed! Alas! he who commands us cruel, and mad, and brutal things, is listened to rather than He who bids us gentle and healthful things! For this is hell appointed; for this, fire; for this, a river of fire; for this, a worm that dieth not.
I know that many hear me say these things with pain, and indeed it is not without pain I say them. But why need I say these things? I could wish the things concerning the kingdom to be ever my discourse, of the rest, of the waters of rest, of the green pastures, as the Scripture says, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, He leadeth me beside the still waters" (Ps. xxiii. 2), there He maketh me to dwell. I could wish to speak of the place, whence "sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (Isa. li. 11.)
I could wish to discourse of the pleasures of being with Christ, though they pass all expression and all understanding. Yet would I speak of these things according to my power. But what shall I do? it is not possible to speak concerning a kingdom to one that is diseased and in fever; then we must needs speak of health. It is not possible to speak of honor to one that is brought to trial, for at that time his desire is that he be freed from judgment, and penalty, and punishment. If this be not effected, how shall the other be? It is for this cause that I am continually speaking of these things, that we may the sooner pass over to those other. For this cause does God threaten hell, that none may fall into hell, that we all may obtain the kingdom; for this cause we too make mention continually of hell, that we may thrust you onward towards the kingdom, that when we have softened your minds by fear, we may bring you to act worthily of the kingdom. Be not then displeased at the heaviness of our words, for the heaviness of these words lightens our souls from sin. Iron is heavy, and the hammer is heavy, but it forms vessels fit for use, both of gold and silver, and straightens things which are crooked i and if it were not heavy, it would have no power to straighten the distorted substance. Thus too our heavy speech has power to bring the soul into its proper tone. Let us not then flee from heaviness of speech, nor the strokes it gives; the stroke is nor given that it may break in pieces or tear the soul, but to straighten it. We know how we strike, how by the grace of God we inflict the stroke, so as not to crush the vessel, but to polish it, to render it straight, and meet for the Master's use, to offer it glittering in soundness, skillfully wrought against that Day of the river of fire, to offer it having no need of that burning pile. For if we expose not ourselves to fire here, we must needs be burned there, it cannot be otherwise; "For the day of the Lord is revealed by fire." (1 Cor. iii. 13.) Better is it that ye be burned for a little space by our words, than for ever in that flame. That this will indeed be so, is plain, and I have ofttimes given you reasons which cannot be gain-said. We ought truly to be persuaded from the Scriptures, but forasmuch as some are contentious, we have also brought forward many arguments from reason. Nothing binders that I now mention them, and what were they? God is just. We all acknowledge this, both Greeks and Jews, and Heretics, and Christians. But many sinners have had their departure without punishment, many righteous men have had their departure after suffering ten thousand grievous things. If then God be just, where will He reward their good to the one, and their punishment to the other, if there be no hell, if there be no resurrection? This reason then do ye constantly repeat to them and to yourselves, and it will not suffer you to disbelieve the resurrection, and whoso disbelieves not the resurrection will take care to live with all heed so as to obtain eternal happiness, of which may we all be counted worthy, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.
"Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God; but emptied Himself, taking upon Him the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, and gave Him the Name which is above every name: that in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
I have stated the views of the heretics. It is befitting that I now speak of what is our own. They say that the words, "He counted it not a prize," are of wrongfully seizing. We have proved, that this is altogether vapid and impertinent, for no man would exhort another to humility on such grounds, nor in this sort does he praise God, or even man. What is it then, beloved? Give heed to what I now say. Since many men think, that, when they are lowly, they are deprived of their proper right, and debased, Paul, to take away this fear, and to show that we must not be affected thus, says that God, the only begotten, who was in the form of God, who was no whit inferior to the Father, who was equal to Him, "counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God."
Now learn what this meaneth. Whatsoever a man robs, and takes contrary to his right, he dares not lay aside, from fear lest it perish, and fall from his possession, but he keeps hold of it continually. He who possesses some dignity which is natural to him, fears not to descend from that dignity, being assured that nothing of this sort will happen to him. As for example, Absalom usurped the government, and dared not afterwards to lay it aside. We will go to another example, but if example cannot present the whole matter to you, take it not amiss, for this is the nature of examples, they leave the greater part for the imagination to reason out. A man rebels against his sovereign, and usurps the kingdom: he dares not lay aside and hide the matter, for if he once hide it, straightway it is gone. Let us also take another example; if a man takes anything violently, he keeps firm hold of it continually, for if he lay it down, he straightway loses it. And generally speaking, they who have aught by rapine are afraid to lay it by, or hide it, or not to keep constantly in that state which they have assumed. Not so they, who have possessions not procured by rapine, as Man, who possesses the dignity of being a reasonable being. But here examples fail me, for there is no natural preeminence amongst us, for no good thing is naturally our own; but they are inherent in the nature of God. What does one say then? That the Son of God feared not to descend from His right, for He thought not Deity a prize seized. He was not afraid that any would strip Him of that nature or that right, Wherefore He laid it aside, being confident that He should take it up again. He hid it, knowing that He was not made inferior by so doing. For this cause, Paul says not, "He seized not," but," He counted it not a prize"; He possessed not that estate by seizure, but it was natural, not conferred, it was enduring and safe. Wherefore he refused not to take the form of an inferior. The tyrant fears to lay aside the purple robe in war, while the king does it with much safety. Why so? because he holds his power not as a matter of seizure. He did not refuse to lay it aside, as one who had usurped it, but since He had it as His own by nature, since it could never be parted from Him, He hid it.
This equality with God He had not by seizure, but as his own by nature. Wherefore "He emptied Himself." Where be they who affirm, that He underwent constraint, that He was subjected? Scripture says, "He emptied Himself, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death." How did He empty Himself? By taking "the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man." It is written, "He emptied Himself" in reference to the text, "each counting other better than himself." Since had He been subjected, had He not chosen it of His own accord, and of His own free will, it would not have been an act of humility. For if He knew not that so it must be, He would have been imperfect. If, not knowing it, He had waited for the time of action, then would He not have known the season. But if He both knew that so it must be, and when it must be, wherefore should He submit to be subjected? To show, they say, the superiority of the Father. But this shows not the superiority of the Father, but His own inferiority. For is not the name of the Father sufficient to show the priority of the Father? For apart from Him, the son has all the same things. For this honor is not capable of passing from the Father to the Son.
What then say the heretics? See, say they, He did not become man. The Marcionites, I mean. But why? He was "made in the likeness of man." But how can one be "made in the likeness of men"? by putting on a shadow? But this is a phantom, and no longer the likeness of a man, for the likeness of a man is another man. And what wilt thou answer to John, when he says, "The Word became flesh"? (John i. 14.) But this same blessed one himself also says in another place, "in the likeness of sinful flesh." (Rom. viii. 3.)
"And being found in fashion as a man." See, they say, both" in fashion," and "as a man." To be as a man, and to be a man in fashion, is not to be a man indeed. To be a man in fashion is not to be a man by nature. See with what ingenuousness I lay down what our enemies say, for that is a brilliant victory, and amply gained, when we do not conceal what seem to be their strong points. For this is deceit rather than victory. What then do they say? let me repeat their argument. To be a man in fashion is not to be a man by nature; and to be as a man, and in the fashion of a man, this is not to be a man. So then to take the form of a servant, is not to take the form of a servant. Here then is an inconsistency; and wherefore do you not first of all solve this difficulty? For as you think that this contradicts us, so do we say that the other contradicts you. He says not, "as the form of a servant," nor "in the likeness of the form of a servant," nor "in the fashion of the form of a servant," but "He took the form of a servant." What then is this? for there is a contradiction. There is no contradiction. God forbid! it is a cold and ridiculous argument of theirs. He took, say they, the form of a servant, when He girded Himself with a towel, and washed the feet of His disciples. Is this the form of a servant? Nay, this is not the form, but the work of a servant. It is one thing that there should be the work of a servant, and another to take the form of a servant. Why did he not say, He did the work of a servant, which were clearer? But nowhere in Scripture is "form" put for "work," for the difference is great: the one is the result of nature, the other of action. In common speaking, too, we never use "form" for "work." Besides, according to them, He did not even take the work of a servant, nor even gird Himself. For if all was a mere shadow, there was no reality. If He had not real hands, how did He wash their feet? If He had not real loins, how did He gird Himself with a towel? and what kind of garments did he take? for Scripture says, "He took His garments." (John xiii. 12.) So then not even the work is found to have really taken place, but it was all a deception, nor did He even wash the disciples. For if that incorporeal nature did not appear, it was not in a body. Who then washed the disciples' feet?
Again, what in opposition to Paul of Samosata? for what did he affirm? The very same. But it is no emptying of Himself, that one who is of human nature, and a mere man, should wash his fellow-servants. For what we said against the Arians, we must repeat against these too, for they differ not from one another, save by a little space of time; both the one and the other affirm the Son of God to be a creature. What then shall we say to them? If He being a man washed man, He emptied not, He humbled not Himself. If He being a man seized not on being equal with God, He is not deserving of praise. That God should become man, is great, unspeakable, inexpressible humility; but what humility is there in that one, who was a man should do the works of men? And where is the work of God ever called "the form of God"? for if he were a mere man, and was called the form of God by reason of His works, why do we not do the same of Peter, for he wrought greater deeds than Christ Himself? Why say you not of Paul, that he had the form of God? Why did not Paul give an example of himself, for he wrought a thousand servile works, and did not even refuse to say, "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake." (2 Cor. iv. 5.) These are absurdities and trifles! Scripture says, He "emptied Himself." How did He empty Himself? tell me. What was His emptying? what His humiliation? was it because He wrought wonders? This both Paul and Peter did, so that this was not peculiar to the Son. What then means, "Being made in the likeness of men"? He had many things belonging to us, and many He had not; for instance, He was not born of wedlock. He did no sin. These things had He which no man has. He was not what he seemed only, but He was God also; He seemed to be a man, but He was not like the mass of men. For He was like them in flesh. He means then, that He was not a mere man. Wherefore he says, "in the likeness of men." For we indeed are soul and body, but He was God, and soul and body, wherefore he says, "in the likeness." For lest when you hear hat He emptied Himself, you should think that some change, and degeneracy, and loss is here; he says, whilst He remained what He was, He took that which He was not, and being made flesh He remained God, in that He was the Word. (John i. 14.)
In this then He was like man, and for this cause Paul says, "and in fashion." Not that His nature degenerated, nor that any confusion arose, but He became man in fashion. For when He had said that "He took the form of a servant," he made bold to say this also, seeing that the first would silence all objectors; since when he says, "In the likeness of sinful flesh," he says not that He had not flesh, but that that flesh sinned not, but was like to sinful flesh. Like in what? in nature, not in sin, therefore was His like a sinful soul. As then in the former case the term similarity was used, because He was not equal in everything, so here also there is similarity, because He is not equal in everything, as His not being born of wedlock, His being without sin, His being not a mere man. And he well said "as a man," for He was not one of the many, but "as" one of the many. The Word who was God did not degenerate into man, nor was His substance changed, but he appeared as a man; not to delude us with a phantom, but to instruct us in humility. When therefore he says, "as a man," this is what He means; since he calls Him a man elsewhere also, when he says, "there is one God, one Mediator also between God and men, Himself man, Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. ii. 5.)
Thus much against these heretics. I must now speak against such as deny that He took a soul. If "the form of God" is "perfect God," then the "form of a servant" is "a perfect servant." Again, against the Arians. Here concerning His divinity, we no longer find "He became," "He took," but "He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men"; here concerning his humanity we find "He took, He became." He became the latter, He took the latter; He was the former. Let us not then confound nor divide the natures. There is one God, there is one Christ, the Son of God; when I say" One," I mean a union, not a confusion; the one Nature did not degenerate into the other, but was united with it.
"He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross." See, says one, He voluntarily became obedient; he was not equal to Him whom He obeyed. O ye obstinate ones and unwise! This cloth not at all lower Him. For we too become obedient to our friends, yet this has no effect. He became obedient as a Son to His Father; He fell not thus into a servile state, but by this very act above all others guarded his wondrous Sonship, by thus greatly honoring the Father. He honored the Father, not that thou shouldest dishonor Him, but that thou shouldest the rather admire Him, and learn from this act, that He is a true Son, in honoring His Father more than all besides. No one hath thus honored God. As was His height, such was the correspondent humiliation which He underwent. As He is greater than all, and no one is equal to Him, so in honoring His Father, He surpassed all, not by necessity, nor unwillingly, but this too is part of His excellence; yea, words fail me. Truly it is a great and unspeakable thing, that He became a servant; that He underwent death, is far greater; but there is something still greater, and more strange; why? All deaths are not alike; His death scented to be the most ignominious of all, to be full of shame, to be accursed; for it is written, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." (Deut. xxi. 23; Gal. iii. 13.) For this cause the Jews also eagerly desired to slay Him in this manner, to make Him a reproach, that if no one fell away from Him by reason of His death, yet they might from the manner of His death. For this cause two robbers were crucified with Him, and He in the midst, that He might share their ill repute, and that the Scripture might be fulfilled, "And he was numbered with the transgressors." (Isa. liii. 12.) Yet so much the more doth truth shine forth, so much the more doth it become bright; for when His enemies plot such things against His glory, and it yet shines forth, so much the greater does the matter seem. Not by slaying Him, but by slaying Him in such sort did they think to make Him abominable, to prove Him more abominable than all men, but they availed nothing. And both the robbers also were such impious ones, (for it was afterward that the one repented,) that, even when on the cross, they reviled Him; neither the consciousness of their own sins, nor their present punishment, nor their suffering the same things themselves, restrained their madness. Wherefore the one spake to the other, and silenced him by saying, "Dost thou not even fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?" (Luke xxiii. 40.) So great was their wickedness. Wherefore it is written, "God also highly exalted Him, and gave Him the Name which is above every name." When the blessed Paul hath made mention of the flesh, he fearlessly speaks of all His humiliation. For until he had mentioned that He took the form of a servant, and while he was speaking of His Divinity, behold how loftily he doth it, (loftily, I say, according to his power; for he speaks not according to His own worthiness, seeing that he is not able). "Being in the form of God, He counted it not a prize to be equal with God." But when he had said, that He became Man, henceforth he fearlessly discourseth of His low estate, being confident that the mention of His low estate would not harm His Divinity, since His flesh admitted this.
Ver. 9-11. "Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, and gave Him the Name which is above every name: that in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Let us say against the heretics, If this is spoken of one who was not incarnate, if of God the Word, how did He highly exalt Him? Was it as if He gave Him something more than He had before? He would then have been imperfect in this point, and would have been made perfect for our sakes. For if He had not done good deeds to us, He would not have obtained that honor! "And gave Him the Name." See, He had not even a name, as you say! But how, if He received it as His due, is He found here to have received it by grace, and as a gift? And that "the Name which is above every name": and of what kind, let us see, is the Name? "That at the Name of Jesus," saith He, "every knee should bow." They (the heretics) explain name by glory. This glory then is above all glory, and this glory is in short that all worship Him! But ye hold yourselves far off from the greatness of God, who think that ye know God, as He knoweth Himself, and from this it is plain, how far off ye are from right thoughts of God. And this is plain from hence. Is this, tell me, glory? Therefore before men were created before the angels or the archangels, He was not in glory. If this be the glory which is above every glory, for this is the name that is "above every name,") though He were in glory before, yet was He in glory inferior to this. It was for this then that He made the things that are, that He might be raised to glory, not from His own goodness, but because He required glory from us! See ye not their folly? see ye not their impiety?
Now if they had said this of Him that was incarnate, there had been reason, for God the Word allows that this be said of His flesh. It touches not His divine nature, but has to do altogether with the dispensation. What means "of things in heaven, and things in the earth, and things under the earth "? It means the whole world, and angels, and men, and demons; or that both the just and the living and sinners,
"And every tongue," should "confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." That is, that all should say so; and this is glory to the Father. Seest thou how wherever the Son is glorified, the Father is also glorified? Thus too when the Son is dishonored, the Father is dishonored also. If this be so with us, where the difference is great between fathers and sons, much more in respect of God, where there is no difference, doth honor and insult pass on to Him. If the world be subjected to the Son, this is glory to the Father. And so when we say that He is perfect, wanting nothing, and not inferior to the Father, this is glory to the Father, that he begat such a one. This is a great proof of His power also, and goodness, and wisdom, that He begat one no whit inferior, neither in wisdom nor in goodness. When I say that He is wise as the Father, and no whit inferior, this is a proof of the great wisdom of the Father; when I say that He is powerful as the Father, this is a proof of the Father's power. When I say that He is good as the Father, this is the greatest evidence of His goodness, that He begat such (a Son), in no whir less or inferior to Himself. When I say that He begat Him not inferior in substance but equal, and not of another substance, in this I again wonder at God, His power, and goodness, and wisdom, that He hath manifested to us another, of Himself, such as Himself, except in His not being the Father. Thus whatsoever great things I say of the Son, pass on to the Father. Now if this small and light matter (for it is but a light thing to God's glory that the world should worship Him) is to the glory of God, how much more so are all those other things?
Let us then believe to His glory, let us live to His glory, for one is no use without the other; when we glorify Him rightly, but live not rightly, then do we especially insult Him, because we are enrolled under Him as a Master and Teacher, and yet despise Him, and stand in no dread of that fearful judgment seat. It is no wonder that the heathen live impurely; this merits not such condemnation. But that Christians, who partake in such great mysteries, who enjoy so great glory, that they should live thus impurely, this is worst of all, and unbearable. For tell me; He was obedient to the uttermost, wherefore He received the honor which is on high. He became a servant, wherefore He is Lord of all, both of Angels, and of all other. Let us too not suppose then that we descend from what is our due, when we humble ourselves. For thus may we be more highly exalted; and with reason; then do we especially become admirable. For that the lofty man is really low, and that the lowly man is exalted, the sentence of Christ sufficiently declares. Let us however examine the matter itself. What is it to be humbled? Is it not to be blamed, to be accused, and calumniated? What is it to be exalted? It is to be honored, to be praised, to be glorified. Well. Let us see how the matter is. Satan was an angel, he exalted himself. What then? was he not humbled beyond all other? has he not the earth as his place? is he not condemned and accused by all? Paul was a man, and humbled himself. What then? is he not admired? is he not praised? is he not lauded? is he not the friend of Christ? Wrought he not greater things than Christ? did he not ofttimes command the devil as a captive slave? did he not carry him about as an executioner? did he not hold him up to scorn? held he not his head bruised under his feet? did he not with much boldness beg of God that others too might do the same? Why am I saying? Absalom exalted himself, David humbled himself; which of the twain was raised up, which became glorious? For what could be a more evident proof of humility than these words which that blessed Prophet spoke of Shimei, "Let him curse, for the Lord hath bidden him." (2 Sam. xvi. 11.) And if you please, we will examine the very cases themselves. The Publican humbled himself, although the case can hardly be called humility; but how? He answered in a right-minded manner. The Pharisee exalted himself. What then? let us also examine the matters. Let there be two men, both rich, and highly honored, and elevated by wisdom and power, and other worldly advantages; then let one of them seek honor from all, let him be angry if he receive it not, let him require more than is due and exalt himself; let the other despise the whole matter, bear himself unkindly towards no one on this account, and evade honor when offered to him. For it is not possible to obtain glory any other way than by fleeing from glory, for as long as we pursue it, it flies from us, but when we flee from it, then it pursues us. If thou wouldest be glorious, do not desire glory. If thou wouldest be lofty, do not make thyself lofty. And further, all honor him who does not grasp at honor, but spurn him who seeks it. For the human race somehow or other is fond of contention, and leans to contrary feeling. Let us therefore despise glory, for thus we shall be enabled to become lowly, or rather to become exalted. Exalt not thyself, that thou mayest be exalted by another; he that is exalted by himself is not exalted by others, he who is humbled by himself is not humbled by others. Haughtiness is a great evil, it is better to be a fool than haughty; for in the one case, the folly is only a perversion of intellect, but in the other case it is still worse, and is folly joined with madness: the fool is an evil to himself; but the haughty man is a plague to others too. This misery comes of senselessness. One cannot be haughty-minded without being a fool; and he that is brimfull of folly is haughty.
Listen to the Wise Man, who says, "I saw a man wise in his own conceit; there is more hope of a fool than of him." (Prov. xxvi. 12.) Seest thou how it was not without reason I said that the evil of which I am speaking is worse than that of folly, for it is written, "There is more hope of a fool than of him"? Wherefore, Paul too said, "Be not wise in your own conceits." (Rom. xii. 16.) Tell me what description of bodies do we say are in good health, those which are much inflated, and are inwardly full of much air and water, or those which are kept low, and have their surface such as marks restraint? It is manifest that we should choose the latter. So, too with the soul, that which is puffed up has a worse disease than dropsy, whilst that which is under restraint is freed from all evil. How great then are the good things which lowliness of mind bringeth to us! What wouldest thou have? Forbearance? freedom from anger? love to our fellow-men? soberness? attentiveness? All these good things spring from lowly- mindedness, and their contraries from haughtiness: the haughty man must needs be also insolent, a brawler, wrathful, bitter, sullen, a beast rather than a man. Art thou strong, and proud thereat? Thou shouldest rather be humble on this account. Why art thou proud for a thing of nought? For even a lion is bolder than thou, a wild boar is stronger, and thou art not even as a fly in comparison with them. Robbers too, and violaters of tombs, and gladiators, and even thine own slaves, and those perchance who are more stupid still, are stronger than thou. Is this then a fit subject for praise? Art thou proud of such a matter? Bury thyself for shame!
But art thou handsome and beautiful? This is the boast of crows! Thou art not fairer than the peacock, as regards either its color or its plumage; the bird beats thee in plumage, it far surpasseth thee in its feathers and in its color. The swan too is passing fair, and many other birds, with whom if thou art compared thou wilt see that thou art nought. Often too worthless boys, and unmarried girls, and harlots, and effeminate men have had this boast; is this then a cause for haughtiness? But art thou rich? Whence so? what hast thou? Gold, silver, precious stones! This is the boast of robbers also, of man-slayers, of those who work in the mines. That which is the labor of criminals becomes to thee a boast! But dost thou adorn and deck thyself out? Well, we may see horses also decked out, and among the Persians camels too, and as for men, all those who are about the stage. Art thou not ashamed to boast thyself of these things, if unreasoning animals, and slaves, and man-slayers, and effeminate, and robbers, and violaters of tombs, share with thee? Dost thou build splendid palaces? and what of this? Many jackdaws dwell in more splendid houses, and have more noble retreats. Dost thou not see how many, who were mad after money, have built houses in fields and desert places, that are retreats for jackdaws? But art thou proud on account of thy voice. Thou canst by no means sing with clearer and sweeter tones than the swan or the nightingale. Is it for thy varied knowledge of arts? But what is wiser than the bee in this; what embroiderer, what painter, what geometrician, can imitate her works? Is it for the fineness of thy apparel? But here the spiders beat thee. Is it for the swiftness of thy feet? Again the first prize is with unreasoning animals, the hare, and the gazelle, and all the beasts which are not wanting in swiftness of foot. Hast thou traveled much? Not more than the birds; their transit is more easily made, they have no need of provisions for the way, nor beasts of burden, for their wings are all- sufficient for them; this is their vessel, this their beast of burden, this their car, this is even their wind, in short, all that a man can name. But art thou clear sighted? Not as the gazelle; not as the eagle. Art thou quick of hearing? the ass is more so. Of scent? the hound suffers thee not to surpass him. Art thou a good provider? yet thou art inferior to the ant. Dost thou gather gold? Yet not as the Indian ants. Art thou proud because of thy health? Unreasoning creatures are far better than we both in habit of body, and in independence; they fear no poverty. "Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns." (Matt. vi. 26.) "And surely," He means, "God has not created the irrational animals superior to ourselves." Dost thou mark what want of consideration is here? Dost thou observe the lack of all investigation? Dost thou observe the great advantage which we derive from an investigation of the points? He, whose mind is lifted up above all men, is found to be even lower than the irrational creatures.
But we will have pity upon him, and not follow his example; nor because the limits of our mortal nature are too narrow for his conceit of himself, will we proceed to lower him to the level of the beasts that are without reason, but will lift him up from thence, not for his own sake, for he deserves no better fate, but that we may set forth the lovingkindness of God, and the honor which. He has vouchsafed us. For there are things, yes, there are things wherein the irrational animals have no participation with us. And of what sort are these? Piety, and a life based on virtue. Here thou canst never speak of fornicators, nor of effeminate persons, nor of murderers, for from them we have been severed. And what then is this which is found here? We know God, His Providence we acknowledge, and are embued with true philosophy concerning immortality. Here let the irrational animals give place. They cannot contend with us in these points. We live in self-command. Here the irrational animals have nothing in common with us. For, while coming behind all of them, we exercise dominion over them; for herein lies the superiority of our dominion, that, while coming behind them, we yet reign over them: that thou mightest be instructed that the cause of these things is, not thyself, but God who made thee, and gave thee reason. We set nets and toils for them, we drive them in, and they are at our mercy.
Self-command, a compliant temper, mildness, contempt of money, are prerogatives of our race; but since thou who art one o those blinded by presumption hast none of these, thou doest well in entertaining notions either above the level of mankind, or beneath the very irrational creatures. For this is the nature of folly and of audacity; it is either unduly elevated, or on the other hand it is equally depressed, never observing a proper proportion. We are equal to angels in this respect, that we have a Kingdom pledged to us, the choir, unto which Christ is joined. He that is a man may be scourged, yet does he not succumb. A man laughs at death, is a stranger to fear and trembling, he does not covet more than he has. So that they all who are not like this are beneath the irrational animals. For when in the things of the body thou wouldest have the advantage, but hast no advantage in the things that concern the soul, how art thou aught else than inferior to the irrational animals? For bring forward one of the vicious and unthinking, of those that are living in excess and to self. The horse surpasses him in warlike spirit, the boar in strength, the hare in swiftness, the peacock in grace, the swan in fineness of voice, the elephant in size, the eagle in keenness of sight, all birds in wealth. Whence then dost thou derive thy title to rule the irrational creatures? from reason? But thou hast it not? For whosoever ceases to make a due use of it, is again inferior to them; for when though possessing reason he is more irrational than they, it had been better if he had never from the first become capable of exercising reason. For it is not the same thing after having received dominion to betray the trust, as to let pass the season to receive it. That sovereign, who is below the level of his guards, had better never have had on the purple. And it is the very self- same thing in this case. Knowing then that without virtue we are inferior to the very irrational animals, let us exercise ourselves therein, that we may become men, yea rather angels, and that we may enjoy the promised blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &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.