Fathers of the Church
Homilies on Colossians
by John Chrysostom in Unknown (between 398-404) | translated by Translated By the Rev. J. Ashworth, M.A., Fellow of Brasenose College; Revised By the Rev. John A. Broadus, D.d., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky
"Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colossæ: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father."
Holy indeed are all the Epistles of Paul: but some advantage have those which he sent after he was in bonds: those, for instance, to the Ephesians and Philemon: that to Timothy, that to the Philippians, and the one before us: for this also was sent when he was a prisoner, since he writes in it thus: "for which I am also in bonds: that I may make it manifest as I ought to speak." (Col. iv. 3, 4.) But this Epistle appears to have been written after that to the Romans. For the one to the Romans he wrote before he had seen them, but this Epistle, after; and near upon the close of his preaching. And it is evident from hence; that in the Epistle to Philemon he says, "Being such an one as Paul the aged" (ver. 9), and makes request for Onesimus; but in this he sends Onesimus himself, as he says, "With Onesimus the faithful and beloved brother" (Col. iv. 9): calling him faithful, and beloved, and brother. Wherefore also he boldly says in this Epistle, "from the hope of the Gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven." (Col. i. 23.) For it had now been preached for a long time. I think then that the Epistle to Timothy was written after this; and when he was now come to the very end of his life, for there he says, "for I am already being offered" (2 Tim. iv. 6); this is later however than that to the Philippians, for in that Epistle he was just entering upon his imprisonment at Rome.
But why do I say that these Epistles have some advantage over the rest in this respect, because he writes while in bonds? As if a champion were to write in the midst of carnage and victory; so also in truth did he. For himself too was aware that this was a great thing, for writing to Philemon he saith, "Whom I have begotten in my bonds." (Ver. 10.) And this he said, that we should not be dispirited when in adversity, but even rejoice. At this place was Philemon with these (Colossians). For in the Epistle to him he saith, "And to Archippus our fellow-soldier" (ver. 2); and in this, "Say to Archippus." (Col. iv. 17.) This man seems to me to have been charged with some office in the Church.
But he had not seen either these people, or the Romans, or the Hebrews, when he wrote to them. That this is true of the others, he shows in many places; with regard to the Colossians, hear him saying, "And as many as have not seen my face in the flesh" (Col. ii. 1. 5): and again, "Though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit." So great a thing did he know his presence everywhere to be. And always, even though he be absent, he makes himself present. So, when he punishes the fornicator, look how he places himself on the tribunal; "for," he saith," I verily being absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already as though I were present" (1 Cor. v. 3): and again, "I will come to you, and will know not the word of them which are puffed up, but the power" (1 Cor. iv. 19): and again, "Not only when I am present with you, but much more when I am absent." (Phil. ii. 12; Gal. iv. 18.)
"Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God."
It were well also to say, what from considering this Epistle we have found to be its occasion and subject. What then is it? They used to approach God through angels; they held many Jewish and Grecian observances. These things then he is correcting. Wherefore in the very outset he says, "Through the will of God." So here again he hath used the expression "through." "And Timothy the brother," he saith; of course then he too was an Apostle, and probably also known to them. "To the saints which are at Colossæ." This was a city of Phrygia, as is plain from Laodicea's being near to it. "And faithful brethren in Christ." (Col. iv. 16.) Whence, saith he art thou made a saint? Tell me. Whence art thou called faithful? Is it not because thou wert sanctified through death? Is it not because thou hast faith in Christ? Whence art thou made a brother? for neither in deed, nor in word, nor in achievement didst thou show thyself faithful. Tell me, whence is it that thou hast been entrusted with so great mysteries? Is it not because of Christ?
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father." Whence cometh grace to you? Whence peace? "From God," saith he, "our Father." Although he useth not in this place the name of Christ.
I will ask those who speak disparagingly of the Spirit, Whence is God the Father of servants? Who wrought these mighty achievements? Who made thee a saint? Who faithful? Who a son of God? He who made thee worthy to be trusted, the same is also the cause of thy being entrusted with all.
For we are called faithful, not only because we have faith, but also because we are entrusted of God with mysteries which not even angels knew before us. However, to Paul it was indifferent whether or not to put it thus.
Ver. 3. "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
He seems to me to refer everything to the Father, that what he has to say may not at once offend them.
"Praying always for you."
He shows his love, not by giving thanks only, but also by continual prayer, in that those whom he did not see, he had continually within himself.
Ver. 4. ["Having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus."
A little above he said, "our Lord." "He," saith he, "is Lord, not the servants." "Of Jesus Christ." These names also are symbols of His benefit to us, for "He," it means, "shall save His people from their sins." (Matt. i. 21.)]
Ver. 4. "Having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have toward all the saints."
Already he conciliates them. It was Epaphroditus who brought him this account. But he sends the Epistle by Tychicus, retaining Epaphroditus with himself. "And of the love," he saith, "which ye have toward all the saints," not toward this one and that: of course then toward us also.
Ver. 5. "Because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens."
He speaks of the good things to come. This is with a view to their temptations, that they should not seek their rest here. For lest any should say, "And where is the good of their love toward the saints, if they themselves are in affliction?" he says, "We rejoice that ye are securing for yourselves a noble reception in heaven." "Because of the hope," he saith, "which is laid up." He shows its secureness. "Whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth." Here the expression is as if he would chide them, as having changed from it when they had long held it.
"Whereof," saith he, "ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel." And he bears witness to its truth. With good reason, for in it there is nothing false.
"Of the Gospel." He doth not say, "of the preaching," but he calleth it the "Gospel," continually reminding them of God's benefits. And having first praised them, he next reminds them of these.
Ver. 6. "Which is come unto you, even as it is also in all the world."
He now gives them credit. "Is come," he said metaphorically. He means, it did not come and go away, but that it remained, and was there. Then because to the many the strongest confirmation of doctrines is that they hold them in common with many, he therefore added, "As also it is in all the world."
It is present everywhere, everywhere victorious, everywhere established.
"And is bearing fruit, and increasing, as it doth in you also."
"Bearing fruit." In works. "Increasing." By the accession of many, by becoming firmer; for plants then begin to thicken when they have become firm.
"As also among you," says he.
He first gains the hearer by his praises, so that even though disinclined, he may not refuse to hear him.
"Since the day ye heard it."
Marvelous! that ye quickly came unto it and believed; and straightway, from the very first, showed forth its fruits.
"Since the day ye heard, and knew the grace of God in truth."
Not in word, saith he, nor in deceit, but in very deeds. Either then this is what he means by "bearing fruit," or else, the signs and wonders. Because as soon as ye received it, so soon ye knew the grace of God. What then forthwith gave proofs of its inherent virtue, is it not a hard thing that that should now be disbelieved?
Ver. 7. "Even as ye learned of Epaphras our beloved fellow-servant."
He, it is probable, had preached there. "Ye learned" the Gospel. Then to show the trust-worthiness of the man, he says, "our fellow servant."
"Who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf; who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit."
Doubt not, he saith, of the hope which is to come: ye see that the world is being converted. And what need to allege the cases of others? what happened in your own is even independently a sufficient ground for belief, for, "ye knew the grace of God in truth:" that is, in works. So that these two things, viz. the belief of all, and your own too, confirm the things that are to come. Nor was the fact one thing, and what Epaphras said, another. "Who is," saith he, "faithful," that is, true. How, "a minister on your behalf"? In that he had gone to him. "Who also declared to us," saith he, "your love in the Spirit," that is, the spiritual love ye bear us. If this man be the minister of Christ; how say ye, that you approach God by angels? "Who also declared unto us," saith he, "your love in the Spirit." For this love is wonderful and steadfast; all other has but the name. And there are some persons who are not of this kind, but such is not friendship, wherefore also it is easily dissolved.
There are many causes which produce friendship; and we will pass over those which are infamous, (for none will take an objection against us in their favor, seeing they are evil.) But let us, if you will, review those which are natural, and those which arise out of the relations of life. Now of the social sort are these, for instance; one receives a kindness, or inherits a friend from forefathers, or has been a companion at table or in travel: or is neighbor to another (and these are virtuous); or is of the same trade, which last however is not sincere; for it is attended by a certain emulation and envy. But the natural are such as that of father to son, son to father, brother to brother, grandfather to descendant, mother to children, and if you like let us add also that of wife to husband; for all matrimonial attachments are also of this life, and earthly. Now these latter appear stronger than the former: appear, I said, because often they are surpassed by them. For friends have at times shown a more genuinely kind disposition than brothers, or than sons toward fathers; and when he whom a man hath begotten would not succor him, one who knew him not has stood by him, and succored him. But the spiritual love is higher than all, as it were some queen ruling her subjects; and in her form is bright: for not as the other, hath she aught of earth for her parent; neither habitual intercourse, nor benefits, nor nature, nor time; but she descendeth from above, out of heaven. And why wonderest thou that she needeth no benefits in order that she should subsist, seeing that neither by injuries is she overthrown?
Now that this love is greater than the other, hear Paul saying; "For I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren." (Rom. ix. 3.) What father would have thus wished himself in misery? And again, "To depart, and to be with Christ" is "very far better; yet to abide in the flesh" is "more needful for your sake." (Phil. i. 23, 24.) What mother would have chosen so to speak, regardless of herself? And again hear him saying, "For being bereaved of you for a short season, in presence, not in heart." (1 Thess. ii. 17.) And here indeed [in the world], when a father hath been insulted, he withdraws his love; not so however there, but he went to those who stoned him, seeking to do them good. For nothing, nothing is so strong as the bond of the Spirit. For he who became a friend from receiving benefits, will, should these be discontinued, become an enemy; he whom habitual intercourse made inseparable, will, when the habit is broken through, let his friendship become extinct. A wife again, should a broil have taken place, will leave her husband, and withdraw affection; the son, when he sees his father living to a great age, is dissatisfied. But in case of spiritual love there is nothing of this. For by none of these things can it be dissolved; seeing it is not composed out of them. Neither time, nor length of journey, nor ill usage, nor being evil spoken of, nor anger, nor insult, nor any other thing, make inroads upon it, nor have the power of dissolving it. And that thou mayest know this Moses was stoned, and yet he made entreaty for them. (Ex. xvii. 4.) What father would have done this for one that stoned him, and would not rather have stoned him too to death?
Let us then follow after these friendships which are of the Spirit, for they are strong, and hard to be dissolved, and not those which arise from the table, for these we are forbidden to carry in Thither. For hear Christ saying in the Gospel, Call not thy friends nor thy neighbors, if thou makest a feast, but the lame, the maimed. (Luke xiv. 12.) With reason: for great is the recompense for these. But thou canst not, nor endurest to feast with lame and blind, but thinkest it grievous and offensive, and refusest. Now it were indeed best that thou shouldest not refuse, however it is not necessary to do it. If thou seatest them not with thee, send to them of the dishes on thy own table. And he that inviteth his friends, hath done no great thing: for he hath received his recompense here. But he that called the maimed, and poor, hath God for his Debtor. Let us then not repine when we receive not a reward here, but when we do receive; for we shall have nothing more to receive There. In like manner, if man recompense, God recompenseth not; if man recompense not, then God will recompense. Let us then not seek those out for our benefits, who have it in their power to requite us again, nor bestow our favors on them with such an expectation: this were a cold thought. If thou invite a friend, the gratitude lasts till evening; and therefore the friendship for the nonce is spent more quickly than the expenses are paid. But if thou call the poor and the maimed, never shall the gratitude perish, for God, who remembereth ever, and never forgetteth, thou hast even Him for thy Debtor. What squeamishness is this, pray, that thou canst not sit down in company with the poor? What sayest thou? He is unclean and filthy? Then wash him, and lead him up to thy table. But he hath filthy garments? Then change them, and give him clean apparel. Seest thou not how great the gain is? Christ cometh unto thee through him, and dost thou make petty calculations of such things? When thou art inviting the King to thy table, dost thou fear because of such things as these?
Let us suppose two tables, and let one be filled with those, and have the blind, the halt, the maimed in hand or leg, the barefoot, those clad with but one scanty garment, and that worn out: but let the other have grandees, generals, governors, great officers, arrayed in costly robes, and fine lawn, belted with golden girdles. Again, here at the table of the poor let there be neither silver, nor store of wine, but just enough to refresh and gladden, and let the drinking cups and the rest of the vessels be made from glass only; but there, at the table of the rich, let all the vessels be of silver and gold, and the semicircular table, not such as one person can lift, but as two young men can with difficulty move, and the wine-jars lie in order, glittering far beyond the silver with gold, and let the semicircle be smoothly laid all over with soft drapery. Here, again, let there be many servants, in garments not less ornamented than those of the guests, and bravely appareled, and wearing loose trowsers, men beauteous to look upon, in the very flower of life, plump, and well conditioned; but there let there be only two servants disdaining all that proud vanity. And let those have costly meats, but these only enough to appease hunger and inspire cheerfulness. Have I said enough? and are both tables laid out with sufficient minuteness? Is anything wanting? I think not. For I have gone over the guests, and the costliness both of the vessels, and of the linen, and the meats. However, if we should have omitted aught, we shall discover it as we proceed with the discourse.
Come then, now that we have correctly drawn each table in its proper outline, let us see at which ye will seat yourselves. For I for my part am going to that of the blind, and the lame, but probably the more part of you will choose the other, that of the generals, that is so gay and splendid. Let us then see which of them doth more abound in pleasure; for as yet let us not examine into the things of hereafter, seeing that in those at least this of mine hath the superiority. Wherefore? Because this one hath sitting down at it, the other men, this hath the Master, that the servants. But say we nothing of these things as yet; but let us see which hath the more of present pleasure. And even in this respect, then, this pleasure is greater, for it is more pleasure to sit down with a King than with his servants. But let us withdraw this consideration also; let us examine the matter simply by itself. I, then, and those who choose the table I do, shall with much freedom and ease of mind both say and hear everything: but you trembling and fearing, and ashamed before those you sit down with, will not even have the heart to reach out your hands, just as though you had got to a school, and not a dinner, just as though you were trembling before dreadful masters. But not so they. But, saith one, the honor is great. Nay, I further am in more honor; for your mean estate appears grander, when even whilst sharing the same table, the words ye utter are those of slaves.
For the servant then most of all shows as such, when he sits down with his master; for he is in a place where he ought not to be; nor hath he from such familiarity so much dignity as he hath abasement, for he is then abased exceedingly. And one may see a servant by himself make a brave appearance, and the poor man seem splendid by himself, rather than when he is walking with a rich one; for the low when near the lofty, then appears low, and the juxtaposition makes the low seem lower, not loftier. So too your sitting down with them makes you seem as of yet meaner condition. But not so, us. In these two things, then, we have the advantage, in freedom, and in honor; which have nothing equal to them in regard of pleasure. For I at least would prefer a crust with freedom, to thousands of dainties with slavery. For, saith one, "Better is an entertainment of herbs with love and kindness, than an ox from the stall with hatred." (Prov. xv. 17.) For whatsoever those may say, they who are present must needs praise it, or give offense; assuming thus the rank of parasites, or rather, being worse than they. For parasites indeed, even though it be with shame and insult, have yet liberty of speech: but ye have not even this. But your meanness is indeed as great, (for ye fear and crouch,) but not so your honor. Surely then that table is deprived of every pleasure, but this is replete with all delight of soul.
But let us examine the nature even of the meats themselves. For there indeed it is necessary to burst one's self with the large quantity of wine, even against one's will, but here none who is disinclined need eat or drink. So that there indeed the pleasure arising from the quality of the food is cancelled by the dishonor which precedes, and the discomfort which follows the surfeit, For not less than hunger doth surfeiting destroy and rack our bodies; but even far more grievously; and whomsoever you like to give me, I shall more easily destroy by bursting him with surfeit than by hunger. For thus the latter is easier to be borne than the other, for one might indeed endure hunger for twenty days, but surfeiting not for as many as two only. And the country people who are perpetually struggling with the one, are healthy, and need no physicians; but the other, surfeiting I mean, none can endure without perpetually calling in physicians; yea, rather, its tyranny hath often baffled even their attempt to rescue.
So far then as pleasure is concerned, this [table of mine] hath the advantage. For if honor hath more pleasure than dishonor, if authority than subjection, and if manly confidence than trembling and fear, and if enjoyment of what is enough, than to be plunged out of depth in the tide of luxury; on the score of pleasure this table is better than the other. It is besides better in regard of expense; for the other is expensive, but this, not so.
But what? is it then to the guests alone that this table is the more pleasurable, or bringeth it more pleasure than the other to him who inviteth them, as well? for this is what we are enquiring after rather. Now he who invites those makes preparation many days before, and is forced to have trouble and anxious thoughts and cares, neither sleeping by night, nor resting by day; but forming with himself many plans, conversing with cooks, confectioners, deckers of tables. Then when the very day is come, one may see him in greater fear than those who are going to fight a boxing match, lest aught should turn out other than was expected, lest he be shot with the glance of envy, test he thereby procure himself a multitude of accusers. But the other escapeth all this anxious thought and trouble by extemporizing his table, and not being careful about it for many days before. And then, truly, after this, the former indeed hath straightway lost the grateful return; but the other hath God for his Debtor; and is nourished with good hopes, being every day feasted from off that table. For the meats indeed are spent, but the grateful thought is never spent, but every day he rejoices and exults more than they that are gorged with their excess of wine. For nothing doth so nourish the soul as a virtuous hope, and the expectation of good things.
But now let us consider what follows. There indeed are flutes, and harps, and pipes; but here is no music of sounds unsuitable; but what? hymns, singing of psalms. There indeed the Demons are hymned; but here, the Lord of all, God. Seest thou with what gratitude this one aboundeth, with what ingratitude and insensibility that? For, tell me, when God hath nourished thee with His good things, and when thou oughtest to give Him thanks after being fed, dost thou even introduce the Demons? For these songs to the lyre, are none other than songs to Demons. When thou oughtest to say, "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, that Thou hast nourished me with Thy good things," dost thou like a worthless dog not even so much as remember Him, but, over and above, introducest the Demons? Nay rather, dogs, whether they receive anything or not, fawn upon those they know, but thou dost not even this. The dog, although he receives nothing, fawns upon his master; but thou, even when thou hast received, barkest at Him. Again, the dog, even though he be well treated by a stranger, not even so will be reconciled of his hatred of him, nor be enticed on to be friends with him: but thou, even though suffering mischief incalculable from the Demons, introducest them at thy feasts. So that, in two ways, thou art worse than the dog. And the mention I have now made of dogs is happy, in regard of those who give thanks then only when they receive a benefit. Take shame, I pray you, at the dogs, which when furnishing still fawn upon their masters. But thou, if thou hast haply heard that the Demon has cured anyone, straightway forsakest thy Master; O more unreasoning than the dogs!
But, saith one, the harlots are a pleasure to look upon. What sort of pleasure are they? yea rather what infamy are they not? Thy house has become a brothel, madness, and fury; and art thou not ashamed to call this pleasure? If then it be allowed to use them, greater than all pleasure is the shame, and the discomfort which arises from the shame, to make one's house a brothel, like hogs in wallowing in the mire? But if so far only be allowed as to see them, lo! again the pain is greater. For to see is no pleasure, where to use is not allowed, but the lust becomes only the greater, and the flame the fiercer.
But wouldest thou learn the end? Those, indeed, when they rise up from the table, are like the madmen and those that have lost their wits; foolhardy, quarrelsome, laughing-stocks for the very slaves; and the servants indeed retire sober, but these, drunk. O the shame! But with the other is nothing of this sort; but closing the table with thanksgiving, they so retire to their homes, with pleasure sleeping, with pleasure waking, free from all shame and accusation.
If thou wilt consider also the guests themselves, thou wilt see that the one are within just what the others are without; blind, maimed, lame; and as are the bodies of these, such are the souls of those, laboring under dropsy and inflammation. For of such sort is pride; for after the luxurious gratification a maiming takes place; of such sort is surfeiting and drunkenness, making men lame and maimed. And thou wilt see too that these have souls like the bodies of the others, brilliant, ornamented. For they who live in giving of thanks, who seek nothing beyond a sufficiency, they whose philosophy is of this sort are in all brightness.
But let us see the end both here and there. There, indeed, is unchaste pleasure, loose laughter, drunkenness, buffoonery, filthy language; (for since they in their own persons are ashamed to talk filthily, this is brought about by means of the harlots;) but here is love of mankind, gentleness. Near to him who invites those stands vainglory arming him, but near the other, love of man, and gentleness. For the one table, love of man prepareth, but the other, vainglory, and cruelty, out of injustice and grasping. And that one ends in what I have said, in loss of wits, in delirium, in madness; (for such are the offshoots of vainglory;) but this one in thanksgiving and the glory of God. And the praise too, which cometh of men, attendeth more abundantly upon this; for that man is even regarded with an envious eye, but this all men regard as their common father, even they who have received no benefit at his hands. And as with the injured even they who have not been injured sympathize, and all become in common enemies (to the injurer): so too, when some receive kindness, they also who have not received any, not less than they who have, praise and admire him that conferred it. And there indeed is much envy, but here much tender solicitude, many prayers from all.
And so much indeed here; but There, when Christ is come, this one indeed shall stand with much boldness, and shall hear before the whole world, "Thou sawest Me an hungered, and didst feed Me; naked, and didst clothe Me; a stranger, and didst take Me in" (Matt. xxv. 35); and all the like words: but the other shall hear the contrary; "Wicked and slothful servant" (Matt. xxv. 26); and again, "Woe unto them that luxuriate upon their couches, and sleep upon beds of ivory, and drink the refined wine, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments; they counted upon these things as staying, and not as fleeting." (Amos vi. 4, 5, 6, Sept.)
I have not said this without purpose, but with the view of changing your minds; and that you should do nothing that is fruitless. What then, saith one, of the fact that I do both the one and the other? This argument is much resorted to by all. And what need, tell me, when everything might be done usefully, to make a division, and to expend part on what is not wanted, but even without any purpose at all, and part usefully? Tell me, hadst thou, when sowing, cast some upon a rock, and some upon very good ground; is it likely that thou wouldest have been contented so, and have said, Where is the harm, if we cast some to no purpose, and some upon very good ground? For why not all into the very good ground? Why lessen the gain? And if thou have occasion to be getting money together, thou wilt not talk in that way, but wilt get it together from every quarter; but in the other case thou dost not so. And if to lend on usury; thou wilt not say, "Wherefore shall we give some to the poor, and some to the rich," but all is given to the former: yet in the case before us, where the gain is so great, thou dost not thus calculate, and will not at length desist from expending without purpose, and laying out without return?
"But," saith one, "this also hath a gain." Of what kind, tell me? "It increaseth friendships." Nothing is colder than men who are made friends by these things, by the table, and surfeiting. The friendships of parasites are born only from that source.
Insult not a thing so marvelous as love, nor say that this is its root. As if one were to say, that a tree which bore gold and precious stones had not its root of the same, but that it was gendered of rottenness; so doest even thou: for even though friendship should be born from that source, nothing could possibly be colder. But those other tables produce friendship, not with man, but with God; and that an intense one, so thou be intent on preparing them. For he that expendeth part in this way and part in that, even should he have bestowed much, hath done no great thing: but he that expendeth all in this way, even though he should have given little, hath done the whole. For what is required is that we give, not much or little, but not less than is in our power. Think we on him with the five talents, and on him with the two. (Matt. xxv. 15.) Think we on her who cast in those two mites. (Mark xii. 41.) Think we on the widow in Elijah's days. She who threw in those two mites said not, What harm if I keep the one mite for myself, and give the other? but gave her whole living. (1 Kings xvii.) But thou, in the midst of so great plenty, art more penurious than she. Let us then not be careless of our own salvation, but apply ourselves to almsgiving. For nothing is better than this, as the time to come shall show; meanwhile the present shows it also. Live we then to the glory of God, and do those things that please Him, that we may be counted worthy of the good things of promise; which may all we obtain, through the grace and love toward man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the power and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray and make request for you, that ye may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding; to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God."
"For this cause." What cause? Because we heard of your faith and love, because we have good hopes, we are hopeful to ask for future blessings also. For as in the games we cheer on those most who are near upon gaining the victory, just so doth Paul also most exhort those who have achieved the greater part.
"Since the day we heard it," saith he, "we do not cease to pray for you." Not for one day do we pray for you, nor yet for two, nor three. Herein he both shows his love, and gives them a gentle hint that they had not yet arrived at the end. For the words, "that ye may be filled," are of this significancy. And observe, I pray, the prudence of this blessed one. He nowhere says that they are destitute of everything, but that they are deficient; everywhere the words, "that ye may be filled," show this. And again, "unto all pleasing, in every good work" (ver. 11), and again, "strengthened with all power," and again, "unto all patience and long- suffering"; for the constant addition of "all" bears witness to their doing well in part, though, it might be, not in all. And, "that ye may be filled," he saith; not, "that ye may receive," for they had received; but "that ye may be filled" with what as yet was lacking. Thus both the rebuke was given without offense, and the praise did not suffer them to sink down, and become supine, as if it had been complete. But what is, "that ye may be filled with the knowledge of His will"? That through the Son we should be brought unto Him, and no more through Angels. Now that ye must be brought unto Him, ye have learnt, but it remains for you to learn this, and why He sent the Son. For had it been that we were to have been saved by Angels, He would not have sent Him, would not have given Him up. "In all spiritual wisdom," he saith, "and understanding." For since the philosophers deceived them; I wish you, he saith, to be in spiritual wisdom, not after the wisdom of men. But if in order to know the will of God, there needs spiritual wisdom; to know His Essence what it is, there is need of continual prayers.
And Paul shows here, that since that time he has been praying, and has not yet prevailed, and yet has not desisted; for the words, "from the day we heard it," show this. But it implies condemnation to them, if, from that time, even assisted by prayers, they had not amended themselves. "And making request," he says, with much earnestness, for this the expression "ye knew" shows. But it is necessary still to know somewhat besides. "To walk worthily," he says, "of the Lord." Here he speaks of life and its works, for so he doth also everywhere: with faith he always couples conduct. "Unto all pleasing." And how, "all pleasing"? "Bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God." Seeing, saith he, He hath fully revealed Himself unto you, and seeing ye have received knowledge so great; do ye then show forth a conduct worthy of the faith; for this needeth elevated conduct, greater far than the old dispensation. For, he that hath known God, and been counted worthy to be God's servant, yea, rather, even His Son, see how great virtue he needeth. "Strengthened with all power." He is here speaking of trials and persecutions. We pray that ye might be filled with strength, that ye faint not for sorrow, nor despair. "According to the might of His glory." But that ye may take up again such forwardness as it becometh the power of His glory to give. "Unto all patience and long-suffering." What he saith is of this sort. Summarily, he saith, we pray that ye may lead a life of virtue, and worthy of your citizenship, and may stand firmly, being strengthened as it is reasonable to be strengthened by God. For this cause he doth not as yet touch upon doctrines, but dwells upon life, wherein he had nothing to charge them with, and having praised them where praise was due, he then comes down to accusation. And this he does everywhere: when he is about writing to any with somewhat to blame them for, and somewhat to praise, he first praises them, and then comes down to his Charges. For he first conciliates the hearer, and frees his accusation from all suspicion, and shows that for his own part he could have been glad to praise them throughout; but by the necessity of the case is forced into saying what he does. And so he doth in the first Epistle to the Corinthians. For after having exceedingly praised them as loving him, even from the case of the fornicator, he comes down to accuse them. But in that to the Galatians not so, but the reverse. Yea, rather, if one should look close into it, even there the accusation follows upon praise. For seeing he had no good deeds of theirs then to speak of, and the charge was an exceeding grave one, and they were every one of them corrupted; and were able to bear it because they were strong, he begins with accusation, saying, "I marvel." (Gal. i. 6.) So that this also is praise. But afterwards he praises them, not for what they were, but what they had been, saying, "If possible, ye would have plucked out your eyes, and given them to me." (Gal. v. 15).
"Bearing fruit," he saith: this hath reference to works. "Strengthened": this to trials. "Unto all patience and longsuffering": long-suffering towards one another, patience towards those without. For longsuffering is toward those whom we can requite, but patience toward those whom we cannot. For this reason the term patient is never applied to God, but longsuffering frequently; as this same blessed one saith other where in his writings, "Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering?" "Unto all pleasing." Not, one while, and afterwards not so. "In all spiritual wisdom," he saith, "and understanding." For otherwise it is not possible to know His will. Although indeed they thought they had His will; but that wisdom was not spiritual. "To walk," saith he, "worthily of the Lord." For this is the way of the best life. For he that hath understood God's love to man, (and he doth understand it if he have seen the Son delivered up,) will have greater forwardness. And besides, we pray not for this alone that ye may know, but that ye may show forth your knowledge in works; for he that knows without doing, is even in the way to punishment. "To walk," he saith, that is, always, not once, but continually. As to walk is necessary for us, so also is to live rightly. And when on this subject he constantly uses the term "walk," and with reason, showing that such is the life set before us. But not of this sort is that of the world. And great too is the praise. "To walk," he saith, "worthily of the Lord," and "in every good work," so as to be always advancing, and nowhere standing still, and, with a metaphor, "bearing fruit and increasing in the knowledge of God," that ye might be in such measure "strengthened," according to the might of God, as is possible for man to be. "Through His power," great is the consolation.—He said not strength, but "power," which is greater: "through the power," he saith, "of His glory," because that everywhere His glory hath the power. He thus comforts him that is under reproach: and again, "To walk worthily of the Lord." He saith of the Son, that He hath the power everywhere both in heaven and in earth, because His glory reigneth everywhere. He saith not "strengthened" simply, but so, as they might be expected to be who are in the service of so strong a Master. "In the knowledge of God." And at the same time he touches in passing upon the methods of knowledge; for this is to be in error, not to know God as one ought; or he means, so as to increase in the knowledge of God. For if he that hath not known the Son, knoweth not the Father either; justly is there need of increased knowledge: for there is no use in life without this. "Unto all patience and longsuffering," he saith, "with joy, giving thanks" (ver. 12) unto God. Then being about to exhort them, he makes no mention of what by and by shall be laid up for them; he did hint at this however in the beginning of the Epistle, saying, "Because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens" (ver. 5): but in this place he mentions the things which were already theirs, for these are the causes of the other. And he doth the same in many places. For that which hath already come to pass gains belief, and more carries the hearer along with it. "With joy," he saith, "giving thanks" to God. The connection is this. We cease not praying for you, and giving thanks for the benefits already received.
Seest thou how he bears himself along into speaking of the Son? For if "we give thanks with much joy," it is a great thing that is spoken of. For it is possible to give thanks only from fear, it is possible to give thanks even when in sorrow. For instance; Job gave thanks indeed, but in anguish; and he said, "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away." (Job i. 21.) For, let not any say that what had come to pass pained him not, nor clothed him with dejection of soul; nor let his great praise be taken away from that righteous one. But when it is thus, it is not for fear, nor because of His being Lord alone, but for the very nature of the things themselves, that we give thanks. "To Him who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." He hath said a great thing. What has been given, he saith, is of this nature; He hath not only given, but also made us strong to receive. Now by saying, "Who made us meet," he showed that the thing was one of great weight. For example, were some low person to have become a king, he hath it in his power to give a governorship to whom he will; and this is the extent of his power, to give the dignity he cannot also make the person fit for the office and oftentimes the honor makes one so preferred even ridiculous. If however he have both conferred on one the dignity, and also made him fit for the honor, and equal to the administration, then indeed the thing is an honor. This then is what he also saith here; that He hath not only given us the honor, but hath also made us strong enough to receive it.
For the honor here is twofold, the giving, and the making fit for the gift. He said not, gave, simply; but, "made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," that is, who hath appointed us a place with the saints. But he did not say simply placed us, but hath given us to enjoy even the very same things, for "the portion" is that which each one receives. For it is possible to be in the same city, and yet not enjoy the same things; but to have the same "portion," and yet not enjoy the same, is impossible. It is possible to be in the same inheritance, and yet not to have the same portion for instance, all we (clergy) are in the inheritance, but we have not all the same portion. But here he cloth not say this, but with the inheritance adds the portion also. But why cloth he call it inheritance (or lot)? To show that by his own achievements no one obtains the kingdom, but as a lot is rather the result of good luck, so in truth is it here also. For a life so good as to be counted worthy of the kingdom doth no one show forth, but the whole is of His free gift. Therefore He saith, "When ye have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants, for we have done that which was our duty to do." (Luke xvii. 10.) "To be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,"—he means, both the future and the present light,—that is, in knowledge. He seems to me to be speaking: at once of both the present and the future. Then he shows of what things we have been counted worthy. For this is not the only marvel, that we are counted worthy of the kingdom; but it should also be added who we are that are so counted; for it is not unimportant. And he doth this in the Epistle to the Romans, saying, "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, but peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die." (Rom. v. 7.)
Ver. 13. "Who delivered us," he saith, "from the power of darkness."
The whole is of Him, the giving both of these things and those; for nowhere is any achievement of ours. "From the power of darkness," he saith, that is, of error, the dominion of the devil. He said not "darkness," but "power"; for it had great power over us, and held us fast. For it is grievous indeed even to be under the devil at all, but to be so "with power," this is far more grievous. "And translated us" he saith, "into the kingdom of the Son of His love." Not then so as to deliver man from darkness only, did He show His love toward him. A great thing indeed is it to have delivered from darkness even; but to have brought into a kingdom too, is a far greater. See then how manifold the gift, that he hath delivered us who lay in the pit; in the second place, that He hath not only delivered us, but also hath translated us into a kingdom. "Who delivered us." He said not, hath sent us forth, but "delivered ": showing our great misery, and their capture of us. Then to show also the ease with which the power of God works, he saith, "And translated us" just as if one were to lead over a soldier from one position to another. And he said not, "hath led over"; nor yet "hath transposed," for so the whole would be of him who transposed, nothing of him who went over; but he said, "translated"; so that it is both of us and of Him. "Into the kingdom of the Son of His love." He said not simply, "the kingdom of heaven," but gave a grandeur to his discourse by saying, "The kingdom of the Son," for no praise can be greater than this, as he saith elsewhere also: "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him." (2 Tim. ii. 12.) He hath counted us worthy of the same things with the Son; and not only so, but what gives it greater force, with His Beloved Son? Those that were enemies, those that were in darkness, as it were on a sudden he had translated to where the Son is, to the same honor with Him. Nor was he content with only this, in order to show the greatness of the gift; he was not content with saying, "kingdom," but he also added, "of the Son" nor yet with this, but he added also "beloved"; nor yet with this, but he added yet, the dignity of His nature. For what saith he? "Who is the Image of the invisible God." But he proceeded not to say this immediately, but meanwhile inserted the benefit which He bestowed upon us. For lest, when thou hearest that the whole is of the Father, thou shouldest suppose the Son excluded, he ascribes the whole to the Son, and the whole to the Father. For He indeed translated us, but the Son furnished the cause. For what saith he? "Who delivered us out of the power of darkness." But the same is, "In whom we have the full redemption, even the forgiveness of sins." For had we not been forgiven our sins, we should not have been "translated." So here again the words, "In whom." And he said not "redemption," but "full redemption," so that we shall not fall any more, nor become liable to death.
Ver. 15. "Who is the image of the invisible God, the First-born of all creation."
We light here upon a question of heresy. So it were well we should put it off to-day and proceed with it to-morrow, addressing it to your ears when they are fresh.
But if one ought to say anything more: the work of the Son is the greater. How? Because it were a thing impossible to give the kingdom to men whilst continuing in their sins; but thus it is an easier thing, so that He prepared the way for the gift. What sayest thou? He Himself loosed thee from thy sins: surely then He Himself also hath brought thee nigh; already he has laid by anticipation the foundation of his doctrine.
But we must put a close to this discourse, when first we have made one remark. And what is this? Seeing we have come to enjoy so great a benefit, we ought to be ever mindful of it, and continually to turn in our minds the free gift of God, and to reflect upon what we have been delivered from, what we have obtained; and so we shall be thankful; so we shall heighten our love toward Him. What sayest thou, O man? Thou art called to a kingdom, to the kingdom of the Son of God—and art thou full of yawning, and scratching, and dozing? If need were that thou shouldest leap into ten thousand deaths every day, oughtest thou not to endure all? For the sake of office thou doest all manner of things; when then thou art going to share the kingdom of the Only-Begotten, wilt thou not spring down upon ten thousand swords? wouldest thou not leap into fire? And this is not all that is strange, but that when about to depart even, thou bewailest, and wouldest gladly dwell amongst the things which are here, being a lover of the body. What fancy is this? Dost thou regard even death as a thing of terror? The cause of this is luxury, ease: for he at least that should live an embittered life would wish even for wings, and to be loosed from hence. But now it is the same with us as with the spoiled nestlings, which would willingly remain for ever in the nest. But the longer they remain, the feebler they become. For the present life is a nest cemented together with sticks and mire. Yea, shouldest thou show me even the great mansions, yea the royal palace itself glittering with all its gold and precious stones; I shall think them no better than the nests of swallows, for when the winter is come they will all fall of themselves. By winter I mean That Day, not that it will be a winter to all. For God also calleth it both night and day; the first in regard of sinners, the latter of the just. So do I also now call it winter. If in the summer we have not been well brought up, so as to be able to fly when winter is come, our mothers will not take us, but will leave us to die of hunger, or to perish when the nest falls; for easily as it were a nest, or rather more easily, will God in that day remove all things, undoing and new molding all. But they which are unfledged, and not able to meet Him in the air, but have been so grossly brought up that they have no lightness of wing, will suffer those things which reason is such characters should suffer. Now the brood of swallows, when they are fallen, perish quickly; but we shall not perish, but be punished for ever. That season will be winter; or rather, more severe than winter. For, not winter torrents of water roll down, but rivers of fire; not darkness that riseth from clouds is there, but darkness that cannot be dispelled, and without a ray of light, so that they cannot see either the heaven, or the air, but are more straitened than those who have been buried in the earth.
Oftentimes do we say these things, but there are whom we cannot bring to believe. But it is nothing wonderful if we, men of small account, are thus treated, when we discourse of such things, since the same happened to the Prophets also; when they spoke not of such matters only, but also of war and captivity. (Jer. xxi. 11; xxvii. 12, &c.) And Zedekiah was rebuked by Jeremiah, and was not ashamed. Therefore the Prophets said, "Woe unto them that say, Let God hasten with speed His work, that we may see it, and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel come, that we may know it." (Isa. v. 18, 19.) Let us not wonder at this. For neither did those believe who were in the days of the ark; they believed, however, when their belief was of no gain to them; neither did they of Sodore expect [their fate], howbeit they too believed, when they gained nothing by believing. And why do I speak of the future? Who would have expected these things which are now happening in divers places; these earthquakes, these overthrows of cities? And yet were these things easier to believe than those; those, I mean, which happened in the days of the ark.
Whence is this evident? Because that the men of those times had no other example to look at, neither had they heard the Scriptures, but with us, on the other hand, are countless instances that have happened both in our own, and in former years. But whence arose the unbelief of these persons? From a softened soul; they drank and ate, and therefore they believed not. For, what a man wishes, he thinks, and expects; and they that gainsay him are a jest.
But let it not be so with us; for hereafter it will not be a flood; nor the punishment till death only; but death will be the beginning of punishment for persons who believe not that there is a Judgment. And doth any ask, who. has come from thence, and said so? If now thou speakest thus in jest, not even so is it well; for one ought not to jest in such matters; and we jest, not where jesting is in place, but with peril; but if what thou really feelest, and thou art of opinion that there is nothing hereafter, how is it that thou callest thyself a Christian? For I take not into account those who are without. Why receivest thou the Layer? Why dost thou set foot within the Church? Is it that we promise thee magistracies? All our hope is in the things to come. Why then comest thou, if thou believest not the Scriptures? If thou dost not believe Christ, I cannot call such an one a Christian; God forbid but worse than even Greeks. In what respect? In this; that when thou thinkest Christ is God, thou believest Him not as God. For in that other impiety there is at least consistency; for he who thinks not that Christ is God, necessarily will also not believe Him; but this impiety has not even consistency; to confess Him to be God, and yet not to think Him worthy of belief in what He has said; these are the words of drunkenness, of luxury, of riot. "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." (1 Cor. xv. 32.) Not to-morrow; but now ye are dead, when ye thus speak. Shall we then be in nothing different from swine and asses? tell me. For if there be neither a judgment, nor a retribution, nor a tribunal, wherefore have we been honored with such a gift as reason, and have all things put under us? Why do we rule, and are they ruled? See how the devil is on every side urgent to persuade us to be ignorant of the Gift of God. He mixes together the slaves with their masters, like some man-stealer and ungrateful servant; he strives to degrade the free to the level of the criminal. And he seems indeed to be overthrowing the Judgment, but he is overthrowing the being of God.
For such is ever the devil's way; he puts forward everything in a wily, and not in a straightforward manner, to put us on our guard. If there is no Judgment, God is not just (I speak as a man): if God is not just, then there is no God at all: if there is no God, all things go on at haphazard, virtue is nought, vice nought. But he says nothing of this openly. Seest thou the drift of this satanical argument? how, instead of men, he wishes to make us brutes, or rather, wild beasts, or rather, demons? Let us then not be persuaded by him. For there is a Judgment, O wretched and miserable man! I know whence thou comest to use such words. Thou hast committed many sins, thou hast offended, thou hast no confidence, thou thinkest that the nature of things will even follow thy arguments. Meanwhile, saith he, I will not torment my soul with the expectation of hell, and, if there be a hell, I will persuade it that there is none; meanwhile I will live here in luxury! Why dost thou add sin to sin? If when thou hast sinned thou believest that there is a hell, thou wilt depart with the penalty of thy sins only to pay; but if thou add this further impiety, thou wilt also for thine impiety, and for this thy thought, suffer the uttermost punishment; and what was a cold and short lived comfort to thee, will be a ground for thy being punished for ever. Thou hast sinned: be it so: why dost thou encourage others also to sin, by saying that there is no hell? Why didst thou mislead the simpler sort? Why unnerve the hands of the people? So far as thou art concerned, everything is turned upside down; neither will the good become better, but listless; nor the wicked desist from their wickedness. For, if we corrupt others, do we get allowance for our sins? Seest thou not the devil, how he attempted to bring down Adam? And has there then been allowance for him? Nay, surely it will be the occasion of a greater punishment, that he may be punished not for his own sins only, but also for those of others. Let us not then suppose that to bring down others into the same destruction with ourselves will make the Judgment-seat more lenient to us. Surely this will make it more severe. Why thrust we ourselves on destruction? The whole of this cometh of Satan.
O man, hast thou sinned? Thou hast for thy Master One that loveth man. Entreat, implore, weep, groan; and terrify others, and pray them that they fall not into the same. If in a house some servant, of those that had offended their master, says to his son, "My child, I have offended the master, do thou be careful to please him, that thou be not as I": tell me, will he not have some forgiveness? will he not bend and soften his master? But if, leaving so to speak, he shall say such words as these, that he will not requite every one according to his deserts; that all things are jumbled together indiscriminately, both good and bad; that there is no thanks in this house; what thinkest thou will be the master's mind concerning him? will he not suffer a severer punishment for his own misdoings? Justly so; for in the former case his feeling will plead for him, though it be but weakly; but in this, nobody. If no other then, yet imitate at least that rich man in hell, who said, "Father Abraham, send to my kinsmen, lest they come into this place," since he could not go himself, so that they might not fall into the same condemnation. Let us have done with such Satanical words.
What then, saith he, when the Greeks put questions to us; wouldest thou not that we should try to cure them? But by casting the Christian into perplexity, under pretense of curing the Greek, thou aimest at establishing thy Satanical doctrine. For since, when communing with thy soul alone of these things, thou persuadest her not; thou desirest to bring forward others as witnesses. But if one must reason with a Greek, the discussion should not begin with this; but whether Christ be God and the Son of God; whether those gods of theirs be demons. If these points be established, all the others follow; but, before making good the beginning, it is vain to dispute about the end; before learning the first elements, it is superfluous and unprofitable to come to the conclusion. The Greek disbelieves the Judgment, and he is in the same case with thyself, seeing that he too hath many who have treated these things in their philosophy; and albeit when they so spoke they held the soul as separated from the body, still they set up a seat of judgment. And the thing is so very clear, that no one scarcely is ignorant of it, but both poets and all are agreed among themselves that there is both a Tribunal and a Judgment. So that the Greek also disbelieves his own authorities and the Jew doth not doubt about these things nor in a word doth any man.
Why then deceive we ourselves? See, thou sayest these things to me. What wilt thou say to God, "that fashioned our hearts one by one" (Ps. xxxiii. 15); that knoweth everything that is in the mind; "that is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword"? (Heb. iv. 12.) For tell me with truth; Dost thou not condemn thyself? And how should wisdom so great, as that one who sins should condemn himself, come by chance, for this is a work of mighty wisdom. Thou condemnest thyself. And will he who giveth thee such thoughts leave everything to go on at hazard? The following rule then will hold universally and strictly. Not one of those who live in virtue wholly disbelieves the doctrine of the Judgment, even though he be Greek or heretic. None, save a few, of those who live in great wickedness, receives the doctrine of the Resurrection. And this is what the Psalmist says, "Thy judgments are taken away from before his face." (Ps. x. 5.) Wherefore? Because "his ways are always profane"; for he saith, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." Seest thou that thus to speak is the mark of the grovelling? Of eating and drinking come these sayings which are subversive of the Resurrection. For the soul endures not, I say, it endures not the tribunal which the conscience supplieth, and so it is with it, as with a murderer, who firsts suggests to himself that he shall not be detected, and so goes on to slay; for had his conscience been his judge, he would not hastily have come to that daring wickedness. And still he knows, and pretends not to know, lest he should be tortured by conscience and fear, for, certainly, in that case, he would have been less resolute for the daring deed. So too, assuredly, they who sin, and day by day wallow in the same wickedness, are unwilling to know it, although their consciences pluck at them.
But let us give no heed to such persons, for there will be, there will assuredly be, a Judgment and a Resurrection, and God will not leave so great works without direction. Wherefore, I beseech you, let us leave off wickedness, and lay fast hold on virtue, that we may receive the true doctrine in Christ Jesus our Lord. And yet, which is easier to receive? the doctrine of the Resurrection, or that of Fate? The latter is full of injustice, of absurdity, of cruelty, of inhumanity; the other of righteousness, awarding according to desert; and still men do not receive it. But the fault is, indolence, for no one that hath understanding receives the other. For amongst the Greeks even, they who did receive that doctrine, were those who in their definition of pleasure affirmed it to be the "end," but they who loved virtue, would not receive it, but they cast it out as absurd. But if among the Greeks this were so, much more will it hold good with the doctrine of the Resurrection. And observe, I pray you, how the devil hath established two contrary things: for in order that we may neglect virtue; and pay honor to demons, he brought in this Necessity, and by means of each he procured the belief of both. What reason then will he be able to give, who obstinately disbelieves a thing so admirable, and is persuaded by those who talk so idly? Do not then support thyself with the consolation, that thou wilt meet with forgiveness; but let us, collecting all our strength, stir ourselves up to virtue, and let us live truly to God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, &c.
"Who is the Image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation: for in Him were all things created, in the heavens, and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers: all things have been created through Him, and unto Him; and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the Church."
Today if is necessary for me to pay the debt, which yesterday I deferred, in order that I might address it to your minds when in full force. Paul, discoursing as we showed of the dignity of the Son, says these words: "Who is the Image of the invisible God." Whose image then wilt thou have Him be? God's? Then he is exactly like the one to whom you assign Him. For if as a man's image, say so, and I will have done with you as a madman. But if as God and God's Son, God's image, he shows the exact likeness. Wherefore hath no Angel anywhere been called either "image" or "son," but man both? Wherefore? Because in the former case indeed the exaltedness of their nature might presently have thrust the many into this impiety; but in the other case the mean and low nature is a pledge of security against this, and will not allow any, even should they desire it, to suspect anything of the kind, nor to bring down the Word so low. For this cause, where the meanness is great, the Scripture boldly asserts the honor, but where the nature is higher, it forbears. "The Image of the Invisible" is itself also invisible, and invisible in like manner, for otherwise it would not be an image. For an image, so far as it is an image, even amongst us, ought to be exactly similar, as, for example, in respect of the features and the likeness. But here indeed amongst us, this is by no means possible; for human art fails in many respects, or rather fails in all, if you examine with accuracy. But where God is, there is no error, no failure.
But if a creature: how is He the Image of the Creator? For neither is a horse the image of a man. If "the Image" mean not exact likeness to the Invisible, what hinders the Angels also from being His Image? for they too are invisible; but not to one another: but the soul is invisible: but because it is invisible, it is simply on that account an image, and not in such sort as he and angels are images.
"The Firstborn of all creation." "What then" saith one "Lo He is a creature" Whence? tell me. "Because he said 'first-born.'" However he said not "first created" but "firstborn." Then it is reasonable that he should be called many things. For he must also be called a brother "in all things." (Heb. ii. 17.) And we must take from Him His being Creator; and insist that neither in dignity nor in any other thing is He superior to us? And who that hath understanding would say this? For the word "firstborn" is not expressive of dignity and honor, nor of anything else, but of time only. What does "the firstborn" signify? That he is created, is the answer. Well. If then this be so, it has also kindred expressions. But otherwise the firstborn is of the same essence with those of whom he is firstborn. Therefore he will be the firstborn son of all things—for it said "of every creature"; therefore of stones also, and of me, is God the Word firstborn. But again, of what, tell me, are the words "firstborn from the dead" (Col. i. 18; Rom. viii. 29) declaratory? Not that He first rose; for he said not simply, "of the dead," but "firstborn from the dead," nor yet, "that He died first," but that He rose the firstborn from the dead. So that they declare nothing else than this, that He is the Firstfruits of the Resurrection. Surely then neither in the place before us. Next he proceeds to the doctrine itself. For that they may not think Him to be of more recent existence, because that in former times the approach was through Angels, but now through Him; he shows first, that they had no power (for else it had not been "out of darkness" (ver. 13) that he brought), next, that He is also before them. And he uses as a proof of His being before them, this; that they were created by him. "For in Him," he saith, "were all things created." What say here the followers of Paul of Samosata? "The things in the heavens." What was in question, he has placed first; "and the things upon the earth." Then he says, "the visible and the invisible things"; invisible, such as soul, and all that has come to exist in heaven; visible, such as men, sun, sky. "Whether thrones." And what is granted, he lets alone, but what is doubted he asserts. "Whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers." The words "whether," "or," comprehend the whole of things; but by means of the greater things show it of the less also. But the Spirit is not amongst the "powers." "All things," he saith, "have been created, through Him, and unto Him." Lo, "in Him," is "through Him," for having said "in Him," he added, "through Him." But what "unto Him"? It is this; the subsistence of all things depends on Him. Not only did He Himself bring them out of nothing into being, but Himself sustains them now, so that were they dissevered from His Providence, the), were at once undone and destroyed. Bat He said not, "He continues them," which had been a grosser way of speaking, but what is more subtle, that "on" Him they depend. To have only a bearing on Him is enough to continue anything and bind it fast. So also the word "firstborn," in the sense of a foundation. But this doth not show the creatures to be consubstantial with Him; but that all things are through Him, and in Him are upheld. Since Paul also when he says elsewhere "I have laid a foundation" (1 Cor. iii. 10), is speaking not concerning substance, but operation. For, that thou mayest not think Him to be a minister, he says that He continues them, which is not less than making them. Certainly, with us it is greater even: for to the former, art conducts us; but to the latter, not so, it does not even stay a thing in decay.
"And He is before all things," he saith. This is befitting God. Where is Paul of Samosata? "And in Him all things consist," that is, they are created into Him. He repeats these expressions in close sequence; with their close succession, as it were with rapid strokes, tearing up the deadly doctrine by the roots. For, if even when such great things had been declared, still after so long a time Paul of Samosata sprung up, how much more [would such have been the case], had not these things been said before? "And in Him," he saith, "all things consist." How "consist" in one who was not? So that the things also done through Angels are of Him.
"And He is the head of the body, the Church."
Then having spoken of His dignity, he afterwards speaks of His love to man also. "He is," saith he, "the Head of the body, the Church." And he said not "of the fullness," (although this too is signified,) out of a wish to show His great friendliness to us, in that He who is thus above, and above all, connected Himself with those below. For everywhere He is first; above first; in the Church first, for He is the Head; in the Resurrection first. That is,
Ver. 18. "That He might have the preeminence." So that in generation also He is first. And this is what Paul is chiefly endeavoring to show. For if this be made good, that He was before all the Angels; then there is brought in along with it this also as a consequence, that He did their works by commanding them. And what is indeed wonderful, he makes a point to show that He is first in the later generation. Although elsewhere he calls Adam first (1 Cor. xv. 45), as in truth he is; but here he takes the Church for the whole race of mankind. For He is first of the Church; and first of men after the flesh, like as of the Creation. And therefore he here uses the word "firstborn."
What is in this place the meaning of "the Firstborn"? Who was created first, or rose before all; as in the former place it means, Who was before all things. And here indeed he uses the word "firstfruits," saying, "Who is the Firstfruits, the Firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have the preëminence," showing that the rest also are such as He; but in the former place it is not the "Firstfruits" of creation. And it is there, "The Image of the invisible God," and then, "Firstborn."
Ver. 19, 20. "For it was the good pleasure of the Father, that in Him should all the fullness dwell. And having made peace through the Blood of His Cross, through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens."
Whatsoever things are of the Father, these he saith are of the Son also, and that with more of intensity, because that He both became "dead' for, and united Himself to us. He said, "Firstfruits," as of fruits. He said not "Resurrection," but "Firstfruits," showing that He hath sanctified us all, and offered us, as it were, a sacrifice. The term "fullness" some use of the Godhead, like as John said, "Of His fullness have all we received." That is, whatever was the Son, the whole Son dwelt there, not a sort of energy, but a Substance.
He hath no cause to assign but the will of God: for this is the import of, "it was the good pleasure ... in Him. And ... through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself." Lest thou shouldest think that He undertook the office of a minister only, he saith, "unto Himself." (2 Cor. v. 18.) And yet he elsewhere says, that He reconciled us to God, as in the EpiStle he wrote to the Corinthians. And he well said, "Through Him to make an end of reconciling"; for they were already reconciled; but completely, he says, and in such sort, as no more to be at enmity with Him. How? For not only the reconciliation was set forth, but also the manner of the reconciliation. "Having made peace through the Blood of His Cross." The word "reconcile," shows the enmity; the words "having made peace," the war. "Through the Blood of His Cross, through Himself, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens." A great thing indeed it is to reconcile; but that this should be through Himself too, is a greater thing; and a greater still,—how through Himself? Through His Blood. Through His Blood; and he said not simply His Blood, but what is yet greater, through the Cross. So that the marvels are five: He reconciled us; to God; through Himself; through Death; through the Cross. Admirable again! How he l has mixed them up! For lest thou shouldest think that it is one thing merely, or that the Cross is anything of itself, he saith "through Himself." How well he knows that this was a great thing. Because not by speaking words, but by giving Himself up for the reconciliation, He so wrought everything.
But what is "things in the heavens"? For with reason indeed is it said, "the things upon the earth," for those were filled with enmity, and manifoldly divided, and each one of us was utterly at variance with himself, and with the many; but how made He peace amongst "the things in the heavens"? Was war and battle there also? How then do we pray, saying, "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth"? (Matt. vi. 10.) What is it then? The earth was divided from heaven, the Angels were become enemies to men, through seeing the Lord insulted. "To sum up," he saith, "all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth." (Eph. i. 10.) How? The things in heaven indeed in this way: He translated Man thither, He brought up to them the enemy, the hated one. Not only made He the things on earth to be at peace, but He brought up to them him that was their enemy and foe. Here was peace profound. Angels again appeared on the earth thereafter, because that Man too had appeared in heaven. And it seems to me that Paul was caught up on this account (2 Cor. xii. 2), and to show that the Son also had been received up thither. For in the earth indeed, the peace was twofold; with the things of heaven, and with themselves; but in heaven it was simple. For if the Angels rejoice over one sinner that repenteth, much more will they over so many.
All this God's power hath wrought. Why then place ye confidence in Angels? saith he. For so far are they from bringing you near, that they were ever your enemies, except God Himself had reconciled you with them. Why then run ye to them? Wouldest thou know the hatred which the Angels had against us, how great it was; and how averse to us they always were? They were sent to take vengeance in the cases of the Israelites, of David, of the Sodomites, of the Valley of weeping. (Ex. xxiii. 20.) Not so however now, but, on the contrary, they sang upon the earth (2 Sam. xxiv. 16) with exceeding joy. And He led these down to men (Gen. xix. 13), and led men up to them.
And observe, I pray you, the marvel in this: He brought these first down hither, and then he took up man to them; earth became heaven, because that heaven was about to receive the things of earth. Therefore when we give thanks, we say, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men." Behold, he saith, even men appeared well-pleasing to Him thereafter. What is "good will"? (Eph. ii. 14; Deut. xxxii. 8, Sept.) Reconciliation. No longer is the heaven a wall of partition. At first the Angels were according to the number of the nations; but now, not according to the number of the nations, but that of the believers. Whence is this evident? Hear Christ saying, "See that ye despise not one of these little ones, for their Angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven." (Matt. xviii. 10.) For each believer hath an Angel; since even from the beginning, every one of those that were approved had his Angel, as Jacob says, "The Angel that feedeth me, and delivereth me from my youth." (Gen. xlviii. 15, 16, nearly.) If then we have Angels, let us be sober, as though we were in the presence of tutors; for there is a demon present also. Therefore we pray, asking for the Angel of peace, and everywhere we ask for peace (for there is nothing equal to this); peace, in the Churches, in the prayers, in the supplications, in the salutations; and once, and twice, and thrice, and many times, does he that is over the Church give it, "Peace be unto you." Wherefore? Because this is the Mother of all good things; this is the foundation of joy. Therefore Christ also commanded the Apostles on entering into the houses straightway to say this, as being a sort of symbol of the good things; for He saith, "When ye come into the houses, say, Peace be unto you.;" for where this is wanting, everything is useless. And to His disciples Christ said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you." (John xiv. 27.) This prepareth the way for love. And he that is over the Church, says not, "Peace be unto you," simply, but "Peace be unto all." For what if with this man we have peace, but with another, war and fighting? what is the gain? For neither in the body, should some of its elements be at rest and others in a state of variance, is it possible that health should ever be upheld; but only when the whole of them are in good order, and harmony, and peace, and except the whole are at rest, and continue within their proper limits, all will be overturned. And, further, in our minds, except all our thoughts are at rest, peace will not exist. So great a good is peace, as that the makers and producers of it are called the sons of God (Matt. v. 9, 45), with reason; because the Son of God for this cause came upon the earth, to set at peace the things in the earth, and those in the heavens. But if the peacemakers are the sons of God, the makers of disturbance are sons of the devil.
What sayest thou? Dost thou excite contentions and fightings? And doth any ask who is so unhappy? Many there are who rejoice at evil, and who do rather rend in pieces the Body of Christ, than did the soldiers pierce it with the spear, or the Jews who struck it through with the nails. A less evil was that than this; those Members, so cut through, again united, but these when torn off, if they be not united here, will never be united, but remain apart from the Fullness. When thou art minded to war against thy brother, bethink thee that thou warrest against the members of Christ, and cease from thy madness. For what if he be an outcast? What if he be vile? What if he be open to contempt? So saith He, "It is not the will of My Father that one of these little ones should perish." (Matt. xviii. 14.) And again, "Their Angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven." (Ib. ver. 10.) God for his sake and thine even became a servant, and was slain; and dost thou consider him to be nothing? Surely in this respect also thou fightest against God, in that thou deliverest a judgment contrary to His. When he that is over the Church cometh in, he straightway says, "Peace unto all"; when he preacheth, "Peace unto all"; when he blesseth, "Peace unto all"; when he biddeth to salute, "Peace unto all"; when the Sacrifice is finished, "Peace unto all": and again, in the middle, "Grace to you and peace." How then is it not monstrous, if, while hearing so many times that we are to have peace, we are in a state of feud with each other; and receiving peace, and giving it back, are at war with him that giveth it to us? Thou sayest, "And to thy spirit." And dost thou traduce him abroad? Woe is me! that the majestic usages of the Church are become forms of things merely, not a truth. Woe is me! that the watchwords of this army proceed no farther than to be only words. Whence also ye are ignorant wherefore is said, "Peace unto all." But hear what follows, what Christ saith; "And into whatsoever city or village ye shall enter ... as ye enter into the house, salute it; and if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you." (Matt. x. 11, 13.) We are therefore ignorant; because we look upon this merely as a figure of words; and we assent not to them in our minds. For do I give the Peace? It is Christ who deigneth to speak by us. Even if at all other times we are void of grace, yet are we not now, for your sakes. For if the Grace of God wrought in an ass and a diviner, for the sake of an economy, and the advantage of the Israelites (Num. 22), it is quite clear that it will not refuse to operate even in us, but for your sakes will endure even this.
Let none say then that I am mean, and low, and worthy of no consideration, and in such a frame of mind attend to me. For such I am; but God's way always is, to be present even with such for the sake of the many. And, that ye may know this, with Cain He vouchsafed to talk for Abel's sake (Gen. iv.), with the devil for Job's (Job i.), with Pharaoh for Joseph's (Gen. xli.), with Nebuchadnezzar for Daniel's (Dan. ii., iv.), with Belshazzar, for the same (Dan. v.). And Magi moreover obtained a revelation (Matt. ii.); and Caiaphas prophesied, though a slayer of Christ, and an unworthy man, because of the worthiness of the priesthood. (John xi. 49.) And it is Said to have been for this reason that Aaron was not smitten with leprosy. For why, tell me, when both had spoken against Moses did she alone suffer the punishment? (Num. xii.) Marvel not: for if in worldly dignities, even though ten thousand charges be laid against a man, yet is he not brought to trial before he has laid down his office, in order that it may not be dishonored along with him; much more in the case of spiritual office, be he whosoever he may, the grace of God works in him, for otherwise everything is lost: but when he hath laid it down, either after he is departed or even here, then indeed, then he will suffer a sorer punishment.
Do not, I pray you, think that these things are spoken from us; it is the Grace of God which worketh in the unworthy, not for our sakes, but for yours. Hear ye then what Christ saith. "If the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it." (Matt. x. 13-15.) And how becometh it worthy? If "they receive you" (Luke x. 8), He saith. "But if they receive you not, nor hear your words, ... verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodore and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city." What boots it then, that ye receive us, and hear not the things we say? What gain is it that ye wait upon us, and give no heed to the things which are spoken to you? This will be honor to us, this the admirable service, which is profitable both to you and to us, if ye hear us. Hear also Paul saying, "I wist not, brethren, that he was High Priest." (Acts xxiii. 5.) Hear also Christ saying, "All whatsoever they bid you observe" (Matt. xxiii. 3), that "observe and do." Thou despisest not me, but the Priesthood; when thou seest me stripped of this, then despise me; then no more will I endure to impose commands. But so long as we sit upon this throne, so long as we have the first place, we have both the dignity and the power, even though we are unworthy. If the throne of Moses was of such reverence, that for its sake they were to be heard, much more the throne of Christ. It, we have received by succession; from it we speak; since the time that Christ hath vested in us the ministry of reconciliation.
Ambassadors, whatever be their sort, because of the dignity of an embassy, enjoy much honor. For observe; they go alone into the heart of the land of barbarians, through the midst of so many enemies; and because the law of embassy is of mighty power, all honor them; all look towards them with respect, all send them forth with safety. And we now have received a word of embassy, and we are come from God, for this is the dignity of the Episcopate. We are come to you on an embassy, requesting you to put an end to the war, and we say on what terms; not promising to give cities, nor so and so many measures of corn, nor slaves, nor gold; but the kingdom of heaven, eternal life, society with Christ, the other good things, which neither are we able to tell you, so long as we are in this flesh, and the present life. Ambassadors then we are, and we wish to enjoy honor, not for our own sakes, far be it, for we know its worthlessness, but for yours; that ye may hear with earnestness the things we say; that ye may be profited, that not with listlessness or indifference ye may attend to what is spoken. See ye not ambassadors, how all pay court to them? We are God's ambassadors to men; but, if this of-
fend you, not we, but the Episcopate itself, not this man or that, but the Bishop. Let no one hear me, but the dignity. Let us then do everything according to the will of God, that we may live to the glory of God, and be counted worthy of the good things promised to those that love Him, through the grace and lovingkindness, &c. &c.
"And you, being in time past, enemies and alienated in your mind, in your evil works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreprovable before Him."
Here he goes to show that He reconciled those even who were unworthy of reconciliation. For by the saying that they were under the power of darkness, he shows the calamity in which they were. (v. 13.) But lest, on hearing of" the power of darkness," thou shouldest consider it Necessity, he adds, "And you that were alienated," so that though it appear to be the same thing that he says, yet it is not so; for it is not the same thing to deliver out of the evils him that through necessity came to suffer, and him that of his own will endures. For the former indeed is worthy to be pitied, but the latter hated. But nevertheless, he saith, you that are not against your wills, nor from compulsion, but with your wills, and wishes, sprang away from Him, and are unworthy of it, He hath reconciled. And seeing he had made mention of the "things in the heavens," he shows, that all the enmity had its origin from hence, not thence. For they indeed were long ago desirous, and God also, but ye were not willing.
And throughout he is showing that the Angels had no power in the successive times, forasmuch as men continued enemies; they could neither persuade them, nor, if persuaded, could they deliver them from the devil. For neither would persuading them be any gain, except he that held them were bound; nor would binding him have been of any service, except they whom he detained were willing to return. But both of these were needed, and they could do neither of them, but Christ did both. So that even more marvelous than loosing death, is the persuading them. For the former was wholly of Himself, and the power lay wholly in Himself, but of the latter, not in Himself alone, but in us also; but we accomplish those things more easily of which the power lies in ourselves. Therefore, as being the greater, he puts it last. And he said not simply "were at enmity," but "were alienated," which denotes great enmity, nor yet "alienated" [only], but without any expectation even of returning. "And enemies in your mind," he says; then the alienation had not proceeded so far as purpose only—but what? "in your wicked works" also. Ye were both enemies, he saith, and ye did the works of enemies.
"Yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death to present you holy and without blemish and unreprovable before Him." Again he lays down also the manner of the reconciliation, that it was "in the Body," not by being merely beaten, nor scourged, nor sold, but even by dying a death the most shameful. Again he makes mention of the Cross, and again lays down another benefit. For He did not only "deliver," but, as be says above, "Who made us meet" (ver. 12), to the same he alludes here also. "Through" His "death," he says, "to present you holy and without blemish and unreprovable before Him." For truly, He hath not only delivered from sins, but hath also placed amongst the approved. For, not that He might deliver us from evils only, did He suffer so great things, but that also we might obtain the first rewards; as if one should not only free a condemned criminal from his punishment, but also advance him to honor. And he hath ranked you with those who have not sinned, yea rather not with those who have done no sin only, but even with those who have wrought the greatest righteousness; and, what is truly a great thing, hath given the holiness which is before Him, and the being unreprovable. Now an advance upon unblamable is unreprovable, when we have done nothing either to be condemned for, or charged with. But, since he ascribed the whole to Him, because through His death He achieved these things; "what then, says one, is it to us? we need nothing." Therefore he added,
Ver. 23. "If so be that ye continue in the faith grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the Gospel."
Here he strikes a blow at their listlessness. And he said not simply "continue," for it is possible to continue wavering, and vacillating; it is possible to stand, and continue, though turned this way and that. "If so be that ye continue," he saith, "grounded and steadfast, and not moved away." Wonderful! What a forcible metaphor he uses; he says not only not tossed to and fro, but not even moved. And observe, he lays down so far nothing burdensome, nor toilsome, but faith and hope; that is, if ye continue believing, that the hope of the things to come is true. For this indeed is possible; but, as regards virtuous living, it is not possible to avoid being shaken about, though it be but a little; so (what he enjoins) is not grievous.
"From the hope," he saith, "of the Gospel, which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven." But what is the hope of the Gospel, except Christ? For He Himself is our peace, that hath wrought all these things: so that he who ascribes them to others is "moved away": for he has lost all, unless he believe in Christ. "Which ye heard," he saith. And again he brings themselves as witnesses, then the whole world. He saith not, "which is being preached," but hath already been believed and preached. As he did also at the outset (ver. 6), being desirous by the witness of the many to establish these also. "Whereof I Paul was made a minister." This also contributes to make it credible; "I," saith he, "Paul a minister." For great was his authority, as being now everywhere celebrated, and the teacher of the world.
Ver. 24. "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His Body's sake, which is the Church."
And what is the connection of this? It seems indeed not to be connected, but it is even closely so. And "minister," he says, that is, bringing in nothing from myself, but announcing what is from another. I so believe, that I suffer even for His sake, and not suffer only, but even rejoice in suffering, looking unto the hope which is to come, and I suffer not for myself, but for you. "And fill up," he saith, "that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh." It seems indeed to be a great thing he has said; but it is not of arrogancy, far be it, but even of much tender love towards Christ; for he will not have the sufferings to be his own, but His, through desire of conciliating these persons to Him. And what things I suffer, I suffer, he saith, on His account: not to me, therefore, express your gratitude, but to him, for it is He Himself who suffers. Just as if one, when sent to a person, should make request to another, saying, I beseech thee, go for me to this person, then the other should say, "it is on his account I am doing it." So that He is not ashamed to call these sufferings also his own. For He did not only die for us, but even after His death He is ready to be afflicted for your sakes. He is eagerly and vehemently set upon showing that He is even now exposed to peril in His own Body for the Church's sake, and he aims at this point, namely, ye are not brought unto God by us, but by Him, even though. we do these things, for we have not undertaken a work of our own, but His. And it is the same as if there were a band which had its allotted leader to protect it, and it should stand in battle, and then when he was gone, his lieutenant should succeed to his wounds until the battle were brought to a close.
Next, that for His sake also he doeth these things, hearken: "For His Body's sake," he saith, assuredly meaning to say this: "I pleasure not you, but Christ: for what things He should have suffered, I suffer instead of Him." See how many things he establishes. Great, he shows, is the claim upon their love. As in his second Epistle to the Corinthians, he wrote, saying, "he committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor. v. 20); and again, "We are ambassadors on behalf of Christ; as though God were entreating by us." So also here he saith, "For his sake I suffer," that he may the more draw them to Him. That is, though He who is your debtor is gone away, yet I repay. For, on this account he also said, "that which is lacking," to show that not even yet does he consider Him to have suffered all. "For your sake," he saith, and even after His death He suffers; seeing that still there remains a deficiency. The same thing he doeth in another way in the Epistle to the Romans, saying, "Who also maketh intercession for us" (Rom. viii. 34), showing that He was not satisfied with His death alone, but even afterwards He doeth countless things.
He does not then say this to exalt himself, but through a desire to show that Christ is even yet caring for them. And he shows what he says to be credible, by adding, "for His Body's sake." For that so it is, and that there is no unlikelihood in it, is plain from these things being done for His body's sake. Look how He hath knitted us unto Himself. Why then introduce Angels between? "Whereof I was made," he saith, "a minister." Why introduce Angels besides? "I am a minister." Then he shows that he had himself done nothing, albeit he is a minister. "Of which I was made," saith he, "a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given me to you ward, to fulfill the word of God." "The dispensation." Either he means, He so willed that after His own departure we should succeed to the dispensation, in order that ye might not feel as deserted, (for it is Himself that suffers, Himself that is ambassador;) or he means this, namely, me who was more than all a persecutor, for this end He permitted to persecute, that in my preaching I might gain belief; or by "dispensation" he means, that He required not deeds, nor actions, nor good works, but faith and baptism. For ye would not otherwise have received the word. "For you," he saith, "to fulfill the word of God." He speaks of the Gentiles, showing that they were yet wavering, by the expression, "fulfill." For that the cast-away Gentiles should have been able to receive such lofty doctrines was not of Paul, but of the dispensation of God; "for I never could have had the power," he saith. Having shown that which is greater, that his sufferings are Christ's, he next subjoins what is more evident, that this also is of God, "to fulfill His word in you." And he shows here covertly, that this too is of dispensation, that it is spoken to you now, when ye are able to hear it, and cometh not of neglect, but to the end ye may receive it. For God doeth not all things on a sudden, but useth condescension because of His plenteous love toward man. And this is the reason why Christ came at this time, and not of old. And He shows in the Gospel, that for this reason He sent the servants first, that they might not proceed to kill the Son. For if they did not reverence the Son, even when He came after the servants, much less would they had He come sooner; if they gave no heed to the lesser commandments, how would they to the greater? What then, doth one object? Are there not Jews even now, and Greeks who are in a very imperfect condition? This, however, is an excess of listlessness. For after so long a time, after such great instructions, still to continue imperfect, is a proof of great stupidity.
When then the Greeks say, why did Christ come at this time? let us not allow them so to speak, but let us ask them, whether He did not succeed? For as, if He had come at the very first, and had not succeeded, the time would not have been for us a sufficient excusation, so, seeing He hath succeeded, we cannot with justice be brought to account on the score of "the time." For neither does any one demand of a physician, who has removed the disease, and restored one to health, to give an account of his treatment, nor yet does any examine closely a general who has gained a victory, why at this time, and why in this place. For these things it were in place to ask, had he not been successful; but when he has been successful, they must even be taken for granted. For, tell me, whether is more worthy of credit, thy reasoning and calumny, or the perfection of the thing? Conquered He, or conquered He not? show this. Prevailed He, or prevailed He not? Accomplished He what He said, or no? These are the articles of enquiry. Tell me, I pray. Thou fully grantest that God is, even though not Christ? I ask thee then; Is God without beginning? Thou wilt say, Certainly. Tell me then, why made He not men myriads of years before? For they would have lived through a longer time. They were now losers by that time during which they were not. Nay, they were not losers; but how, He who made them alone knows. Again, I ask thee, why did He not make all men at once? But his soul, whoever was first made, hath so many years of existence, of which that one is deprived which is not yet created. Wherefore made He the one to be brought first into this world, and the other afterwards?
Although these things are really fit subjects for enquiry: yet not for a meddling curiosity: for this is not for enquiry at all. For I will tell you the reason I spoke of. For suppose human nature as being some one continued life, and that in the first times our race was in the position of boyhood; in those that succeeded, of manhood; and in these that are near extreme age, of an old man. Now when the soul is at its perfection, when the limbs of the body are unstrung, and our war is over, we are then brought to philosophy. On the contrary, one may say, we teach boys whilst young. Yes, but not the great doctrines, but rhetoric, and expertness with language; and the other when they are come to ripeness of age. See God also doing the same with the Jews. For just as though the Jews had been little children, he placed Moses over them as a schoolmaster, and like little children he managed these things for them through shadowy representations, as we teach letters. "For the law had a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things." (Heb. x. 1.) As we both buy cakes for children and give them pieces of money, requiring of them one thing only, that for the present they would go to school; so also God at that time gave them both wealth and luxury, purchasing from them by this His great indulgence one only thing, that they would listen to Moses. Therefore He delivered them over to a schoolmaster, that they might not despise Himself as a tender, loving Father. See then that they feared him only; for they said not, Where is God? but, Where is Moses? and his very presence was fearful. So when they did amiss, observe how he punished them. For God indeed was desirous of casting them off; but he would not permit Him. Or rather the whole was of God; just as when a Father threatens whilst a schoolmaster entreats Him, and says, "Forgive them, I pray, on my account, and henceforward I undertake for them." In this way was the wilderness a school. And as children who have been a long while at school are desirous of quitting it, so also were they at that time continually desiring Egypt, and weeping, saying, "We are lost, we are wholly consumed, we are utterly undone." (Ex. xvi. 3.) And Moses broke their tablet, having written for them, as it were, certain words (Ex. xxxii. 19); just as a schoolmaster would do, who having taken up the writing tablet, and found it badly written, throws away the tablet itself, desiring to show great anger; and if he have broken it, the father is not angry. For he indeed was busy writing, but they not attending to him, but turning themselves other ways, were committing disorder. And as in school, they strike each other, so also, on that occasion, he bade them strike and slay each other. And again, having given them as it were lessons to learn, then asking for them, and finding they had not learnt them, he would punish them. For instance. What writings were those that denoted the power of God? The events in Egypt? Yes, saith one, but these writings represented the plagues, that He punishes His enemies. And to them it was a school. For what else was the punishment of your enemies but your benefit? And in other respects too, He benefited you. And it was the same as if one should say he knew his letters, but when asked up and down, should be at fault, and be beaten. So they also said indeed that they knew the power of God, but when asked their knowledge up and down, they could not give it, and therefore were beaten. Hast thou seen water? Thou oughtest to be reminded of the water in Egypt. For He that of water made blood, will be also of power to do this. As we also say often to the children, "when in a book thou seest the letter A, remember that thou hadst it in thy tablet." Hast thou seen famine? Remember that it was He that destroyed the crops! Hast thou seen wars? Remember the drowning! Hast thou seen that they are mighty who inhabit the land? But not mightier than the Egyptians. He who took thee out of the midst of them, will He not much more save thee when out? But they knew not how to answer their letters out of order, and therefore they were beaten. "They ate," and drank, "and kicked." (Deut. xxxii. 15.) When fed with their manna they ought not to have asked for luxury, seeing they had known the evils which proceed from it. And they acted precisely as if a free child, when sent to school, should ask to be reckoned with the slaves, and to wait on them,—so did these also in seeking Egypt—and when receiving all needful sustenance, and such as becomes a free person, and sitting at his father's table, should have a longing for the ill-savored and noisy one of the servants. And they said to Moses, "Yea, Lord, all that thou hast spoken will we do, and be obedient." (Ex. xxiv. 7.) And as it happens in the case of desperately bad children, that when the father would put them to death? the schoolmaster perseveringly entreats for them, the same was the case at that time also.
Why have we said these things? Because we differ in nothing from children. Wilt thou hear their doctrines also, that they are those of children? "Eye for eye," it is said, "and tooth for tooth." (Lev. xxiv. 20.) For nothing is so eager to revenge as a childish mind. For seeing it is a passion of irrationality, and there is much irrationality, and great lack of consideration in that age, no wonder the child is tyrannized over by anger; and so great is the tyranny, that ofttimes after stumbling and getting up again, they will smite their knee for passion, or overturn the footstool, and so will allay their pain, and quench their rage. In some such way as this did God also deal with them, when He allowed them to strike out "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth," and destroyed the Egyptians and the Amalekites that had grieved them. And He promised such things; as if to one who said, "Father, such and such an one has beaten me," the father should then reply, "Such and such an one is a bad man, and let us hate him." So also doth God say," I will be their enemy that are thine enemies, and I will hate them that hate thee." (Ex. xxiii. 22.) And again, when Balaam prayed, the condescension which was used towards them was childish. For as with children, when having been frightened at anything not frightful, such as either a lock of wool, or any other thing of like sort, they are suddenly alarmed; that their fear may not continue in them, we bring the thing up to their hands, and make their nurses show it them: so also did God; seeing that the Prophet was a terror to them, he turned the terror of him into confidence. And as children who are under weaning have all manner of things in little baskets, so also did He give them everything, and dainties in abundance. Still the child longs for the breast; so did these also for Egypt and the flesh that was there.
So that one would not be wrong in calling Moses both a teacher, and a nursing-father, and a conductor (Ex. xvi. 3; Num. xi. 4, 5); the man's wisdom was great. Howbeit it is not the same thing to guide men who are already philosophers, and to rule unreasoning children. And, if you are inclined to hear yet another particular; as the nurse says to the child, When thou easest thyself, take up thy garments, and for as long as thou sittest, so also did Moses. (Deut. xxiii. 13.) For all the passions are tyrannous in children (for as yet they have not that which is to bridle them), vainglory, desire, irrationality, anger, envy; just as in children, so they prevailed; they spat upon, they beat, Moses. And as a child takes up a stone, and we all exclaim, O do not throw it; so did they also take up stones against their father; and he fled from them. And as, if a father have any ornament, the child, being fond of ornament, asks him for it, in like manner, truly, did the party of Dathan and Abiram act, when they rebelled for the priesthood. (Num. xvi.) And besides, they were of all people the most envious, and little-minded, and in all respects imperfect.
Ought then Christ, tell me, to have appeared at that time, at that time to have given them these teachings of true wisdom, when they were raging with lust, when they were as horses mad for the mare, when they were the slaves of money, of the belly? Nay, He would but have wasted his lessons of wisdom in discoursing with those of no understanding; and they would have neither learnt one thing nor the other. And as he who teaches to read before he has taught the alphabet, will never teach even so much as the alphabet; so indeed would it then have been also. But not so now, for by the grace of God much forbearance, much virtue, hath been planted everywhere. Let us give thanks then for all things, and not be over curious. For it is not we that know the due time, but He, The Maker of the time, and The Creator of the ages.
In everything then yield we to Him: for this is to glorify God, not to demand of Him an account of what He doeth. In this way too did Abraham give glory to God; "And being fully persuade," we read, "that what He had promised, He was able to perform." (Rom. iv. 21.) He did not ask about the future even; but we scrutinize the account even of the past. See how great folly, how great ingratitude, is here. But let us for the future have done, for no gain comes of it, but much harm even; and let our minds be gratefully disposed towards our Master, and let us send up glory to God, that making for all things an offering of thanksgiving, we may be counted worthy of His lovingkindness, through the grace and love toward man of His Only-begotten, with whom, &c.
"Even the mystery which hath been hid from all ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to His saints, to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ."
Having said what we have come to, and showed the loving kindness of God and the honor, by the greatness of the things given, he introduces yet another consideration that heightens them, namely, that neither before us did any one know Him. As he doth also in the Epistle to the Ephesians, saying, neither Angels, nor principalities, nor any other created power, but only the Son of God knew. (Eph. iii. 5, 9, 10.) And he said, not simply hid, but "quite hid," and that even if it hath but now come to pass, yet it is of old, and from the beginning God willed these things, and they were so planned out; but why, he saith not yet. "From the ages," from the beginning, as one might say. And with reason he calleth that a mystery, which none knew, save God. And where hid? In Christ; as he saith in the Epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. iii. 9), or as when the Prophet saith, "From everlasting even to everlasting Thou art." (Ps. xc. 2.) But now hath been manifested, he saith, "to His saints." So that it is altogether of the dispensation of God. "But now hath been manifested," he saith. He saith not, "is come to pass," but, "hath been manifested to His saints." So that it is even now still hid, since it hath been manifested to His saints alone.
Let not others therefore deceive you, for they know not. Why to them alone? "To whom He was pleased," he saith. See how everywhere He stops the mouth of their questions. "To whom God was pleased to make known," he saith. Yet His will is not without reason. By way of making them accountable for grace, rather than allowing them to have high thoughts, as though it were of their own achieving, he said, "To whom he was pleased to make known." "What is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles." He hath spoken loftily, and accumulated emphasis, seeking, out of his great earnestness, for amplification upon amplification. For this also is an amplification, the saying indefinitely, "The riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles." For it is most of all apparent among the Gentiles, as he also says elsewhere, "And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy." (Rom. xv. 9.) For the great glory of this mystery is apparent among others also, but much more among these. For, on a sudden, to have brought men more senseless than stones to the dignity of Angels, simply through bare words, and faith alone, without any laboriousness, is indeed glory and riches of mystery: just as if one were to take a dog, quite consumed with hunger and the mange, foul, and loathsome to see, and not so much as able to move, but lying cast out, and make him all at once into a man, and to display him upon the royal throne. They were wont to worship stones and the earth; but they learned that themselves are better both than the heaven and the sun, and that the whole world serveth them; they were captives and prisoners of the devil: on a sudden they are placed above his head, and lay commands on him and scourge him: from being captives and slaves to demons, they are become the body of The Master of the Angels and the Archangels; from not knowing even what God is, they are become all at once sharers even in God's throne. Wouldest thou see the countless steps they overleaped? First, they had to learn that stones are not gods; secondly, that they not only are not gods, but inferior even to men; thirdly, to brutes even; fourthly, to plants even; fifthly, they brought together the extremes: that not only stones but not earth even, nor animals, nor plants, nor man, nor heaven; or, to begin again, that not stones, not animals, not plants, not elements, pot things above, not things below, not man, not demons, not Angels, not Archangels, not any of those Powers above, ought to be worshiped by the nature of man. Being drawn up, as it were, from some deep, they had to learn that the Lord of all, He is God, that Him alone is it right to worship; that the virtuous life is a good thing; that this present death is not death, nor this life, life; that the body is raised, that it becomes incorruptible, that it will ascend into heaven, that it obtains even immortality, that it standeth with Angels, that it is removed thither. But Him who was there below, having cleared at a bound all these steps, He has placed on high upon the throne, having made Him that was lower than the stones, higher in dominion than the Angels, and the Archangels, and the thrones, and the dominions. Truly "What is the riches of the glory of this mystery?" Just as if one should show a fool to be all at once made a philosopher; yea rather, whatsoever one should say, it would be as nothing: for even the words of Paul are undefined. "What is the riches," he saith, "of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you?" Again, they had to learn that He who is above, and who ruleth Angels and dominions, and all the other Powers, came down below, and was made Man, and suffered countless things, and rose again, and was received up.
All these things were of the mystery; and he sets them down together with lofty praise, saying, "Which is Christ in you?" But if He be in you, why seek ye Angels? "Of this mystery." For there are other mysteries besides. But this is really a mystery, which no one knew, which is marvelous, which is beside the common expectation, which was hid. "Which is Christ in you," he saith, "the hope of glory, whom we proclaim," bringing Him from above. "Whom we," not Angels: "teaching" and "admonishing": not imperiously nor using constraint, for this too is of God's lovingkindness to men, not to bring them to Him after the manner of a tyrant. Seeing it was a great thing he had said, "teaching," he added, "admonishing," which is rather like a father than an instructor. "Whom," saith he, "we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom." So that all wisdom is needed. That is, saying all things in wisdom. For the ability to learn such things exists not in every one. "That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." What sayest thou, "every man"? Yea; this is what we are earnestly desirous of doing, he saith. For what, if this do not come to pass? the blessed Paul endeavored. "Perfect." This then is perfection, the other is imperfect: so that if one have not even the whole of wisdom, he is imperfect. "Perfect in Christ Jesus," not in the Law, nor in Angels, for that is not perfection. "In Christ," that is, in the knowledge of Christ. For he that knows what Christ has done, will have higher thoughts than to be satisfied with Angels.
"In Christ Jesus"; ver. 29. "Whereunto I labor also, striving." And he said not, "I am desirous" merely, nor in any indifferent way, but "I labor, striving," with great earnestness, with much watching. If I, for your good, thus watch, much more ought ye. Then again, showing that it is of God, he saith, "according to His working which worketh in me mightily." He shows that this is the work of God. He, now, that makes me strong for this, evidently wills it. Wherefore also when beginning he saith, "Through the will of God." (Ver. 1.) So that it is not only out of modesty he so expresses himself, but insisting on the truth of the Word as well. "And striving." In saying this, he shows that many are fighting against him. Then great is his tender affection.
Chap. ii. v. 1. "For I would have you know how greatly I strive for you, and for them at Laodicea."
Then lest this should seem owing to their peculiar weakness, he joined others also with them, and as yet condemned them not. But why does he say, "And as many as have not seen my face in the flesh"? He shows here after a divine manner, that they saw him constantly in the Spirit. And he bears witness to their great love.
Ver. 2. 3. "That their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God the Father, and of Christ: in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden."
Now henceforward he is hastening and in pangs to enter upon the doctrine, neither accusing them, nor clearing them of accusation. "I strive," he saith. To what end? That they may be knit together. What he means is something like this; that they may stand firm in the faith. He doth not however so express himself; but extenuates the matter of accusation. That is, that they may be united with love, not with necessity nor with force. For as I have said, he always avoids offending, by leaving it to themselves; and therefore "striving," because I wish it to be with love, and willingly. For I do not wish it to be with the lips merely, nor merely that they shall be brought together, but "that their hearts may be comforted."
"Being knit together in love unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding." That is, that they may doubt about nothing, that they may be fully assured in all things. But I meant full assurance which is by faith, for there is a full assurance which cometh by arguments, but that is worthy of no consideration. I know, he saith, that ye believe, but I would have you fully assured: not "unto riches" only, but "unto all riches"; that your full assurance may be intense, as well as in all things. And observe the wisdom of this blessed one. He said not, "Ye do ill that ye are not fully assured," nor accused them; but, ye know not how desirous I am that ye may be fully assured, and not merely so, but with understanding. For seeing he spoke of faith; suppose not, he saith, that I meant barely and unprofitably, but with understanding and love. "That they may know the mystery of God the Father and of Christ." So that this is the mystery of God, the being brought unto Him by the Son. "And of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." But if they are in Him, then wisely also no doubt He came at this time. Wherefore then do some foolish persons object to Him, "See how He discourseth with the simpler sort." "In whom are all the treasures." He himself knows all things. "Hid," for think not in truth that ye already have all; they are hidden also even from Angels, not, from you only; so that you ought to ask all things from Him. He himself giveth wisdom and knowledge. Now by saying, "treasures," he shows their largeness, by "All," that He is ignorant of nothing, by "hid," that He alone knoweth.
Ver. 4. "This I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech."
Seest thou that he saith, I have therefore said this, that ye may not seek it from men. "Delude you," he saith, "with persuasiveness of speech." For what if any doth speak, and speak persuasively?
Ver. 5. "For though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit."
The direct thing to have said here was, "even though I be absent in the flesh, yet, nevertheless, I know the deceivers"; but instead he has ended with praise, "Joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ." "Your order," he means, your good order. "And the steadfastness of your faith in Christ." This is still more in the way of encomium. And he said not "faith," but steadfastness, as to soldiers standing in good order and firmly. Now that which is steadfast, neither deceit nor trial can shake asunder. Not only, he saith, have ye not fallen, but no one hath so much as thrown you into disorder. He hath set himself over them, that they may fear him as though present; for thus is order preserved. From solidity follows compactedness, for you will then produce solidity, when having brought many things together, you shall cement them compactedly and inseparably; thus a solidity is produced, as in the case of a wall. But this is the peculiar work of love; for those who were by themselves, when it hath closely cemented and knit them together, it renders solid. And faith, again, doeth the same thing; when it allows not reasonings to intrude themselves. For as reasonings divide, and shake loose, so faith causes solidity and compactness.
For seeing God hath bestowed upon us benefits surpassing man's reasoning, suitably enough He hath brought in faith. It is not possible to be steadfast, when demanding reasons. For behold all our lofty doctrines, how destitute they are of reasonings, and dependent upon faith alone. God is not anywhere, and is everywhere. What hath less reason in it than this? Each by itself is full of difficulty. For, indeed, He is not in place; nor is there any place in which He is. He was not made, He made not Himself, He never began to be. What reasoning will receive this, if there be not faith? Does it not seem to be utterly ridiculous, and more endless than a riddle?
Now that He hath no beginning, and is uncreate, and uncircumscribed, and infinite, is, as we have said, a manifest difficulty; but let us consider His incorporealness, whether we can search out this by reasoning. God is incorporeal. What is incorporeal? A bare word, and no more, for the apprehension has received nothing, has impressed nothing upon itself; for if it does so impress, it comes to nature, and what constitutes body. So that the mouth speaks indeed, but the understanding knows not what it speaks, save one thing only, that it is not body, this is all it knows. And why do I speak of God? In the case of the soul, which is created, inclosed, circumscribed, what is incorporealness? say! show! Thou canst not. Is it air? But air is body, even though it be not compact, and it is plain from many proofs that it is a yielding body. Fire is body, whilst the energy of the soul is bodiless. Wherefore? Since it penetrateth everywhere. If it is not itself body, then that which is incorporeal exists in place, therefore it is circumscribed; and that which is circumscribed has figure; and figures are linear, and lines belong to bodies. Again, that which is without figure, what conception does it admit? It has no figure, no form, no outline. Seest thou how the understanding becomes dizzy?
Again, That Nature [viz. God's] is not susceptible of evil. But He is also good of His own will; it is therefore susceptible. But one may not so say, far be it! Again, was He brought into being, willing it, or not willing it? But neither may one say this. Again, circumscribes He the world, or no? If He circumscribes it not, He is Himself circumscribed, but if He circumscribes it, He is infinite in His nature. Again, circumscribes He Himself? If He circumscribes Himself, then He is not without beginning to Himself, but to us; therefore He is not in His nature without beginning. Everywhere one must grant contradictories.
Seest thou how great the darkness is; and how everywhere there is need of faith. This it is, that is solid. But, if you will, let us come to things which are less than these. That substance hath an operation. And what in His case is operation? Is it a certain motion? Then He is not immutable: for that which is moved, is not immutable: for, from being motionless it becomes in motion. But nevertheless He is in motion, and never stands still. But what kind of motion, tell me; for amongst us there are seven kinds; down, up, in, out, right, left, circular, or, if not this, increase, decrease, generation, destruction, alteration. But is His motion none of these, but such as the mind is moved with? No, nor this either. Far be it! for in many things the mind is even absurdly moved. Is to will, to operate, or not? If to will is to operate, and He wills all men to be good, and to be saved (1 Tim. ii. 4), how comes it not to pass? But to will is one thing, to operate, another. To will then is not sufficient for operation. How then saith the Scripture, "He hath done whatsoever He willed"? (Ps. cxv. 3.) And again, the leper saith unto Christ, "If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean." (Matt. viii. 2.) For if this follows in company with the will, what is to be said? Will ye that I mention yet another thing? How were the things that are, made out of things that are not? How will they be resolved into nothing? What is above the heaven? And again, what above that? and what above that? and beyond that? and so on to infinity. What is below the earth? Sea, and beyond this, what? and beyond that again? Nay; to the right, and to the left, is there not the same difficulty?
But these indeed are things unseen. Will ye that I lead the discourse to those which are seen; those which have already happened? Tell me, how did the beast contain Jonah in its belly, without his perishing? Is it not void of reason, and its motions without control? How spared it the righteous man? How was it that the heat did not suffocate him? How was it that it putrefied him not? For if to be in the deep only, is past contriving, to be both in the creature's bowels, and in that heat, is very far more unaccountable. If from within we breathe the air, how did the respiration suffice for two animals? And how did it also vomit him forth unharmed? And how too did he speak? And how too was he self-possessed, and prayed? Are not these things incredible? If we test them by reasonings, they are incredible, if by faith, they are exceeding credible.
Shall I say something more than this? The wheat in the earth's bosom decays, and rises again. Behold marvels, opposite, and each surpassing the other; marvelous is the not becoming corrupted, marvelous, after becoming so, is the rising again. Where are they that make sport of such things, and disbelieve the Resurrection and say, This bone how shall it be cemented to that? and introduce such like silly tales. Tell me, how did Elias ascend in a chariot of fire? Fire is wont to burn, not to carry aloft. How lives he so long a time? In what place is he? Why was this done? Whither was Enoch translated? Lives he on like food with us? and what is it hinders him from being here? Nay, but does he not eat? And wherefore was he translated? Behold how God schooleth us by little and little. He translated Enoch; no very great thing that. This instructed us for the taking up of Elias. He shut in Noe into the ark (Gen. vii. 7); nor is this either any very great thing. This instructed us for the shutting up of the prophet within the whale. Thus even the things of old stood in need of forerunners and types. For as in a ladder the first step sends on to the second, and from the first it is not possible to step to the fourth, and this sends one on to that, that that may be the way to the next; and as it is not possible either to get to the second before the first; so also is it here.
And observe the signs of signs, and thou wilt discern this in the ladder which Jacob saw. "Above," it is said, "the Lord stood fast, and underneath Angels were ascending and descending." (Gen. xxviii. 13.) It was prophesied that the Father hath a Son; it was necessary this should be believed. Whence wouldest thou that I show thee the signs of this? From above, downward? From beneath, upward? Because He begetteth without passion, for this reason did she that was barren first bear. Let us rather go higher. It was necessary to be believed, that He begat of Himself. What then? The thing happens obscurely indeed, as in type and shadow, but still it doth happen, and as it goes on it becomes somehow clearer. A woman is formed out of man alone, and he remains whole and entire. Again, it was necessary there should be some sure sign of the Conception of a Virgin. So the barren beareth, not once only, but a second time and a third, and many times. Of His birth then of a Virgin, the barren is a type, and she sends the mind forward to faith. Again, this was a type of God being able to beget alone. For if man is the chief agent, and birth takes place without him, in a more excellent way, much rather, is One begotten of the Chiefest Agent. There is still another generation, which is a type of the Truth. I mean, ours by the Spirit. Of this again the barren a type, the fact that it is not of blood (John i. 13); this pertains to the generation above. The one—as also the types—shows that the generation is to be without passion; the other, that it could proceed from one above.
Christ is above, ruling over all things: it was necessary this should be believed. The same takes place in the earth with respect to man. "Let Us make man after Our image and likeness" (Gen. i. 26), for dominion of all the brutes. Thus He instructed us, not by words, but by actions. Paradise showed the separateness of his nature, and that man was the best thing of all. Christ was to rise again; see now how many sure signs there were; Enoch, Elias, Jonas, the fiery furnace, the case of Noah, baptism, the seeds, the plants, our own generation, that of all animals. For since on this everything was at stake, it, more than any other, had abundance of types.
That the Universe is not without a Providence we may conjecture from things amongst ourselves, for nothing will continue to exist, if not provided for; but even herds, and all other things stand in need of governance. And that the Universe was not made by chance, Hell is a proof, and so was the deluge in Noah's day, the fire, the overwhelming of the Egyptians in the sea, the things which happened in the wilderness.
It was necessary too that many things should prepare the way for Baptism; yea, thousands of things; those, for instance, in the Old Testament, those in the Pool, the cleansing of him that was not sound in health, the deluge itself, and all the things that have been done in water, the baptism of John.
It was necessary to be believed that God giveth up His Son; a man did this by anticipation, Abraham the Patriarch. Types then of all these things, if we are so inclined, we shall find by searching in the Scriptures. But let us not be weary, but attune ourselves by these things. Let us hold the faith steadfastly, and show forth strictness of life: that having through all things returned thanks to God, we may be counted worthy of the good things promised to them that love Him, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.
"As therefore ye received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in your faith, even as ye were taught, abounding in thanksgiving."
Again, he takes hold on them beforehand with their own testimony, saying, "As therefore ye received." We introduce no strange addition, he saith, neither do ye. "Walk ye in Him," for He is the Way that leadeth to the Father: not in the Angels; this way leadeth not thither. "Rooted," that is, fixed; not one while going this way, another that, but "rooted": now that which is rooted, never can remove. Observe how appropriate are the expressions he employs. "And built up," that is, in thought attaining unto Him. "And stablished" in Him, that is, holding Him, built as on a foundation. He shows that they had fallen down, for the word "built" has this force. For the faith is in truth a building; and needs both a strong foundation, and secure construction. For both if any one build not upon a secure foundation it will shake; and even though he do, if it be not firm, it will not stand. "As ye were taught." Again, the word "As." "Abounding," he saith, "in thanksgiving"; for this is the part of well-disposed persons, I say not simply to give thanks, but with great abundance, more than ye learned, if possible, with much ambition.
Ver. 8. "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you."
Seest thou how he shows him to be a thief, and an alien, and one that enters in softly? For he has already represented him to be entering in. "Beware." And he well said "maketh spoil." As one digging away a mound from underneath, may give no perceptible sign, yet it gradually settles, so do you also beware; for this is his main point, not even to let himself be perceived. As if some one were robbing every day, and he (the owner of the house) were told, "Beware lest there be some one"; and he shows the way— through this way—as if we were to say, through this chamber; so, "through philosophy," says he.
Then because the term "philosophy" has an appearance of dignity, he added, "and vain deceit." For there is also a good deceit; such as many have been deceived by, which one ought not even to call a deceit at all. Whereof Jeremiah speaks; "O Lord, Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived" (Jer. xx. 7); for such as this one ought not to call a deceit at all; for Jacob also deceived his father, but that was not a deceit, but an economy. "Through his philosophy," he saith, "and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Now he sets about to reprove their observance of particular days, meaning by elements of the world the sun and moon; as he also said in the Epistle to the Galatians, "How turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly elements?" (Gal. iv. 9.) And he said not observances of days, but in general of the present world, to show its worthlessness: for if the present world be nothing, much more then its elements. Having first shown how great benefits and kindnesses they had received, he afterwards brings on his accusation, thereby to show its greater seriousness, and to convict his hearers. Thus too the Prophets do. They always first point out the benefits, and then they magnify their accusation; as Esaias saith, "I have begotten children, and exalted them, but they have rejected me" (Isa. i. 2, Sept.); and again, "O my people, what have I done unto thee, or wherein have I grieved thee, or wherein have I wearied thee"? (Mic. vi. 3) and David; as when he says, "I heard thee in the secret place of the tempest" (Ps. lxxxi. 7, Sept.); and again, "Open thy mouth, and I will fill it." (Ps. lxxxi. 10.) And everywhere you will find it the same.
That indeed were most one's duty, not to be persuaded by them, even did they say aught to the purpose; as it is, however, obligations apart even, it would be our duty to shun those things. "And not after Christ," he saith. For were it in such sort a matter done by halves, that ye were able to serve both the one and the other not even so ought ye to do it; as it is, however, he suffers you not to be "after Christ." Those things withdraw you from Him. Having first shaken to pieces the Grecian observances, he next overthrows the Jewish ones also. For both Greeks and Jews practiced many observances, but the former from philosophy, the latter from the Law. First then, he makes at those against whom lay the heavier accusation. How, "not after Christ "?
Ver. 9, 10. "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily: and in Him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power."
Observe how in his accusing of the one he thrusts through the other, by first giving the solution, and then the objection. For such a solution is not suspected, and the hearer accepts it the rather, that the speaker is not making it his aim. For in that case indeed he would make a point of not coming off worsted, but in this, not so. "For in Him dwelleth," that is, for God dwelleth in Him. But that thou mayest not think Him enclosed, as in a body, he saith, "All the fullness of the Godhead bodily: and ye are made full in Him." Others say that he intends the Church filled by His Godhead, as he elsewhere saith, "of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. i. 23), and that the term "bodily" is here, as the body in the head. How is it then that he did not add, "which is the Church"? Some again say it is with reference to The Father, that he says that the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him, but wrongly. First, because "to dwell," cannot strictly be said of God: next, because the "fullness" is not that which receives, for "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof" (Ps. xxiv. 1); and again the Apostle, "until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." (Rom. xi. 25.) By "fullness" is meant "the whole." Then the word "bodily," what did it intend? "As in a head." But why does he say the same thing over again? "And ye are made full in Him." What then does it mean? That ye have nothing less than He. As it dwelt in Him, so also in you. For Paul is ever straining to bring us near to Christ; as when he says, "Hath raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with Him" (Eph. ii. 6): and, "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Tim. ii. 12): and, "How shall He not also with Him freely give us all things" (Rom. viii. 32): and calling us "fellow-heirs." Then as for His dignity. And He "is the head of all principality and power." (Eph. iii. 6.) He that is above all, The Cause, is He not Consubstantial? Then he has added the benefit in a marvelous way; and far more marvelous than in the Epistle to the Romans. For there indeed he saith, "circumcision of the heart in the spirit, not in the letter" (Rom. ii. 29), but here, in Christ./
Ver. 11. "In whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ."
See how near he is come to the thing. He saith, "In the putting" quite away, not putting off merely. "The body of sins." He means, "the old life." He is continually adverting to this in different ways, as he said above, "Who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and reconciled us who were alienated," that we should be "holy and without blemish." (Col. i. 13, 21.) No longer, he saith, is the circumcision with the knife, but in Christ Himself; for no hand imparts this circumcision, as is the case there, but the Spirit. It circumciseth not a part, but the whole man. It is the body both in the one and the other case, but in the one it is carnally, in the other it is spiritually circumcised; but not as the Jews, for ye have not put off flesh, but sins. When and where? In Baptism. And what he calls circumcision, he again calls burial. Observe how he again passes on to the subject of righteous doings; "of the sins," he saith, "of the flesh," the things they had done in the flesh. He speaks of a greater thing than circumcision, for they did not merely cast away that of which they were circumcised, but they destroyed it, they annihilated it.
Ver. 12. "Buried with him," he saith, "in Baptism, wherein ye were also raised with Him, through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead."
But it is not burial only: for behold what he says, "Wherein ye were also raised with Him, through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." He hath well said, "of faith," for it is all of faith. Ye believed that God is able to raise, and so ye were raised. Then note also His worthiness of belief, "Who raised Him," he saith, "from the dead."
He now shows the Resurrection. "And you who sometime were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did He quicken together with Him." For ye lay under judgment of death. But even though ye died, it was a profitable death. Observe how again he shows what they deserved in the words he subjoins:
Ver. 13, 14, 15. "Having forgiven us all our trespasses; having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the Cross; having put off from himself the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
"Having forgiven us," he saith, "all our trespasses," those which produced that deadness. What then? Did He allow them to remain? No, He even wiped them out; He did not scratch them out merely; so that they could not be seen. "In doctrines" [ordinances], he saith. What doctrines? The Faith. It is enough to believe. He hath not set works against works, but works against faith. And what next? Blotting out is an advance upon remission; again he saith, "And hath taken it out of the way." Nor yet even so did He preserve it, but rent it even in sunder, "by nailing it to His Cross." "Having put off from himself the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." Nowhere has he spoken in so lofty a strain.
Seest thou how great His earnestness that the bond should be done away? To wit, we all were under sin and punishment. He Himself, through suffering punishment, did away with both the sin and the punishment, and He was punished on the Cross. To the Cross then He affixed it; as having power, He tore it asunder. What bond? He means either that which they said to Moses, namely, "All that God hath said will we do, and be obedient" (Ex. xxiv. 3), or, if not that, this, that we owe to God obedience; or if not this, he means that the devil held possession of it, the bond which God made for Adam, saying, "In the day thou eatest of the tree, thou shalt die." (Gen. ii. 17.) This bond then the devil held in his possession. And Christ did not give it to us, but Himself tore it in two, the action of one who remits joyfully.
"Having put off from himself the principalities and the powers." He means the diabolical powers; because human nature had arrayed itself in these, or because they had, as it were, a hold, when He became Man He put away from Himself that hold. What is the meaning of "He made a show of them"? And well said he so; never yet was the devil in so shameful a plight. For whilst expecting to have Him, he lost even those he had; and when That Body was nailed to the Cross, the dead arose. There death received his wound, having met his death-stroke from a dead body. And as an athlete, when he thinks he has hit his adversary, himself is caught in a fatal grasp; so truly doth Christ also show, that to die with confidence is the devil's shame.
For he would have done everything to persuade men that He did not die, had he had the power. For seeing that of His Resurrection indeed all succeeding time was proof demonstrative; whilst of His death, no other time save that whereat it happened could ever furnish proof; therefore it was, that He died publicly in the sight of all men, but He arose not publicly, knowing that the after time would bear witness to the truth. For, that whilst the world was looking on, the serpent should be slain on high upon the Cross, herein is the marvel. For what did not the devil do, that He might die in secret? Hear Pilate saying, "Take ye Him away, and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him" (John xix. 6), and withstanding them in a thousand ways. And again the Jews said unto Him, "If Thou art the Son of God, come down from the Cross." (Matt. xxvii. 40.) Then further, when He had received a mortal wound, and He came not down, for this reason He was also committed to burial; for it was in His power to have risen immediately: but He did not, that the fact might be believed. And yet in cases of private death indeed, it is possible to impute them to a swoon, but here, it is not possible to do this either. For even the soldiers brake not His legs, like those of the others, that it might be made manifest that He was dead. And those who buried The Body are known; and therefore too the Jews themselves seal the stone along with the soldiers. For, what was most of all attended to, was this very thing, that it should not be in obscurity. And the witnesses to it are from enemies, from the Jews. Hear them saying to Pilate, "That deceiver said, while he was vet alive, After three days I rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre" (Matt. xxvi. 63, 64) be guarded by the soldiers. This was accordingly done, themselves also sealing it. Hear them further saying even afterwards to the Apostles, "Ye intend to bring this Man's blood upon us." (Acts v. 28.) He suffered not the very fashion of His Cross to be put to shame. For since the Angels have suffered nothing like it, He therefore doth everything for this, showing that His death achieved a mighty work. There was, as it were, a single combat. Death wounded Christ: but Christ, being wounded, did afterwards kill death. He that seemed to be immortal, was destroyed by a mortal body; and this the whole world saw. And what is truly wonderful is, that He committed not this thing to another. But there was made again a second bond of another kind than the former.
Beware then lest we be condemned by this, after saying, I renounce Satan, and array myself with Thee, O Christ. Rather however this should not be called "a bond," but a covenant. For that is "a bond," whereby one is held accountable for debts: but this is a covenant. It hath no penalty, nor saith it, If this be done or if this be not done: what Moses said when he sprinkled the blood of the covenant, by this God also promised everlasting life. All this is a covenant. There, it was slave with master, here it is friend with friend: there, it is said, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt die" (Gen. ii. 17); an immediate threatening; but here is nothing of the kind. God arrives, and here is nakedness, and there was nakedness; there, however, one that had sinned was made naked, because he sinned, but here, one is made naked, that he may be set free. Then, man put off the glory which he had; now, he puts off the old man; and before going up (to the contest), puts him off as easily, as it were his garments. He is anointed, as wrestlers about to enter the lists. For he is born at once; and as that first man was, not by little and little, but immediately. (He is anointed,) not as the priests of old time, on the head alone, but rather in more abundant measure. For he indeed was anointed on the head, the right ear, the hand (Lev. viii. 23, 24); to excite him to obedience, and to good works; but this one, all over. For he cometh not to be instructed merely; but to wrestle, and to be exercised; he is advanced to another creation. For when one confesses (his belief) in the life everlasting, he has confessed a second creation. He took dust from the earth, and formed man (Gen. ii. 7): but now, dust no longer, but the Holy Spirit; with This he is formed, with this harmonized, even as Himself was in the womb of the Virgin. He said not in Paradise, but "in Heaven." For deem not that, because the subject is earth, it is done on earth; he is removed thither, to Heaven, there these things are transacted, in the midst of Angels: God taketh up thy soul above, above He harmonizeth it anew, He placeth thee near to the Kingly Throne. He is formed in the water, he receiveth spirit instead of a soul. And after he is formed, He bringeth to him, not beasts, but demons, and their prince, and saith, "Tread upon serpents and scorpions." (Luke x. 19.) He saith not, "Let Us make man in our image, and after our likeness" (Gen. i. 26), but what? "He giveth them to become the sons of God; but of God," he saith, "they were born." (John i. 12, 13.) Then that thou give no ear to the serpent, straightway he teaches thee to say, "I renounce thee," that is, "whatsoever thou sayest, I will not hear thee." Then, that he destroy thee not by means of others, it is said, "and thy pomp, and thy service, and thy angels." He hath set him no more to keep Paradise, but to have his citizenship in heaven. For straightway when he cometh up he pronounceth these words, "Our Father, Which art in Heaven, . . . Thy will be done, as in Heaven, so on earth." The plain falleth not on thy sight, thou seest not tree, nor fountain, but straightway thou takest into thee the Lord Himself, thou art mingled with His Body, thou art intermixed with that Body that lieth above, whither the devil cannot approach. No woman is there, for him to approach, and deceive as the weaker; for it is said, "There is neither female, nor male." (Gal. iii. 28.) If thou go not down to him, he will not have power to come up where thou art; for thou art in Heaven, and Heaven is unapproachable by the devil. It hath no tree with knowledge of good and evil, but the Tree of Life only. No more shall woman be formed from thy side, but we all are one from the side of Christ. For if they who have been anointed of men take no harm by serpents, neither wilt thou take any harm at all, so long as thou art anointed; that thou mayst be able to grasp the Serpent and choke him, "to tread upon serpents and scorpions." (Luke x. 19.) But as the gifts are great, so is the punishment great also. It is not possible for him that hath fallen from Paradise, to dwell "in front of Paradise" (Gen. iii. 24), nor to reascend thither from whence we have fallen. But what after this? Hell, and the worm undying. But far be it that any of us should become amenable to this punishment! but living virtuously, let us earnestly strive to do throughout His will. Let us become well-pleasing to God, that we may be able both to escape the punishment, and to obtain the good things eternal, of which may we all be counted worthy, through the grace and love toward man, &c.
"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day, or a new moon, or a sabbath day: which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ's. Let no man rob you of your prize by a voluntary humility and worshiping of the Angels, dwelling in the things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast the Head, from whom all the body being supplied and knit together, through the joints and bands, increaseth with the increase of God."
Having first said darkly, "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you after the tradition of men" (ver. 8); and again, further back, "This, I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech" (ver. 4); thus preoccupying their soul, and working in it anxious thoughts; next, having inserted those benefits, and increased this effect, he then brings in his reproof last, and says, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day, or a new moon, or a sabbath day." Seest thou how he depreciates them? If ye have obtained such things, he saith, why make yourselves accountable for these petty matters? And he makes light of them, saying, "or in the part of a feast day," for in truth they did not retain the whole of the former rule, "or a new moon, or a sabbath day." He said not, "Do not then observe them," but, "let no man judge you." He showed that they were transgressing, and undoing, but he brought his charge against others. Endure not those that judge you, he saith, nay, not so much as this either, but he argues with those persons, almost stopping their mouths, and saying, Ye ought not to judge. But he would not have reflected on these. He said not "in clean and unclean," nor yet "in feasts of Tabernacles, and unleavened bread, and Pentecost," but "in part of a feast": for they ventured not to keep the whole; and if they did observe it, yet not so as to celebrate the feast. "In part," he saith, showing that the greater part is done away. For even if they did keep sabbath, they did not do so with precision. "Which are a shadow of the things to come"; he means, of the New Covenant; "but the body" is "Christ's." Some persons here punctuate thus "but the body" is "of Christ," i.e. the truth is come in with Christ: others thus; "The Body of Christ let no man adjudge away from you," that is, thwart you of it. The term katabrabeuthh^nai, is employed when the victory is with one party, and the prize with another, when though a victor thou art thwarted. Thou standest above the devil and sin; why dost thou again subject thyself to sin? Therefore he said that "he is a debtor to fulfill the whole law" (Gal. v. 3); and again, "Is Christ" found to be "the minister of sin" (Gal. ii. 17)? which he said when writing to the Galatians. When he had filled them with anger through saying, "adjudge away from you," then he begins; "being a voluntary," he saith, "in humility and worshiping of Angels, intruding into things he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind." How "in humility," or how "puffed up "? He shows that the whole arose out of vainglory. But what is on the whole the drift of what is said? There are some who maintain that we must be brought near by Angels, not by Christ, that were too great a thing for us. Therefore it is that he turns over and over again what has been done by Christ, "through the Blood of His Cross" (c. i. 20); on this account he says that "He suffered for us"; that "He loved us." (1 Pet. ii. 21.) And besides in this very same thing, moreover, they were elevated afresh. And he said not "introduction by," but "worshiping of" Angels. "Intruding into things he hath not seen." (Eph. ii. 4.) For he hath not seen Angels, and yet is affected as though he had. Therefore he saith, "Puffed up by his fleshly mind vainly," not about any true fact. About this doctrine, he is puffed up, and puts forward a show of humility. By his carnal mind, not spiritual; his reasoning is of man. "And not holding fast the Head," he saith, "from whom all the body." All the body thence hath its being, and its well-being. Why, letting go the Head, dost thou cling to the members? If thou art fallen off from it, thou art lost. "From whom all the body." Every one, be he who he may, thence has not life only, but also even connection. All the Church, so long as she holds The Head, increaseth; because here is no more passion of pride and vainglory, nor invention of human fancy.
Mark that "from whom," meaning the Son. "Through the joints and bands," he says, "being supplied, and knit together, increases with the increase of God"; he means, that which is according to God, that of the best life. Ver. 20. "If ye died with Christ."
He puts that in the middle, and on either side, expressions of greater vehemence. "If ye died with Christ from the elements of the world," he saith, "why as though living in the world do ye subject yourselves to ordinances?" This is not the consequence, for what ought to have been said is, "how as though living are ye subject to those elements?" But letting this pass, what saith he?
Ver. 21, 22. "Handle not, nor taste, nor touch; all which things are to perish with the using; after the precepts and doctrines of men."
Ye are not in the world, he saith, how is it ye are subject to its elements? how to its observances? And mark how he makes sport of them, "touch not, handle not, taste not," as though they were cowards and keeping themselves clear of some great matters, "all which things are to perish with the using." He has taken down the swollenness of the many, and added, "after the precepts and doctrines of men." What sayest thou? Dost thou speak even of the Law? Henceforth it is but a doctrine of men, after the time is come. Or, because they adulterated it, or else, he alludes to the Gentile institutions. The doctrine, he says, is altogether of man.
Ver. 23. "Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh."
"Show," he saith; not power, not truth. So that even though they have a show of wisdom, let us turn away from them. For he may seem to be a religious person, and modest, and to have a contempt for the body.
"Not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh." For God hath given it honor, but they use it not with honor. Thus, when it is a doctrine, he knows how to call it honor. They dishonor the flesh, he says, depriving it, and stripping it of its liberty, not giving leave to rule it with its will. God hath honored the flesh.
Chap. iii. ver. 1. "If then ye were raised together with Christ."
He brings them together, having above established that He died. Therefore he saith, "If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above." No observances are there. "Where Christ is seated on the right hand of God." Wonderful! Whither hath he led our minds aloft! How hath he filled them with mighty aspiration! It was not enough to say, "the things that are above," nor yet, "where Christ is," but what? "seated on the right hand of God." From that point he was preparing them henceforward to see the earth.
Ver. 2, 3, 4. "Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life shall be manifested, then shall ye also with Him be manifested in glory."
This is not your life, he saith, it is some other one. He is now urgent to remove them, and insists upon showing that they are seated above, and are dead; from both considerations establishing the position, that they are not to seek the things which are here. For whether ye be dead, ye ought not to seek them; or Whether ye be above, ye ought not to seek them. Doth Christ appear? Neither doth your life. It is in God, above. What then? When shall we live? When Christ shall be manifested, who is your life; then seek ye glory, then life, then enjoyment.
This is to prepare the way for drawing them off from pleasure and ease. Such is his wont: when establishing one position, he darts off to another; as, for instance, when discoursing of those who at supper were beforehand with one another, he all at once falls upon the observance of the Mysteries. For he hath a great rebuke when it is administered unsuspected. "It is hid," he saith, from you. "Then shall ye also with Him be manifested." So that, now, ye do not appear. See how he hath removed them into the very heaven. For, as I said, he is always bent upon showing that they have the very same things which Christ hath; and through all his Epistles, the tenor is this, to show that in all things they are partakers with Him. Therefore he uses the terms, Head, and Body, and does everything to convey this to them.
If therefore we shall then be manifested, let us not grieve, when we enjoy not honor: if this life be not life, but it be hidden, we ought to live this life as though dead. "Then shall ye also," he saith, "with Him be manifested in glory." "In glory," he said, not merely "manifested." For the pearl too is hidden so long as it is within the oyster. If then we be treated with insult, let us not grieve; or whatever it be we suffer; for this life is not our life, we are strangers and sojourners. "For ye died," he saith. Who is so witless, as for a corpse, dead and buried, either to buy servants, or build houses, or prepare costly raiment? None. Neither then do ye; but as we seek one thing only, namely, that we be not in a naked state, so here too let us seek one thing and no more. Our first man is buried: buried not in earth, but in water; not death-destroyed, but buried by death's destroyer, not by the law of nature, but by the governing command that is stronger than nature. For what has been done by nature, may perchance be undone; but what has been done by His command, never. Nothing is more blessed than this burial, whereat all are rejoicing, both Angels, and men, and the Lord of Angels. At this burial, no need is there of vestments, nor of coffin, nor of anything else of that kind. Wouldest thou see the symbol of this? I will show thee a pool wherein the one was buried the other raised; in the Red Sea the Egyptians were sunk beneath it, but the Israelites went up from out of it; in the same act he buries the one, generates the other.
Marvel not that generation and destruction take place in Baptism; for, tell me, dissolving and cementing, are they not opposite? It is evident to all. Such is the effect of fire; for fire dissolves and destroys wax, but it cements together metallic earth, and works it into gold. So in truth here also, the force of the fire, having obliterated the statue of wax, has displayed a golden one in its stead; for in truth before the Bath we were of clay, but after it of gold. Whence is this evident? Hear him saying, "The first man is of the earth, earthy, the second man is the Lord from heaven." (1 Cor. xv. 47.) I spoke of a difference as great as that between clay and gold; but greater still do I find the difference between heavenly and earthy; not so widely do clay and gold differ, as do things earthy and heavenly. Waxen we were, and clay-formed. For the flame of lust did much more melt us, than fire doth wax, and any chance temptation did far rather shatter us than a stone doth things of clay. And, if ye will, let us give an outline of the former life, and see whether all was not earth and water, and full of fluctuation and dust, and instability, and flowing away.
And if ye will, let us scrutinize not the former things, but the present, and see whether we shall not find everything that is, mere dust and water. For what wilt thou tell me of? authority and power? for nothing in this present life is thought to be more enviable than these. But sooner may one find the dust when on the air stationary, than these things; especially now. For to whom are they not under subjection? To those who are lovers of them; to eunuchs; to those who will do anything for the sake of money; to the passions of the populace; to the wrath of the more powerful. He who was yesterday up high on his tribunal, who had his heralds shouting with thrilling voice, and many to run before, and haughtily clear the way for i him through the forum, is to-day mean and low, and of all those things bereft and bare, like dust blast-driven, like a stream that hath passed by. And like as the dust is raised by our feet, so truly are magistracies also produced by those who are engaged about money, and in the whole of life have the rank and condition of feet; and like as the dust when it is raised occupies a large portion of the air, though itself be but a small body, so too doth power; and like as the dust blindeth the eyes, so too doth the pride of power bedim the eyes of the understanding.
But what? Wilt thou that we examine that object of many prayers, wealth? Come, let us examine it in its several parts. It hath luxury, it hath honors, it hath power. First then, if thou wilt, let us examine luxury. Is it not dust? yea, rather, it goeth by swifter than dust, for the pleasure of luxurious living reacheth only to the tongue, and when the belly is filled, not to the tongue even. But, saith one, honors are of themselves pleasant things. Yet what can be less pleasant than that same honor, when it is rendered with a view to money? When it is not from free choice and with a readiness of mind, it is not thou that reapest the honor, but thy wealth. So that this very thing makes the man of wealth, most of all men, dishonored. For, tell me; suppose all men honored thee, who hadst a friend; the while confessing that thou, to be sure, wert good for nothing, but that they were compelled to honor thee on his account; could they possibly in any other way have so dishonored thee? So that our wealth is the cause of dishonor to us, seeing it is more honored than are its very possessors, and a proof rather of weakness than of power. How then is it not absurd that we are not counted of as much value as earth and ashes, (for such is gold,) but that we are honored for its sake? With reason. But not so he that despiseth wealth; for it were better not to be honored at all, than so honored. For tell me, were one to say to thee, I think thee worthy of no honor at all, but for thy servants' sakes I honor thee, could now anything be worse than this dishonor? But if to be honored for the sake of servants, who are partakers of the same soul and nature with ourselves, be a disgrace, much more then is it such, to be honored for the sake of meaner things, such as the walls and courts of houses, and vessels of gold, and garments. A scorn indeed were this, and shame; better die than be so honored. For, tell me, if thou wert in peril in this thy pride, and some low and disgusting person were to be willing to extricate thee from thy peril, what could be worse than this? What ye say one to another about the city, I wish to say to you. Once on a time our city gave offense to the Emperor, and he gave orders that the whole of it should utterly be destroyed, men, children, houses, and all. (For such is the wrath of kings, they indulge their power as much as ever they choose, so great an evil is power.) It was then in the extremest of perils. The neighboring city, however, this one on the sea-coast, went and besought the king in our behalf: upon which the inhabitants of our city said that this was worse than if the city had been razed to the ground. So, to be thus honored is worse than being dishonored. For see whence honor hath its root. The hands of cooks procure us to be honored, so that to them we ought to feel gratitude; and swineherds supplying us with a rich table, and weavers, and spinners, and workers in metal, and confectioners, and table furnishers.
Were it not then better not to be honored at all, than to be beholden to these for the honor? And besides this, moreover, I will endeavor to prove clearly that opulence is a condition full of dishonor; it embases the soul; and what is more dishonorable than this? For tell me, suppose one had a comely person, and passing all in beauty, and wealth were to go to him and promise to make it ugly, and instead of healthy, diseased, instead of cool, inflamed; and having filled every limb with dropsy, were to make the countenance bloated, and distend it all over; and were to swell out the feet, and make them heavier than logs, and to puff up the belly, and make it larger than any turn; and after this, it should promise not even to grant permission to cure him, to those who should be desirous of doing so, (for such is the way with power,) but would give him so much liberty as to punish any one that should approach him to withdraw him from what was harming him; well then, tell me, when wealth works these effects in the soul, how can it be honorable?
But this power is a more grievous thing than the disease itself; as for one in disease not to be obedient to the physician's injunctions is a more serious evil than the being diseased; and this is the case with wealth, seeing it creates inflammation in every part of the soul, and forbids the physicians to come near it. So let us not felicitate these on the score of their power, but pity them; for neither were I to see a dropsical patient lying, and nobody forbidding him to take his fill of whatever drinks he pleased and of meats that are harmful, would I felicitate him because of his power. For not in all cases is power a good thing, nor are honors either, for these too fill one with much arrogance. But if thou wouldest not choose that the body should along with wealth contract such a disease, how comest thou to overlook the soul, and when contracting not this scourge alone, but another also? For it is on fire all over with burning fevers and inflammations, and that burning fever none can quench, for wealth will not allow of this, having persuaded it that those things are gains, which are really losses, such as not enduring any one and doing everything at will. For no other soul will one find so replete with lusts so great and so extravagant, as theirs who are desirous of being rich. For what silly trifles do they not picture to themselves! One may see these devising more extravagant things than limners of hippocentaurs, and chimæras, and dragon-footed things, and Scyllas, and monsters. And if one should choose to give a picture of one lust of theirs, neither Scylla, nor chimæra, nor hippocentaur will appear anything at all by the side of such a prodigy; but you will find it to contain every wild beast at once.
And perchance some one will suppose that I have been myself possessed of much wealth, seeing I am so true to what really comes of it. It is reported of one (for I will first confirm what I have said from the legends of the Greeks)—it is reported amongst them of a certain king, that he became so insolent in luxury, as to make a plane tree of gold, and a sky above it, and there sate, and this too when invading a people skilled in warfare. Now was not this lust hippocentaurean, was it not Scyllaean? Another, again, used to cast men into a wooden bull. Was not this a very Scylla? And even him, the king I just mentioned, the warrior, wealth made, from a man a woman, from a woman, what shall I say? a brute beast, and yet more degraded than this for the beasts, if they lodge under a tree, take up with nature, and seek for nothing further but the man in question overshot the nature even of beasts.
What then can be more senseless than are the wealthy? And this arises from the greediness of their desires. But, are there not many that admire him? Therefore truly do they share in the laughter he incurs. That displayed not his wealth but his folly. How much better than that golden plane tree is that which the earth produceth! For the natural is more grateful than the unnatural. But what meant that thy golden heaven, O senseless one? Seest thou how wealth that is abundant maketh men mad? How it inflamed them? I suppose he knows not the sea even, and perchance will presently have a mind to walk upon it. Now is not this a chimæra? is it not a hippocentaur? But there are, at this time also, some who fall not short even of him, but are actually much more senseless. For in point of senselessness, wherein do they differ, tell me, from that golden plane tree, who make silver jars, pitchers, and scent bottles? And wherein do those women differ, (ashamed indeed I am, but it is necessary to speak it,) who make chamber utensils of silver? It is ye should be ashamed, that are the makers of these things. When Christ is famishing, dost thou so revel in luxury? yea rather, so play the fool! What punishment shall these not suffer? And inquirest thou still, why there are robbers? why murderers? why such evils? when the devil has thus made you ridiculous. For the mere having of silver dishes indeed, this even is not in keeping with a soul devoted to wisdom, but is altogether a piece of luxury; but the making unclean vessels also of silver, is this then luxury? nay, I will not call it luxury, but senselessness; nay, nor yet this, but madness; nay rather, worse than even madness. I know that many persons make jokes at me for this; but I heed them not, only let some good result from it. In truth, to be wealthy does make people senseless and mad. Did their power reach to such an excess, they would have the earth too of gold, and walls of gold, perchance the heaven too, and the air of gold. What a madness is this, what an iniquity, what a burning fever! Another, made after the image of God, is perishing of cold; and dost thou furnish thyself with such things as these? O the senseless pride! What more would a madman have done? Dost thou pay such honor to thine excrements, as to receive them in silver? I know that ye are shocked at hearing this; but those women that make such things ought to be shocked, and the husbands that minister to such distempers. For this is wantonness, and savageness, and inhumanity, and brutishness, and lasciviousness. What Scylla, what chimæra, what dragon, yea rather what demon, what devil would have acted on this wise? What is the benefit of Christ? what of the Faith? when one has to put up with men being heathens, yea rather, not heathens, but demons? If to adorn the head with gold and pearls be not right; one that useth silver for a service so unclean, how shall he obtain pardon? Is not the rest enough, although even it is not bearable, chairs and footstools all of silver? although even these come of senselessness. But everywhere is excessive pride; everywhere is vainglory. Nowhere is it use, but everywhere excess.
I am afraid lest, under the impulse of this madness, the race of woman should go on to assume some portentous form: for it is likely that they will wish to have even their hair of gold. Else declare that ye were not at all affected by what was said, nor were excited greatly, and fell a longing, and had not shame withheld you, would not have refused. For if they dare to do what is even more absurd than this, much more, I think, will they long for their hair, and lips, and eyebrows, and every part to be overlaid with molten gold.
But if ye are incredulous, and think I am speaking in jest, I will relate what I have heard, or rather what is now existing. The king of the Persians wears his beard golden; those who are adepts at such work winding leaf of gold about his hairs as about the woof, and it is laid up as a prodigy.
Glory to Thee, O Christ; with how many good things hast Thou filled us! How hast Thou provided for our health! From how great monstrousness, from how great unreasonableness, hast Thou set us free! Mark! I forewarn you, I advise no longer; but I command and charge; let him that wills, obey, and him that wills not, be disobedient; that if ye women do continue thus to act, I will not suffer it, nor receive you, nor permit you to pass across this threshold. For what need have I of a crowd of distempered people? And what if, in my training of you, I do not forbid what is not excessive? And yet Paul forbade both gold and pearls. (1 Tim. ii. 9.) We are laughed at by the Greeks, our religion appears a fable.
And to the men I give this advice: Art thou come to school to be instructed in spiritual philosophy? Divest thyself of that pride! This is my advice both to men and women; and if any act otherwise, henceforward I will not suffer it. The disciples were but twelve, and hear what Christ saith unto them, "Would ye also go away?" (John vi. 67.) For if we go on for ever flattering you, when shall we reclaim you? when shall we do you service? "But," saith one, "there are other sects, and people go over." This is a cold argument, "Better is one that doeth the will of the Lord, than ten thousand transgressors." (Ecclus. xvi. 3.) For, what wouldest thou choose thyself, tell me; to have ten thousand servants that were runaways and thieves, or a single one that loved thee? Lo! I admonish and command you to break up both those gay deckings for the face, and such vessels as I have described, and give to the poor, and not to be so mad.
Let him that likes quit me at once; let him that likes accuse me, I will not suffer it in any one. When I am about to be judged at the Tribunal of Christ, ye stand afar off, and your favor, while I am giving in my account. "Those words have ruined all! he says, 'let him not go and transfer himself to another sect!' Nay! he is weak! condescend to him!" To what point? Till when? Once, and twice, and thrice, but not perpetually.
Lo! I charge you again, and protest after the pattern of the blessed Paul, "that if I come again I will not spare." (2 Cor. xiii. 2.) But when ye have done as ye ought, then ye will know how great the gain is, how great the advantage. Yes! I entreat and beseech you, and would not refuse to clasp your knees and supplicate you in this behalf. What softness is it! What luxury, what wantonness! This is not luxury, but wantonness. What senselessness is it! What madness! So many poor stand around the Church; and though the Church has so many children, and so wealthy, she is unable to give relief to even one poor person; "but one is hungry, and another is drunken" (1 Cor. xi. 21); one voideth his excrement even into silver, another has not so much as bread! What madness! what brutishness so great as this? May we never come to the proof, whether we will prosecute the disobedient, nor to the indignation which allowing these practices would cause us; but that willingly and with patience we may avoid all this, that we may live to God's glory, and be delivered from, the punishment in the other world, and may obtain the good things promised to those who love Him, through the grace and love toward man, &c.
"Mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things' sake, cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience; in the which ye also walked aforetime, when ye lived in these things."
I know that many are offended by the foregoing discourse, but what can I do? ye heard what the Master enjoined. Am I to blame? what shall I do? See ye not the creditors, when debtors are obstinate, how they wear collars? Heard ye what Paul proclaimed today? "Mortify" he saith, "your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." What is worse than such a covetousness? This is worse than any desire. This is still more grievous than what I was speaking of, the madness, and the silly weakness about silver. "And covetousness," he saith, "which is idolatry." See in what the evil ends. Do not, I pray, take what I said amiss, for not by my own good- will, nor without reason, would I have enemies; but I was wishful ye should attain to such virtue, as that I might hear of you the things I ought. So that I said it not for authority's sake, nor of imperiousness, but out of pain and of sorrow. Forgive me, forgive! I have no wish to violate decency by discoursing upon such subjects, but I am compelled to it.
Not for the sake of the sorrows of the poor do I say these things, but for your salvation; for they will perish, will perish, that have not fed Christ. For what, if thou dost feed some poor man? still so long as thou livest so voluptuously and luxuriously, all is to no purpose. For what is required is, not the giving much, but not too little for the property thou hast; for this is but playing at it.
"Mortify therefore your members," he saith, "which are upon the earth." What sayest thou? Was it not thou that saidst, "Ye are buried; ye are buried together with Him; ye are circumcised: we have put off the body of the sins of the flesh" (c. ii. 11, 12; Rom. vi. 4); how then again sayest thou, "Mortify"? Art thou sporting? Dost thou thus discourse, as though those things were in us? There is no contradiction; but like as if one, who has clean Scoured a statue that was filthy, or rather who has recast it, and displayed it bright afresh, should say that the rust was eaten off and destroyed, and yet should again recommend diligence in clearing away the rust, he doth not contradict himself, for it is not that rust which he scoured off that he recommends should be cleared away, but that which grew afterwards; so it is not that former putting to death he speaks of, nor those fornications, but those which do afterwards grow.
He said that this is not our life, but another, that which is in heaven. Tell me now. When he said, Mortify your members that are upon the earth, is then the earth also accused? or does he speak of the things upon the earth as themselves sins? "Fornication, uncleanness," he saith. He has passed over the actions which it is not becoming even to mention, and by "uncleanness" has expressed all together.
"Passion," he said, "evil desire."
Lo! he has expressed the whole in the class. For envy, anger, sorrow, all are "evil desire."
"And covetousness," he saith, "which is idolatry. For which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience."
By many things he had been withdrawing them; by the benefits which are already given, by the evils to come from which we had been delivered, being who, and wherefore; and all those considerations, as, for instance, who we were, and in what circumstances, and that we were delivered therefrom, how, and in what manner, and on what terms. These were enough to turn one away, but this one is of greater force than all; unpleasant indeed to speak of, not however to disservice, but even serviceable. "For which things' sake cometh," he saith, "the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience." He said not, "upon you," but, "upon the sons of disobedience."
"In the which ye also walked aforetime, when ye lived in them." In order to shame them, he saith, "when ye lived in them," and implying praise, as now no more so living: at that time they might.
Ver. 8. "But now put ye also away all these."
He speaks always both universally and particularly; but this is from earnestness.
Ver. 8, 9. "Anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth. Lie not one to another."
"Shameful speaking," he saith, "out of your mouth," clearly intimating that it pollutes it.
Ver. 9, 10. "Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man, which is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of Him that created him."
It is worth enquiring here, what can be the reason why he calls the corrupt life, "members," and "man," and "body," and again the virtuous life, the same. And if "the man" means "sins," how is it that he saith, "with his doings"? For once he said, "the old man," showing that this is not man, but the other. The moral choice doth rather determine one than the substance, and is rather "man" than the other. For his substance casteth him not into hell, nor leadeth him into the kingdom, but men the themselves: and we neither love nor hate any one so far as he is man, but so far as he is such or such a man. If then the substance be the body, and in either sort cannot be accountable, how doth he say that it is evil? But what is that he saith, "with his doings"? He means the choice, with the acts. And he calleth him "old," on purpose to show his deformity, and hideousness, and imbecility; and "new," as if to say, Do not expect that it will be with this one even as with the other, but the reverse: for ever as he farther advances, he hasteneth not on to old age, but to a youthfulness greater than the preceding. For when he hath received a fuller knowledge, he is both counted worthy of greater things, and is in more perfect maturity, in higher vigor; and this, not from youthfulness alone, but from that "likeness" also, "after" which he is. Lo! the best life is styled a creation, after the image of Christ: for this is the meaning of, "after the image of Him that created him," for Christ too came not finally to old age, but was so beautiful as it is not even possible to tell.
Ver. 11. "Where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman: but Christ is all, and in all."
Lo! here is a third encomium of this "man." With him, there is no difference admitted either of nation, or of rank, or of ancestry, seeing he hath nothing of externals, nor needeth them for all external things are such as these, "circumcision, and uncircumcision, bondman, freeman, Greek," that is, proselyte, "and Jew," from his ancestors. If thou have only this "man," thou wilt obtain the same things with the others that have him.
"But Christ," he saith, "is all, and in all" Christ will be all things to you, both rank, and descent, "and" Himself "in you all." Or he says another thing, to wit, that ye all are become one Christ, being His body.
Ver. 12. "Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved."
He shows the easiness of virtue, so that they might both possess it continually, and use it as the greatest ornament. The exhortation is accompanied also with praise, for then its force is greatest. For they had been before holy, but not elect; but now both "elect, and holy, and beloved."
"A heart of compassion." He said not "mercy," but with greater emphasis used the two words. And he said not, that it should be as towards brethren, but, as fathers towards children. For tell me not that he sinned, therefore he said "a heart." And he said not "compassion," lest he should place them in light estimation, but "a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
Again, he speaks after the class, and he always does it; for from kindness comes humbleness of mind, and from this, longsuffering. "Forbearing," he saith, "one another," that is, passing things over And see, how he has shown it to be nothing, by calling it a "complaint," and saying, "even as Christ forgave you." Great is the example! and thus he always does; he exhorts them after Christ. "Complaint," he calls it. In these words indeed he showed it to be a petty matter; but when he has set before us the example, he has persuaded us that even if we had serious charges to bring, we ought to forgive. For the expression, "Even as Christ," signifies this, and not this only, but also with all the heart; and not this alone, but that they ought even to love. For Christ being brought into the midst, bringeth in all these things, both that even if the matters be great, and even if we have not been the first to injure, even if we be of great, they of small account, even if they are sure to insult us afterwards, we ought to lay down our lives for them, (for the words, "even as," demand this;) and that not even at death only ought one to stop, but if possible, to go on even after death.
Ver. 14. "And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness."
Dost thou see that he saith this? For since it is possible for one who forgives, not to love; yea, he saith, thou must love him too, and he points out a way whereby it becomes possible to forgive. For it is possible for one to be kind, and meek, and humbleminded, and longsuffering, and yet not affectionate. And therefore, he said at the first, "A heart of compassion," both love and pity. "And above all these things, love, which is the bond of perfectness." Now what he wishes to say is this; that there is no profit in those things, for all those things fall asunder, except they be done with love; this it is which clenches them all together; whatsoever good thing it be thou mentionest, if love be away, it is nothing, it melts away. And it is as in a ship, even though her rigging be large, yet if there be no girding ropes, it is of no service; and in an house, if there be no tie beams, it is the same; and in a body, though the bones be large, if there be no ligaments, they are of no service. For whatsoever good deeds any may have, all do vanish away, if love be not there. He said not that it is the summit, but what is greater, "the bond"; this is more necessary than the other. For "summit" indeed is an intensity of perfectness, but "bond" is the holding fast together of those things which produce the perfectness; it is, as it were, the root.
Ver. 15. "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful."
"The peace of God." This is that which is fixed and steadfast. If on man's account indeed thou hast peace, it quickly comes to dissolution, but if on God's account, never. Although he had spoken of love universally, yet again he comes to the particular. For there is a love too which is immoderate; for instance, when out of much love one makes accusations without reason, and is engaged in contentions, and contracts aversions. Not this, saith he, not this do I desire; not overdoing things, but as God made peace with you, so do ye also make it. How made He peace? Of His own will, not having received anything of you. What is this? "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts." If two thoughts are fighting together, set not anger, set not spitefulness to hold the prize, but peace; for instance, suppose one to have been insulted unjustly; of the insult are born two thoughts, the one bidding him to revenge, the other to endure; and these wrestle with one another: if the Peace of God stand forward as umpire, it bestows the prize on that which bids endure, and puts the other to shame. How? by persuading him that God is Peace, that He hath made peace with us. Not without reason he shows the great struggle there is in the matter. Let not anger, he saith, act as umpire, let not contentiousness, let not human peace, for human peace cometh of avenging, of suffering no dreadful ill. But not this do I intend, he saith, but that which He Himself left.
He hath represented an arena within, in the thoughts, and a contest, and a wrestling, and an umpire. Then again, exhortation, "to the which ye were called," he saith, that is, for the which ye were called. He has reminded them of how many good things peace is the cause; on account of this He called thee, for this He called thee, so as to receive a worthy prize. For wherefore made He us "one body "? Was it not that she might rule? Was it not that we might have occasion of being at peace? Wherefore are we all one body? and now are we one body? Because of peace we are one body, and because we are one body, we are at peace. But why said he not, "Let the peace of God be victorious," but "be umpire"? He made her the more honorable. He would not have the evil thought to come to wrestle with her, but to stand below. And the very name "prize" cheered the hearer. For if she have given the prize to the good thought, however impudently the other behave, it is thereafter of no use. And besides, the other being aware that, perform what feats he might, he should not receive the prize; however he might puff, and attempt still more vehement onsets, would desist as laboring without profit. And he well added, "And be ye thankful." For this is to be thankful, and very effectively, to deal with his fellow- servants as God doth with himself, to submit himself to the Master, to obey; to express his gratitude for all things, even though one insult him, or beat him.
For in truth he that confesses thanks due to God for what he suffers, will not revenge himself on him that has done him wrong, since he at least that takes revenge, acknowledges no gratitude. But let not us follow him (that exacted) the hundred pence, lest we hear, "Thou wicked servant," for nothing is worse than this ingratitude. So that they who revenge are ungrateful.
But why did he begin his list with fornication? For having said, "Mortify your members which are upon the earth" (c. iii. 5), he immediately says," fornication"; and so he does almost everywhere. Because this passion hath the greatest sway. For even when writing his Epistle to the Thessalonians he did the same. (1 Thess. iv. 3.) And what wonder? since to Timothy even he saith, "Keep thyself pure" (1 Tim. v. 22); and again elsewhere, "Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification," without which "no man shall see the Lord." (Heb. xii. 14.) "Put to death," he says, "your members." Ye know of what sort that is which is dead, namely, hated, loathed, dropping to decay. If thou put anything to death, it doth not when dead continue dead, but presently is corrupted, like the body. Extinguish then the heat; and nothing that is dead will continue. He shows one having the same thing in hand, which Christ wrought in the Layer; therefore also he calleth them "members," as though introducing some champion, thus advancing his discourse to greater emphasis. And he well said, "Which are upon the earth," for here they continue, and here they are corrupted, far rather than these our members. So that not so truly is the body of the earth, as sin is earthly, for the former indeed appears even beautiful at times, but those members never. And those members lust after all things that are upon the earth. If the eye be such, it seeth not the things in the heavens; if the ear, if the hand, if thou mention any other member whatsoever. The eye seeth bodies, and beauties, and riches; these are the things of earth, with these it is delighted: the ear with soft strains, and harp, and pipe, and filthy talking; these are things which are concerned with earth.
When therefore he has placed his hearers above, near the throne, he then says, "Mortify your members which are upon the earth." For it is not possible to stand above with these members; for there is nothing there for them to work upon. And this clay is worse than that, for that clay indeed becometh gold, "for this corruptible," he saith, "must put on incorruption" (1 Cor. xv. 53), but this clay can never be retempered more. So that these members are rather "upon the earth" than those. Therefore he said not, "of the earth," but, "which are upon the earth," for it is possible that these should not be upon the earth. For it is necessary that these should be "upon the earth," but that those should, is not necessary. For when the ear hears nothing of what is here uttered, but only in the heavens, when the eye sees nothing of what is here, but only what is above, it is not "upon the earth"; when the mouth speaketh nothing of the things here, it is not "upon the earth"; when the hand doeth no evil thing—these are not of things "upon the earth," but of those in the heavens.
So Christ also saith, "If thy right eye causeth thee to stumble," that is, if thou lookest unchastely, "cut it out" (Matt. v. 29), that is, thine evil thought. And he (Paul) seems to me to speak of "fornication, uncleanness, passion, desire" as the same, namely fornication: by means of all these expressions drawing us away from that thing. For in truth this is "a passion"; and like as the body is subject to any affection, either to fever or to wounds, so also is it with this. And he said not Restrain, but "Mortify" (put to death), so that they never rise up more, and "put them away." That which is dead, we put away; for instance, if there be callosities in the body, their body is dead, and we put it away. Now, if thou cut into that which is quick, it produces pain, but if into that which is dead, we are not even sensible of it. So, in truth, is it with the passions; they make the soul unclean; they make the soul, which is immortal, passible.
How covetousness is said to be idolatry, we have oftentimes explained. For the things which do most of all lord it over the human race, are these, covetousness, and unchasteness, and evil desire. "For which things' sake cometh," he saith, "the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience." Sons of disobedience, he calls them, to deprive them of excuse, and to show that it was because they would not be obedient, that they were in that condition. "In the which ye also," he saith, "walked aforetime," and (afterward) became obedient. He points them out as still in them, and praises them, saying, "But now do ye also put away all these, anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking." But against others he advanceth his discourse. Under the head of "passion and railing" he means revilings, just as under "wrath" he means wickedness. And in another place, to shame them, he says, "for we are members one of another." (Eph. iv. 25.) He makes them out to be as it were manufacturers of men; casting away this one, and receiving that. He spoke of a man's "members" (v. 5); here he saith, "all." He spoke of his heart, wrath, mouth, blasphemy, eyes, fornication, covetousness, hands and feet, lying, the understanding itself, and the old mind. One royal form it hath, that, namely, of Christ. They whom he has in view, appear to me rather to be of the Gentiles. For like as earth, being but sand, even though one part be greater, another less, losing its own previous form, doth afterwards become gold; and like as wool, of whatever kind it be, receiveth another aspect, and hides its former one: so truly is it also with the faithful. "Forbearing," he saith, "one another"; he showeth what is just. Thou forbearest him, and he thee; and so he says in the Epistle to the Galatians, "Bear ye one another's burdens." (Gal. vi. 2.) "And be ye thankful," he saith. For this is what he everywhere especially seeks; the chiefest of good things.
Give we thanks then in all things; whatever may have happened; for this is thankfulness. For to do so in prosperity indeed, is no great thing, for the nature of the circumstances of itself impels one thereto; but when being in extremities we give thanks, then it is admirable. For when, in circumstances under which others blaspheme, and exclaim discontentedly, we give thanks, see how great philosophy is here. First, thou hast rejoiced God; next, thou hast shamed the devil; thirdly, thou hast even made that which hath happened to be nothing; for all at once, thou both givest thanks, and God cuts short the pain, and the devil departs. For if thou have exclaimed discontentedly, he, as having succeeded to his wish, standeth close by thee, and God, as being blasphemed, leaveth thee, and thy calamity is heightened; but if thou have given thanks, he, as gaining nought, departs; and God, as being honored, requites thee with greater honor. And it is not possible, that a man, who giveth thanks for his evils should be sensible of them. For his soul rejoiceth, as doing what is right; forthwith his conscience is bright, it exults in its own commendation; and that soul which is bright, cannot possibly be sad of countenance. But in the other case, along with the misfortune, conscience also assails him with her lash; whilst in this she crowns, and proclaims him.
Nothing is holier than that tongue, which in evils giveth thanks to God; truly in no respect doth it fall short of that of martyrs; both are alike crowned, both this, and they. For over this one also Stands the executioner to force it to deny God, by blasphemy; the devil stands over it, torturing it with executioner thoughts, darkening it with despondencies. If then one bear his griefs, and give thanks, he hath gained a crown of martyrdom. For instance, is her little child sick, and doth she give God thanks? this is a crown to her. What torture so bad that despondency is not worse? still it doth not force her to vent forth a bitter word. It dies: again she hath given thanks. She hath become the daughter of Abraham. For if she sacrificed not with her own hand, yet was she pleased with the sacrifice, which is the same; she felt no indignation when the gift was taken away.
Again, is her child sick? She hath made no amulets. It is counted to her as martyrdom, for she sacrificed her son in her resolve. For what, even though those things are unavailing, and a mere cheat and mockery, still there were nevertheless those who persuaded her that they do avail: and she chose rather to see her child dead, than to put up with idolatry. As then she is a martyr, whether it be in her own case, or in her son's, that she hath thus acted; or in her husband's, or in any other's of her dearest; so is that other one an idolatress. For it is evident that she would have done sacrifice, had it been allowed her to do sacrifice; yea, rather, she hath even now performed the act of sacrifice. For these amulets, though they who make money by them are forever rationalizing about them, and saying, "we call upon God, and do nothing extraordinary," and the like; and "the old woman is a Christian," says he, "and one of the faithful "; the thing is idolatry. Art thou one of the faithful? sign the Cross; say, this I have for my only weapon; this for my remedy; and other I know none. Tell me, if a physician should come to one, and, neglecting the remedies belonging to his art, should use incantation, should we call that man a physician? By no means: for we see not the medicines of the healing art; so neither, in this case, do we see those of Christianity.
Other women again tie about them the names of rivers, and venture numberless things of like nature. Lo, I say, and forewarn you all, that if any be detected, I will not spare them again, whether they have made amulet, or incantation, or any other thing of such an art as this. What then, saith one, is the child to die? If he have lived through this means, he did then die, but if he have died without this, he then lived. But now, if thou seest him attaching himself to harlots, thou wishest him buried, and sayest, "why, what good is it for him to live?" but when thou seest him in peril of his salvation, dost thou wish to see him live? Heardest thou not Christ saying, "He that loseth his life, shall find it; and he that findeth it, shall lose it"? (Matt. xvi. 25.) Believest thou these sayings, or do they seem to thee fables? Tell me now, should one say, "Take him away to an idol temple, and he will live"; wouldest thou endure it? No! she replies. Why? "Because," she saith, "he urges me to commit idolatry; but here, there is no idolatry, but simple incantation:" this is the device of Satan, this is that wiliness of the devil to cloak over the deceit, and to give the deleterious drug in honey. After he found that he could not prevail with thee in the other way, he hath gone this way about, to stitched charms, and old wives' fables; and the Cross indeed is dishonored, and these charms preferred before it. Christ is cast out, and a drunken and silly old woman is brought in. That mystery of ours is trodden under foot, and the imposture of the devil dances.
Wherefore then, saith one, doth not God reprove the aid from such sources? He hath many times reproved, and yet hath not persuaded thee; He now leaveth thee to thine error, for It saith, "God gave them up unto a reprobate mind." (Rom. i. 28.) These things, moreover, not even a Greek who hath understanding could endure. A certain demagogue in Athens is reported once to have hung these things about him: when a philosopher who was his instructor, on beholding them, rebuked him, expostulated, satirized, made sport of him. For in so wretched a plight are we, as even to believe in these things!
Why, saith one, are there not now those who raise the dead, and perform cures? Yes, then, why, I say: why are there not now those who have a contempt for this present life? Do we serve God for hire? When man's nature was weaker, when the Faith had to be planted, there were even many such; but now he would not have us to hang upon these signs, but to be ready for death. Why then clingest thou to the present life? why lookest thou not on the future? and for the sake of this indeed canst bear even to commit idolatry, but for the other not so much as to restrain sadness? For this cause it is that there are none such now; because that (future) life hath seemed to us honorless, seeing that for its sake we do nothing, whilst for this there is nothing we refuse to undergo. And why too that other farce, ashes, and soot, and salt? and the old woman again brought in? A farce truly, and a shame! And then, "an eye," say they, "hath caught the child."
Where will these satanical doings end? How will not the Greeks laugh? how will they not gibe when we say unto them, "Great is the virtue of the Cross"; how will they be won, when they see us having recourse to those things, which themselves laugh to scorn? Was it for this that God gave physicians and medicines? What then? Suppose they do not cure him, but the child depart? Whither will he depart? tell me, miserable and wretched one! Will he depart to the demons? Will he depart to some tyrant? Will he not depart to heaven? Will he not depart to his own Lord? Why then grievest thou? why weepest thou? why mournest thou? why lovest thou thine infant more than thy Lord? Is it not through Him that thou hast this also? Why art thou ungrateful? Dost thou love the gift more than the Giver? "But I am weak," she replies, "and cannot bear the fear of God." Well, if in bodily evils the greater covers the less, much rather in the soul, fear destroyed fear, and sorrow, sorrow. Was the child beautiful? But be it what it may, not more beauteous is he than Isaac: and he too was an only one. Was it born in thine old age? So too was he. But is it fair? Well: however fair it may be, it is not lovelier than Moses (Acts vii. 20), who drew even barbarian eyes unto a tender love of him, and this too at a time of life when beauty is not yet disclosed; and yet this beloved thing did the parents cast into the river. Thou indeed both seest it laid out, and deliverest it to the burying, and goest to its monument; but they did not so much as know whether it would be food for fishes, or for dogs, or for other beasts that prey in the sea; and this they did, knowing as yet nothing of the Kingdom, nor of the Resurrection.
But suppose it is not an only child; but that after thou hast lost many, this also hath departed. But not so sudden is thy calamity as was Job's, and (his was) of sadder aspect? It is not when a roof has fallen in, it is not as they are feasting the while, it is not following on the tidings of other calamities.
But was it beloved by thee? But not more so than Joseph, the devoured of wild beasts; but still the father bore the calamity, and that which followed it, and the next to that. He wept; but acted not with impiety; he mourned, but he uttered not discontent, but stayed at those words, saying, "Joseph is not, Simeon is not, and will ye take Benjamin away? all these things are against me." (Gen. xlii. 36.) Seest thou how the constraint of famine prevailed with him to be regardless of his children? and doth not the fear of God prevail with thee as much as famine?
Weep: I do not forbid thee: but aught blasphemous neither say nor do. Be thy child what he may, he is not like Abel; and yet nought of this kind did Adam say; although that calamity was a sore one, that his brother should have killed him. But I am reminded of others also that have killed their brothers; when, for instance, Absalom killed Amnon the eldest born (2 Sam. 13), and King David loved his child, and sat indeed in sackcloth and ashes, but he neither brought soothsayers, nor enchanters, (although there were such then, as Saul shows,) but he made supplication to God. So do thou likewise: as that just man did, so do thou also; the same words say thou, when thy child is dead, "I shall go to him, but he will not come to me." (2 Sam. xii. 23.) This is true wisdom, this is affection. However much thou mayst love thy child, thou wilt not love so much as he did then. For even though his child were born of adultery, yet that blessed man's love of the mother was at its height, and ye know that the offspring shares the love of the parents. And so great was his love toward it, that he even wished it to live, though it would be his own accuser, but still he gave thanks to God. What, thinkest thou, did Rebecca suffer, when his brother threatened Jacob, and she grieved not her husband, but bade him send her son away? (Gen. xxvii. 46; xxviii. 1.) When thou hast suffered any calamity, think on what is worse than it; and thou wilt have a sufficient consolation; and consider with thyself, what if he had died in battle? what if in fire? And whatsoever our sufferings may be, let us think upon things yet more fearful, and we shall have comfort sufficient, and let us ever look around us on those who have undergone more terrible things, and if we ourselves have ever suffered heavier calamities. So doth Paul also exhort us; as when he saith, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin" (Heb. xii. 4): and again, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear." (1 Cor. x. 13.) Be then our sufferings what they may, let us look round on what is worse; (for we shall find such,) and thus shall we be thankful. And above all, let us give thanks for all things continually; for so, both these things will be eased, and we shall live to the glory of God, and obtain the promised good things, whereunto may all we attain, through the grace and love toward man, &c.
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God. And whatsoever ye do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
Having exhorted them to be thankful, he shows also the way, that, of which I have lately discoursed to you. And what saith he? "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly"; or rather not this way alone, but another also. For I indeed said that we ought to reckon up those who have suffered things more terrible, and those who have undergone sufferings more grievous than ours, and to give thanks that such have not fallen to our lot; but what saith he? "Let the word of Christ dwell in you"; that is, the teaching, the doctrines, the exhortation, wherein He says, that the present life is nothing, nor yet its good things. If we know this, we shall yield to no hardships whatever. (Matt. vi. 25, &c.) "Let it dwell in you," he saith, "richly," not simply dwell, but with great abundance. Hearken ye, as many as are worldly, and have the charge of wife and children; how to you too he commits especially the reading of the Scriptures and that not to be done lightly, nor in any sort of way, but with much earnestness. For as the rich in money can bear fine and damages, so he that is rich in the doctrines of philosophy will bear not poverty only, but all calamities also easily, yea, more easily than that one. For as for him, by discharging the fine, the man who is rich must needs be impoverished, and found wanting, and if he should often suffer in that way, will no longer be able to bear it, but in this case it is not so; for we do not even expend our wholesome thoughts when it is necessary for us to bear aught we would not choose, but they abide with us continually. And mark the wisdom of this blessed man. He said not, "Let the word of Christ" be in you, simply, but what? "dwell in you," and "richly."
"In all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another." "In all," says he. Virtue he calls wisdom, and lowliness of mind is wisdom, and almsgiving, and other such like things, are wisdom; just as the contraries are folly, for cruelty too cometh of folly. Whence in many places it calleth the whole of sin folly. "The fool," saith one, "hath said in his heart, There is no God" (Ps. xiv. 1); and again, "My wounds stink and are corrupt from the face of my foolishness." (Ps. xxxviii. 5, Sept.) For what is more foolish, tell me, than one who indeed wrappeth himself about in his own garments, but regardeth not his brethren that are naked; who feedeth dogs, and careth not that the image of God is famishing; who is merely persuaded that human things are nought, and yet clings to them as if immortal. As then nothing is more foolish than such an one, so is nothing wiser than one that achieveth virtue. For mark; how wise he is, says one. He imparteth of his substance, he is pitiful, he is loving to men, he hath well considered that he beareth a common nature with them; he hath well considered the use of wealth, that it is worthy of no estimation; that one ought to be sparing of bodies that are of kin to one, rather than of wealth. He that is a despiser of glory is wholly wise, for he knoweth human affairs; the knowledge of things divine and human, is philosophy. So then he knoweth what things are divine, and what are human, and from the one he keeps himself, on the other he bestoweth his pains. And he knows how to give thanks also to God in all things, he considers the present life as nothing; therefore he is neither delighted with prosperity, nor grieved with the opposite condition.
Tarry not, I entreat, for another to teach thee; thou hast the oracles of God. No man teacheth thee as they; for he indeed oft grudgeth much for vainglory's sake and envy. Hearken, I entreat you, all ye that are careful for this life, and procure books that will be medicines for the soul. If ye will not any other, yet get you at least the New Testament, the Apostolic Epistles, the Acts, the Gospels, for your constant teachers. If grief befall thee, dive into them as into a chest of medicines; take thence comfort of thy trouble, be it loss, or death, or bereavement of relations; or rather dive not into them merely, but take them wholly to thee; keep them in thy mind.
This is the cause of all evils, the not knowing the Scriptures. We go into battle without arms, and how ought we to come off safe? Well contented should we be if we can be safe with them, let alone without them. Throw not the whole upon us! Sheep ye are, still not without reason, but rational; Paul committeth much to you also. They that are under instruction, are not for ever learning; for then they are not taught. If thou art for ever learning, thou wilt never learn. Do not so come as meaning to be always learning; (for so thou wilt never know;) but so as to finish learning, and to teach others. In the arts do not all persons continue for set times, in the sciences, and in a word, in all the arts? Thus we all fix definitely a certain known time; but if ye are ever learning, it is a certain proof that ye have learned nothing.
This reproach God spake against the Jews. "Borne from the belly, and instructed even to old age." (Isa. xlvi. 3, 4, Sept.) If ye had not always been expecting this, all things would not have gone backward in this way. Had it been so, that some had finished learning, and others were about to have finished, our work would have been forward; ye would both have given place to others, and would have helped us as well. Tell me, were some to go to a grammarian and continue always learning their letters, would they not give their teacher much trouble? How long shall I have to discourse to you concerning life? In the Apostles' times it was not thus, but they continually leaped from place to place, appointing those who first learned to be the teachers of any others that were under instruction. Thus they were enabled to circle the world, through not being bound to one place. How much instruction, think ye, do your brethren in the country stand in need of, [they] and their teachers? But ye hold me riveted fast here. For, before the head is set right, it is superfluous to proceed to the rest of the body. Ye throw everything upon us. Ye alone ought to learn from us, and your wives from you, your children from you; but ye leave all to us. Therefore our toil is excessive.
"Teaching," he saith, "and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Mark also the considerateness of Paul. Seeing that reading is toilsome, and its irksomeness great, he led them not to histories, but to psalms, that thou mightest at once delight thy soul with singing, and gently beguile thy labors. "Hymns," he saith, "and spiritual songs." But now your children will utter songs and dances of Satan, like cooks, and caterers, and musicians; no one knoweth any psalm, but it seems a thing to be ashamed of even, and a mockery, and a joke. There is the treasury house of all these evils. For whatsoever soil the plant stands in, such is the fruit it bears; if in a sandy and salty soil, of like nature is its fruit; if in a sweet and rich one, it is again similar. So the matter of instruction is a sort of fountain. Teach him to sing those psalms which are so full of the love of wisdom; as at once concerning chastity, or rather, before all, of not companying with the wicked, immediately with the very beginning of the book; (for therefore also it was that the prophet began on this wise, "Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly"; Ps. i. 1, and again, "I have not sat in I.the council of vanity", Ps. xxvi. 4, Sept., and again, "in his sight a wicked doer is contemned, but he honoreth those that fear the Lord," Ps. xv. 4, Sept.,) of companying with the good, (and these subjects thou wilt find there in abundance,) of restraining the belly, of restraining the hand, of refraining from excess, of not overreaching; that money is nothing, nor glory, and other things such like.
When in these thou hast led him on from childhood, by little and little thou wilt lead him forward even to the higher things. The Psalms contain all things, but the Hymns again have nothing human. When he has been instructed out of the Psalms, he will then know hymns also, as a diviner thing. For the Powers above chant hymns, not psalms. For "a hymn," saith one, "is not comely in the month of a sinner" (Ecclus. xv. 9); and again, "Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they sit together with me" (Ps. ci. 6, 7, Sept.); and again, "he that worketh haughtiness hath not dwelt in the midst of my house"; and again, "He that walketh in a blameless way, he ministered unto me." (Ps. ci. 6, Sept.)
So that ye should safely guard them from intermixing themselves, not only with friends, but even with servants. For the harm done to the free is incalculable, when we place over them corrupt slaves. For if when enjoying all the benefit of a father's affection and wisdom, they can with difficulty be preserved safe throughout; when we hand them over to the unscrupuloushess of servants, they use them like enemies, thinking that they will prove milder masters to them, when they have made them perfect fools, and weak, and worthy of no respect.
More then than all other things together, let us attend seriously to this. "I have loved," saith he," those that love thy law." (Ps. cxix. 165, not exact.) This man then let us too emulate, and such let us love. And that the young may further be taught chastity, let them hear the Prophet, saying, "My loins are filled with illusions" (Ps. xxxviii. 7, Sept.); and again let them hear him saying, "Thou wilt utterly destroy every one that goeth a whoring from Thee." (Ps. lxxiii. 27, Sept.) And, that one ought to restrain the belly, let them hear again, "And slew," he saith, "the more part of them while the meat was yet in their mouths." (Ps. Ixxviii. 30, Sept.) And that they ought to be above bribes, "If riches become abundant, set [not] your heart upon them" (Ps. lxii. 10); and that they ought to keep glory in subjection, "Nor shall his glory descend together after him." (Ps. xlix. 17.) And not to envy the wicked, "Be not envious against them that work unrighteousness." (Ps. xxxvii. 1.) And to count power as nothing, "I saw the ungodly in exceeding high place, and lifting himself up as the cedars of Libanus, and I passed by, and lo! he was not." (Ps. xxxvii. 35.) And to count these present things as nothing, "They counted the people happy, that are in such a case; happy are the people, whose helper is the Lord their God." (Ps. cxliv. 15, Sept.) That we do not sin without notice, but that there is a retribution, "for," he saith, "Thou shalt render to every man according to his works." (Ps. lxii. 12, Sept.) But why doth he not so requite them day by day? "God is a judge," he says; "righteous, and strong, and longsuffering." (Ps. vii. 11.) That lowliness of mind is good, "Lord," he saith, "my heart is not lifted up" (Ps. cxxxi. 1): that pride is evil, "Therefore," he said, "pride took hold on them wholly" (Ps. lxxiii. 6, Sept.); and again, "The Lord resisteth the proud"; and again, "Their injustice shall come out as of fatness." That almsgiving is good, "He hath dispersed, he hath given to the needy, his righteousness endureth for ever." (Prov. iii. 34.) And that to pity is praiseworthy, "He is a good man that pitieth, and lendeth." (Ps. lxxiii. 7, Sept.) And thou wilt find there many more doctrines than these, full of true philosophy; such as, that one ought not to speak evil, "Him that privily slandereth his neighbor, him did I chase from me." (Ps. cxii. 9.)
What is the hymn of those above? The Faithful know. What say the cherubim above? What say the Angels? "Glory to God in the highest." (Ps. cxii. 5.) Therefore after the psalmody come the hymns, as a thing of more perfection. "With psalms," he saith, "with hymns, with spiritual songs, with grace singing in your hearts to God." (Ps. ci. 5, Sept.) He means either this, that God because of grace hath given us these things; or, with the songs in grace; or, admonishing and teaching one another in grace; or, that they had these gifts in grace; or, it is an epexegesis and he means, from the grace of the Spirit. "Singing in your hearts to God." Not simply with the mouth, he means, but with heedfulness. For this is to "sing to God," but that to the air, for the voice is scattered without result. Not for display, he means. And even if thou be in the market-place, thou canst collect thyself, and sing unto God, no one hearing thee. For Moses also in this way prayed, and was heard, for He saith, "Why eriest thou unto Me?" (Ex. xiv. 15) albeit he said nothing, but cried in thought—wherefore also God alone heard him—with a contrite heart. For it is not forbidden one even when walking to pray in his heart, and to dwell above.
Ver. 17. "And whatsoever ye do," he saith, "in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
For if we thus do, there will be nothing polluted, nothing unclean, wherever Christ is called on. If thou eat, if thou drink, if thou marry, if thou travel, do all in the Name of God, that is, calling Him to aid thee: in everything first praying to Him, so take hold of thy business. Wouldest thou speak somewhat? Set this in front. For this cause we also place in front of our epistles the Name of the Lord. Wheresoever the Name of God is, all is auspicious. For if the names of Consuls make writings sure, much more doth the Name of Christ. Or he means this; after God say ye and do everything, do not introduce the Angels besides. Dost thou eat? Give thanks to God both before and afterwards. Dost thou sleep? Give thanks to God both before and afterwards. Launchest thou into the forum? Do the same—nothing worldly, nothing of this life. Do all in the Name of the Lord, and all shall be prospered to thee. Whereonsoever the Name is placed, there all things are auspicious. If it casts out devils, if it drives away diseases, much more does it render business easy. And what is to "do in word or in deed"? Either requesting or performing anything whatever. Hear how in the Name of God Abraham sent his servant; David in the Name of God slew Goliath. Marvelous is His Name and great. Again, Jacob sending his sons saith, "My God give you favor in the sight of the man." (Gen. xliii. 14.) For he that doeth this hath for his ally, God, without whom he durst do nothing. As honored then by being called upon, He will in turn honor by making their business easy. Invoke the Son, give thanks to the Father. For when the Son is invoked, the Father is invoked, and when He is thanked, the Son has been thanked.
These things let us learn, not as far as words only, but to fulfill them also by works. Nothing is equal to this Name; marvelous is it everywhere. "Thy Name," he saith, "is ointment poured forth." (Cant. i. 3.) He that hath uttered it is straightway filled with fragrance. "No man," it is said, "can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." (1 Cor. xii. 3.) So great things doth this Name Work. If thou have said, In the Name of Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, with faith, thou hast accomplished everything. See, how great things thou hast done! Thou hast created a man, and wrought all the rest (that cometh) of Baptism! So, when used in commanding diseases, terrible is The Name. Therefore the devil introduced those of the Angels, envying us the honor. Such incantations are for the demons. Even if it be Angel, even if it be Archangel, even if it be Cherubim, allow it not; for neither will these Powers accept such addresses, but will even toss them away from them, when they have beheld their Master dishonored. "I have honored thee," He saith, "and have said, Call upon Me"; and dost thou dishonor Him? If thou chant this incantation with faith, thou wilt drive away both diseases and demons, and even if thou have failed to drive away the disease, this is not from lack of power, but because it is expedient it should be so. "According to Thy greatness, he saith, "so also is Thy praise." (Ps. xlviii. 10.) By this Name hath the world been converted, the tyranny dissolved, the devil trampled on, the heavens opened. We have been regenerated by this Name. This if we have, we beam forth; This maketh both martyrs and confessors; This let us hold fast as a great gift, that we may live in glory, and be well-pleasing to God, and be counted worthy of the good things promised to them that love Him, through the grace and lovingkindness, &c.
"Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children, that they be not discouraged. Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord: whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ. For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons with God. (Chap. iv. 1.) Masters, render unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven."
Why does he not give these commands everywhere, and in all the Epistles, but only here, and in that to the Ephesians, and that to Timothy, and that to Titus? Because probably there were dissensions in these cities; or probably they were correct in other respects, so that it was expedient they should hear about these things. Rather, however, what he saith to these, he saith to all. Now in these things also this Epistle bears great resemblance to that to the Ephesians, either because it was not fitting to write about these things to men now at peace, who needed to be instructed in high doctrines as yet lacking to them, or because that for persons who had been comforted under trials, it were superfluous to hear on these subjects. So that I conjecture, that in this place the Church was now well-grounded, and that these things are said as in finishing.
Ver. 18. "Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord."
That is, be subject for God's sake, because this adorneth you, he saith, not them. For I mean not that subjection which is due to a master, nor yet that alone which is of nature, but that for God's sake.
Ver. 19. "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them."
See how again he has exhorted to reciprocity. As in the other case he enjoineth fear and love, so also doth he here. For it is possible for one who loves even, to be bitter. What he saith then is this. Fight not; for nothing is more bitter than this fighting, when it takes place on the part of the husband toward the wife. For the fightings which happen between beloved persons, these are bitter; and he shows that it ariseth from great bitterness, when, saith he, any one is at variance with his own member. To love therefore is the husband's part, to yield pertains to the other side. If then each one contributes his own part, all stands firm. From being loved, the wife too becomes loving; and from her being submissive, the husband becomes yielding. And see how in nature also it hath been so ordered, that the one should love, the other obey. For when the party governing loves the governed, then everything stands fast. Love from the governed is not so requisite, as from the governing towards the governed; for from the other obedience is due. For that the woman hath beauty, and the man desire, shows nothing else than that for the sake of love it hath been made so. Do not therefore, because thy wife is subject to thee, act the despot; nor because thy husband loveth thee, be thou puffed up. Let neither the husband's love elate the wife, nor the wife's subjection puff up the husband. For this cause hath He subjected her to thee, that she may be loved the more. For this cause He hath made thee to be loved, O wife, that thou mayest easily bear thy subjection. Fear not in being a subject; for subjection to one that loveth thee hath no hardship. Fear not in loving, for thou hast her yielding. In no other way then could a bond have been. Thou hast then thine authority of necessity, proceeding from nature; maintain also the bond that proceedeth from love, for this alloweth the weaker to be endurable.
Ver. 20. "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well- pleasing in the Lord."
Again he has put that, "in the Lord," at once laying down the laws of obedience, and shaming them, and casting them down. For this, saith he, is well-pleasing to the Lord. See how he would have us do all not from nature only, but, prior to this, from what is pleasing to God, that we may also have reward.
Ver. 21. "Fathers, provoke not your children, that they be not discouraged."
Lo! again here also is subjection and love. And he said not, "Love your children," for it had been superfluous, seeing that nature itself constraineth to this; but what needed correction he corrected; that the love should in this case also be the more vehement, because that the obedience is greater. For it nowhere lays down as an exemplification the relation of husband and wife; but what? hear the prophet saying, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitied them that fear Him" (Ps. ciii. 13, Sept.) And again Christ saith, "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?" (Matt. vii. 9.)
"Fathers, provoke not your children, that they be not discouraged."
He hath set down what he knew had the greatest power to seize upon them; and whilst commanding them he has spoken more like a friend; and nowhere does he mention God, for he would overcome parents, and bow their tender affections. That is, "Make them not more contentious, there are occasions when you ought even to give way."
Next he comes to the third kind of authority. There is here also a certain love, but that no more proceeding from nature, as above, but from habit, and from the authority itself, and the works done. Seeing then that in this case the sphere of love is narrowed, whilst that of obedience is amplified, he dwelleth upon this, wishing to give to these from their obedience, what the first have from nature. So that what he discourseth with the servants alone is not for their masters' sakes, but for their own also, that they may make themselves the objects of tender affection to their masters. But he sets not this forth openly; for so he would doubtless have made them supine.
Ver. 22. "Servants," he saith, "obey in all things your masters according to the flesh."
And see how always he sets down the names, "wives, children, servants," being at once a just claim upon their obedience. But that none might be pained, he added, "to your masters according to the flesh." Thy better part, the soul, is free, he saith; thy service is for a season. It therefore do thou subject, that thy service be no more of constraint. "Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers." Make, he saith, thy service which is by the law, to be from the fear of Christ. For if when thy master seeth thee not, thou doest thy duty and what is for his honor, it is manifest that thou doest it because of the sleepless Eye. "Not with eye-service," he saith, "as men-pleasers"; thus implying, "it is you who will have to sustain the damage." For hear the prophet saying, "God hath scattered the bones of the men-pleasers." (Ps. liii. 6, Sept.) See then how he spares them, and brings them to order. "But in singleness of heart," he saith, "fearing God." For that is not singleness, but hypocrisy, to hold one thing, and act another; to appear one when the master is present, another when he is absent. Therefore he said not simply, "in singleness of heart," but, "fearing God." For this is to fear God, when, though none be seeing, we do not aught that is evil; but if we do, we fear not God, but men. Seest thou how he bringeth them to order?
Ver. 23. "Whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men."
He desires to have them freed not only from hypocrisy, but also from slothfulness. He hath made them instead of slaves free, when they need not the superintendence of their master for the expression "heartily" means this, "with good will," not with a slavish necessity, but with freedom, and of choice. And what is the reward?
Ver. 24. "Knowing," he saith, "that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of your inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."
For from Him also it is evident that ye shall receive the reward. And that ye serve the Lord is plain from this.
Ver. 25. "For he that doeth wrong," he saith, "shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done."
Here he confirmeth his former statements. For that his words may not appear to be those of flattery, "he shall receive," he saith, "the wrong he hath done," that is, he shall suffer punishment also, "for there is no respect of persons." For what if thou art a servant? it is no shame to thee. And truly he might have said this to the masters, as he did in the Epistle to the Ephesians. (Eph. vi. 9.) But here he seems to me to be alluding to the Grecian masters. For, what if he is a Greek and thou a Christian? Not the persons but the actions are examined, so that even in this case thou oughtest to serve with good will, and heartily.
Chap. iv. 1. "Masters, render unto your servants that which is just and equal."
What is "just"? What is "equal"? To place them in plenty of everything, and not allow them to stand in need of others, but to recompense them for their labors. For, because I have said that they have their reward from God, do not thou therefore deprive them of it. And in another place he saith, "forbearing threatening" (Eph. vi. 9), wishing to make them more gentle; for those were perfect men; that is, "with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you." (Matt. vii. 2.) And the words, "there is no respect of persons," are spoken with a view to these, but they are assigned to the others, in order that these may receive them. For when we have said to one person what is applicable to another, we have not corrected him so much, as the one who is in fault. "Ye also," along with them, he saith. He has here made the service common, for he saith, "knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven."
Ver. 2. "Continue in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving."
For, since continuing in prayers frequently makes persons listless, therefore he saith, "watching," that is, sober, not wandering. For the devil knoweth, he knoweth, how great a good prayer is; therefore he presseth heavily. And Paul also knoweth how careless many are when they pray, wherefore he saith, "continue" in prayer, as of somewhat laborious, "watching therein with thanksgiving." For let this, he saith, be your work, to give thanks in your prayers both for the seen and the unseen, and for His benefits to the willing and unwilling, and for the kingdom, and for hell, and for tribulation, and for refreshment. For thus is the custom of the Saints to pray, and to give thanks for the common benefits of all.
I know a certain holy man who prayeth thus. He used to say nothing before these words, but thus, "We give Thee thanks for all Thy benefits bestowed upon us the unworthy, from the first day until the present, for what we know, and what we know not, for the seen, for the unseen, for those in deed, those in word, those with our wills, those against our wills, for all that have been bestowed upon the unworthy, even us; for tribulations, for refreshments, for hell, for punishment, for the kingdom of heaven. We beseech Thee to keep our soul holy, having a pure conscience; an end worthy of thy lovingkindness. Thou that lovedst us so as to give Thy Only-Begotten for us, grant us to become worthy of Thy love; give us wisdom in Thy word, and in Thy fear. Only-Begotten Christ, inspire the strength that is from Thee. Thou that gavest The Only-Begotten for us, and hast sent Thy Holy Spirit for the remission of our sins, if in aught we have wilfully or unwillingly transgressed, pardon, and impute it not. Remember all that call upon Thy Name in truth; remember all that wish us well, or the contrary, for we are all men." Then having added the Prayer of the Faithful, he there ended; having made that prayer, as a certain crowning part, and a binding together for all. For many benefits doth God bestow upon us even against our wills; many also, yea more, without our knowledge even. For when we pray for one thing, and He doeth to us the reverse, it is plain that He doeth us good even when we know it not.
Ver. 3. "Withal praying for us also." See his lowlymindedness; he sets himself after them.
"That God may open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ." He means an entrance, and boldness in speaking. Wonderful! The great athlete said not "that I may be freed from my bonds," but being in bonds he exhorted others; and exhorted them for a great object, that himself might get boldness in speaking. Both the two are great, both the quality of the person, and of the thing. Wonderful! how great is the dignity! "The mystery," he saith, "of Christ." He shows that nothing was more dearly desired by him than this, to speak. "For which I am also in bonds; that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak." (Ver. 4.) He means with much boldness of speech, and withholding nothing. His bonds display, not obscure him. With much boldness he means. Tell me, art thou in bonds, and dost thou exhort others? Yea, my bonds give me the greater boldness; but I pray for God's furtherance, for I have heard the voice of Christ saying, "When they deliver you up, be not anxious how or what ye shall speak." (Matt. x. 19.) And see, how he has expressed himself in metaphor, "that God may open to us a door for the word"; (see, how unassuming he is; even in his bonds, how he expresses himself;) that is, that He would soften their hearts. Still he said not so; but, "that He would give us boldness"; out of lowlymindedness he thus spoke, and that which he had, he asks to receive.
He shows in this Epistle, why Christ came not in those times, in that he calleth the former things "shadow, but the body," saith he, "is of Christ." So that it was necessary they should be formed to habits under the shadow. At the same time also he exhibits the greatest proof of the love he bears to them; "in order that ye," he saith, "may hear, for that reason, 'I am in bonds.'" Again he sets before us those bonds of his; which I so greatly love, which rouse up my heart, and always draw me into longing to see Paul bound, and in his bonds writing, and preaching, and baptizing, and catechizing. In his bonds he was referred to on behalf of the Churches everywhere; in his bonds he builded up incalculably. Then was he rather at large. For hear him saying, "So that most of the brethren being confident through my bonds are more abundantly bold to speak the word without fear." (Phil. i. 14.) And again he makes the same avowal of himself, saying, "For when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Cor. xii. 10.) Wherefore he said also, "But the word of God is not bound." (2 Tim. ii. 9.) He was bound with malefactors, with prisoners, with murderers; he, the teacher of the world, he that had ascended into the third heaven, that had heard the unspeakable words, was bound. (2 Cor. xii. 4.) But then was his course the swifter. He that was bound, was now loosed; he that was unbound, was bound. For he indeed was doing what he would; whilst the other prevented him not, nor accomplished his own purpose.
What art thou about, O senseless one? Thinkest thou he is a fleshly runner? Doth he strive in our race-course? His course of life is in heaven; him that runneth in heaven, things on earth cannot bind nor hold. Seest thou not this sun? Enclose his beams with fetters! stay him from his course! Thou canst not. Then neither canst thou Paul! Yea, much less this one than that, for this enjoyeth more of Providence than that, seeing he beareth to us light, not such as that is, but the true.
Where now are they who are unwilling to suffer aught for Christ? But why do I say "suffer," seeing that they are unwilling even to give up their wealth? In time past Paul also used to bind, and cast into prison; but since he is become Christ's servant, he glorieth no more of doing, but of suffering. And this, moreover, is marvelous in the Preaching, when it is thus raised up and increased by the sufferers themselves, and not by the persecutors. Where hath any seen such contests as this? He that suffereth ill, conquers; he that doeth ill, is worsted. Brighter is this man than the other. Through bonds the Preaching entered. "I am not ashamed "(Rom. i. 16), yea, I glory even, he saith, in preaching The Crucified. For consider, I pray: the whole world left those who were at large, and went over to those that are bound; turning away from the imprisoners, it honoreth those laden with chains; hating the crucifiers, it worships the Crucified.
Not the only marvel is it that the preachers were fishermen, that they were ignorant; but that there were also other hindrances, hindrances too by nature; still the increase was all the more abundant. Not only was their ignorance no hindrance; but even it itself caused the Preaching to be manifested. For hear Luke saying, "And perceiving that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled." (Acts iv. 13.) Not only were bonds no hindrance, but even of itself this made them more confident. Not so bold were the disciples when Paul was at large, as when he was bound. For he saith, they "are more abundantly bold to speak the word" of God "without fear." (Phil. i. 14.) Where are they that will gainsay the divinity of the Preaching? Was not their ignorance enough to procure them to be condemned? Would it not then in this case too, affright them? For ye know that by these two passions the many are possessed, vainglory and cowardice. Suppose their ignorance suffered them not to feel ashamed, still the dangers must have put them in fear.
But, saith one, they wrought miracles. Ye do believe then that they wrought miracles. But did they not work miracles? This is a greater miracle than to work them, if men were drawn to them without miracles. Socrates too amongst the Greeks was put in bonds. What then? Did not his disciples straightway flee to Megara? Assuredly, why not? They admitted his arguments about immortality. But see here. Paul was put in bonds, and his disciples waxed the more confident, with reason, for they saw that the Preaching was not hindered. For, canst thou put the tongue in bonds? hereby chiefly it runneth. For as, except thou have bound the feet of a runner, thou hast not prevented him from running; so, except thou have bound the tongue of an evangelist, thou hast not hindered him from running. And as the former, if thou have bound his loins, runneth on the rather, and is supported, so too the latter preacheth the rather, and with greater boldness.
A prisoner is in fear, when there is nothing beyond bonds: but one that despiseth death, how should he be bound? They did the same as if they had put in bonds the shadow of Paul, and had gagged its mouth. For it was a fighting with shadows; for he was both more tenderly regretted by his friends, and more reverenced by his enemies, as bearing the prize for courage in his bonds. And a crown binds the head; but it disgraces it not, yea rather, it makes it brilliant. Against their wills they crowned him with his chain. For, tell me, was it possible he could fear iron, who braved the adamantine gates of death? Come we, beloved, to emulate these bonds. As many of you women as deck yourselves with trinkets of gold, long ye for the bonds of Paul. Not so glitters the collar round your necks, as the grace of these iron bonds gleamed about his soul! If any longs for those, let him hate these. For what communion hath softness with courage; tricking out of the body with philosophy? Those bonds Angels reverence, these they even make a mock of; those bonds are wont to draw up from earth to heaven; these bonds draw down to earth from heaven. For in truth these are bonds, not those; those are ornament, these are bonds; these, along with the body, afflict the soul also; those, along with the body, adorn as well the soul.
Wouldest thou be convinced that those are ornament? Tell me which would more have won the notice of the spectators? thou or Paul? And why do I say, "thou"? the queen herself who is all bedecked with gold would not have attracted the spectators so much; but if it had chanted that both Paul in his bonds and the queen had entered the Church at the same time, all would have removed their eyes from her to him; and with good reason. For to see a man of a nature greater than human, and having nought of man, but an angel upon earth, is more admirable than to see a woman decked with finery. For such indeed one may see both in theaters, and in pageants, and at baths, and many places; but whoso seeth a man with bonds upon him, and deeming himself to have the greatest of ornaments, and not giving way under his bonds, doth not behold a spectacle of earth, but one worthy of the heavens. The soul that is in that way attired looks about,—who hath seen? who not seen?—is filled with pride, is possessed with anxious thoughts, is bound with countless other passions: but he that hath these bonds on him, is without pride: his soul exulteth, is freed from every anxious care, is joyous, hath its gaze on heaven, is clad with wings. If any one were to give me the choice of seeing Paul either stooping out of heaven, and uttering his voice, or out of the prison, I would choose the prison. For they of heaven visit him when he is in the prison. The bonds of Paul were the bond of the Preaching, that chain of his was its foundation. Long we for those bonds!
And how, some one says, may this be? If we break up and dash in pieces these. No good results to us from these bonds, but even harm. These will show us as prisoners There; but the bonds of Paul will loose those bonds; she that is bound with these here, with those deathless bonds shall she also be bound There, both hands and feet; she that has been bound with Paul's, shall have them in that day as it were an ornament about her. Free both thyself from thy bonds, and the poor man from his hunger. Why rivetest thou fast the chains of thy sins? Some one saith, flow? When thou wearest gold whilst another is perishing, when thou, to get thee vainglory, takest so much gold, whilst another hast not even what to eat, hast thou not wedged fast thy sins? Put Christ about thee, and not gold; where Mammon is, there Christ is not, where Christ is, there Mammon is not. Wouldest not thou put on the King of all Himself? If one had offered thee the purple, and the diadem, wouldest thou not have taken them before all the gold in the world? I give thee not the regal ornaments, but I offer thee to put on the King Himself. And how can one put Christ on, doth any say? Hear Paul saying, "As many of you as were baptized into Christ, did put on Christ." (Gal. iii. 27.) Hear the Apostolical precept, "Make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof." from. xiii. 14.) Thus doth one put on Christ, if one provide not for the flesh unto its lusts. If thou have put on Christ, even the demons will fear thee; but if gold, even men will laugh thee to scorn: if thou have put on Christ, men also will reverence thee.
Wouldest thou appear fair and comely? Be content with the Creator's fashioning. Why dost thou overlay these bits of gold, as if about to put to rights God's creation? Wouldest thou appear comely? Clothe thee in alms; clothe thee in benevolence; clothe thee in modesty, humbleness. These are all more precious than gold; these make even the beautiful yet more comely; these make even the ill formed to be well formed. For when any one looks upon a countenance with good will, he gives his judgment from love; but an evil woman, even though she be beautiful, none can call beautiful; for the mind being confounded pronounceth not its sentence aright.
That Egyptian woman of old was adorned; Joseph too was adorned; which of them was the more beautiful? I say not when she was in the palace, and he in the prison. He was naked, but clothed in the garments of chastity; she was clothed, but more unseemly than if she had been naked; for she had not modesty. When thou hast excessively adorned thee, O woman, then thou art become more unseemly than a naked one; for thou hast stripped thee of thy fair adorning. Eve also was naked; but when she had clothed herself, then was she more unseemly, for when she was naked indeed, she was adorned with the glory of God; but when she had clothed herself with the garment of sin, then was she unseemly. And thou, when arraying thyself in the garment of studied finery, dost then appear more unseemly. For that costliness availeth not to make any appear beautiful, but that it is possible even for one dressed out to be even more unseemly than if naked, tell me now; if thou hadst ever put on the dresses of a piper or a flute-player, would it not have been unseemliness? And yet those dresses are of gold; but for this very reason it were unseemliness, because they are of gold. For the costliness suits well with people on the stage, tragedians, players, mimes, dancers, fighters with wild beasts; but to a woman that is a believer, there are given other robes from God, the Only-Begotten Son of God Himself. "For," he saith, "as many as were baptized into Christ, did put on Christ." (Gal. iii. 27.) Tell me, if one had given thee kingly apparel, and thou hadst taken a beggar's dress, and put this on above it, wouldest thou not, besides the unseemliness, have also been punished for it? Thou hast put on the Lord of Heaven, and of the Angels, and art thou still busied about earth?
I have spoken thus, because love of ornament is of itself a great evil, even were no other gendered by it, and it were possible to hold it without peril, (for it inciteth to vainglory and to pride,) but now many other evils are gendered by finery, evil suspicions, unseasonable expenses, evil speakings, occasions of rapacity. For why dost thou adorn thyself? Tell me. Is it that thou mayest please thy husband? Then do it at home. But here the reverse is the case. For if thou wouldest please thine own husband, please not others; but if thou please others, thou wilt not be able to please thine own. So that thou shouldest put away all thine ornaments, when thou goest to the forum or proceedest to the church. Besides, please not thy husband by those means which harlots use, but by those rather which wives that are free employ. For wherein, tell me, doth a wife differ from a harlot? In that the one regardeth one thing only, namely, that by the beauty of her person she may attract to herself him whom she loves; whilst the other both ruleth the house, and shareth in the children, and in all other things.
Hast thou a little daughter? look to it lest she inherit the mischief, for they are wont to form their manners according to their nurture, and to imitate their mothers' behavior. Be a pattern to thy daughter of modesty, deck thyself with that adorning, and see that thou despise the other; for that is in truth an ornament, the other a disfigurement. Enough has been said. Now God that made the world, and hath given to us the ornament of the soul, adorn us, and clothe us with His own glory, that all shining brightly in good works, and living unto His glory, we may send up glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and always, &c.
"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one."
What Christ said to His disciples, that doth Paul also now advise. And what did Christ say? "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (Matt. x. 16.) That is, be upon your guard, giving them no handle against you. For therefore it is added, "towards them that are without," in order that we may know that against our own members we have no need of so much caution as against those without. For where brethren are, there are both many allowances and kindnesses. There is indeed need of caution even here; but much more without, for it is not the same to be amongst enemies and foes, and amongst friends.
Then because he had alarmed them, see how again he encourages them; "Redeeming," he saith, "the time": that is, the present time is short. Now this he said, not wishing them to be crafty, nor hypocrites, (for this is not a part of wisdom, but of senselessness,) but what? In matters wherein they harm you not, he means, give them no handle; as he says also, when writing to the Romans, "Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, honor to whom honor." from. xiii. 7.) On account of the Preaching alone have thou war, he saith, let this war have none other origin. For though they were to become our foes for other causes besides, yet neither shall we have a reward, and they will become worse, and will seem to have just complaints against us. For instance, if we pay not the tribute, if we render not the honors that are due, if we be not lowly. Seest thou not Paul, how submissive he is, where he was not likely to harm the Preaching. For hear him saying to Agrippa, I think myself happy, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee, especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews." (Acts xxvi. 2, 3.) But had he thought it his duty to insult the ruler, he would have spoiled everything. And hear too those of blessed Peter's company, how gently they answer the Jews, saying, "we must obey God rather than men." (Acts v. 29.) And yet men who had renounced their own lives, might both have insulted, and have done anything whatever; but for this object they had renounced their lives, not that they might win vainglory, (for that way had been vainglorious,) but that they might preach and speak all things with boldness. That other course marks want of moderation.
"Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt"; that is, that this graciousness may not lapse into indifferentism. For it is possible to be simply agreeable, it is possible also to be so with due seemliness. "That ye may know how ye ought to answer each one." So that one ought not to discourse alike to all, Greeks, I mean, and Brethren. By no means, for this were the very extreme of senselessness.
Ver. 7. "All my affairs shall Tychicus make known unto you, the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord."
Admirable! how great is the wisdom of Paul! Observe, he doth not put everything into his Epistles, but only things necessary and urgent. In the first place, being desirous of not drawing them out to a length; and secondly, to make his messenger more respected, by his having also somewhat to relate; thirdly, showing his own affection towards him; for he would not else have entrusted these communications to him. Then, there were things which ought not to be declared in writing. "The beloved brother," he saith. If beloved, he knew all, and he concealed nothing from him. "And faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord." If "faithful," he will speak no falsehood; if "a fellow-servant," he hath shared his trials, so that he has brought together from all sides the grounds of trustworthiness.
Ver. 8. "Whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose."
Here he shows his great love, seeing that for this purpose he sent him, and this was the cause of his journey; and so when writing to the Thessalonians, he said, "Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone, and sent Timothy our brother." (1 Thess. iii. 1, 2.) And to the Ephesians he sends this very same person, and for the very same cause, "That he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts." (Eph. vi. 21, 22.) See what he saith, not "that ye might know my estate," but "that I might know yours." So in no place doth he mention what is his own. He shows that they were in trials too, by the expression, "comfort your hearts."
Ver. 9. "With Onesimus, the beloved and faithful brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things that are done here. "
Onesimus is the one about whom, writing to Philemon, he said, "Whom I would fain have kept with me, that in thy behalf he might minister unto me in the bonds of the Gospel: but without thy mind I would do nothing." (Philem. 13, 14.) And he adds too the praise of their city, that they might not only not be ashamed, but even pride themselves on him. "Who is one of you," he saith. "They shall make known unto you all things that are done here."
Ver. 10. "Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner saluteth you."
Nothing can surpass this praise. This is he that was brought up from Jerusalem with him. This man hath said a greater thing than the prophets; for they call themselves "strangers and foreigners," but this one calleth himself even a prisoner. Just like a prisoner of war he was dragged up and down, and lay at every one's will to suffer evil of them, yea rather worse even than prisoners. For those indeed their enemies, after taking them, treat with much attention, having a care for them as their own property: but Paul, as though an enemy and a foe, all men dragged up and down, beating him, scourging, insulting, and maligning. This was a consolation to those also (to whom he wrote), when their master even is in such circumstances.
"And Mark, the cousin of Barnabas"; even this man he hath praised still from his relationship, for Barnabas was a great man; "touching whom ye received commandments; if he come unto you, receive him." Why? would they not have received him? Yes, but he means, with much attention; and this shows the man to be great. Whence they received these commandments, he does not say. Ver. 11. "And Jesus which is called Justus." This man was probably a Corinthian. Next, he bestows a common praise on all, having already spoken that of each one in particular; "who are of the circumcision: these only are my fellow-workers unto the kingdom of God, men that have been a comfort unto me." After having said, "fellow-prisoner"; in order that he may not therewith depress the soul of his hearers, see how by this expression he rouseth them up. "Fellow-workers," he saith, "unto the kingdom of God." So that being partakers of the trials, they become partakers of the kingdom. "Who have been a comfort to me." He shows them to be great persons, seeing that to Paul they have been a comfort.
But let us see the wisdom of Paul. "Walk in wisdom" he saith, "towards them that are without, redeeming the time." (Ver. 5.) That is, the time is not yours, but theirs. Do not then wish to have your own way, but redeem the time. And he said not simply, "Buy," but "redeem," making it yours after another manner. For it were the part of excessive madness, to invent occasions of war and enmity. For over and above the undergoing of superfluous and profitless dangers, there is this additional harm, that the Greeks will not come over to us. For when thou art amongst the brethren, reason is thou shouldest be bold; but when without, thou oughtest not to be so.
Seest thou how everywhere he speaks of those without, the Greeks? Wherefore also when writing to Timothy, he said, "Moreover, he must have good testimony from them that are without." (1 Tim. iii. 7.) And again, "For what have I to do with judging them that are without." (1 Cor. v. 12.) "Walk in wisdom," he saith, "toward them that are without." For "without," they are, even though they live in the same world with us, seeing they are without the kingdom, and the paternal mansion. And he comforts them withal, by calling the others "without," as he said above, "Your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col. iii. 3.)
Then, he saith, seek ye glory, then honors, then all those other things, but not so now, but give them up to those without. Next, lest thou think that he is speaking of money, he adds, "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one." That it may not be full of hypocrisy, for this is not "grace," nor "a seasoning with salt." For instance, if it be needful to pay court to any one without incurring danger, refuse not [to do so]; if the occasion require that thou discourse civilly, think not the doing so flattery, do everything that pertaineth to honor, so that piety be not injured. Seest thou not how Daniel payeth court to an impious man? Seest thou not the three children, how wisely they bore themselves, showing both courage, and boldness in speaking, and yet nothing rash nor galling, for so it had not been boldness, but vainglory. "That ye may know," he saith, "how ye ought to answer every man." For the ruler ought to be answered in one way, the ruled in another, the rich in one way, the poor in another. Wherefore? Because the souls of those who are rich, and in authority, are weaker, more inflammable, more fluctuating, so that towards them, one should use condescension; those of the poor, and the ruled, firmer and more intelligent, so that to these one should use greater boldness of speech; looking to one thing, their edification. Not that because one is rich, another poor, the former is to be honored more, the latter less, but because of his weakness, let the former be supported, the latter not so: for instance, when there is no cause for it, do not call the Greek "polluted," nor be insulting; but if thou be asked concerning his doctrine, answer that it is polluted, and impious; but when none asketh thee, nor forceth thee to speak, it becomes thee not causelessly to challenge to thee his enmity. For what need is there to prepare for thyself gratuitous hostilities? Again, if thou art instructing any one; speak on the subject at present before thee, otherwise be silent. If the speech be "seasoned with salt," should it fall into a soul that is of loose texture, it will brace up its slackness; into one that is harsh, it will smooth its ruggedness. Let it be gracious, and so neither hard, nor yet weak, but let it have both sternness and pleasantness therewith. For if one be immoderately stern, he doth more harm than good; and if he be immoderately complaisant, he giveth more pain than pleasure, so that everywhere there ought to be moderation. Be not downcast, and sour visaged, for this is offensive; nor yet be wholly relaxed, for this is open to contempt and treading under foot; but, like the bee, culling the virtue of each, of the one its cheerfulness, of the other its gravity, keep clear of the fault. For if a physician dealeth not with all bodies alike, much more ought not a teacher. And yet better will the body bear unsuitable medicines, than the soul language; for instance, a Greek cometh to thee, and becomes thy friend; discourse not at all with him on this subject, until he have become a close friend, and after he hath become so, do it gradually.
See, when Paul also had come to Athens, how he discoursed with them. He said not, "O polluted, and all-polluted"; but what? "Ye men of Athens, in all things I perceive that ye are somewhat superstitious." (Acts xvii. 22.) Again, when to insult was needful, he refused not; but with great vehemency he said to Elymas, "O full of all guile and all villainy, son of the devil, enemy of all righteousness." For as to have insulted those had been senselessness, so not to have insulted this one had been softness. Again, art thou brought unto a ruler on a matter of business, see that thou render him the honors that are his due.
Ver. 9. "They shall make known unto you," he saith, "all things that are done here." Why didst thou not come with them, says one? But what is, "They shall make known unto you all things"? My bonds, that is, and all the other things that detain me. I then, who pray to see them, who also send others, should not myself have remained behind, had not some great necessity detained me. And yet this is not the language of accusations yes, of vehement accusation. For the assuring them that he had both fallen into trials, and was bearing them nobly, is the part of one who was confirming the fact, and lifting up again their souls.
Ver. 9. "With Onesimus," he saith, "the beloved, and faithful brother."
Paul calleth a slave, brother: with reason; seeing that he styleth himself the servant of the faithful. (2 Cor. iv. 5.) Bring we down all of us our pride, tread we under foot our boastfulness. Paul nameth himself a slave, he that is worth the world, and ten thousands of heavens; and dost thou entertain high thoughts? He that seizeth all things for spoil as he will, he that hath the first place in the kingdom of heaven, he that was crowned, he that ascended into the third heaven, calleth servants, "brethren," and "fellow-servants." Where is your madness? where is your arrogance?
So trustworthy was Onesimus become, as to be entrusted even with such things as these.
Ver. 10. "And Mark," he saith, "the cousin of Barnabas, touching whom ye received commandments, receive him." Perhaps they had received commandments from Barnabas.
Ver. 11. "Who are of the circumcision." He represseth the swelling pride of the Jews, and inspiriteth the souls of these, [the Colossians,] because few of them were of the circumcision, the greater number of the Gentiles.
"Men that have been," he saith, "a comfort unto me." He shows himself to be set in the midst of great trials. So that neither is this a small thing. When we comfort the Saints by presence, by words, by assiduous attendance when we suffer adversity together with them, (for he saith, "as bound with those in bonds"; [Heb. xiii. 3]) when we make their sufferings ours, we shall also be partakers in their crowns. Hast thou not been dragged to the stadium? Hast thou not entered into the lists? It is another that strips himself, another that wrestles but if thou be so minded, thou too shall be a sharer. Anoint him, become his favorer and partisan, from without the lists shout loudly for him, stir up his strength, refresh his spirit. It follows that the same things should be done in all other cases. For Paul stood not in need, but in order to stimulate them he said these things. Thou therefore in the case of all others, stop the mouths of those who would abuse such an one, procure favorers for him, receive him as he cometh forth with great attention, so shall thou, be a sharer in his crowns, so, in his glory; and if thou do no other thing, but only hast pleasure in what is done, even thus thou sharest in no common degree, for thou hast contributed love, the sum of all good things.
For if they that weep seem to share in the grief of those in sorrow, and gratify them mightily, and remove the excess of their woe, much more do they also that rejoice with others, make their pleasure greater. For how great an evil it is not to have companions in sorrow, hear the Prophet saying, "And I looked for one to lament with me, but there was none." Wherefore Paul also saith, "Rejoice with them that rejoice; and weep with them that weep." (Rom. xii. 15.) Increase their pleasure. If thou see thy brother in good esteem, say not, "the esteem is his, why should I rejoice." These words are not those of a brother, but of an enemy. If thou be so minded, it is not his, but thine. Thou hast the power of making it greater, if thou be not downcast, but pleased, if thou be cheerfill, if joyous. And that it is so, is evident from this; the envious envy not those only who are in good esteem, but those as well who rejoice at their good esteem, so conscious are they that these also are interested in that good esteem; and these are they who do glory most in it. For the other even blushes when praised exceedingly; but these with great pleasure pride themselves upon it. See ye not in the case of athletes, how the one is crowned, the other is not crowned; but the grief and the joy is amongst the favorers and disfavorers, these are they that leap, they that caper?
See how great a thing is the not envying. The toil is another's, the pleasure is thine; another wears the crown, and thou caperest, thou art gay. For tell me, seeing it is another that hath conquered, why dost thou leap? But they also know well, that what hath been done is common. Therefore they do not accuse this man indeed, but they try to beat down the victory; and you hear them saying such words as these, "(There) I expunged thee," and, "I beat thee down." Although the deed was another's, still the praise is thine. But if in things without, not to envy, but to make another's good one's own, is so great a good, much more in the victory of the devil over us he breathes the more furiously, evidently because we are more pleased. Wicked though he is, and bitter, he well knows that this pleasure is great. Wouldest thou pain him? Be glad and rejoice. Wouldest thou gladden him? Be sad-visaged. The pain he has from thy brother's victory, thou soothest by thy sadness; thou standest with him, severed from thy brother, thou workest greater mischief than he. For it is not the same for one that is an enemy to do the deeds of an enemy, and for a friend to stand with an enemy; such an one is more detestable than an enemy. If thy brother have gained good reputation either by speaking, or by brilliant or successful achievement, become thou a sharer in his reputation, show that he is a member of thine.
"And how?" saith one, "for the reputation is not mine." Never speak so. Compress thy lips. If thou hadst been near me, thou that speakest on that wise, I would have even put my hand over thy lips: lest the enemy should hear thee. Oftentimes we have enmities with one another, and we discover them not to our enemies; dost thou then discover thine to the devil? Say not so, think not so; but the very reverse: "he is one of my members, the glory passes on to the body." "How then is it," saith one, "that those without are not so minded?" Because of thy fault: when they see thee counting his pleasure not thine own, they too count it not thine: were they to see thee appropriating it, they durst not do so, but thou wouldest become equally illustrious with him. Thou hast not gained reputation by speaking; but by sharing in his joy thou hast gained more renown than he. For if love be a great thing, and the sum of all, thou hast received the crown this gives; he, that for oratory, thou, that for exceeding love; he displayed force of words, but thou by deeds hast cast down envy, hast trodden under foot the evil eye. So that in reason thou oughtest rather to be crowned than he, thy contest is the more brilliant; thou hast not only trodden under foot envy, but thou hast even done somewhat else. He hath one crown only, but thou two, and those both brighter than his one. What are these? One, that which thou wonnest against envy, another, which thou art encircled with by love. For the sharing in his joy is a proof not only of thy being free from envy, but also of being rooted in love. Him ofttimes some human passion sorely disquieteth, vainglory for instance; but thou art free from every passion, for it is not of vainglory that thou rejoicest at another's good. Hath he righted up the Church, tell me? hath he increased the congregation? Praise him; again thou hast a twofold crown; thou hast struck down envy; thou hast enwreathed thee with love. Yea, I implore and beseech thee. Wilt thou hear of a third crown even? Him, men below applaud, thee, the Angels above. For it is not the same thing, to make a display of eloquence, and to rule the passions. This praise is for a season, that for ever; this, of men, that, of God; this man is crowned openly; but thou art crowned in secret, where thy Father seeth. If it were possible to have peeled off the body and seen the soul of each, I would have shown thee that this is more dignified than the other, more resplendent.
Tread we under foot the goads of envy, we advantage ourselves, beloved, ourselves shall we enwreath with the crown. He that envieth another tighteth with God, not with him; for when he seeth him to have grace, and is grieved, and wisheth the Church pulled down, he fighteth not with him, but with God. For tell me, if one should adorn a king's daughter, and by his adorning and gracing her, gain for himself renown; and another person should wish her to be ill attired, and him to be unable to adorn her; against whom would he have been plotting mischief? Against the other? or against her and her father? So too now, thou that enviest, tightest with the Church, thou warrest with God. For, since with the good repute of thy brother is interwoven also the Church's profit, need is, that if the one be undone, the other shall be undone also. So that, in this regard also, thou doest a deed of Satan, seeing thou plottest mischief against the body of Christ. Art thou pained at this man? Wrongly, when he hath in nothing wronged thee; yea, much rather, thou art pained at Christ. Wherein hath He wronged thee, that thou wilt not suffer His body to be decked with beauty? that thou wilt not suffer His bride to be adorned? Consider, I pray thee, the punishment, how sore. Thou gladdenest thine enemies; and him too himself, the man in good esteem, whom through thy envy thou wishest to grieve, thou dost the rather gladden; thou dost by thine envy the rather show that he is in good esteem, for otherwise thou wouldest not have envied him. Thou showest the rather that thou art in punishment.
I am ashamed indeed to exhort you from such motives, but seeing our weakness is so great, let us be instructed even from these, and free ourselves from this destructive passion. Grievest thou that he is in good esteem? then why swellest thou that esteem by envying? Wishest thou to punish him? Why then showest thou that thou art pained? Why punish thyself before him, whom thou wouldest not have well esteemed? Thereafter double will be his pleasure, and thy punishment; not only because thou provest him to be great; but because thou begettest in him yet another pleasure, by punishing thyself; and again, at what thou art pained, he is pleased, whilst thou enviest. See how we deal ourselves heavy blows without perceiving it! He is an enemy. And yet, why an enemy? What wrong hath he done? Still, however, by this we make our enemy the more illustrious, and thereby punish ourselves the more. And herein again we punish ourselves, if we have discovered that he knows it. For perhaps he is not pleased, but we thinking him to be so, are again pained on that account. Cease then your envying. Why inflictest thou wounds upon thyself?
Think we of these things, beloved; of those two crowns for them that envy not; of those praises from men, of those from God; of the evils that come of envying; and so shall we be able to quell the brute, and to be in good esteem before God, and to obtain the same things with those who are of good esteem. For perhaps we shall obtain them, and if we obtain them not, it will be for our advantage; still, even so, we shall be able, if we have lived to the glory of God, to obtain the good things promised to them that love Him, through the grace and love toward man of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.
"Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, saluteth you, always striving for you in his prayers, that ye may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness, that he hath much zeal for you, and for them in Laodicea, and for them in Hierapolis."
In the commencement of this Epistle also, he commended this man for his love; for even to praise is a sign of love; thus in the beginning he said "Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit." (Col. i. 8.) To pray for one is also a sign of love, and causeth love again. He commends him moreover in order to open a door to his teachings, for reverendness in the teacher is the disciples' advantage; and so again is his saying, "one of you," in order that they might pride themselves upon the man, as producing such men. And he saith, "always striving for you in prayers." He said not simply "praying," but "striving," trembling and fearing. "For I bear him witness," he saith, "that he hath much zeal for you." A trustworthy witness. "That he hath," he saith, "much zeal for you," that is, that he loveth you exceedingly; and burneth with passionate affection for you. "And them in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis." He commendeth him to those also. But whence were they to know this? They would assuredly have heard; however, they would also learn it when the Epistle was read. For he said, "Cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans." "That ye may stand perfect," he saith. At once he both accuseth them, and without offensiveness gives them advice and counsel. For it is possible both to be perfect, and withal not to stand, as if one were to know all, and still be wavering; it is possible also not to be perfect, and yet to stand, as if one were to know a part, and stand [not] firmly. But this man prayeth for both: "That ye may stand perfect," he saith. See how again he has reminded them of what he said about the Angels, and about life. "And fully assured," he saith, "in all the will of God." It is not enough, simply to do His will. He that is "filled," suffereth not any other will to be within him, for if so, he is not wholly filled. "For I bear him witness," he saith, "that he hath much zeal." Both "zeal," and "great"; both are intensitive. As he saith himself, when writing to the Corinthians, "For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy." (2 Cor. xi. 2.)
Ver. 14. "Luke, the beloved physician, saluteth you." This is the Evangelist. It is not to lower this man that he placeth him after, but to raise the other, viz. Epaphroditus. It is probable that there were others called by this name. "And Demas," he says. After saying, "Luke, the physician, saluteth you," he added, "the beloved." And no small praise is this, but be beloved of Paul even great exceedingly
Ver. 15. "Salute the brethren that are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the Church that is in their house."
See how he cements, and knits them together with one another, not by salutation only, but also by interchanging his Epistles. Then again he pays a compliment by addressing him individually. And this he doth not without a reason, but in order to lead the others also to emulate his zeal. For it is not a small thing not to be numbered with the rest. Mark further how he shows the man to be great, seeing his house was a church.
Ver. 14. "And when this Epistle hath been read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans." I suppose there are some of the things therein written, which it was needful that those also should hear. And they would have the greater advantage of recognizing their own errors in the charges brought against others.
"And that ye also read the Epistle from Laodicea." Some say that this is not Paul's to them, but theirs to Paul, for he said not that to the Laodiceans, but that written "from Laodicea."
Ver. 17. "And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it." Wherefore doth he not write to him? Perhaps he needed it not, but only a bare reminding, so as to be more diligent.
Ver. 18. "The salutation of me, Paul, with mine own hand." This is a proof of their sincerity and affection; that they both looked at his handwriting, and that with emotion. "Remember my bonds." Wonderful! How great the consolation! For this is enough to cheer them on to all things, and make them bear themselves more nobly in their trials; but he made them not only the braver, but also the more nearly interested. "Grace be with you. Amen."
It is great praise, and greater than all the rest, his saying of Epaphras, "who is [one] of you, a servant of Christ." And he calleth him a minister for them, like as he termeth himself also a minister of the Church, as when he saith, "Whereof I Paul was made a minister." (Col. i. 23.) To the same dignity he advances this man; and above he calleth him a "fellow-servant" (Col. i. 7), and here, "a servant." "Who is of you," he saith, as if speaking to a mother, and saying, "who is of thy womb." But this praise might have gendered envy; therefore he commendeth him not from these things only, but also from what had regard to themselves; and so he does away with envy, both in the former place, and here. "Always," he saith, "striving for you," not now only, whilst with us, to make a display; nor yet only whilst with you, to make a display before you. By saying, "striving," he hath showed his great earnestness. Then, that he might not seem to be flattering them, he added, "that he hath much zeal for you, and for them in Laodicea, and for them in Hierapolis." And the words, "that ye may stand perfect," are not words of flattery, but of a reverend teacher. Both "fully assured" he saith, "and perfect." The one he granted them, the other he said was lacking. And he said not, "that ye be not shaken," but, "that ye may stand." Their being saluted, however, by many, is refreshing to them, seeing that not only their friends from among themselves; but others also, remember them.
"And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord." His chief aim is to subject them to him entirely. For they could no more have complaint against him for rebuking them, when they themselves had taken it all upon them; for it is not reasonable to talk to the disciples about the teacher. But to stop their mouths, he writes thus to them; "Say to Archippus," he saith, "Take heed." This word is everywhere used to alarm; as when he saith, "Take heed of dogs." (Phil. iii. 2.) "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you." (Col. ii. 8.) "Take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to the weak." (1 Cor. viii. 9.) And he always so expresses himself when he would terrify. "Take heed," he saith, "to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it." He doth not even allow him the power of choosing, as he saith himself, "For if I do this of mine own will, I have a reward: but if not of mine own will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me." (1 Cor. ix. 17.) "That thou fulfill it," continually using diligence. "Which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it." Again, the word "in" means "through the Lord." He gave it thee, says he, not we. He subjects them also to him, when he shows that they had been committed to his hands by God.
"Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen." He hath released their terror. For although their teacher be in bonds, yet "grace" releaseth him. This too is of grace, the granting him to be put in bonds. For hear Luke saying, The Apostles returned "from the presence of the council, rejoicing that, they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name." (Acts v. 41.) For both to suffer shame, and to be put in bonds, is indeed to be "counted worthy." For, if he that hath one whom he loveth, deemeth it gain to suffer aught for his sake, much rather then is it so to suffer for the sake of Christ. Repine we not then at our tribulations for Christ's sake, but let us also remember Paul's bonds, and be this our incitement. For instance: dost thou exhort any to give to the poor for Christ's sake? Remind them of Paul's bonds, and bemoan thy misery and theirs, seeing that he indeed gave up even his body to bonds for His sake, but thou wilt not give a portion even of thy food. Art thou lifted up because of thy good deeds? Remember Paul's bonds, that thou hast suffered nought of that kind, and thou wilt be lifted up no more. Covetest thou any of the things that are thy neighbor's? Remember Paul's bonds, and thou wilt see how unreasonable it is, that whilst he was in perils, thou shouldest be in delights. Again, is thine heart set upon self-indulgence? Picture to thy mind Paul's prison-house; thou art his disciple, his fellow-soldier. How is it reasonable, that thy fellow-soldier should be in bonds, and thou in luxury? Art thou in affliction? Dost thou deem thyself forsaken? Hear Paul's bonds, and thou wilt see, that to be in affliction is no proof of being forsaken. Wouldest thou wear silken robes? Remember Paul's bonds; and these things will appear to thee more worthless than the filth-bespattered rags of her that sitteth apart. Wouldest thou array thee with golden trinkets? Picture to thy mind Paul's bonds, and these things will seem to thee no better than a withered bulrush. Wouldest thou tire thine hair, and be beautiful to see? Think of Paul's squalidness within that prison-house, and thou wilt burn for that beauty, and deem this the extreme of ugliness, and wilt groan bitterly through longing for those bonds. Wouldest thou daub thee with pastes and pigments, and such like things? Think of his tears: a three-years space, night and day, he ceased not to weep. (Acts xx. 31.) With this adorning deck thy cheek; these tears do make it bright. I say not, that thou weep for others, (I wish indeed it could be even so, but this is too high for thee,) but for thine own sins I advise thee to do this. Hast thou ordered thy slave to be put in bonds, and wast thou angry, and exasperated? Remember Paul's bonds, and thou wilt straightway stay thine anger; remember that we are of the bound, not the binders, of the bruised in heart, not the bruisers. Hast thou lost self-control, and shouted loud in laughter? Think of his lamentations, and thou wilt groan; such tears will show thee brighter far. Seest thou any persons rioting and dancing? Remember his tears. What fountain has gushed forth so great streams as those eyes did tears? "Remember my tears" (Acts xx. 31), he saith, as here "bonds." And with reason he spoke thus to them, when he sent for them from Ephesus to Miletus. For he was then speaking to teachers. He demands of those therefore, that they should sympathize also, but of these that they should only encounter dangers.
What fountain wilt thou compare to these tears? That in Paradise, which watereth the whole earth? But thou wilt have mentioned nothing like it. For this fount of tears watered souls, not earth. If one were to show us Paul bathed in tears, and groaning, would not this be better far to see, than countless choirs gayly crowned? I am not now speaking of you; but, if one, having pulled away from the theater and the stage some wanton fellow, burning and drunken with carnal love, were to show him a young virgin in the very flower of her age, surpassing her fellows, both in other respects, and in her face more than the rest of her person, having an eye, tender and soft, that gently resteth, and gently rolleth, moist, mild, calmly smiling, and arrayed in much modesty and much grace, fringed with dark lashes both under and over, having an eyeball, so to speak, alive, a forehead radiant; underneath, again, a cheek shaded to exact redness, lying smooth as marble, and even; and then any one should show me Paul weeping; leaving that maiden, I would have eagerly sprung away to the sight of him; for from his eyes there beamed spiritual beauty. For that other transporteth the souls of youths, it scorcheth and inflameth them; but this, on the contrary, subdueth them. This maketh the eyes of the soul more beauteous, it curbeth the belly: it filleth with the love of wisdom, with much sympathy: and it is able to soften even a soul of adamant. With these tears the Church is watered, with these souls are planted; yea, though there be fire sensible and substantial, yet can these tears quench it; these tears quench the fiery darts of the wicked one.
Remember we then these tears of his, and we shall laugh to scorn all present things. These tears did Christ pronounce blessed, saying, "Blessed are they that mourn, and blessed are they that weep, for they shall laugh." (Matt. v. 4; Luke vi. 21.) Such tears did Isaiah too, and Jeremiah weep; and the former said, "Leave me alone, I will weep bitterly" (Isa. xxii. 4, Sept.): and the latter, "Who will give my head water, and mine eyes fountains of tears?" (Jer. ix. 1); as though the natural fount were not enough.
Nothing is sweeter than these tears; sweeter are they than any laughter. They that mourn, know how great consolation it possesseth. Let us not think this a thing to be deprecated, but one to be even exceedingly prayed for; not that others may sin, but that, when they sin, we may be heart-broken for them. Remember we these tears, these bonds. Surely too upon those bonds tears descended; but the death of the perishing, of those that had bound him in them, suffered him not to taste the pleasure of the bonds. For in their behalf he grieved, being a disciple of Him that bewept the priests of the Jews; not because they were going to crucify Him, but because they were themselves perishing. And He doeth not this Himself alone, but He thus exhorteth others also, saying, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me." (Luke xxiii. 28.) These eyes saw Paradise, saw the third heaven: but I count not them so blessed because of this sight, as because of those tears, through which they saw Christ. Blessed, indeed, was that sight; for he himself even glories in it, saying, "Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" (1 Cor. ix. 1); but more blessed so to weep.
In that sight many have been partakers, and those who have not so been, Christ the rather calls blessed, saying, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John xx. 29); but unto this not many have attained. For if to stay here for Christ's sake were more needful than to depart to Him (Phil. i. 23, 24), for the sake of the salvation of others; surely then to groan for others' sakes, is more needful even than to see Him. For if for His sake to be in hell, is rather to be desired, than to be with Him; and to be separated from Him for His sake more to be desired than to be with Him, (for this is what he said, "For I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ" (Rom. ix. 3)), much more is weeping for His sake. "I ceased not," he saith, "to admonish everyone with tears." (Acts xx. 31.) Wherefore? Not fearing the dangers; no; but as if one sitting by a sick man's side, and not knowing what would be the end, should weep for affection, fearing lest he should lose his life; so too did he; when he saw any one diseased, and could not prevail by rebuke, he thenceforward wept. So did Christ also, that happily they might reverence His tears: thus, one sinned, He rebuked him; the rebuked spat upon Him, and sprang aloof; He wept, that haply He might win him even so.
Remember we these tears: thus let us bring up our daughters, thus our sons; weeping when we see them in evil. As many women as wish to be loved, let them remember Paul's tears, and groan: as many of you as are counted blest, as many as are in bridal chambers, as many as are in pleasure, remember these; as many as are in mourning, exchange tears for tears. He mourned not for the dead; but for those that were perishing whilst alive. Shall I tell of other tears? Timothy also wept; for he was this man's disciple; wherefore also when writing to him he said, "Remembering thy tears, that I may be filled with joy." (2 Tim. i. 4.) Many weep even from pleasure. So it is also a matter of pleasure, and that of the utmost intensity. So the tears are not painful: yea, the tears that flow from such sorrow are even better far than those due to worldly pleasure. Hear the Prophet saying, "The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping, he hath heard the voice of my supplication." (Ps. vi. 8.) For where is the tear not useful? in prayers? in exhortations? We get them an ill name, by using them not to what they are given us for. When we entreat a sinning brother, we ought to weep, grieving and groaning; when we exhort any one, and he giveth us no heed, but goeth on perishing, we ought to weep. These are the tears of heavenly wisdom. When however one is in poverty, or bodily disease, or dead, not so; for these are not things worthy of tears.
As then we gain an ill name for laughter also, when we use it out of season; so too do we for tears, by having recourse to them unseasonably. For the virtue of each thing then discovers itself when it is brought to its own fitting work, but when to one that is alien, it cloth no longer so. For instance, wine is given for cheerfulness, not drunkenness, bread for nourishment, sexual intercourse for the procreation of children. As then these things have gained an ill name, so also have tears. Be there a law laid down, that they be used in prayers and exhortations only, and see how desirable a thing they will become. Nothing doth so wipe out sins, as tears. Tears show even this bodily countenance beautiful; for they win the spectator to pity, they make it respected in our eyes. Nothing is sweeter than tearful eyes. For this is the noblest member we have, and the most beautiful, and the soul's own. And therefore we are so bowed therewith, as though we saw the soul itself lamenting.
I have not spoken these things without a reason; but in order that ye may cease your attendance at weddings, at dancings, at Satanical performances. For see what the devil hath invented. Since nature itself hath withheld women from the stage, and the disgraceful things enacted there, he hath introduced into the women's apartment the furniture of the theater, I mean, wanton men and harlots. This pestilence the custom of marriages hath introduced, or rather, not of marriages, far be it, but of our own silliness. What is it thou doest, O man? Dost thou not know what thou art at? Thou marriest a wife for chastity, and procreation of children; what then mean these harlots? That there may be, one answereth, greater gladness. And yet is not this rather madness? Thou insultest thy bride, thou insultest the women that are invited. For if they are delighted with such proceedings, the thing is an insult. If to see harlots acting indecorously conferreth any honor, wherefore dost thou not drag thy bride also thither, that she too may see? It is quite indecent and disgraceful to introduce into one's house lewd fellows and dancers, and all that Satanic pomp.
"Remember," he saith, "my bonds." Marriage is a bond, a bond ordained of God, a harlot is a severing and a dissolving. It is permitted you to embellish marriage with other things, such as full tables, and apparel. I do not cut off these things, lest I should seem to be clownish to an extreme; and yet Rebecca was content with her veil only (Gen. xxiv. 65); still I do not cut them off. It is permitted you to embellish and set off marriage with apparel, with the presence of reverend men and reverend women. Why introducest thou those mockeries? why those monsters? Tell us what it is thou hearest from them? What? dost thou blush to tell? Dost thou blush, and yet force them to do it? If it is honorable, wherefore dost-thou not do it thyself as well? but if disgraceful, wherefore dost thou compel another? Everything should be full of chasteness, of gravity, of orderliness; but I see the reverse, people frisking like camels and mules. For the virgin, her chamber is the only befitting place. "But," saith one, "she is poor." Because she is poor, she ought to be modest also; let her have her character in the place of a fortune. Has she no dowry to give with herself? Then why dost thou make her otherwise contemptible through her life and manners? I praise the custom, that virgins attend to do honor to their fellow; matrons attend to do honor to her who is made one of their order. Rightly hath this been ordered. For these are two companies, one of virgins, the other of the married; the one are giving her up, the other receiving her. The bride is between them, neither virgin, nor wife, for she is coming forth from those, and entering into the fellowship of these. But those harlots, what mean they? They ought to hide their faces when marriage is celebrated; they ought to be dug into the earth, (for harlotry is the corruption of marriage,) but we introduce them at our marriages. And, when ye are engaged in any work, ye count it ill-omened to speak even a syllable of what is adverse to it; for instance, when thou sowest, when thou drawest off the wine from thy vats, thou wouldest not, even if asked, utter a syllable about vinegar; but here, where the object is chasteness, introduce ye the vinegar? for such is an harlot. When ye are preparing sweet ointment, ye suffer nought ill-scented to be near. Marriage is a sweet ointment. Why then introducest thou the foul stench of the dunghill into the preparation of thy ointment? What sayest thou? Shall the virgin dance, and yet feel no shame before her fellow? For she ought to have more gravity than the other; she hath at least come forth from the [nurse's] arm, and not from the palaestra. For the virgin ought not to appear publicly at all at a marriage.
Seest thou not how in kings' houses, the honored are within, about the king, the unhonored without? Do thou too be within about the bride. But remain in the house in chasteness, expose not thy virginity. Either company is standing by, the one to show of what sort she is whom they are giving up, the other in order that they may guard her. Why disgracest thou the virgin estate? For if thou art such as this, the same will the bridegroom suspect her to be. If thou wishest to have men in love with thee, this is the part of saleswomen, green-grocers, and handicrafts-people. Is not this a shame? To act unseemly is a shame even though it be a king's daughter. For doth her poverty stand in the way? or her course of life? Even if a virgin be a slave, let her abide in modesty. "For in Christ Jesus there can be neither bond nor free." (Gal. iii. 28.)
What? is marriage a theater? It is a mystery and a type of a mighty thing; and even if thou reverence not it, reverence that whose type it is. "This mystery," saith he, "is great, but I speak in regard of Christ and of the Church." (Eph. v. 32.) It is a type of the Church, and of Christ, and dost thou introduce harlots at it? If then, saith one, neither virgins dance, nor the married, who is to dance? No one, for what need is there of dancing? In the Grecian mysteries there are dancings, but in ours, silence and decency, modesty, and bashfulness. A great mystery is being celebrated: forth with the harlots! forth with the profane! How is it a mystery? They come together, and the two make one. Wherefore is it that at his entrance indeed, there was no dancing, no cymbals, but great silence, great stillness; but when they come together, making not a lifeless image, nor yet the image of anything upon earth, but of God Himself, and after his likeness, thou introducest so great an uproar, and disturbest those that are there, and puttest the soul to shame, and confoundest it? They come, about to be made one body. See again a mystery of love! If the two become not one, so long as they continue two, they make not many, but when they are come into oneness, they then make many. What do we learn from this? That great is the power of union. The wise counsel of God at the beginning divided the one into two; and being desirous of showing that even after division it remaineth still one, He suffered not that the one should be of itself enough for procreation. For he is not one who is not yet [united] but the half of one; and it is evident from this, that he begetteth no offspring, as was the case also beforetime? Seest thou the mystery of marriage? He made of one, one; and again, having made these two, one, He so maketh one, so that now also man is produced of one. For man and wife are not two men, but one Man. And this may be confirmed from many sources; for instance, from James, from Mary the Mother of Christ, from the words, "He made them male and female." (Gen. i. 27.) If he be the head, and she the body, how are they two? Therefore the one holdeth the rank of a disciple, the other of a teacher, the one of a ruler, the other of a subject. Moreover, from the very fashioning of her body, one may see that they are one, for she was made from his side, and they are, as it were, two halves.
For this cause He also calleth her a help, to show that they are one (Gen. ii. 18); for this cause He honoreth their cohabitation beyond both father and mother, to show that they are one. (Gen. ii. 24.) And in like manner a father rejoiceth both when son and daughter marry, as though the body were hastening to join a member of its own; and though so great a charge and expenditure of money is incurred still he cannot bear with indifference to see her unmarried. For as though her own flesh itself were severed from her, each one separately is imperfect for the procreation of children, each one is imperfect as regards the constitution of this present life. Wherefore also the Prophet saith, "the residue of thy spirit." (Mal. ii. 15, Sept.) And how become they one flesh? As if thou shouldest take away the purest part of gold, and mingle it with other gold; so in truth here also the woman as it were receiving the richest part fused by pleasure, nourisheth it and cherisheth it, and withal contributing her own share, restoreth it back a Man. And the child is a sort of bridge, so that the three become one flesh, the child connecting, on either side, each to other. For like as two cities, which a river divides throughout, become one, if a bridge connect them on both sides, so is it in this case; and yet more, when the very bridge in this case is formed of the substance of each. As the body and the head are one body; for they are divided by the neck; but not divided more than connected, for it, lying between them brings together each with the other. And it is the same as if a chorus that had been severed should, by taking one part of itself from this quarter, and the other again from the right, make one; or as these when come into close rank, and extending hands, become one; for the hands extended admit not of their being two. Therefore to wit He said with accuracy of expression, not "they shall be one flesh" but joined together "into one flesh" (Gen. ii. 2, Sept.), namely, that of the child. What then? when there is no child, will they not be two? Nay, for their coming together hath this effect, it diffuses and commingles the bodies of both. And as one who hath cast ointment into oil, hath made the whole one; so in truth is it also here. I know that many are ashamed at what is said, and the cause of this is what I spoke of, your own lasciviousness, and unchasteness. The fact of marriages being thus performed, thus depraved, hath gained the thing an ill name: for "marriage is honorable, and the bed undefiled." (Heb. xiii. 4.) Why art thou ashamed of the honorable, why blushest thou at the undefiled? This is for heretics, this is for such as introduce harlots thither. For this cause I am desirous of having it thoroughly purified, so as to bring it back again to its proper nobleness, so as to stop the mouths of the heretics. The gift of God is insulted, the root of our generation; for about that root there is much dung and filth. This then let us cleanse away by our discourse. Endure then a little while, for he that holdeth filth must endure the stench. I wish to show you that ye ought not to be ashamed at these things, but at those which ye do; but thou, passing by all shame at those, art ashamed at these; surely then thou condemnest God who hath thus decreed.
Shall I tell how marriage is also a mystery of the Church? As Christ came into the Church, and she was made of him, and he united with her in a spiritual intercourse, "for," saith one, "I have espoused you to one husband, a pure virgin." (2 Cor. xi. 2.) And that we are of Him, he saith, of His members, "and of His flesh." Thinking then on all these things, let us not cast shame upon so great a mystery. Marriage is a type of the presence of Christ, and art thou drunken at it? Tell me; if thou sawest an image of the king, wouldest thou dishonor it? By no means.
Now the practices at marriages seem to be a matter of indifference, but they are the causes of great mischiefs. All is full of lawlessness. "Filthiness, and foolish talking, and jesting, let it not proceed," saith he, "out of your mouth." (Eph. v. 4; iv. 29.) Now all these things are filthiness, foolish talking, and jesting; and not these simply, but with aggravation, for the thing has become an art, and there are great praises for those that pursue it. Sins have become an art! We pursue them not in any chance way, but with earnestness, with science, and thenceforth the devil takes the command of his own array. For where drunkenness is, there is unchasteness: where filthy talking, there the devil is at hand bringing in his own contributions; with such an entertainment, tell me, dost thou celebrate the mystery of Christ? and invitest thou the devil?
I dare say you consider me offensive. For this too is a property of extreme pervertedness, that even one that rebuketh you incurs your ridicule as one that is austere. Hear ye not Paul, saying, "Whatsoever ye do, whether ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God"? (1 Cor. x. 31.) But ye do all to ill report and dishonor. Hear ye not the Prophet, saying, "Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice unto Him with trembling?" (Ps. ii. 11.) But ye are wholly without restraint. Is it not possible both to enjoy pleasure, and to do so with safety? Art thou desirous of hearing beautiful songs? Best of all indeed, thou oughtest not; nevertheless, I condescend if thou wilt have it so: do not hear those Satanic ones, but the spiritual. Art thou desirous of seeing choirs of dancers? Behold the choir of Angels. And how is it possible, saith one, to see them? If thou drive away all these things, even Christ will come to such a marriage, and Christ being present, the choir of Angels is present also. If thou wilt, He will even now work miracles as He did then; He will make even now the water, wine (John ii.); and what is much more wonderful, He will convert this unstable and dissolving pleasure, this cold desire, and change it into the spiritual. This is to make of water, wine. Where pipers are, by no means there is Christ; but even if He should have entered, He first casts these forth, and then He works His wonders. What can be more disagreeable than this Satanic pomp? where everything is inarticulate, everything without significancy; and if there be anything articulate, again all is shameful, all is noisome.
Nothing is more pleasurable than virtue, nothing sweeter than orderliness, nothing more amiable than gravity. Let any celebrate such a marriage as I speak of; and he shall find the pleasure; but what sort of marriages these are, take heed. First seek a husband for the virgin, who will be truly a husband, and a protector; as though thou wert intending to place a head upon a body; as though about to give not a slave, but a daughter into his hands. Seek not money, nor splendor of family, nor greatness of country; all these things are superfluous; but piety of soul, gentleness, the true understanding, the fear of God, if thou wishest thy darling to live with pleasure. For if thou seek a wealthier husband, not only wilt thou not benefit her, but thou wilt even harm her, by making her a slave instead of free. For the pleasure she will reap from her golden trinkets will not be so great as will be the annoyance that comes of her slavery. I pray thee, seek not these things, but most of all, one of equal condition; if however this cannot be, rather one poorer than in better circumstances; if at least thou be desirous not of selling thy daughter to a master, but of giving her to a husband. When thou hast thoroughly investigated the virtue of the man, and art about to give her to him, beseech Christ to be present: for He will not be ashamed to be so; it is the mystery of His presence. Yea rather beseech Him even in the first instance, to grant her such a suitor. Be not worse than the servant of Abraham, who, when sent on a pilgrimage so important, saw whither he ought to have recourse; wherefore also he obtained everything. When thou art taking anxious pains, and seeking a husband for her, pray; say unto God, "whomsoever Thou wilt do Thou provide:" into His hands commit the matter; and He, honored in this way by thee, will requite thee with honor.
Two things indeed it is necessary to do; to commit the thing into His hands, and to seek such an orderly person as He Himself approves.
When then thou makest a marriage, go not round from house to house borrowing mirrors and dresses; for the matter is not one of display, nor dost thou lead thy daughter to a pageant; but decking out thine house with what is in it, invite thy neighbors, and friends, and kindred. As many as thou knowest to be of a good character, those invite, and bid them be content with what there is. Let no one from the orchestra be present, for such expense is superfluous, and unbecoming. Before all the rest, invite Christ. Knowest thou whereby thou wilt invite Him? Whosoever, saith He, "hath done it to one of these least, hath done it to Me." (Matt. xxv. 40.) And think it not an annoying thing to invite the poor for Christ's sake; to invite harlots is an annoyance. For to invite the poor is a means of wealth, the other of ruin. Adorn the bride not with these ornaments that are made of gold, but with gentleness and modesty, and the customary robes; in place of all golden ornament and braiding, arraying her in blushes, and shamefacedness, and the not desiring such things. Let there be no uproar, no confusion; let the bridegroom be called, let him receive the virgin. The dinners and suppers, let them not be full of drunkenness, but of abundance and pleasure. See how many good things will result, whenever we see such marriages as those; but from the marriages that are now celebrated, (if at least one ought to call them marriages and not pageants,) how many are the evils! The banquet hall is no sooner broken up, than straightway comes care and fear, lest aught that is borrowed should have been lost, and there succeeds to the pleasure melancholy intolerable. But this distress belongs to the mother-in-law,-nay, rather not even is the bride herself free; all that follows at least belongs to the bride herself. For to see all broken up, is a ground for sadness, to see the house desolate.
There is Christ, here is Satan; there is cheerfulness, here anxious care; there pleasure, here pain; there expense, here nothing of the kind; there indecency, here modesty; there envy, here no envy; there drunkenness, here soberness, here health, here temperance. Bearing in mind all these things, let us stay the evil at this point, that we may please God, and be counted worthy to obtain the good things promised to them that love Him, through the grace and love toward man of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF I/XIII, Schaff). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.