Fathers of the Church
Homilies on First Timothy
by John Chrysostom in Unknown (between 398-404) | translated by Translated By the Rev. James Tweed, M.A., of Corpus Christi College, cambridge; Re-Edited By the Rev. Philip Schaff, D.d., Ll.d
1. Timothy too was one of the disciples of the Apostle Paul. To the extraordinary qualities of this youth testimony is borne by Luke, who informs us, that he was "well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium." (Acts xvi. 2.) He became at once a disciple and a teacher, and gave this singular instance of his prudence, that hearing Paul preach without insisting upon circumcision, and understanding that he had formerly withstood Peter upon that point, he chose not only not to preach against it, but to submit to that rite. For Paul, it is said, "took and circumcised him" (Acts xvi. 3), though he was of adult age, and so trusted him with his whole economy.
The affection of Paul for him is a sufficient evidence of his character. For he elsewhere says of him, "Ye know the proof of him, that as a son with a father, he hath served with me in the Gospel." (Phil. ii. 22.) And to the Corinthians again he writes: "I have sent unto you Timothy, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord." (1 Cor. iv. 17.) And again: "Let no man despise him, for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do." (1 Cor. xvi. 10, 11.) And to the Hebrews he writes, "Know that our brother Timothy is set at liberty." (Heb. xiii. 23.) Indeed his love for him is everywhere apparent, and the miracles that are now wrought still attest his claims.
2. If it should be asked why he addresses Epistles to Titus and Timothy alone, though Silas was approved, as also was Luke, for he writes, "Only Luke is with me" (2 Tim. iv. 11), and Clement was one of his associates, of whom he says, "with Clement and other my fellow-laborers" (Phil. iv. 3), for what reason then does he write only to Titus and Timothy? It is because he had already committed the care of churches to these, and certain marked places had been assigned to them, but the others were in attendance upon him. For so preeminent in virtue was Timothy, that his youth was no impediment to his promotion; therefore he writes, "Let no man despise thy youth" (1 Tim. iv. 12, and v. 2); and again, "The younger women as sisters." For where there is virtue, all other things are superfluous, and there can be no impediment. Therefore when the Apostle discourses of Bishops, among the many things he requires of them, he makes no particular mention of age. And if he speaks of a Bishop "being the husband of one wife," and "having his children in subjection" (1 Tim. iii. 2, 4), this is not said, as if it were necessary he should have a wife and children; but that if any should happen from a secular life to be advanced to that office, they might be such as knew how to preside over their household and children, and all others committed to them. For if a man were both secular and deficient in these points, how should he be intrusted with the care of the Church?
3. But why, you will say, does he address an Epistle to a disciple already appointed to the office of a Teacher? Ought he not to have been made perfect for his office, before he was sent? Yes; but the instruction which he needed was not that which was suited to a disciple, but that which was proper for a Teacher. You will perceive him therefore through the whole Epistle adapting his instructions to a Teacher. Thus at the very beginning he does not say, "Do not attend to those who teach otherwise," but, "Charge them that they teach no other doctrine." (1 Tim. i. 3.)
"Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord."
1. Great and admirable is the dignity of an Apostle, and we find Paul constantly setting forth the causes of it, not as if he took the honor to himself, but as intrusted with it, and being under the necessity of so doing. For when he speaks of himself as "called," and that "by the will of God," and again elsewhere, "a necessity is laid upon me" (1 Cor. ix. 16), and when he says, "for this I was separated," by these expressions all idea of arrogance and ambition is removed. For as he deserves the severest blame, who intrudes into an office which is not given him of God, so he who refuses, and shrinks from it when offered to him, incurs blame of another kind, that of rebellion and disobedience. Therefore Paul, in the beginning of this Epistle, thus expresses himself, "Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God." He does not say here, "Paul called," but "by commandment." He begins in this manner, that Timothy may not feel any human infirmity from supposing that Paul addresses him on the same terms as his disciples. But where is this commandment given? We read in the Acts of the Apostles: "The Spirit said, Separate me Paul and Barnabas." (Acts xiii. 2.) And everywhere in his writings Paul adds the name of Apostle, to instruct his hearers not to consider the doctrines he delivered as proceeding from man. For an Apostle can say nothing of his own, and by calling himself an Apostle, he at once refers his hearers to Him that sent him. In all his Epistles therefore he begins by assuming this title, thus giving authority to his words, as here he says, "Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ according to the commandment of God our Saviour." Now it does not appear that the Father anywhere commanded him. It is everywhere Christ who addresses him. Thus, "He said unto me, Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles" (Acts xxii. 21); and again, "Thou must be brought before Caesar." (Acts xxvii. 24.) But whatever the Son commands, this he considers to be the commandment of the Father, as those of the Spirit are the commandments of the Son. For he was sent by the Spirit, he was separated by the Spirit, and this he says was the commandment of God. What then? does it derogate from the power of the Son, that His Apostle was sent forth by the commandment of the Father? By no means. For observe, how he represents the power as common to both. For having said, "according to the commandment of God our Saviour"; he adds, "and Lord Jesus Christ, our hope." And observe, with what propriety he applies the titles. And indeed, the Psalmist applies this to the Father, saying, "The hope of all the ends of the earth." (Ps. lxiv. 5.) And again, the blessed Paul in another place writes, "For therefore we both labor, and suffer reproach, because we have hope in the living God." The teacher must suffer dangers even more than the disciple. "For I will smite the shepherd, (he says,) "and the sheep shall be scattered abroad." (Zech. xiii. 7.) Therefore the devil rages with greater violence against teachers, because by their destruction the flock also is scattered. For by slaying the sheep, he has lessened the flock, but when he has made away with the shepherd, he has ruined the whole flock, so that he the rather assaults him, as working greater mischief by a less effort; and in one soul effecting the ruin of all. For this reason Paul, at the beginning, elevates and encourages the soul of Timothy, by saying, We have God for our Saviour and Christ for our hope. We suffer much, but our hopes are great; we are exposed to snares and perils, but to save us we have not man but God. Our Saviour is not weak, for He is God, and whatever be our dangers they will not overcome us; nor is our hope made ashamed, for it is Christ. For in two ways we are enabled to bear up against dangers, when we are either speedily delivered from them, or supposed by good hopes under them.
But Paul never calls himself the Apostle of the Father, but always of Christ. Because he makes everything common to both. The Gospel itself he calls "the Gospel of God." And whatever we suffer here, he implies, things present are as nothing.
"Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith."
This too is encouraging. For if he evinced such faith as to be called peculiarly Paul's "own" son, he might be confident also with respect to the future. For it is the part of faith not to be cast down or disturbed, though circumstances occur that seem contrary to the promises. But observe he says, "my son," and even "mine own son," and yet he is not of the same substance. But what? was he of irrational kind? "Well," says one, "he was not of Paul, so this does not imply 'being of' another." What then? was he of another substance neither was it so, for after saying "mine own son," he adds, "in the faith," to show that he was really "his own son," and truly from him. There was no difference. The likeness he bore to him was in respect to his faith, as in human births there is a likeness in respect of substance The son is like the father in human beings, but with respect to God the proximity is greater. For here a father and a son, though of the same substance, differ in many particulars, as in color, figure, understanding, age, bent of mind, endowments of soul and body, and in many other things they may be like or unlike, but there is no such dissimilarity in the divine Essence. "By commandment." This is a stronger ex- son," in like manner he says to the Corinthians, "in Christ Jesus I have begotten you," i.e. in faith; but he adds the word "own," to show his particular likeness to himself, as well as his own love and great affection for him. Notice again the "in" applied to the faith. "My own son," he says, "in the faith." See what an honorable distinction, in that he calls him not only his "son," but his "own" son.
Ver. 2. "Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord."
Why is mercy mentioned here, and not in the other Epistles? This is a further mark of his affection. Upon his son he invokes greater blessings, with the anxious apprehension of a parent. For such was his anxiety, that he gives directions to Timothy, which he has done in no other case, to attend to his bodily health; where he says, "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities" (1 Tim. v. 23.) Teachers indeed stand more in need of mercy.
"From God our Father," he says, "and Jesus Christ our Lord."
Here too is consolation. For if God is our Father, He cares for us as sons, as Christ says, "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?" (Matt. vii. 9.)
Ver. 3. "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia."
Observe the gentleness of the expression, more like that of a servant than of a master. For he does not say "I commanded," or "bade" or even "exhorted," but "I besought thee." But this tone is not for all: only meek and virtuous disciples are to be treated thus. The corrupt and insincere are to be dealt with in a different manner, as Paul himself elsewhere directs, "Rebuke them with all authority" (Tit. ii. 15); and here he says "charge," not "beseech," but "charge some that they teach no other doctrine" What means this? That Paul's Epistle which he sent them was not sufficient? Nay, it was sufficient; but men are apt sometimes to slight Epistles, or perhaps this may have been before the Epistles were written. He had himself passed some time in that city. There was the temple of Diana, and there he had been exposed to those great sufferings. For after the assembly in the Theater had been dissolved, and he had called to him and exhorted the disciples, he found it necessary to sail away, though afterwards he returned to them. It were worth enquiry, whether he stationed Timothy there at that time. For he says, that "thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine": he does not mention the persons by name, that he might not, by the openness of his rebuke, render them more shameless. There were in that city certain false Apostles of the Jews, who wished to oblige the faithful to observe the Jewish law, a fault he is everywhere position to him. This is meant by "teaching another doctrine."
Ver. 4. "Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies."
By "fables" he does not mean the law; far from it; but inventions and forgeries and counterfeit doctrines. For, it seems, the Jews wasted their whole discourse on these unprofitable points. knowledge and research. "That thou mightest charge some," he says, "that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies." Why does he call them "endless"? It is because they had no end, or none of any use, or none easy for us to apprehend. Mark how he disapproves of questioning. For where faith exists, there is no need of question. Where there is no room for curiosity, questions are superfluous. Questioning is the subversion of faith. For he that seeks has not yet found. He who questions cannot believe. Therefore it is his advice that we should not be occupied with questions, since if we question, it is not faith; for faith sets reasoning at rest. But why then does Christ say, "Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. vii. 7); and, "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life"? (John v. 39.) The seeking there is meant of prayer and vehement desire, and He bids "search the Scriptures," not to introduce the labors of questioning, but to end them, that we may ascertain and settle their true meaning, not that we may be ever questioning, but that we may have done with it. And he justly said, "Charge some that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables, and endless genealogies, which minister questions rather than the dispensation of God in faith." Justly has he which is the best medicine of our souls. This questioning therefore is opposed to the dispensation of God. For what is dispensed by faith? To recede His mercies and become better men; to doubt and dispute of nothing; but to repose in confidence. For what "ministers questions" displaces faith and that which faith hath wrought and builded. Christ has said that we must be saved by faith; this these teachers questioned and even denied. For since the announcement was present, but the issue of it future, faith was required. But they bring preoccupied by legal observances threw impediments in the way of faith. He seems also here to glance at the Greeks, where he speaks of "fables and genealogies," for they enumerated their Gods.
MORAL. Let us not then give heed to questions. For we were called Faithful, that we might unhesitatingly believe what is delivered to us, and entertain no doubt. For if the things asserted were human, we ought to examine them; but since they are of God, they are only to be revered and believed. If we believe not, how shall we be persuaded of the existence of a God? For how knowest thou that there is a God, when thou callest Him to account? The Him without proofs and demonstrations. Even the Greeks know this; for they believed their Gods telling them, saith one, even without proof; and what?—That they were the off- sorcerer, (I speak of Pythagoras,) they acted in like manner, for of him it was said, He said it. And over their temples was an image of Silence, and her finger on her mouth, compressing her lips, and significantly exhorting all that passed by to be silent. And were their doctrines so sacred, and are ours less so? and even to be ridiculed? What extreme madness is this! The tenets of the Greeks indeed are rightly questioned. For they were of that nature, being but disputes, conflicts of reasonings, and doubts, and conclusions. But ours are far from all these. For human wisdom invented theirs, but ours were taught by the grace of the Spirit. Their doctrines are madness and folly, ours are true wisdom. In their case there is neither teacher nor scholar; but all alike are disputants. Here whether teacher or scholar, each is to learn of him from whom he ought to learn, and not to doubt, but obey; not to dispute, but believe. For all the ancients obtained a good report through faith, and without this everything is subverted. And why do I speak of it in heavenly things? We shall find upon examination that earthly things depend upon it no less. For without this there would be no trade nor contracts, nor anything of the sort. And if it be so necessary here in things that are false, how much more in those.
This then let us pursue, to this let us adhere, so shall we banish from our souls all destructive doctrines, such, for instance, as relate to nativity and fate. If you believe that there is a resurrection and a judgment, you will be able to expel from your mind all those false opinions. Believe that there is a just God, and you will not believe that there can be an unjust nativity. Believe that there is a God, and a Providence, and you will not believe that there can be a nativity, that holds all things together. Believe that there is a place of punishment, and a Kingdom, and you will not believe in a nativity that takes away our free agency, and subjects us to necessity and force. Neither sow, nor plant, nor according to the course of nativity! What need have we more of Prayer? And why should you deserve to be a Christian, if there be this nativity? for you will not then be responsible. And whence proceed the arts of life? are these too from nativity? Yes, you say, and it is fated to one to become wise with labor. But can you show me one who has learnt an art without labor? You cannot. It is not then from nativity but from labor that he derives his skill.
But why does a man who is corrupt and wicked become rich, without inheriting it from raise, always arguing upon wealth and poverty, and never taking the case of vice and virtue. Now in this question talk not of that, but show me a man who has become bad, whilst he was striving to be good; or one that, without striving, has become good. For if Fate has any power, its power should be shown in the most important things; in vice and virtue, not in poverty and riches. Again you ask, why is one man sickly and another healthy? why is one honored, another disgraced? Why does ever thing succeed well with this man, whilst another meets with nothing but failure and impediments? Lay aside the notion of nativity, and you will know. Believe firmly that there is a God and a Providence, and all these things will be cleared up. "But I cannot," you say, "conceive that honest man, and not to the virtuous? How can I believe this? for there must be facts to ground belief." Well then, do these cases proceed from a nativity that was just, or unjust? "Unjust," you say. Who then made it? "Not God," you say, "it was unbegotten." But how can the unbegotten produce these things? for they are contradictions. "These things are not then in any wise the works of God." Shall we then enquire who made the earth, the sea, the heavens, the seasons? "Nativity," you answer. Did nativity then produce in things inanimate such order and harmony, but in us, for whom these things were made, so much disorder? As if one, in building a house, should be careful to make it magnificent, but bestow not a thought upon his household. But who preserves the succession of the seasons? Who established the regular laws of nature? Who appointed the courses of day and night? These things are superior to any such nativity. "But these," you say, "came to be of themselves." And yet how can such a well-ordered system spring up of itself?
"But whence" you say "come the rich, the healthy, the renowned, and how are some made rich by covetousness, some by inheritance, some by violence? and why does God suffer the wicked to be prosperous?" We answer, Because the retribution, according to the desert of each, does not take place here, but is reserved for hereafter. Show me any such thing taking place Then! "Well," say you, "give me here, and I do not look for hereafter." But it is because you seek here, that you receive not. For if when earthly enjoyment is not within your reach, you seek present things so eagerly as to prefer them to future, what would you do if you were in possession of unmixed pleasure? God therefore shows you that these things are nothing, and indifferent; for if they were not indifferent, He would not below them on such men. You will own that it is a matter of indifference whether one be tall or short, black or white; so is it whether one be rich or poor. For, tell me, are not things necessary bestowed on all equally, as the capacity for virtue, the distribution of spiritual gifts? If you understood aright the mercies of God, you would not complain of wanting worldly things, whilst you enjoyed these best gifts equally with others; and knowing that equal distribution you would not desire superiority in the rest. As if a servant enjoying from his master's bounty food, clothing, and lodging, and all other necessaries equally with his fellow- this reason it is, that God withdraws those things fore us, to extinguish this madness, and transfer our affections from them to heaven. But nevertheless we do not learn wisdom. As if a child possessing a toy, should prefer it to things necessary, and his father, to lead him against his will to what was better for him, should deprive him of his toy; so God takes these things from us, that He may lead us to heaven. If you ask then why He permits the wicked to be rich, it is because they are not high in His esteem. And if the righteous too are rich, it is rather that He allows it to be, than that He makes them so. they might gain wealth, do not seek wealth; when they might enjoy health, mortify their bodies; when they might rise to glory, make it their aim to be despised. But there is no good man, who ever studied to be bad. Let us therefore desist from seeking things below, and let us seek heavenly things; for so we shall be able to attain them, and we shall enjoy eternal delights, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ. To Whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, and honor, now, and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."
Nothing is so injurious to mankind as to undervalue friendship; and not to cultivate it with the greatest care; as nothing, on the other hand, is so beneficial, as to pursue it to the utmost of our power. This Christ has shown, where He says, "If two of you shall agree on earth, as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father" (Matt. xviii. 19); and again, "Because iniquity shall abound, love shall wax cold." (Matt. xxiv. 12.) It is this that has been the occasion of all heresies. For men, because they loved not their brethren, have envied those who were in high repute, and from envying, they have become eager for power, and from a love of power have introduced heresies. On this account Paul having said, "that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine," now shows that the manner in which this may be effected is by charity. As therefore when he says, "Christ is the end of the Law" (Rom. x. 4), that is, its fulfillment, and this is connected with the former, so this a commandment implied in love. The end of medicine is health, but where there is health, there is no need to make much ado; so where there is love, there is no need of much commanding. But what sort of love does he speak of? That which is sincere, which is not merely in words but which flows from the disposition, from sentiment, and sympathy. "From a pure heart," he says, either with respect to a right conversation, or sincere affection. For an impure life too produces divisions. "For every one that doeth evil, hateth the light." (John iii. 20.) There is indeed a friendship even among the wicked. Robbers and murderers may love one another, but this is not "from a good conscience," not "from a pure" but from an impure "heart," not from "faith unfeigned," but from that which is false and hypocritical. For faith points out the truth, and a sincere faith produces love, which he who truly believes in God cannot endure to lay aside.
Ver. 6. "From which some having swerved have turned aside to vain jangling."
He has well said, "swerved," for it requires skill, to shoot straight and not beside the mark, to have the direction of the Spirit. For there are many things to turn us aside from the right course, and we should look but to one object.
Ver. 7. "Desiring to be teachers of the law."
Here we see another cause of evil, the love of power. Wherefore Christ said, "Be not ye called Rabbi" (Matt. xxiii. 8); and the Apostle again, "For neither do they keep the law, but that they may glory in your flesh." (Gal. vi. 13.) They desire preeminence, he means, and on that account disregard truth.
"Understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."
Here he censures them, because they know not the end and aim of the Law, nor the period for which it was to have authority. But if it was from ignorance, why is it called a sin? Because it was incurred not only from their desiring to be teachers of the law, but from their not retaining love. Nay, and their very ignorance arose from these causes. For when the soul abandons itself to carnal things, the clearness of its vision is dimmed, and falling from love it drops into contentiousness, and the eye of the mind is blinded. For he that is possessed by any desire for these temporal things intoxicated, as he is, with passion, cannot be an impartial judge of truth.
"Not knowing whereof they affirm."
For it is probable that they spoke of the law, and enlarged on its purifications and other bodily rites. The Apostle then forbearing to censure these, as either nothing, or at best a shadow and figure of spiritual things, proceeds in a more engaging way to praise the law, calling the Decalogue here the law, and by means of it discarding the rest. For if even these precepts punish transgressors, and become useless to us, much more the others.
Ver. 8, 9. ".But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully. Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man."
The law, he seems to say, is good, and again, not good. What then? if one use it not lawfully, is it not good? Nay even so it is good. But what he means is this; if any one fulfills it in his actions; for that is to "use it lawfully" as here intended. But when they expound it in their words, and neglect it in their deeds, that is using it unlawfully. For such an one uses it, but not to his own profit. And another way may be named besides. What is it? that the law, if thou use it aright, sends thee to Christ. For since its aim is to justify man, and it fails to effect this, it remits us to Him who can do so. Another way again of using the law lawfully, is when we keep it, but as a thing superfluous. And how as a thing superfluous? As the bridle is properly used, not by the prancing horse that champs it, but by that which wears it only for the sake of appearance, so he uses the law lawfully, who governs himself, though not as constrained by the letter of it. He uses the law lawfully who is conscious that he does not need it, for he who is already so virtuous that he fulfills it not from fear of it, but from a principle of virtue, uses it lawfully and safely: that is, if one so use it, not as being in fear of it, but having before his eyes rather the condemnation of conscience than the punishment hereafter. Moreover he calls him a righteous man, who has attained unto virtue. He therefore uses the law lawfully, who does not require to be instructed by it. For as points in reading are set before children; but he who does what they direct, without their aid, from other knowledge, shows more skill, and is a better reader; so he who is above the law, is not under the schooling of the law. For he keeps it in a much higher degree, who fulfills it not from fear, but from a virtuous inclination; since he that fears punishment does not fulfill it in the same manner as he that aims at reward. He that is under the law doth it not as he that is above the law. For to live above the law is to use it lawfully. He uses it lawfully, and keeps it, who achieves things beyond the law, and who does not need its instructions. For the law, for the most part, is prohibition of evil; now this alone does not make a man righteous, but the performance of good actions besides. Hence those, who abstain from evil like slaves, do not come up to the mark of the law. For it was appointed for the punishment of transgression. Such men indeed use it, but it is to dread its punishment. It is said, "Wilt thou not be afraid of the power? do that which is good" (Rom. xiii. 3): which implies, that the law threatens punishment only to the wicked. But of what use is the law to him whose actions deserve a crown? as the surgeon is of use only to him who hath some hurt, and not to the sound and healthy man. "But for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners." He calls the Jews "lawless and disobedient" too. "The law (he says) worketh wrath," that is, to the evil doers. But what to him who is deserving of reward? "By the law is the knowledge of sin." (Rom. iii. 20.) What then with respect to the righteous? "the law is not made," he says, "for a righteous man." Wherefore? Because he is exempted from its punishment, and he waits not to learn from it what is his duty, since he has the grace of the Spirit within to direct him. For the law was given that men might be chastened by fear of its threatenings. But the tractable horse needs not the curb, nor the man that can dispense with instruction the schoolmaster.
"But for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers." Thus he does not stop at the mention of sins in general, nor of these only, but goes over the several kinds of sin, to shame men, as it were, of being under the direction of the law; and having thus particularized some, he adds a reference to those omitted, though what he had enumerated were sufficient to withdraw men. Of whom then does he say these things? Of the Jews, for they were "murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers": they were "profane and unholy," for these too he means when he says, "ungodly and sinners," and being such, the law was necessarily given to them. For did they not repeatedly worship idols? did they not stone Moses? were not their hands imbrued in the blood of their kindred? Do not the prophets constantly accuse them of these things? But to those who are instructed by a heavenly philosophy, these commandments are superfluous. "For murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liers, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine"; for all the things which he had mentioned were the passions of a corrupted soul, and contrary, therefore, to sound doctrine.
Ver. 11. "According to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my true."
Thus the Law is still necessary for the confirmation of the Gospel, yet to those who obey it is unnecessary. And he calls the Gospel "glorious." There were some who were ashamed of its persecutions, and of the sufferings of Christ, and so for the sake of these, as well as for others, he has called it "the glorious Gospel," thus showing that the sufferings of Christ are our glory. And perhaps he glances too at the future. For if our present state is exposed to shame and reproach, it will not be so hereafter; and it is to things future, and not to things present, that the Gospel belongs. Why then did the Angel say, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, for unto you is born a Saviour "? (Luke ii. 10.) Because He was born to be their Saviour, though His miracles did not commence from His birth. "According to the Gospel," he saith, "of the blessed God." The glory he means is either that of the service of God, or, in that if present things are filled with its glory, yet much more will things future be so; when "His enemies shall be put under His feet" (1 Cor. xv. 25), when there shall be nothing opposed, when the just shall behold all those blessed things, which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and which hath not entered into the heart of man." (1 Cor. ii. 9.) "For I will" says our Saviour, "that they also may be with Me, where I am, that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me." (John xvii. 24.)
MORAL. Let us then learn who these are, and let us esteem them blessed, considering what felicities they will then enjoy, of what light and glory they will then participate. The glory of this world is worthless and not enduring, or if it abides, it abides but till death, and after that is wholly extinguished. For "his glory," it says, "shall not descend after him." (Ps. xlix. 17.) And with many it lasts not even to the end of life. But no such thing is to be thought of in that glory; it abides, and will have no end. For such are the things of God, enduring, and above all change or end. For the glory of that state is not from without, but from within. I mean, it consists not in a multitude of servant, or of chariot, nor in costly garments. Independently of these things, the man himself is clothed with glory. Here, without these things, the man appears naked. In the baths, we see the illustrious the undistinguished, and the base, alike bare. Often have the great been exposed to danger in public, being left on some occasion by their servants. But in that world men carry their glory about with them, and the Saints, like the Angels, wherever they appear, have their glory in themselves. Yea rather as the sun needs no vestures, and requires no foreign aid, but wherever he appears, his glory at once shines forth; so shall it then be.
Let us then pursue that glory, than which nothing is more venerable; and leave the glory of the world, as beyond anything worthless. "Boast not of thy clothing and raiment." (Ecclus. xi. 4.) This was the advice given of old to the simple. Indeed the dancer, the harlot, the player, are arrayed in a gayer and more costly robe than thou. And besides, this boasting were of that, which if but moths attack, they can rob thee of its enjoyment. Dost thou see what an unstable thing it is, this glory of the present life? Thou pridest thyself upon that which insects make and destroy. For Indian insects,, it is said, spin those fine threads of which your robes are made. But rather seek a clothing woven from things above, an admirable and radiant vesture, raiment of real gold; of gold not dug by malefactors' hands out of the mine, but the produce of virtue. Let us clothe ourselves with a robe not the manufacture of poor men or slaves, but wrought by our Lord Himself. But your garments, you say, are in-wrought with gold! And what is that to thee? He that wrought it, not he that wears it, is the object of admiration, for there it is really due. It is not the frame on which the garment is stretched at the fuller's, but the maker of it, that is admired. Yet the block wears it, and has it bound on itself. And as that wears it, but not for use, even so do some of these women, for the benefit of the garment, to air it, they say, that it may not be moth-eaten! Is it not then the extreme of folly to be solicitous about a thing so worthless, to do anything whatever, to risk your salvation for it, to make a mock at Hell, to set God at defiance, to overlook Christ hungering? Talk not of the precious spices of India, Arabia, and Persia, the moist and the dry, the perfumes and unguents, so costly and so useless. Why, O woman, dost thou lavish perfumes upon a body full of impurity within? why spend on what is offensive, as if one should waste perfumes upon dirt, or distill balms upon a brick. There is, if you desire it, a precious ointment and a fragrance, with which you might anoint your soul; not brought from Arabia, or Ethiopia, nor from Persia, but from heaven itself; purchased not by gold, but by a virtuous will, and by faith unfeigned. Buy this perfume, the odor of which is able to fill the world. It was of this the Apostles savored. "For we are (he says) a sweet savor, to some of death, to others of life." (2 Cor. ii. 15, 16.) And what means this? That it is as they say, that the swine is suffocated by perfumes! But this spiritual fragrance scented not only the bodies but the garments of the Apostles; and Paul's garments were so impregnated with it, that they cast out devils. What balmy leaf, what cassia, what myrrh so sweet or so efficacious as this perfume? For if it put devils to flight, what could it not effect? With this ointment let us furnish ourselves. And the grace of the Spirit will provide it through almsgiving. Of these we shall savor, when we go into the other world. And as here, he that is perfumed with sweet odors draws upon himself, the notice of all, and whether at the bath, or the assembly, or any other concourse of men, all follow him, and observe him; so, in that world, when souls come in that are fragrant with this spiritual savor, all arise and make room. And even here devils and all vices are afraid to approach it, and cannot endure it, for it chokes them. Let us then not bear about us that perfume which is a mark of effeminacy, but this, which is a mark of manhood, which is truly admirable, which fills us with a holy confidence. This is a spice which is not the produce of the earth, but springs from virtue, which withers not, but blooms for ever. This is it that renders those who possess it honorable. With this we are anointed at our Baptism, then we savor sweetly of it; but it must be by our care afterwards that we retain the savor. Of old the Priests were anointed with ointment, as an emblem of the virtue, the fragrance of which a Priest should diffuse around him.
But nothing is more offensive than the savor of sin, which made the Psalmist say, "My wounds stink and are corrupt." (Ps. xxxviii. 5.) For sin is more foul than putrefaction itself. What, for instance, is more offensive than fornication? And if this is not perceived at the time of its commission, yet, after it is committed, its offensive nature, the impurity contracted in it, and the curse, and the abomination of it is perceived. So it is with all sin. Before it is committed it has something of pleasure, but after its commission, the pleasure ceases and fades away, and pain and shame succeed. But with righteousness it is the reverse. At the beginning it is attended with toil, but in the end with pleasure and repose. But even here, as in the one case the pleasure of sin is no pleasure, because of the expectation of disgrace and punishment, so in the other the toil is not felt as toil, by reason of the hope of reward. And what is the pleasure of drunkenness? The poor gratification of drinking, and hardly that. For when insensibility follows, and the man sees nothing that is before him, and is in a worse state than a madman, what enjoyment remains? Nay, one might well say there is no pleasure in fornication itself. For when passion has deprived the soul of its judgment, can there be any real delights? As well might we say that the itch is a pleasure! I should call that true pleasure, when the soul is not affected by passion, not agitated nor overpowered by the body. For what pleasure can it be to grind the teeth, to distort the eyes, to be irritated and inflamed beyond decency? But so far is it from being pleasant, that men hasten to escape from it, and when it is over are in pain. But if it were pleasure, they would wish not to escape from it, but to continue it. It has therefore only the name of pleasure.
But not such are the pleasures enjoyed by us; they are truly delightful, they do not agitate nor inflame. They leave the soul free, and cheer and expand it. Such was the pleasure of Paul when he said, "In this I rejoice, yea, and I will rejoice"; and again, "Rejoice in the Lord always." (Phil. i. 18, and iv. 4.) For sinful pleasure is attended with shame and condemnation; it is indulged in secret, and is attended with infinite uneasiness. But from all these the true pleasure is exempt. This then let us pursue, that we may attain those good things to come, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, &c.
"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry [R. V.: to his service, eis diakoni'an]; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant, with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
The advantages arising from humility are generally acknowledged, and yet it is a thing not easily to be met with. There is affectation of humble talking enough and to spare, but humbleness of mind is nowhere to be found. This quality was so cultivated by the blessed Paul, that he is ever looking out for inducements to be humble. They who are conscious to themselves of great merits must struggle much with themselves if they would be humble. And he too was one likely to be under violent temptations, his own good conscience swelling him up like a gathering humor. Observe therefore his method in this place. "I was intrusted," he had said, "with the glorious Gospel of God, of which they who still adhere to the law have no right to partake; for it is now opposed to the Gospel, and their difference is such, that those who are actuated by the one, are as yet unworthy to partake of the other; as we should say, that those who require punishments, and chains, have no right to be admitted into the train of philosophers." Being filled therefore with high thoughts, and having used magnificent expressions, he at once depresses himself, and engages others also to do the like. Having said therefore that "the Gospel was committed to his trust"; lest this should seem to be said from pride, he checks himself at once, adding by way of correction, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry." Thus everywhere, we see, he conceals his own merit, and ascribes everything to God, yet so far only, as not to take away free will. For the unbeliever might perhaps say, If everything is of God, and we contribute nothing of ourselves, while He turns us, as if we were mere wood and stone, from wickedness to the love of wisdom, why then did He make Paul such as he was, and not Judas? To remove this objection, mark the prudence of his expression, "Which was committed," he says, "to my trust." This was his own excellence and merit, but not wholly his own; for he says, "I thank Christ Jesus, who enabled me." This is God's part: then his own again, "Because He counted me faithful." Surely because he would be serviceable of his own part.
Ver. 13. "Putting me into his service, who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief."
Thus we see him acknowledge both his own part and that of God, and whilst he ascribes the greater part to the providence of God, he extenuates his own, yet so far only, as we said before, as was consistent with free will. And what is this, "Who enabled me"? I will tell you. He had so heavy a burden to sustain, that he needed much aid from above. For think what it was to be exposed to daily insults, and mockeries, and snares, and dangers, scoffs, and reproaches, and deaths; and not to faint, or slip, or turn backward, but though assaulted every day with darts innumerable, to bear up manfully, and remain firm and imperturbable. This was the effect of no human power, and yet not of Divine influence alone, but of his own resolution also. For that Christ chose him with a foreknowledge of what he would be, is plain from the testimony He bore to him before the commencement of his preaching. "He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings." (Acts ix. 15.) For as those who bear the royal standard in war require both strength and address, that they may not let it fall into the hands of the enemy; so those who sustain the name of Christ, not only in war but in peace, need a mighty strength, to presence it uninjured from the attacks of accusers. Great indeed is the strength required to bear the name of Christ, and to sustain it well, and bear the Cross. For he who in action, or word, or thought, does anything unworthy of Christ, does not sustain His name, and has not Christ dwelling in him. For he that sustains that name bears it in triumph, not in the concourse of men, but through the very heavens, while all angels stand in awe, and attend upon him, and admire him.
"I thank the Lord, who hath enabled me." Observe how he thanks God even for that which was his own part. For he acknowledges it as a favor from Him that he was "a chosen vessel." For this, O blessed Paul, was thy own part. "For God is no respecter of persons." But I thank Him that he "thought me worthy of this ministry." For this is a proof that He esteemed me faithful. The steward in a house is not only thankful to his master that he is trusted, but considers it as a sign that he holds him more faithful than others: so it is here. Then observe how he magnifies the mercy and loving- kindness of God, in describing his former life, "who was formerly," he says, "a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious." And when he speaks of the still unbelieving Jews, he rather extenuates their guilt. "For I bear them record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." (Rom. x. 2.) But of himself he says, "Who was a blasphemer and a persecutor." Observe his lowering of himself! So free was he from self- love, so full of humility, that he is not satisfied to call himself a persecutor and a blasphemer, but he aggravates his guilt, showing that it did not stop with himself, that it was not enough that he Gas a blasphemer, but in the madness of his blasphemy he persecuted those who were willing to be godly.
"But I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief."
Why then did other Jews not obtain mercy? Because what they did, they did not ignorantly, but willfully, well knowing what they did. For this we have the testimony of the Evangelist. "Many of the Jews believed on Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him. For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (John xii. 42, 43.) And Christ again said to them, "How can ye believe, who receive honor one of another" (John v. 44)? and the parents of the blind man "said these things for fear of the Jews, lest they should be put out of the synagogue." (John ix. 22.) Nay the Jews themselves said, "Perceive ye how we avail nothing? behold, the world is gone after Him." (John xii. 19.) Thus their love of power was everywhere in their way. When they admitted that no one can forgive sins but God only, and Christ immediately did that very thing, which they had confessed to be a sign of divinity, this Could not be a case of ignorance. But where was Paul then? Perhaps one should say he was sitting at the feet of Gamaliel, and took no part with the multitude who conspired against Jesus: for Gamaliel does not appear to have been an ambitious man. Then how is it that afterwards Paul was found joining with the multitude? He saw the doctrine growing, and on the point of prevailing, and being generally embraced. For in the lifetime of Christ, the disciples consorted with Him, and afterwards with their teachers, but when they were completely separated, Paul did not act as the other Jews did, from the love of power, but from zeal. For what was the motive of his journey to Damascus? He thought the doctrine pernicious, and was afraid that the preaching of it would spread everywhere. But with the Jews it was no concern for the multitude, but the love of power, that influenced their actions. Hence they say, "The Romans will come and take away both our place and nation." (John xi. 48.) What fear was this that agitated them, but that of man? But it is worthy of enquiry, how one so skillful in the law as Paul could be ignorant? For it is he who says, "which He had promised before by His holy prophets." (Rom. iv. 2.) How is it then that thou knowest not, thou who art zealous of the law of their fathers, who wert brought up at the feet of Gamaliel? Yet they who spent their days on lakes and rivers, and the very publicans, have embraced the Gospel, whilst thou that studiest the law art persecuting it! It is for this he condemns himself, saying, "I am not meet to be called an Apostle." (1 Cor. ix. 9.) It is for this he confesses his ignorance, which was produced by unbelief. For this cause, he says, that he obtained "mercy." What then does he mean when he says," He counted me faithful"? He would give up no right of his Master's: even his own part he ascribed to Him, and assumed nothing to himself, nor claimed for his own the glory which was due to God. Hence in another place we find him exclaiming, "Sirs, why do ye these things to us? we also are men of like passions with you." (Acts xiv. 15.) So again, "He counted me faithful." And again, "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Cor. xv. 10.) And again, "It is He that worketh in us both to will and to do." (Phil. ii. 13.) Thus in acknowledging that he "obtained mercy," he owns that he deserved punishment, since mercy is for such. And again in another place he says of the Jews, "Blindness in part is happened to Israel." (Rom. xi. 25.)
Ver. 14. "And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
This is added, lest hearing that he obtained mercy, we should understand by it only, that being deserving of punishment, as a persecutor and blasphemer, nevertheless he was not punished. But mercy was not confined to this, that punishment was not inflicted; many other great favors are implied by it. For not only has God released us from the impending punishment, but He has made us "righteous" too, and "sons," and "brethren," and "heirs," and "joint-heirs." Therefore it is he says, that "grace was exceeding abundant." For the gifts bestowed were beyond mercy, since they are not such as would come of mercy only, but of affection and excessive love. Having thus enlarged upon the love of God which, not content with showing mercy to a blasphemer and persecutor, conferred upon him other blessings in abundance, he has guarded against that error of the unbelievers which takes away free will, by adding, "with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." Thus much only, he says, did we contribute. We have believed that He is able to save us.
MORAL. Let us then love God through Christ. What means "through Christ"? That it is He, and not the Law, who has enabled us to do this. Observe what blessings we owe to Christ, and what to the Law. And he says not merely that grace has abounded, but "abounded exceedingly," in bringing at once to the adoption those who deserved infinite punishment.
And observe again that "in" is used for "through." For not only faith is necessary, but love. Since there are many still who believe that Christ is God, who yet love Him not, nor act like those who love Him. For how is it when they prefer everything to Him, money, nativity, fate, augury, divinations, omens? When we live in defiance of Him, pray, where is our love? Has any one a warm and affectionate friend? Let him love Christ but equally. So, if no more, let him love Him who gave His Son for us His enemies, who had no merits of our own. Merits did I say? who had committed numberless sins, who had dared Him beyond all daring, and without cause! yet He, after numberless instances of goodness and care, did not even then cast us off. At the very time when we did Him the greatest wrong, then did He give His Son for us. And still we, after so great benefits, after being made His friends, and counted worthy through Him of all blessings, have not loved Him as our friend! What hope then can be ours? You shudder perhaps at the word, but I would that you shuddered at the fact! What? How shall it appear that we do not love God even as our friends, you say? I will endeavor to show you—and would that my words were groundless, and to no purpose! but I am afraid they are borne out by facts. For consider: friends, that are truly friends, will often suffer loss for those they love. But for Christ, no one will suffer loss, or even be content with his present state. For a friend we can readily submit to insults, and undertake quarrels; but for Christ, no one can endure enmity: and the saying is, "Be loved for nothing—but be not hated for nothing."
None of us would fail to relieve a friend who was hungering, but when Christ comes to us from day to day, and asks no great matter, but only bread, we do not even regard him, yea though we are nauseously over full, and swollen with gluttony: though our breath betrays the wine of yesterday, and we live in luxury, and waste our substance on harlots and parasites and flatterers, and even on monsters, idiots, and dwarfs; for men convert the natural defects of such into matter for amusement. Again, friends, that are truly such, we do not envy, nor are mortified at their success, yet we feel this toward (the minister of) Christ, and our friendship for men is seen to be more powerful than the fear of God, for the envious and the insincere plainly respect men more than God. And how is this? God sees the heart, yet man does not forbear to practice deceit in His sight; yet if the same man were detected in deceit by men, he thinks himself undone, and blushes for shame. And why speak of this? If a friend be in distress, we visit him, and should fear to be condemned, if we deferred it for a little time. But we do not visit Christ, though He die again and again in prison; nay, if we have friends among the faithful, we visit them, not because they are Christians, but because they are our friends. Thus we do nothing from the fear or the love of God, but some things from friendship, some from custom. When we see a friend depart on travel, we weep and are troubled, and if we see his death, we bewail him, though we know that we shall not be long separated, that he will be restored to us at the Resurrection. But though Christ departs from us, or rather we reject Him daily, we do not grieve, nor think it strange, to injure, to offend, to provoke Him by doing what is displeasing to Him; and the fearful thing is not that we do not treat Him as a friend; for I will show that we even treat Him as an enemy. How, do you ask? because "the carnal mind is enmity against God," as Paul has said, and this we always carry about us. And we persecute Christ, when He advances toward us, and comes to our very doors. For wicked actions in effect do this, and every day we subject him to insults by our covetousness and our rapacity. And does any one by preaching His word, and benefiting His Church, obtain a good reputation? Then he is the object of envy, because he does the work of God. And we think that we envy him, but our envy passes on to Christ. We affect to wish the benefit to come not from others, but from ourselves. But this cannot be for Christ's sake, but for our own: otherwise, it would be a matter of indifference, whether the good were done by others or ourselves. If a physician found himself unable to cure his son, who was threatened with blindness, would he reject the aid of another, who was able to effect the cure? Far from it! "Let my son be restored," he would almost say to him, "whether it is to be by you or by me." And why? Because he would not consider himself, but what was beneficial to his son. So, were our regard "to Christ," it would lead us to say, "Let good be done, whether by ourselves or by any other." As Paul said, "Whether in pretense or in truth Christ is preached." (Phil. i. 18). In the same spirit Moses answered, when some would have excited his displeasure against Eldad and Modad, because they prophesied, "Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets!" (Num. xi. 29.) These jealous feelings proceed from vainglory; and are they not those of opponents and enemies? Doth any one speak ill of you? Love him! It is impossible, you say. Nay, if you will, it is quite possible. For if you love him only who speaks well of you, what thanks have you? It is not for the Lord's sake, but for the sake of the man's kind speech that you do it. Has any one injured you? Do him good! For in benefiting him who has benefited you there is little merit. Have you been deeply wronged and suffered loss? Make a point of requiting it with the contrary. Yes, I entreat you. Let this be the way we do our own part. Let us cease from hating and injuring our enemies. He commands us "to love our enemies" (Matt. v. 44): but we persecute Him while He loves us. God forbid! we all say in words, but not so in deeds. So darkened are our minds by sin, that we tolerate in our actions what in words we think intolerable. Let us desist then from things that are injurious and ruinous to our salvation, that we may obtain those blessings which as His friends we may obtain. For Christ says, "I will that where I am, there My disciples may be also, that they may behold My glory" (John xvii. 24), which may we all attain, through the grace and love of Jesus Christ.
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting."
The favors of God so far exceed human hope and expectation, that often they are not believed. For God has bestowed upon us such things as the mind of man never looked for, never thought of. It is for this reason that the Apostles spend much discourse in securing a belief of the gifts that are granted us of God. For as men, upon receiving some great good, ask themselves if it is not a dream, as not believing it; so it is with respect to the gifts of God. What then was it that was thought incredible? That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor. Upon this head accordingly Paul has discoursed at length in his Epistle to the Romans, and here again at length. "This is a faithful saying," he says, "and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
As the Jews were chiefly attracted by this, he persuades them not to give heed to the law, since they could not attain salvation by it without faith. Against this he contends; for it seemed to them incredible, that a man who had mis-spent all his former life in vain and wicked actions, should afterwards be saved by his faith alone. On this account he says, "It is a saying to be believed." But some not only disbelieved but even objected, as the Greeks do now. "Let us then do evil, that good may come." This was the consequence they drew in derision of our faith, from his words, "Where sin abounded grace did much more abound." (Rom. iii. 8, and v. 20.) So when we discourse to them of Hell they say, How can this be worthy of God? When man has found his servant offending, he forgives it, and thinks him worthy of pardon and does God punish eternally? And when we speak of the Layer, and of the remission of sins through it, this too they say is unworthy of God, that he who has committed offenses without number should have his sins remitted. What perverseness of mind is this, what a spirit of contention does it manifest! Surely if forgiveness is an evil, punishment is a good; but if punishment is an evil, remission of it is a good. I speak according to their notions, for according to ours, both are good. This I shall show at another time, for the present would not suffice for a matter so deep, and which requires to be elaborately argued. I must lay it before your Charity at a fitting season. At present let us proceed with our proposed subject. "This is a faithful saying," he says. But why is it to be believed?
This appears both from what precedes and from what follows. Observe how he prepares us for this assertion, and how he then dwells upon it. For he hath previously declared that He showed mercy to me "a blasphemer and a persecutor"; this was in the way of preparation. And not only did He show mercy, but "He accounted me faithful." So far should we be he means, from disbelieving that He showed mercy. For no one, who should see a prisoner admitted into a palace, could doubt whether he obtained mercy. And this was visibly the situation of Paul, for he makes himself the example. Nor is he ashamed to call himself a sinner, but rather delights in it, as he thus can best demonstrate the miracle of God's regard for him, and that He had thought him worthy of such extraordinary kindness.
But how is it, that he here calls himself a sinner, nay, the chief of sinners, whereas he elsewhere asserts that he was "touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless"? (Phil. iii. 6.) Because with respect to the righteousness which God has wrought, the justification which is really sought, even those who are righteous in the law are sinners, "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. iii. 23.) Therefore he does not say righteousness simply, but "the righteousness which is in the law." As a man that has acquired wealth, with respect to himself appears rich, but upon a comparison with the treasures of kings is very poor and the chief of the poor; so it is in this case. Compared with Angels, even righteous men are sinners; and if Paul, who wrought the righteousness that is in the law, was the chief of sinners, what other man can be called righteous? For he says not this to condemn his own life as impure, let not this be imagined; but comparing his own legal righteousness with the righteousness of God, he shows it to be nothing worth, and not only so, but he proves those who possess it to be sinners.
Ver. 16. "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting:"
See how he further humbles and depreciates himself, by naming a fresh and less creditable reason. For that he obtained mercy on account of his ignorance, does not so much imply that he who obtained mercy was a sinner, or under deep condemnation; but to say that he obtained mercy in order that no sinner hereafter might despair of finding mercy, but that each might feel sure of obtaining the like favor, this is an excess of humiliation, such that even in calling himself the chief of sinners, "a blasphemer and a persecutor, and one not meet to be called an Apostle," he had said nothing like it. This will appear by an example. Suppose a populous city, all whose inhabitants were wicked, some more so, and some less, but all deserving of condemnation; and let one among that multitude be more deserving of punishment than all the rest, and guilty of every kind of wickedness. If it were declared that the king was willing to pardon all, it would not be so readily believed, as if they were to see this most wicked wretch actually pardoned. There could then be no longer any doubt. This is what Paul says, that God, willing to give men full assurance that He pardons all their transgressions, chose, as the object of His mercy, him who was more a sinner than any; for when I obtained mercy, he argues, there could be no doubt of others: as familiarly speaking we might say, "If God pardons such an one, he will never punish anybody"; and thus he shows that he himself, though unworthy of pardon, for the sake of others' salvation, first obtained that pardon. Therefore, he says, since I am saved, let no one doubt of salvation. And observe the humility of this blessed man; he says not, "that in me he might show forth" His "longsuffering," but "all longsuffering"; as if he had said, greater longsuffering He could not show in any case than in mine, nor find a sinner that so required all His pardon, all His long-suffering; not a part only, like those who are only partially sinners, but "all" His longsuffering.
"For a pattern to those who should hereafter believe." This is said for comfort, for encouragement. But because he had spoken highly of the Son, and of the great love which He hath manifested, lest he should be thought to exclude the Father from this, he ascribes the glory to Him also.
Ver. 17. "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."
For these things, then, we glorify not the Son only, but the Father. Here let us argue with the heretics. Speaking of the Father, he says, "To the only God." Is the Son then not God? "The only immortal." Is the Son then not immortal? Or does He not possess that Himself, which hereafter He will give to us? Yes, they say, He is God and immortal, but not such as the Father. What then? is He of inferior essence, and therefore of inferior immortality? What then is a greater and a less immortality? For immortality is nothing else than the not being subject to destruction. For there is a greater and a less glory; but immortality does not admit of being greater or less: as neither is there a greater and a less health. For a thing must either be destructible, or altogether indestructible. Are we men then immortal even as He? God forbid! Surely not! Why? because He has it by nature, but we adventitiously. Why then do you make the difference? Because the Father, he says, is made such as He is by no other: but the Son is what He is, from the Father. This we also confess, not denying that the Son is generated from the Father incorruptibly. And we glorify the Father, he means, for having generated the Son, such as He is. Thus you see the Father is most glorified, when the Son hath done great things. For the glory of the Son is referred again to Him. And since He generated Him omnipotent and such as He is in Himself, it is not more the glory of the Son than of the Father, that He is self-sufficient, and self-maintained, and free from infirmity. It has been said of the Son, "By whom He made the worlds." (Heb. i. 2.) Now there is a distinction observed among us between creation and workmanship. For one works and toils and executes, another rules; and why? because he that executes is the inferior. But it is not so there; nor is the sovereignty with One, the workmanship with the Other. For when we hear, "By whom He made the worlds," we do not exclude the Father from creation. Nor when we say, "To the King immortal," do we deny dominion to the Son. For these are common to the One and the Other, and each belongs to Both. The Father created, in that He begat the creating Son; the Son rules, as being Lord of all things created. For He does not work for hire, nor in obedience to others, as workmen do among us, but from His own goodness and love for mankind. But has the Son ever been seen? No one can affirm this. What means then, "To the King immortal, invisible, the only wise God? Or when it is said, "There is no other name whereby we must be saved": and again, "There is salvation in no other? (Acts iv. 12.)
"To Him be honor and glory forever. Amen."
Now honor and glory are not mere words; and since He has honored us not by words only, but by what He has done for us, so let us honor Him by works and deeds. Yet this honor touches us, while that reaches not Him, for He needs not the honor that comes from us, we do need that which is from Him.
In honoring Him, therefore, we do honor to ourselves. He who opens his eyes to gaze on the light of the sun, receives delight himself, as he admires the beauty of the star, but does no favor to that luminary, nor increases its splendor, for it continues what it was; much more is this true with respect to God. He who admires and honors God does so to his own salvation, and highest benefit; and how? Because he follows after virtue, and is honored by Him. For "them that honor Me," He says, "I will honor." (1 Sam. iv. 30.) How then is He honored, if He enjoys no advantage from our honor? Just as He is said to hunger and thirst. For He assumes everything that is ours, that He may in anywise attract us to Him. He is said to receive honors, and even insults, that we may be afraid. But with all this we are not attracted towards Him!
MORAL. Let us then "glorify God," and bear God both "in our body and in our spirit." (1 Cor. vi. 20.) And how is one to glorify Him in the body? saith one, and how in the spirit? The soul is here called the spirit to distinguish it from the body. But how may we glorify Him in the body and in the spirit? He glorifies Him in the body, who does not commit adultery or fornication, who avoids gluttony and drunkenness, who does not affect a showy exterior, who makes such provision for himself as is sufficient for health only: and so the woman, who does not perfume nor paint her person, but is satisfied to be such as God made her, and adds no device of her own. For why dost thou add thy own embellishments to the work which God made? Is not His workmanship sufficient for thee? or dost thou endeavor to add grace to it, as if forsooth thou wert the better artist? It is not for thyself, but to attract crowds of lovers, that thou thus adornest thy person, and insultest thy Creator. And do not say, "What can I do? It is no wish of my own, but I must do it for my husband. I cannot win his love except I consent to this." God made thee beautiful, that He might be admired even in thy beauty, and not that He might be insulted. Do not therefore make Him so ill a return, but requite Him with modesty and chastity. God made thee beautiful, that He might increase the trials of thy modesty. For it is much harder for one that is lovely to be modest, than for one who has no such attractions, for which to be courted. Why does the Scripture tell us, that "Joseph was a goodly person, and wall favored" (Gen. xxxix. 6), but that we might the more admire his modesty coupled with beauty? Has God made thee beautiful? Why dost thou make thyself otherwise? For as though one should overlay a golden statue with a daubing of mire, so it is with those women that use paints. Thou besmearest thyself with red and white earth! But the homely, you say, may fairly have recourse to this. And why? To hide their ugliness? It is a vain attempt. For when was the natural appearance improved upon by that which is studied and artificial? And why shouldest thou be troubled at thy want of beauty, since it is no reproach? For hear the saying of the Wise Man, "Commend not a man for his beauty, neither abhor a man for his outward appearance." (Ecclus. xi. 2.) Let God be rather admired, the best Artificer, and not man, who has no merit in being made such as he is. What are the advantages, tell me, of beauty? None. It exposes its possessor to greater trials, mishaps, perils, and suspicions. She that wants it escapes suspicion; she that possesses it, except she practice a great and extraordinary reserve, incurs an evil report, and what is worse than all, the suspicion of her husband, who takes less pleasure in beholding her beauty, than he suffers pain from jealousy. And her beauty fades in his sight from familiarity, whilst she suffers in her character from the imputation of weakness, dissipation, and wantonness, and her very soul becomes degraded and full of haughtiness. To these evils personal beauty is exposed. But she who has not this attraction, escapes unmolested. The dogs do not assail her; she is like a lamb, reposing in a secure pasture, where no wolf intrudes to harass her, because the shepherd is at hand to protect her.
The real superiority is, not that one is fair, and the other homely, but it is a superiority that one, even if she is not fair, is unchaste, and the other is not wicked. Tell me wherein is the perfection of eyes? Is it in their being soft, and rolling, and round, and dark, or in their clearness and quicksightedness. Is it the perfection of a lamp to be elegantly formed, and finely turned, or to shine brightly, and to enlighten the whole house? We cannot say it is not this, for the other is indifferent, and this the real object. Accordingly we often say to the maid whose charge it is, "You have made a bad lamp of it." So entirely is it the use of a lamp to give light. So it matters not what is the appearance of the eye, whilst it performs its office with full efficiency. We call the eye bad, which is dim or disordered, and which, when open, does not see. For that is bad, which does not perform its proper office—and this is the fault of eyes. And for a nose, tell me, when is it a good one? When it is straight, and polished on either side, and finely proportioned? or when it is quick to receive odors, and transmit them to the brain? Any one can answer this.
Come now, let us illustrate this by an example—as of gripers, I mean the instruments so called; we say those are well-made, which are able to take up and hold things, not those which are only handsomely and elegantly shaped. So those are good teeth which are fit for the service of dividing and chewing our food, not those which are beautifully set. And applying the same reasoning to other parts of the body, we shall call those members beautiful, which are sound, and perform their proper functions aright. So we think any instrument, or plant, or animal good, not because of its form or color, but because it answers its purpose. And he is thought a good servant, who is useful and ready for our service, not one who is comely but dissolute. I trust ye now understand how it is in your power to be beautiful.
And since the greatest and most important benefits are equally enjoyed by all, we are under no disadvantage. Whether we are beautiful or not, we alike behold this universe, the sun, the moon, and the stars; we breathe the same air, we partake alike of water, and the fruits of the earth. And if we may say what will sound strange, the homely are more healthy than the beautiful. For these, to preserve their beauty, engage in no labor, but give themselves up to indolence and delicate living, by which their bodily energies are impaired; whilst the others, having no such care, spend all their attention simply and entirely on active pursuits.
Let us then "glorify God, and take and bear Him in our body." (1 Cor. vi. 20.) Let us not affect a beautiful appearance; that care is vain and unprofitable. Let us not teach our husbands to admire the mere outward form; for if such be thy adornment, his very habit of viewing thy face will make him easy to be captivated by a harlot. But if thou teachest him to love good manners, and modesty, he will not be ready to wander, for he will see no attractions in a harlot, in whom those qualities are not found, but the reverse. Neither teach him to be captivated by laughter, nor by a loose dress, test thou prepare a poison against thyself. Accustom him to delight in modesty, and this thou wilt do, if thy attire be modest. But if thou hast a flaunting air, an unsteady manner, how canst thou address him in a serious strain? and who will not hold thee in contempt and derision?
But how is it possible to glorify God in our spirit? By practicing virtue, by adorning the soul. For such embellishment is not forbidden. Thus we glorify God, when we are good in every respect, and we shall be glorified by Him in a much higher degree in that great day. For "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." (Rom. viii. 18.) Of which that we may all be partakers, God grant, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"This charge I commit unto thee, son [my child, te'knon] Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest [mayest] war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away have made shipwreck concerning the faith."
The office of a Teacher and that of a Priest is of great dignity, and to bring forward one that is worthy requires a divine election. So it was of old, and so it is now, when we make a choice without human passion, not looking to any temporal consideration, swayed neither by friendship, nor enmity. For though we be not partakers of so great a measure of the Spirit as they, yet a good purpose is sufficient to draw unto us the election of God. For the Apostles, when they elected Matthias, had not yet received the Holy Spirit, but having committed the matter to prayer, they chose him into the number of the Apostles. For they looked not to human friendships. And so now too it ought to be with us. But we have advanced to the extreme of negligence; and even what is clearly evident, we let pass. Now when we overlook what is manifest, how will God reveal to us what is unseen? as it is said, "If ye have not been faithful in that which is little, who will commit to you that which is great and true?" (Luke xvi. 11.) But then, when nothing human was done, the appointment of Priests too was by prophecy. What is "by prophecy"? By the Holy Spirit. For prophecy is not only the telling of things future, but also of the present. It was by prophecy that Saul was discovered "hidden among the stuff." (1 Sam. x. 22.) For God reveals things to the righteous. So it was said by prophecy, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul." (Acts xiii. 2.) In this way Timothy also was chosen, concerning whom he speaks of prophecies in the plural; that, perhaps, upon which he "took and circumcised him," and when he ordained him, as he himself says in his Epistle to him, "Neglect not the gift that is in thee." (1 Tim. iv: 14.) Therefore to elevate him, and prepare him to be sober and watchful, he reminds him by whom he was chosen and ordained, as if he had said, "God hath chosen thee. He gave thee thy commission, thou wast not made by human vote. Do not therefore abuse or bring into disgrace the appointment of God." When again he speaks of a charge, which implies something burdensome, he adds, "This charge I commit to thee, son Timothy." He charges him as his son, his own son, not so much with arbitrary or despotic authority as like a father, he says, "my son Timothy." The "committing," however, implies that it is to be diligently kept, and that it is not our own. For we did not obtain it for ourselves, but God conferred it upon us; and not it only, but also "faith and a good conscience." What He hath given us then, let us keep. For if He had not come, the faith had not been to be found, nor that pure life which we learn by education. As if he had said, "It is not I that charge thee, but He who chose thee," and this is meant by "the prophecies that went before on thee." Listen to them, obey them.
And say; what chargest thou? "That by them thou shouldest war a good warfare." They chose thee, that then for which they chose thee do thou, "war a good warfare." He named "a good warfare," since there is a bad warfare, of which he says, "As ye have yielded your members instruments to uncleanness and to iniquity." (Rom. vi. 19.) Those men serve under a tyrant, but thou servest under a King. And why calls he it a warfare? To show how mighty a contest is to be maintained by all, but especially by a Teacher; that we require strong arms, and sobriety, and awakenedness, and continual vigilance: that we must prepare ourselves for blood and conflicts, must be in battle array, and have nothing relaxed. "That thou shouldest war in them," he says. For as in an army all do not serve in the same capacity, but in their different stations; so also in the Church one has the office of a Teacher, another that of a disciple, another that of a private man. But thou art in this. And, because this is not sufficient he adds,
Ver. 19. "Holding faith, and a good conscience."
For he that would be a Teacher must first teach himself. For as he who has not first been a good soldier, will never be a general, so it is with the Teacher; wherefore he says elsewhere, "Lest when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away." (1 Cor. ix. 27.) "Holding faith," he says, "and a good conscience," that so thou mayest preside over others. When we hear this, let us not disdain the exhortations of our superiors, though we be Teachers. For if Timothy, to whom all of us together are not worthy to be compared, receives commands and is instructed, and that being himself in the Teacher's office, much more should we. "Which some having put away, have made shipwreck concerning the faith." And this follows naturally. For when the life is corrupt, it engenders a doctrine congenial to it, and from this circumstance many are seen to fall into a gulf of evil, and to turn aside into Heathenism. For that they may not be tormented with the fear of futurity, they endeavor to persuade their souls, that what we preach is false. And some turn aside from the faith, who seek out everything by reasoning; for reasoning produces shipwreck, while faith is as a safe ship.
They then who turn aside from the faith must suffer shipwreck; and this he shows by an example.
Ver. 20. "Of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander."
And from them he would instruct us. You see how even from those times there have been seducing Teachers, curious enquirers, and men holding off from the faith, and searching out by their own reasonings. As the shipwrecked man is naked and destitute of all things, so is he that fails away from the faith without resource, he knows not where to stand or where to stay himself, nor has he the advantage of a good life so as to gain anything from that quarter. For when the head is disordered, what avails the rest of the body? and if faith without a good life is unavailing, much more is the converse true. If God despises His own for our sakes, much more ought we to despise our own for His sake. For so it is, where any one fails away from the faith, he has no steadiness, he swims this way and that, till at last he is lost in the deep.
"Whom I delivered to Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme!" Thus it is blasphemy to search into divine things by our own reasonings. For what have human reasonings m common with them? But how does Satan instruct them not to blaspheme? can he instruct others, who has not yet taught himself, but is a blasphemer still? It is not that "he should instruct," but that they should be instructed. It is not he that does it, though such is the result. As elsewhere he says in the case of the fornicator: "To deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh." Not that he may save the body, but "that the spirit may be saved." (1 Cor. v. 5.) Therefore it is spoken impersonally. How then is this effected? As executioners, though themselves laden with numberless crimes, are made the correctors of others; so it is here with the evil spirit. But why didst thou not punish them thyself, as thou didst that Bar-Jesus, and as Peter did Ananias, instead of delivering them to Satan? It was not that they might be punished, but that they might be instructed. For that he had the power appears from other passages, "What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod?" (1 Cor. iv. 21.) And again, "Lest I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction." (2 Cor. xiii. 10.) Why did he then call upon Satan to punish them? That the disgrace might be greater, as the severity and the punishment was more striking. Or rather, they themselves chastised those who did not yet believe, but those who turned aside, they delivered to Satan. Why then did Peter punish Ananias? Because whilst he was tempting the Holy Ghost, he was still an unbeliever. That the unbelieving therefore might learn that they could not escape, they themselves inflicted punishment upon them; but those who had learnt this, yet afterwards turned aside, they delivered to Satan; showing that they were sustained not by their own power, but by their care for them; and as many as were lifted up into arrogance were delivered to him. For as kings with their own hands slay their enemies, but deliver their subjects to executioners for punishment, so it is in this case. And these acts were done to show the authority committed to the Apostles. Nor was it a slight power, to be able thus to subject the devil to their commands. For this shows that he served and obeyed them even against his will, and this was no little proof of the power of grace. And listen how he delivered them: "When ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan." (1 Cor. v. 4.) He was then immediately expelled from the common assembly, he was separated from the fold, he became deserted and destitute; he was delivered to the wolf. For as the cloud designated the camp of the Hebrews, so the Spirit distinguished the Church. If any one therefore was without, he was consumed, and it was by the judgment of the Apostles that he was cast out of the pale. So also the Lord delivered Judas to Satan. For immediately "after the sop Satan entered into him." (John xiii. 27.) Or this may be said; that those whom they wished to amend, they did not themselves punish, but reserved their punishments for those who were incorrigible. Or otherwise, that they were the more dreaded for delivering them up to others. Job also was delivered to Satan, but not for his sins, but for fuller proof of his worth.
Many such instances still occur. For since the Priests cannot know who are sinners, and unworthy partakers of the holy Mysteries, God often in this way delivers them to Satan. For when diseases, and attacks, and sorrows, and calamities, and the like occur, it is on this account that they are inflicted. This is shown by Paul. "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." (1 Cor. xi. 30.) But how? saith one, when we approach but once a year! But this is indeed the evil, that you determine the worthiness of your approach, not by the purity of your minds, but by the interval of time. You think it a proper caution not to communicate often; not considering that you are seared by partaking unworthily, though only once, but to receive worthily, though often, is salutary. It is not presumptuous to receive often, but to receive unworthily, though but once in a whole life. But we are so miserably foolish, that, though we commit numberless offenses in the course of a year, we are not anxious to be absolved from them, but are satisfied, that we do not often make bold impudently to insult the Body of Christ, not remembering that those who crucified Christ, crucified Him but once. Is the offense then the less, because committed but once? Judas betrayed his Master but once. What then, did that exempt him from punishment? Why indeed is time to be considered in this matter? let our time of coming be when our conscience is pure. The Mystery at Easter is not of more efficacy than that which is now celebrated. It is one and the same. There is the same grace of the Spirit, it is always a Passover. You who are initiated know this. On the Preparation, on the Sabbath, on the Lord's day, and on the day of Martyrs, it is the same Sacrifice that is performed. "For as often," he saith, "as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death." (1 Cor. xi. 26.) No time is limited for the performance of this Sacrifice, why then is it then called the Paschal feast? Because Christ suffered for us then. Let not the time, therefore, make any difference in your approach. There is at all times the same power, the same dignity, the same grace, one and the same body; nor is one celebration of it more or less holy than another. And this you know, who see upon these occasions nothing new, save these worldly veils, and a more splendid attendance. The only thing that these days have more is that from them commenced the day of our salvation when Christ was sacrificed. But with respect to these mysteries, those days have no further preeminence.
When you approach to take bodily food, you wash your hands and your mouth, but when you draw nigh to this spiritual food, you do not cleanse your soul, but approach full of uncleanness. But you say, Are not the forty days' fastings sufficient to cleanse the huge heap of our sins? But of what use is it, tell me? If wishing to store up some precious unguent, you should make clean a place to receive it, and a little after having laid it up, should throw dung upon it, would not the fine odor vanish? This takes place with us too. We make ourselves to the best of our power worthy to approach; then we defile ourselves again! What then is the good of it? This we say even of those who are able in those forty days to wash themselves clean.
Let us then, I beseech you, not neglect our salvation, that our labor may not be in vain. For he who turns from his sins, and goes and commits the same again, is "like a dog that returneth to his vomit." (Prov. xxvi. 11.) But if we act as we ought, and take heed to our ways, we shall be thought worthy of those high rewards, which that we may all obtain, God grant through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.
"I exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." [R. V.: who willeth that all men should be saved, &c.]
The Priest is the common father, as it were, of all the world; it is proper therefore that he should care for all, even as God, Whom he serves. For this reason he says, "I exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men." From this, two advantages result. First, hatred towards those who are without is done away; for no one can feel hatred towards those for whom he prays: and they again are made better by the prayers that are offered for them, and by losing their ferocious disposition towards us. For nothing is so apt to draw men under teaching, as to love, and be loved. Think what it was for those who persecuted, scourged, banished, and slaughtered the Christians, to hear that those whom they treated so barbarously offered fervent prayers to God for them. Observe how he wishes a Christian to be superior to all ill-treatment. As a father who was struck on the face by a little child which he was carrying, would not lose anything of his affection for it; so we ought not to abate in our good will towards those who are without, even when we are stricken by them. What is "first of all"? It means in the daily Service; and the initiated know how this is done every day both in the evening and the morning, how we offer prayers for the whole world, for kings and all that are in authority. But some one perhaps will say, he meant not for all men, but for all the faithful. How then does he speak of kings? for kings were not then worshipers of God, for there was a long succession of ungodly princes. And that he might not seem to flatter them, he says first, "for all men," then "for kings"; for if he had only mentioned kings, that might have been suspected. And then since the soul of some Christians might be slow at hearing this, and reject the exhortation, if at the celebration of the holy Mysteries it was necessary to offer prayers for a heathen king, he shows them the advantage of it, thus at least to reconcile them to the advice, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life"; as much as to say, Their safety is a security to us; as also in his Epistle to the Romans, he exhorts them to obey their rulers, "not for wrath but for conscience' sake." (Rom. xiii. 5.) For God has appointed government for the public good. When therefore they make war for this end, and stand on guard for our security, were it not unreasonable that we should not offer prayers for their safety in wars and dangers? It is not therefore flattery, but agreeable to the rules of justice. For if they were not preserved, and prospered in their wars, our affairs must necessarily be involved in confusion and trouble; and if they were cut off, we must either serve ourselves, or be scattered up and down as fugitives. For they are a sort of bulwarks thrown up before us, within which those who are inclosed are in peace and safety.
He says, "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks." For we must give thanks to God for the good that befalls others, as that He maketh the sun to shine upon the evil and the good, and sendeth His rain both upon the just and the unjust. Observe how he would unite and bind us together, not only by prayer but by thanksgiving. For he who is urged to thank God for his neighbor's good, is also bound to love him, and be kindly disposed towards him. And if we must give thanks for our neighbor's good, much more for what happens to ourselves, and for what is unknown, and even for things against our will, and such as appear grievous to us, since God dispenses all things for our good.
MORAL. Let every prayer of ours, then, be accompanied with thanksgiving. And if we are commanded to pray for our neighbors, not only for the faithful, but for the unbelieving also, consider how wrong it is to pray against your brethren. What? Has He commanded you to pray for your enemies, and do you pray against your brother? But your prayer is not against him, but against yourself. For you provoke God by uttering those impious words, "Show him the same!" "So do to him!" "Smite him!" "Recompense him!" Far be such words from the disciple of Christ, who should be meek and mild. From the mouth that has been vouchsafed such holy Mysteries, let nothing bitter proceed. Let not the tongue that has touched the Lord's Body utter anything offensive, let it be kept pure, let not curses be borne upon it. For if "revilers shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. vi. 10), much less those who curse. For he that curses must be injurious; and injuriousness and prayer are at variance with each other, cursing and praying are far apart, accusation and prayer are wide asunder. Do you propitiate God with prayer, and then utter imprecations? If you forgive not, you will not be forgiven. (Matt. vi. 15.) But instead of forgiving, you beseech God not to forgive; what excessive wickedness in this! If the unforgiving is not forgiven, he that prays his Lord not to forgive, how shall he be forgiven? The harm is to yourself, not him. For though your prayers were on the point of being heard for yourself, they would never be accepted in such a case, as offered with a polluted mouth. For surely the mouth that curses is polluted with all that is offensive and unclean.
When you ought to tremble for your own sins, to wrestle earnestly for the pardon of them, you come to move God against your brother—do you not fear, nor think of what concerns yourself? do you not see what you are doing? Imitate even the conduct of children at school. If they see their own class within giving account of their lessons, and all beaten for their idleness, and one by one severely examined and chastised with blows, they are frightened to death, and if one of their companions strikes them, and that severely, they cannot have while to be angry, nor complain to their master; so is their soul possessed with fear. They only look to one thing, that they may go in and come out without stripes, and their thoughts are on that time. And when they come out, whether beaten or not, the blows they have received from their play-fellows never enter their minds for the delight. And you, when you stand anxiously concerned for your own sins, how can you but shudder at making mention of others' faults? How can you implore pardon of God? For your own case is made worse on the terms of your imprecations against another, and you forbid Him to make allowance for your own faults. Might He not say, "If thou wouldest have Me so severe in exacting offenses against thee, how canst thou expect Me to pardon thy offenses against Me?" Let us learn at last to be Christians! If we know not how to pray, which is a very simple and easy thing, what else shall we know? Let us learn to pray like Christians. Those are the prayers of Gentiles, the supplications of Jews. The Christian's are the reverse, for the forgiveness and forgetting of offenses against us. "Being reviled," it is said, "we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat." (1 Cor. iv. 12, 13.) Hear Stephen saying, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." (Acts vi. 60.) Instead of praying against them, he prayed for them. You, instead of praying for them, utter imprecations against them. You then are wicked in the degree that he was excellent. Whom do we admire, tell me; those for whom he prayed, or him who prayed for them? Him certainly! and if we, much more then God. Would you have your enemy stricken? pray for him: yet not with such intention, not to strike him. That will indeed be the effect, but let it not be your object. That blessed martyr suffered all unjustly, yet he prayed for them: we suffer many things justly from our enemies. And if he who suffered unjustly durst not forbear to pray for his enemies, what punishment do we deserve, who suffer justly, and yet do not pray for them, nay, pray against them? Thou thinkest indeed that thou art inflicting a blow upon another, but in truth thou art thrusting the sword against thyself. Thou sufferest not the Judge to be lenient to thy own offenses, by this way of urging Him to anger against others. For, "with what measure ye mete," He saith, "it shall be measured to you again; and with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged." (Matt. vii. 2.) Let us therefore be disposed to pardon, that God may be so disposed towards us.
These things I wish you not only to hear, but to observe. For now the memory retains only the words, and perhaps hardly those. And after we are separated, if any one who was not present were to ask you, what had been our discourse, some could not tell: others would know merely the subject we had spoken of, and answer that there had been a Homily upon the subject of forgiving injuries, and praying for our enemies, but would omit all that had been said, as they could not remember: others remember a little, but still somewhat. If therefore you gain nothing by what you hear, I entreat you not even to attend at the discourse. For of what use is it? The condemnation is greater, the punishment more severe, if after so many exhortations, we continue in the same course. For this reason God has given us a definite form of prayer, that we might ask for nothing human, nothing worldly. And you that are faithful know what you ought to pray for, how the whole Prayer is common. But one says, "It is not commanded there to pray for unbelievers." This you would not say, if you understood the force, the depth, the hidden treasure of that Prayer. Only unfold it, and you find this also comprised within it. For it is implied, when one says in prayer, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven." Now, because in heaven there is no unbeliever nor offender; if therefore it was for the faithful alone, there would be no reason in that expression. If the faithful were to do the will of God and the unbelievers not to do it, His will were not done in earth as it is in heaven. But it means; As there is none wicked in heaven, so let there be none on earth; but draw all men to the fear of Thee, make all men angels, even those who hate us, and are our enemies. Dost thou not see how God is daily blasphemed and mocked by believers and unbelievers, both in word and in deed? What then? Has He for this extinguished the sun? or stayed the course of the moon? Has He crushed the heavens and uprooted the earth? Has He dried up the sea? Has He shut up the fountains of waters? or confounded the air? Nay, on the contrary, He makes His sun to rise, His rain to descend, gives the fruits of the earth in their seasons, and thus supplies yearly nourishment to the blasphemers, to the insensible, to the polluted, to persecutors; not for one day or two, but for their whole life. Imitate Him then, emulate Him as far as human powers admit. Canst thou not make the sun arise? Abstain from evil speaking. Canst thou not send rain? Forbear reviling. Canst thou not give food? Refrain from insolence. Such gifts from thee are sufficient. The goodness of God to His enemies is shown by His works. Do thou so at least by words: pray for thine enemies, so wilt thou be like thy Father who is in heaven. How many times have we discoursed upon this subject! nor shall we cease to discourse; only let something come of it. It is not that we are drowsy, and weary of speaking; only do not you that hear be annoyed. Now a person seems to be annoyed, when he will not do what one says. For he who practices, loves often to hear the same thing, and is not annoyed by it; for it is his own commendation. But annoyance arises simply from not doing what is prescribed. Hence the speaker is troublesome. If a man practices almsgiving, and hears another speak of alms-giving, he is not wearied, but pleased, for he hears his own good actions recommended and proclaimed. So that when we are displeased at hearing a discourse upon the forgiveness of injuries, it is because we have no interest in forbearance, it is not practiced by us; for if we had the reality, we should not be pained at its being named. If therefore you would not have us wearisome or annoying, practice as we preach, exhibit in your actions the subject of our discourses. For we shall never cease discoursing upon these things till your conduct is agreeable to them. And this we do more especially from our concern and affection for you. For the trumpeter must sound his trumpet, though no one should go out to war; he must fulfill his part. We do it, not as wishing to, bring heavier condemnation upon you, but to avert it from ourselves. And besides this, love for you constrains us, for it would tear and torture our hearts if that should befall you, which God avert! It is not any costly process that we recommend to you: it does not require the spoiling of goods, nor a long and toilsome journey. It is only to will. It is a word, it is a purpose of the mind. Let us only set a guard on our tongues, a door and a bar upon our lips, that we may utter nothing offensive to God. It is for our own advantage, not for theirs for whom we pray, to act thus. For let us ever consider, that he who blesses his enemy, blesses himself, he who curses his enemy, curses himself, and he who prays for his enemy, prays not for him, but for himself. If we thus act, we shall be able to reduce to practice this excellent virtue, and so to obtain the promised blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who willeth that all men should be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth."
If in order to put an end to public wars, and tumults, and battles, the Priest is exhorted to offer prayers for kings and governors, much more ought private individuals to do it. For there are three very grievous kinds of war. The one is public, when our soldiers are attacked by foreign armies: The second is, when even in time of peace, we are at war with one another: The third is, when the individual is at war with himself, which is the worst of all. For foreign war will not be able to hurt us greatly. What, I pray, though it slaughters and cuts us off? It injures not the soul. Neither will the second have power to harm us against our will; for though others be at war with us, we may be peaceable ourselves. For so says the Prophet, "For my love they are my adversaries, but I give myself unto prayer" (Ps. cix. 4); and again, "I was at peace with them that hate peace"; and, "I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war. (Ps. cxx. 6, 7, Sept.) But from the third, we cannot escape without danger. For when the body is at variance with the soul, and raises up evil desires, and arms against it sensual pleasures, or the bad passions of anger, and envy; we cannot attain the promised blessings, till this war is brought to an end; whoever does not still this tumult, must fall pierced by wounds that will bring that death that is in hell. We have daily need therefore of care and great anxiety, that this war may not be stirred up within us, or that, if stirred up, it may not last, but be quelled and laid asleep. For what advantage is it, that the world enjoys profound peace, if thou art at war with thyself? This then is the peace we should keep. If we have it, nothing from without will be able to harm us. And to this end the public peace contributes no little: whence it is said, "That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life." But if any one is disturbed when there is quiet, he is a miserable creature. Seest thou that He speaks of this peace which I call the third kind? Therefore when he has said, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life," he does not stop there, but adds "in all godliness and honesty." But we cannot live in godliness and honesty, unless that peace be established. For when curious reasonings disturb our faith, what peace is there? or when spirits of uncleanness, what peace is there?
For that we may not suppose that he speaks of that sort of life which all men live, when he says, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life," he adds, "in all godliness and honesty," since a quiet and peaceable life may be led by heathens, and profligates, and voluptuous and wanton persons may be found living such a life. That this cannot be meant, is plain, from what he adds, "in all godliness and honesty." Such a life is exposed to snares, and conflicts, and the soul is daily wounded by the tumults of its own thoughts. But what sort of life he really means is plain from the sequel, and plain too, in that he speaks not simply of godliness, but adds, of "all godliness." For in saying this he seems to insist on a godliness not only of doctrine, but such as is supported by life, for in both surely must godliness be required. For of what advantage is it to be godly as to doctrine, but ungodly in life? and that it is very possible to be ungodly in life, hear this same blessed Apostle saying elsewhere, "They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him." (Tit. i. 16.) And again, "He hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (1 Tim. v. 8.) And, "If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater" (1 Cor. v. 11), such a man honors not God. And, "He that hateth his brother, knoweth not God." (1 John ii. 9.) Such are the various ways of ungodliness. Therefore he says, "All godliness and good order." For not only is the fornicator not honest, but the covetous man may be called disorderly and intemperate. For avarice is a lust no less than the bodily appetites, which he who does not chastise, is called dissolute. For men are called dissolute from not restraining their desires, so that the passionate, the envious, the covetous, the deceitful, and every one that lives in sin, may be called dissolute, disorderly, and licentious.
Ver. 3. "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour."
What is said to be "acceptable"? The praying for all men. This God accepts, this He wills.
Ver. 4. "Who willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth."
Imitate God! if He willeth that all men should be saved, there is reason why one should pray for all, if He hath willed that all should be saved, be thou willing also; and if thou wishest it, pray for it, for wishes lead to prayers. Observe how from every quarter He urges this upon the soul, to pray for the Heathen, showing how great advantage springs from it; "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life"; and what is much more than this, that it is pleasing to God, and thus men become like Him, in that they will the same that He does. This is enough to shame a very brute. Fear not therefore to pray for the Gentiles, for God Himself wills it; but fear only to pray against any, for that He wills not. And if you pray for the Heathens, you ought of course to pray for Heretics also, for we are to pray for all men, and not to persecute. And this is good also for another reason, as we are partakers of the same nature, and God commands and accepts benevolence and affection towards one another.
But if the Lord Himself wills to give, you say, what need of my prayer? It is of great benefit both to them and to thyself. It draws them to love, and it inclines thee to humanity. It has the power of attracting others to the faith; (for many men have fallen away from God, from contentiousness towards one another;) and this is what he now calls the salvation of God, "who will have all men to be saved"; without this all other is nothing great, a mere nominal salvation, and only in words. "And to come to the knowledge of the truth." The truth: what truth? Faith in Him. And indeed he had previously said, "Charge some that they teach no other doctrine." But that no one may consider such as enemies, and on that account raise troubles against them; he says that" He willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth"; and having said this, he adds,
Ver. 5. "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men."
He had before said, "to come to the knowledge of the truth," implying that the world is not in the truth. Now he says, "that there is one God," that is, not as some say, many, and that He has sent His Son as Mediator, thus giving proof that He will have all men to be saved. But is not the Son God? Most truly He is; why then does he say, "One God"? In contradistinction to the idols; not to the Son. For he is discoursing about truth and error. Now a mediator ought to have communion with both parties, between whom he is to mediate. For this is the property of a mediator, to be in close communion with each of those whose mediator he is. For he would be no longer a mediator, if he were connected with one but separated from the other. If therefore He partakes not of the nature of the Father, He is not a Mediator, but is separated. For as He is partaker of the nature of men, because He came to men, so is He partaker of the nature of God, because He came from God. Because He was to mediate between two natures, He must approximate to the two natures; for as the place situated between two others is joined to each place, so must that between natures be joined to either nature. As therefore He became Man, so was He also God. A man could not have become a mediator, because he must also plead with God. God could not have been mediator, since those could not receive Him, toward whom He should have mediated. And as elsewhere he says, "There is one God the Father, ... and one Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. viii. 6); so also here "One" God, and "One" Mediator; he does not say two; for he would not have that number wrested to Polytheism, of which he was speaking. So he wrote "One" and "One." You see how accurate are the expressions of Scripture! For though one and one are two, we are not to say this, though reason suggests it. And here thou sayest not one and one are two, and yet thou sayest what reason does not suggest. "If He begat He also suffered." "For there is one God," he says, "and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus."
Ver. 6. "Who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time."
Was Christ then a ransom for the Heathen? Undoubtedly Christ died even for Heathen; and you cannot bear to pray for them. Why then, you ask, did they not believe? Because they would not: but His part was done. His suffering was a "Testimony," he says; for He came, it is meant, "to bear witness to the truth" of the Father, and was slain. Thus not only the Father bore witness to Him, but He to the Father. "For I came," He saith, "in my Father's name." (John v. 43.) And again, "No man hath seen God at any time." (John i. 18.) And again, "That they might know Thee, the only true God." (John xvii. 3.) And, "God is a Spirit," (John iv, 24.) And He bore witness even to the death. But this, "in due time," means, In the fittest time.
Ver. 7. "Whereunto I am ordained a preacher and an Apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not:) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity."
Since therefore Christ suffered for the Gentiles, and I was separated to be a "teacher of the Gentiles," why dost thou refuse to pray for them? He fully shows his own credibility, by saying that he was "ordained" (Acts xiii. 2), that is, separated, for this purpose, the other Apostles being backward in teaching the Gentiles; he adds, "in faith and verity," to show that in that faith there was no deceit. Here is observable the extension of grace. For the Jews had no prayers for the Gentiles; but now grace is extended to them: and when he says that he was separated to be a Teacher of the Gentiles, he intimates that grace was now shed over every part of the world.
"He gave himself a ransom," he saith, how then was He delivered up by the Father? Because it was of His goodness. And what means "ransom"? God was about to punish them, but He forbore to do it. They were about to perish, but in their stead He gave His own Son, and sent us as heralds to proclaim the Cross. These things are sufficient to attract all, and to demonstrate the love of Christ. MORAL. So truly, so inexpressibly great are the benefits which God has bestowed upon us. He sacrificed Himself for His enemies, who hated and rejected Him. What no one would do for friends, for brethren, for children, that the Lord hath done for His servants; a Lord not Himself such an one as His servants, but God for men; for men not deserving. For had they been deserving, had they done His pleasure, it would have been less wonderful; but that He died for such ungrateful, such obstinate creatures, this it is which strikes every mind with amazement. For what men would not do for their fellow-men, that has God done for us! Yet after such a display of love towards us, we hold back, and are not in earnest in our love of Christ. He has sacrificed Himself for us; for Him we make no sacrifice. We neglect Him when He wants necessary food; sick and naked we visit Him not. What do we not deserve, what wrath, what punishment, what hell? Were there no other inducement, it should be sufficient to prevail with every one that He condescended to make human sufferings His own, to say I hunger, I thirst.
O the tyranny of wealth! or rather the wickedness of those who are its willing slaves! for it has no great power of itself, but through our weakness and servility: it is we that are mean and groveling, that are carnal and without understanding. For what power has money? It is mute and insensible. If the devil, that wicked spirit, that crafty confounder of all things, has no power, what power has money? When you look upon silver, fancy it is tin! Cannot you? Then hold it for what it really is; for earth it is. But if you cannot reason thus, consider that we too shall perish, that many of those who have possessed it have gained scarce any advantage by it, that thousands who gloried in it are now dust and ashes. That they are suffering extreme punishment, and far more beggarly than they that fed from glass and earthenware; that those who once reclined on ivory couches, are poorer now than those who are lying on the dunghill. But it delights the eyes! How many other things delight them more! The flowers, the pure sky, the firmament, the bright sun, are far more grateful to the eye. For it hath much of rust, whence some have asserted that it was black, which appears from the images that turn black. But there is no blackness in the sun, the heaven, the stars. Much greater delight is there in these brilliants than in its color. It is not therefore its brilliancy that makes it please, but covetousness and iniquity; these, and not money, give the pleasure. Cast these from thy soul, and what appeared so precious will seem to thee more worthless than clay. Those who are in a fever long for mud when they see it, as if it were spring water; but those in sound health seldom wish even for water. Cast off this morbid longing, and thou wilt see things as they are. And to prove that I do not speak falsely, know, that I can point out many who have done so. Quench this flame, and thou wilt see that these things are of less worth than flowers.
Is gold good? Yes, it is good for almsgiving, for the relief of the poor; it is good, not for unprofitable use, to be hoarded up or buried in the earth, to be worn on the hands or the feet or the head. It was discovered for this end, that with it we should loose the captives, not form it into a chain for the image of God. Use thy gold for this, to loose him that is bound, not to chain her that is free. Tell me, why dost thou value above all things what is of so little worth? Is it the less a chain, because it is of gold? does the material make any difference? whether it be gold or iron, it is still a chain; nay the gold is the heavier. What then makes it light, but vainglory, and the pleasure of being seen to wear a chain, of which you ought rather to be ashamed? To make this evident, fasten it, and place the wearer in a wilderness or where there is no one to see, and the chain will at once be felt heavy, and thought burdensome.
Beloved, let us fear, lest we be doomed to hear those terrible words, "Bind him hand and foot." (Matt. xxii. 13.) And why, O woman, dost thou now do so to thyself? No prisoner has both his hands and his feet bound. Why bindest thou thy head too? For thou art not content with hands and feet, but bindest thy head and thy neck with many chains. I pass over the care that comes of these things, the fear, the alarm, the strife occasioned by them with thy husband if ever he wants them, the death it is to people when they lose any of them. Canst thou call this a pleasure? To gratify the eyes of others, dost thou subject thyself to chains, and cares, and perils, and uneasiness, and daily quarrels? This is deserving of every censure and condemnation. Nay, I entreat you, let us not do thus, let us burst every "bond of iniquity" (Acts viii. 23); let us break our bread to the hungry, and let us do all other things, which may ensure to us confidence before God, that we may obtain the blessings promised through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, &c.
"I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."
"When thou prayest," saith Christ, "thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." (Matt. vi. 5, 6.) What then says Paul? "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." This is not contrary to the other, God forbid, but quite in harmony with it. But how, and in what way? We must first consider what means, "enter into thy closet, and why Christ commands this, if we are to pray in every place? or whether we may not pray in the church, nor in any other part of the house, but the closet? What then means that saying? Christ is recommending us to avoid ostentation, when He bids us offer our prayers not only privately, but secretly. For, when He says, "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth" (Matt. vi. 3), it is not the hands that He. considers, but He is bidding them use the utmost caution against ostentation: and He is doing the like here; He did not limit prayer to one place, but required one thing alone, the absence of vainglory. The object of Paul is to distinguish the Christian from the Jewish prayers, therefore observe what he says: "In every place lifting up holy hands," which was not permitted the Jews, for they were not allowed to approach God, to sacrifice and perform their services, elsewhere, but assembling from all parts of the world in one place, they were bound to perform all their worship in the temple. In opposition to this he introduces his precept, and freeing them from this necessity, he says in effect, Our ways are not like the Jewish; for as Christ commanded us to pray for all men because He died for all men, and I preach these things for all men, so it is good to "pray everywhere." Henceforth the consideration is not of the place but of the manner of the prayer; "pray everywhere," but "everywhere lift up holy hands." That is the thing required. And what is "holy"? Pure. And what is pure? Not washed with water, but free from covetousness, murder, rapacity, violence, "without wrath and doubting." What means this? Who is angry when he prays? It means, without bearing malice. Let the mind of him that prays be pure, freed from all passion. Let no one approach God in enmity, or in an unamiable temper, or with "doubting." What is "without doubting"? Let us hear. It implies that we should have no misgiving but that we shall be heard. For it is said, "whatever ye ask believing ye shall receive." (Matt. xxi. 22.) And again, "when ye stand praying forgive, if ye have aught against any one." (Mark xi. 25.) This is to pray without wrath and doubting. But how can I believe that I shall obtain my request? By asking nothing opposed to that which He is ready to grant, nothing unworthy of the great King, nothing worldly, but all spiritual blessings; if you approach Him "without wrath," having pure hands, "holy hands": hands employed in almsgiving are holy. Approach Him thus, and you will certainly obtain your request. "For if ye being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" (Matt. vii. 11.) By doubting he means misgiving. In like manner he says, I will that women approach God without wrath and doubting, lifting up holy hands: that they should not follow their own desires, nor be covetous or rapacious. For what if a woman does not rob or steal herself, but does it through means of her husband? Paul however requires something more of women, that they adorn themselves "in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair or gold or pearls or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." But what is this "modest apparel"? Such attire as covers them completely, and decently, not with superfluous ornaments, for the one is becoming, the other is not.
MORAL. What? Dost thou approach God to pray, with broidered hair and ornaments of gold? Art thou come to a dance? to a marriage? to a gay procession? There such a broidery, such costly garments, had been seasonable, here not one of them is wanted. Thou art come to pray, to supplicate for pardon of thy sins, to plead for thine offenses, beseeching the Lord, and hoping to render Him propitious to thee. Why dost thou adorn thyself? This is not the dress of a suppliant. How canst thou groan? How canst thou weep? How pray with fervency, when thus attired? Shouldest thou weep, thy tears will be the ridicule of the beholders. She that weeps ought not to be wearing gold. It were but acting, and hypocrisy. For is it not acting to pour forth tears from a soul so overgrown with extravagance and ambition? Away with such hypocrisy! God is not mocked! This is the attire of actors and dancers, that live upon the stage. Nothing of this sort becomes a modest woman, who should be adorned "with shamefacedness and sobriety."
Imitate not therefore the courtesans. For by such a dress they allure their many lovers; and hence many have incurred a disgraceful suspicion, and, instead of gaining any advantage from their ornaments, have injured many by bearing this character. For as the adulteress, though she may have a character for modesty, derives no benefit from that character, in the Day, when He who judges the secrets of men shall make all things manifest; so the modest woman, if she contrive by this dress to pass for an adulteress, will lose the advantage of her chastity. For many have suffered harm by this opinion. "What can I do," thou sayest, "if another suspects me?" But thou givest the occasion by thy dress, thy looks, thy gestures. It is for this reason that Paul discourses much of dress and much of modesty. And if be would remove those things which are only the indications of wealth, as gold, and pearls, and costly array; how much more those things which imply studied ornament, as painting, coloring the eyes, a mincing gait, the affected voice, a languishing and wanton look; the exquisite care in putting on the cloak and bodice, the nicely wrought girdle, and the closely-fitted shoes? For he glances at all these things, in speaking of "modest apparel" and "shamefacedness." For such things are shameless and indecent.
Bear with me, I beseech you, for it is not my aim by this plain reproof to wound or pain you, but to remove from my flock all that is unbecoming to them. But if these prohibitions are addressed to those who have husbands, who are rich, and live luxuriously; much more to those who have professed virginity. But what virgin, you say, wears gold, or broidered hair? Yet there may be such a studied nicety in a simple dress, as that these are nothing to it. You may study appearance in a common garment more than those who wear gold. For when a very dark colored robe is drawn closely round the breast with the girdle(as dancers on the stage are attired), with such nicety that it may neither spread into breadth nor shrink into scantiness, but be between both; and when the bosom is set off with many folds, is not this more alluring than any silken robes? and when the shoe, shining through its blackness, ends in a sharp point, and imitates the elegance of painting, so that even the breadth of the sole is scarce visible—or when, though you do not indeed paint the face, you spend much time and pains on washing it, and spread a veil across the forehead, whiter than the face itself—and above that put on a hood, of which the blackness may set off the white by contrast—is there not in all this the vanity of dress? What can one say to the perpetual rolling of the eyes? to the putting on of the stomacher; so artfully as sometimes to conceal, sometimes to disclose, the fastening? For this too they sometimes expose, so as to show the exquisiteness of the cincture, winding the hood entirely round the head. Then like the players, they wear gloves so closely fitted, that they seem to grow upon the hands: and we might speak of their walk, and other artifices more alluring than any ornament of gold. Let us fear, beloved, lest we also hear what the Prophet said to the Hebrew women who were so studious of outward ornament; "Instead of a girdle, thou shalt be girded with a halter, instead of well-set hair, baldness." (Isa. iii. 24, Sept.) These things and many others, invented only to be seen and to attract beholders, are more alluring than golden ornaments. These are no trifling faults, but displeasing to God, and enough to mar all the self-denial of virginity.
Thou hast Christ for thy Bridegroom, O virgin, why dost thou seek to attract human lovers? He will judge thee as an adulteress. Why dost thou not wear the ornament that is pleasing to Him; modesty, chastity, orderliness, and sober apparel? This is meretricious, and disgraceful. We can no longer distinguish harlots and virgins, to such indecency have they advanced. A virgin's dress should not be studied, but plain, and without labor; but now they have many artifices to make their dress conspicuous. O woman, cease from this folly. Transfer this care to thy soul, to the inward adorning. For the outward ornament that invests thee, suffers not that within to become beautiful. He that is concerned for that which is without, despises that which is within, even as he that is unconcerned about the exterior, bestows all his care upon the interior. Say not, "Alas! I wear a threadbare garment, mean shoes, a worthless veil; what is there of ornament in these?" Do not deceive thyself. It is impossible, as I said, to study appearance more by these than by costlier dresses; especially when they are close-fitted to the body, fashioned to an immodest show, and of shining neatness. Thou excusest thyself to me, but what canst thou say to God, who knows the heart and the spirit with which thou doest these things? "It is not done for fornication!" Perhaps not, but for admiration; and dost thou not blush for shame to be admired for such things? But thou sayest, "It is but chance I am so dressed, and for no motive of this kind." God knoweth what thou sayest to me: is it to me thou must give account? Nay, it is to Him who is present at thy actions, and will one day require into them, to whom all things are naked and open. It is on this account that we now urge these things, that we may not let you be amenable to those severe judgments. Let us fear, therefore, lest He reprove you in the words of the Prophet to the Jewish women. "They come to be seen of me wantoning and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet." (Isa. iii. 16.)
Ye have taken upon you a great contest, where wrestling, not ornament is required; where the battle awaits you, not sloth and ease. Observe the combatants and wrestlers in the games. Do they concern themselves about their walk or their dress? No, but scorning all these, and throwing about them a garment dripping with oil, they look only to one thing, to wound, and not be wounded. The devil stands grinding his teeth, watching to destroy thee every way, and thou remainest unconcerned, or concerned only about this satanic ornament. I say nothing about the voice, though much affectation is shown in this also, nor about perfumes, and other such luxuries. It is for these things we are ridiculed by the women of the world. The respect for virginity is lost. No one honors a virgin as she ought to be honored. They have given occasion to their own dishonor. Ought not they to be looked up to in the Church of God, as women coming from heaven? but now they are despised, and deservedly, though not those among them who are discreet. But when one who has a husband and children, and presides over a household, sees thee, who ought to be crucified to the world, more devoted to the world than herself, will she not ridicule and despise thee? See what care! what pains! In thy humble dress, thou exceedest her who wears the costliest ornament, and art more studious of appearance than she who is arrayed in gold. What is becoming to thee thou seekest not; that which misbecomes thee thou pursuest, when thou oughtest to be occupied in good works. On this account virgins are less honored than women of the world. For they do not perform works worthy of their virgin profession. This is not said to all; or rather it is said to all; to those who are in fault, that they may learn modesty; to those who are free from blame, that they may teach modesty to others. But beware lest this rebuke be verified in deed. For we have not said these things that we may grieve, but that we may correct you, that we may glory in you. And may we all do those things which are acceptable to God, and live to His glory, that we may obtain the blessings promised by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.
"Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in [through the] child-bearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."
Great modesty and great propriety does the blessed Paul require of women, and that not only with respect to their dress and appearance: he proceeds even to regulate their speech. And what says he? "Let the woman learn in silence"; that is, let her not speak at all in the church; which rule he has also given in his Epistle to the Corinthians, where he says," It is a shame for women to speak in the church" (1 Cor. xiv. 35); and the reason is, that the law has made them subject to men. And again elsewhere, "And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home." (Ibid.) Then indeed the women, from such teaching, kept silence; but now there is apt to be great noise among them, much clamor and talking, and nowhere so much as in this place. They may all be seen here talking more than in the market, or at the bath. For, as if they came hither for recreation, they are all engaged in conversing upon unprofitable subjects. Thus all is confusion, and they seem not to understand, that unless they are quiet, they cannot learn anything that is useful. For when our discourse strains against the talking, and no one minds what is said, what good can it do to them? To such a degree should women be silent, that they are not allowed to speak not only about worldly matters, but not even about spiritual things, in the church. This is order, this is modesty, this will adorn her more than any garments. Thus clothed, she will be able to offer her prayers in the manner most becoming.
"But I suffer not a woman to teach." "I do not suffer," he says. What place has this command here? The fittest. He was speaking of quietness, of propriety, of modesty, so having said that he wished them not to speak in the church, to cut off all occasion of conversation, he says, let them not teach, but occupy the station of learners. For thus they will show submission by their silence. For the sex is naturally somewhat talkative: and for this reason he restrains them on all sides. "For Adam," says he, "was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."
If it be asked, what has this to do with women of the present day? it shows that the male sex enjoyed the higher honor. Man was first formed; and elsewhere he shows their superiority. "Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man." (1 Cor. xi. 9.) Why then does he say this? He wishes the man to have the preeminence in every way; both for the reason given above, he means, let him have precedence, and on account of what occurred afterwards. For the woman taught the man once, and made him guilty of disobedience, and wrought our ruin. Therefore because she made a bad use of her power over the man, or rather her equality with him, God made her subject to her husband. "Thy desire shall be to thy husband?" (Gen. iii. 16.) This had not been said to her before.
But how was Adam not deceived? If he was not deceived, he did not then transgress? Attend carefully. The woman said, "The serpent beguiled me." But the man did not say, The woman deceived me, but, "she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." Now it is not the same thing to be deceived by a fellow-creature, one of the same kind, as by an inferior and subordinate animal. This is truly to be deceived. Compared therefore with the woman, he is spoken of as "not deceived." For she was beguiled by an inferior and subject, he by an equal. Again, it is not said of the man, that he "saw the tree was good for food," but of the woman, and that she "did eat, and gave it to her husband": so that he transgressed, not captivated by appetite, but merely from the persuasion of his wife. The woman taught once, and ruined all. On this account therefore he saith, let her not teach. But what is it to other women, that she suffered this? It certainly concerns them; for the sex is weak and fickle, and he is speaking of the sex collectively. For he says not Eve, but "the woman," which is the common name of the whole sex, not her proper name. Was then the whole sex included in the transgression for her fault? As he said of Adam, "After the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come" (Rom. v. 14); so here the female sex transgressed, and not the male. Shall not women then be saved? Yes, by means of children. For it is not of Eve that he says, "If they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." What faith? what charity? what holiness with sobriety? It is as if he had said, "Ye women, be not cast down, because your sex has incurred blame. God has granted you another opportunity of salvation, by the bringing up of children, so that you are saved, not only by yourselves, but by others." See how many questions are involved in this matter. "The woman," he says, "being deceived was in the transgression." What woman? Eve. Shall she then be saved by child-bearing? He does not say that, but, the race of women shall be saved. Was not it then involved in transgression? Yes, it was, still Eve transgressed, but the whole sex shall be saved, notwithstanding, "by childbearing." And why not by their own personal virtue? For has she excluded others from this salvation? And what will be the case with virgins, with the barren, with widows who have lost their husbands, before they had children? will they perish? is there no hope for them? yet virgins are held in the highest estimation. What then does he mean to say?
Some interpret his meaning thus. As what happened to the first woman occasioned the subjection of the whole sex, (for since Eve was formed second and made subject, he says, let the rest of the sex be in subjection,) so because she transgressed, the rest of the sex are also in transgression. But this is not fair reasoning; for at the creation all was the gift of God, but in this case, it is the consequence of the woman's sin. But this is the amount of what he says. As all men died through one, because that one sinned, so the whole female race transgressed, because the woman was in the transgression. Let her not however grieve. God hath given her no small consolation, that of childbearing. And if it be said that this is of nature, so is that also of nature; for not only that which is of nature has been granted, but also the bringing up of children. "If they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety"; that is, if after childbearing, they keep them in charity and purity. By these means they will have no small reward on their account, because they have trained up wrestlers for the service of Christ. By holiness he means good life, modesty, and sobriety.
Chap. iii. ver. 1. "This is a faithful saying."
This relates to the present subject, not to what follows, respecting the office of a Bishop. For as it was doubted, he affirms it to be a true saying, that fathers may be benefited by the virtue of their children, and mothers also, when they have brought them up well. But what if she be herself addicted to wickedness and vice? Will she then be benefited by the bringing up of children? Is it not probable that she will bring them up to be like herself? It is not therefore of any woman, but of the virtuous woman, that it is said she shall receive a great recompense for this also.
MORAL. Hear this, ye fathers and mothers, that your bringing up of children shall not lose its reward. This also he says, as he proceeds, "Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children." (1 Tim. v. 10.) Among other commendations he reckons this one, for it is no light praise to devote to God those children which are given them of God. For if the basis, the foundation which they lay be good, great will be their reward; as great, if they neglect it, will be their punishment. It was on account of his children that Eli perished. For he ought to have admonished them, and indeed he did admonish them, but not as he ought; but from his unwillingness to give them pain he destroyed both himself and them. Hear this, ye fathers, bring your children up with great care "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Eph. vi. 4.) Youth is wild, and requires many governors, teachers, directors, attendants, and tutors; and after all these, it is a happiness if it be restrained. For as a horse not broken in, or a wild beast untamed, such is youth. But if from the beginning, from the earliest age, we fix it in good rules, much pains will not be required afterwards; for good habits formed will be to them as a law. Let us not suffer them to do anything which is agreeable, but injurious; nor let us indulge them, as forsooth but children. Especially let us train them in chastity, for there is the very bane of youth. For this many struggles, much attention will be necessary. Let us take wives for them early, so that their brides may receive their bodies pure and unpolluted, so their loves will be more ardent. He that is chaste before marriage, much more will he be chaste after it; and he that practiced fornication before, will practice it after marriage. "All bread," it is said, "is sweet to the fornicator." (Ecclus. xxiii. 17.) Garlands are wont to be worn on the heads of bridegrooms, as a symbol of victory, betokening that they approach the marriage bed unconquered by pleasure. But if captivated by pleasure he has given himself up to harlots, why does he wear the garland, since he has been subdued?
Let us admonish them of these things. Let us employ sometimes advice, sometimes warnings, sometimes threatening. In children we have a great charge committed to us. Let us bestow great care upon them, and do everything that the Evil One may not rob us of them. But now our practice is the very reverse of this. We take all care indeed to have our farm in good order, and to commit it to a faithful manager, we look out for it an ass-driver, and muleteer, and bailiff, and a clever accomptant. But we do not look out for what is much more important, for a person to whom we may commit our son as the guardian of his morals, though this is a possession much more valuable than all others. It is for him indeed that we take such care of our estate. We take care of our possessions for our children, but of the children themselves we take no care at all. What an absurdity is this! Form the soul of thy son aright, and all the rest will be added hereafter. If that is not good, he will derive no advantage from his wealth, and if it is formed to goodness he will suffer no harm from poverty. Wouldest thou leave him rich? teach him to be good: for so he will be able to acquire wealth, or if not, he will not fare worse than they who possess it. But if he be wicked, though you leave him boundless wealth, you leave him no one to take care of it, and you render him worse than those who are reduced to extreme poverty. For poverty is better than riches for those children who are not well-disposed. For it retains them in some degree of virtue even against their will. Whereas money does not suffer those who would be sober to continue so, it leads them away, ruins them, and plunges them into infinite dangers.
Mothers, be specially careful to regulate your daughters well; for the management of them is easy. Be watchful over them, that they may be keepers at home. Above all, instruct them to be pious, modest, despisers of wealth, indifferent to ornament. In this way dispose of them in marriage. For if you form them in this way, you will save not only them, but the husband who is destined to marry them, and not the husband only, but the children, not the children only, but the grandchildren. For the root being made good, good branches will shoot forth, and still become better, and for all these you will receive a reward. Let us do all things therefore, as benefiting not only one soul, but many through that one. For they ought to go from their father's house to marriage, as combatants from the school of exercise, furnished with all necessary knowledge, and to be as leaven able to transform the whole lump to its own virtue. And let your sons be so modest, as to be distinguished for their steadiness and sobriety, that they may receive great praise both from God and men. Let them learn to govern their appetites, to avoid extravagance, to be good economists, affectionate, and submissive to rule. For so they will be able to secure a good reward to their parents, so all things will be done to the glory of God, and to our salvation, through Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom, &c.
"If a man desire the office of a Bishop, he desireth a good work. A Bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity."
As now proceeding to discourse of the Episcopal office, he sets out with showing what sort of a person a Bishop ought to be. And here he does not do it as in the course of his exhortation to Timothy, but addresses all, and instructs others through him. And what says he? "If a man desire the office of a Bishop," I do not blame him, for it is a work of protection. If any one has this desire, so that he does not covet the dominion and authority, but wishes to protect the Church, I blame him not. "For he desireth a good work." Even Moses desired the office, though not the power, and his desire exposed him to that taunt, "Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?" (Acts vii. 27 Ex. ii. 14.) If any one, then, desire it in this way, let him desire it. For the Episcopate is so called from having the oversight of all.
"A Bishop then," he says, "must be blameless, the husband of one wife." This he does not lay down as a rule, as if he must not be without one, but as prohibiting his having more than one. For even the Jews were allowed to contract second marriages, and even to have two wives at one time. For "marriage is honorable," (Heb. xiii. 4.) Some however say, that this is said that he should be the husband of one wife. "Blameless." Every virtue is implied in this word; so that if any one be conscious to himself of any sins, he doth not well to desire an office for which his own actions have disqualified him. For such an one ought to be ruled, and not to rule others. For he who bears rule should be brighter than any luminary; his life should be unspotted, so that all should look up to him, and make his life the model of their own. But in employing this exhortation, he had no common object in view. For he too was about to appoint Bishops, (which also he exhorts Titus to do in his Epistle to him,) and as it was probable that many would desire that office, therefore he urges these admonitions. "Vigilant," he says, that is, circumspect, having a thousand eyes about him, quicksighted, not having the eyes of his mind dimmed. For many things occur which permit not a man to see clearly, to see things as they are. For care and troubles, and a load of business on all sides press upon him. He must therefore be vigilant, not only over his own concerns, but over those of others. He must be well awake, he must be fervent in spirit, and, as it were, breathe fire he must labor and attend upon his duty by day and by night, even more than a general upon his army; he must be careful and concerned for all. "Sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality." Because these qualities are possessed by most of those who are under their rule, (for in these respects they ought to be equal to those who rule over them,) he, to show what is peculiar to the Bishops, adds, "apt to teach." For this is not required of him that is ruled, but is most essential to him who has this rule committed to him.
"Not given to wine": here he does not so much mean intemperate, as insolent and impudent. "No striker": this too does not mean a striker with the hands. What means then "no striker"? Because there are some who unseasonably smite the consciences of their brethren, it seems to be said with reference to them. "Not greedy of filthy lucre, but patient: not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity." If then "he who is married cares for the things of the world" (1 Cor. vii. 33), and a Bishop ought not to care for the things of the world, why does he say the husband of one wife? Some indeed think that he says this with reference to one who remains free from a wife. But if otherwise, he that hath a wife may be as though he had none. (1 Cor. vii. 29.) For that liberty was then properly granted, as suited to the nature of the circumstances then existing. And it is very possible, if a man will, so to regulate his conduct. For as riches make it difficult to enter into the kingdom of Heaven, yet rich men have often entered in, so it is with marriage. But why does he say, speaking of a Bishop, that he should be "not given to wine, hospitable," when he should name greater things? Why said he not that he should be an Angel, not subject to human passions? Where are those great qualities of which Christ speaks, which even those under their rule ought to possess? To be crucified to the world, to be always ready to lay down their lives, as Christ said. "The good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John x. 11); and again, "He that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." (Matt. x. 38.) But "not given to wine," he says; a good prospect indeed, if such are the things of which a Bishop is to be admonished! Why has he not said that he ought to be already raised above the world? But dost thou demand less of the Bishop, than even of those in the world? For to these he saith, "Mortify your members which are upon the earth" (Col. iii. 5), and "He that is dead, is freed from sin." (Rom. vi. 7.) "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh"; and Christ again says, "Whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath, he is not worthy of Me." (Luke xv. 33.) Why are not these things required by Paul? Plainly because few could be found of such a character, and there was need of many Bishops, that one might preside in every city.
But because the Churches were to be exposed to attacks, he requires not that superior and highly exalted virtue, but a moderate degree of it; for to be sober, of good behavior, and temperate, were qualities common to many. "Having his children in subjection with all gravity." This is necessary, that an example might be exhibited in his own house. For who would believe that he who had not his own son in subjection, would keep a stranger under command? "One that ruleth well his own house." Even those who are without say this, that he who is a good manager of a house will be a good statesman. For the Church is, as it were, a small household, and as in a house there are children and wife and domestics, and the man has rule over them all; just so in the Church there are women, children, servants. And if he that presides in the Church has partners in his power, so hath the man a partner, that is, his wife. Ought the Church to provide for her widows and virgins? so there are in a family servants, and daughters, to be provided for. And, in fact, it is easier to rule the house; therefore he asks, "if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?"
Ver. 6. "Not a novice." He does not say, not a young man, but not a new convert. For he had said, "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." (1 Cor. iii. 6.) Wishing them to point out such an one, he used this word. For, otherwise, what hindered him from saying, "Not a young man"? For if youth only was an objection, why did he himself appoint Timothy, a young man? (and this he proves by saying to him, "Let no man despise thy youth.") (1 Tim. iv. 12.) Because he was aware of his great virtue, and his great strictness of life. Knowing which he writes, "From a child thou hast learned the holy Scriptures." (2 Tim. iii. 15.) And that he practiced intense fasting is proved by the words, "Use a little wine for thine often infirmities"; which he wrote to him amongst other things, as, if he had not known of such good works of his, he would not have written, nor given any such charge to his disciple. But as there were many then who came over from the Heathen, and were baptized, he says, "Do not immediately advance to a station of dignity a novice, that is, one of these new converts." For, if before he had well been a disciple, he should at once be made a Teacher, he would be lifted up into insolence. If before he had learnt to be under rule, he should be appointed one of the rulers, he would be puffed up: therefore he adds, "Lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil," that is, into the same condemnation which Satan incurred by his pride.
Ver. 7. "Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; test he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."
This is rightly said, as he was certain to be reproached by them, and for the same reason perhaps he said, "the husband of one wife," though elsewhere he says, "I would that all men were even as I myself!" (1 Cor. vii. 7), that is, practicing continency. That he may not therefore confine them within too narrow a limit, by requiring an over-strict conversation, he is satisfied to prescribe moderate virtue. For it was necessary to appoint one to preside in every city, as he writes to Titus, "That thou shouldest ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee." (Tit. i. 5.) But what if he should have a good report, and fair reputation, and not be worthy of it? In the first place this would not easily happen. It is much for good men to obtain a good report among their enemies. But, in fact, he has not left this to stand by itself; a good report "also," he says, that is, besides other qualities. What then, if they should speak evil of him without a cause from envy, especially as they were Heathens? This was not to be expected. For even they will reverence a man of blameless life. Why then does he say, speaking of himself, "Through evil: report and good report"? (2 Cor. vi. 6.) Because it was not his life that they assailed, but his preaching. Therefore he says, "through evil report." They were slandered as deceivers and impostors, on account of their preaching, and this because they could not attack their moral characters and lives. For why did no one say of the Apostles, that they were fornicators, unclean, or covetous persons, but that they were deceivers, which relates to their preaching only? Must it not be that their lives were irreproachable? It is manifest.
Therefore so let us too live, and no enemy, no unbeliever, will be able to speak evil of us. For he whose life is virtuous, is revered even by them. For truth stops the months even of enemies.
But how does he "fall into a snare"? By falling often into the same sins, as those who are without. For if he be such a character, the evil one soon lays another snare for him, and they soon effect his destruction. But if he should have a good report from his enemies, much more will he have it from his friends. For that it is not likely that he, whose life is blameless, should be ill-reported of, we may infer from the words of Christ; "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." (Matt. v. 16. ) But what if one be falsely accused, and from peculiar circumstances be slandered? Well this is a possible case; but even such an one ought not to be promoted. For the result is much to be feared. Therefore it is said he should have "a good report," for your good works are to shine. As therefore no one will say that the sun is dark, not even the blind, (for he will be ashamed to oppose the opinion of all,) so him that is of remarkable goodness no one will blame. And though, on account of his doctrines, the Heathen will often slander him, yet they will not attack his virtuous life, but will join with others in admiring and revering it.
MORAL. Let us then so live, that the name of God be not blasphemed. Let us not, on the one hand, look to human reputation; nor on the other, subject ourselves to an evil report, but on both sides let us observe moderation; as he saith, "Among whom ye shine as lights in the world." (Phil. ii. 15.) For on this account He left us here, that we may be as luminaries. that we may be appointed Teachers of others, that we may be as leaven; that we may converse as angels among men, as men with children, as spiritual with natural men, that they may profit by us, that we may be as seed, and may bring forth much fruit. There were no need of words, if we so shone forth in our lives, there were no need of Teachers, did we but exhibit works. There would be no Heathen, if we were such Christians as we ought to be. If we kept the commandments of Christ, if we suffered injury, if we allowed advantage to be taken of us, if being reviled we blessed, if being ill-treated we did good (1 Cor. iv. 12); if this were the general practice among us, no one would be so brutal as not to become a convert to godliness. And to show this; Paul was but one man, yet how many did he draw after him? If we were all such as he, how many worlds might we not have drawn to us? Behold, Christians are more numerous than Heathens. And in other arts, one man can teach a hundred boys together; but here, where there are many more teachers, and many more than the learners, no one is brought over. For those who are taught, look to the virtue of their teachers: and when they see us manifesting the same desires, pursuing the same objects, power and honor, how can they admire Christianity? They see our lives open to reproach, our souls worldly. We admire wealth equally with them, and even more. We have the same horror of death, the same dread of poverty, the same impatience of disease, we are equally fond of glory and of rule. We harass ourselves to death from our love of money, and serve the time. How then can they believe? From miracles? But these are no longer wrought. From our conversation? It has become corrupt. From charity? Not a trace of it is anywhere to be seen. Therefore we shall have to give an account not only of our own sins, but of the injury done by them to others.
Let us then return to a sound mind; let us watch, and show forth a heavenly conversation upon earth. Let us say, "Our conversation is in heaven" (Phil. iii. 20), and let us upon earth maintain the contest. There have been great men, it may be said, amongst us, but "how," says the Greek, "shall I believe it? for I do not see anything like it in your conduct. If this is to be said, we too have had our philosophers, men admirable for their lives." "But show me another Paul, or a John: you cannot." Would he not then laugh at us for reasoning in this manner? Would he not continue to sit still in ignorance, seeing that the wisdom we profess is in words, not in works? For now for a single halfpenny ye are ready to slay or be slain! For a handful of earth thou raisest lawsuit after lawsuit! For the death of a child thou turnest all upside down: I omit other things that might make us weep; your auguries, your omens, your superstitious observances, your casting of nativities, your signs, your amulets, your divinations, your incantations, your magic arts. These are crying sins, enough to provoke the anger of God; that after He has sent His own Son, you should venture on such things as these.
What then can we do but weep? For hardly is a small portion of the world in the way of salvation, and they who are perishing hear it, and rejoice that they are not destined to suffer alone, but in company with numbers. But what cause is this for joy? That very joy will subject them to punishment. For do not think that it is there as here, that to have companions in suffering affords consolation. And whence is this manifest? I will make it clear. Suppose that a man were commanded to be burnt, and that he saw his own son burning with him, and that the smell of his scorched flesh rose to his nostrils; would it not be of itself death to him? No doubt. And I will tell you how it is. If those who are not suffering, yet seeing those things are benumbed and faint with terror, much more will they be so affected, who are themselves sufferers. Wonder not at this. Hear a certain wise one saying, "Art thou become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?" (Isa. xiv. 10.) For human nature is disposed to sympathy, and the affections of others move us to pity. Will then a father seeing His son in the same condemnation, or a husband his wife, or a man his fellow-man, receive consolation, and not rather an aggravation of his sufferings? Are not we in such case the more overcome? But there, you say, there are no such feelings. I know there are not; but there are others much more wretched. For there will be wailing inconsolable, all witnessing each other's torments. Do they who are furnishing derive comfort in their distress from the participation of others? It is no consolation surely to see a son, a father, a wife, or grandchildren, suffering the same punishment. If one sees friends in such a case, is it any comfort? None! None! It rather adds to the intensity of our own sufferings! Besides, there are evils, which by reason of their severity cannot be mitigated by being common. If two men were together thrown into the fire, would they comfort one another? Tell me; if we have ever been attacked by a violent fever, have we not found that all consolation has failed us? for there are calamities, so overwhelming as to leave no room for comfort in the soul. When a wife has lost her husband, is it a lessening of her grief to number up the many who have suffered the like loss? Let us not therefore be supported by any such hope, rather let us find our sole consolation in repenting of our sins, in pursuing the good path that leads to Heaven, that we may obtain the kingdom of Heaven, by the grace and lovingkindness of Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, &c.
"Likewise must the Deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given much to wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved: then let them use the office of a Deacon, being found blameless."
Discoursing of Bishops, and having described their character, and the qualities which they ought to possess, and having passed over the order of Presbyters, he proceeds to that of Deacons. The reason of this omission was, that between Presbyters and Bishops there was no great difference. Both had undertaken the office of Teachers and Presidents in the Church, and what he has said concerning Bishops is applicable to Presbyters. For they are only superior in having the power of ordination, and seem to have no other advantage over Presbyters.
"Likewise the Deacons." That is, they should have the same qualities as Bishops. And what are these same? To be blameless, sober, hospitable, patient, not brawlers, not covetous. And that he means this when he says "likewise," is evident from what he says in addition, "grave, not doubletongued"; that is, not hollow or deceitful. For nothing so debases a man as deceit, nothing is so pernicious in the Church as insincerity. "Not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." Thus he explains what he means by "blameless." And here he requires, though in other words, that he be "not a novice," where he says, "Let these also first be proved," where the conjunction "also" is added, as connecting this with what had been said before of Bishops, for nothing intervenes between. And there is the same reason for the "not a novice" in that case. For would it not be absurd, that when a newly purchased slave is not entrusted with anything in a house, till he has by long trial given proofs of his character, yet that one should enter into the Church of God from a state of heathenism, and be at once placed in a station of preeminence?
Ver. 11. "Even so must the women be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things."
Some have thought that this is said of women generally, but it is not so, for why should he introduce anything about women to interfere with his subject? He is speaking of those who hold the rank of Deaconesses.
Ver. 12. "Let the Deacons be husbands of one wife."
This must be understood therefore to relate to Deaconesses. For that order is necessary and useful and honorable in the Church. Observe how he requires the same virtue from the Deacons, as from the Bishops, for though they were not of equal rank, they must equally be blameless; equally pure.
"Ruling their children and their own houses well."
Ver. 13. "For they that have used the office of a Deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and much boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."
Everywhere they are required to rule their children well, that others may not be scandalized by their misconduct.
"They that use the office of a Deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree," that is, advancement, "and much boldness in the faith of Jesus Christ"; as if he would say, that those who have been found vigilant in the lower degree will soon ascend to the higher.
Ver. 14, 15. "These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly. But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
That he may not plunge Timothy into dejection by giving him orders about such matters, he says, I write thus not as though I were not coming, but I will indeed come, still in case I should be delayed, that thou mayest not be distressed. And this he writes to him to prevent his being dejected, but to others in order to rouse them to greater earnestness. For his presence, though only promised, would have great effect. Nor let it seem strange that, though foreseeing everything through the Spirit, he was yet ignorant of this, and only says, I hope to come, but if I tarry, which implies uncertainty. For since he was led by the Spirit, and did not act from his own inclination, he was naturally uncertain about this matter.
"That thou mayest know," he says, "how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Not like that Jewish house. For it is this that maintains the faith and the preaching of the Word. For the truth is the pillar and the ground of the Church.
Ver. 16. "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God [He who] was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit."
Here he speaks of the Dispensation in our behalf. Tell me not of the bells, nor of the holy of holies, nor of the high priest. The Church is the pillar of the world. Consider this mystery, and thou mayest be struck with awe: for it is indeed "a great mystery," and "a mystery of godliness," and that "without controversy" or question, for it is beyond all doubt. Since in his directions to the Priests he had required nothing like what is found in Leviticus he refers the whole matter to Another, saying, "God was manifest in the flesh." The Creator was seen incarnate. "He was justified in the Spirit." As it is said, "Wisdom is justified of her children," or because He practiced no guile, as the Prophet says, "Because he had done no violence, neither was guile found in his mouth." (Isa. liii. 9; 1 Pet. ii. 22.) "Seen of Angels." So that Angels together with us saw the Son of God, not having before seen Him. Great, truly great, was this mystery! "Preached unto the Gentiles, believed on m the world." He was heard of and believed in through all parts of the world, as the Prophet foreshowed, saying, "Their sound is gone out into all the world." (Ps. xix. 4.) Think not that these things are mere words, for they are not, but full of hidden realities. "Received up into glory." He ascended upon clouds. "This Jesus," it is said, "Who is taken up from you, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." (Acts i. 11.)
The discretion of the blessed Paul is observable. When he would exhort the Deacons to avoid excess in wine, he does not say, "Be not drunken," but "not" even "given to much wine." A proper caution; for if those who served in the Temple did not taste wine at all, much more should not these, For wine produces disorder of mind, and where it does not cause drunkenness, it destroys the energies and relaxes the firmness of the soul.
The dispensation in our behalf he calls a "mystery," and well may it be so called, since it is not manifest to all, nay, it was not manifest to the Angels, for how could it, when it was "made known by the Church"? (Eph. iii. 10.) Therefore he says, "without controversy great is the mystery." Great indeed was it. For God became Man, and Man became God. A Man was seen without sin! A Man was received up, was preached in the world! Together with us the Angels saw Him. This is indeed a mystery! Let us not then expose this mystery. Let us not lay it forth everywhere, but let us live in a manner worthy of the mystery. They to whom a mystery is intrusted are great persons. We account it a mark of favor, if a king intrusts a secret to us. But God has committed His mystery to us, yet are we ungrateful to our Benefactor, as if we had not received the greatest benefits. Our insensibility to such a kindness should strike us with horror. And how is that a mystery which all know? In the first place all do not know it, and before then too they knew it not, but now it is made manifest.
MORAL. In keeping this mystery, then, let us be faithful to our trust. So great a mystery has He intrusted to us, and we do not trust Him even with our money, though He has bid us lay up our wealth with Him, where none can take it away, neither can moth nor thief waste it. And He promises to pay us a hundred-fold, yet we obey Him not. Yet here if we intrust any with a deposit, we receive nothing back in addition, but are thankful if that is restored which we deposited. If a thief steals it there, He saith, set that to My account; I say not to thee, a thief has taken it, or moth devoured it. He repays a hundred-fold here, and eternal life is superadded hereafter, yet do we not lay up our treasure there! "But," you say, "He repays slowly." Well this too is a proof of the greatness of His gift, that He does not repay here in this mortal life; or rather He does repay even here a hundred-fold. For did not Paul leave here his tools, Peter his rod and hook, and Matthew his seat of custom? and was not the whole world opened to them more than to kings? Were not all things laid at their feet? Were they not appointed rulers, and lords? Did not men commit their lives into their hands? suspend themselves wholly upon their counsel, and enlist in their service? And do we not see many similar occurrences even now? Many men of poor and humble means, who did but handle the spade, and had hardly a sufficiency of necessary food, having but the character of monks, have been celebrated above all men, and honored of kings.
Are these things inconsiderable? Well, consider that these are but additions, the principal sum is stored up for the life to come. Despise riches, if thou wouldest have riches. If thou wouldest be truly rich, become poor. For such are the paradoxes of God. He would not have thee rich from thy own care, but from His grace. Leave these things to Me, He says; make spiritual things thy concern, that thou mayest know My power. Flee from that yoke of slavery, which riches impose. As long as thou cleavest to them, thou art poor. When thou despisest them, thou art doubly rich, in that such things shall flow in upon thee from every side, and in that thou shall want none of those things, which the multitude want. For not to possess much, but to need little, is to be rich indeed. The king, so long as he wants aught, differs not from the poor man. For this is poverty, to stand in need of others; and by this argument the king is poor, in so far as he stands in need of his subjects. But he that is crucified, to the world is not so; he wants for nothing; for his hands are sufficient for his subsistence, as Paul said, "These hands have ministered to my necessities, and to them that were with me."(Acts xx. 34.) These are his words who says, "As having nothing, yet possessing all things." (2 Cor. vi. 20.) This is he who was thought a God by the inhabitants of Lystra. If thou wouldest obtain worldly things, seek Heaven; if you wouldest enjoy things here, despise them. For, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," He saith, "and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. vi. 33.)
Why dost thou admire these trifles? Why long for things of no real worth? How long is one poor? how long a beggar? Raise thine eyes to heaven, think of the riches there, and smile at gold; think of how little use it is; that the enjoyment of it lasts but for the present life, and that compared with eternity, the present life is as a grain of sand, or as a drop of water to the boundless ocean. This wealth is not a possession, it is not property, it is a loan for use. For when thou diest, willingly or unwillingly, all that thou hast goes to others, and they again give it up to others, and they again to others. For we are all sojourners; and the tenant of the house is more truly perchance the owner of it, for the owner dies, and the tenant lives, and still enjoys the house. And if the latter hires it, the other might be said to hire it too: for he built it, and was at pains with it, and fitted it up. Property, in fact, is but a word: we are all owners in fact but of other men's possessions. Those things only are our own, which we have sent before us to the other world. Our goods here are not our own; we have only a life interest in them; or rather they fail us during our lives. Only the virtues of the soul are properly our own, as alms-giving and charity. Worldly goods, even by those without, were called external things, because they are without us. But let us make them internal. For we cannot take our wealth with us, when we depart hence, but we can take our charities. But let us rather send them before us, that they may prepare for us an abode in the eternal mansions. (Luke xvi. 9.)
Goods are named from use, not from lordship, and are not our own, and possessions are not a property but a loan. For how many masters has every estate had, and how many will it have! There is a sensible proverb, (and popular proverbs, when they contain any wisdom, are not to be despised,) "O field, how many men's hast thou been, and how many men's wilt thou be?" This we should say to our houses and all our goods. Virtue alone is able to depart with us, and to accompany us to the world above. Let us then give up and extinguish that love of wealth, that we may kindle m us an affection for heavenly things. These two affections cannot possess one soul. For it is said, "Either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." (Matt. vi. 24.) Seest thou a man with a long train of attendants, clearing a way along the streets, clothed in silken garments, riding aloft, and stiffening his neck? Be not overawed, but smile. As we laugh when we see children playing at kings, so laugh at his state, for it is no better than theirs, nor indeed so pleasant, for there is not the same innocence and simplicity as with children. With them it is laughter and pleasure, here is a man made ridiculous and contemptible.
Glorify God, Who has kept thee free from this theatrical ostentation. For, if thou wilt, humble as thy station is, thou mayest be higher than he who is exalted in his chariot. And why? because, though his body is a little raised from the earth, his soul is fixed upon it, for "My strength," he saith, "cleaveth to my flesh" (Ps. cii. 6), but thou in thy spirit walkest in heaven. What though he has many attendants clearing his way? is he more honored by this than his horse? and what an absurdity is it, to drive men before one to clear the way for a beast to pass! Then what sort of honor is it to bestride a horse? an honor shared by his slaves Yet some are so vain of this, that they have it led after them even though they do not want it. What greater folly can there be? To wish to be distinguished by their horses, by the costliness of their garments, by their retinue! What can be more contemptible than glory which consists in horses, and servants? Art thou virtuous? use not such distinctions. Have ornaments in thyself. Be not indebted for thy glory to the presence of others. To such honor the most wicked, corrupt, and base of men may attain; all indeed who are rich. Actors and dancers may ride on horseback with a servant running before them, yet are they but actors and dancers still. Their horses and attendants procure them no respect. For when the graces of the soul are wanting to such persons, the addition of these external things is superfluous and vain. And as when a wall is weak, or a body disordered, whatever you put upon it, it still remains unsound and decayed; so in this case; the soul continues the same, and receives no advantage from things without, not though the man wear a thousand ornaments of gold. Let us not therefore be anxious for such things. Let us withdraw ourselves from temporal things, and pursue greater, even spiritual distinctions, which will render us truly objects of veneration, that we also may obtain the blessings of futurity, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."
As those who adhere to the faith are fixed on a safe anchor, so those who fall from the faith can nowhere rest; but after many wanderings to and fro, they are borne at last into the very gulf of perdition. And this he had shown before, saying, that some had "already made shipwreck concerning the faith," and now he says, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits." This is said of the Manichaeans, the Encratites, and the Marcionites, and the whole of their tribe, that they should hereafter depart from the faith. Seest thou that this departure from the faith is the cause of all the evils that follow!
But what is "expressly"? Plainly, clearly, and beyond doubt. Marvel not, he says, if some having departed from the faith still adhere to Judaism. There will be a time, when even those who have partaken of the faith will fall into a worse error, not only with respect to meats, but to marriages, and other such things, introducing the most pernicious notions. This refers not to the Jews, (for "the latter times," and a "departure from the faith," is not applicable to them;) but to the Manichees, and the founders of these sects. And he calls them very justly, "seducing spirits," since it was by these they were actuated in speaking such things. "Speaking lies in hypocrisy." This implies that they utter not these falsehoods through ignorance and unknowingly, but as acting a part, knowing the truth, but "having their conscience seared," that is, being men of evil lives.
But why does he speak only of these heretics? Christ had before said, "Offenses must need come" (Matt. xviii. 7), and he had predicted the same in his parable of the sower, and of the springing up of the tares. But here admire with me the prophetic gift of Paul, who, before the times in which they were to appear, specifies the time itself. As if he had said, Do not wonder, if, at the commencement of the faith, some endeavor to bring in these pernicious doctrines; since, after it has been established for a length of time, many shall depart from the faith. "Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats." Why then has he mentioned no other heresies? Though not particularized, they are implied by the expressions of "seducing spirits and doctrines of demons." But he did not wish to instill these things into the minds of men before the time; but that which had already commenced, the case of meats, he specifies. "Which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." Why did he not say, by the unbelievers too? How by the unbelievers, when they exclude themselves from them by their own rules? But is not luxury forbidden? Certainly it is. But why? if good things are created to be received. Because He created bread, and yet too much is forbidden; and wine also, and yet excess is forbidden; and we are not commanded to avoid dainties as if they were unclean in themselves, but as they corrupt the soul by excess.
Ver. 4. "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving."
If it be the creature of God, it is good. For "all things," it is said, "were very good." (Gen. i. 31.) By speaking thus of things eatable, he by anticipation impugns the heresy of those who introduce an uncreated matter, and assert that these things proceed from it. But if it is good, why is it "sanctified by the word of God and prayers"? For it must be unclean, if it is to be sanctified? Not so, here he is speaking to those who thought that some of these things were common; therefore he lays down two positions: first, that no creature of God is unclean: secondly, that if it were become so, you have a remedy, seal it, give thanks, and glorify God, and all the uncleanness passes away. Can we then so cleanse that which is offered to an idol? If you know not that it was so offered. But if, knowing this, you partake of it, you will be unclean; not because it was offered to an idol, but because contrary to an express command, you thereby communicate with devils. So that it is not unclean by nature, but becomes so through your wilful disobedience. What then, is not swine's flesh unclean? By no means, when it is received with thanksgiving, and with the seal; nor is anything else. It is your unthankful disposition to God that is unclean.
Ver. 6. "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shall be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained."
What are the things here meant? The same which he had before mentioned, that "great is the mystery"; that to abstain from meats is the doctrine of devils, that they are "cleansed by the word of God and prayer."
Ver. 7. "But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness."
"Putting them in remembrance," he says; here you observe no authority; but all is condescension: he does not say "commanding" or "enjoining," but reminding them: that is, suggest these things as matter of advice, and so enter into discourses with them concerning the faith, "being nourished up," he says, meaning to imply constancy in application to these things.
For as we set before us day by day this bodily nourishment, so he means, let us be continually receiving discourses concerning the faith, and ever be nourished with them. What is this, "being nourished up"? Ruminating upon them; attending ever to the same things, and practicing ever the same, for it is no common nourishment that they supply.
"But refuse profane and old wives' fables." By these are meant Jewish traditions, and he calls them "fables," either because of their falsehood or their unseasonableness. For what is seasonable is useful, but what is unseasonable is not only useless but injurious. Suppose a man of adult age to be suckled by a nurse, would he not be ridiculous, because it is unseasonable? "Profane and old wives' fables," he calls them, partly because of their obsoleteness, and partly because they are impediments to faith. For to bring souls under fear, that are raised above these things, is an impious commandment. "Exercise thyself unto godliness." That is, unto a pure faith and a moral life; for this is godliness. So then we need "exercise." Ver. 8. "For bodily exercise profiteth little." This has by some been referred to fasting; but away with such a notion! for that is not a bodily but a spiritual exercise. If it were bodily it would nourish the body, whereas it wastes and makes it lean, so that it is not bodily. Hence he is not speaking of the discipline of the body. What we need, therefore, is the exercise of the soul. For the exercise of the body hath no profit, but may benefit the body a little, but the exercise of godliness yields fruit and advantage both here and hereafter.
"This is a faithful saying," that is, it is true that godliness is profitable both here and hereafter. Observe how everywhere he brings in this, he needs no demonstration, but simply declares it, for he was addressing Timothy.
So then even here, we have good hopes? For he who is conscious to himself of no evil, and who has been fruitful in good, rejoices even here: as the wicked man on the other hand is punished here as well as hereafter. He lives in perpetual fear, he can look no one in the face with confidence, he is pale, trembling, and full of anxiety. Is it not so with the fraudulent, and with thieves, who have no satisfaction even in what they possess? Is not the life of murderers and adulterers most wretched, who look upon the sun itself with suspicion? Is this to be called life? No; rather a horrid death!
Ver. 10. "For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe."
This in effect is to say, wherefore do we mortify ourselves, unless we expect future blessings? Have we endured so many evils, submitted to so many reproaches, suffered such insults and calumnies, and such numerous calamities in vain? For if we did not trust in the living God, on what account did we submit to these things? But if God is here the Saviour of the unbelieving, much more is He of the faithful hereafter. What salvation does he speak of? That to come? "Who is the Saviour," he says, "of all men, specially of them that believe." At present he is speaking of that which is here. But how is He the Saviour of the faithful? Had he not been so, they must long since have been destroyed, for all men have made war upon them. He calls him here to endure perils, that having God for his Saviour he may not faint nor need any aid from others, but willingly and with fortitude endure all things. Even those who eagerly grasp at worldly advantages, supported by the hope of gain, cheerfully undertake laborious enterprises.
It is then the last time. For "in the latter times," he says, "some shall depart from the faith." "Forbidding to marry." And do not we forbid to marry? God forbid. We do not forbid those who wish to marry, but those who do not wish to marry, we exhort to virginity. It is one thing to forbid, and another to leave one to his own free choice. He that forbids, does it once for all, but he who recommends virginity as a higher state, does not forbid marriage, because he prefers virginity.
"Forbidding to marry," he says, "and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." It is well said, "who know the truth." The former things then were a type. For nothing is unclean by nature, but it becomes so through the conscience of him that partakes of it. And what was the object of the prohibition of so many meats? To restrain excessive luxury. But had it been said, "eat not for the sake of luxury," it would not have been borne. They were therefore shut up under the necessity of the law, that they might abstain from the stronger principle of fear. The fish was not forbidden, though it was manifestly more unclean than the swine. But they might have learned how pernicious luxury was from that saying of Moses, "Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked." (Deut. xxxii. 15.) Another cause of these prohibitions might be, that being straitened for other food, they might be reduced to slaughter sheep and oxen; he therefore restrained them from other things, on account of Apis and the calf, which was an abomination, ungrateful, polluted, and profane.
"Put them in remembrance of these things, meditate upon these things," for by the expression, "nourished up in the words of faith and sound doctrine," is implied that he should not only recommend these things to others, but himself practice them. For he says, "Nourished up in the words of faith, and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables." Why does he not say, abstain from them, but "refuse"? He thus intimates that they should be utterly rejected. His meaning is, that he should not enter into any disputation with the teachers of them, but recommend to his own people the things prescribed above. For nothing is to be gained by contending with perverse men, unless where it might have an injurious effect, if we were supposed from weakness to decline arguing with them.
"But exercise thyself unto godliness," that is, unto a pure life, and the most virtuous conversation. He that exerciseth himself, even when it is not the season of contest, acts always as if he were contending, practices abstinence, endures all toils, is always anxious, endures much labor. "Exercise thyself," he saith, "unto godliness; for bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." And why, says one, does he mention this bodily exercise? To show by comparison the superiority of the other, in that the former is of no solid advantage, though it is attended with many toils, whilst the latter has a lasting and abundant good. As when he bids women "adorn themselves, not with broidered hair, or gold, or costly array: but which becometh women possessing godliness; with good works." (1 Tim. ii. 9, 10.)
MORAL. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach." Did Paul then suffer reproach, and art thou impatient? Did Paul labor, and wouldest thou live luxuriously? But had he lived luxuriously, he would never have attained such great blessings. For if worldly goods, which are uncertain and perishable, are never gained by men without labor and pains, much less are spiritual. Well, saith one, but some inherit them. Yet even when inherited they are not guarded and preserved without labor, and care, and trouble, no less than those have that have gained them. And I need not say that many who have toiled and endured hardships have been disappointed at the very entrance of the harbor, and an adverse wind has caused the wreck of their hopes, when they were upon the point of possession. But with us there is nothing like this. For it is God who promised, and that "hope maketh not ashamed." (Rom. v. 5.) Ye who are conversant with worldly affairs, know ye not how many men, after infinite toils, have not enjoyed the fruit of their labors, either being previously cut off by death, or overtaken by misfortune, or assailed by disease, or ruined by false accusers, or some other cause, which amidst the variety of human casualties, has forced them to go with empty hands?
But do you not see the lucky men, says one, who with little labor acquire the good things of life? What good things? Money, houses, so many acres of land, trains of servants, heaps of gold and silver? Can you call these good things, and not hide your head for shame? A man called to the pursuit of heavenly wisdom, and gaping after worldly things, and calling them "goods," which are of no value! If these things are good, then the possessors of them must be called good. For is not he good, who is the possessor of what is good? But when the possessors of these things are guilty of fraud and rapine, shall we call them good? For if wealth is a good, but is increased by grasping, the more it is increased, the more will its possessor be considered to be good. Is the grasping man then good? But if wealth is good, and increases by grasping, the more a man grasps, the better he must be. Is not this plainly a contradiction? But suppose the wealth is not gained wrongfully. And how is this possible? So destructive a passion is avarice, that to grow rich without injustice is impossible. This Christ declared, saying, "Make to yourselves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness." (Luke xvi. 19.) But what if he succeeded to his father's inheritance? Then he received what had been gathered by injustice. For it was not from Adam that his ancestor inherited riches, but, of the many that were before him, some one must probably have unjustly taken and enjoyed the goods of others. What then? he says, did Abraham hold unrighteous wealth; and Job, that blameless, righteous, and faithful man, who "feared God and eschewed evil"? Theirs was a wealth that consisted not in gold and silver, nor in houses, but in cattle. Besides this, he was enriched by God. And the author of that book, relating what happened to that blessed man, mentions the loss of his camels, his mares and asses, but does not speak of treasures of gold or silver being taken away. The riches of Abraham too were his domestics. What then? Did he not buy them? No, for to this very point the Scripture says, that the three hundred and eighteen were born in his house. (Gen. xix. 14.) He had also sheep and oxen. Whence then did he send gold to Rebekah? (Gen. xxiv. 22; xii. 16.) From the gifts which he received from Egypt without violence or wrong.
Tell me, then, whence art thou rich? From whom didst thou receive it, and from whom he who transmitted it to thee? From his father and his grandfather. But canst thou, ascending through many generations, show the acquisition just? It cannot be. The root and origin of it must have been injustice. Why? Because God in the beginning made not one man rich, and another poor. Nor did He afterwards take and show to one treasures of gold, and deny to the other the right of searching for it: but He left the earth free to all alike. Why then, if it is common, have you so many acres of land, while your neighbor has not a portion of it? It was transmitted to me by my father. And by whom to him? By his forefathers. But you must go back and find the original owner. Jacob had wealth, but it was earned as the hire of his labors.
But I will not urge this argument too closely. Let your riches be justly gained, and without rapine. For you are not responsible for the covetous acts of your father. Your wealth may be derived from rapine; but you were not the plunderer. Or granting that he did not obtain it by robbery, that his gold was cast up somewhere out of the earth. What then? Is wealth therefore good? By no means. At the same time it is not bad, he says, if its possessor be not covetous; it is not bad, if it be distributed to the poor, otherwise it is bad, it is ensnaring. "But if he does not evil, though he does no good, it is not bad," he argues. True. But is not this an evil, that you alone should have the Lord's property, that you alone should enjoy what is common? Is not "the earth God's, and the fullness thereof"? If then our possessions belong to one common Lord, they belong also to our fellow-servants. The possessions of one Lord are all common. Do we not see this the settled rule in great houses? To all is given an equal portion of provisions, for it proceeds from the treasures of their Lord. And the house of the master is opened to all. The king's possessions are all common, as cities, market-places, and public walks. We all share them equally.
Mark the wise dispensation of God. That He might put mankind to shame, He hath made certain things common, as the sun, air, earth, and water, the heaven, the sea, the light, the stars; whose benefits are dispensed equally to all as brethren. We are all formed with the same eyes, the same body, the same soul, the same structure in all respects, all things from the earth, all men from one man, and all in the same habitation. But these are not enough to shame us. Other things then (as we have said) He hath made common, as baths, cities, market-places, walks. And observe, that concerning things that are common there is no contention, but all is peaceable. But when one attempts to possess himself of anything, to make it his own, then contention is introduced, as if nature herself were indignant, that when God brings us together in every way, we are eager to divide and separate ourselves by appropriating things, and by using those cold words "mine and thine." Then there is contention and uneasiness. But where this is not, no strife or contention is bred. This state therefore is rather our inheritance, and more agreeable to nature. Why is it, that there is never a dispute about a market-place? Is it not because it is common to all? But about a house, and about property, men are always disputing. Things necessary are set before us in common; but even in the least things we do not observe a community. Yet those greater things He hath opened freely to all, that we might thence be instructed to have these inferior things in common. Yet for all this, we are not instructed.
But as I said, how can he, who is rich, be a good man? When he distributes his riches, he is good, so that he is good when he has ceased to have it, when he gives it to others; but whilst he keeps it himself, he is not good. How then is that a good which being retained renders men evil, being parted with makes them good? Not therefore to have wealth, but to have it not, makes one appear to be good. Wealth therefore is not a good. But if, when you can receive it, you receive it not, again you are good.
If then we are good, when having it, we distribute it to others; or when offered to us we refuse it, and if we are not good, when we receive or gain it, how can it be a good thing in itself? Call it not therefore a good. You possess it not, because you think it a good, because you are anxious to possess it. Cleanse thy mind, and rectify thy judgment, and then thou wilt be good. Learn what are really goods. What are they? Virtue and benevolence. These and not that, are truly good. According to this rule, the more charitable thou art, the more good thou wilt be considered. But if thou art rich, thou art no longer good. Let us therefore become thus good, that we may be really good, and may obtain the good things to come in Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.
"These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery."
In some cases it is necessary to command, in others to teach; if therefore you command in those cases where teaching is required, you will become ridiculous. Again, if you teach where you ought to command, you are exposed to the same reproach. For instance, it is not proper to teach a man not to be wicked, but to command; to forbid it with all authority. Not to profess Judaism, should be a command, but teaching is required, when you would lead men to part with their possessions, to profess virginity, or when you would discourse of faith. Therefore Paul mentions both: "Command and teach." When a man uses amulets, or does anything of that kind, knowing it to be wrong, he requires only a command; but he who does it ignorantly, is to be taught his error. "Let no one despise thy youth."
Observe that it becomes a priest to command and to speak authoritatively, and not always to teach. But because, from a common prejudice, youth is apt to be despised, therefore he says, "Let no man despise thy youth." For a teacher ought not to be exposed to contempt. But if he is not to be despised, what room is there for meekness and moderation? Indeed the contempt that he fails into personally he ought to bear; for teaching is commended by longsuffering. But not so, where others are concerned; for this is not meekness, but coldness. If a man revenge insults, and ill language, and injuries offered to himself, you justly blame him. But where the salvation of others is concerned, command, and interpose with authority. This is not a case for moderation, but for authority, lest the public good suffer. He enjoins one or the other as the case may require. Let no one despise thee on account of thy youth. For as long as thy life is a counterpoise, thou wilt not be despised for thy youth, but even the more admired: therefore he proceeds to say,
"But be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in purity." In all things showing thyself an example of good works: that is, be thyself a pattern of a Christian life, as a model set before others, as a living law, as a rule and standard of good living, for such ought a teacher to be. "In word," that he may speak with facility, "in conversation, in charity, in faith, in "true "purity, in temperance."
"Till I come give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine."
Even Timothy is commanded to apply to reading. Let us then be instructed not to neglect the study of the sacred writings. Again, observe, he says, "Till I come." Mark how he consoles him, for being as it were an orphan, when separated from him, it was natural that he should require such comfort. "Till I come," he says, give attendance to reading the divine writings, to exhortation of one another, to teaching of all.
"Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy."
Here he calls teaching prophecy.
"With the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." He speaks not here of Presbyters, but of Bishops. For Presbyters cannot be supposed to have ordained a Bishop.
Ver. 15. "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them."
Observe how often he gives him counsel concerning the same things, thus showing that a teacher ought above all things to be attentive to these points.
Ver. 16. "Take heed," he says, "unto thyself, and unto the doctrine: continue in them." That is, take heed to thyself, and teach others also.
"For in so doing thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee."
It is well said, "Thou shalt save thyself." For he that is "nourished up in the words of sound doctrine," first receives the benefit of it himself. From admonishing others, he is touched with compunction himself. For these things are not said to Timothy only, but to all. And if such advice is addressed to him, who raised the dead, what shall be said to us? Christ also shows the duty of teachers, when He says, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto an householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." (Matt. xiii. 52.) And the blessed. Paul gives the same advice, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." (Rom. xv. 4.) This he practiced above all men, being brought up in the law of his fathers, at the feet of Gamaliel, whence he would afterwards naturally apply to reading: for he who exhorted others would himself first follow the advice he gave. Hence we find him continually appealing to the testimony of the prophets, and searching into their writings. Paul then applies to reading, for it is no slight advantage that is to be reaped from the Scriptures. But we are indolent, and we hear with carelessness and indifference. What punishment do we not deserve!
"That thy profiting may appear," he says, "to all."
Thus he would have him appear great and admirable in this respect also, showing that this was still necessary for him, for he wished that his "profiting should appear" not only in his life, but in the word of doctrine.
Chap. v. ver. 1. "Rebuke not an elder."
Is he now speaking of the order? I think not, but of any elderly man. What then if he should need correction? Do not rebuke him, but address him as you would a father offending.
Ver. 1. "The elder women as mothers, the younger men as brethren; the younger women as sisters, with all purity."
Rebuke is in its own nature offensive, particularly when it is addressed to an old man, and when it proceeds from a young man too, there is a threefold show of forwardness. By the manner and the mildness of it, therefore, he would soften it. For it is possible to reprove without offense, if one will only make a point of this: it requires great discretion, but it may be done.
"The younger men as brethren." Why does he recommend this too here? With a view to the high spirit natural to young men, whence it is proper to soften reproof to them also with moderation.
"The younger women as sisters"; he adds, "with all purity." Tell me not, he means, of merely avoiding sinful intercourse with them There should not be even a suspicion. For since intimacy with young women is always suspicious, and yet a Bishop cannot always avoid it, he shows by adding these words, that "all purity" is required in such intimacy. But does Paul give this advice to Timothy? Yes, he says, for I am speaking to the world through him. But if Timothy was thus advised, let others consider what sort of conduct is required of them, that they should give no ground for suspicion, no shadow of pretext, to those who wish to calumniate.
Ver. 3. "Honor widows, that are widows indeed."
Why does he say nothing of virginity, nor command us to honor virgins? Perhaps there were not yet any professing that state, or they might have fallen from it. "For some," he says, "are already turned aside after Satan." (1 Tim. v. 15.) For a woman may have lost her husband, and yet not be truly a widow. As in order to be a virgin, it is not enough to be a stranger to marriage, but many other things are necessary, as blamelessness and perseverance; so the loss of a husband does not constitute a widow, but patience, with chastity and separation from all men. Such widows he justly bids us honor, or rather support. For they need support, being left desolate, and having no husband to stand up for them. Their state appears to the multitude despicable and inauspicious. Therefore he wishes them to receive the greater honor from the Priest, and the more so, because they are worthy of it.
Ver. 4. "But if any widow have children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents."
Observe the discretion of Paul; how often he urges men from human considerations. For he does not here lay down any great and lofty motive, but one that is easy to be understood: "to requite their parents." How? For bringing them up and educating them. As if he should say, Thou has received from them great care. They are departed. Thou canst not requite them. For thou didst not bring them forth, nor nourish them. Requite them in their descendants, repay the debt through the children. "Let them learn first to show piety at home." Here he more simply exhorts them to acts of kindness; then to excite them the more, he adds,
"For that is good and acceptable before God." And as he had spoken of those "who are widows indeed," he declares who is indeed a widow.
Ver. 5. "Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth."
She who being a widow has not made choice of a worldly life, is a widow indeed; she who trusts in God as she ought, and continues instant in prayer night and day, is a widow indeed. Not that she, who has children, is not a widow indeed. For he commends her who brings up children as she ought. But if any one has not children, he means, she is desolate, and her he consoles, saying, that she is most truly a widow, who has lost not only the consolation of a husband, but that arising from children, yet she has God in the place of all. She is not the worse for not having children, but He fills up her need with consolation, in that she is without children. What he says amounts to this. Grieve not, when it is said that a widow ought to bring up children, as if, because thou hast no children thy worth were on that account inferior. Thou art a widow indeed, whereas she who liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
But since many who have children choose the state of widowhood, not to cut off the occasions of a worldly life, but rather to enhance them, that they may do what they will with the greater license, and indulge the more freely in worldly lusts: therefore he says, "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." Ought not a widow then to live in pleasure? Surely not. If then when nature and age is weak, a life of pleasure is not allowable, but leads to death, eternal death; what have men to say, who live a life of pleasure? But he says with reason, "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." But that thou mayest see this, let us now see what is the state of the dead, and what of the living, and in which shall we place such an one? The living perform the works of life, of that future life, which is truly life. And Christ has declared what are the works of that future life, with which we ought always to be occupied. "Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink." (Matt. xxv. 34, 35.) The living differ from the dead, not only in that they behold the sun, and breathe the air, but in that they are doing some good. For if this be wanting, the living are not better than the dead. That you may learn this, hear how it is possible that even the dead should live. For it is said, "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matt. xxii. 32.) But this again you say is a riddle. Let us therefore solve them both. A man who liveth in pleasure, is dead whilst he liveth. For he liveth only to his belly. In his other senses he lives not. He sees not what he ought to see, he hears not what he ought to hear, he speaks not what he ought to speak. Nor does he perform the actions of the living. But as he who is stretched upon a bed, with his eyes closed, and his eyelids fast, perceives nothing that is passing; so it is with this man, or rather not so, but worse. For the one is equally insensible to things good and evil, but the latter is sensible to things evil only, but as insensible as the former to things good. Thus he is dead. For nothing relating to the life to come moves or affects him. For intemperance, taking him into her own bosom, as into some dark and dismal cavern, full of all uncleanness, causes him to dwell altogether in darkness, like the dead. For when all his time is spent between feasting and drunkenness, is he not dead, and buried in darkness? Even in the morning when he seems to be sober, he is not sober in reality, since he has not yet rid and cleansed himself of yesterday's excess and is still longing for a repetition, and in that his evening and noon he passes in revels, and all the night, and most of the morning in deep sleep.
Is he then to be numbered with the living? Who can describe that storm that comes of luxury, that assails his soul and body? For as a sky continually clouded admits not the sunbeams to shine through it, so the fumes of luxury and wine enveloping his brain, as if it were some rock, and casting over it a thick mist, suffer not reason to exert itself, but overspread the drunken man with profound darkness. With him who is thus affected, how great must be the storm within, how violent the tumult. As when a flood of water has risen, and has surmounted the entrances of the workshops, we see all the inmates in confusion, and using tubs and pitchers and sponges, and many other contrivances to bale it out, that it may not both undermine the building, and spoil all that is contained in it: so it is when luxury overwhelms the soul; its reasonings within are disturbed. What is already collected, cannot be discharged, and by the introduction of more, a violent storm is raised. For look not at the cheerful and merry countenance, but examine the interior, and you will see it full of deep dejection. If it were possible to bring the soul into view, and to behold it with our bodily eyes, that of the luxurious would seem depressed, mournful, miserable, and wasted with leanness; for the more the body grows sleek and gross, the more lean and weakly is the soul; and the more one is pampered, the more is the other hampered. As, when the pupil of the eye has the external coats over it too thick, it cannot put forth the power of vision, and look out, because the light is excluded by the thick covering, and darkness often ensues; so when the body is constantly full fed, the soul must be invested with grossness. But the dead rot, and are corrupted, you say; and an unwholesome moisture distills from them. So in her "that liveth in pleasure," may be seen rheums, and phlegm, catarrh, hiccough, vomitings, eructations, and the like, which, as too unseemly, I forbear to name, For such is the dominion of luxury, that it makes one endure things, which we do not even think proper to mention.
But you still ask, how is the body dissolved whilst it yet eats and drinks? Surely this is no sign of human life, since creatures without reason too eat and drink. Where the soul lies dead, what do eating and drinking avail? The dead body, that is invested with a flowery garment, is not benefited by it, and when a blooming body invests a dead soul, the soul is not benefited. For when its whole discourse is of cooks, and caterers, and confectioners, and it utters nothing pious, is it not dead? For let us consider what is man? The Heathens say that he is a rational animal, mortal, capable of intelligence and knowledge. But let us not take our definition from them, but whence? From the sacred writings. Where then has the Scripture given a definition of man? Hear its words. "There was a man perfect and upright, one that feared God, and eschewed evil." (Job i. 2.) This was indeed a man! Again, another says, "Man is great, and the merciful man is precious." (Prov. xx. 6, Sept.) Those who answer not to this description, though they partake of mind, and are never so capable of knowledge, the Scripture refuses to acknowledge them as men, but calls them dogs, and horses, and serpents, and foxes, and wolves, and if there be any animals more contemptible. If such then is man, he that liveth in pleasure is not a man; for how can he be, who never thinks of anything that he ought? Luxury and sobriety cannot exist together: they are destructive of one another. Even the Heathens say,
"A heavy paunch bears not a subtle mind."
Such as these the Scripture calls men without souls. "My Spirit (it is said) shall not always abide in these men, because they are flesh." (Gen. vi. 3, Sept.) Yet they had a soul, but because it was dead in them, He calls them flesh. For as in the case of the virtuous, though they have a body, we say, "he is all soul, he is all spirit," so the reverse is said of those who are otherwise. So Paul also said of those, who did not fulfill the works of the flesh, "Ye are not in the flesh." (Rom. viii. 9.) Thus those who live in luxury are not in the soul or in the spirit.
MORAL. "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." Hear this, ye women, that pass your time in revels and intemperance, and who neglect the poor, pining and perishing with hunger, whilst you are destroying yourself with continual luxury. Thus you are the causes of two deaths, of those who are dying of want, and of your own, both through ill measure. But if out of your fullness you tempered their want, you would save two lives. Why do you thus gorge your own body with excess, and waste that of the poor with want; why pamper this above measure, and stint that too beyond measure? Consider what comes of food, into what it is changed. Are you not disgusted at its being named? Why then be eager for such accumulations? The increase of luxury is but the multiplication of dung! For nature has her limits, and what is beyond these is not nourishment, but injury, and the increase of ordure. Nourish the body, but do not destroy it. Food is called nourishment, to show that its design is not to injure the body, but to nourish it. For this reason perhaps food passes into excrement, that we may not be lovers of luxury. For if it were not so, if it were not useless and injurious to the body, we should not cease from devouring one another. If the belly received as much as it pleased, digested it, and conveyed it to the body, we should see wars and battles innumerable. Even now when part of our food passes into ordure, part into blood, part into spurious and useless phlegm, we are nevertheless so addicted to luxury, that we spend perhaps whole estates on a meal. What should we not do, if this were not the end of luxury? The more luxuriously we live, the more noisome are the odors with which we are filled. The body is like a swollen bottle, running out every way. The eructations are such as to pain the head of a bystander. From the heat of fermentation within, vapors are sent forth, as from a furnace, if bystanders are pained, what, think you, is the brain within continually suffering, assailed by these fumes? to say nothing of the channels of the heated and obstructed blood, of those reservoirs, the liver and the spleen, and of the canals by which the faeces are discharged. The drains in our streets we take care to keep unobstructed. We cleanse our sewers with poles and drags, that they may not be stopped, or overflow, but the canals of our bodies we do not keep clear, but obstruct and choke them up, and when the filth rises to the very throne of the king, I mean the brain, we do not regard it, treating it not like a worthy king, but like an unclean brute. God hath purposely removed to a distance those unclean members, that we might not receive offense from them. But we suffer it not to be so, and spoil all by our excess. And other evils might be mentioned. To obstruct the sewers is to breed a pestilence; but if a stench from without is pestilential, that which is pent up within the body, and cannot find a vent, what disorders must it not produce both to body and soul? Some have strangely complained, wondering why God has ordained that we should bear a load of ordure with us. But they themselves increase the load. God designed thus to detach us from luxury, and to persuade us not to attach ourselves to worldly things. But thou art not thus to be persuaded to cease from gluttony, but though it is but as far as the throat, and as long as the hour of eating, nay not even so long, that the pleasure abides, thou continuest in thine indulgence. Is it not true that as soon as it has passed the palate and the throat, the pleasure ceases? For the sense of it is in the taste, and after that is gratified, a nausea succeeds, the stomach not digesting the food, or not without much difficulty. Justly then is it said, that "she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." For the luxurious soul is unable to hear or to see anything. It becomes weak, ignoble, unmanly, illiberal, cowardly, full of impudence, servility, ignorance, rage, violence, and all kinds of evil, and destitute of the opposite virtues. Therefore he says,
Ver. 7. "These things give in charge, that they may be blameless."
He does not leave it to their choice. Command them, he says, not to be luxurious, assuming it to be confessedly an evil, as not holding it lawful or admissible for the luxurious to partake of the Holy Mysteries. "These things command," he says, "that they may be blameless." Thus you see it is reckoned among sins. For if it were a matter of choice, though it were left undone, we might still be blameless. Therefore in obedience to Paul, let us command the luxurious widow not to have place in the list of widows. For if a soldier, who frequents the bath, the theater, the busy scenes of life, is judged to desert his duty, much more the widows. Let us then not seek our rest here, that we may find it hereafter. Let us not live in pleasure here, that we may hereafter enjoy true pleasure, true delight, which brings no evil with it, but infinite good. Of which God grant that we may all be partakers, in Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.
"But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
Many consider that their own virtue is sufficient for their salvation, and if they duly regulate their own life, that nothing further is wanting to save them. But in this they greatly err, which is proved by the example of him who buried his one talent, for he brought it back not diminished but entire, and just as it had been delivered to him. It is shown also by the blessed Paul, who says here, "If any one provide not for his own." The provision of which he speaks is universal, and relates to the soul as well as the body, since both are to be provided for.
"If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house," that is, those who are nearly related to him, "he is worse than an infidel." And so says Isaiah, the chief of the Prophets, "Thou shalt not overlook thy kinsmen of thy own seed." (Isa. lviii. 7, Sept.) For if a man deserts. those who are united by ties of kindred and affinity, how shall he be affectionate towards others? Will it not have the appearance of vainglory, when benefiting others he slights his own relations, and does not provide for them? And what will be said, if instructing others, he neglects his own, though he has greater facilities; and a higher obligation to benefit them? Will it not be said, These Christians are affectionate indeed, who neglect their own relatives? "He is worse than an infidel." Wherefore? Because the latter, if he benefits not aliens, does not neglect his near kindred. What is meant is this: The law of God and of nature is violated by him who provides not for his own family. But if he who provides not for them has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel, where shall he be ranked who has injured his relatives? With whom shall he be placed? But how has he denied the faith? Even as it is said, "They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him." (Tit. i. 16.) What has God, in whom they believe, commanded? "Hide not thyself from thine own flesh." (Isa. lviii. 7.) How does he then believe who thus denies God? Let those consider this, who to spare their wealth neglect their kindred. It was the design of God, in uniting us by the ties of kindred, to afford us many opportunities of doing good to one another. When therefore thou neglectest a duty which infidels perform, hast thou not denied the faith? For it is not faith merely to profess belief, but to do works worthy of faith. And it is possible in each particular to believe and not to believe. For since he had spoken of luxury and self-indulgence, he says that it is not for this only that such a woman is punished, because she is luxurious, but because her luxury compels her to neglect her household. This he says with reason; for she that liveth to the belly, perishes hereby also, as "having denied the faith." But how is she worse than an infidel? Because it is not the same thing to neglect our kindred, as to neglect a stranger. How should it be? But the fault is greater here, to desert one known than one who is unknown to us, a friend than one who is not a friend.
Ver. 9, 10. "Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man. Well reported of for good works."
He had said, "Let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents." He had also said, "She that liveth in pleasure is dead whilst she liveth." He had said, "If she provides not for her own she is worse than an infidel." Having mentioned the qualities which not to have would render a woman unworthy to be reckoned among the widows, he now mentions what she ought to have besides. What then? are we to receive her for her years? What merit is there in that? It is not her own doing that she is threescore years old. Therefore he does not speak of her age merely, as, if she has even reached those years, she may not yet, he says, without good works, be reckoned among the number. But why then is he particular about the age? He afterwards assigns a cause not originating with himself, but with the widows themselves. Meanwhile let us hear what follows. "Well reported of for good works, if she have brought up children." Truly, it is no unimportant work to bring up children; but bringing them up is not merely taking care of them; they must be brought up well; as he said before, "If they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness." (1 Tim. ii. 15.) Observe how constantly he sets kindnesses to our own relatives before those to strangers. First he says, "If she have brought up children," then, "If she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the Saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work." But what if she be poor? Not even in that case is she debarred from bringing up children, lodging strangers, relieving the afflicted. She is not more destitute than the widow who gave the two mites. Poor though she be, she has an house, she does not lodge in the open air. "If," he says, "she have washed the Saints' feet." This is not a costly work. "If she have diligently followed every good work." What precept does he give here? He exhorts them to contribute bodily service, for women are peculiarly fitted for such attendance, for making the bed of the sick, and composing them to rest.
Strange! what strictness does he require of widows; almost as much as of the Bishop himself. For he says, "If she have diligently followed every good work." This is as though he meant that, if she could not of herself perform it, she shared and cooperated in it. When he cuts off luxury, he would have her provident, a good economist, and at the same time continually persevering in prayer. Such was Anna. Such strictness does he require of widows. Greater even than of virgins, from whom he yet requires much strictness, and eminent virtue. For when he speaks of "that which is comely," and "that she may attend upon the Lord without distraction" (1 Cor. vii. 35), he gives, in a manner, a summary of all virtue. You see that it is not merely the not contracting a second marriage that is enough to make a widow, many other things are necessary. But why does he discourage second marriages? Is the thing condemned? By no means. That is heretical. Only he would have her henceforth occupied in spiritual things, transferring all her care to virtue. For marriage is not an impure state, but one of much occupation. He speaks of their having leisure, not of their being more pure by remaining unmarried. For marriage certainly implies much secular engagement. If you abstain from marriage that you may have leisure for the service of God, and yet do not so employ that leisure, it is of no advantage to you, (if you do not use your leisure,) to perform all services to strangers, and to the Saints. If you do not thus, you abstain from marriage not for any good end, but as though you condemned the state. So the virgin, who is not truly crucified to the world, by declining marriage, appears to condemn it as accursed and impure.
Observe, the hospitality here spoken of is not merely a friendly reception, but one given with zeal and alacrity, with readiness, and going about it as if one were receiving Christ Himself. The widows should perform these services themselves, not commit them to their handmaids. For Christ said, "If I your Master and Lord have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet." (John xiii. 14.) And though a woman may be very rich, and of the highest rank, vain of her birth and noble family, there is not the same distance between her and others, as between God and the disciples. If thou receivest the stranger as Christ, be not ashamed, but rather glory: but if you receive him not as Christ, receive him not at all. "He that receiveth you," He said, "receiveth Me." (Matt. x. 40.) If you do not so receive him, you have no reward. Abraham was receiving men that passed as travelers, as he thought, and he did not leave to his servants to make the preparations for their entertainment, but took the greater part of the service upon himself, and commanded his wife to mix the flour, though he had three hundred and eighteen servants born in his house, of whom there must have been many maidservants; but he wished that himself and his wife should have the reward, not of the cost only, but of the service. Thus ought we ever to exercise hospitality by our own personal exertions, that we may be sanctified, and our hands be blessed. And if thou givest to the poor, disdain not thyself to give it, for it is not to the poor that it is given, but to Christ; and who is so wretched, as to disdain to stretch out his own hand to Christ?
This is hospitality, this is truly to do it for God's sake. But if you give orders with pride, though you bid him take the first place, it is not hospitality, it is not done for God's sake. The stranger requires much attendance, much encouragement, and with all this it is difficult for him not to feel abashed; for so delicate is his position, that whilst he receives the favor, he is ashamed. That shame we ought to remove by the most attentive service, and to show by words and actions, that we do not think we are conferring a favor, but receiving one, that we are obliging less than we are obliged. So much does good will multiply the kindness. For as he who considers himself a loser, and thinks that he is doing a favor, destroys all the merit of it; so he who looks upon himself as receiving a kindness, increases the reward. "For God loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. ix. 7.) So that you are rather indebted to the poor man for receiving your kindness. For if there were no poor, the greater part of your sins would not be removed. They are the healers of your wounds, their hands are medicinal to you. The physician, extending his hand to apply a remedy, does not exercise the healing art more than the poor man, who stretches out his hand to receive your alms, and thus becomes a cure for your ills. You give your money, and with it your sins pass away. Such were the Priests of old, of whom it was said, "They eat up the sin of My people." (Hosea iv. 8.) Thus thou receivest more than thou givest, thou art benefited more than thou benefitest. Thou lendest to God, not to men. Thou increasest thy wealth, rather than diminishest it. But if thou dost not lessen it by giving, then it is indeed diminished!
"If she have received strangers, if she have washed the Saints' feet." But who are these? The distressed saints, not any saints whatever. For there may be saints, who are much waited on by every one. Do not visit these, who are in the enjoyment of plenty, but those who are in tribulation, who are unknown, or known to few. He who hath "done it unto the least of these," He saith, "hath done it unto Me." (Matt. XXV. 40.)
MORAL. Give not thy alms to those who preside in the Church to distribute. Bestow it thyself, that thou mayest have the reward not of giving merely, but of kind service. Give with thine own hands. Cast into the furrow thyself. Here it is not required to handle the plow, to yoke the ox, to wait the season, nor to break up the earth, or to contend with the frost. No such trouble is required here, where thou sowest for heaven, where there is no frost nor winter nor any such thing. Thou sowest in souls, where no one taketh away what is sown, but it is firmly retained with all care and diligence. Cast the seed thyself, why deprive thyself of thy reward. There is great reward in dispensing even what belongs to others. There is a reward not only for giving, but for dispensing well the things that are given. Why wilt thou not have this reward? For that there is a reward for this, hear how we read that the Apostles appointed Stephen to the ministry of the widows. (Acts vi. 5-7.)
Be thou the dispenser of thine own gifts. Thine own benevolence and the fear of God appoint thee to that ministry. Thus vainglory is excluded. This refreshes the soul, this sanctifies the hands, this pulls down pride. This teaches thee philosophy, this inflames thy zeal, this makes thee to receive blessings. Thy head, as thou departest, receives all the blessings of the widows.
Be more earnest in thy prayers. Inquire diligently for holy men, men that are truly such, who, in the retirement of the desert, cannot beg, but are wholly devoted to God. Take a long journey to visit them, and give with thine own hand. For thou mayest profit much in thine own person, if thou givest. Dost thou see their tents, their lodging? dost thou see the desert? dost thou see the solitude? Often when thou hast gone to bestow money, thou givest thine whole soul. Thou art detained, and hast become his fellow- captive, and hast been alike estranged from the world.
It is of great benefit even to see the poor. "It is better," he saith, "to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting." (Eccles. vii. 2.) By the latter the soul is inflamed. For if thou canst imitate the luxury, then thou art encouraged to self-indulgence, and if thou canst not, thou art grieved. In the house of mourning there is nothing of this kind. If thou canst not afford to be luxurious, thou art not pained; and if thou canst, thou art restrained. Monasteries are indeed houses of mourning. There is sackcloth and ashes, there is solitude, there is no laughter, no pressure of worldly business. There is fasting, and lying upon the ground; there is no impure savor of rich food, no blood shed, no tumult, no disturbance, or crowding. There is a serene harbor. They are as lights shining from a lofty place to mariners afar off. They are stationed at the port, drawing all men to their own calm, and preserving from shipwreck those who gaze on them, and not letting those walk in darkness who look thither. Go to them, and make friends with them, embrace their holy feet, more honorable to touch than the heads of others. If some clasp the feet of statues, because they bear but a likeness of the king, wilt thou not clasp his feet who has Christ within him, and be saved? The Saints' feet are holy, though they are poor men, but not even the head of the profane is honorable. Such efficacy is there in the feet of the Saints, that when they shake off the dust of their feet, they inflict punishment. When a saint is among us, let us not be ashamed of anything that belongs to him. And all are saints, who unite a holy life with a right faith and though they do not work miracles nor cast out devils, still they are saints.
Go then to their tabernacles. To go to the monastery of a holy man a is to pass, as it were from earth to heaven. Thou seest not there what is seen in a private house. That company is free from all impurity. There is silence and profound quiet. The words "mine and thine" are not in use among them. And if thou remainest there a whole day or even two, the more pleasure thou wilt enjoy. There, as soon as it is day, or rather before day, the cock crows, and you see it not as you may see it in a house, the servants snoring, the doors shut, all sleeping like the dead, whilst the muleteer without is ringing his bells. There is nothing of all this. All, immediately shaking off sleep, reverently rise when their President calls them, and forming themselves into a holy choir, they stand, and lifting up their hands all at once sing the sacred hymns. For they are not like us, who require many hours to shake off sleep from our heavy heads. We indeed, as soon as we are waked, sit some time stretching our limbs, go as nature calls, then proceed to wash our face and our hands; afterwards we take our shoes and clothes, and a deal of time is spent.
It is not so there. No one calls for his servant, for each waits upon himself: neither does. he require many clothes, nor need to shake off sleep. For as soon as he opens his eyes, he is like one who has been long awake in collectedness. For when the heart is not stifled within by excess of food, it soon recovers itself, and is immediately wakeful. The hands are always pure; for his sleep is composed and regular. No one among them is found snoring or breathing hard, or tossing about in sleep, or with his body exposed; but they lie in sleep as decently as those who are awake, and all this is the effect "of the orderly state of their souls. These are truly saints and angels among men. And marvel not when you hear these things. For their great fear of God suffers them not to go down into the depths of sleep, and to drown their minds, but it falls lightly upon them, merely affording them rest. And as their sleep is, such are their dreams, not full of wild fancies and monstrous visions.
But, as I said, at the crowing of the cock their President comes, and gently touching the sleeper with his foot, rouses them all. For there are none sleeping naked. Then as soon as they have arisen they stand up, and sing the prophetic hymns with much harmony, and well composed tunes. And neither harp nor pipe nor other musical instrument utters such sweet melodies, as you hear from the singing of these saints in their deep and quiet solitudes. And the songs themselves too are suitable, and full of the love of God. "In the night," they say, "lift up your hands unto God. With my soul have I desired Thee in the night, yea with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early," (Isa. xxvi. 9.) And the Psalms of David, that cause fountains of tears to flow. For when he sings, "I am weary with my groaning, all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears" (Ps. vi. 6): and, again, "I have eaten ashes like bread." (Ps. cii. 9.) "What is man that thou art mindful of him?" (Ps. viii. 4.) "Man is like to vanity, his days are as a shadow that passeth away." (Ps. cxliv. 4.) "Be not afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased" (Ps. xlix. 16); and, "Who maketh men to be of one mind in a house" (Ps. lxviii. 6): and, "Seven times a day do I praise Thee, because of Thy righteous judgments" (Ps. cxix. 164): and, "At midnight will I rise to give thanks unto Thee, because of Thy righteous judgments" (Ps. cxix. 62): and, "God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave" (Ps. xlix. 15): and, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me" (Ps. xxiii. 4): and, "I will not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day, nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday" (Ps. xci. 5, 6): and, "We are counted as sheep for the slaughter" (Ps. xliv. 22): he expresses their ardent love to God. And again, when they sing with the Angels, (for Angels too are singing then,) "Praise ye the Lord from the Heavens." (Ps. cxlviii. 1.) And we meanwhile are snoring, or scratching our heads, or lying supine meditating endless deceits. Think what it was for them to spend the whole night in this employment.
And when the day is coming on, they take rest again; for when we begin our works, they have a season of rest. But each of us, when it is day, calls upon his neighbor, takes account of his outgoings, then goes into the forum; trembling he appears before the magistrate, and dreads a reckoning. Another visits the stage, another goes about his own business. But these holy men, having performed their morning prayers and hymns, proceed to the reading of the Scriptures. There are some too that have learned to write out books, each having his own apartment assigned to him, where he lives in perpetual quiet; no one is trifling, not one speaks a word. Then at the third, sixth, and ninth hours, and in the evening, they perform their devotions, having divided the day into four parts, and at the conclusion of each they honor God with psalms and hymns, and whilst others are dining, laughing, and sporting, and bursting with gluttony, they are occupied with their hymns. For they have no time for the table nor for these things of sense. After their meal they again pursue the same course, having previously given themselves a while to sleep. The men of the world sleep during the day: but these watch during the night. Truly children of light are they! And while the former, having slept away the greater part of the day, go forth oppressed with heaviness, these are still collected, remaining without food till the evening, and occupied in hymns. Other men, when evening overtakes them, hasten to the baths, and different recreations, but these, being relieved from their labors, then betake themselves to their table, not calling up a multitude of servants, nor throwing the house into bustle and confusion, nor setting before them high-seasoned dishes, and rich-steaming viands, but some only partaking of bread and salt, to which others add oil, whilst the weakly have also herbs and pulse. Then after sitting a short time, or rather after concluding all with hymns, they each go to rest upon a bed made for repose only and not for luxury. There is no dread of magistrates, no lordly arrogance, no terror of slaves, no disturbance of women or children, no multitudes of chests, or superfluous laying by of garments, no gold or silver, no guards and sentinels, no storehouse. Nothing of all these, but all there is full of prayer, of hymns, and of a spiritual savor. Nothing carnal is there. They fear no attacks of robbers, having nothing of which they can be deprived, no wealth, but a soul and body, of which if they are robbed, it is not a loss but a gain. For it is said, "To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Phil. i. 21.) They have freed themselves from all bonds. Truly, "The voice of gladness is in the tabernacles of the righteous." (Ps. cxviii. 15.)
There is no such thing to be heard there as wailing and lamentation. Their roof is free from that melancholy and those cries. Deaths happen there indeed, for their bodies are not immortal, but they know not death, as death. The departed are accompanied to the grave with hymns. This they call a procession, not a burial; and when it is reported that any one is dead, great is their cheerfulness, great their pleasure; or rather not one of them can bear to say that one is dead, but that he is perfected. Then there is thanksgiving, and great glory, and joy, every one praying that such may be his own end, that so his own combat may terminate, and he may rest from his labor and struggles, and may see Christ. And if any is sick, instead of tears and lamentations they have recourse to prayers. Often not the care of physicians, but faith alone relieves the sick. And if a physician be necessary, then too there is the greatest firmness and philosophy. There is no wife tearing her hair, nor children bewailing their orphan state before the time, nor slaves entreating the dying man to give them an assurance that they shall be committed to good hands. Escaping from all these, the soul looks but to one thing at its last breath, that it may depart in favor with God. And if disease occurs, the causes of it are matter of glory rather than of reproach, as in other cases. For it proceeds not from gluttony nor fullness of the head, but from intense watchfulness and fasting, or the like causes; and hence it is easily removed, for it is sufficient for its removal to abate the severity of these exercises.
Tell me then, you will say, whether any one could wash the Saints' feet in the Church? Whether such are to be found among us? Yes: undoubtedly they are such. Let us not, however, when the life of these saints is described despise those that are in the Churches. There are many such often among us, though they are in secret. Nor let us despise them, because they go from house to house, or go into the forum, or stand forth in public. God hath even commanded such services, saying, "Judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." (Isa. i. 17.) Many are the ways of being virtuous, as there are many varieties of jewels, though all are called jewels; one is bright and round on all sides, another has some different beauty. And how is this? As coral has, by a kind of art, its line extended, and its angles shaped off, and another color more delicious than white, and the prasius above every green, another has the rich color of blood, another an azure surpassing the sea, another is more brilliant than the purple, and thus rivaling in their varieties all the colors of flowers or of the sun. Yet all are called jewels. So it is with the Saints. Some discipline themselves, some the Churches. Paul therefore has well said, "If she have washed the Saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted." For he speaks thus, that he may excite us all to imitation. Let us hasten then to perform such actions, that we may be able hereafter to boast that we have washed the Saints' feet. For if we ought to wash their feet, much more ought we to give them our money with our own hands, and at the same time study to be concealed. "Let not thy left hand know," He says, "what thy right hand doeth."(Matt. vi. 3.)
Why takest thou so many witnesses? Let not thy servant know it, nor, if possible, thy wife. Many are the impediments of the deceitful one. Often she who never before interfered, will impede such works, either from vainglory, or some other motive. Even Abraham, who had an admirable wife, when he was about to offer up his son, concealed it from her, though he knew not what was to happen, but was fully persuaded that he must slaughter his son. What then, would any one that was but an ordinary man have said? Would it not be, "Who is this that perpetrates such acts?" Would he not have accused him of cruelty and brutality? His wife was not even allowed to see her son, to receive his last words, to witness his dying struggles. But he led him away like a captive. That just man though not of any such thing, inebriated as he was with zeal, so that he looked only how to fulfill that which was commanded. No servant, no wife was present, nay, he himself knew not what would be the issue. But intent upon offering up a pure victim, he would not defile it with tears, or with any opposition. Mark too with what gentleness Isaac asks, "Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?": and what was the father's answer? "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering." (Gen. xxii. 7, 8.) In this he uttered a prophecy that God would provide Himself a burnt offering in His Son, and it also came true at the time. But why did he conceal it from him who was to be sacrificed? Because he feared lest he should be astounded, lest he should prove unworthy. With such care and prudence did he act throughout this affair! Well then hath the Scripture said, "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." If we have one dear to us as one of our own members, let us not be anxious to show to him our charitable works, unless it be necessary. For many evils may arise from it. A man is excited to vainglory, and impediments are often raised. For this reason let us conceal it, if possible, from our own selves, that we may attain the blessings promised, through the grace and lovingkindness of Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, &c.
"But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having condemnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger widows marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan."
Paul having discoursed much concerning widows, and having settled the age at which they were to be admitted, saying, "Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old," and having described the qualifications of a widow, "If she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the Saints' feet," proceeds now to say, "But the younger widows refuse." But concerning virgins, though the case of their falling is a much more gross one, he has said nothing of this kind, and rightly. For they had enrolled themselves on higher views, and the work with them proceeded from a greater elevation of mind. Therefore the receiving of strangers, and the washing of the Saints' feet, he has represented by "attending upon the Lord without distraction" (1 Cor. vii. 34, 35), and by saying, "The unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord." (1 Cor. vii. 34, 35.) And if he has not limited a particular age for them, it is most likely because that point is settled by what he has said in this case. But indeed, as I said, the choice of virginity proceeded from a higher purpose. Besides, in this case there had been falls, and thus they had given occasion for his rule, but nothing of that kind had occurred among the virgins. For that some had already fallen away is plain, in that he says, "When they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry"; and again, "For some have already turned aside after Satan."
"The younger widows refuse, for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry"; that is, when they have become scornful and luxurious. For as in the case of a just man, we might say, "Let her depart, for she has become another's." He shows therefore that though they chose widowhood, it was not the choice of their judgment. So then a widow, by the state of widowhood, is espoused to Christ. For He has said," I am the defender of the widows and the father of the orphans." (Ps. lxviii. 5.) He shows that they do not choose widowhood as they ought, but wax wanton: however he bears with them. Elsewhere indeed he says, "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Cor. xi. 2.) After having given their names to Him, "they will marry," he says, "having condemnation, because they have cast off their first faith." By faith he means, fidelity to their covenant. As if he had said, They have been false to Christ, they have dishonored Him, and transgressed His covenant. "And withal they learn to be idle."
Thus he commands not only men, but women also, to work. For idleness is the teacher of every sin. And not only are they exposed to this condemnation, but to other sins. If therefore it is unbecoming for a married woman "to go from house to house," much more is it for a virgin. "And not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger widows marry, bear children, guide the house."
What then happens, when the care for the husband is withdrawn, and the care to please God does not constrain them? They naturally become idlers, tattlers, and busybodies. For he who does not attend to his own concerns will be meddling with those of others, even as he who minds his own business will take no account of and have no care about the affairs of another. And nothing is so unbecoming to a woman, as to busy herself in the concerns of others, and it is no less unbecoming to a man. This is a great sign of impudence and forwardness.
"I will therefore," he says, (since they themselves wish it,) "that the younger widows marry, bear children, guide the house."
This course is at least preferable to the other. They ought indeed to be concerned for the things of God, they ought to preserve their faith. But since they do not this, it is better to avoid a worse course. God is not dishonored by their marrying again, and they do not fall into those practices, which have been censured. From such a widowhood, no good could arise, but good may come out of this marriage. Hence the women will be able to correct that indolence and vanity of mind.
But why, since some have fallen away, does he not say that much care is to be taken of them, that they may not fall into the error he has mentioned? Why has he commanded them to marry? Because marriage is not forbidden, and it is a safeguard to them. Wherefore he adds, that they "give none occasion," or handle, "to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan." Such widows as these then he would have refused, not meaning that there should be no younger widows, but that there should be no adulteresses, that none should be idle, busy- bodies, speaking things that they ought not, that no occasion should be given to the adversary. Had nothing of this kind taken place, he would not have forbidden them.
Ver. 16. "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the Church be charged, that it may relieve them that are widows indeed."
Observe how again he speaks of those as "widows indeed," who are left destitute, and have no resource from any other quarter. It was better to have it so. For thus two great objects were attained. Those had an opportunity of doing good, whilst these were honorably maintained, and the Church not burdened. And he has well said, "If any believer." For it is not fit that believing women should be maintained by unbelievers, lest they should seem to stand in need of them. And observe how persuasively he speaks; he has not said, "let them maintain them expensively," but "let them relieve them." "That the Church," he says, "may relieve them that are widows indeed." She therefore has the reward of this help also, for she that helps the Church, helps not her only, but those widows too whom the Church is thus enabled to maintain more bountifully. "I will therefore that the younger widows"—do what? live in luxury and pleasure? By no means; but—"marry, bear children, guide the house." That he may not be supposed to encourage them to live luxuriously, he adds, that they give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. They ought indeed to have been superior to the things of this world, but since they are not, let them abide in them at least upright.
Ver. 17, 18. "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward."
The "honor" of which he here speaks is attention to them, and the supply of their necessities, as is shown by his adding, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn" (Deut. xxv. 4); and, "The laborer is worthy of his reward." (Luke x. 7.) So when he says, "Honor widows," he means, "support" them in all that is necessary. Thus he says, "That it may relieve those that are widows indeed"; and again, "Honor widows that are widows indeed," that is, who are in poverty, for the greater their poverty, the more truly are they widows. He alleges the Law, he alleges the words of Christ, both agreeing herein. For the Law says, "Thou shall not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn." See how he would have the teacher labor! For there is not, indeed there is not, any other labor such as his. But this is from the Law. But how does he quote from Christ? "The laborer is worthy of his reward." Let us not then look only to the reward, but to the terms of the commandment. "The laborer," he says, "is worthy of his reward." So that if any one lives in sloth and luxury, he is unworthy of it. Unless he is as the ox treading out the corn, and bearing the yoke, in spite of heat and thorns, and ceases not till he has carried the corn into the granary, he is not worthy. Therefore to teachers should be granted a supply of their necessities without grudging, that they may not faint nor be discouraged, nor by attention to inferior things deprive themselves of greater; that they may labor for spiritual things, paying no regard to worldly things. It was thus with the Levites; they had no worldly concerns, because the laity took care to provide for them, and their revenues were appointed by the law, as tythes, offerings of gold, first-fruits, vows, and many other things. And the law properly assigned these things to them, as seeking things present. But I shall say no more than that those who preside ought to have food and raiment, that they may not be distracted by care for these things. But what is double support? Double that of the widows, or of the deacons, or simply, liberal support. Let us not then think only of the double maintenance granted them, but of what is added, "Those who rule well." And what is it to rule well? Let us hear Christ, Who says, "The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep." (John x. 11.) Thus to rule well is, from our concern for them, never to spare ourselves.
"Especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." Where then are those who say that there is no occasion for the word and doctrine? Whereas he says to Timothy, "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them"; and, "Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself, and them that hear thee." (1 Tim. iv. 15, 16.) These are the men whom he wishes to be honored most of all, and he adds the reason, for they sustain great labor. For when one is neither watchful, nor diligent, but merely sits in his stall easy and unconcerned, whilst another wears himself out with anxiety and exertion, especially if he is ignorant of profane literature, ought not the latter to be honored above all others, who more than others gives himself up to such labors? For he is exposed to numberless tongues. One censures him, another praises him, a third mocks him, another finds fault with his memory and his composition, and it requires great strength of mind to endure all this. It is an important point, and contributes much to the edification of the Church, that the rulers of it should be apt to teach. If this be wanting, many things in the Church go to ruin. Therefore in addition to the qualifications of hospitality, moderation, and a blameless life, he enumerates this also, saying, "Apt to teach." For why else indeed is he called a teacher? Some say that he may teach philosophy by the example of his life, so that all else is superfluous, and there is no need of verbal instruction in order to proficiency. But why then does Paul say, "especially they who labor in the word and doctrine"? For when doctrines are concerned, what life will answer the purpose? And of what word is he speaking? Not of pompous language, nor of discourse set off with externals decorations, but that which possesses the mighty power of the Spirit, and abounds with wisdom and understanding. It needs not set phrases, but thoughts to give it utterance, not skill in composition, but power of mind.
Ver. 19. "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses."
May we then receive an accusation against a younger man, or against any one at all without witnesses? Ought we not in all cases to come to our judgments with the greatest exactness? What then does he mean? Do not so, he means, with any, but especially in the case of an elder. For he speaks of an eider not with respect to office, but to age, since the young more easily fall into sin than their elders, And it is manifest from hence that the Church, and even the whole people of Asia, had been now intrusted to Timothy, which is the reason why he discourses with him concerning elders.
Ver. 20. "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."
Do not, be says, hastily cut them off, but carefully enquire into all the circumstances, and when thou hast thoroughly informed thyself, then proceed against the offender with rigor, that others may take warning. For as it is wrong to condemn hastily and rashly, so not to punish manifest offenses is to open the way to others, and embolden them to offend.
"Rebuke," he says, to show that it is not to be done lightly, but with severity. For thus others will be deterred. How is it then that Christ says, "Go and tell him his fault between him and thee alone, if one sin against thee." (Matt. xviii. 15.) But Christ Himself permits him to be censured in the Church. What then? is it not a greater scandal, that one should be rebuked before all? How so? For it is a much greater scandal, that the offense should be known, and not the punishment. For as when sinners go unpunished, many commit crimes; so when they are punished, many are made better. God Himself acted in this manner. He brought forth Pharaoh, and punished him openly. And Nebuchadnezzar too, and many others, both cities and individuals, we see visited with punishment. Paul therefore would have all stand in awe of their Bishop, and sets him over all.
And because many judgments are formed upon suspicion, there ought, he says, to be witnesses, and men to convict the offender according to the ancient law. "At the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every matter be established. Against an elder receive not an accusation." (Deut. xix. 15.) He does not say, "do not condemn," but "receive not an accusation," bring him not to judgment at all. But what if the two witnesses are false? This rarely happens, and it may be discovered upon examination on the trial. For since offenses are committed in secret, we ought to be satisfied with two witnesses, and this is sufficient proof of investigation.
But what if the offenses be notorious, and yet there are no witnesses, only a strong suspicion? It has been said above that he ought "to have a good report of them which are without." (1 Tim. iii. 7.)
Let us therefore love God with fear. The law indeed is not made for a righteous man; but since the greater part are virtuous from constraint rather than from choice, the principle of fear is of great advantage to them in eradicating their desires. Let us therefore listen to the threatenings of hell fire, that we may be benefited by the wholesome fear of it. For if God, intending to cast sinners into it, had not previously threatened them with it, many would have plunged into it. For, if with this terror agitating our souls, some sin as readily as if there were no such thing in existence, what enormities should we not have committed, if it had not been declared and threatened? So that, as I have ever said, the threatenings of hell show the care of God for us no less than the promises of heaven. For the threat cooperates with the promise, and drives men into the kingdom by means of terror. Let us not think it a matter of cruelty, but of pity and mercy; of God's concern and love for us. If in the days of Jonah the destruction of Nineveh had not been threatened, that destruction had not been averted. Nineveh would not have stood but for the threat, "Nineveh shall be overthrown." (Jonah iii. 4.) And if hell had not been threatened, we should all have fallen into hell. If the fire had not been denounced, no one would have escaped the fire. God declares that He will do that which He desires not to do, that He may do that which He desires to do. He willeth not the death of a sinner, and therefore He threatens the sinner with death, that He may not have to inflict death. And not only has He spoken the word, but He has exhibited the thing itself, that we may escape it. And lest it should be supposed to be a mere threat, He has manifested the reality of it by what He has already done on earth. Dost thou not see in the flood a symbol of hell, in that rain of all-destroying water an image of the all-devouring fire? "For as it was in the days of Noah," He says, "they were marrying and giving in marriage" (Matt. xxiv. 38), so is it even now. It was then predicted long before it took place, and it is now predicted four hundred years or more beforehand: but no one heeds it. It is looked upon as a mere fable, as a matter of derision; no one fears it, no one weeps or beats his breast at the thought of it. The stream of fire is boiling up, the flame is kindled, and we are laughing, taking our pleasure, and sinning without fear. No one even bears in mind That Day. No one considers that present things are passing away, and that they are but temporal, though events are every day crying out and uttering a fearful voice. The untimely deaths, the changes that take place in our lives, our own infirmities and diseases, fail to instruct us. And not only in our own bodies are these changes visible, but in the elements themselves. Every day in our different ages we experience a kind of death, and in every case instability is the characteristic of things we see. Neither winter, nor summer, nor spring, nor autumn, is permanent; all are running, flying, and flowing past. Why should I speak of fading flowers, of dignities, of kings that are to-day, and to-morrow cease to be, of rich men, of magnificent houses, of night and day, of the sun and the moon? for the moon wanes, and the sun is sometimes eclipsed, and often darkened with clouds? Of things visible, in short, is there anything that endures for ever? Nothing! No, nor anything in us but the soul, and that we neglect. Of things subject to change we take abundant care, as if they were permanent: but that which is to endure for ever we neglect, as if it were soon to pass away. Some one is enabled to perform mighty actions, but they shall last till to-morrow, and then he perishes, as we see in the instances of those who have had yet greater power, and are now to be seen no more. Life is a dream, and a scene; and as on the stage when the scene is shifted the various pageants disappear, and as dreams flit away when the sunbeams rise, so here when the end comes, whether the universal or that of each one, all is dissolved and vanishes away. The tree that you have planted remains, and the house that you have built, it too stands on. But the planter and the builder go away, and perish. Yet these things happen without our regarding it, and we live on in luxury and pleasure, and are ever furnishing ourselves with such things, as if we were immortal.
Hear what Solomon says, who knew the present world by actual experience. "I builded me houses, I planted me vineyards, I made me gardens, and orchards and pools of water. I gathered me also silver and gold. I gat myself men-singers, and women-singers, and flocks, and herds." (Eccles. ii. 4, 5.) There was no one who lived in greater luxury, or higher glory. There was no one so wise or so powerful, no one who saw all things so succeeding to his heart's desire. What then? He had no enjoyment from all these things. What after all does he say of it himself? "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." (Eccles. xii. 8.) Vanity not simply but superlatively. Let us believe him, and lay hold on that in which there is no vanity, in which there is truth; and what is based upon a solid rock, where there is no old age, nor decline, but all things bloom and flourish, without decay, or waxing old, or approaching dissolution. Let us, I beseech you, love God with genuine affection, not from fear of hell, but from desire of the kingdom. For what is comparable to seeing Christ? Surely nothing! What to the enjoyment of those good things? Surely nothing! Well may there be nothing; for "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." (1 Cor. ii. 9.) Let us be anxious to obtain those things, and let us despise all these. Are we not continually complaining that human life is nothing? Why art thou solicitous for what is nothing? Why dost thou sustain such toils, for what is nothing? Thou seest splendid houses, does the sight of them delude thee? Look up to heaven. Raise thy view from pillars of stone to that beautiful fabric, compared with which the others are as the works of ants and pismires. Learn philosophy from that spectacle, ascend to heavenly things, and look thence upon our splendid buildings, and see that they are nothing, the mere toys of little children. Seest thou not how much finer, how much lighter, how much purer, how much more translucent, is the air the higher thou ascendest? There have they that do aims their mansions and their tabernacles. These that are here are dissolved at the resurrection, or rather before the resurrection destroyed by the stroke of time. Nay often in their most flourishing state and period an earthquake overthrows, or fire entirely ruins them. For not only the bodies of men, but their very buildings are liable to untimely deaths. Nay, sometimes things decayed by time stand firm under the shock of an earthquake, whilst glittering edifices, firmly fixed, and newly constructed, are struck but by lightning and perish. And this, I believe, is the interposition of God, that we may not take pride in our buildings.
Would you again have another ground for cheerfulness? Go to the public buildings, in which you share equally with others. For the most magnificent private houses, after all, are less splendid than the public edifices. There you may remain, as long as you please. They belong to you as much as to others, since they are common to you with others; they are common, and not private. But those, you say, delight you not. They delight you not, partly because you are familiar with them, and partly from your covetousness. So the pleasantness is not in the beauty, but in the appropriating! So the pleasure is in greediness, and in the wish to make every man's goods your own! How long are we to be nailed to these things? How long are we to be fastened to the earth, and grovel, like worms, in the dirt? God hath given us a body of earth, that we might carry it with us up to heaven, not that we should draw our soul down with it to earth. Earthy it is, but if we please, it may be heavenly. See how highly God has honored us, in committing to us so excellent a frame. I made heaven and earth, He says, and to you I give the power of creation. Make your earth heaven. For it is in thy power. "I am He that maketh and transformeth all things" (Amos v. 8, Sept.), saith God of Himself. And He hath given to men a similar power; as a painter, being an affectionate father, teaches his own art to his son. I formed thy body beautiful, he says, but I give thee the power of forming something better. Make thy soul beautiful. I said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, and every fruitful tree." (Gen. i. 11.) Do thou also say, Let this earth bring forth its proper fruit, and what thou willest to produce will be produced. "I make the summer and the cloud. I create the lightning and the wind." (Amos iv. 13; Ps. lxxiv. 17.) I formed the dragon, that is, the devil, to make sport with him. (Ps. civ. 26.) Nor have I grudged thee the like power. Thou, if thou wilt, canst sport with him, and bind him as thou wouldest a sparrow. I make the sun to rise upon the evil and the good: do thou imitate Me, by imparting of that is thine to the good and the evil. When mocked I bear with it, and do good to those who mock Me: do thou imitate Me, as thou canst. I do good, not to be requited; do thou imitate Me, and do good, not to be repaid. I have lighted luminaries in the heavens. Do thou light others brighter than these, for thou canst, by enlightening those that are in error. For to know Me is a greater benefit than to behold the sun. Thou canst not create a man, but thou canst make him just and acceptable to God. I formed his substance, do thou beautify his will. See how I love thee, and have given thee the power in the greater things.
Beloved, see how we are honored! yet some are so unreasonable and so ungrateful as to say, "Why are we endowed with free will?" But how in all the particulars which we have mentioned could we have imitated God, if there had been no free will? I rule Angels, He says, and so dost thou, through Him who is the First-fruits. (1 Cor. xv. 23.) I sit on a royal throne, and thou art seated with Me in Him who is the First-fruits. As it is said, "He hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Eph. ii. 6.) Through Him who is the First-fruits, Cherubim and Seraphim adore thee, with all the heavenly host, principalities and powers, thrones and dominions. Disparage not thy body, to which such high honors appertain, that the unbodied Powers tremble at it.
But what shall I say? It is not in this way only that I have shown My love to thee, but by what I have suffered. For thee I was spit upon, I was scourged. I emptied myself of glory, I left My Father and came to thee, who dost hate Me, and turn from Me, and art loath to hear My Name. I pursued thee, I ran after thee, that I might overtake thee. I united and joined thee to myself, "eat Me, drink Me," I said. Above I hold thee, and below I embrace thee. Is it not enough for thee that I have thy First-fruits above? Doth not this satisfy thy affection? I descended below: I not only am mingled with thee I am entwined in thee. I am masticated broken into minute particles, that the interspersion, and commixture, and union may be more complete. Things united remain yet in their own limits, but I am interwoven with thee. I would have no more any division between us. I will that we both be one.
Therefore knowing these things and remembering His abundant care for us, let us do all things which may prove us not unworthy of His great gift, which God grant that we may all obtain, through the grace and lovingkindness of Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom, &c.
"I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. Lay hands hastily on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and three often infirmities."
Having spoken of Bishops and Deacons, of men, and women, of widows and elders, and of all others, and having shown how great was the authority of a Bishop, now he was speaking of judgment, he has added, "I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality." Thus fearfully he charges him. For though Timothy was his beloved son, he did not therefore stand in awe of him. For as he was not ashamed to say of himself, "Lest by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away" (1 Cor. ix. 27); much less would he be afraid or ashamed in the case of Timothy. He called the Father and the Son to witness. But wherefore the elect Angels? From great moderation, as Moses said, "I call heaven and earth to witness" (Deut. iv. 26); and again, "Hear ye, O mountains, and strong foundations of the earth." (Mic. vi. 2.) He calls the Father and the Son to witness what he has said, making his appeal to Them against that future Day, that if anything should be done that ought not to be done, he was clear from the guilt of it.
"That thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality." That is, that thou deal impartially and equally between those who are upon trial and are to be judged by thee, that no one may pre-occupy thy mind, or gain thee over to his side beforehand.
But who are the elect Angels? It is because there are some not elect. As Jacob calls to witness God and the heap (Gen. xxxi. 45), so we often take at once superior and inferior persons to witness; so great a thing is testimony. As if he had said, I call to witness God and His Son and His servants, that I have charged thee: so before them I charge thee. He impresses Timothy with fear; after which he adds, what was most vital, and bears most on the maintenance of the Church, the matter of Ordinations. "Lay hands," he says, "suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins." What is "suddenly"? Not upon a first, nor a second, nor a third trial, but after frequent and strict examination and circumspection. For it is an affair of no common peril. For thou wilt be responsible for the sins committed by him, as well his past as his future sins, because thou hast delegated to him this power. For if thou overlook the past unduly, thou art answerable for the future also, as being the cause of them, by placing him in that station, and of the past too, for not leaving him to mourn over them, and to be in compunction. For as thou art a partaker of his good actions, so art thou of his sins.
"Keep thyself pure." This he says with reference to chastity.
"Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thy often infirmities." If one who had practiced fasting to such an extent, and used only water, so long that he had brought on "infirmities" and "frequent infirmities," is thus commanded to be chaste, and does not refuse the admonition, much less ought we to be offended when we receive an admonition from any one. But why did not Paul restore strength to his stomach? Not because he could not—for he whose garment had raised the dead was clearly able to do this too,—but because he had a design of importance in withholding such aid. What then was his purpose? That even now, if we see great and virtuous men afflicted with infirmities, we may not be offended, for this was a profitable visitation. If indeed to Paul himself a "messenger of Satan" was sent that he should not be "exalted above measure" (2 Cor. xii. 11), much more might it be so with Timothy. For the miracles he wrought were enough to have rendered him arrogant. For this reason he is left to be subject to the rules of medicine, that he may be humbled, and others may not be offended, but may learn that they who performed such excellent actions were men of the same nature as themselves. In other respects also Timothy seems to have been subject to disease, which is implied by that expression, "Thy often infirmities," as well of other parts as of the stomach. He does not however allow him to indulge freely in wine, but as much as was for health and not for luxury.
Ver. 24. "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some they follow after."
In speaking of ordination, he had said, "Be not partaker of other men's sins." But what, he might say, if I be ignorant of them? Why, "some men's sins are open beforehand, going before them to judgment, and some they follow after." Some men's, he means, are manifest, because the), go before, whilst others' are unknown, because they follow after.
Ver. 25. "Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand, and they that are otherwise cannot be hid."
Chap. vi. ver. 1. "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their masters worthy of all honor, that the Name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed."
Let them count them "worthy of all honor," he says; for do not suppose, because thou art a believer, that thou art therefore a free man: since thy freedom is to serve the more faithfully. For if the unbeliever sees slaves conducting themselves insolently on account of their faith, he will blaspheme, as if the Doctrine produced insubordination. But when he sees them obedient, he will be more inclined to believe, and will the rather attend to our words. But God, and the Gospel we preach, will be blasphemed, if they are disobedient. But what if their own master be an unbeliever? Even in that case they ought 1 to submit, for God's Name's sake.
Ver. 2. "And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved partakers of the benefit."
As though he had said, If ye are thought worthy of so great a benefit, as to have your masters for your brethren, on this account ye ought more especially to submit.
"Going before to judgment." This he had said, implying that of evil actions here some are concealed, and some are not; but there neither the good nor the bad can be concealed. And what is that going before to judgment? When one commits offenses that already condemn him, or when he is incorrigible, and when one thinks to set him right and cannot succeed. What then? 'What is the use of mentioning this? Because if here any escape detection, they will not hereafter. There all things are laid open; and this is the greatest consolation to those who do well.
Then because he had said, "Do nothing by partiality," as if under the necessity of interpreting it, he adds, "As many servants as are under the yoke." But you will say, What has a Bishop to do with this? Much surely, for it is his office to exhort and to teach these too. And here he makes excellent regulations with respect to them. For we see him everywhere commanding the servants rather than their masters, showing them the ways of submission, and treating them with great regard? He exhorts them therefore to submit with great meekness. But the masters he recommends to forbear the use of terror. "Forbearing threatening" (Eph. vi. 9), he says. And why does he thus command? In the case of unbelievers, naturally, because it would have been unreasonable to address those who would pay no heed to him; but where believers were concerned, what was his reason? Because masters contribute greater benefits to their servants, than servants to their masters. For the former furnish the money to purchase for them sufficient food and clothing; and bestow much care upon them in other respects, so that the masters pay them the larger service, which is here intimated, when he says, "they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit." They suffer much toil and trouble for your repose, ought they not in return to receive much honor from their servants?
MORAL. But if he exhorts servants to render such implicit obedience, consider what ought to be our disposition towards our Master, who brought us into existence out of nothing, and who feeds and clothes us. If in no other way then, let us render Him service at least as our servants render it to us. Do not they order their whole lives to afford rest to their masters, and is it not their work and their life to take care of their concerns? Are they not all day long engaged in their masters' Work, and only a small portion of the evening in their own? But we, on the contrary, are ever engaged in our own affairs, in our Master's hardly at all, and that too, though He needs not our services, as masters need those of their servants, but those very acts redound to our own benefit. In their case the master is benefited by the ministry of the servant, but in ours the ministry of the servant profits not the Master, but is beneficial on the other hand to the servant. As the Psalmist says, "My goods are nothing unto Thee." (Ps. xvi. 2.) For say, what advantage is it to God, that I am just, or what injury, that I am unjust? Is not His nature incorruptible, incapable of injury, superior to all suffering? Servants having nothing of their own, all is their masters', however rich they may be. But we have many things of our own.
And it is not merely so great honor, that we enjoy from the King of the universe. What master ever gave his own son for his servant? No one, but all would rather choose to give their servants for their sons. Here on the contrary, "He spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all," for His enemies who hated Him. Servants, though very hard service is exacted of them, are not impatient; at least, not the well-disposed. But how many times do we utter discontent? The master promises to his servants nothing like what God promises to us; but what? Freedom here, which is often worse than bondage; for it is often embittered by famine beyond slavery itself. Yet this is their greatest boon. But with God there is nothing temporal, nothing mortal; but what? wouldest thou learn? Listen then, He says, "Henceforth I call you not servants. Ye are my friends." (John xv. 13, 14.)
Beloved, let us be ashamed, let us fear. Let us only serve our Master, as our servants serve us. Rather not even the smallest portion of service do we render! Necessity makes them philosophers. They have only food and lodging; but we, possessing much and expecting more, insult our Benefactor with our luxury. If from nothing else, from them at least let us learn the rules of philosophy. The Scripture is wont to send men not even to servants, but to irrational creatures, as when it bids us imitate the bee and the ant. But I advise you but to imitate servants: only so much as they do from fear of their masters, let us do from the fear of God; for I cannot find that you do even this. They receive many insults from fear of us, and endure them in silence with the patience of philosophers. Justly or unjustly they are exposed to our violence, and they do not resist, but entreat us, though often they have done nothing wrong. They are contented to receive no more and often less than they need; with straw for their bed, and only bread for their food, they do not complain or murmur at their hard living, but through fear of us are restrained from impatience. When they are intrusted with money, they restore it all. For I am not speaking of the worthless, but of the moderately good. If we threaten them, they are at once awed.
Is not this philosophy? For say not they are. under necessity, when thou too art under a necessity in the fear of hell. And yet dost thou not learn wisdom, nor render to God as much honor, as thou receivest from thy servants. Of thy servants each has the apartment assigned to him by thy rules, and he does not invade that of his neighbor, nor do any injury from a desire of more than he has. This forbearance the fear of their master enforces among domestics, and seldom will you see a servant robbing or injuring a fellow-servant. But among free men it is quite the reverse. We bite and devour one another. We fear not our Master: we rob and plunder our fellow-servants, we strike them in His very sight. This the servant will not do; if he strikes, it is not when his master sees him; if he reviles, it is not when his master hears him. But we dare do anything, though God sees and hears it all.
The fear of their master is ever before their eyes, the fear of our Master never before ours. Hence the subversion of all order, hence all is confusion and destruction. And we never take into consideration the offenses we have committed, but if our servants do amiss, we call them to a rigorous account for everything, even to the least misdemeanor. I say not this to make servants remiss, but to chide our supineness, to rouse us from our sloth, that we may serve our God with as much zeal as servants do their master; our Maker, as faithfully as our fellow-creatures serve us, from whom they have received no such gift. For they too are free by nature. To them also it was said, "Let them have dominion over the fishes." (Gen. i. 26.) For this slavery is not from nature: it is the result of some particular cause, or circumstances. Yet, notwithstanding, they pay us great honor; and we with great strictness exact services from them, whilst to God we hardly render the smallest portion, though the advantage of it would redound to ourselves. For the more zealously we serve God, the greater gainers we shall be. Let us not then deprive ourselves of such important benefits. For God is self-sufficient, and wants nothing; the recompense and the advantage reverts altogether to us. Let us therefore, I beseech you, be so affected, as serving not God but ourselves, and with fear and trembling let us serve Him, that we may obtain the promised blessings, through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, &c.
"These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."
A teacher has need not only of authority, but of gentleness, and not only of gentleness, but of authority. And all these the blessed Paul teaches, at one time saying, "These things command and teach" (1 Tim. iv. 11); at another, "These things teach and exhort." For if physicians entreat the sick, not for the benefit of their own health, but that they may relieve their sickness, and restore their prostrate strength, much more ought we to observe this method, of entreating those whom we teach. For the blessed Paul does not refuse to be their servant: "We preach not ourselves," he says; "but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Cor. iv. 5); and again, "All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos." (1 Cor. iii. 12.) And in this service he serves with alacrity, for it is not slavery, but superior to freedom. For He says, "Whoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." (John viii. 34.)
"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing." Presumption therefore arises not from knowledge, but from "knowing nothing." For he that knows the doctrines of godliness is also the most disposed to moderation. He who knows sound words, is not unsound. For what inflammation is in the body, that pride is in the soul. And as we do not in the first case say that the inflamed part is sound, so neither do we here consider the arrogant. It is possible then to be knowing, and yet to know nothing. For he that knows not what he ought to know, knows nothing. And that pride arises from knowing nothing is manifest from hence. Christ "made Himself of no reputation" (Phil. ii. 7), he therefore who knows this will not be high-minded. Man hath nothing except from God, therefore he will not be high-minded. "For what hast thou that thou didst not receive?" (1 Cor. iv. 7.) He washed the feet of His disciples, how can he who knows this be setting himself up? Therefore He says, "When ye have done all, say we are unprofitable servants." (Luke xvii. 10.) The publican was accepted only from his humility, the Pharisee perished by his boastfulness. He who is puffed up knoweth none of these things. Again, Christ Himself says, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?" (John xviii. 23.)
"Doting about questions." To question then is to dote. "And strifes of words"; this is justly said. For when the soul is fevered with reasonings, and stormy, then it questions, but when it is in a sound state, it does not question, but receives the faith. But from questionings and strifes of words nothing can be discovered. For when the things which faith only promises are received by an inquisitive spirit, it neither demonstrates them, nor suffers us to understand them. If one should close his eyes, he would not be able to find anything he sought: or if, again with his eyes open, he should bury himself, and exclude the sun, he would be unable to find anything, thus seeking. So without faith nothing can be discerned, but contentions must needs arise. "Whereof come railings, evil surmisings"; that is, erroneous opinions and doctrines arising froth questionings. For when we begin to question, then we surmise concerning God things that we ought not.
"Perverse disputings," that is, leisure or conversation, or he may mean intercommunication, and that as infected sheep by contact communicate disease to the sound, so do these bad men.
"Destitute of the truth, thinking that gain is godliness." Observe what evils are produced by strifes of words. The love of gain, ignorance, and pride; for pride is engendered by ignorance.
"From such withdraw thyself." He does not say, engage and contend with them, but "withdraw thyself," turn away from them; as elsewhere he says, "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject." (Tit. iii. 10.) He shows that they do not so much err from ignorance, as they owe their ignorance to their indolence. Those who are contentious for the sake of money you will never persuade. They are only to be persuaded, so long as you give, and even so you will never satisfy their desires. For it is said, "The covetous man's eye is not satisfied with a portion." (Ecclus. xiv. 9.) From such then, as being incorrigible, it is right to turn away. And if he who had much obligation to fight for the truth, is advised not to engage in contention with such men, much more should we avoid it, who are in the situation of disciples.
Having said, "They think that godliness is a means of gain," he adds: "But godliness with contentment is great gain, not when it possesses wealth, but when it has it not. For that he may not despond on account of his poverty, he encourages and revives his spirit. They think, he says, that godliness is a means of gain, and so it is; only not in their way, but in a much higher. Then having demolished theirs he extols the other. For that worldly gain is nothing, is manifest, because it is left behind, and does not attend us, or go along with us at our departure. Whence is this plain? Because we had nothing when we came into this world, therefore we shall have nothing when we depart from it. For nature came naked into the world, and naked she will go out of it. Therefore we want no superfluities; if we brought nothing with us, and shall take nothing away with us.
Ver. 8. "And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content."
Such things, and so much ought we to eat, as will suffice to nourish us, and such things should we put on, as will cover us, and clothe our nakedness, and nothing more; and a common garment Will answer this purpose. Then he urges them from the consideration of things here, saying,
Ver. 9. "But they that will be rich"; not those that are rich, but those who wish to be. For a man may have money and make a good use of it, not overvaluing it, but bestowing it upon the poor. Such therefore he does not blame, but the covetous.
"They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition."
He has justly said, "they drown men," since they cannot be raised from that depth. "In destruction and perdition."
Ver. 10. "For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
Two things he mentions, and that which to them might seem the more weighty he places last, their "many sorrows." And to learn how true this is, the only way is to sojourn with the rich, to see how many are their sorrows, how bitter their complaints.
Ver. 11. "But thou, O man of God."
This is a title of great dignity. For we are all men of God, but the righteous peculiarly so, not by right of creation only, but by that of appropriation. If then thou art a "man of God," seek not superfluous things, which lead thee not to God, but
"Flee these things, and follow after righteousness." Both expressions are emphatic; he does not say turn from one, and approach the other, but "flee these things, pursue righteousness," so as not to be covetous.
"Godliness," that is, soundness in doctrines. "Faith," which is opposed to questionings. "Love," patience, meekness.
Ver. 12. "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life." Lo, there is thy reward, "whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession," in hope of eternal life, "before many witnesses."
That is, do not put that confidence to shame. Why dost thou labor to no profit? But what is the "temptation and snare," which he says, those that would be rich fall into? It causes them to err from the faith, it involves them in dangers, it renders them less intrepid. "Foolish desires," he says. And is it not a foolish desire, when men like to keep idiots and dwarfs, not from benevolent motives, but for their pleasure, when they have receptacles for fishes in their halls, when they bring up wild beasts, when they give their time to dogs, and dress up horses, and are as fond of them as of their children? All these things are foolish and superfluous, nowise necessary, nowise useful.
"Foolish and hurtful lusts!" What are hurtful lusts? When men live unlawfully, when they desire what is their neighbor's, when they do their utmost in luxury, when they long for drunkenness, when they desire the murder and destruction of others. From these desires many have aimed at tyranny, and perished. Surely to labor with such views is both foolish and hurtful. And well has he said, "They have erred from the faith." Covetousness attracting their eyes to herself, and gradually stealing away their minds, suffers them not to see their way. For as one walking on the straight road, with his mind intent on something else, proceeds on his way indeed, but, often without knowing it, passes by the very city to which he was hastening, his feet plying on at random and to no purpose: such like a thing is covetousness. "They have pierced themselves through with many sorrows." Dost thou see what he mean by that word "pierced"? What he means to express by the allusion is this. Desires are thorns, and as when one touches thorns, he gores his hand, and gets him wounds, so he that falls into these lusts will be wounded by them, and pierce his soul with griefs. And what cares and troubles attend those who are thus pierced, it is not possible to express. Therefore he says, "Flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." For meekness springs from love.
Ver. 12. "Fight the good fight."
Here he commends his boldness and manliness, that before all he confidently "made profession," and he reminds him of his early instruction.
"Lay hold on eternal life."
There is need not only of profession, but of patience also to persevere in that profession, and of vehement contention, and of numberless toils, that you be not overthrown. For many are the stumbling-blocks, and impediments, therefore the way is "strait and narrow." (Matt. vii. 14.) It is necessary therefore to be self-collected, and well girt on every side. All around appear pleasures attracting the eyes of the soul. Those of beauty, of wealth, of luxury, of indolence, of glory, of revenge, of power, of dominion, and these are all fair and lovely in appearance, and able to captivate those who are unsteady, and who do not love the truth. For truth has but a severe and uninviting countenance. And why? Because the pleasures that she promises are all future, whereas the others hold out present honors and delights, and repose; though all are false and counterfeit. To these therefore adhere gross, effeminate, unmanly minds, indisposed to the toils of virtue. As in the games of the heathens, he who does not earnestly covet the crown, may from the first give himself up to revellings and drunkenness, and so do in fact the cowardly and unmanly combatants, whilst those who look steadfastly to the crown sustain blows without number. For they are supported and roused to action by the hope of future reward.
MORAL. Let us then flee from this root of all evils, and we shall escape them all. "The love of money," he says, "is the root;" thus says Paul, or rather Christ by Paul, and let us see how this is. The actual experience of the world testifies it. For what evil is not caused by wealth, or rather not by wealth, but by the wicked will of those who know not how to use it? For it is possible to use wealth in well doing, and even through means of it to inherit the kingdom. But now what was given us for the relief of the poor, to make amends for our past sins, to win a good report, and to please God, this we employ against the poor and wretched, or rather against our own souls, and to the high displeasure of God. For as for the other, a man robs him of his wealth, and reduces him to poverty, but himself to death; and him he causes to pine in penury here, but himself in that eternal punishment. Are they equal sufferers, think you?
What evils then does it not cause! what fraudulent practices, what robberies! what miseries, enmities, contentions, battles! Does it not stretch forth its hand even to the dead, nay, to fathers, and brethren? Do not they who are possessed by this passion violate the laws of nature, and the commandments of God? in short everything? Is it not this that renders our courts of justice necessary? Take away therefore the love of money, and you put an end to war, to battle, to enmity, to strife and contention. Such men ought therefore to be banished from the world, as wolves and pests. For as opposing and violent winds, Sweeping over a calm sea, stir it up from its foundations, and mingle the sands of the deep with the waves above, so the lovers of wealth confound and unsettle everything. The covetous man never knows a friend: a friend, did I say? he knows not God Himself, driven mad, as he is, by the passion of avarice. Do ye not see the Titans going forth sword in hand? This is a representation of madness. But the lovers of money do not counterfeit, they are really mad, and beside themselves; and if you could lay bare their souls, you would find them armed in this way not with one or two swords, but with thousands, acknowledging no one, but turning their rage against all; flying and snarling at all, slaughtering not dogs, but the souls of men, and uttering blasphemies against heaven itself. By these men all things are subverted, and ruined by their madness after wealth.
For whom indeed, whom I should accuse, I know not! It is a plague that so seizes all, some more, some less, but all in a degree. Like a fire catching a wood, that desolates and destroys all around, this passion has laid waste the world. Kings, magistrates, private persons, the poor, women, men, children, are all alike affected by it. As if a gross darkness had overspread the earth, no one is in his sober senses. Yet we hear, both in public and private, many declamations against covetousness, but no one is mended by them.
What then is to be done? How shall we extinguish this flame? For though it has risen up to heaven itself, it is to be extinguished. We have only to be willing, and we shall be able to master the conflagration. For as by our will it has got head, so it may be brought under by our will. Did not our own choice cause it, and will not the same choice avail to extinguish it? Only let us be willing. But how shall that willingness be engendered? If we consider the vanity and the unprofitableness of wealth, that it cannot depart hence with us, that even here it forsakes us, and that whilst it remains behind, it inflicts upon us wounds that depart along with us. If we see that there are riches There, compared to which the wealth of this world is more despicable than dung. If we consider that it is attended with numberless dangers, with pleasure that is temporary, pleasure mingled with sorrow. If we contemplate aright the true riches of eternal life, we shall be able to despise worldly wealth. If we remember that it profits nothing either to glory, or health, or any other thing; but on the contrary drowns men in destruction and perdition. If thou consider that here thou art rich, and hast many under thee, but that when thou departest hence, thou wilt go naked and solitary. If we often represent these things to ourselves, and listen to them from others, there will perhaps be a return to a sound mind, and a deliverance from this dreadful punishment.
Is a pearl beautiful? yet consider, it is but sea water, and was once cast away in the bosom of the deep. Are gold and silver beautiful? yet they were and are but dust and ashes. Are silken vestments beautiful? yet they are nothing but the spinning of worms. This beauty is but in opinion, in human prejudice, not in the nature of the things. For that which possesses beauty from nature, need not any to point it out. If you see a coin of brass that is but gilded over, yon admire it at first, fancying that it is gold; but when the cheat is shown to you by one who understands it, your wonder vanishes with the deceit. The beauty therefore was not in the nature of the thing. Neither is it in silver; you may admire tin for silver, as you admired brass for gold, and you need some one to inform you what you should admire. Thus our eyes are not sufficient to discern the difference. It is not so with flowers, which are much more beautiful. If you see a rose, you need no one to inform you, you can of yourself distinguish an anemone, and a violet, or a lily, and every other flower. It is nothing therefore but prejudice. And to show, that this destructive passion is but a prejudice; tell me, if the Emperor were pleased to ordain that silver should be of more value than gold, would you not transfer your love and admiration to the former? Thus we are everywhere under the influence of covetousness and opinion. And that it is so, and that a thing is valued for its rarity, and not for its nature, appears hence. The fruits that are held cheap among us are in high esteem among the Cappadocians, and among the Serians even more valuable than the most precious among us, from which country these garments are brought; and many such instances might be given in Arabia and India, where spices are produced, and where precious stones are found. Such preference therefore is nothing but prejudice, and human opinion. We act not from judgment, but at random, and as accident determines. But let us recover from this intoxication, let us fix our view upon that which is truly beautiful, beautiful in its own nature, upon godliness and righteousness; that we may obtain the promised blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, &c.
"I give thee charge in the sight of God, Who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, Who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his times He shall show, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; Whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to Whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen."
Again he calls God to witness, as he had done a little before, at once to increase his disciple's awe, and to secure his safety, and to show that these were not human commandments, that receiving the commandment as from the Lord Himself, and ever bearing in mind the Witness before Whom he heard it, he may have it more fearfully impressed upon his mind.
"I charge thee," he says, "before God, Who quickeneth all things."
Here is at once consolation in the dangers which awaited him, and a remembrance of the resurrection awakened in him.
"And before Jesus Christ, Who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession."
The exhortation again is derived from the example of his Master, and what he means is this; as He had done, so ought ye to do, for for this cause He "witnessed" (1 Pet. ii. 21), that we might tread in His steps.
"A good confession." What he does in his Epistle to the Hebrews,— "Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Heb. xii. 2, 3),—that he now does to his disciple Timothy. As if he had said, Fear not death, since thou art the servant of God, Who can give life to all things.
But to what "good confession" does he allude? To that which He made when Pilate asked, "Art thou a King?" "To this end," He said, "was I born." And again, "I came, that I might bear witness to the Truth. Behold, these have heard Me." (John xviii. 37.) He may mean this, or that when asked, "Art thou the Son of God?" He answered, "Thou sayest, that I am (the Son of God)." (Luke xxii. 70.) And many other testimonies and confessions did He make.
Ver. 14. "That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ."
That is, till thy end, thy departure hence, though he does not so express it, but that he may the more arouse him, says, "till His appearing." But what is "to keep the commandment without spot"? To contract no defilement, either of doctrine or of life.
Ver. 15. "Which in His times He shall show, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings, and Lord of lords, Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto."
Of whom are these things said? Of the Father, or of the Son? Of the Son, undoubtedly: and it is said for the consolation of Timothy, that he may not fear nor stand in awe of the kings of the earth.
"In His times," that is, the due and fitting times, that he may not be impatient, because it has not yet come. And whence is it manifest, that He will show it? Because He is the Potentate, the "only Potentate." He then will show it, Who is "blessed," nay blessedness itself; and this is said, to show that in that appearing there is nothing painful or uneasy.
But he says, "only," either in contradistinction to men, or because He was unoriginated, or as we sometimes speak of a man whom we wish to extol.
"Who only hath immortality." What then? hath not the Son immortality? Is He not immortality itself? How should not He, who is of the same substance with the Father, have immortality?
"Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto." Is He then Himself one Light, and is there another in which He dwells? is He then circumscribed by place? Think not of it. By this expression is represented the Incomprehensibleness of the Divine Nature. Thus he speaks of God, in the best way he is able. Observe, how when the tongue would utter something great, it fails in power.
"Whom no man hath seen nor can see." As, indeed, no one hath seen the Son, nor can see Him.
"To whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen." Thus properly, and much to the purpose, has he spoken of God. For as he had called Him to witness, he speaks much of that Witness, that his disciple may be in the greater awe. In these terms he ascribes glory to Him, and this is all we can do, or say. We must not enquire too curiously, who He is. If power everlasting is His, fear not. Yea though now it take not place, to Him is honor, to Him is power evermore.
Ver. 17. "Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not high-minded."
He has well said, "rich in this world." For there are others rich in the future world. And this advice he gives, knowing that nothing so generally produces pride and arrogance as wealth. To abate this, therefore, he immediately adds, "Nor trust in uncertain riches"; since that was the source of pride; inasmuch as he who hopes in God, is not elated. Why dost thou place thy hopes upon what is instantly transferable? For such is wealth! and why hopest thou on that of which thou canst not be confident? But you say, how can they avoid being high-minded? By considering the instability and uncertainty of riches, and that hope in God is infinitely more valuable; God being the Author of wealth itself.
Ver. 17. "But in the living God," he says, "who giveth us richly all things to enjoy."
This "all things richly" is justly spoken, in reference to the changes of the year, to air, light, water, and other gifts. For how richly and ungrudgingly are all these bestowed! If thou seekest riches, seek those that are stable and enduring, and which are the fruit of good works. He shows that this is his meaning by what follows.
Ver. 18. "That they do good," he says, "that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute willing to communicate."
The first phrase refers to wealth, the second to charity. For to be willing to communicate, implies that they are sociable and kind.
Ver. 19. "Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come."
There nothing is uncertain, for the foundation being firm, there is no instability, all is firm, fixed, immovable, fast, and enduring.
Ver. 19. "That they may lay hold," he says, "on eternal life."
For the doing of good works can secure the enjoyment of eternal life.
Ver. 20. "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust."
Let it not suffer diminution. It is not thy own. Thou art intrusted with the property of another, do not lessen it.
Ver. 20. "Avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called."
Well did he thus call it. For where there is not faith, there is not knowledge; when anything springs from our reasonings, it is not knowledge. Or perhaps he says this, because some then assumed the name of Gnostics, as knowing more than others.
Ver. 21. "Which some professing have erred concerning the faith."
You see how again he commands Timothy not even to meet them. "Avoiding opposition." There are therefore oppositions to which we ought not to vouchsafe an answer, because they turn men from faith, and do not suffer one to be firmly established or fixed in it. Let us not then pursue this science, but adhere to faith, that unshaken rock. For neither floods nor winds assailing will be able to harm us, since we stand on the rock immovable. Thus even in this life, if we choose Him, Who is truly the foundation, we stand, and no harm assails us. For what can hurt him who hath chosen the riches, the honor, the glory, the pleasure of the life to come? They are all firm, in them there is no variableness; all things here subject to reverse, and are for ever changing. For what wouldest thou have? glory? The Psalmist says, "His glory shall not descend after him." (Ps. xlix. 17.) And often it abides not with him whilst he lives. But it is not so with virtue, all things which pertain to her are permanent. Here, he who obtains glory from his office, upon another succeeding to his office, becomes a private man and inglorious. The rich man is reduced to poverty by the attack of robbers, or the snares of sycophants and knaves. It is not so with Christians. The temperate man, if he take heed to himself, will not be robbed of his virtue. He who rules himself, cannot become a common man and a subject.
And that this rule is superior to any other, will appear upon examination. For of what advantage, tell me, is it to reign over nations of our fellow-men, and to be the slaves of our own passions? Or what are we the worse for having no one under our rule, if we are superior to the tyranny of the passions? That indeed is Freedom, that is Rule, that is Royalty and Sovereignty. The contrary is slavery, though a man be invested with countless diadems. For when a multitude of masters sway him from within, the love of money, the love of pleasure, and anger, and other passions, what avails his diadem? The tyranny of those passions is more severe, when not even his crown has power to deliver him from their subjection. As if one who had been a king should be reduced to slavery by barbarians, and they wishing to show their power the more absolutely, should not strip him of his purple robe and his diadem, but oblige him to work in them, and to perform all menial offices, to draw water, and to cook their food, that his disgrace and their honor might be the more apparent: so do our passions domineer over us more barbarously than any barbarians. For he that despises them can despise the barbarians too; but he that submits to them, will suffer more severely than from barbarians. The barbarian, when his power prevails, may afflict the body, but these passions torture the soul, and lacerate it all over. When the barbarian has prevailed, he delivers one to temporal death, but these to that which is to come. So that he alone is the free man, who has his freedom in himself; and he who submits to these unreasonable passions, is the slave.
No master, however inhuman, imposes such severe and inhuman commands. They say to him, in effect, "Disgrace thy soul without end or object,— offend thy God,—be deaf to the claims of nature; though it be thy father or thy mother, be not ashamed to set thyself against them." Such are the commands of avarice. "Sacrifice to me, she says, not calves, but men." The prophet indeed says, "Sacrifice men, for the calves have failed." (Hosea xiii. 2, Sept.) But avarice says, "Sacrifice men, though there are yet calves. Sacrifice those who have never injured thee, yea slay them, though they have been thy benefactors." Or again, "Be at war, and go about as the common enemy of all, of nature herself, and of God. Heap up gold, not that thou mayest enjoy it, but that thou mayest keep it, and work greater torture to thyself." For it is not possible that the lover of money should be able to enjoy it, since he fears lest his gold should be diminished, lest his hoards should fail. "Be watchful," it says, "be suspicious of every one, even domestics and friends. Have an eye to the goods of other men. Though you see the poor man perishing with hunger, give him nothing; but strip him, if it be possible, even of his skin. Break thine oaths, lie, swear. Be an accuser, a false informer. Refuse not, if it be necessary, to rush into fire, to submit to a thousand deaths, to perish with hunger, to struggle with disease." Does not avarice impose these laws? "Be offensive and impudent, shameless and bold, villainous and wicked, ungrateful, unfeeling, unfriendly, faithless, devoid of affection, a parricide, a beast rather than a man. Surpass the serpent in bitterness, the wolf in rapacity. Exceed in brutality even the beast, nay should it be necessary to proceed even to the malignity of the devil, refuse not. Be a stranger to thy benefactor."
Does not avarice say all this, and is it not listened to? God on the contrary says, Be a friend to all, be gentle, beloved by all, give offense causelessly to no one. "Honor thy father and thy mother." Win an honorable reputation. Be not a man, but an angel. Utter nothing immodest, nothing false, nor even think of it. Relieve the poor. Bring not trouble on thyself, by ravaging others. Be not bold nor insolent. God says this, but no one hearkens. Is not hell then justly threatened, and the fire, and the worm that dieth not? How long are we thus to thrust ourselves down the precipice? How long are we to walk upon thorns, and pierce ourselves with nails, and be grateful for it? We subject ourselves to cruel tyrants, and refuse the gentle Master, who imposes nothing grievous, nor barbarous, nor burdensome, nor unprofitable, but all things such as are useful, and valuable, and beneficial. Let us then arouse ourselves, and be self- collected, and gather our forces. Let us love God as we ought, that we may obtain the blessings promised to those that love Him, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father, &c.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF I/XIII, Schaff). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.