HOMILIES OF ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE
ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO
ST. MATTHEW
HOMILIES LVII & LX (MATT. 17 & 18)

HOMILY LVII.

MATT. XVII. 10.

"And His disciples asked Him, saying, Why then say the Scribes that Elias must first come ?"

NOT then from the Scriptures did they know this, but the Scribes used to explain themselves, and this saying was reported abroad amongst the ignorant people; as about Christ also.

Wherefore the Samaritan woman also said, "Messiah cometh; when He is come, He will tell us all things:" and they themselves asked John, "Art thou Elias, or the Prophet ?"(2) For the saying, as I said, prevailed, both that concerning the Christ and that concerning Elias, not however rightly interpreted by them.

For the Scriptures speak of two advents of! Christ, both this that is past, and that which is to come; and declaring these Paul said, "The grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared, teaching us, that, denying! ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live l soberly, and righteously, and godly."(3) Behold the one, hear how he declares the other also; for having said these things, he added, "Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ."(4) And the prophets too mention both; of the one, however, that is, of the second, they say Elias will be the forerunner. For of the first, John was forerunner; whom Christ called also Elias, not because he was Elias, but because he was fulfilling the ministry of that prophet. For as the one shall be forerunner of the second advent, so was the other too of the first. But the Scribes, confusing these things and perverting the people, made mention of that other only to the people, the second advent, and said, "If this man is the Christ, Elias ought to have come beforehand." Therefore the disciples too speak as follows, "How then say the Scribes, Elias must first come ?"

Therefore also the Pharisees sent unto John, and asked him, "Art thou Elias?"(5) making no mention anywhere of the former advent.

What then is the solution, which Christ alleged? "Elias indeed cometh then, before my second advent; and now too is Elias come;" so calling John.

In this sense Elias is come: but if thou wouldest seek the Tishbite, he is coming. Wherefore also He said, "Elias truly cometh, and shall restore all things."(6) All what things? Such as the Prophet Malachi spake of; for "I will send you," saith He, "Elias the Tishbite, who shall restore the heart of father to son, lest I come and utterly smite the earth."(7)

Seest thou the accuracy of prophetical language? how, because Christ called John, Elias, by reasoning of their community of office, lest thou shouldest suppose this to be the meaning of the prophet too in this place, He added His country also, saying, "the Tishbite;"(8) whereas John was not a Tishbite. And herewith He sets down another sign also, saying, "Lest I come and utterly smite the earth," signifying His second and dreadful advent. For in the first He came not to smite the earth. For, "I came not," saith He, "to judge the world, but to save the world."(9)

To show therefore that the Tishbite comes before that other advent, which hath the judgment, He said this. And the reason too of his coming He teaches withal. And what is this reason? That when He is come, he may persuade the Jews to believe in Christ, and that they may not all utterly perish at His coming. Wherefore He too, guiding them on to that remembrance, saith, "And he shall restore all things;" that is, shall correct the unbelief of the Jews that are then in being.

Hence the extreme accuracy of his expression; in that he said not, "He will restore the heart of the son to the father," but "of the father to the son."(10) For the Jews being fathers of the apostles, his meaning is, that he will restore to the doctrines of their sons, that is, of the apostles, the hearts of the fathers, that is, the Jewish people's mind.(11)

"But I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them. Then they understood that He spake to them of John."(1)

And yet neither the Scribes said this, nor the Scriptures; but because now they were sharper and more attentive to His sayings, they quickly caught His meaning.

And whence did the disciples know this? He had already told them, "He is Elias, which was for to come;"(2) but here, that he hath come; and again, that "Elias cometh and will restore all things." But be not thou troubled, nor imagine that His statement wavers, though at one time He said, "he will come," at another, "he hath come." For all these things are true. Since when He saith, "Elias indeed cometh, and will restore all things," He means Elias himself, and the conversion of the Jews which is then to take place; but when He saith, "Which was for to come," He calls John, Elias, with regard to the manner of his administration. Yea, and so the prophets used to call every one of their approved kings, David;(3) and the Jews, "rulers of Sodom,"(4) and "sons of Ethiopians;"(5) because of their ways. For as the other shall be forerunner of the second advent, so was this of the first.

2. And not for this only doth He call him Elias everywhere, but to signify His perfect agreement with the Old Testament, and that this advent too is according to prophecy.

Wherefore also He adds again, "He came, and they knew him not, but have done unto him all things whatsoever they listed."(6) What means, "call things whatsoever they listed?" They cast him into prison, they used him despitefully, they slew him, they brought his head in a charger.

"Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them." Seest thou how again He in due season reminds them of His passion, laying up for them great store of comfort from the passion of John. And not in this way only, but also by presently working great miracles. Yea, and whensoever He speaks of His passion, presently He works miracles, both after those sayings and before them; and in many places one may find Him to have kept this rule.

"Then," for instance, it saith, "He began to signify how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and be killed, and suffer many things."(7) "Then:" when? when He was confessed to be Christ, and the Son of God.

Again on the mountain, when He had shown them the marvellous vision, and the prophets had been discoursing of His glory, He reminded them of His passion. For having spoken of the history concerning John, He added, "Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them."

And after a little while again, when He had cast out the devil, which His disciples were not able to cast out; for then too, "As they abode in Galilee," so it saith, "Jesus said unto them, The Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinful(8) men, and they shall kill Him, and the third day He shall rise again."(9)

Now in doing this, He by the greatness of the miracles was abating the excess of their sorrow, and in every way consoling them; even as here also, by the mention of John's death, He afforded them much consolation.

But should any one say, "Wherefore did He not even now raise up Elias and send him, witnessing as He doth so great good of his coming?" we should reply, that even as it was, while thinking Christ to be Elias, they did not believe Him. For "some say," such are the words, "that Thou art Elias, and others, Jeremias."(10) And indeed between John and Elias, there was no difference but the time only. "Then how will they believe at that time?" it may be said. Why, "he will restore all things," not simply by being recognized, but also because the glory of Christ will have been growing more intense up to that day, and will be among all clearer than the sun. When therefore, preceded by such an opinion and expectation, he comes making the same proclamation as John, and himself also announcing Jesus, they will more easily receive his sayings. But in saying, "They knew him not," He is excusing also what was done in His own case.(11)

And not in this way only doth He console them, but also by pointing out that John's sufferings at their hands, whatever they are, are undeserved; and by His throwing into the shade what would annoy them, by means of two signs, the one on the mountain, the other just about to take place.

But when they heard these things, they do [not ask Him when Elias cometh; being straitened either by grief at His passion, or by fear. For on many occasions, upon seeing Him unwilling to speak a thing clearly, they are silent, and so an end. For instance, when during their abode in Galilee He said, "The Son of Man shall be betrayed, and they shall kill Him;"(1) it is added by Mark, "That they understood not the saying, and were afraid to ask Him;"(2) by Luke, "That it was hid from them, that they might not perceive it, and they feared to ask Him of that saying."(3)

3. "And when they were come to the multitude, there came to Him a man, kneeling down to Him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is lunatic, and sore vexed;(4) for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him unto Thy disciples, and they could not cure him."(5)

This man the Scripture signifies to be exceedingly weak in faith; and this is many ways evident; from Christ's saying, "All things are possible to him that believeth;"(6) from the saying of the man himself that approached, "Help Thou mine unbelief:"(7) from Christ's commanding the devil to "enter no more into him;"(8) and from the man's saying again to Christ, "If Thou canst."(9) "Yet if his unbelief was the cause," it may be said, "that the devil went not out, why doth He blame the disciples?" Signifying, that even without persons to bring the sick in faith, they might in many instances work a cure. For as the faith of the person presenting oftentimes availed for receiving the cure, even from inferior ministers; so the power of the doers oftentimes sufficed, even without belief in those who came to work the miracle.

And both these things are signified in the Scripture. For both they of the company of Cornelius by their faith drew unto themselves the grace of the Spirit; and in the case of Eliseus(10) again, when none had believed, a dead man rose again. For as to those that cast him down, not for faith but for cowardice did they cast him, unintentionally and by chance, for fear of the band of robbers, and so they fled: while the person himself that was cast in was dead, yet by the mere virtue of the holy body the dead man arose.

Whence it is clear in this case, that even the disciples were weak; but not all; for the pillars(11) were not present there. And see this man's want of consideration, from another circumstance again, how before the multitude he pleads to Jesus against His disciples, saying, "I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not cure him."

But He, acquitting them of the charges before the people, imputes the greater part to him. For, "O faithless and perverse generation," these are His words, "how long shall I be with you?"(12) not aiming at his person only, lest He should confound the man, but also at all the Jews. For indeed many of those present might probably be offended, and have undue thoughts of them.

But when He said, "How long shall I be with you," He indicates again death to be welcome to Him, and the thing an object of desire, and His departure longed for, and that not crucifixion, but being with them, is grievous.

He stopped not however at the accusations; but what saith He? "Bring him hither to me."(13) And Himself moreover asks him, "how long time he is thus;" both making a plea for His disciples, and leading the other to a good hope, and that he might believe in his attaining deliverance from the evil.

And He suffers him to be torn, not for display (accordingly, when a crowd began to gather, He proceeded to rebuke him), but for the father's own sake, that when he should see the evil spirit disturbed at Christ's mere call, so at least, if in no other way, he might be led to believe the coming miracle.

And because he had said, "Of a child," and, "If thou canst help me," Christ saith, "To him that believeth, all things are possible,"(14) again giving the complaint a turn against him. And whereas when the leper said, "If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean,"(15) bearing witness to His authority Christ commending him, and confirming His words, said, "I will, be thou clean;" in this man's case, upon his uttering a speech in no way worthy of His power,--" If Thou canst, help me,"--see how He corrects it, as not rightly spoken. For what saith He? "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."(16) What He saith is like this: "Such abundance of power is with me, that I can even make others work these miracles. So that if thou believe as one ought, even thou thyself art able," saith He, "to heal both this one, and many others." And having thus said, He set free the possessed of the devil.

But do thou not only from this observe His providence and His beneficence, but also from that other time, during which He allowed the devil to be in him. Since surely, unless the man had been favored with much providential care even then, he would have perished long ago; for "it cast him both into the fire," so it is said, "and into the water." And he that dared this would assuredly have destroyed the man too, unless even in so great madness God had out on him His strong curb: as indeed was the case with those naked men that were running in the deserts and cutting themselves with stones.

And if he call him "'a lunatic," trouble not thyself at all, for it is the father of the possessed who speaks the word. How then saith the evangelist also, "He heated many that were lunatic?"(1) Denominating them according to the impression of the multitude. For the evil spirit, to bring a reproach upon nature,(2) both attacks them that are seized, and lets them go, according to the courses of the moon; not as though that were the worker of it;--away with the thought;--but himself craftily doing this to bring a reproach on nature. And an erroneous opinion hath gotten ground among the simple, and by this name do they call such evil spirits, being deceived; for this is by no means true.

4. "Then came His disciples unto Him apart, and asked Him, why they could not themselves cast out the devil."(3) To me they seem to be in anxiety and fear, lest haply they had lost the grace, with which they had been entrusted. For they received power against unclean spirits.(4) Wherefore also they ask, coming to Him apart; not out of shame (for if the fact had gone abroad, and they were convicted, it were superfluous after that to be ashamed of confessing it in words); but it was a secret and great matter they were about to ask Him of. What then saith Christ? "Because of your unbelief," saith He; "for if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."(5) Now if you say, "Where did they remove a mountain?" I would make this answer, that they did far greater things, having raised up innumerable dead. For it is not at all the same thing, to remove a mountain, and to remove death from a body. And certain saints after them, far inferior to them, are said actually to have removed mountains, when necessity called for it."(6) Whereby we see that these also would have done the same, need calling on them. But if there was then no need for it, do not thou find fault. And besides, He Himself said not, "ye shall surely remove it," but "ye shall be able to do even this." And if they did it not, it was not because they were unable (how could this be, when they had power to do the greater things?), but because they would not, there being no need.

And it is likely that this too may have been done, and not have been written; for we know that not all the miracles they wrought were written. Then however they were in a state by comparison very imperfect. What then? Had they not at that time so much as this faith? They had not, for neither were they always the same men, since even Peter is now pronounced blessed, now reproved; and the rest also are mocked by Him for folly, when they understood not His saying concerning the leaven.(7) And so it was, that then also the disciples were weak, for they were but imperfectly minded before the cross.

But by faith here He means that which related to the miracles, and mentions a mustard seed, to declare its unspeakable power. For though in bulk the mustard seed seem to be small, yet in power it is the strongest of all things. To indicate therefore that even the least degree of genuine faith can do great things, He mentioned the mustard seed; neither by any means did He stop at this only, but added even mountains, and went on beyond that. "For nothing," saith He, "shall be impossible to you."

But do thou herein also marvel at their self-denial, and the might of the Spirit; their self-denial in not hiding their fault, and the might of the Spirit in so leading on by degrees them who had not so much as a gram of mustard seed, that rivers and fountains of faith sprang up within them.

"Howbeit, this kind goeth not out, but by prayer and fasting;"(8) meaning the whole kind of evil spirits, not that of lunatics only.

Seest thou how He now proceeds to lay beforehand in them the foundation of His doctrine about fasting? Nay, argue not with me from rare cases, that some even without fasting have cast them out. For although one might say this, in one or two instances, of them that rebuke the evil spirits, yet for the patient it is a thing impossible, living luxuriously, to be delivered from such madness: this thing being especially necessary for him that is diseased in that way. "And yet, if faith be requisite," one may say, "what need of fasting?" Because, together with our faith, that also brings no small power. For it both implants much strictness, and of a man makes one an angel, and fights against the incorporeal powers: yet not by itself, but prayer too is needed, and prayer must come first.

5. See, at any rate, how many blessings spring from them both. For he that is praying as he ought, and fasting, hath not many wants, and he that hath not many wants, cannot be covetous; he that is not covetous, will be also more disposed for almsgiving. He that fasts is light, and winged, and prays with wakefulness, and quenches his wicked lusts, and propitiates God, and humbles his soul when lifted up. Therefore even the apostles were almost always fasting. He that prays with fasting hath his wings double, and lighter than the very winds. For neither doth he gape, nor stretch himself, nor grow torpid in prayer, as is the case with most men, but is more vehement than fire, and rises above the earth. Wherefore also such a one is most especially a hater and an enemy to the evil spirits. For nothing is mightier than a man who prays sincerely. For if a woman(1) had power to prevail with a savage ruler, one neither fearing God, nor regarding man; much more will he prevail with God, who is continually waiting upon Him, and controlling the belly, and casting out luxury. But if thy body be too weak to fast continually, still it is not too weak for prayer, nor without vigor for contempt of the belly. For although thou canst not fast, yet canst thou avoid luxurious living; and even this is no little thing, nor far removed from fasting, but even this is enough to pluck down the devil's madness. For indeed nothing is so welcome to that evil spirit, as luxury and drunkenness; since it is both fountain and parent of all our evils. Hereby, for example, of old he drove the Israelites to idolatry;(2) hereby he made the Sodomites to burn in unlawful lust. For, "this," it is said, "was the iniquity of Sodom; in pride, and in fullness of bread, and in banquetings they waxed wanton."(3) Hereby he hath destroyed ten thousand others, and delivered them to hell.

For what evil doth not luxury work? It makes swine of men, and worse than swine. For whereas the sow wallows in the mire and feeds on filth, this man lives on food more abominable than that, devising forbidden intercourse, and unlawful lusts.

Such an one is in no respect different from a demoniac, for like him he is lost to shame, and raves. And the demoniac at any rate we pity, but this man is the object of our aversion and hatred. Why so? Because he brings upon himself a self-chosen madness, and makes his mouth, and his eyes, and nostrils, and all, in short, mere sewers.

But if thou wert to see what is within him also, thou wilt behold his very soul as in a kind of wintry frost, stiff and torpid, and in nothing able to help its vessel through the excess of the storm.

I am ashamed to say how many ills men and women suffer from luxury, but I leave it to their own conscience, which knows it all more perfectly. For what is viler than a woman drunken, or at all led away(4) by wine? For the weaker the vessel, the more entire the shipwreck, whether she be free or a slave. For the free woman behaves herself unseemly in the midst of her slaves as spectators, and the slave again in like manner in the midst of the slaves, and they cause the gifts of God to be blasphemously spoken of by foolish men.

For instance, I hear many say, when these excesses happen, "Would there were no wine." O folly! O madness! When other men sin, dost thou find fault with God's gifts? And what great madness is this? What? did the wine, O man, produce this evil? Not the wine, but the intemperance of such as take an evil delight in it. Say then, "Would there were no drunkenness, no luxury;" but if thou say, "Would there were no wine," thou wilt say, going on by degrees, "Would there were no steel, because of the murderers; no night, because of the thieves; no light, because of the informers; no women, because of adulteries;" and, in a word, thou wilt destroy all.

But do not so; for this is of a satanical mind; do not find fault with the wine, but with the drunkenness; and when thou hast found this self-same man sober, sketch out all his unseemliness, and say unto him, Wine was given, that we might be cheerful, not that we might behave ourselves unseemly; that we might laugh, not that we might be a laughingstock; that we might be healthful, not that we might be diseased; that we might correct the weakness of our body, not cast down the might of our soul.

God honored thee with the gift, why disgrace thyself with the excess thereof? Hear what Paul saith, "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities"(5) But if that saint, even when oppressed with disease, and enduring successive sicknesses, partook not of wine, until his Teacher suffered him; what excuse shall we have, who are drunken in health? To him indeed He said, "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake;" but to each of you who are drunken, He will say, "Use little wine, for thy fornications, thy frequent filthy talking, for the other wicked desires to which drunkenness is wont to give birth." But if ye are not willing, for these reasons, to abstain; at least on account of the despondencies which come of it, and the vexations, do ye abstain. For wine was given for gladness, "Yea, wine," so it is said, "maketh glad the heart of man:"(1) but ye mar even this excellence in it. For what kind of gladness is it to be beside one's self, and to have innumerable vexations, and to see all things whirling round, and to be oppressed with giddiness, and like those that have a fever, to require some who may drench their heads with oil?(2)

6. These things are not said by me to all: or rather they are said to all, not because all are drunken, God forbid; but because they who do not drink take no thought of the drunken. Therefore even against you do I rather inveigh, that are in health; since the physician too leaves the sick, and addresses his discourse to them that are sitting by them. To you therefore do I direct my speech, en-treating you neither to be at any time over-taken by this passion, and to draw up(3) as by cords those who have been so overtaken, that they be not found worse than the brutes. For they indeed seek nothing more than what is needful, but these have become even more brutish than they, overpassing the boundaries of moderation. For how much better is the ass than these men? how much better the dog! For indeed each of these animals, and of all others, whether it need to eat, or to drink, acknowledges sufficiency for a limit, and goes not on beyond what it needs; and though there are innumerable persons to constrain, it will not endure to go on to excess.

In this respect then we are worse even than the brutes, by the judgment not of them that are in health only, but even by our own. For that ye have judged yourselves to be baser than both dogs and asses,(4) is evident from thence: that these brutes thou dost not compel to partake of food, beyond their measure; and should any one say, "Wherefore?" "Lest I should hurt them," thou wilt reply. But upon thyself thou bestowest not so much as this forethought. Thus thou accountest thyself viler even than they are, and permittest thyself to be continually tossed as with a tempest.

For neither in the day of thy drunkenness only dost thou undergo the harm of drunkenness, but also after that day. And as when a fever is passed by, the mischievous consequences of the fever remain; so also when drunkenness is past, the disturbance of intoxication is whirling round both the soul and body; and while the wretched body lies paralyzed, like the hull of a vessel after a shipwreck, the soul yet more miserable than it, even when this is ended, stirs up the storm, and kindles the desire; and when one seems to be sober, then most of all is he mad, imagining to himself wine and casks, cups and goblets. And like as in a storm when the raging of the waters hath ceased, the loss by reason of the storm remains; so likewise here too. For as there of our freight, so here too is there a casting away of nearly all our good things. Whether it be temperance, or modesty, or understanding, or meekness, or humility, which the drunkenness finds there, it casts all away into the sea of iniquity.

But in what follows there is no more any likeness. Since there indeed upon the casting out the vessel is lightened, but here it is weighed down the more. For in its former place of wealt hit takes on board sand, and salt water, and all the accumulated filth of drunkenness; enough to sink the vessel at once, with the mariners and the pilot.

That we may not then suffer these things, let us deliver ourselves from that tempest. It is not possible with drunkenness to see the kingdom of Heaven. "Be not deceived," it is said, "no drunkards, no revilers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."(5) And why do I speak of a kingdom? Why, with drunkenness one cannot see so much as the things present. For in truth drunkenness makes the days nights to us, and the light darkness. And though their eyes be opened, the drunken see not even what is close at hand.

And this is not the only frightful things but with these things they suffer also another most grievous punishment, continually undergoing unreasonable despondencies, madness, infirmity, ridicule, reproach.

What manner of excuse is there for them that pierce themselves through with so many evils? There is none.

Let us fly then from that pest, that we may attain both unto the good things here, and unto those to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might with the Father and the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

HOMILY LVIII.

MATT. XVII. 22, 23.

"And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him, and the third day He shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry."

THAT is, to hinder their saying, "wherefore do we abide here continually," He speaks to them again of the passion; on hearing which they had no wish so much as to see Jerusalem. And it is remarkable how, when both Peter had been rebuked, and Moses and Elias had discoursed concerning it, and had called the thing glory, and the Father had uttered a voice from above, and so many miracles had been done, and the resurrection was at the doors (for He said, He should by no means abide any long time in death, but should be raised the third day); not even so did they endure it, but were sorry; and not merely sorry, but exceeding sorry.

Now this arose from their being ignorant as yet of the force of His sayings. This Mark and Luke indirectly expressing said, the one, "They understood not the saying, and were afraid to ask Him:"(1) the other, "It was hid from them, that they perceived it not, and they feared to ask Him of that saying."(2)

And yet if they were ignorant, how were they sorry? Because they were not altogether ignorant; that He was to die they knew, continually hearing it, but what this death might be, and that there would be a speedy release from it, and that it would work innumerable blessings, as yet they knew not clearly; nor what this resurrection might be: but they understood it not, wherefore they grieved; for indeed they clung very earnestly to their Master.

"And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received the didrachma came to Peter, and said, Doth not your Master pay the didrachma?"(3)

And what is this "didrachma?" When God had slain the firstborn of the Egyptians, then He took the tribe of Levi in their stead.(4) Afterwards, because the number of the tribe was less than of the firstborn among the Jews, for them that are wanting to make up the number, He commanded(5) a shekel to be contributed: and moreover a custom came thereby in force, that the firstborn should pay this tribute.

Because then Christ was a firstborn child, and Peter seemed to be first of the disciples, to him they come: their way being, as I suppose, to exact it in every city; wherefore also in His native place they approached Him; for Capernaum was accounted His native place.

And Him indeed they durst not approach, but Peter; nor him either with much violence, but rather gently. For not as blaming, but as inquiring, they said, "Doth not your Master pay the didrachma?" For the right opinion of Him they had not as yet, but as concerning a man, so did they feel; yet they rendered Him some reverence and honor, because of the signs that went before.

2. What then saith Peter? "He saith, Yea:" and to these indeed he said, that He payeth, but to Him he said it not, blushing perhaps to speak to Him of these things. Wherefore that gentle one, well knowing as He did all things, prevented him,(6) "saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? Of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own sons, or of strangers;" and when he said "of strangers," He replied, "Then are the sons free."(7)

For lest Peter should suppose Him to say so, being told it by the others, He prevents him, partly indicating what hath been said, partly giving him leave to speak freely, backward as he was to speak first of these things.

And what He saith is like this, "I am indeed free from paying tribute. For if the kings of the earth take it not of their sons, but of their subjects; much more ought I to be freed from this demand, I who am Son, not of an earthly king, but of the King of Heaven, and myself a King." Seest thou how He hath distinguished the sons from them that are not sons? And if He were not a Son, to no purpose hath He brought in the example also of the kings. "Yea," one may say, "He is a Son, but not truly begotten." Then is He not a Son; and if not a Son, nor truly begotten, neither doth He belong to God, but to some other. But if He belong to another, then neither hath the comparison its proper force. For He is discoursing not of the sons generally, but of the genuine sons, men's very own; of them that share the kingdom with their parents.

Wherefore also in contradistinction He hath mentioned the "strangers;" meaning by "strangers," such as are not born of them, but by "their own," those whom they have begotten of themselves.

And I would have thee mark this also; how the high doctrine,(1) revealed to Peter, He doth hereby again confirm. And neither at this did He stop, but by His very condescension declares this self-same truth; an instance of exceeding wisdom.

For after thus speaking, He saith, "But lest we should offend them, go thou and cast an hook into the sea, and take up the fish that first cometh up, and thou shall find therein a piece of money;(2) that take, and give unto them for me and thee."(3)

See how He neither declines the tribute, nor simply commands to pay it, but having first proved Himself not liable to it, then He gives it: the one to save the people, the other, those around Him, from offense. For He gives it not at all as a debt, but as doing the best(4) for their weakness. Elsewhere, however, He despises the offense, when He was discoursing of meats,(5) teaching us to know at what seasons we ought to consider them that are offended, and at what to disregard them.

And indeed by the very mode of giving He discloses Himself again. For wherefore doth He not command him to give of what they have laid up? That, as I have said, herein also He might signify Himself to be God of all, and the sea also to be under His rule. For He had indeed signified this even already, by His rebuke, and by His commanding this same Peter to walk on the waves; but He now again signifies the self-same thing, though in another way, yet so as to cause herein great amazement. For neither was it a small thing, to foretell that the first, who out of those depths should come in his way, would be the fish that would pay the tribute; and having cast forth His commandment like a net into that abyss, to bring up the one that bore the piece of money; but it was of a divine and unutterable power, thus to make even the sea bear gifts, and that its subjection to Him should be shown on all hands, as well when in its madness it was silent,(6) and when, though fierce, it received its fellow servant;(7) as now again, when it makes payment in His behalf to them that are demanding it.

"And give unto them," He saith, "for me and thee." Seest thou the exceeding greatness of the honor? See also the self-command of Peter's mind. For this point Mark, the follower of this apostle, doth not appear to have set down, because it indicated the great honor paid to him; but while of the denial he wrote as well as the rest, the things that make him illustrious he hath passed over in silence, his master perhaps entreating him not to mention the great things about himself. And He used the phrase, "for me and thee," because Peter too was a firstborn child.

Now as thou art amazed at Christ's power, so I bid thee admire also the disciple's faith, that to a thing beyond possibility he so gave ear. For indeed it was very far beyond possibility by nature. Wherefore also in requital for his faith, He joined him to Himself in the payment of the tribute.

3. "In that hour came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"(8)

The disciples experienced some feeling of human weakness; wherefore the evangelist also adds this note, saying, "In that hour;" when He had preferred him to all. For of James too, and John, one was a firstborn son, but no such thing as this had He done for them.

Then, being ashamed to avow their feeling, they say not indeed openly, "Wherefore hast thou preferred Peter to us?" or, "Is he greater than we are?" for they were ashamed; but indefinitely they ask, "Who then is greater?" For when they saw the three preferred, they felt nothing of the kind; but now that the honor had come round to one, they were vexed. And not for this only, but there were many other things which they put together to kindle that feeling. For to him He had said, "I will give thee the keys;"(9) to him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona;" to him here, "Give unto them for me and thee;" and seeing too in general how freely he was allowed to speak, it somewhat fretted them. And if Mark saith,(10) that they did not ask, but reasoned in themselves, that is nothing contrary to this. For it is likely that they did both the one and the other, and whereas before, on another occasion, they had had this feeling, both once and twice, that now they did both declare it, and reason among themselves.

But to thee I say, "Look not to the charge against them only, but consider this too; first, that they seek none of the things of this world; next, that even this passion they afterwards laid aside, and give up the first place one to another." But we are not able to attain so much as unto their faults, neither do we seek, "who is greatest(1) in the kingdom of heaven;" but, who is greatest(2) in the earthly kingdom, who is wealthiest, who most powerful.

What then saith Christ? He unveils their conscience, and replies to their feeling, not merely to their words. "For He called a little child unto Him," saith the Scripture, "and said, Except ye be converted, and become as this little child, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."(3) "Why, you," He saith, "inquire who is greatest, and are contentious for first honors; but I pronounce him, that is not become lowest of all, unworthy so much as to enter in thither."

And full well doth He both allege that pattern, and not allege it only, but also set the child in the midst, by the very sight abashing them, and persuading them to be in like manner lowly and artless. Since both from envy the little child is pure, and from vainglory, and from longing for the first place; and he is possessed of the greatest of virtues, simplicity, and whatever is artless and lowly.

Not courage then only is wanted, nor wisdom, but this virtue also, humility I mean, and simplicity. Yea, and the things that belong to our salvation halt even in the chiefest point, if these be not with us.

The little child, whether it be insulted and, beaten, or honored and glorified, neither by the one is it moved to impatience or envy, nor by the other lifted up.

Seest thou how again He calls us on to all natural excellencies, indicating that of free choice it is possible to attain them, and so silences the wicked frenzy of the Manichaeans? For if nature be an evil thing, wherefore doth He draw from hence His patterns of severe goodness? And the child which He set in the midst suppose to have been a very young child indeed, free from all these passions. For such a little child is free from pride and the mad desire of glory, and envy, and contentiousness, and all such passions, and having many virtues, simplicity, humility, unworldliness,(4) prides itself upon none of them; which is a twofold severity of goodness; to have these things, and not to be puffed up about them.

Wherefore He brought it in, and set it in the midst; and not at this merely did He conclude His discourse, but carries further this admonition, saying, "And whoso shall receive such a little child in my name, receiveth me."(5)

"For know," saith He, "that not only, if ye yourselves become like this, shall ye receive a great reward; but also if for my sake ye honor others who are such, even for your honor to them do I appoint unto you a kingdom as your recompence." Or rather, He sets down what is far greater, saying, "he receiveth me." So exceedingly dear to me is all that is lowly and artless." For by "a little child," here, He means the men that are thus simple and lowly, and abject and contemptible in the judgment of the common sort.

4. After this, to obtain yet more acceptance for His saying, He establishes it not by the honor only, but also by the punishment, going on to say, "And whoso shall offend one of these little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."(6)

"For as they," saith He, "who honor these for my sake, have heaven, or rather an honor greater than the very kingdom; even so they likewise who dishonor them (for this is to offend them), shall suffer the extremity of punishment. And marvel thou not at His calling the affront "an offense;"(7) for many feeble-minded persons have suffered no ordinary offense from being treated with slight and insult. To heighten therefore and aggravate the blame, He states the mischief arising therefrom.

And He doth not go on to express the punishment in the same way, but from the things familiar to us, He indicates how intolerable it is. For when He would touch the grosser sort most sharply, He brings sensible images. Wherefore here also, meaning to indicate the greatness of the punishment they shall undergo, and to strike into the arrogance of those that despise them, He brought forward a kind of sensible punishment, that of the millstone, and of the drowning. Yet surely it were suitable to what had gone before to have said, "He that receiveth not one of these little ones, receivoth not me;" a thing bitterer than any punishment; but since the very unfeeling, and exceeding gross, were not so much penetrated by this, terrible as it is, He puts "a millstone," and "a drowning." And He said not, "A millstone shall be hanged about his neck," but, "It were better for him"(1) to undergo this; implying that another evil, more grievous than this, awaits him; and if this be unbearable, much more that.

Seest thou how in both respects He made His threat terrible, first by the comparison with the known image rendering it more distinct, then by the excess on its side presenting it to the fancy as far greater than that visible one. Seest thou how He plucks up by the root the spirit of arrogance; how He heals the ulcer of vainglory; how He instructs us in nothing to set our heart on the first honors; how He persuades such as covet them in everything to follow after the lowest place?

5. For nothing is worse than arrogance.(2) This even takes men out of their natural senses, and brings upon them the character of fools; or rather, it really makes them to be utterly like idiots.

For like as, if any one, being three cubits in stature, were to strive to be higher than the mountains, or actually to think it, and draw himself up, as overpassing their summits, we should seek no other proof of his being out of his senses; so also when thou seest a man arrogant, and thinking himself superior to all, and accounting it a degradation to live with other people, seek not thou after that to see any other proof of that man's madness. Why, he is much more ridiculous than any natural fool, inasmuch as he absolutely creates this his disease on purpose. And not in this only is he wretched, but because he doth without feeling it fall into the very gulf of wickedness.

For when will such an one come to due knowledge of any sin? when will he perceive that he is offending? Nay, rather he is as a vile and captive slave, whom the devil having caught goes off with, and makes him altogether a prey, buffetting him on every side, and encompassing him with ten thousand insults.

For unto such great folly doth he lead them in the end, as to get them to be haughty towards their children, and wives, and towards their own forefathers. And others, on the contrary, He causes to be puffed up by the distinction of their ancestors. Now, what can be more foolish than this? when from opposite causes people are alike puffed up, the one sort because they had mean persons for fathers, grandfathers, and ancestors; and the other because theirs were glorious and distinguished? How then may one abate in each case the swelling sore? By saying to these last, "Go farther back than your grandfather, and immediate ancestors, and you will find perchance many cooks, and drivers of asses, and shopkeepers:" but to the former, that are puffed up by the meanness of their forefathers, the contrary again; "And thou again, if thou proceed farther up among thy forefathers, wilt find many far more illustrious than thou art."

For that nature hath this course, come let me prove it to thee even from the Scriptures. Solomon was son of a king, and of an illustrious king, but that king's father was one of the vile and ignoble. And his grandfather on his mother's side in like manner; for else he would not have given his daughter to a mere soldier. And if thou weft to go up again higher from these mean persons, thou wilt see the race more illustrious and royal. So in Saul's case too, so in many others also, one shall come to this result. Let us not then pride ourselves herein. For what is birth? tell me. Nothing, but a name only without a substance; and this ye will know in that day. But because that day is not yet come, let us now even from the things present persuade you, that hence arises no superiority. For should war overtake us, should famine, should anything else, all these inflated conceits of noble birth are put to the proof: should disease, should pestilence come upon us, it knows not how to distinguish between the rich and the poor, the glorious and inglorious, the high born and him that is not such; neither doth death, nor the other reverses of fortune, but they all rise up alike against all; and if I may say something that is even marvellous, against the rich more of the two. For by how much they are less exercised in these things, so much the more do they perish, when overtaken by them. And the fear too is greater with the rich. For none so tremble at princes as they; and at multitudes, not less than at princes, yea rather much more; many such houses in fact have been subverted alike by the wrath of multitudes and the threatening of princes. But the poor man is exempt from both these kinds of troubled waters.

6. Wherefore let alone this nobility, and if thou wouldest show me that thou art noble, show the freedom of thy soul, such as that blessed man had (and he a poor man), who said to Herod, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother Philip's wife;"(1) such as he was possessed of, who before him was like him, and after him shall be so again; who said to Ahab, "I do not trouble Israel, but thou, and thy father's house;"(2) such as the prophets had, such as all the apostles.

But not like this are the souls of them that are slaves to wealth, but as they that are under ten thousand tutors, and taskmasters, so these dare not so much as lift up their eye, and speak boldly in behalf of virtue. For the love of riches, and that of glory, and that of other things, looking terribly on them, make them slavish flatterers; there being nothing which so takes away liberty, as entanglement in worldly affairs, and the wearing what are accounted marks of distinction. For such an one hath not one master, nor two, nor three, but ten thousand.

And if ye would fain even number them, let us bring in some one of those that are in honor in kings' courts, and let him have both very much wealth, and great power, and a birthplace excelling others, and distinction of ancestry, and let him be looked up to by all men. Now then let us see, if this be not the very person to be more in slavery than all; and let us set in comparison with him, not a slave merely, but a slave's slave, for many though servants have slaves. This slave's slave then for his part hath but one master. And what though that one be not a freeman? yet he is but one, and the other looks only to his pleasure. For albeit his master's master seem to have power over him, yet for the present he obeys one only; and if matters between them two are well, he will abide in security all his life. But our man hath not one or two only, but many, and more grievous masters. And first he is in care about the sovereign himself. And it is not the same to have a mean person for a master, as to have a king, whose ears are buzzed into by many, and who becomes a property now to this set and now to that.

Our man, though conscious of nothing, suspects all; both his comrades and his subordinates; both his friends and his enemies.

But the other man too, you may say, fears his master. But how is it the same thing, to have one or many, to make one timorous? Or rather, if a man inquire carefully, he will not find so much as one. How, and in what sense? Whereas that slave hath no one that desires to put him out of that service of his, and to introduce himself (whence neither hath he any one to plot against him therein); these have not even any other pursuit, but to unsettle him. that is more approved and more beloved by their ruler. Wherefore also he must needs flatter all, his superiors, his equals, his friends. For where envy is, and love of glory, there even sincere friendship has no strength. For as those of the same craft cannot love one another with a perfect and genuine love, so is it with rivals in honor also, and with them that long for the same among worldly objects. Whence also great is the war within.

Seest thou what a swarm of masters, and of hard masters? Wilt thou that I show thee yet another, more grievous than this? They that are behind him, all of them strive to get before him: all that are before him, to hinder him from coming nearer them, and passing them by.

7. But O marvel! I undertook indeed to show you masters, but our discourse, we find, coming on and waxing eager, hath performed more than my undertaking, pointing out foes instead of masters; or rather the same persons both as foes and as masters. For while they are courted like masters, they are terrible as foes, and they plot against us as enemies. When then any one hath the same persons both as masters, and as enemies, what can be worse than this calamity? The slave indeed, though he be subject to command, yet nevertheless hath the advantage of care and good-will on the part of them who give him orders; but these, while they receive commands, are made enemies, and are set one against another; and that so much more grievously than those in battles, in that they both wound secretly, and in the mask of friends they treat men as their enemies would do, and oftentimes make themselves credit of the calamity of others.

But not such are our circumstances; rather should another fare ill, there are many to grieve with him: should he obtain distinction, many to find pleasure with him. Not so again the apostle: "For whether," saith he, "one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it."(3) And the words of him who gives these admonitions, are at one time, "What is my hope or joy? are not even ye?"(4) at another, "Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord;"(1) at another, "Out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you;"(2) and, "Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?"(3)

Wherefore then do we still endure the tempest and the billows of the world without, and not run to this calm haven, and leaving the names of good things, go on to the very things themselves? For glory, and dignity, and wealth, and credit, and all such things, are names with them, but with us realities; just as the grievous things, death and dishonor and poverty, and whatever else is like them, are names indeed with us, but realities with them.

And, if thou wilt, let us first bring forward glory, so lovely and desirable with all of them. And I speak not of its being short-lived, and soon put out, but when it is in its bloom, then show it me. Take not away the daubings and colored lines of the harlot, but bring her forward decked out, and exhibit her to us, for me thereupon to expose her deformity. Well then, of course thou wilt tell of her array, and her many lictors, and the heralds' voice, and the listening of all classes, and the silence kept by the populace, and the blows given to alI that come in one's way, and the universal gazing. Are not these her splendors? Come then, let us examine whether these things be not vain, and a mere unprofitable imagination. For wherein is the person we speak of the better for these things, either in body, or in soul? for this constitutes the man. Will he then be taller hereby, or stronger, or healthier, or swifter, or will he have his senses keener, and more piercing? Nay, no one could say this. Let us go then to the soul, if haply we may find there any advantage occurring herefrom. What then? Will such a one be more temperate, more gentle, more prudent, through that kind of attendance? By no means, but rather quite the contrary. For not as in the body, so also is the result here. For there the body indeed gains nothing in respect of its proper excellence; but here the mischief is not only the soul's reaping no good fruit, but also its actually receiving much evil therefrom: hurried as it is by such means into haughtiness, and vainglory, and folly, and wrath, and ten thousand faults like them.

"But he rejoices," thou wilt say, "and exults in these things, and they brighten him up." The crowning point(4) of his evils lies in that word of thine, and the incurable part of the disease. For he that rejoices in these things, would be unwilling however easily to be released from that which is the ground of his evils; yea, he hath blocked up against himself the way of healing by this delight. So that here most of all is the mischief, that he is not even pained, but rather rejoices, when the diseases are growing upon him.

For neither is rejoicing always a good thing; since even thieves rejoice in stealing, and an adulterer in defiling his neighbor's marriage bed, and the covetous in spoiling by violence, and the manslayer in murdering. Let us not then look whether he rejoice, but whether it be for something profitable, lest(5) perchance we find his joy to be such as that of the adulterer and the thief.

For wherefore, tell me, doth he rejoice? For his credit with the multitude, because he can puff himself up, and be gazed upon? Nay, what can be worse than this desire, and this ill-placed fondness? or if it be no bad thing, ye must leave off deriding the vainglorious and aspersing them with continual mockeries: ye must leave off uttering imprecations on the haughty and contemptuous. But ye would not endure it. Well then, they too deserve plenty of censure, though they have plenty of lictors. And all this I have said of the more tolerable sort of rulers; since the greater part of them we shall find transgressing more grievously than either robbers, or murderers, or adulterers, or spoilers of tombs, from not making a good use of their power. For indeed both their thefts are more shameless, and their butcheries more hardened, and their impurities far more enormous than the others; and they dig through, not one wall, but estates and houses without end, their prerogative making it very easy to them.

And they serve a most grievous servitude, both stooping basely under their passions,(6) and trembling at all their accomplices. For he only is free, and he only a ruler, and more kingly than all kings, who is delivered from his passions.

Knowing then these things, let us follow after the true freedom, and deliver ourselves from the evil slavery, and let us account neither pomp of power nor dominion of wealth, nor any other such thing, to be blessed; but virtue only. For thus shall we both enjoy security here, and attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

HOMILY LIX.

MATT. XVIII. 7.

Woe unto the world because of offenses:(1) for it must needs be that offenses come: but woe to that man by(2) whom the offense cometh."

"AND if 'it must needs be that offenses come,'" (some one of our adversaries may perchance say), "why doth He lament over the world, when He ought rather to afford succor, and to stretch forth His hand in its behalf? For this were the part of a physician, and a protector, whereas the other might be looked for even from any ordinary person."

What then could we possibly say, in answer to so shameless a tongue? nay what dost thou seek for equal to this healing care of His? For indeed being God He became man for thee, and took the form of a slave, and underwent all extremities, and left undone none of those things which it concerned Him to do. But inasmuch as unthankful men were nothing the better for this, He laments over them, for that after so much fostering care they continued in their unsoundness.

It was like as if over the sick man, that had had the advantage of much attendance, and who had not been willing to obey the rules of the physician, any one were to lament and say, "Woe to such a man from his infirmity, which he has increased by his own remissness." But in that case indeed there is no advantage from the bewailing, but here this too is a kind of healing treatment to foretell what would be, and to lament it. For many oftentimes, though, when advised, they were nothing profited, yet, when mourned for, they amended.

For which reason most of all He used the word "Woe," thoroughly to rouse them, and to make them in earnest, and to work upon them to be wakeful. And at the same time He shows forth the good will He had towards those very men and His own mildness, that He mourns for them even when gainsaying, not taking mere disgust at it, but correcting them, both with the mourning, and with the prediction, so as to win them over.

But how is this possible? he may say. For if "it must needs be that offenses come," how is it possible to escape these? Because that the offenses come indeed must needs be, but that men should perish is not altogether of necessity. Like as though a physician should say (for nothing hinders our using the same illustration again), it must needs be that this disease should come on, but it is not a necessary consequence that he who gives heed should be of course destroyed by the disease. And this He said, as I mentioned, to awaken together with the others His disciples. For that they may not slumber, as sent unto peace and unto untroubled life, He shows many wars close upon them, from without, from within. Declaring this, Paul said, "Without were fightings, within were fears;"(3) and, "In perils among false brethren;"(4) and in his discourse to the Milesians too He said, "Also of you shall some arise speaking perverse things;"(5) and He Himself too said, "The man's foes shall be they of his own household."(6) But when He said, "It must needs be," it is not as taking away the power of choosing for themselves, nor the freedom of the moral principle, nor as placing man's life under any absolute constraint of circumstances, that He saith these things, but He foretells what would surely be; and this Luke hath set forth in another form of expression, "It is impossible but that offenses should come."(7)

But what are the offenses?(8) The hindrances on the right way. Thus also do those on the stage call them that are skilled in those matters, them that distort their bodies.

It is not then His prediction that brings the offenses; far from it; neither because He foretold it, therefore doth it take place; but because it surely was to be, therefore He foretold it; since if those who bring in the offenses had not been minded to do wickedly, neither would the offenses have come; and if they had not been to come, neither would they have been foretold. But because those men did evil, and were incurably diseased, the offenses came, and He foretells that which is to be.

But if these men had been kept right, it may be said, and there had been no one to bring in an offense, would not this saying have been convicted of falsehood? By no means, for neither would it have been spoken. For if all were to have been kept right, He would not have said, "it must needs be that they come," but because He foreknew they would be of themselves incorrigible, therefore He said, the offenses will surely come.

And wherefore did He not take them out of the way? it may be said. Why, wherefore should they have been taken out of the way? For the sake of them that are hurt? But not thence is the ruin of them that are hurt, but from their own remissness. And the virtuous prove it, who, so far from being injured thereby, are even in the greatest degree profiled, such as was Job, such as was Joseph, such as were all the righteous, and the apostles. But if many perish, it is from their own slumbering. But if it were not so, but the ruin was the effect of the offenses, all must have perished. And if there are those who escape, let him who doth not escape impute it to himself. For the offenses, as I have said, awaken, and render more quick-sighted, and sharper, not only him that is preserved; but even him that hath fallen into them, if he rise up again quickly, for they render him more safe, and make him more difficult to overcome; so that if we be watchful, no small profit do we reap from hence, even to be continually awake. For if when we have enemies, and when so many dangers are pressing upon us, we sleep, what should we be if living in security. Nay, if thou wilt, look at the first man. For if having lived in paradise a short time, perchance not so much as a whole day, and having enjoyed delights, he drove on to such a pitch of wickedness, as even to imagine an equality with God, and to account the deceiver a benefactor, and not to keep to one commandment; if he had lived the rest of his life also without affliction, what would he not have done?

2. But when we say these things, they make other objections again, asking, And why did God make him such? God did not make him such, far from it, since then neither would He have punished him. For if we in those matters in which we are the cause, do not find fault with our servant, much more will not the God of all. "But whence did this come to pass?" one may say. Of himself and his own remissness. "What means, of himself?" Ask thyself. For if it be not of themselves the bad are bad, do not punish thy servant nor reprove thy wife for what errors she may commit, neither beat thy son, nor blame thy friend, nor hate thine enemy that doth despite to thee: for all these deserve to be pitied, not to be punished, unless they offend of themselves. "But I am not able to practise self-restraint," one may say. And yet, when thou perceivest the cause not to be with them, but of another necessity, thou canst practise self-restraint. When at least a servant being taken with sickness doth not the things enjoined him, so far from blaming thou dost rather excuse him. Thus thou art a witness, that the one thing is of one's self, the other not of one's self. So that here too, if thou knewest that he was wicked from being born such, so far from blaming, thou wouldest rather have shown him indulgence. For surely, when thou makest him allowance for his illness, it could not be that thou wouldest have refused to make allowance for God's act of creation, if indeed he had been made such from the very first.

And in another way too it is easy to stop the mouths of such men, for great is the abounding power of the truth. For wherefore dost thou never find fault with thy servant, because he is not of a beautiful countenance, that he is not of fine stature in his body, that he is not able to fly? Because these things are natural. So then from blame against his nature he is acquitted, and no man gainsays it. When therefore thou blamest, thou showest that the fault is not of nature but of his choice. For if in those things, which we do not blame, we bear witness that the whole is of nature, it is evident that where we reprove, we declare that the offense is of the choice.

Do not then bring forward, I beseech thee, perverse reasonings, neither sophistries and webs slighter than the spider's, but answer me this again: Did God make all men? It is surely plain to every man. How then are not all equal in respect of virtue and vice? whence are the good, and gentle, and meek? whence are the worthless and evil? For if these things do not require any purpose, but are of nature, how are the one this, the others that? For if by nature all were bad, it were not possible for any one to be good, but if good by nature, then no one bad. For if there were one nature of all men, they must needs in this respect be all one, whether they were to be this, or whether they were to be that.

But if we should say that by nature the one are good, the other bad, which would not be reasonable (as we have shown), these things must be unchangeable, for the things of nature are unchangeable. Nay, mark. All mortals are also liable to suffering; and no one is free from suffering, though he strive without end. But now we see of good many becoming worthless, and of worthless good, the one through remissness, the other by earnestness; which thing most of all indicates that these things do not come of nature.

For the things of nature are neither changed, nor do they need diligence for their acquisition. For like as for seeing and hearing we do not need labor, so neither should we need toils in virtue, if it had been apportioned by nature.

"But wherefore did He at all make worthless men, when He might have made all men good? Whence then are the evil things?" saith he. Ask thyself; for it is my part to show they are not of nature, nor from God.

"Come they then of themselves?" he saith. By no means. "But are they unoriginated?" Speak reverently, O man, and start back from this madness, honoring with one honor God and the evil things, and that honor the highest. For if they be unoriginate they are mighty, and cannot so much as be plucked up, nor pass into annihilation. For that what is unoriginate is imperishable, is surely manifest to all.

3. And whence also are there so many good, when evil hath such great power? how are they that have an origin stronger than that which is unoriginate?

"But God destroys these things," he saith. When? And how will He destroy what are of equal honor, and of equal strength, and of the same age, as one might say, with Himself?

Oh malice of the devil! how great an evil hath he invented! With what blasphemy hath he persuaded men to surround God! with what cloak of godliness hath he devised another profane account? For desiring to show, that not of Him was the evil, they brought in another evil doctrine, saying, that these things are unoriginate.

"Whence then are evils?" one may say. From willing and not willing. "But the very thing of our willing and not willing, whence is it?" From ourselves. But thou dost the same in asking, as if when thou hadst asked, whence is seeing and not seeing? then when I said, from closing the eyes or not closing the eyes, thou wert to ask again; the very closing the eyes or not, whence is it? then having heard that it was of ourselves, and our will, thou weft to seek again another cause.

For evil is nothing else than disobedience to God. "Whence then," one may say, "did man find this?" "Why, was it a task to find this? I pray thee." "Nay, neither do I say this, that this thing is difficult; but whence became he desirous to disobey." "From remissness. For having power for either, he inclined rather to this."

But if thou art perplexed yet and dizzy at hearing this, I will ask thee nothing difficult nor involved, but a simple and plain question. Hast thou become some time bad? and hast thou become some time also good? What I mean, is like this. Didst thou prevail some time over passion, and wast thou taken again by passion? Has thou been overtaken by drunkenness, and hast thou prevailed over drunkenness? Wast thou once moved to wrath, and again not moved to wrath? Didst thou overlook a poor man, and not overlook him? Didst thou commit whoredom once? and didst thou become chaste again? Whence then are all these things? tell me, whence? Nay if thou thyself do not tell, I will say. Because at one time thou didst restrain thyself and strive, but after that thou becamest remiss and careless. For to those that are desperate, and are continually in wickedness, and are in a state of senselessness, and are mad, and who are not willing so much as to hear what will amend them, I will not even discourse of self restraint; but to them that have been sometimes in the one, and sometimes in the other, I will gladly speak. Didst thou once take by violence the things that belonged not to thee; and after this, subdued by pity, didst impart even of thine unto him that was in need? Whence then this change? Is it not quite plain it is from the mind, and the choice of will?

It is quite plain, and there is no one who would not say this. Wherefore I entreat you to be in earnest, and to cleave to virtue, and ye will have no need of these questions. For our evils are mere names, if we be willing. Inquire not then whence are evils, neither perplex thyself; but having found that they are from remissness only, flee the evil deeds.

And if any one should say, that these things come not from us; whenever thou seest him angry with his servants, and provoked with his wife, and blaming a child, and condemning them who injure him, say to him, how then saidst thou, that evils come not from us? For if they be not from us, wherefore dost thou find fault? Say again; is it of thyself thou revilest, and insultest? For if it be not of thyself, let no man be angry with thee; but if it be of thyself, of thyself and of thy remissness are thy evil deeds.

But what? thinkest thou there are some good men? For if indeed no man is good, whence hast thou this word? whence are praises? But if there are good men, it is quite plain that they will also reprove the bad. Yet if no one is voluntarily wicked, nor of himself, the good will be found to be unjustly reproving the bad, and they themselves too will be in this way bad again. For what can be worse than to subject the guiltless to accusations? But if they continue in our estimation good men, though reproving, and this especially is a proof of their goodness, even to the very fools it is hereby plain, that no one is ever by necessity bad.

But if after all this thou wouldest still inquire, whence are evils? I would say, from remissness, from idleness, from keeping company with the bad, from contempt of virtue; hence are both the evils themselves, and the fact that some inquire, whence are the evils. Since of them surely who do right no one inquires about these things, of them that are purposed to live equitably and temperately; but they, who dare to commit wicked acts, and wish to devise some foolish comfort(1) to themselves by these discussions, do weave spiders' webs.

But let us tear these in pieces not by our words only, but by our deeds too. For neither are these things of necessity. For if they were of necessity, He would not have said, "Woe to the man, by whom the offense cometh."(2) For those only doth he bewail, who are wicked by their choice.

And if He saith "by whom,"(3) marvel not. For not as though another were bringing in it by him, doth He say this, but viewing him as himself causing the whole. For the Scripture is wont to say, "by whom," for "of whom;"(4) as when it saith, "I have gotten a man by God,"(5) putting not the second cause, but the first; and again, "Is not the interpretation of them by God,"(6) and, "God is faithful, by whom ye are called unto the fellowship of His Son."(7)

4. And that thou mayest learn that it is not of necessity, hear also what follows. For after bewailing them, He saith, "If thy hand, or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: for it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or feet to be cast into the fire. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out; it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into the furnace of fire;"(8) not saying these things of limbs; far from it; but of friends, of relations, whom we regard in the rank of necessary members. This He had both said further back, and now He saith it. For nothing is so hurtful as bad company. For what things compulsion cannot, friendship can often effect, both for hurt, and for profit. Wherefore with much earnestness He commands us to cut off them that hurt us, intimating these that bring the offenses.

Seest thou how He hath put away the mischief that would result from the offenses? By foretelling that there surely will be offenses, so that they might find no one in a state of carelessness, but that looking for them men might be watchful. By showing the evils to be great (for He would not have said without purpose, "Woe to the world because of the offenses," but to show that great is the mischief therefrom), by lamenting • again in stronger terms over him that brings them in. For the saying, "But woe to that man," was that of one showing that great was the punishment, but not this only, but also by the comparison which He added He increased the fear.

Then He is not satisfied with these things, but He showeth also the way, by which one may avoid the offenses.

But what is this? The wicked, saith He, though they be exceeding dear friends to thee, cut off from thy friendship.

And He giveth a reason that cannot be gainsaid. For if they continue friends, thou wilt not gain them, but thou wilt lose thyself besides; but if thou shouldest cut them off, thine own salvation at least thou wilt gain. So that if any one's friendship harms thee, cut it off from thee. For if of our own members we often cut off many, when they are both in an incurable state, and are ruining the rest, much more ought one to do this in the case of friends.

But if evils were by nature, superfluous were all this admonition and advice, superfluous the precaution by the means that have been mentioned. But if it be not superfluous, as surely it is not superfluous, it is quite clear that wickedness is of the will.(9)

"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in Heaven."(10)

He calleth little ones not them that are really little, but them that are so esteemed by the multitude, the poor, the objects of contempt, the unknown (for how should he be little who is equal in value to the whole world; how should he be little, who is dear to God?); but them who in the imagination of the multitude are so esteemed.

And He speaks not of many only, but even of one, even by this again warding off the hurt of the many offenses. For even as to flee the wicked, so also to honor the good, hath very great gain, and would be a twofold security to him who gives heed, the one by rooting out the friendships with them that offend, the other from regarding these saints with respect and honor.

Then in another way also He makes them objects of reverence, saying, "That their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in Heaven."

Hence it is evident, that the saints have angels, or even all men. For the apostle too saith of the woman, "That she ought to have power on her head because of the angels."(1) And Moses, "He set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels(2) of God."(3)

But here He is discoursing not of angels only, but rather of angels that are greater than others. But when He saith, "The face of my Father," He means nothing else than their fuller confidence, and their great honor.

"For the Son of Man is come to save that which was lost."(4)

Again, He is putting another reason stronger than the former, and connects with it a parable, by which He brings in the Father also as desiring these things. "For how think ye?" saith He; "If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it,(5) he rejoiceth over it more than over the ninety and nine, which went not astray. Even so it is not will before your Father,(6) that one of these little ones should perish."(7)

Seest thou by how many things He is urging to the care of our mean brethren. Say not then, "Such a one is a blacksmith, a shoemaker, he is a ploughman, he is a fool," and so despise him. For in order that thou shouldest not feel this, see by how many motives He persuades thee to practise moderation, and presses thee into a care for these. He set a little child, and saith, "Be ye as little children." And, "Whosoever receiveth such a little child receiveth me;" and, "Whosoever shall offend," shall suffer the utmost penalties. And He was not even satisfied with the comparison of the "millstone," but added also His "woe," and commanded us to cut off such, though they be in the place of hands and eyes to us. And by the angels again that are entrusted with these same mean brethren, He makes them objects of veneration, and from His own will and passion (for when He said, "The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost," He signifies even the cross, like as Paul saith, speaking of a brother, "For whom Christ died"); and from the Father, for that neither to Him doth it seem good that one should perish; and from common custom, because the shepherd leaves them that are safe, and seeks what is lost; and when he hath found what was gone astray, he is greatly delighted at the finding and the saving of this.

5. If then God thus rejoices over the little one that is found, how dost thou despise them that are the objects of God's earnest care, when one ought to give up even one's very life for one of these little ones? But is he weak and mean? Therefore for this very cause most of all, one ought to do everything in order to preserve him. For even He Himself left the ninety and nine sheep, and went after this, and the safety of so many availed not to throw into the shade the loss of one. But Luke saith, that He even brought it on his shoulders, and that "There was greater joy over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons"(8) And from His forsaking those that were saved for it, and from His taking more pleasure in this one, He showed His earnestness about it to be great.

Let us not then be careless about such souls as these. For all these things are said for this object. For by threatening, that he who has not become a little child should not so much as at all set foot in the Heavens, and speaking of "the millstone," He hath brought down the haughtiness of the boastful; for nothing is so hostile to love as pride; and by saying, "It must needs be that offenses come," He made them to be wakeful; and by adding, "Woe unto him by whom the offense cometh," He hath caused each to endeavor that it be not by him. And while by commanding to cut off them that offend He made salvation easy; by enjoining not to despise them, and not merely enjoining, but with earnestness (for "take heed," saith He, "that ye despise not one of these little ones"), and by saying, "Their angels behold the face of my Father," and, "For this end am I come," and "my Father willeth this," He hath made those who should take care of them more diligent.

Seest thou what a wall He hath set around them, and what earnest care He taketh of them that are contemptible and perishing, at once threatening incurable ills to them that make them fall, and promising great blessings to them that wait upon them, and take care of them, and bringing an example from Himself again and from the Father?

Him let us also imitate, refusing none of the tasks that seem lowly and troublesome for our brethren's sake; but though we have to do service, though he be small, though he be mean for whom this is done, though the work be laborious, though we must pass over mountains and precipices, let all things be held endurable for the salvation of our brother. For a soul is an object of such earnest care to God, that "He spared not His own Son."(1)

Wherefore I entreat, when morning hath appeared, straightway as we come out of our house, let us have this one object in view, this earnest care above all, to rescue him that is in danger; I do not mean this danger only that is known by sense, for this is not danger at all, but the danger of the soul, that which is brought upon men by the devil.

For the merchant too, to increase his wealth, crosses the sea; and the artisan, to add to his substance, doeth all things. Let us also then not be satisfied with our own salvation only, since else we destroy even this. For in a war too, and in an engagement, the soldier who is looking to this only how he may save himself by flight, destroys the rest also with himself; much as on the other hand the noble-minded one, and he who stands in arms in defense of the others, with the others preserves himself also. Since then our state too is a war, and of all wars the bitterest, and an engagement and a battle, even as our King commanded us, so let us set ourselves in array in the engagement, prepared for slaughter, and blood, and murders, looking to salvation in behalf of all, and cheering them that stand, and raising up them that are down. For indeed many of our brethren lie fallen in this conflict, having wounds, wallowing in blood, and there is none to heal, not any one of the people, not a priest, no one else, no one to stand by, no friend, no brother, but we look every man to his own things.

By reason of this we maim our own interests also. For the greatest confidence and means of approval is the not looking to our own things.

Therefore I say, are we weak and easy to be overcome both by men, and by the devil, because we seek the opposite to this, and lock not our shields one with another, neither are fortified with godly love, but seek for ourselves other motives of friendship, some from relationship, some from long acquaintance, some from community of interest, some from neighborhood; and from every cause rather are we friends, than from godliness, when one's friendships ought to be formed upon this only. But now the contrary is done; with Jews and with Greeks(2) we sometimes become friends, rather than with the children of the church.

6. Yes, saith he, because the one is worthless, but the other kind and gentle. What sayest thou? Dost thou call thy brother worthless, who art commanded not to call him so much as Raca? And art thou not ashamed, neither dost thou blush, at exposing thy brother, thy fellow member, him that hath shared in the same birth with thee, that hath partaken of the same table?

But if thou hast any brother after the flesh, if he should perpetrate ten thousand evil deeds, thou laborest to conceal him, and accountest thyself also to partake of the shame, when he is disgraced; but as to thy spiritual brother, when thou oughtest to free him from calumny, thou dost rather encompass him with ten thousand charges against him?

"Why he is worthless and insufferable," thou mayest say. Nay then for this reason become his friend, that thou mayest put an end to his being such a one, that thou mayest convert him, that thou mayest lead him back to virtue.--" But he obeys not," thou wilt say, "neither cloth he bear advice."--Whence knowest thou it? What, hast thou admonished him, and attempted to amend him?--"I have admonished him often," thou wilt say. How many times?--Oftentimes, both once, and a second time.--Oh! Is this often? Why, if thou hadst done this throughout all the time, oughtest thou to grow weary, and to give it up? Seest thou not how God is always admonishing us, by the prophets, by the apostles, by the evangelists? What then? have we performed all? and have we been obedient in all things? By no means. Did He then cease admonishing? Did He hold His peace? Doth He not say each day, "Ye cannot serve God, and mammon"(1) and with many, the superfluity and the tyranny of wealth yet increases? Doth He not cry aloud each day, "Forgive, and ye shall have forgiveness,"(2) and we become wild beasts more and more? Doth He not continually admonish to restrain desire, and to keep the mastery over wicked lust, and many wallow worse than swine in this sin? But nevertheless, He ceases not speaking.

Wherefore then do we not consider these things with ourselves, and say that even with us God reasons, and abstains not from doing this, although we disobey Him in many things?

Therefore He said that, "Few are the saved."(3) For if virtue in ourselves suffices not for our salvation, but we must take with us others too when we depart; when we have saved neither ourselves, nor others, what shall we suffer? Whence shall we have any more a hope of salvation?

But why do I blame for these things, when not even of them that dwell with us do we take any account, of wife, and children, and servants, but we have care of one thing instead of another, like drunken men, that our servants may be more in number, and may serve us with much diligence, and that our children may receive from us a large inheritance, and that our wife may have ornaments of gold, and costly garments, and wealth; and we care not at all for themselves, but for the things that belong to them. For neither do we care for our own wife, nor provide for her, but for the things that belong to the wife; neither for the child, but for the things of the child.

And we do the same as if any one seeing a house in a bad state, and the walls giving way, were to neglect to raise up these, and to make up great fences round it without; or when a body was diseased, were not to take care of this, but were to weave for it gilded garments; or when the mistress was ill, were to give heed to the maidservants, and the looms, and the vessels in the house, and mind other things, leaving her to lie and moan.

For this is done even now, and when our soul is in evil and wretched case, and angry, and reviling, and lusting wrongly, and full of vainglory, and at strife, and dragged down to the earth, and torn by so many wild beasts, we neglect to drive away the passions from her, and are careful about house and servants. And while if a bear has escaped by stealth, we shut up our houses, and run along by the narrow passages, so as not to fall in with the wild beast; now while not one wild beast, but many such thoughts are tearing in pieces the soul, we have not so much as a feeling of it. And in the city we take so much care, as to shut up the wild beasts in solitary places and in cages, and neither at the senate house of the city, nor at the courts of justice, nor at the king's palace, but far off somewhere at a distance do we keep them chained; but in the case of the soul, where the senate house is, where the King's palace, where the court of justice is, the wild beasts are let loose, crying and making a tumult about the mind itself and the royal throne. Therefore all things are turned upside down, and all is full of disturbance, the things within, the things without, and we are in nothing different from a city thrown into confusion from being overrun by barbarians; and what takes place in us is as though a serpent were setting on a brood of sparrows, and the sparrows, with their feeble cries, were flying about every way affrighted, and full of trouble, without having any place whither to go and end their consternation.

7. Wherefore I entreat, let us kill the serpent, let us shut up the wild beasts, let us stifle them, let us slay them, and these wicked thoughts let us give over to the sword of the Spirit, lest the prophet threaten us also with such things as he threatened Judea, that "The wild asses shall dance there, and porcupines, and serpents."(4)

For there are, there are even men worse than wild asses, living as it were in the wilderness, and kicking; yea the more part of the youth amongst us is like this. For indeed having wild lusts they thus leap, they kick, going about unbridled, and spend their diligence on no becoming object.

And the fathers are to blame, who while they constrain the horsebreakers to discipline their horses with much attention, and suffer not the youth of the colt to go on long untamed, but put upon it both a rein, and all the rest, from the beginning; but their own young ones they overlook, going about for a long season unbridled, and without temperance; disgracing themselves, by fornications, and gamings, and continuings in the wicked theatres, when they ought before fornication to give him to a wife, to a wife chaste, and highly endued with wisdom; for she will both bring off her husband from his most disorderly course of life, and will be instead of a rein to the colt.

For indeed fornications and adulteries come not from any other cause, than from young men's being unrestrained. For if he have a prudent wife, he will take care of house and honor and character. "But he is young," you say. I know it too. For if Isaac was forty years old when he took his bride, passing all that time of his life in virginity, much more ought young men under grace to practise this self-restraint. But oh what grief! Ye do not endure to take care of their chastity, but ye overlook their disgracing, defiling themselves, becoming accursed; as though ye knew not that the profit of marriage is to preserve the body pure, and if this be not so, there is no advantage of marriage. But ye do the contrary; when they are filled with countless stains, then ye bring them to marriage without purpose and without fruit.

"Why I must wait," thou wilt say, "that he may become approved, that he may distinguish himself in the affairs of the state." but of the soul ye have no consideration, but ye overlook it as a cast-away. For this reason all things are full of confusion, and disorder, and trouble, because this is made a secondary matter, because necessary things are neglected, but the unimportant obtain much forethought.

Knowest thou not, that thou canst do no such kindness to the youth, as to keep him pure from whorish uncleannness? For nothing is equal to the soul. Because, "What is a man profited," saith He, "if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his own soul."(1) But because the love of money hath overturned and cast down all, and hath thrust aside the strict fear of God, having seized upon the souls of men. like some rebel chief upon a citadel; therefore we are careless both of our children's salvation, and of our own, looking to one object only, that having become wealthier, we may leave riches to others, and these again to others after them, and they that follow these to their posterity, becoming rather a kind of passers on of our possessions and of our money, but not masters.

Hence great is our folly; hence the free are less esteemed than the slaves. For slaves we reprove, if not for their sake, yet for our own; but the free enjoy not the benefit even of this care, but are more vile in our estimation than these slaves. And why do I say, than our slaves? For our children are less esteemed than cattle; and we take care of horses and asses rather than of children. And should one have a mule, great is his anxiety to find the best groom, and not one either harsh, or dishonest, or drunken, or ignorant of his art; out if we have set a tutor(2) over a child's soul, we take at once, and at random, whoever comes in our way. And yet than this art there is not another greater. For what is equal to training the soul, and forming the mind of one that is young? For he that hath this art, ought to be more exactly observant than any painter and any sculptor.(3)

But we take no account of this, but look to one thing only, that he may be trained as to his tongue. And to this again we have directed our endeavors for money's sake. For not that he may be able to speak, but that he may get money, does he learn speaking; since if it were possible to grow rich even without this, we should have no care even for this.

Seest thou how great is the tyranny of riches? how it has seized upon all things, and having bound them like some slaves or cattle, drags them where it will?

But what are we advantaged by such accusations against it? For we indeed shoot at it in words, but it prevails over us in deeds. Nevertheless, not even so shall we cease to shoot at it with words from our tongue. For if any advance is made, both we are gainers and you; but if you continue in the same things, all our part at least hath been performed.

But may God both deliver you from this disease, and cause us to glory in you, for to Him be glory, and dominion, world without end. Amen.

HOMILY LX.

MATT. XVIII. 15.

"If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault(2) between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother."

For, since He had used vehement language against them that cause offense, and on every hand had moved them to fear; in order that the offended might not in this way on the other hand become supine. neither supposing all to be cast upon others, should be led on to another vice, soften in themselves, and desiring to be humored in everything, and run upon the shoal of pride; seest thou how He again checks them also, and commands the telling of the faults to be between the two alone, lest by the testimony of the many he should render his accusation heavier, and the other, become excited to opposition, should continue incorrigible.

Wherefore He saith, "Between thee and him alone," and, "If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." What is, "If he shall hear thee?" If he shall condemn himself, if he shall be persuaded that he has done wrong.

"Thou hast gained thy brother." He did not say, Thou hast a sufficient revenge, but, "Thou hast gained thy brother," to show that there is a common loss from the enmity. For He said not, "He hath gained himself only," but, "thou too hast gained him," whereby He showed that both the one and the other were losers before this, the one of his brother, the other of his own salvation.

This, when He sat on the mount also, He advised; at one time bringing him who has given the pain to him that had been pained, and saying, "Be reconciled to thy brother,"(3) and at another commanding him that had been wronged to forgive his neighbor. For He taught men to say, "Forgive us our debts, like as we forgive our debtors."(4)

But here He is devising another mode. For not him that gave the pain, doth He now call upon,(5) but him that was pained He brings to this one. For because this who hath done the wrong would not easily come to make excuse, out of shame, and confusion of face, He draws that other to him, and not merely so, but in such way as also to correct what hath been done. And He saith not, "Accuse," nor "Charge him," nor "Demand satisfaction, and an account," by. "Tell him of his fault,"(6) saith He. For he is held in a kind of stupor through anger and shame with which he is intoxicated; and thou, who art in health, must go thy way to him that is ill, and make the tribunal private, and the remedy such as may be readily received. For to say, "Tell him of his fault," is nothing else than "Remind him of his errors" tell him what thou hast suffered at his hand, which very thing, if it be done as it ought, is the part of one making excuse for him, and drawing him over earnestly to a reconciliation.

What then, if he should disobey, and be disposed to abide in hardness? "Take with thyself yet one or two, that in the mouth of two witnesses every word may be established."(7) For the more he is shameless, and bold, the more ought we to be active for his cure, not in anger and indignation. For the physician in like manner, when he sees the malady obstinate, doth not give up nor grow impatient, but then makes the more preparation; which He commands us to do in this case too.

For since thou appearedst to be too weak alone, make thyself more powerful by this addition. For surely the two are sufficient to convict him that hath sinned. Seest thou how He seeketh not the good of him that hath been pained only, but of him also that hath given the pain. For the person injured is this one who is taken captive by his passion, he it is that is diseased, and weak, and infirm. Wherefore He often sends the other to this one, now alone, and now with others; but if he continue in it, even with the church. For, "Tell it," saith He, "to the Church."(8) For if He were seeking this one's advantage only, He would not have commanded to pardon, seventy times seven, one repenting. He would not so often have set so many over him to correct his passion; but if he had remained incorrigible after the first conference would have let him be; but now once, and twice, and thrice, He commands to attempt his cure, and now alone and now with two, now with more.

Wherefore, with respect to them that are without He saith no such thing, but, "If any one smite thee," He saith, "on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also,"(1) but here not in such wise. For what Paul meaneth, saying, "What have I to do to judge them also that are without?"(2) but the brethren he commands both to tell of their faults, and to avoid them, and to cut them off, not being obedient, that they may be ashamed; this Himself also doeth here, making these laws about the brethren; and He sets three(3) over him for teachers and judges, to teach him the things that are done at the time of his drunkenness. For though it be himself that hath said and done all those unreasonable things, yet he will need others to teach him this, like as the drunken man. For anger and sin is a more frantic thing(4) than any drunkenness, and puts the soul in greater distraction.

Who, for instance, was wiser than David? Yet for all that, when he had sinned he perceived it not, his lust keeping in subjection all his reasoning powers, and like some smoke filling his soul. Therefore he stood in need of a lantern from the prophet, and of words calling to his mind what he had done. Wherefore here also He brings these to him that hath sinned, to reason with him about the things he had done.

2. But for what reason doth He command this one to tell him of his fault, and not another? Because this man he would endure more quietly, this, who hath been wronged, who hath been pained, who hath been despitefully used. For one doth not bear in. the same way being told by another of one's fault concerning him that hath been insulted, as by the insulted person himself, especially when this person is alone convicting him. For when he who should demand justice against him, even this one appears to be caring for his salvation, this will have more power than anything in the world to shame him.

Seest thou how this is done not for the sake of just punishment, but of amendment? Therefore He doth not at once command to take with him the two, but when himself hath failed; and not even then doth He send forth a multitude against him; but makes the addition no further than two, or even one; but when he has contemned these too, then and not till then He brings him out to the church.

So much earnestness doth He show, that our neighbor's sins be not exposed by us. And indeed He might have commanded this from the first, but that this might not be, He did not command it, but after a first and second admonition He appoints this.

But what is, "In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established?" Thou hast a sufficient testimony. His meaning is, that thou hast done all thy part, that thou hast left undone none of the things which it pertained to thee to do.

"But if he shall neglect to hear them also, tell it to the church," that is, to the rulers of it; "but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be to thee as an heathen man and a publican." For after this such a one is incurably diseased.

But mark thou, I pray thee, how everywhere He putteth the publican for an example of the greatest wickedness. For above too He saith, "Do not even the publicans the same?"(5) And further on again, "Even the publicans and the harlots shall go before you into the Kingdom of Heaven,"(6) that is, they who are utterly reprobated and condemned. Let them hearken, who are rushing upon unjust gains, who are counting up usuries upon usuries.

But why did He set him with these? To soothe the person wronged, and to alarm him. Is this only then the punishment? Nay, but hear also what follows. "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven."(7) And He did not say to the ruler of the church, "Bind such a man," but, "If thou bind," committing the whole matter to the person himself, who is aggrieved, and the bonds abide indissoluble. Therefore he will suffer the utmost ills; but not he who hath brought him to account is to blame, but he who hath not been willing to be persuaded.

Seest thou how He hath bound him down with twofold constraint, both by the vengeance here, and by the punishment hereafter? But these things hath He threatened, that these circumstances may not arise, but that fearing, at once the being cast out of the church, and the danger from the bond, and the being bound in Heaven, he may become more gentle. And knowing these things, if not at the beginning, at any rate in the multitude of the tribunals he will put off his anger. Wherefore, I tell you, He hath set over him a first, and a second, and a third court,(1) so that though he should neglect to hear the first, he may yield to the second; and even if he should reject that, he may fear the third; and though he should make no account of this, he may be dismayed at the vengeance to come, and at the sentence and judgment to proceed from God.

"And again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."(2)

Seest thou how by another motive also He puts down our enmities, and takes away our petty dissensions,(3) and draws us one to another, and this not from the punishment only which hath been mentioned, but also from the good things which spring from charity? For having denounced those threats against contentiousness, He putteth here the great rewards of concord, if at least they who are of one accord do even prevail with the Father, as touching the things they ask, and have Christ in the midst of them.

"Are there then indeed nowhere two of one accord?" Nay, in many places, perchance even everywhere. "How then do they not obtain all things?" Because many are causes of their failing. For either they often ask things inexpedient. And why marvellest thou, if this is the case with some others, whereas it was so even with Paul, when he heard. "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is perfected in weakness."(4) Or they are unworthy to be reckoned with them that heard these words, and contribute not their own part, but He seeks for such as are like them; therefore He saith "of you," of the virtuous, of them that show forth an angelic rule of life.(5) Or they pray against them that have aggrieved them, seeking for redress and vengeance; and this kind of thing is forbidden, for, "Pray," saith He, "for your enemies."(6) Or having sins unrepented they ask mercy, which thing it is impossible to receive, not only if themselves ask it, but although others having much confidence towards God entreat for them, like as even Jeremiah praying for the Jews did hear, "Pray not thou for this people, because I will not hear thee."(7)

But if all things are there, and thou ask things expedient, and contribute all thine own part, and exhibit an apostolical life, and have concord and love towards thy neighbor, thou wilt obtain on thy entreaty; for the Lord is loving towards man.

3. Then because He had said, "Of my Father," in order that He might show that it is Himself that giveth, and not He who begat Him only, He added, "For wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

What then? are there not two or three gathered together in His name? There are indeed, but rarely. For not merely of the assembling doth He speak, neither this doth He require only; but most surely, as I said before also, the rest of virtue too together with this, and besides, even this itself He requires with great strictness. For what He saith is like this, "If any holds me the principal ground of his love to his neighbors, I will be with Him, if he be a virtuous man in other respects."

But now we see the more part having other motives of friendship. For one loves, because he is loved, another because he hath been honored, a third because such a one has been useful to him in some other worldly matter, a fourth for some other like cause; but for Christ's sake it is a difficult thing to find any one loving his neighbor sincerely, and as he ought to love him. For the more part are bound one to another by their worldly affairs. But Paul did not love thus, but for Christ's sake; wherefore even when not loved in such wise as he loved, he did not cease his love, because he had planted a strong root of his affection; but not so our present state, but on inquiry we shall find with most men anything likely to produce friendship rather than this. And if any one bestowed on me power in so great a multitude to make this inquiry, I would show the more part bound one to another by worldly motives.

And this is evident from the causes that work enmity. For because they are bound one to another by these temporal(8) motives, therefore they are neither fervent towards one another, nor constant, but insult, and loss of money, and envy, and love of vainglory, and every such thing coming upon them, severs the love-tie. For it finds not the root spiritual. Since if indeed it were such, no worldly thing would dissolve things spiritual. For love for Christ's sake is firm, and not to be broken, and impregnable, and nothing can tear it asunder; not calumnies, not dangers, not death, no other thing of this kind. For though he suffer ten thousand things, who thus loves; looking to the ground of his love, he will not desist. For he who loves because of being loved, should he meet with anything painful, puts an end to his love; but he who is bound by this, will never desist.

Wherefore Paul also said, "Charity never faileth."(1) For what hast thou to say? That when honored he insults? that receiving benefits he was minded to slay thee? But even this works upon thee to love more, if thou lovest for Christ's sake. For what things are in the rest subversive of love, these here become apt to produce it. How? First, because such a one is to thee a cause of rewards; secondly, because he that is so disposed stands in need of more succor, and much attention. Therefore I say, he who thus loves inquires not about race, nor country, nor wealth, nor his love to himself, nor any other such matter, but though he be hated, though he be insulted, though he be slain, continues to love, having as a sufficient ground for love, Christ; wherefore also he stands steadfast, firm, not to be overthrown, looking unto Him.

For Christ too so loved his enemies, having loved the obstinate, the injurious, the blasphemers, them that hated Him, them that would not so much as see Him; them that were preferring wood and stones to Him, and with the highest love beyond which one cannot find another. "For greater love hath no man than this," He saith, "that one lay down his life for his friends."(2)

And those even that crucified Him, and acted in so many instances with contumely against Him, see how He continues to treat with kindness. For even to His Father He speaks for them, saying, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."(3) And He sent His disciples moreover, after these things, unto them.

This love then let us also imitate, unto this let us look, that being followers of Christ, we may attain both unto the good things here, and unto those to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might world without end. Amen.

Return to Volume 19 Index