COMMENTARY OF
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
ON THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
HOMILIES VIII TO XI (ACTS 3 & 4)

HOMILY VIII.


ACTS III. 1.


" Now Peter and John went up together into the temple, at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour."

EVERYWHERE we find these two Apostles in great harmony together. "To him Simon Peter beckoned." (John xiii. 24.) These two also "came together to the sepulchre. (Ib. xx. 3 et seq.) And concerning John, Peter said unto Christ, "And what shall this man do?" (Ib. xxi. 21.) Now as for the other miracles, the writer of this book omits them; but he mentions the miracle by which they were all[1] put in commotion. Observe again that they do not come to them purposely; so clear were they of ambition, so closely did they imitate their Master. Why now did they go up to the temple? Did they still live as Jews? No, but for expediency (<greek>krhsimws</greek>).[*] A miraculous sign again takes place, which both confirms the converts, and draws over the rest; and such, as they were a sign for having wrought.[2] The disease was in the nature of the man, and baffled the art of medicine. He had been forty years lame (ch. iv. 20), as the writer says afterwards, and no one during all that time had cured him. And the most obstinate diseases are those which are born with men. It was a great calamity, insomuch that even to provide for himself his necessary sustenance was impossible for him. The man was conspicuous both from the place, and from his malady. Hear how the matter is related. "And a certain man, lame from his mother's womb, was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple." (v. 2.) He sought to receive alms, and he did not know who the men were. "Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said, Look on us." (v. 3, 4.) Yet, not even so were the man's thoughts elevated, but he persisted in his importunity. For such is poverty; upon a refusal, it compels people still to persist. Let this put us to shame who fall back in our prayers. But observe, I pray you, Peter's gentleness: for he said, "Look on us." So truly did their very bearing, of itself, betoken their character. "And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give thee." (v. 5, 6.) He did not say, I give thee something much better than silver or gold: but what? "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up." (v. 7.) Such was also the way of Christ. Often He healed by word, often by an act, often also He stretched forth the hand, where men were somewhat weak in faith, that the cure might not appear to be spontaneous. "And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up." This act made manifest the Resurrection, for it was an image of the Resurrection. "And immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked." (v. 8.) Perhaps it was by way of trying himself that he put it thus to further proof, whether perchance the thing done might not be to no purpose. His feet were weak; it was not that he had lost them. Some say that he did not even know how to walk.[1] "And entered with them into the temple." Of a truth it was marvellous. The Apostles do not urge him; but of his own accord he follows, by the act of following pointing out his benefactors. "And leaping and praising God;" not admiring them, but God that wrought by them. The man was grateful.

["Now[2] Peter and John went up together into the temple," etc.] You observe how they continued in prayer. "The ninth hour:" there they prayed together. ["And a certain man," etc.] The man was in the act of being carried at that instant. ["Whom they laid daily:"] (his bearers carried him away :) ["at the gate," etc.] just when people went into the temple. And that you may not suppose that they carried him for some other purpose, but that it was in order that he might receive alms, hear what the writer says: "so that he might receive alms of those entering into the temple." (Recapitulation of vv. 1-8.) And this is the reason why he also makes mention of the places, to give evidence of what he relates. "And how was it," you may ask, "that they did not present him to Christ?" Perhaps they were certain unbelieving men, that haunted the temple, as in fact neither did they present him to the Apostles, when they saw them entering, after having done such great miracles. "He asked," it is written, "to receive an alms." (v. 3.) Their bearing marked them as certain devout and righteous men. ["And Peter fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said," etc.] (v. 4, 5.) And observe how John is everywhere silent, while Peter makes excuse for him also; "Silver and gold," he says, "have I none." (v. 6.) He does not say, I have none here, as we are wont to speak, but absolutely, I have none. "What then?" he might say, "do you take no notice of me, your suppliant?" Not so, but of what I have, receive thou. Do you remark how unassuming Peter is, how he makes no display even to the object of his beneficence? ["In the name," etc. "And he took him by the hand," etc.] (v. 7.) And the mouth and the hand did all. Such[3] sort of persons were the Jews; lame, and the right thing being to ask for health, these same ask for money, grovelling on the ground: for this it was that they beset the temple--to get money. What then does Peter? He did not despise him; he did not look about for some rich subject; he did not say, If the miracle is not done to some great one (<greek>eis</greek> <greek>ekeinon</greek>), nothing great is done: he did not look for some honor from him, no, nor heal him in the presence of people; for the man was at the entrance, not where the multitude were, that is, within. But Peter sought no such object; nor upon entering did he proclaim the matter: no, it was by his bearing that he attracted the lame man to ask. And the wonder is, that he believed so readily. For those who are set free from diseases of long standing, hardly believe their very eyesight. Once healed, he remains with the Apostles, giving thanks to God. "And he entered," it is said, "with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God." (v. 8.) Observe how restless he is, in the eagerness of his delight, at the same time shutting the mouths of the Jews. Also, that he leaped, was to prevent the suspicion of hypocrisy; for after all, this was beyond the possibility of deception. For if previously he was totally unable to walk, even when hunger pressed hard (and indeed he would not have chosen to share with his bearers the proceeds of his begging, if he had been able to manage for himself), this holds still more in the present ease. And how should he have feigned in behalf of those who had given him no alms? But the man was grateful, even after his recovery. And thus on either side his faith is shown, both by his thankfulness, and by the recent event.

He was so[4] well known to all, that "they recognized him. And all the people," it says, "saw him walking and praising God; and they recognized (<greek>epeginwskon</greek>) that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple." (v. 9.) It is well said, "they recognized," inasmuch as he was one unknown now by reason of what had happened: for we use this term with regard to objects, which we find a difficulty in recognizing. ["And they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him."] Needs must it be believed that[1] the name of Christ remits sins, seeing it produces even such effects as this. ("And as he held Peter and John, all the people came together at the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering." (v. 11.) From his good feelings and love towards the Apostles, the lame man would not leave them; perhaps he was thanking them openly, and praising them. "And all the people," it is said, "ran together unto them. And when Peter saw them, he answered." (v. 12.) Again it is he who acts, and addresses the people.

And in the former instance, it was the circumstance of the tongues that aroused them to hearing, now it was this miracle; then, he took occasion to speak from their accusations now, from their supposition. Let us then consider, in what this address differs from the former, and in what it agrees with that. The former was held in a house, before any one has come over, and before they themselves have wrought anything; this, when all are wondering, and the healed man is standing by; when none doubt, as in the other case where some said "These men are full of new wine." (Acts xii. 13.) At the one, he was surrounded by all the Apostles as he spoke; but at this, he has John alone; for by this time he is bold, and become more energetic. Such is the nature of virtue; once started, it advances, and never stops. Observe also how it was divinely ordered, that the miracle should take place in the temple, that others also might wax bold, while the Apostles work not in holes (<greek>eis</greek> <greek>kataduseis</greek>) and corners, and in secret: though not in the interior of the temple either, where the greater number were. How then, I pray you, was it believed? The man himself who was healed proclaimed the benefit. For there was no reason why he should lie, nor why he should have joined a different set of people.[2] Either then it was because of the spaciousness of the place, that he there wrought the miracle, or because the spot was retired. And observe the event. They went up for one object, and they accomplished another. Thus also did Cornelius: he prayed and fasted[3] * * *. But hitherto they always call Him, "of Nazareth." "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth," said Peter, walk. For in the first instance, the thing required was, that He should be believed in.

Let us not, I pray you, give over at the beginning of the story:[4] and if one has named some particular achievement of virtue, and then has dropped it for awhile, let us begin over again. If we get into the right mood (<greek>en</greek> <greek>exei</greek>), we shall soon arrive at the end, soon reach the summit. For earnestness, it is said, begets earnestness, and dulness begets dulness. He who has effected some little reformation, thereby receives encouragement to approach greater things, and thence again to go on something more than that; and just as it is with fire, the more wood it lays hold on, the more vehement it becomes, so likewise zeal, the more pious reflections it kindles, the more effectually is it armed against their opposites. As, for example: There are set in us, like so many thorns, perjury, falsehood hypocrisy, deceit, dishonesty, abusiveness, scoffing, buffoonery, indecency, scurrility; again under another head, covetousness, rapacity, injustice, calumny, insidiousness; again, wicked lust, uncleanness, lewdness, fornication, adultery; again, envy, emulation, anger, wrath, rancor, revenge, blasphemy, and numberless others. If we effect a reformation in the first instances, not only in them will the success have been achieved, but through them in the following cases also. For reason has then gained more strength to overthrow those other vices. For instance, if he, who has frequently sworn, once extirpates that satanic habit, he has not only gained this point, but a habit of piety in other respects will have been brought in. For no one, I suppose, averse to swearing would easily consent to do any other wicked act; he will feel a reverence for the virtue already acquired. Just as the man who wears a beautiful robe, will blush to roll himself in the mire; so is it also here. From this beginning he will come to learn not to be angry, not to strike, not to insult. For if once he has come right in little matters, the whole affair is done. Often, however, something of this sort takes place, that a person has once reformed, and then again through carelessness falls back into the old sins but too readily, so that the case becomes irremediable. For instance, we have made it a law to ourselves not to swear; we have got on well, for some three, or even four days; after that being hard put to it, we scattered away the whole of our collected gain; we then fall into indolence and recklessness. Still it is not right to give over; one must set to work zealously again. For it is said, he that has built up a house, and then sees his building pulled down, will have less spirit for building again. Yes, but for all this, one must not be dispirited, but must once more set to work zealously.

Let us then lay down daily laws for ourselves. For a time let us begin with the easier. Let us retrench all that superfluity of paths, and put a bridle on our tongues; let no one swear by God. Here is no outlay, here is no fatigue, here is no cost of time. It is sufficient to will, and all is done. It is a matter of habit. I beseech and entreat you, let us contribute thus much of zeal. Tell me, if I had bid you contribute your money, would not each one of you readily cast in according to his ability? If you saw me in extreme danger, would you not, if it had been possible, have cut off your own flesh to give me? Well, I am in danger now, and in great danger, such indeed that, were I withal confined to a dungeon, or had I received ten thousand stripes, or were a convict in the mines, I could not suffer more. Reach me then the hand. Consider how great is the danger, that I should not have been able to reform this which is least: I say "least" in regard to the labor required. What shall I have to say hereafter, when thus called to account? "Why did you not remonstrate? why did you not enjoin? why did you not lay the law before them? why did you not cheek the disobedient?" It will not be enough for me to say, that I did admonish. It will be answered, "You ought to have used more vehement rebuke; since Eli also admonished." (1 Sam. ii. 24.) But God forbid I should compare you with Eli's sons. Indeed, he did admonish them and say, "Nay, my sons, do not so; evil is the report that I hear of you." (1 Sam. iii. 13.) But subsequently the Scripture saith, that he did not admonish his sons: since he did not admonish them severely, or with threats. For is it not strange indeed, that in the synagogues of the Jews the laws are in such force, and whatever the teacher enjoins is performed; while here we are thus despised and rejected? It is not my own glory that I care for (my glory is your good report), but it is for your salvation. Every day we lift up our voice, and shout in your ears. But there is none to hear. Still we take no strong measures. I fear we shall have to give an account at the coming Day of this excessive and unseasonable leniency.

Wherefore, with a loud and clear voice, I proclaim to all and testify, that those who are notorious for this transgression, who utter words which come "of the evil one," (Matt. v. 37.) (for such is swearing,) shall not step over the threshold of the Church. Let this present month be the time allowed you for reforming in this matter. Talk not to me, "Necessity of business compels me to use oaths, else people do not believe me." To begin with this, retrench those oaths which come merely of habit. I know many will laugh, but it is better to be laughed at now, than wept for hereafter. They will laugh, who are mad. For who, I ask, in his right mind would laugh at the keeping of the commandment? But suppose they do; why, it will not be at us, but at Christ, that such men will laugh. You shudder at the word! I knew you would. Now if this law were of my making, at me would be the laughing ; but if Another be the Lawgiver, the jeering passes over to Him. Yes, and Christ was once spit upon, and smitten with the palm, smitten upon the face. Now also He bears with this, and it is no wonder (<greek>ouden</greek> <greek>apeikos</greek>)! For this, hell is prepared; for this, the worm that dieth not. Behold, again I say and testify; let him laugh that will, let him scoff that listeth. Hereunto are we set, to be laughed at and mocked, to suffer all things. We are "the offscouring" (1 Cor. iv. 13) or the world, as blessed Paul says. If any man refuse to conform to this order, that man I, by my word, as with a trumpet's blast, do prohibit to set foot over the Church's threshold, be he prince, be he even the crowned head. Either depose me from this station, or if I am to remain, expose me not to danger. I cannot bear to ascend this throne, without effecting Some great reformation. For if this be impossible, it is better to stand below. Nothing more wretched than a ruler who does his people no good. Do exert yourselves, and attend to this, I entreat you; and let us strive, and of a surety more will come of it. Fast, entreat God (and we will do the same with you) that this pernicious habit may be eradicated. It is no great matter,[1] to become teachers to the world; no small honor to have it said everywhere, that really in this city there is not a man that swears. If this come to pass, you will receive the reward not only of your own good works; indeed what I am to you, this you will become to the world. Assuredly others also will emulate you; assuredly you will be a candle set upon a candlestick.

And is this, you will say, the whole matter? No, this is not all, but this is a beginning of other virtues. He who swears not, will certainly attain unto piety in other respects, whether he will or not, by dint of self-respect and awe. But you will urge that most men do not keep to it, but fall away. Well, better one man that doeth the will of the Lord, than ten thousand transgressors. In fact, hereby is everything subverted, everything turned upside down, I mean, because after the fashion of the Theatre we desire numbers not a select number. For what indeed will a multitude be able to profit? Would you learn that it is the saints, not the numbers, which make the multitude? Lead out to war ten hundred thousand men, and one saint, and let us see who achieves the most? Joshua the son of Nun went out to war, and alone achieved all; the rest were of no use.[1] Wouldest thou see, beloved, that the great multitude, when it does not the will of God, is no better than a thing of naught? I wish indeed, and desire, and with pleasure would be torn in pieces, to adorn the Church with a multitude, yea, but a select multitude; yet if this be impossible, that the few should be select, is my desire. Do you not see, that it is better to possess one precious stone, than ten thousand farthing pieces? Do you not see that it is better to have the eye sound, than to be loaded with flesh, and yet deprived of sight? Do you not see that it is better to have one healthy sheep, than ten thousand with the murrain; that fine children, though few, are better than many children diseased withal; that in the Kingdom there will be few, but in hell many? What have I to do with a multitude? what profit therein? None. Rather they are a plague to the rest. It is as if one who had the option of ten healthy persons of ten thousand sick folks, should take to himself the latter in addition to the ten. The many who do nothing well, will avail us only for punishment hereafter, and disgrace for the time being. For no one will urge it as a point in our favor that we are many; we shall be blamed for being unprofitable. In fact, this is what men always tell us, when we say, We are many; "aye, but bad," they answer.

Behold again: I give warning, and proclaim with a loud voice, let no one think it a laughing matter: I will exclude and prohibit the disobedient; and as long as I sit on this throne, I will give up not one of its rights. If any one depose me from it, then I am no longer responsible; as long as I am responsible, I cannot disregard them; on account not of my own punishment, but of your salvation. For I do exceedingly long for your salvation. To advance it, I endure pain and vexation. But yield your obedience, that both here and hereafter you may receive a plentiful reward, and that we may in common reap eternal blessings; through the grace and mercy of the only-begotten Son of God; to Whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.


HOMILY IX.


ACTS III. 12.


" And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this, or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we have made this man to walk?"

THERE is greater freedom of speech in this harangue, than in the former. Not that he was afraid on the former occasion, but the persons whom he addressed there, being jesters and scoffers, would not have borne it. Hence in the beginning of that address he also bespeaks their attention by his preamble; "Be this known unto you, and hearken to my words." (ch. ii. 14.) But here there is no need of this management. (<greek>kataskeuhs</greek>.) For his hearers were not in a state of indifference. The miracle had aroused them all; they were even full of fear and amazement. Wherefore also there was no need of beginning at that point, but rather with a different topic; by which, in fact, he powerfully conciliated them, namely, by rejecting the glory which was to be had from them. For nothing is so advantageous, and so likely to pacify the hearers, as to say nothing about one's self of an honorable nature, but, on the contrary, to obviate all surmise of wishing to do so. And, in truth, much more did they increase their glory by despising glory, and showing that what had just taken place was no human act, but a Divine work; and that it was their part to join with the beholders in admiration, rather than to receive it from them. Do you see how clear of all ambition he is, and how he repels the honor paid to him? In the same manner also did the ancient fathers; for instance, Daniel said, "Not for any wisdom that is in me." (Dan. ii. 30.) And again Joseph, "Do not interpretations belong to God?" (Gen. xi. 8.) And David, "When the lion and the bear came, in the name of the Lord I rent them with my hands." (1 Sam. xvii. 34.) And so likewise here the Apostles, "Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?" (v. 13.) Nay, not even this;[1] for not by our own merit did we draw down the Divine influence. "The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers." See how assiduously he thrusts himself (<greek>eiswqei</greek>) upon the fathers of old, lest he should appear to be introducing a new doctrine. In the former address he appealed to the patriarch David, here he appeals to Abraham and the rest. "Hath glorified His Servant[2] Jesus." Again a lowly expression, like as in the opening address.

But at this point he proceeds to enlarge upon the outrage, and exalts the heinousness of the deed, no longer, as before, throwing a veil over it. This he does, wishing to work upon them more powerfully. For the more he proved them accountable, the better his purpose were effected. "Hath glorified," he says, 'His Servant Jesus, Whom ye delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go." The charge is twofold: Pilate was desirous to let Him go; you would not, when he was willing. "But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince (or Author) of Life: Whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses." (v. 14, 15.) Ye desired a robber instead of Him. He shows the great aggravation of the act. As he has them under his hand, he now strikes hard. "The Prince of Life," he says. In these words he establishes the doctrine of the Resurrection. "Whom God hath raised from the dead." (ch. ii. 56.) "Whence doth this appear?" He no longer refers to the Prophets, but to himself, inasmuch as now he has a right to be believed. Before, when he affirmed that He was risen, he adduced the testimony of David; now, having said it, he alleges the College of Apostles. "Whereof we are witnesses, he says.

"And His name, through faith in His name, hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all." Seeking to declare the matter (<greek>zhtpn</greek> <greek>to</greek> <greek>pragma</greek> <greek>eipein</greek>), he straightway brings forward the sign: "In the presence," he says, "of you all." As he hid borne hard upon them, and had shown that He Whom they crucified had risen, again he relaxes, by giving them the power of repentance; "And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers." (v. 17.) This is one ground of excuse. The second[3] is of a different kind. As Joseph speaks to his brethren, "God did send me before you (Gen. xlv. 5); what in the former speech he had briefly said, in the words, "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken,"--this he here enlarges upon: "But what God before had showed by the mouth of all His Prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled." (v. 18.) At the same time showing, that it was not of their doing, if this be proved, that it took place after God's counsel. He alludes to those words with which they had reviled Him on the Cross, namely "Let Him deliver Him, if He will have Him; for He said, I am the Son of God. If[4] He trust in God, let Him now come down from the cross." (Matt. xxvii. 42, 43.) O foolish men, were these idle words? It must needs so come to pass, and the prophets bear witness thereunto. Therefore if He descended not, it it was for no weakness of His own that He did not come down, but for very power. And Peter puts this by way of apology for the Jews, hoping that they may also close with what he says. "He hath so fulfilled," he says. Do you see now how he refers everything to that source? "Repent ye therefore," he says, "and be converted." He does not add, "from your sins;" but, "that your sins, may be blotted out," means the same thing. And then he adds the gain: "So shall the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord." (v. 19.) This betokens them in a sad state, brought low by many wars.[1] For it is to the case of one on fire, and craving comfort, that the expression applies. And see now how he advances. In his first sermon, he but slightly hinted at the resurrection, and Christ's sitting in heaven; but here he also speaks of His visible advent. "And He shall send Jesus the Christ ordained[2] (for you), "Whom the heaven must (i.e. must of necessity) receive, until the times of the restitution of all things." The reason why He does not now come is clear. "Which God hath spoken," he continues, "by the mouths of His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you." Before, he had spoken of David, here he speaks of Moses. "Of all things," he says, "which He hath spoken." But he does not say, "which Christ," but, "which God hath spoken[4] by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." (v. 20, 21.) Then he betakes him to the ground of credibility, saying, "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things." And then the greatness of the punishment: "And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those that follow, after, as many as have spoken have likewise foretold of these days." (v. 23, 24.) He has done well to set the distinction here. For whenever he says anything great, he appeals to them of old. And he found a text which contained both truths; just as in the other discourse he said, "Until He put His foes under His feet." (ch. ii. 35.) The remarkable circumstance is, that the two things stand together; that is, subjection and disobedience, and the punishment. "Like unto me," he says. Then why are ye alarmed? "Ye are the children of the prophets" (v. 25): so that to you they spake, and for your sakes have all these things come to pass. For as they deemed that through their outrage they had become alienated (and indeed there is no parity of reason, that He Who now is crucified, should now cherish them as His own), he proves to them that both the one and the other are in accordance with prophecy. "Ye are the children," he says, "of the Prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, 'And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.' Unto you first," he continues, "God having raised up His Son (<greek>ton</greek> II<greek>aida</greek>) sent Him." "To others indeed also, but to you first who crucified Him." "To bless you," he adds, "in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." (v. 26.)

Now let us consider again more minutely what has been read out. (Recapitulation.) In the first place, he establishes the point that the miracle was performed by them[5]; saying, "Why marvel ye?" And he will not let the assertion be disbelieved: and to give it more weight, he anticipates their judgment. "Why look ye," he says, "so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?" (v. 12.) If this troubles and confounds you, learn Who was the Doer, and be not amazed. And observe how on all occasions when he refers to God, and says that all things are from Him, then he fearlessly chides them: as above where he said, "A man approved of God among you." (ch. ii. 22.) And on all occasions he reminds them of the outrage they had committed, in order that the fact of the Resurrection may be established. But here he also subjoins something else; for he no more says, "of Nazareth," but what? "The God of our fathers hath glorified His Servant Jesus." (v. 13.) Observe also the modesty. He reproached them not, neither did he say at once, "Believe then now: behold, a man that has been forty years lame, has been raised up through the name of Jesus Christ." This he did not say, for it would have excited opposition. On the contrary, he begins by commending them for admiring the deed, and again calls them after their ancestor: "Ye men of Israel." Moreover, he does not say, It was Jesus that healed him: but, "The God of our fathers hath glorified," etc. But then, lest they should say, How can this stand to reason--that God should glorify the transgressor? therefore he reminds them of the judgment before Pilate, showing that, would they but consider, He was no transgressor; else Pilate had not wished to release Him. And he does not say, "when Pilate was desirous," but, "was determined to let Him go." "But ye denied the Holy One," etc. (v. 13, 14.) Him who had killed others, ye asked to be released; Him Who quickeneth them that are killed, ye did not wish to have! And that they might not ask again, How should it be that God now glorifies Him, when before He gave no assistance? he brings forward the prophets, testifying that so it behooved to be. "But those things which God before had showed," etc., (infra v. 18.) Then, lest they should suppose that God's dispensation was their own apology, first he reproves them. Moreover, that the denying Him "to Pilate's face," was no ordinary thing; seeing that he wished to release Him. And that ye cannot deny this, the man who was asked in preference to Him is witness against you. This also is part of a deep dispensation. Here it shows their shamelessness and effrontery; that a Gentile, one who saw Him for the first time, should have discharged Him, though he had heard nothing striking; while they who had been brought up among His miracles, have done the very opposite! For, as be has said, "When he (Pilate) had determined to let Him go," that it may not be imagined that he did this of favor, we read, "And he said, It is a custom with you to release one prisoner: will ye therefore that [ release unto you this man? (Matt. xxvii. 15.) "But ye denied the Holy One and the Just." (Mark xv. 6.) He does not say, "Ye delivered up;" but everywhere, "Ye denied." For, said they, "We have no king but Caesar." (John xix. 15.) And he does not say only, Ye did not beg off the innocent, and," Ye denied" Him but, "Ye slew" Him. While they were hardened, he refrained from such language; but when their minds are most moved, then he strikes home, now that they are in a condition to feel it. For just as when men are drunk we say nothing to them, but when they are sober, and are recovered from their intoxication then we chide them; thus did Peter: when they were able to understand his words, then he also sharpened his tongue, alleging against them many charges; that, Whom God had glorified, they had delivered up; Whom Pilate would have acquitted they denied to his face; that they preferred the robber before Him.

Observe again how he speaks covertly concerning Christ's power, showing that He raised Himself: just as in his first discourse he had said, "Because it was not possible that He should be holden of it" (ch. ii. 24), so here he says, "And killed the Prince of Life." (v. 15.) It follows that the Life He had was not from another. The prince (or author) of evil would be he that first brought forth evil; the prince or author of murder, he who first originated murder; so also the Prince (or Author) of Life must be He Who has Life from Himself.[*] "Whom God raised up," he continues: and now that he has uttered this, he adds, "And his name, upon faith in his name, hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know; yea, the faith which is by Him hath given Him this perfect soundness. [The faith which is by Him <greek>h</greek> <greek>di</greek> <greek>autou</greek> <greek>pistis</greek>.] And[1] yet it was <greek>h</greek> <greek>eit</greek> <greek>autou</greek> <greek>pistis</greek>, "the faith which is in Him" (as its object) that did all. For the Apostles did not say, "By the name," but, "In the name," and it was in Him (<greek>eit</greek> <greek>autou</greek>) that the man believed. But they did not yet make bold to use the expression, "The faith which is in Him." For, that the phrase "By Him" should not be too low, observe that after saying, "Upon the faith of His name," he adds, "His name hath made him strong," and then it is that he says, "Yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness." Observe how he implies, that in the <greek>kai</greek> <greek>ekeino</greek> former expression also "Whom God raised up," he did but condescend to their low attainments. For that Person needed not Another's help for His rising again, Whose Name raised up a lame man, being all one as dead. Mark how on all occasions he adduces their own testimony. Thus above, he said, "As ye yourselves also know;" and, "In the midst of you :" and here again, "Whom ye see and know: in the presence of you all." (ch. ii. 22.) And yet that it was, " In His name," they knew not: but they did know that the man was lame, that he stands there whole.[1] They that had wrought the deed themselves confessed, that it was not by their own power, but by that of Christ. And had this assertion been unfounded, had they not been truly persuaded themselves that Christ had risen again, they would not have sought to establish the honor of a dead man instead of their own, especially while the eyes of the multitude were upon them. Then, when their minds were alarmed, immediately he encourages them, by the appellation of Brethren, "And now, brethren, I wot, etc." For in the former discourse he foretold[2] nothing, but only says concerning Christ, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly :" here he adds an admonition. There he waited till the people spoke: here, he knew how much they had already effected, and that the present assembly was better disposed toward them. "That through ignorance ye did it." And yet the circumstances mentioned above were not to be put to the score of ignorance. To choose the robber, to reject Him Who had been adjudged to be acquitted, to desire even to destroy Him--how should this be referred to ignorance? Nevertheless, he gives them liberty to deny it, and to change their mind about what had happened. "Now this indeed, that you put to death the innocent, ye knew: but that you were killing "the Prince of Life," this, belike, ye did not know." And he exculpated not them alone, but also the chief contrivers of the evil, "ye and your rulers :" for doubtless it would have roused their opposition, had he gone off into accusation. For the evil-doer, when you accuse him of some wickedness that he has done, in his endeavor to exonerate himself, grows more vehement. And he no longer says, "Ye crucified," "Ye killed," but, "Ye did it;" leading them to seek for pardon. If those rulers did it through ignorance, much more did these present.[*] "But these things which God before had showed," etc. (v. 18.) But it is remarkable, that both in the first and in the second discourse, speaking to the same effect, that is, in the former, "By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God;" and in this, "God before had showed that Christ should suffer;" in neither does he adduce any particular text in proof. The fact is, that each one of such passages is accompanied with many accusations, and with mention of the punishment in store for them [as];" I will deliver up," says one, "the wicked in requital for His grave, and the rich in return for His death." (Is. liii. 9.) And again, * * * "Those things," he says, "which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled." It shows the greatness of that "counsel,"[8] in that all spoke of it, and not one only. It does not follow, because the event was through ignorance, that it took place irrespectively of God's ordinance. See how great is the Wisdom of God, when it uses the wickedness of others to bring about that which must be. "He hath fulfilled," he says: that they may not imagine that anything at all is wanting; for whatsoever Christ must needs suffer, has been fulfilled. But do not think, that, because the Prophets said this, and because ye did it through ignorance, this sufficeth to your exculpation. However, he does not express himself thus, but in milder terms says, "Repent ye therefore." (v. 19.) "Why? For[4] either it was through ignorance, or by the dispensation of God." "That your sins may be blotted out." I do not mean the crimes committed at the Crucifixion; perhaps they were through ignorance; but so that your other sins may be blotted out: this[6] only. "So shall the times of refreshing come unto you." Here he speaks of the Resurrection, obscurely.[*] For those are indeed times of refreshing, which Paul also looked for, when he said, "We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burthened." (2 Cor. v. 4.) Then to prove that Christ is the cause of the days of refreshing, he says, "And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was for you ordained." (v. 20.) He said not, "That your sin may be blotter out," but, "your sins;" for he hints at that sin also. "He shall send." And whence?[1] "Whom the heaven must receive." (v. 21.) Still ["must"] "receive?" And why not simply, Whom the heaven hath received? This, as if discoursing of old times: so, he says, it is divinely ordered, so it is settled: not a word yet of His eternal subsistence.--" For Moses indeed said unto the fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord raise up for you:" "Him shall ye hear in all things that He shall speak unto you:" and having said, "All things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy Prophets," (v. 22) now indeed he brings in Christ Himself. For, if He predicted many things and it is necessary to hear Him, one would not be wrong in saying that the Prophets have spoken these things. But, besides, he wishes to show that the Prophets did predict the same things. And, if any one will look closely into the matter, he will find these things spoken in the Old Testament, obscurely indeed, but nevertheless spoken. "Who was purposely designed," says he: in Whom[2] there is nothing novel. Here he also alarms them, by the thought that much remains to be fulfilled. But if so, how says he, "Hath fulfilled?" (v. 18.) The things which it was necessary "that Christ should suffer," are fulfilled: the things which must come to pass, not yet. "A prophet shall the Lord God raise up for you from among your brethren, like unto me." This would most conciliate them. Do you observe the sprinkling of low matters and high, side by side,--that He Who was to go up into the heavens should be like unto Moses? And yet it was a great thing too. For in fact He was not simply like unto Moses,[3] if so be that "every soul which will not hear shall be destroyed." And one might mention numberless other things which show that He was not like unto Moses; so that it is a mighty text that he has handled. "God shall raise Him up unto you," says Moses, "from among your brethren," etc.: consequently Moses himself threatens those that should not hear. "Yea, and all the prophets," etc.: all this[4] is calculated to attract"Yea, and all the prophets," says the Apostle. "from Samuel." He refrains from enumerating them singly, not to make his discourse too long; but having alleged that decisive testimony of Moses, he passes by the rest. "Ye," he says, "are the children of the Prophets, and of the covenant which God made." (v. 25) "Children of the covenant;" that is, heirs. For test they should think that they received this offer from the favor of Peter, he shows, that of old it was due to them, in order that they may the rather believe that such also is the will of God. "Unto you first," he continues, '"God having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him. (v. 26.) He does not say simply, "Unto you He sent His Son," but also, after the resurrection, and when He had been crucified. For that they may not suppose that he himself granted them this favor, and not the Father, he says, "To bless you." For if He is your Brother, and blesses you, the affair is a promise. "Unto you first." That is, so far are you from having no share in these blessings, that He would have you become moreover promoters and authors of them to others. For[5] you are not to feel like castaways. "Having raised up": again, the Resurrection. "In turning away," he says, "every one of you from his iniquities." In this way He blesses you: not in a general way. And what kind of blessing is this? A great one. For of course not the turning a man away from his iniquities is itself sufficient to remit them also. And if it is not sufficient to remit, how should it be to confer a blessing? For it is not to be supposed that the transgressor becomes forthwith also blessed; he is simply released from his sins. But this,[1] "Like unto me," would no wise apply. "Hear ye Him," he says; and not this alone, but he adds, "And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." When he has shown them that they had sinned, and has imparted forgiveness to them, and promised good things, then indeed, then he says, "Moses also says the same thing." What sort of connection is this: "Until the times of the restitution;" and then to introduce Moses, saying, that[2] all that Christ said shall come to pass? Then also, on the other hand, he says, as matter of encomium (so that for this reason also ye ought to obey): "Ye are the children of the prophets and of the covenant:" i.e. heirs. Then why do you stand affected towards that which is your own, as if it were another's? True, you have done deeds worthy of condemnation; still you may yet obtain pardon. Having said this, with reason he is now able to say, "Unto you God sent his Son Jesus to bless you." He says not, To save you, but what is greater; that the crucified Jesus blessed His crucifiers.

Let us then also imitate Him. Let us cast out that spirit of murder and enmity. It is not enough not to retaliate (for even in the Old Dispensation this was exemplified); but let us do all as we would for bosom-friends, as we would for ourselves so for those who have injured us. We are followers of Him, we are His disciples, who after being crucified, sets everything in action in behalf of his murderers, and sends out His Apostles to this end. And yet we have often suffered justly; but those acted not only unjustly, but impiously; for He was their Benefactor, He had done no evil, and they crucified Him. And for what reason? For the sake of their reputation. But He Himself made them objects of reverence. "The scribes and the pharisees sit in Moses' seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that do ye, but after their works do ye not." (Matt. xxiii. 2.) And again in another place, "Go thy way, show thyself to the priest." (ib. viii. 4.) Besides, when He might have destroyed them, He saves them. Let us then imitate Him, and let no one be an enemy, no one a foe, except to the devil.

Not a little does the habit of not swearing contribute to this end: I mean to the not giving way to wrath:[3] and by not giving way to wrath, we shall not have an enemy either. Lop off the oaths of a man, and you have clipt the wings of his anger, you have smothered all his passion. Swearing, it is said, is as the wind to wrath. Lower the sails; no need of sails, when there is no wind. If then we do not clamor, and do not swear, we have cut the sinews of passion. And if you doubt this, just put it to experiment. Impose it as a law upon the passionate man that he shall never swear, and you will have no necessity of preaching moderation to hint. So the whole business is finished. For[4] even though you do not forswear yourselves [yet], by swearing at all, do you not know in what absurd consequences you involve yourselves--binding yourselves to an absolute necessity and as with a cord, and putting yourselves to all manner of shifts, as men studying how to rescue their soul from an evil which there is no escaping, or, failing of that, obliged [by that self-imposed necessity] to spend your life thenceforth in vexation, in quarrels, and to curse your wrath? But all is in vain, and to no purpose. Threaten, be peremptory (<greek>diorisai</greek>), do all, whatever it be, without swearing; [so]: it is in your power to reverse <greek>analusai</greek>) both what you have said and what you have done if you have the mind. Thus on the present day I must needs speak more gently to you. For since ye have heard me, and the greater part of the reformation is achieved by you, now then let us see for what purpose the taking of oaths was introduced, and why allowed to be. In relating to you their first origin, and when they were conceived, and how, and by whom we shall give you this account in requital for your obedience. For it is fit that he who has made his practice right, should be taught the philosophy of the matter, but he who is not yet doing the right, is not worthy to be told the history.

They made many covenants in Abraham's time, and slew victims, and offered sacrifices, and as yet oaths were not. Whence then did they come in? When evil increased, when all was confusion, upside down, when men had turned aside to idolatry: then it was, then, when men appeared no longer worthy to be believed, that they called God as witness, as if thereby giving an adequate surety for what they said. Such in fact is the Oath: it is a security where men's principles cannot be trusted.[1] So that in the indictment of the swearer the first charge is this,--that he is not to be trusted without a surety, and a great surety too: for such is the exceeding faithlessness, that they ask not man as surety, but will needs have God! Secondly, the same charge lies against him who receives the oath: that, in a question of compact, he must drag in God for warranty, and refuse to be satisfied unless he get Him. O the excessive stupidity, the insolence of such conduct! Thou, a worm, earth and dust, and ashes, and vapor, to drag in thy Lord as the, surety, and to compel the other to drag Him in likewise! Tell me, if your servants were disputing with each other, and exchanging[2] assurances with each other, and the fellow-servant should declare that for his part he would not be satisfied till he had their common master given him for surety, would he not have stripes given him without number, and be made to know that the master is for other purposes, and not to be put to any such use as this? Why do I speak of a fellow-servant?[3] For should he choose any respectable person, would not that person consider it an affront? But I do not wish to do this, say you.[4] Well: then do not compel the other to do so either: since where men only are in question, this is done--if your party says, "I give such an one as my surety," you do not allow him. "What then," say you, "am I to lose what I have given?" I am not speaking of this; but that you allow him to insult God. For which reason greater shall be the inevitable punishment to him who forces the oath upon another, than to him who takes it: the same holds with regard to him who gives an oath when no one asks him. And what makes it worse, is, that every one is ready to swear, for one farthing, for some petty item, for his own injustice. All this may be said, when there is no perjury; but if perjury follow in the train, both he that imposes and he that takes the oath have turned everything upside down. "But there are some things," you will say, "which are unknown." Well take these into account, and do nothing negligently; but, if you do act negligently, take the loss to yourself as your punishment. It is better to be the loser thus, than in a very different way. For tell me--you force a man to take an oath, with what expectation? That he will forswear himself? But this is utter insanity; and the judgment will fall upon your own head; better you should lose your money, than he be lost. Why act thus to your own detriment, and to the insulting of God? This is the spirit of a wild beast, and of an impious man. But you do this in the expectation that he will not forswear himself? Then trust him without the oath. "Nay, there are many," you reply, "who in the absence of an oath would presume to defraud; but, once the oath taken, would refrain." You deceive yourself, man. A man having once learnt to steal, and to wrong his neighbor, will presume full oft to trample upon his oath; if on the contrary he shrinks from swearing, he will much more shrink from injustice. "But he is influenced against his will." Well then, he deserves pardon.

But why am I speaking of this kind of oaths, while I pass over those in the market-place? For as regards these last, you can urge none of these pleas. For ten farthings you there have swearing and forswearing. In fact, because the thunderbolt does not actually fall from heaven, because all things are not overthrown, you stand holding God in your bonds: to get a few vegetables, a pair of shoes, for a little matter of money, calling Him to witness. What is the meaning of this? Do not let us imagine, that because we are not punished, therefore we do not sin; this comes of God's mercy; not of our merit. Let your oath be an imprecation upon your own child, upon your own self: say, "Else let the hangman lash my ribs." But you dare not. Is God less valuable than thy ribs? is He less precious than thy pate? Say "Else let me be struck blind." But no. Christ so spares us, that He will not let us swear even by our own head; and yet we so little spare the honor of God, that on all occasions we must drag Him in! Ye know not what God is, and with what sort of lips he behooves to be invoked. Why, when we speak of any man of eminent worth, we say, "First wash your mouth, and then make mention of him:" and yet, that precious Name which is above every name, the Name which is marvellous in all the earth, the Name which devils hear and tremble, we haul about as we list! Oh! the force of habit! thereby has that Name become cheap. No doubt, if you impose on any one the necessity of coming into the sacred edifice to take his oath there, you feel that you have made the oath an awful one. And yet how is it that it seems awful in this way, but because we have been in the habit of using that at random, but not this? For ought not a shudder of awe to be felt when God is but named? But now, whereas among the Jews His Name was held to be so reverend, that it was written upon plates, and none was allowed to wear the characters except the high-priest alone: we bandy about His Name like any ordinary word. If simply to name God was not allowed to all; to call Him to witness, what audacity is it! nay, what madness! For if need were (rather than this)to fling away all that you have, ought you not readily to part with all? Behold, I solemnly declare and testify; reform these oaths of the forum, these superfluous oaths,[1] and bring to me all those who wish to take them. Behold, in the presence of this assembly, I charge those who are set apart for the tending of the Houses of Prayer, I exhort and issue this order to them, that no person be allowed to take such oaths at his own discretion: or rather, that none be allowed to swear in any other way, but that the person be brought to me, whosoever he be, since even for these matters less will not serve but they must needs come before us, just as if one had to do with little children. May there be no occasion! It is a shame in some things still to need to be taught. Do you dare to touch the Holy Table, being a person unbaptized? No, but what is still worse, you the baptized dare to lay your hand upon the Holy Table, which not even all ordained persons are allowed to touch, and so to take your oath. Now you would not go and lay your hand upon the head of your child? and yet do you touch the Table, and not shudder, not feel afraid? Bring these men to me; I will judge, and send them away rejoicing, both the one and the other.[3] Do what you choose; I lay it down as a law that there be no swearing at all. What hope of salvation, while we thus make all to have been done in vain? Is this the end of your bills, and your bonds, that you should sacrifice your own soul? What gain do you get so great as the loss? Has he forsworn himself? You have undone both him and yourself. But has he not? even so still you have undone (both), by forcing him to transgress the commandment.[4] Let us cast out this disease from the soul: at any rate let us drive it out of the forum, out of our shops, out of our other work-places; our profits will but be the greater. Do not imagine that the success of your worldly plans is to be ensured by transgressions of the Divine laws. "But he refuses to trust me," say you; and in fact I have sometimes heard this said by some: "Unless I swear oaths without number, the man will not trust me." Yes, and for this you may thank yourself, because you are so off-hand with your oaths. For were it not so, but on the contrary were it clear to all men that you do not swear, take my word for it, you would be more readily believed upon your mere nod, than those are who swallow oaths by thousands. For look now: which do you more readily believe? me who do not swear, or those that do swear? "Yes," say you, "but then you are ruler and bishop." Then suppose I prove to you that it is not only for that reason? Answer me with truth, I beseech you; were I in the habit of perpetually swearing, would my office stand me in that stead? Not a whir. Do you see that it is not for this reason? And what do you gain at all? Answer me that. Paul endured hunger; do you then also choose to hunger rather than to transgress one of the commandments of God. Why are you so unbelieving? Here are you, ready to do and suffer all things for the sake of not swearing: and shall not He reward you? Shall He, Who sustains day by day both takers and breakers of oaths, give you over to hunger, when you have obeyed Him? Let all men see, that of those who assemble in this Church not one is a swearer. By this also let us become manifest, and not by our creed alone; let us have this mark also to distinguish us both from the Gentiles and from all men. Let us receive it as a seal from heaven, that we may everywhere be seen to be the King's own flock. By our mouth and tongue let us be known, in the first place, just as the barbarians are by theirs: even as those who speak Greek are distinguished from barbarians, so let us be known. Answer me: the birds which are said to be parrots, how are they known to be parrots? is it not by speaking like men? Let us then be known by speaking like the Apostles; by speaking like the Angels. If any one bid you swear tell him, "Christ has spoken, and I do not swear." This is enough to make a way for all virtue to come in. It is a gate to religion, a high road leading to the philosophy of piety;[1] a kind of training-school. These things let us observe, that we may obtain also the future blessings, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, power and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.


HOMILY X.


ACTS IV. 1.


" And as they spake unto the people, there came unto them the priests, and the captain of the temple."

ERE yet their had time to take breath after their first trials, straightway they enter into others. And observe how the events are disposed. First, they were all mocked together; this was no small trial: secondly, they enter into dangers. And these two things do not take place in immediate succession; but when first the Apostles have won admiration by their two discourses, and after that have performed a notable miracle, thereupon it is that, after they are waxen bold, through God's disposal, they enter the lists. But I wish you to consider, how those same persons, who in the case of Christ must need look out for one to deliver Him up to them, now with their own hands arrest the Apostles, having become more audacious and more impudent since the Crucifixion. In truth, sin, while it is yet struggling to the birth, is attended with some sense of shame; but when once fully born, it makes those more shameless who practise it. "And the captain of the temple," it is said. The object again was to attach a public criminality to what was doing, and not to prosecute it as the act of private individuals: such in fact was constantly their plan of proceeding.

"Being grieved that they taught the people." (v. 2.) Not merely because they taught, but because they declared, not alone that Christ Himself was risen from the dead, but moreover, that we through Him do rise again. "Because they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead." So mighty was His Resurrection, that to others also He is the cause of a resurrection.[*] "And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day; for it was now eventide. (v. 3.) What impudence! They[1] feared not the multitude; for this also the captain of the temple was with them: they had their hands still reeking with the blood of the former victim. "For it was now eventide," it is said. It was with the wish to abate their spirit that those men did this, and guarded them; but the delay only served to make the Apostles more intrepid. And consider who these are who are arrested. They are the chiefs of the Apostles, who are now become a pattern to the rest, that they should no longer crave each other's support, nor want to be together. "Howbeit, many having heard the word, believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand." (v. 4.) How was this? Did they see them in honor? Did they not behold them put in bonds? How then did they, believe? Do you see the evident efficacy? And yet even those that believed already might well have become weaker. But no, it is no longer so: for Peter's sermon had laid the seed deep into them, and had taken a hold upon their understandings. Therefore were [their enemies] incensed, that they did not fear them, that they made no account of their present troubles. For, say they, if He that was crucified effects such great things, and makes the lame to walk, we fear not these men either.[2] This again is of God's ordering. For those who now believe were more numerous than the former. Therefore it was that in their presence they bound the Apostles, to make them also more fearful. But the reverse took place. And they examine them not before the people, but privately, that the hearers may not profit by their boldness.

"And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, and Annas the High Priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the High Priest, were gathered together at Jersualem." (v. 5, 6.) For now along with the other evils (of the times[3]), the Law was no longer observed. And again they set off the business with the form of a tribunal, to constitute them guilty by their iniquitous sentence. "And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" (v. 7.) And yet they knew it well; for it was because they were "grieved that they preached through Jesus the resurrection" that they arrested them. Then for what purpose do they question them? They expected the numbers present would make them recant, and thought by this means to have put all right again. Observe then what they say: "And by what name have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them." (v. 8.) And now, I pray you, call to mind Christ's saying; "When they deliver you up unto the synagogues, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall speak; for it is the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Luke xii. 11, 14.) So that it was a mighty Power they enjoyed. What then says Peter? "Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel." Mark the Christian wisdom of the man; how full of confidence it is: he utters not a word of insult, but says with respect, "Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we be this day called to account of the good deed done to the impotent man." He takes them in hand right valiantly; by the opening of his speech he exposes[4] them, and reminds them of the former things: that it is for a work of beneficence they are calling them to account. As if he had said, "In all fairness we ought to have been crowned for this deed, and proclaimed benefactors; but since "we are even put upon our trial for a good deed done to an impotent man," not a rich man, not powerful, not noble--and yet who would feel envy in a case like this?" It is a most forcible (<greek>apaggelia</greek>, al. <greek>epaggelia</greek> way of putting the case; and he shows that they are piercing their own selves :--" By what means this man is made whole: be it known unto you all, and to all the people Israel; that by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth: "--this is what would vex them most. For this was that which Christ had told the disciples, "What ye hear in the ear that preach ye upon the housetops.--That in the name of Jesus Christ," he says, "of Nazareth, Whom ye crucified, WhOm God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole." (v. 10). (Matt. x. 27.) Think not, he says that we conceal the country, or the nature of the death. "Whom ye crucified, Whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand before you whole." Again the death, again the resurrection. "This is the stone," he says, "which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner." (v. 11.) He reminds them also of a saying which was enough to frighten them. For it had been said, "Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. (Matt. xxi. 44.)--Neither is there salvation in any other, (v. 12.) Peter says. What wounds, think you, must these words inflict on them! "For there is none other name," he continues, "under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Here he utters also lofty words. For when[1] the object is, not to carry some point successfully, but only to show boldness he does not spare; for he was not afraid of striking too deep. Nor does be say simply, "By another;" but, "Neither is there salvation in any other: that is, He is able to save us. In this way he subdued their threatening.

"Now when they saw the, boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." (v. 13.) The two unlearned men beat down with their rhetoric them and the chief priests. For it was not they that spake, but the grace of the Spirit. "And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it." (v. 14.) Great was the boldness of the man; that even in the judgment-hall he has not left them. For had they said that the fact was not so, there was he to refute them. "But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, What are we to do to these men?" (v. 15.) See the difficulty they are in, and how the fear of men again does everything. As in the case of Christ, they were not able (as the saying is) to undo what is done,[2] nor to cast it into the shade, but for all their hindering, the Faith did but gain ground the more; so was it now. "What shall we do?" O the folly! to suppose that those who had tasted of the conflict, would now take fright at it: to expect, impotent as their efforts had proved in the beginning, to effect something new, after such a specimen of oratory as had been exhibited! The more they wished to hinder, the more the business grew upon their hands. But what say they? "For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straightly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all, nor teach, in the name of Jesus." (v. 16-18.) See what effrontery is shown by these, and what greatness of mind by the Apostles. "But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people." (v. 19-21.) The miracles shut their mouths: they would not so much as let them finish their speech, but cut them short in the middle, most insolently. "For all men glorified God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was showed." (v. 22.) But let us look over what has been said from the beginning.

"And as they spake unto the people, etc. Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead." (Recapitulation, v. 1, 2.) So[3] then at first they did all for the sake of man's opinion (or glory): but now another motive was added: that they should not be thought guilty of murder, as they said subsequently, "Do ye wish to bring this man's blood on us?" (ch. v. 28.) O the folly! Persuaded that He was risen, and having received this proof of it,[4] they expected that He Whom death could not hold, could be cast into the shade by their machinations! What can match the folly of this![1] Such is the nature of wickedness: it has no eyes for anything, but on all occasions it is thrown into perturbation. Finding themselves overborne, they felt like persons who have been outwitted: as is the case with people who have been forestalled and made a sport of in some matter. And yet[2] they everywhere affirmed that it was God that raised Him: but[3] it was "in the Name of Jesus" that they spake showing that Jesus was risen. "Through Jesus, the resurrection of the dead": for they themselves also held a resurrection: a cold and 'puerile doctrine, indeed, but still they held it. Why this alone, was it not sufficient to induce them to do nothing to them--I mean, that the disciples with such boldness bore themselves in the way they did? Say, wherefore, O Jew, dost thou disbelieve? Thou oughtest to have attended to the sign done, and to the words, not to the evil disposition of the many. "By their teaching the people."[4] For already they were in ill repute with them by reason of what they had done to Christ; so that they were rather increasing their own obloquy. "And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold until the morrow; for it was now eventide." (v. 3.) In the case of Christ, however, they did not so; but having taken Him at midnight, they immediately led him away, and made no delay, being exceedingly in fear of the multitude: whereas in the case of the Apostles here, they were bold. And they no more take them to Pilate, being ashamed and blushing at the thought of the former affair, lest they should also be taken to task for that.

"And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes. were gathered together at Jerusalem." (v. 5.) Again in Jerusalem: and there it is that men's blood is poured out; no reverence for their city either; "And Annas, and Caiaphas," etc. (v. 6.) "And Annas," it says, "and Caiaphas." His maid-servant it was that questioned Peter, and he could not bear it: in his house it was that Peter denied, when Another was in bonds there: but now, when he has come into the midst of them all, see how he speaks! "'By what name have ye done this?" Why dost thou not speak it, what it is, but keepest that out of sight? "By what name have ye done this?" (v. 7.) And yet he affirmed, It was not we that did it. "Ye rulers of the people," etc. (v. 8.) Observe his wisdom: he does not say outright, "In the Name of Jesus we did it," but how? "In His Name this man "--He does not say, "was made whole by us;" but--" doth stand here before you whole." And again, "If we be examined concerning the good deed done to the impotent man." (v. 9.) He hits them hard, that they are always making a crime of such acts, finding fault with works of beneficence done to men: and he reminds them of their former doings, that they run to do murder, and not only so, but make a crime of doing good deeds. Do you observe too (in point of rhetoric) with what dignity they express themselves?[5] Even in the use of words they were becoming expert by practice, and henceforth they were not to be beaten down.[*] "Be it known unto you all," etc. (v. 10.) Whereby he shows them that they rather do, in spite of themselves, preach Christ; themselves extol the doctrine, by their examining and questioning. O exceeding boldness--" Whom ye crucified! Whom God raised up"--this is bolder still! Think not that we hide what there is to be ashamed of. He says this all but tauntingly: and not merely says it, but dwells upon the matter. "This," says he, "is the Stone which was set at naught by you builders ;" and then he goes on to teach them, saying in addition, "Which is made the head of the corner" (v. 11.); that is to say, that the Stone is indeed approved! Great was the boldness they now had, in consequence of the miracle. And when there was need to teach, observe how they speak and allege many prophecies; but when the point was to use boldness of speech, then they only speak peremptorily. Thus "Neither," says he, "is there any other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." (v. 12.) It is manifest to all, he says, because not to us alone was that Name given; he cites even themselves as witnesses. For, since they asked, "In what name did ye it?" "In Christ's," says he: "there is none other name. How is it that ye ask? On all hands this is palpable. "For there exists not another name under heaven, whereby we must be saved." This is the language of a soul which has renounced (<greek>kategnwkuias</greek>) this present life. His exceeding out-spokenness proves here, that when he speaks in lowly terms of Christ, he does it not of fear, but of wise forbearance (<greek>sugkatabainwn</greek>): but now that it was the fitting time, he speaks not in lowly terms: by this very thing intending to strike dismay into them. Behold another miracle not less than the former. "And beholding the boldness of Peter and John," etc. "And they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus." (v. 13.) Not without a meaning has the Evangelist set down this passage; but in saying, "they recognized them that they had been with Jesus," he means, in His Passion: for only these were [with Him] at that time, and then indeed they had seen them humble, dejected: and this it was that most surprised them: the greatness of the change. For in fact Annas and Caiaphas with their company were there, and these then also had stood by Him, and their boldness now amazed them. "And beholding the boldness." For(1) not only their words; their very bearing showed it; that they should stand s there so intrepidly to be tried in a cause like t this, and with uttermost peril impending over them! Not only by their words, but by their t gesture also, and their look and voice, and, in short, by everything about them, they manifested the boldness with which they confronted the people. From the things they uttered, they marvelled, perhaps: "that they were unlearned and common men:" for one may be unlearned, yet not a common or private man, and a common man, yet not unlearned. "Having perceived," it says. Whence? From(2) what they said? Peter does not draw out long speeches, but then by his very manner and method (<greek>ths</greek> <greek>apaggelias</greek> <greek>kai</greek> <greek>ths</greek> <greek>sunqhkhs</greek> he declares his confidence. "And they recognized them that they had been with Jesus." Which circumstance made them believe that it was from Him they had learned these things, and that they did all in the character of His disciples.(*) But not less than the voice of these, the miracle uttered a voice of its own: and that sign itself stopped their mouths. "And beholding the man," etc.] So that they would have been peremptory (<greek>epeskhyan</greek>) with them, if the man had not been with them. "We cannot deny it." So that they would have denied it, if the thing had not been so: if the testimony had not been that of the people in general. "But that it spread no further among the people." (v. 17.) And yet it was palpable to all men! But such is the nature of wickedness: everywhere it is shamed. "Let us straitly threaten them." What sayest thou? Threaten? And expect ye to stop the preaching? And(3) yet all beginnings are hard and trying. Ye slew the Master, and did not stop it: and now, if ye threaten, do ye expect to turn us back? The imprisonment did not prevail with us to speak submissively, and shall ye prevail? "And they called them, and commanded them," etc. (v. 18, 119.) It(4) had been much better for them to let them go. "And Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye." When the terror was abated (for that command was tantamount to their being dismissed), then also the Apostles speak more mildly: so far were they from mere bravery: "Whether(1) it be right," says he: and "We cannot [but speak]. Whether it be right in the sight of God to obey you rather than God." (v. 20.) Here [by "God"] they mean Christ, for he it was that commanded them. And once more they confirm the fact of His Resurrection. "For we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard:" so that we are witnesses who have a right to be believed. "So when they had further threatened them." (v. 21.) Again they threatened in vain. "They let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done." So then the people glorified God, but these endeavored to destroy them: such fighters against God were they! Whereby they made them more conspicuous and illustrious. "For My strength," it is said, "is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. xii. 9.)

Already these as martyrs have borne testimony: set in the battle against all, they said, "We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard." If the things we speak be false, reprehend them; if true, why hinderest thou? Such is philosophy! Those, in perplexity, these in gladness: those covered with exceeding shame, these doing all with boldness: those in fear, these in confidence. For who, I would ask, were the frightened? those who said, "That it spread no further among people," or these who said, "we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard?" And these had a delight, a freedom of speech, a joy surpassing all; those a despondency, a shame, a fear; for they feared the people. But these were not afraid of those; on the contrary, while these spake what they would, those did not what they would. Which were in chains and dangers? was it not these last?

Let us then hold fast to virtue; let not these words end only in delight, and in a certain elevation of the spirits. This is not the theatre, for singers (<greek>kiqarwdwn</greek>), and tragedians, and musicians (<greek>kiqaristwn</greek>), where the fruit consists only in the enjoyment and where the enjoyment itself passes with the passing day. Nay, would that it were enjoyment alone, and not mischief also with the enjoyment! But so it is: each man carries home with him much of what he has witnessed there, sticking to him like the infection of a plague: and one indeed, of the younger sort, having culled such snatches of song here and there of those satanic plays,(2) as he could fix in his memory, goes singing them about the house: while another, a senior, and forsooth too staid for such levity, does not this indeed, but what is there spoken, both the preachments and the very words, he remembers it all; and another again, some filthy and absurd ditty. From this place you depart, taking nothing with you.--We have laid down a law--nay, not we: God forbid! for it is said, "Call no man your master upon the earth" (Matt. xxiii. 8); Christ has laid down a law that none should swear. Now, say, what has been done with regard to this law? For I will not cease speaking of it; "lest," as the Apostle saith, "if I come again, I must not spare." (2 Cor. xiii. 2.) I ask then, have you laid the matter to heart? have you thought of it seriously? have you been in earnest about it, or must we again take up the same subject? Nay, rather, whether you have or not, we will resume it, that you may think seriously about it, or, if you have laid it to heart, may again do this the more surely, and exhort others also. With what then, I pray you, with what shall we begin? Shall it be with the Old Testament? For indeed this also is to our shame, that the precepts of the Law, which we ought to surpass, we do not even thus observe! For we ought not to be hearing such matters as these: these are precepts adapted to the poor Jewish level (<greek>ths</greek> 'I<greek>oudaikhs</greek> <greek>euteleias</greek>: we ought to be hearing those counsels of perfection; "Cast away thy property, stand courageously, and give up thy life in behalf of the Gospel, scorn all the goods of earth, have nothing in common with this present life; if any wrong thee, do him good; if any defraud thee, bless him; if any revile thee, show him honor; be above everything." (S. Ambros. de Off. i. 2.) These and such as these are what we ought to be hearing. But here are we discoursing about swearing; and our case is just the same as if, when a person ought to be a philosopher, one should take him away from the great masters, and set him to spell syllables letter by letter! Just think now what a disgrace it would be for a man having a flowing beard, and with staff in hand, and cope on shoulders,(3) to go to school with children, and be set the same tasks with them would it not be above measure ridiculous? And yet the ridicule which belongs to us is even greater. For not as the difference between philosophy and the spelling-lesson, so is that between the Jewish polity and ours: no indeed, but as the difference between angels and men. Say now, if one could fetch down an angel from heaven, and should bid him stand here and listen to our preaching, as one whose duty it is to conform himself thereto, would it not be shameful and preposterous? But if to be yet, like children, under teaching about these things be ridiculous; what must it be, not even to attend to these things: how great the condemnation, how great the shame To be Christians still, and to have to learn that it is not right to swear! However, let us put up with that, lest we incur even worse ridicule.

Well, then, let us speak to you to-day from the Old Testament. What does it tell us? "Accustom not thy mouth to swearing; neither use thyself to the naming of the Holy One." And why? "For as a servant that is continually beaten shall not be without a blue mark, so he that sweareth." (Ecclus. xxiii. 10.) See the discernment of this wise man. He did not say, "Accustom not to swearing" thy mind, but "thy mouth"; because being altogether an affair of the mouth, thus it is easily remedied. For at last it becomes a habit without intention; as for instance, there are many who entering the public baths, as soon as they have passed the threshold, cross (Hom. in 1 Cor. xi. 7) themselves (<greek>sfragizontai</greek>).(1) This the hand has got to do, without any one's bidding, by force of habit. Again, at the lighting of a candle, often when the mind is intent on something else, the hand makes the sign. In the same way also the mouth, without concurrence of the mind, articulates the word, from mere habit, and the whole affair is in the tongue. "Neither use thyself," he says, "to the naming of the Holy One. For as a servant that is continually beaten shall not be without a blue mark, so he that sweareth." He speaks not here of false oaths, but he cuts down all oaths, and to them also assigns their punishment. Why then, swearing is a sin. For such in truth is the soul; full of all these ulcers, all these scars. But you do not see them? Yes, this is the mischief of it; and yet you might see if you wished; for God has given you eyes. With eyes of this kind did the Prophet see, when he said, "My wounds stink, and are corrupt, because of my foolishness." (Ps. xxxviii. 5.) We have despised God, we have hated that good Name, we have trodden Christ under foot, we have lost all reverence, none names the Name of God with honor. Yet if you love any one, even at his name you start to your feet; but God you thus continually invoke, and make nothing of it. Call upon Him for the benefit of your enemy; call upon Him for the salvation of your own soul; then he will be present, then you will delight Him; whereas now you provoke Him to anger. Call upon Him as Stephen did; "Lord," he said, "lay not this sin to their charge." (ch. vii. 59.) Call upon Him as did the wife of Elkanah, with tears and sobs, and prayers. (1 Sam. i. 10.) I prevent you not, rather I earnestly exhort you to it. Call upon him as Moses called upon Him, yea, cried, interceding for those(2) who had driven him into banishment. For you to make mention at random of any person of consideration, is taken as an insult: and do you bandy God about in your talk, in season, out of season? I do not want to hinder you from keeping God always in your mind: nay, this I even desire and pray for, only that you should do this, so as to honor Him. Great good would this have done us, if we had called upon God only when we ought, and for what we ought. And why, I would ask, were such miracles wrought in the Apostles' times, and not in ours? And yet it is the same God, the same Name. But no, the case is not the same. For then they called upon Him only for those objects which I have mentioned; whereas we call upon Him not for these, but quite other purposes.--If a man refuse to believe you, and that is why you swear, say to him, "Believe me:" however, if you will needs make oath, swear by yourself. I say this, not to set up a law against Christ's law; God forbid; for it is said. "Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay (Matt. v. 37): but by way of coming down to your present level, that I may more easily lead you to the practice of this commandment, and divert you from this tyrannical habit. How many who have done well in other respects, have been undone by these practices! Shall I tell you why it was permitted the ancients to take oaths? (for to take false oaths, was not permitted to them either.) Because they swore by idols. But are you not ashamed to rest in laws, by which they in their infirmity were led on to something better? It is true, when I take a Gentile in hand, I do not immediately lay this injunction upon him, but in the first place I exhort him to know Christ; but if the believer, who has both learnt Him and heard Him, must needs crave the same forbearance with the Gentile, what is the use, what the gain (of his Christianity?)--But the habit is strong, and you cannot detach yourself from it? Well then, since the tyranny of habit is so great, transfer it into another channel. And how is this to be done? you will ask. What I have said often, I say also now; let there be many monitors (<greek>logistai</greek>), let there be many examiners and censors (<greek>ex</greek>s210><greek>tastai</greek>, <greek>dokimastai</greek>). Say, if you chance to put on your(1) mantle inside out, you allow your servant to correct your mistake, and are ashamed to learn of him, although there is much to be ashamed of in this; and here when you are getting hurt to your soul, are you ashamed to be taught better by another? You suffer your menial to put your dress in order, and to fasten your shoes, and will you not endure him that would put your soul in order? Let even your menial, your child, your wife, your friend, your kinsman, your neighbor, be your teachers on this point. For as when a wild beast is hunted down from all sides, it is impossible for it to escape; so he that has so many to watch him, so many to reprove him, who is liable to be struck at from all sides, cannot help being on his guard. The first day he will find it hard to put up with, and the second, and the third; but after that it will come easier, and, the fourth passed, there will not even be anything to do. Make the experiment, if you doubt me; take it into consideration, I beseech you. It is not a trifling matter to be wrong in, nor yet to come fight in; on both sides it is great for evil and for good. May the good be effected, through the grace and loving-mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.


HOMILY XI.


ACTS IV. 23.


" And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them."

NOT for their own glory did they tell the tale--how should such be their motive?--but what they displayed was the proofs therein exhibited of the grace of Christ. All that their adversaries had said, this they told; their own part, it is likely, they omitted: this made the hearers all the more courageous. What then? These again flee to the true Succor, to the Alliance invincible, and again, "with one accord. And when they heard that," it is said, "with one accord they lifted up their voice to God, and said:" (v. 24) and with great earnestness, for it is no prayer made at random. Observe with what exquisite propriety their prayers are framed: thus, when they besought to be shown who was meet for the Apostleship, they said, "Thou, Lord, which knowest the heart of all men, show:" (ch. i. 24) for it was a subject for Prescience there: but here, where the thing needed was that the mouths of their adversaries should be stopped, they speak of lordship; wherefore they begin thus: Lord, "(<greek>Despota</greek>) the God that madest heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who,(2) by the Holy Ghost through the mouth of Thy servant, David our father, didst say, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ." (v. 24-26.) It is to sue God, as one may say upon His own covenants, that they thus produce this prophecy: and at the same time to comfort themselves with the thought, that in vain are all the imaginations of their foes. This then is what they say: Bring those words into accomplishment, and show that they "imagine vain things.--For of a truth," they proceed, "there were gathered together in this city, against Thy holy Child Jesus, (<greek>Paida</greek>) Whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, for to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings." (v. 27-29.) Observe their largeness of mind (<greek>filosofian</greek>). These are not words of imprecation. In saying, "their threatenings, they do not mean this or that thing specifically threatened, but only in general, the fact of their threatening, perhaps, as being formidable. In fact, the writer is concise in his narrative. And observe, they do not say, "Crush them, cast them down;" but what? "And grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word." Let us also learn thus to pray. And yet how full of wrath one would be, when fallen among men intent upon killing him, and making threats to that effect? how full of animosity? But not so these saints. "By stretching forth Thine hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done by the Name of Thy holy Child Jesus." (v. 30.) If in that Name the mighty deeds are wrought, great will be the boldness.

"And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together." (v. 31.) This was the proof that they were heard, and of His visitation. "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." What means, "They were filled?" It means, They were inflamed; and the Gift burned up within them. "And they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul." (v. 32.) Do you see that together with the grace of God they also contributed their part? For everywhere it ought to be well observed, that together with the grace of God they do their part likewise. Just as Peter said above, "Silver and gold have I none"; and again, that "they were all(1) together." (ch. iii. 6.) But in this place, having mentioned that they were heard, the sacred writer proceeds to speak also of them, what virtue they showed. Moreover, he is just about to enter upon the narrative of Sapphira and Ananias, and with a view to show the detestable conduct of that pair, he first discourses of the noble behavior of the rest. Now say, did their love beget their poverty, or the poverty the love? In my opinion, the love begat the poverty, and then the poverty drew tight the cords of love. For observe what he says: "They were all of one heart and of one soul." Behold,(2) heart and soul are what make the "together." "Neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power the Apostles rendered their testimony (<greek>apedidoun</greek>) of the resurrection." (v. 33.) The phrase betokens them to be as persons put in trust with a deposit: he speaks of it as a debt or obligation: that is, their testimony they with boldness did render, or pay off, to all. "And great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked." (v. 34.) Their feeling was just as if they were under the paternal roof, all for awhile(3) sharing alike. It is not to be said, that though indeed they maintained the rest, yet they did it with the feeling that the means whereof they maintained them were still their own. No, the admirable circumstance is this, that they first alienated their property, and so maintained the rest, on purpose that the maintenance might not come as of their own private means, but as of the common property. "For as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the price of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the Apostles' feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need." (v. 35.) A great mark of honor this, that "they laid them at the Apostles' feet. And Joses, who by the Apostles was surnamed Barnabas, ('which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation.')" (v. 36.) I do not think that this is the same with the companion of Matthias; for that person was also called Justus and [Barsabas, but this, Joses and] "Barnabas" ["son of consolation "]. I suppose he also received the name from his virtue, as being qualified and suited for this duty. "A Levite, and of the country of Cyprus by birth." Observe on all occasions how the writer indicates the breaking up of the Law. But how was he also a "Cyprian by birth?" Because they then even removed to other countries, and still were called Levites. "Having land, sold it, and brought the price, and laid it at the Apostles' feet.(4)"

Let us now look over again what has been said. ["And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them."] (Recapitulation, v. 23.) See the unostentatious conduct of the Apostles, and their largeness of mind. They did not go about boasting, and say, "How we served (<greek>apekrhsameqa</greek>) the priests!" nor were they ambitious of honor: but, we read, "they came unto their own company. Observe how they do not cast themselves upon temptations, but when the temptations present themselves, with courage endure them. Had it been some other of the disciples, perhaps, emboldened by the countenance of the multitude, he might have insulted, might have vented ever so many harsh expressions. But not so these true philosophers; they do all with mildness and with gentleness. "And when they heard that, we read, with one accord they lifted up their voice to God. (v. 24.) That shout proceeded from delight and great emotion. Such indeed are the prayers which do their work, prayers replete with true philosophy, prayers offered up for such objects, by such persons, on such occasions, in such a manner; whereas all others are abominable and profane. "Lord, Thou the God that madest heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is." Observe how they say nothing idle, no old wives' talk and fables, but speak of His power. Just as Christ Himself said to the Jews, "If I by the Spirit of God do cast out devils: behold the Father also speaks by the Spirit. For what saith it? "Lord, the God Who,(1) by the Holy Ghost, through the mouth of our father Thy servant David didst say, Why did the nations rage?" (v. 25.) Scripture is wont thus to speak of one as of many. "For of a truth, Lord, against Thy Holy Child Jesus, Whom Thou didst anoint,(2) both Herod and Pontius Pilate, etc. (v. 27.) Observe how, even in prayer, they circumstantially describe the Passion, and refer all to God.--That is, Not they had power to do this: but Thou didst it all, Thou(8) that didst permit, that dost call to account, and yet didst bring to accomplishment, Thou the All-skilful and Wise, that didst serve Thee of Thine enemies for Thine own pleasure. (v. 28.) "For to do whatever Thy hand," etc. Here they discourse of His exceeding Skill and Wisdom and Power. So then, as enemies they came together, and with murderous purpose, and as opposing themselves, but they did what things Thou wouldest: 'For to do," as it is said, "whatsoever Thy hand and Thy purpose determined before to be done." What means, "Thy hand?" Here he seems to me to denote(4) one and the same thing by power and purpose, meaning that for Thee it is enough but to will: for it is not by power that one determines. "Whatsoever Thy hand," etc. i.e. Whatsoever Thou didst ordain: either this is the meaning, or, that by His hand He did effect. "And now, Lord, regard their threatenings." (v. 29.) As at that time, it is said, they "imagined vain things," so "now," grant that their imaginations may be in vain: i.e. let not their threatenings come into accomplishment. And this they said not because they would themselves deprecate any hardship, but for the preaching's sake. For they do not say, "and deliver us out of dangers;" but what? "And grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word." Thou Who didst bring to pass the former designs, bring these also to accomplishment. Observe,(5) how they affirm God to be the Author of their confidence; and how they ask all for God's sake, nothing for their own glory or ambition. They promise for their own part, that they will not be dismayed; but they pray that signs may be wrought "by stretching forth Thy hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done :" (v. 30) for without these, however great the zeal they showed, they would be striving to no purpose. God assented to their prayer, and manifested this, by shaking the place. For "when they had prayed," it is said, "the place was shaken. (v. 31.) And wherefore this was done, hear from the prophet, when he says, "He looketh on the earth, and maketh it to tremble. (Ps. civ. 32.) For by this He made it manifest that He is present to their prayers. And again, another prophet saith, "The earth was shaken, and did tremble at the presence of the Lord." (Ps. xviii. 7; lxviii, 8.) And God did this, both to make it more awful, and to lead them on to a courageous trust. "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness." They(1) gained increased boldness. As it was the beginning (of their work), and they had besought a sensible sign for their persuasion (<greek>pros</greek> <greek>to</greek> <greek>peisqhnai</greek> <greek>autous</greek>)--but after this we nowhere find the like happening--therefore great was the encouragement they received. In fact, they had no means of proving that He was risen, save by miraculous signs. So that it was not only their own assurance (<greek>asfaleian</greek>) that they sought: but that they might not be put to shame, but that they might speak with boldness. "The place was shaken," and that made them all the more unshaken. For this is sometimes a token of wrath, sometimes of favor and providence, but on the present occasion, of wrath. For(2) in those times it took place in an unusual manner. Thus, at the Crucifixion, the earth was shaken: and the Lord Himself says, "Then there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. (Matt. xxiv. 7.) But then the wrath of which it was a sign was against the adversaries: as for the disciples, it filled them with the Spirit. Observe, even the Apostles, after the prayer, are "filled with the Holy Ghost." "And(8) the multitudes of them that believed," etc. (v. 32.) Great, you perceive, is the virtue of this thing, seeing their was need of this (grace) even in that Company. For this is the foundation of all that is good, this of which he now for the second time makes mention, exhorting all men to the. contempt of riches: "Neither(4) said any of them that aught of the things he possessed was his own," "but they had. all things common." For that this was in consequence not merely of the miraculous signs, but of their own purpose, is manifest by the case of Sapphira and Ananias. "And with great power gave the Apostles witness," etc. (v. 33.) Not in word, but with power the Apostles exhibited their testimony of the Resurrection: just as Paul saith, "And my preaching was not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but with manifestation of the Spirit and of power." And it is not merely, With power, but, "With great power." (1 Cor. ii. 4.) "And great grace," it says, "was upon them all; for neither was there any among them that lacked. (v. 34.) This is why the grace (was upon them all,) for that "there was none that lacked:" that is, from the exceeding ardor of the givers, none was in want. For they did not give in part, and in part reserve: nor yet in giving all, give it as their own. And they lived moreover in great abundance: they removed all inequality from among them, and made a goodly order. "For as many as were possessors," etc. And with great respect they did this: for they did not presume to give into their hands, nor did they ostentatiously present, but brought to the Apostles' feet. To them they left it to be the dispensers, made them the owners, that thenceforth all should be defrayed as from common, not from private, property.(*) This was also a help to them against vain-glory. If this were done now, we should ire more pleasant lives, both rich and poor, nor would it be more pleasant to the poor than to the rich themselves. And if you please, let us now for awhile depict it in words, and derive at least this pleasure from it, since you have no mind for it in your actions. For at any rate this is evident, even from the facts which took place then, that by selling their possessions they did not come to be in need, but made them rich that were in need. However, let us now depict this state of things in words, and let all sell their possessions, and bring them into the common stock--in words, I mean: let none be excited, rich or poor. How much gold think you would be collected? For my part, I conjecture--for of course it is not possible to speak exactly--that supposing all here, men and women, to empty out their whole property, lands, possessions, houses,--for I will not speak of slaves, since at that time there was no such thing, but doubtless such as were slaves they sat at liberty,--perhaps ten hundred thousand pounds weight of gold would be the amount collected: nay, twice or thrice as much. For consider; at what number of "juga"(1) (yokes) is our city rated? How many (of the population) shall we say are Christians? shall we say an hundred thousand, and the rest Greeks and Jews? Then what thousands (of pounds)of gold would be collected! And what is the number of poor? I do not think more than fifty thousand. Then to feed that number daily, what abundance there would bet And yet if the food were received in common, all taking their meals together, it would require no such great outlay after all. But, you will ask, what should we do after the money was spent? And do you think it ever could be spent? Would not the grace of God be ten thousand fold greater? Would not the grace of God be indeed richly poured out? Nay, should we not make it a heaven upon earth? If, where the numbers were three thousand and five thousand, the doing of this thing had such splendid success, and none of them complained of poverty, how much more glorious would this be in so vast a multitude? And even of those that are without, who would not contribute?--But, to show that it is the living separately that is expensive and causes poverty, let there be a house in which are ten children: and the wife and the man, let the one work at her wool, the other bring his earnings from his outdoor occupation: now tell me, in which way would these spend most? by taking their meals together and occupying one house, or by living separately? Of course, by living separately. For if the ten children must live apart, they would need ten several rooms, ten tables, ten attendants, and the income otherwise in proportion. Is it not for this very reason, that where there is a great number of servants, they have all one table, that the expense may not be so great? For so it is, division always makes diminution, concord and agreement make increase. The dwellers in the monasteries live just as the faithful did then: now did ever any of these die of hunger? was ever any of them not provided for with plenty of everything? Now, it seems, people are more afraid of this than of falling into a boundless and bottomless deep. But if we had made actual trial of this,(2) then indeed we should boldly venture upon this plan (<greek>tou</greek> <greek>pragmatos</greek>). What grace too, think you, would there not be! For if at that time, when there was no believer but only the three thousand and the five thousand: when all, throughout the world, were enemies, when they could nowhere look for comfort, they yet boldly entered upon this plan with such success; how much more would this be the case now, when by the grace of God there are believers everywhere throughout the world? What Gentile would be left? For my part, I think there would not be one: we should so attract all, and draw them to us? But yet if we do but make(3) fair progress, I trust in God that even this shall be realized. Only do as I say, and let us successfully achieve things in their regular order; if God grant life, I trust that we shall soon bring you over to this way of life.

In the first place, as regards that law about swearing: accomplish that; establish it firmly: and let him that has kept it make known him that has not, and call him to account withal and rebuke him sternly. For the supra, Hom. viii.) appointed time (<greek>h</greek> <greek>proqesmia</greek>), is at hand and I am holding inquisition in the matter, and him that is found guilty I will banish and exclude. But God forbid that any such should be found among us; rather may it appear, that all have strictly kept this spiritual watchword. And as in war it is by the watchword that friends and strangers are shown, so let it be now; for indeed now also we are engaged in a war; that we may know our brethren that are properly such. For what a good thing it is that we should have this to be our cognizance both here and in a foreign land! What a weapon this, against the very head of the devil! A mouth that cannot swear will soon both engage God in prayers, and smite the devil a deadly blow. A mouth that cannot swear will also be incapable of using insulting language. Cast out this fire from your tongue, as you would from a house: this fire, drag it out. Give your tongue a little rest: make the sore less virulent. Yea, I beseech you, do this, that I may go on to set you another lesson: for as long as this is not rightly done, I dare not pass on to any other. Let this lesson be got perfectly, and you shall have a consciousness of the achievement, and then I will introduce you to other laws, or rather not I, but Christ. Implant in your soul this good thing, and by little and little ye shall be a paradise of God, far better than that paradise of old. No serpent among you, no deadly tree, nor any such thing. Fix this habit deep. If this be done, not ye only that are present shall be benefitted, but all that are in all the world; and not they alone, but those that are to succeed hereafter. For a good habit having once entered, and being kept by all, will be handed on to long ages, and no circumstances shall be able to erase it. If he that gathered sticks on the sabbath was stoned,--the man that is doing a far more heinous work than that gathering, the man that is amassing a lead of sins, for such is the multitude of oaths, what shall he undergo? what shall he not have to endure? You will receive great assistance from God, if this be well achieved by you. If I were to say, Be not abusive, immediately you will plead to me your indignation; should I say, Be not envious, you will urge some other excuse. But in this case you have nothing of the kind to say. On which account I began with the easy precepts, which indeed is also the uniform practice in all arts. And thus one comes to the higher duties, by learning first those which are easier far. How easy it is you will see, when by the grace of God having succeeded in this, you shall receive another precept.

Put it in my power to speak out boldly, in the presence both of Gentiles and of Jews, and, above all, of God. Yea, I entreat you by the love, by the pangs wherewith I have travailed for your birth, "my little children." I will not add what follows, "of whom I travail in birth again;" nor will I say, "until Christ be formed in you." (Gal. iv. 19). For I am persuaded, that Christ has been formed in you. Other language I will use towards you; "My brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and my crown." (Phil. iv. 1.) Believe me that I shall use no other language. If at this moment there were placed upon my head ten thousand richly-jewelled royal crowns, they could not give me the joy which I feel at your growth in holiness; or rather, I do not think the monarch himself has such a joy, as that wherewith I joy over you. Let him have come home, victorious over all the nations at war with him, let him have won many other crowns besides the crown of his right; and receive other diadems as tokens of his victory: I do not think he would joy over his trophies, as I joy over your soul's progress. For I exult, as if I had a thousand crowns on my head; and well may I rejoice. For if by the grace of God you achieve this good habit, you will have gained a thousand battles far more difficult than his; by wrestling and fighting with malicious demons, and fiendish spirits, with the tongue, not with sword, but by the will. For consider how much is gained, if so be that you do succeed! You have eradicated, first, a heinous habit; secondly, an evil conceit, the source of all evil, namely, the opinion that the thing is indifferent and can do no hurt; thirdly, wrath; fourthly, covetousness; for all these are the offspring of swearing. Nay, hence you will acquire a sure footing in the way to all other virtues. For as when children learn their letters, they learn not them alone, but by means of them are gradually taught to read; so shall it be With you. That evil conceit will no longer deceive you, you will not say, This is indifferent; you will no longer speak by mere habit, but will manfully stand against all, so that having perfected in all parts that virtue which is after God, you may reap eternal blessings, through the grace and loving-kindness of His Only-Begotten Son, to Whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

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