COMMENTARY OF
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
ON THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
HOMILIES XX TO XXIII (ACTS 9 & 10)

HOMILY XX.

ACTS IX. 10, 12.

"And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight."

WHAT may be the reason that He neither drew any one of high authority and importance, nor caused such to be forthcoming for the purpose of instructing Paul?[1] It was, because it was not meet that he should be induced by men, but only by Christ Himself as in fact this man taught him nothing, but merely baptized him; for, as soon as baptized (<greek>fwtisqeis</greek>), he was to draw upon himself the grace of the Spirit, by his zeal and exceeding earnestness. And that Ananias was no very distinguished person, is plain. For, "the Lord," it says, "spake unto him in a vision, and Ananias answered and said, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints at Jerusalem." (v. 13.) For if he spoke in objection to Him, much more would he have done so, had He sent an Angel. And this is why, in the former instance, neither is Philip told what the matter is; but he sees the Angel, and then the Spirit bids him go near to the chariot. But observe here how the Lord. relieves him of his fear: "He is blind," saith He, "and prayeth, and art thou afraid?" In the same way Moses also is afraid: so that the words betokened that he was afraid, and shrunk from the task not that he did not believe. He said," have heard from many concerning this man." What sayest thou? God speaketh, and thou hesitatest? They, did not yet well know the power of Christ. "And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on Thy name." (v. 14.) How was that known? It is likely that they, being in fear, made minute enquiries. He does not say this, as thinking that Christ does not know the fact, but, "such being the case, how," says he, "can these things be?" As in fact those (in the Gospel) say, "Who can be saved?"--(Mark x. 26.) This is done, in order that Paul may believe him that shall come to him: "he hath seen in a vision:" it hath showed him beforehand: "he prayeth," saith (the Lord): fear not. And observe, He speaks not to him of the success achieved: teaching us not to speak of our achievements. And,[2] though He saw him afraid, for all this He said it not. "Thou shall not be disbelieved:" "he hath seen," saith He, "in a vision a man (named) Ananias:" for this is why it was "in a vision," namely, because he was blind. And not even the exceeding wonderfulness of the thing took possession of the disciple's mind, so greatly was he afraid But observe: Paul being blind, in this way He restored to. sight. "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will show him bow great things he must suffer for My name's sake." (v. 15, 16.) "Not only," saith He, "shall he be a believer, but even a teacher, and great boldness shall he show: before Gentiles and kings'--such shall be the spread of the doctrine!--that just as He astonished (him) by the former, so He may (startle him even more) by the latter.[3] "And Ananias went, and entered into the house, and laid his hands upon him, and said, Brother Saul"---he straightway addresses him as a friend by that name--"Jesus, Who appeared unto thee in the way in which thou camest"--and yet Christ had not told him this, but he learnt it from the Spirit--" hath sent me unto thee, that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." (v. 17.) As he said this, he laid his hands upon him. "And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales." (v. 18.) Some say this was a sign of his blindness. Why did he not blind his eyes (entirely)? This was more wonderful, that, with his eyes open, he did not see: (v. 8) which was just his case in respect of the Law, until[1] the Name of Jesus was put on him. "And he received sight forthwith, and. arose, and was baptized. And having taken food, he recovered strength." (v. 19.) He was faint, therefore, both from his journey and from his fear; both from hunger, and from dejection of mind. Wishing therefore to deepen his dejection, He made the man blind until the coming of Ananias: and, that he might not imagine the blindness to be (only) fancy, this is the reason of the scales. He needed no other teaching: that which had befallen was made teaching (to him). "And he was with the disciples which were at Damascus certain days. And straightway in the synagogues he preached Jesus,[2] that He is the Son of God." (v. 20.) See, straightway he was: a teacher in the synagogues. He was not a ashamed of the change, was not afraid while the very things in which he was glorious afore-time, the same he destroyed. Even[8] from his first appearance on the stage here was a man, death-dealing, ready for deeds of blood: seest thou what a manifest sign (was here)? And with this very thing, he put all in fear: for, said they, Hither also is he come for this very thing. "But all that heard him were amazed, and said: Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and • came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ." (v. 21, 22.) As one learned in the Law, he stopped their mouths, and suffered them not to speak. They thought they were rid of disputation in such matters, in getting rid of Stephen, and they found another, more vehement than Stephen.[*]

(Recapitulation.) But let us look at what relates to Ananias.[4] The Lord said not to him, Converse with him, and catechize him. For if, when He said, "He prayeth, and hath seen a man laying his hands upon him." (v. 11, 12.) He did not persuade him, much less had He said this. So that he shall not disbelieve thee, "he hath seen in a vision." Observe how in the former instance neither is Philip told all immediately. Fear not, He saith: "for this man is a chosen vessel for Me. (v. 15.) He more than sufficiently released him of his fear, if the case be so that this man shall be so zealous in our cause, as even to suffer many things. And justly he is called "a vessel" (or, instrument)--for reason shows that evil is not a physical quality: "a vessel of election" (or, chosen instrument), He saith; for we choose that which is approved. And let not any imagine, that (Ananias) speaks in unbelief of what was told him, as imagining that Christ was deceived: far from it! but affrighted and trembling, he did not even attend to what was said, at hearing the name of Paul. Moreover, the Lord does not tell that He has blinded him: at the mention of his name fear had prepossessed his soul: "see," he says, "to whom Thou art betraying me: 'and hither for this very purpose is he come, to bind all that call upon Thy Name.' I fear, test he take me to Jerusalem: why dost Thou cast me into the mouth of the lion?" He is terrified, even while he speaks these words; that from every quarter we may learn the energetic character (<greek>arethn</greek>) of the man. For that these things should be spoken by Jews, were nothing wonderful: but that these (the believers) are so terrified, it is a most mighty proof of the power of God. Both the fear is shown, and the obedience greater after the fear. For there was indeed need of strength. Since He says, "'a vessel of election," that thou mayest not imagine that God is to do all, He adds, "to bear My Name before Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel. Ananias has heard what he most desired--that against the Jews also he will take his stand: this above all gave him courage. "For I," saith He, "will show him how great things he must suffer for My Name's sake." At the same time also this is said by way of putting Ananias to the blush: If he, that was so frantic, shall suffer all things, and thou not willing even to baptize him! "It is well," saith he: "let him continue blind" (this[1] is why he says these words): "he is blind: why dost Thou at all bid me open his eyes, that he may bind (men) again?" Fear not the future: for that opening of his eyes he will use not against you, but for you (with reference to that saying, "That he may receive his sight" (v. 12), these words are spoken): for not only will he do you no harm, but he "will suffer many things." And what is wonderful indeed is,[2] that he shall first know "how great things he shall suffer," and then shall take the field against the perils.--" Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus"--he saith not," Who made thee blind," but, "Who appeared with thee in the way, hath sent me unto thee that thou mayest receive thy sight" (v. 17): observe this man also, how he utters nothing boastful, but just as Peter said in the case of the lame man, "Why look ye on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made him to walk," (ch. iii. 12) so here also he saith, "Jesus, Who appeared unto thee." (b) Or,[8] (he saith it) that the other may believe: and he saith not, He that was crucified, the Son of God, He that doeth wonders: but what? "He that appeared unto thee:" (speaking) from what the other knew: as Christ also added no more, neither said, I am Jesus, the Crucified, the Risen: but what? "Whom thou persecutest." Ananias said not, "The persecuted," that he may not seem as it were to rave over him (<greek>epenqousian</greek>), to deride him, "Who appeared unto thee in the way:" and yet He did not (visibly) appear, but was seen by the things done. And immediately he added, wishing to draw a veil over the accusation: "That thou mayest receive thy sight." I came not to reprove the past, but to bestow the gift: "that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." (a) With hands laid on, he spake these words. "And immediately there fell from his eyes," etc. (v. 18: a double blindness is removed.--And why saith it, "Having taken food, he was strengthened?" (v. 19.) Because they that are in such case become relaxed: he had no heart to partake of food before, until he obtained the mighty gifts. (c) It seems to me, that both Paul and Cornelius, at the very instant when the words were spoken, received the Spirit. And yet (in this case) the giver was no great one. So true is it, that there was naught of man's in the things done, nor aught was done by man, but God was present, the Doer of these things. And at the same time (the Lord) both teaches him to think modestly of himself, in that He does not bring him to the Apostles who were so admired, and shows that there is nothing of man here. He was not filled, however, with the Spirit which works signs: that in this way also his faith might be shown; for he wrought no miracles. "And straightway," it says, "in the synagogues he preached Jesus"--(v. 20) not that He is risen--not this: no, nor that He liveth: but what? immediately he strictly expounded the doctrine--"that this is the Son of God. And all thai heard him were amazed," etc. (v. 21.) They were reduced to utter incredulity. And yet they ought not to have wondered only, but to worship and reverence. "Is not this he," etc. He had not merely been a persecutor, but "destroyed them which called on this Name"--they did not say, "on Jesus;" for hatred, they could not bear even to hear His name--and what is more marvellous still, "and came hither for this purpose," etc. "We cannot say, that he associated with the Apostles before." See by how many (witnesses) he is confessed to have been of the number of the enemies! But Paul not only was not confounded by these things, nor hid his face for shame, but "increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews" (v. 22), i.e. put them to silence, left them nothing to say for themselves, "proving, that this is very Christ." "Teaching," it says: for this man was a teacher.

"And after that many days were fulfiIled, the Jews took counsel to kill him."[*] (v. 23.) The Jews again resort to that valid argument (<greek>iskuron</greek> <greek>sullogismon</greek>) of theirs, not now seeking false-accusers and false-witnesses; they cannot wait for these now: but what do they? They set about it by themselves. For as they see the affair on the increase, they do not even use the form of a trial. "But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him." (v. 24.) For this was more intolerable to them than the miracles which had taken place--than the five thousand, the three thousand, than everything, in short. And observe him, how he is delivered, not by (miraculous) grace, but by man's wisdom--not as the apostles were--(<greek>ekeinoi</greek> ch. v. 19) that thou mayest learn the energetic (<greek>arethn</greek>) character of the man, how he shines even without miracles. "Then the disciples took him by night," that the affair might not be suspected, "and let him down by the wall in a basket." (v. 25.) What then? having escaped such a danger, does he flee? By no means, but goes where he kindled them to greater rage.

(Recapitulation, v. 20, 21.) "And straightway in the synagogues he preached Jesus" --for he was accurate in the faith--" that this is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed," etc., for indeed it was incredible. "But Saul increased," etc. Therefore " after many days" this happens: viz. the Jews "took counsel to kill him. And their laying await was known of Saul." (v. 22-24.) What does this mean? It is likely that for awhile he did not choose to depart thence, though many, perhaps, besought him; but when he learnt it, then he permitted his disciples: for he bad disciples immediately.

"Then the disciples," etc. (v. 25.) Of this occurrence he says: "The ethnarch of Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to apprehend me." (2. Cor. xi. 32.) But observe the Writer here,[1] that he does not tell the story ambitiously, and so as to show what an important person Paul was, saying, "For they stirred up the king," and so forth: but only, "Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall--in a basket:" for they sent him out alone, and none with him. And it was well they did this: the consequence being, that he showed himself to the Apostles in Jerusalem. Now they sent him out, as bound to provide for his safety by flight: but he did just the contrary--he leaped into the midst of those who were mad against him. This it is to be on fire, this to be fervent indeed! From that day forth he knew all the commands which the Apostles had heard: "Except a man take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matt. x. 38.) The very fact that he had been slower to come than the rest made him more zealous: for "to whom much is forgiven" (Luke vii. 47) the same will love more, so that the later he came, the more he loved: * * *[1] and having done ten thousand wrongs, be thought he could never do enough to cast the former deeds into the shade. "Proving" (v. 22), it says: i.e. with mildness teaching. And observe, they did not say to him, Thou art he that destroyed: why art thou changed? for they were ashamed: but they said it to themselves. For he would have said to them, This very thing ought to teach you, as in fact he does thus plead in his speech before Agrippa. Let us imitate this, man: let us bear our souls in our hands ready to confront all dangers.--(That he fled from Damascus) this was no cowardice:[2] he preserved himself for the preaching. Had he been a coward, he would not have gone to Jerusalem, would not immediately have commenced teaching: he would have abated somewhat of his vehemence: for he bad been taught by the fate of Stephen. He was no coward, but he was also prudent (<greek>oikonomikos</greek>) (in husbanding himself). Wherefore he thought it no great thing to die for the Gospel's sake, unless he should do this to great advantage: willing not even to see Christ, Whom most of all he longed to see, while the work of his stewardship among men was not yet complete. (Phil. i. 23, 24). Such ought to be the soul of a Christian. From[3] his first appearance from the very outset, the character of Paul declared itself: nay even before this, even in the things which he did "not according to knowledge" (Rom. x. 2), it was not by man's reasoning that he was moved to act as he did.[4] For if, so long afterwards, he was content not to depart, much more at the beginning of his trading voyage, when he had but just left the harbor! Many things Christ leaves to be done by (ordinary) human wisdom, that we may learn that (his disciples) were men, that it was not all everywhere to be done by grace: for otherwise they would have been mere motionless logs: but in many things they managed matters themselves.This is not less than martyrdom,--to shrink from no suffering for the sake of the salvation of the many. Nothing so delights God. Again will I repeat what I have often said: and I repeat it, because I do exceedingly desire it: as Christ also did the same, when discoursing concerning forgiveness: "When ye pray, forgive if ye have aught against any man :"(Mark xi. 25.) and again to Peter He said, "I say not unto thee, Forgive until seven times, but until seventy-times seven." (Matt. xviii. 22.) And Himself in fact forgives the transgressions against Him. So do we also, because we know that this is the very goal of Christianity, continually discourse thereof. Nothing is more frigid than a Christian, who cares not for the salvation of others. Thou canst not here plead poverty: for she that cast down the two mites, shall be thine accuser. (Luke xxi. 1.) And Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none." (Acts iii. 6.) And Paul was so poor, that he was often hungered, and wanted necessary food. Thou canst not plead lowness of birth: for they too were ignoble men, and of ignoble parents. Thou canst not allege want of education: for they too were "unlearned men." (Acts iv. 13.) Even if thou be a slave therefore and a runaway slave, thou canst perform thy part: for such was Onesimus: yet see to what Paul calls him, and to how great honor he advances him: "that he may communicate with me," he says, "in my bonds." (Philem. v. 13.) Thou canst not plead infirmity:for such was Timothy, having often infirmities; for, says the apostle, "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities." (1 Tim. v. 23.) Every one can profit his neighbor, if he will fulfil his part. See ye not the unfruitful trees, how strong they are, how fair, how large also, and smooth, and of great height? But if we had a garden; we should much rather have pomegranates, or fruitful olive trees: for the others are for delight to the eye, not for profit, which in them is but small. Such are those men who only consider their own interest: nay, not such even since these persons are fit only for burning: whereas those trees are useful both for building and for the safety of those within. Such too were those Virgins, chaste indeed, and decent, and modest, but profitable to none (Matt. xxv. : 1) wherefore they are burned. Such are they who have not nourished Christ. For observe that none of those are charged with particular sins of their own, with fornication, for instance, or with perjury; in short, with no sin but the having been of no use to another. Such was he who buried his talent, showing indeed a blameless life, but not being useful to another. (ib. 25.) How can such an one be a Christian? Say, if the leaven being mixed up with the flour did not change the whole into its own nature, would such a thing be leaven? Again, if a perfume shed no sweet odor on those who approach it, could we call it a perfume? Say not, "It is impossible for me to induce others (to become Christians)"--for if thou art a Christian, it is impossible but that it should be so. For as the natural properties of things cannot be gainsaid, so it is here: the thing is part of the very nature of the Christian. Do not insult God. To say, that the sun cannot shine, would be to insult Him: to say that a Christian cannot do good, is to insult God, and call Him a liar. For it is easier for the sun not to give heat, nor to shine, than for the Christian not to send forth light: it is easier for the light to be darkness, than for this to be so. Tell me not that it is impossible: the contrary is the impossible. Do not insult God. If we once get our own affairs in a right state, the other will certainly follow as a natural and necessary consequence. It is not possible for the light of a Christian to be hid; not possible for a lamp so conspicuous as that to be concealed. Let us not be careless. For, as the profit from virtue reaches both to ourselves, and to those who are benefited by it: so from vice there is a twofold loss, reaching both to ourselves, and to I those who are injured by it. Let there be (if you will) some private man, who has suffered numberless ills from some one, and let no one take his part, yet let that man still return good offices; what teaching so mighty as this? What words, or what exhortations could equal it? What wrath were it not enough to extinguish and soften? Knowing therefore these things, let us hold fast to virtue, as knowing that it is not possible to be saved otherwise, than by passing through this present life in doing these good works, that we may also obtain the good things which are to come, through the grace and mercy of our Lord JeSus Christ, with Whom to the Father together with the Holy Spirit be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

HOMILY XXI.

ACTS IX. 26, 27.

"And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the Apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way."

ONE may well be much at a loss here to understand how it is that, whereas in the Epistle to the Galatians Paul says, "I went not to Jerusalem," but "into Arabia" and" to Damascus," and, "After three years I went up to Jerusalem," and "to see Peter" (Gal. i. 17), (<greek>istorhsai</greek> Cat.) here the writer says the contrary. (There, Paul says,) "And none of the Apostles saw I; but here, it is said (Barnabas), brought him to the Apostles."--Well, then, either (Paul) means, "I went not up with intent to refer or attach myself to them (<greek>anaqesqai</greek>)--fOr what saith he? "I referred not myself, neither went I to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me:"[1] or else, that the laying await for him in Damascus was after his return from Arabia;[2] or else, again, that the visit to Jerusalem was after he came from Arabia. Certainly of his own accord he went not to the Apostles, but "assayed to join himself unto the disciples "--as being[3] a teacher, not a disciple--" I went not," he says, "for this purpose, that I should go to those who were Apostles before me: certainly, I learnt nothing from them." Or,[4] he does not speak of this visit, but passes it by, so that the order is, "I went into Arabia, then I came to Damascus, then to Jerusalem, then to Syria :" or else, again, that he went up to Jerusalem, then was sent to Damascus, then to Arabia, then again to Damascus, then to Caesarea. Also, the visit "after fourteen years," probably, was when he brought up the [alms to the] brethren together with Barnabas: (Gal. ii. 1) or else he means a different occasion. (Acts xi. 30.) For the Historian for conciseness, often omits incidents, and condenses the times. Observe how unambitious the writer is, and how he does not even relate (related in c. xxii. 17-21) that vision, but passes it by. "He assayed," it says, "to join himself to the disciples. And they were afraid of him." By this again is shown the ardor of Paul's character: not (only) from the mouth of Ananias, and of those who wondered at him there, but also of those in Jerusalem: "they believed not that he was a disciple:" for truly that was beyond all human expectation. He[1] was no longer a wild beast, but a man mild and gentle! And observe how he does not go to the Apostles, such is his forbearance, but to the disciples, as being a disciple. He was not thought worthy of credit. "But Barnabas"--" Son of Consolation" is his appellation, whence also he makes himself easy of access to the man: fox "he was a kind man" (ch. xi. 24), exceedingly, and this is proved both by the present instance, and in the affair of John (Mark)--" having taken him, brought him to the Apostles, and related to them how he had seen the Lord in the way."[2] (xv. 39.) It is likely that at Damascus also he had heard all about him: whence he was not afraid but the others were, for he was a man whose glance inspired fear. "How," it says, "he had seen the Lord in the way, and that He had spoken unto him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem, and speaking boldly in the name of Jesus" (v. 28): these things were demonstrative of the former, and by his acts he made good what was spoken of him. "And he spake, and disputed with the Hellenists." (v. 29.) So then the disciples were afraid of him, and the Apostles did not trust him; by this therefore he relieves them of their fear. "With the Hellenists :" he means those who used the Greek tongue: and this he did, very wisely; for those others, those profound Hebrews had no mind even to see him. "But they," it says, "went about to slay him:" a token, this, of his energy, and triumphant victory, and of their exceeding annoyance at what had happened. Thereupon, fearing lest the issue should be the same as in the case of Stephen, they sent him to Caesarea. For it says, "When the brethren were aware of this, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus" (v. 30), at the same time to preach, and likely to be more in safety, as being in his own country. But observe, I pray you, how far it is from being the case that everything is done by (miraculous) grace; how, on the contrary, God does in many things leave them to manage for themselves by their own wisdom and in a human way; so[1] to cut off the excuse of idle people for if it was so in the case of Paul, much more in theirs.[*] "Then, it says, "the Church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace (they), being edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and abounded in the comfort of the Holy Ghost."[2] (v. 31.) He is about to relate that Peter goes down (from Jerusalem), therefore that you may not impute this to fear, he first says this. For while there was persecution, he was in Jerusalem, but when the affairs of the Church are everywhere in security, then it is that he leaves Jerusalem. See how fervent and energetic he is! For he did not think, because there was peace, therefore there was no need of his presence. Paul[3] departed, and there was peace: there is no war nor disturbance. Them, they respected most, as having often stood by them, and as being held in admiration by the multitude: but him, they despised, and were more savage against him. See, how great a war, and immediately, peace! See what that war effected. It dispersed the peace-makers. In Samaria, Simon was put to shame: in Judea, the affair of Sapphira took place. Not that, because there was peace, therefore matters became relaxed, but such was the peace as also to need exhortation. "And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda." (v. 32.) Like the commander of an army, he went about, inspecting the ranks, what part was compact, what in good order, what needed his presence. See how on all occasions he goes about, foremost. When an Apostle was to be chosen, he was the foremost: when the Jews were to be told, that these were "not drunken," when the lame man was to be healed, when harangues to be made, he is before the rest: when the rulers were to be spoken to, he was the man; when Ananias, he (ch. i. 15; ii. 15; iii. 4-12; iv. 8; v. 3-15.): when healings were wrought by the shadow, still it was he. And look: where there was danger, he was the man, and where good[4] management (was needed); but where all is calm, there they act all in common, and he demands no greater honor (than the others). When need was to work miracles, he starts forward, and here again he is the man to labor and toil. "And there he found a certain man named AEneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, AEneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And. he arose immediately." (v. 33-34.) And why did he not wait for the man's faith, and ask if he wished to be healed? In the first place, the miracle served for exhortation to many: hear then how great the gain. "And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord." (v. 35.) For the man was notable. "Arise, and make thy bed :" he does well to give a proof of the miracle: for they not only released men of their diseases, but in giving the health they gave the strength also. Moreover, at that time they had given no proofs of their power, so that the man could not reasonably have been required to show his faith, as neither in the case of the lame man did they demand it. (ch. iii. 6.) As therefore Christ in the beginning of His miracles did not demand faith, so neither did these. For in Jerusalem indeed, as was but reasonable, the faith of the parties was first shown; "they brought out their sick into the streets, but as Peter passed by, his shadow at least might fall upon some of them" (ch. v. 15); for many miracles had been wrought there; but here this is the first that occurs. For of the miracles, some were wrought for the purpose of drawing others (to faith); some for the comfort of them that believed. "Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms-deeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that be would not delay to come to them." (v. 36-38). Why did they wait till she was dead? Why was not Peter solicited (<greek>eskulh</greek>) before this? So right-minded (<greek>filosofountes</greek>) were they, they did not think it proper to trouble (<greek>skullein</greek>) the Disciples about such matters, and to take them away from the preaching: as indeed this is why it mentions that the place was near, seeing[1] they asked this as a thing beside his mark, and not now in the regular course. "Not to delay to come unto them:" for she was a disciple. And Peter arose, and went with them. And when he was come, they led him into the upper chamber." (v. 39.) They do not beseech, but leave it to him to give her life (<greek>swthrian</greek>.) See[2] what a cheering inducement to alms is here! "And all the widows," it says, "stood round him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them." Peter went into the apartment, as one who took it calmly, but see what an accession came of it! It is not without a meaning that the Writer has informed us of the woman's name, but to show that the name she bore (<greek>ferwnumos</greek> <greek>hn</greek>) matched her character; as active and wakeful was she as an antelope. For in many instances there is a Providence in the giving of names, as we have often told you. "She was full," it says, "of good works:" not only of alms, but "of good works," first, and then of this good work in particular. "Which," it says, "Dorcas made while she was with them." Great humility! Not as we do; but they were all together in common, and in company with them she made these things and worked. "But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up." (v. 40.) Why does he put them all out? That he may not be confused nor disturbed by their weeping. "And having knelt down, he prayed." Observe the intentness of his prayer. "And[3] he gave her his hand." (v. 41.) So did Christ to. the daughter of Jairus: "And (says the Evangelist) having taken her by the hand." Mark severally, first the life, then the strength brought into her, the one by the word, the other by his hand--" And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive :" to some for comfort, because they received back their sister, and because they saw the miracle, and for kindly support (<greek>prostasian</greek>) to others. "And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner." (v. 42-43.) Mark the unassuming conduct, mark the moderation of Peter, how he does not make his abode with this lady, or some other person of distinction, but with a tanner: by all his acts leading men to humility, neither suffering the mean to be ashamed, nor the great to be elated! "Many days; "[4] for they needed his instruction, who had believed through the miracles.--Let us look then again at what has been said.

"Assayed," it says, "to join himself to the disciples." (Recapitulation, v. 26.) He did not come up to them unabashed, but with a subdued manner. "Disciples "[5] they were all called at that time by reason of their great virtue, for there was the likeness of the disciples plainly to be seen. "But they were all afraid of him." See how they feared the dangers, how the alarm was yet at its height in them. "But Barnabas," etc. (v. 27.)--it seems to me that Barnabas was of old a friend of his--" and related," etc.: observe how Paul says nothing of all this himself: nor would he have brought it forward to the others, had he not been compelled to do so. "And he was with them, coming in and going out at Jerusalem, and speaking boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus." (v. 28, 29.) This gave them all confidence. "But they went about to slay him: which when the brethren knew" etc. (v. 30.) Do you observe how both there (at Damascus), and here, the rest take care for him, and provide for him the means of departure, and that we nowhere find him thus far receiving (direct supernatural) aid from God? So the energy of his character is betokened. "To Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus:" so that, I suppose, he did not continue his journey by land, but sailed the rest of it. And this (departure) is Providentially ordered, that he might preach there also: and so likewise were the plots against him ordered by God's Providence, and his coming to Jerusalem, that the story about him might no longer be disbelieved. For there he was " speaking boldly," it says, "in the name of the Lord Jesus; and he spake and disputed against the Hellenists; and again, "he was with them coming in and going out.--So[1] the Church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace" --i.e. it increased: and peace with itself, that peace which is peace indeed: for the war from without would have done them no harm --" they being edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and abounded in the consolation of the Holy Ghost." And the spirit consoled them both by the miracles and by the works, and independently of these in the person of each individual. "And it came to pass, etc. And Peter said unto him, Eneas," etc. (v. 32-34.)[2] But before discourse, before exhortations, he says to the lame man himself, "Jesus Christ maketh thee whole." This word he believed in any wise, and was made whole. Observe how unassuming he is: for he said not, "In the Name," but[3] rather as a sign he narrates the miracle itself, and speaks as its Evangelist. "And having seen him," it says, "all that dwelt in Lydda, and Saron, turned unto the Lord.--Now there was at Joppa," etc. (v. 35, 36.) Observe everywhere the signs taking place. But let us so believe them, as if we were now beholding them. It is not simply said, that Tabitha died, but that she died, having been in a state of weakness. And (yet) they did not call Peter until she died; then "they sent and told him not to delay to come unto them." Observe, they send and call him by others. And he comes: he did not think it a piece of disrespect, to be summoned by two men: for, it says, "they sent two men unto him." --Affliction, my beloved, is a great thing, and rivets our souls together. Not a word of wailing there, nor of mourning. See[4] how thoroughly matters are cleansed! "Having washed her," it says, "they laid her in an upper chamber:" that is, they did all (that was right)for the dead body. Then Peter having come, "knelt down, and prayed; and turning him to the body, said, Tabitha, arise." (v. 40.) They did not perform all their miracles with the same ease. But this was profitable for them: for truly God took thought not only for the salvation of others, but for their own. He that healed so many by his very shadow, how is it that he now has to do so much first? There are cases also in which the faith of the applicants coöperated. This is the first dead person that he raises. Observe how he, as it were, awakes her out of sleep: first she opened her eyes: then upon seeing (Peter) she sat up: then from his hand she received strength. "And it was known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord." (v. 42.) Mark the gain, mark the fruit, that it was not for display. Indeed, this is why he puts them all out, imitating his Master in this also. [5] For where tears are--or rather, where miracles are, there tears ought not to be; not where such a mystery is celebrating. Hear, I beseech you: although somewhat of the like kind does not take place now, yet in the case of our dead likewise, a great mystery is celebrating. Say,[1] if as we sit together, the Emperor were to send and invite some one of us to the palace, would it be right, I ask, to weep and mourn? Angels are present, commissioned from heaven and come from thence, sent from the King Himself to call their fellow servant, and say, dost thou weep? Knowest thou not what a mystery it is that is taking place, how awful, how dread, and worthy indeed of hymns and lauds? Wouldest thou learn, that thou mayest know, that this is no time for tears? For it is a very great mystery of the Wisdom of God. As if leaving her dwelling, the soul goes forth, speeding on her way to her own Lord, and dost thou mourn? Why then, thou shouldst do this on the birth of a child: for this in fact is also a birth, and a better than that. For here she goes forth to a very different light, is loosed as from a prison-house, comes off as from a contest. "Yes," say you, "it is all very well to say this,[2] in the case of those of whose salvation we are assured." Then, what ails thee, O man, that even in the case of such, thou dost not take it in this way? Say, what canst thou have to condemn in the little child? Why dost thou mourn for it? What in the newly baptized? for he too is brought into. the same condition: why dose thou mourn for him? For as the sun arises clear and bright, so the soul, leaving the body with a pure conscience, shines joyously. Not such the spectacle of Emperor as he comes in state to take possession of the city (<greek>epibainontapoLews</greek>), not such the hush of awe, as when the soul having quitted the body is departing in company with Angels. Think what the soul must then be! in what amazement, what wonder, what delight! Why mournest thou? Answer me.--But it is only in the case of sinners thou doest this? Would that it were so, and I would not forbid your mournings, would that this were the object! This lamentation were Apostolic, this were after the pattern of the Lord; for even Jesus wept over Jerusalem. I would that your mournings were discriminated by this rule. But when thou speakest the words of one[3] that would call back (the dead), and speakest of thy long intimacy and his beneficence, it is but for this thou mournest (not because he was a sinner), thou dost but pretend to say it. Mourn, bewail the sinner, and I too will give a loose to tears; I, more than thou, the greater the punishment to which he is liable as such: I too will lament, with such an object. But not thou alone must lament him that is such; the whole city must do the same, and all that meet you on the way, as men bewail them that are led to be put to death. For this is a death indeed, an evil death, the death of sinners. But (with you) all is clean reversed. Such lamentation marks a lofty mind, and conveys much instruction; the other marks a littleness of soul. If we all lamented with this sort of lamentation, we should amend the persons themselves while yet living. For as, if it rested with thee to apply medicines which would prevent that bodily death, thou wouldest use them, just so now, if this death were the death thou lamentest, thou wouldest prevent its taking place, both in thyself and in him. Whereas now our behavior is a perfect riddle; that having it in our power to hinder its coming, we let it take place, and mourn over it when it has come. Worthy indeed of lamentations are they (when we consider), what time as they shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ, what words they shall then hear, what they shall suffer! To no purpose have these men lived: nay, not to no purpose, but to evil purpose! Of them too it may be fitly said, "It were good for them had they never been born." (Mark xiv. 21.) For what profit is it, I ask, to have spent so much time to the hurt of his own person? Had it been spent only to no purpose, were not that, I ask you, punishment enough! If one who has been an hired servant twenty years were to find that he has had all his labor in vain, would he not weep and lament, and think himself the most miserable of men? Why, here is a man who has lost all the labor of a whole life: not one day has he lived for himself, but to luxury, to debauchery, to covetousness, to sin, to the devil. Then, say, shall we not bewail this man? shall we not try to snatch him from his perils? For it is, yes, it is possible, if we will, to mitigate his punishment, if we make continual prayers for him, if for him we give alms. However unworthy he may be, God will yield to our importunity. For if[1] Paul showed mercy on one (who had no claims on his mercy), and for the sake of others spared one (whom he would not have spared), much more is it right for us to do this. By means of his substance, by means of thine own, by what means thou wilt, aid him: pour in oil, nay rather, water. Has he no alms-deeds of his own to exhibit? Let him have at least those of his kindred. Has he none done by himself? At least let him have those which are done for him, that his wife may with confidence beg him off in that day, having paid down the ransom for him. The more sins he has to answer for, the greater need has he of alms, not only for this reason, but because the alms has not the. same virtue now, but far less: for it is not all one to have done it himself, and to have another do it for him; therefore, the virtue being less, let us by quantity make it the greatest. Let us not busy ourselves about monuments, not about memorials. This is the greatest memorial: set widows to stand around him. Tell them his name: bid them all make for him their prayers, their supplications: this will overcome God: though it have not been done by the man himself, yet because of him another is the author of the almsgiving. Even this pertains to the mercy of God: "widows standing around and weeping" know how to rescue, not indeed from the present death, but from that which is to come. Many have profited even by the alms done by others on their behalf: for even if they have not got perfect (deliverance), at least they have found some comfort thence. If it be not so, how are children saved? And yet there, the children themselves contribute nothing, but their parents do all: and often have women had their children given them, though the children themselves contributed nothing. Many are the ways God gives us to be saved, only let us not be negligent.

How then if one be poor? say you. Again I say, the greatness of the alms is not estimated by the quantity given, but by the purpose. Only give not less than thine ability, and thou hast paid all. How then, say you, if he be desolate and a stranger, and have none to care for him? And why is it that he has none, I ask you? In this very thing thou sufferest thy desert, that thou hast none to be thus thy friend, thus virtuous. This is so ordered on purpose that, though we be not ourselves virtuous, we may study to have virtuous companions and friends--both wife, and son, and friend--as reaping some good even through them, a slight gain indeed, but yet a gain. If thou make it thy chief object not to marry a rich wife,[2] but to have a devout wife, and a religious daughter, thou shall gain this consolation; if thou study to have thy son not rich but devout, thou shall also gain this consolation. If thou make these thine objects then wilt thyself be such as they. This also is part of virtue, to choose such friends, and such a wife and children. Not in vain are the oblations made for the departed, not in vain the prayers, not in vain the almsdeeds: all those things hath the Spirit ordered,[3] wishing us to be benefited one by the other. See: he is benefited, thou art benefited: because of him, thou hast despised wealth, being set on to do some generous act: both thou art the means of salvation to him, and he to thee the occasion of thine almsgiving. Doubt not that he shall get some good thereby. It is not for nothing that the Deacon cries, "For them that are fallen asleep in Christ, and for them that make the memorials for them." It is not the Deacon that utters this voice, but the Holy Ghost: I speak of the Gift. What sayest thou? There is the Sacrifice in hand, and all things laid out duly ordered: Angels are there present, Archangels, the Son of God is there: all stand with such awe, and in the general silence those stand by, crying aloud: and thinkest thou that what is done, is done in vain? Then is not the rest also all in vain both the oblations made for the Church, and those for the priests, and for the whole body? God forbid! but all is done with faith. What thinkest thou of the oblation made for the martyrs, of the calling made in that hour, martyrs though they be, yet even "for martyrs?"[1] It is a great honor to be named in the presence of the Lord, when that memorial is celebrating, the dread Sacrifice, the unutterable mysteries. For just as, so long as the Emperor is seated, is the time for the petitioner to effect what he wishes to effect, but when he is risen, say what he will, it is all in vain, so at that time, while the celebration of the mysteries is going on, it is for all men the greatest honor to be held worthy of mention. For look: then is declared the dread mystery, that God gave Himself for the world: along with that mystery he seasonably puts Him in mind of them that have sinned. For as when the celebration of Emperors' victories is in progress, then, as many as had their part in the victory receive their meed of praise, while at the same time as many as are in bonds are set at liberty in honor of the occasion; but when the occasion is past, he that did not obtain this favor then, no longer gets any: so is it here likewise: this is the time of celebration of a victory. For, saith it, "so often as ye eat this bread, ye do show forth the Lord's death." Then let us not approach indifferently, nor imagine that these things are done in any ordinary sort. But it is in another sense[2] that we make mention of martyrs, and this, for assurance that the Lord is not dead: and this, for a sign that death has received its death's blow, that death itself is dead. Knowing these things, let us devise what consolations we can for the departed, instead of tears, instead of laments, instead of tombs, our alms, our prayers, our oblations, that both they and we may attain unto the promised blessings, by the grace and loving-kindness of His only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

HOMILY XXII.

ACTS X. 1-4.

"There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God."

THIS man is not a Jew, nor of those under the Law, but he had already forestalled our manner of life.[*] Observe, thus far, two persons, both of high rank, receiving the faith, the eunuch at Gaza and this man; and the pains taken on behalf of these men. But do not imagine that this was because of their high rank: God forbid! it was because of their piety. For that the Scripture mentions their dignified stations, is to show the greatness of their piety; since it is more wonderful when a person being in a position of wealth and power is such as these were. What makes the praise of the former is, his undertaking so long a journey, and this when there was no (festival) season to require it,[1] and his reading on his road, and while riding in his chariot, and his beseeching Philip, and numberless other points: and the great praise of the latter is, that he makes alms and prayers, and is a just man, holding such a command. The reason why the writer describes the man so fully, is, that none may say that the Scripture history relates falsehoods: "Cornelius," he says, "a centurion of the band called the Italian band." (v. 1.) A "band," <greek>speira</greek>, is what we now call a "numerous."[2] "A devout man," he says, "and one that feared God with all his house" (v. 2): that you may not imagine that it is because of his high station that these things are done.--When Paul was to be brought over, there is no angel, but the Lord Himself: and He does not send him to some great one, but to a very ordinary person:[3] but here, on the contrary, He brings the chief Apostle (to these Gentiles), not sends them to him: herein condescending to their weakness, and knowing how such persons need to be treated. As indeed on many occasions we find Christ Himself hasting (to such), as being more infirm. Or (it may be) because (Cornelius) was not able himself to leave his home. But here again is a high commendation of alms, just as was there given by means of Tabitha. "A devout man," it says, "and one that feared God with all his house." Let us hear this, whoever of us neglect them of our own house, whereas this man was careful of his soldiers also. "And that gave alms," it says, "to all the people." Both his doctrines and his life were right. "He saw in a vision evidently, about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius." (v. 3.) Why does he see the angel? This also was in order to the full assurance of Peter, or rather, not of him, but of the others, the weaker ones. "At the ninth hour," when he was released from his cares and was at quiet, when he was engaged in prayers and compunction. "And when he looked on him, he was afraid." (v. 4.) Observe how what the angel speaks he does not speak immediately, but first rouses and elevates his mind. At the sight, there was fear, but a fear in moderation, just so far as served to fix his attention. Then also the words relieved him of his fear. The fear roused him: the praise mitigated what was unpleasant in the fear. "Thy prayers," saith he, "and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter. (v. 5.) Lest they should come to a different person, he designates the man not only by his surname, but by the place. "And the same," saith he, "is lodging with one Simon a tanner, who hath his house by the seaside." (v. 6.) Do you mark how the Apostles, for love of solitude and quiet, affected the retired quarters of the cities? "With one Simon a tanner:" how then if it chanced that there was another? Behold, there is another token, his dwelling by the seaside. All three tokens could not possibly coincide (elsewhere). He does not tell him for what purpose, that he may not take off the intense desire, but he leaves him to an eager and longing expectation of what he shall hear. "And[4] when the Angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; and when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa." (v. 7, 8.) Do you see, that it is not without purpose that the writer says this? (it shows) that those also "who waited on him continually" were such as he. "And when he had declared the whole matter unto them:" observe the unassuming character of the man: for he does not say, Call Peter to me: but, in order also to induce him to come, he declared the whole matter:--this was so ordered by Providence;--for he did not choose to use the authority of his rank to fetch Peter to him; therefore "he declared the matter;" such was the moderation of the man: and yet no great notion was to be formed of one lodging with a tanner. "And on the morrow, as they journeyed, and drew nigh to the city" v. 9.--observe how the Spirit connects the times: no sooner than this, and no later, He Causes this to take place--" Peter about the sixth hour went up upon the housetop to pray:" that is, privately and quietly, as in an upper chamber. "And he became very hungry, and would have eaten; but while they made ready, there fell upon him a trance." (v. 10.) What means this expression,[1] <greek>ekstasis</greek> , "trance?" Rather, there was presented to him a kind of spiritual view (<greek>qewria</greek>): the soul, so to say, was caused to be out of the body (<greek>exesth</greek>). "And saw heaven opened, and, knit at the four corners, a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven." (v. 11-16.) What is this? It is a symbol of the whole world. The[2] man was uncircumcised: and --for he had nothing in common with the Jews--they would all accuse him as a transgressor: "thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them: (ch. xi. 3)." this[3] was a thing altogether offensive to them: observe then what is providentially. managed. He himself also says, "I have never eaten:" not being himself afraid--far be the thought from us--but it is so contrived by the spirit, in order that he may have it to say in answer to those accusing him, that he did object: for it was altogether necessary for them to observe the Law. He was in the act of being sent to the Gentiles: therefore that these also may not accuse him, see how many things are contrived (by the Providence of God). For, that it may not seem to be a mere fancy, "this was done thrice. I[4] said," saith he, "Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten aught common or unclean.--And the voice came unto him, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." (ch. XI. 8, with X. 14.) It seems indeed to be spoken to him, but the whole is meant for the Jews. For if the teacher is rebuked, much more these.[*] The earth then, this is what the linen sheet denotes, and the wild beasts in it, are they of the Gentiles, and the command, "Kill and eat," denotes that he must go to them also; and that this thing is thrice done, denotes baptism. "What God hath cleansed," saith it, "call not thou common." Great daring! Wherefore[1] did he object? That none may say that God was proving him, as in the case of Abraham, this is why he says, "Not so, Lord," etc. not gainsaying--just as to Philip also He said, "How many loaves have ye?" Not to learn, but tempting, or "proving him."[2] And yet it was the same (Lord) that had discoursed above (in the Law) concerning things clean and unclean. But in that sheet were also all the four-footed beasts of the earth:" the clean with the unclean. And[3] for all this, he knew not what it meant. "Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, and called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.-But while Peter," it says, "doubted in himself" (v. 17, 18), the men come at the right moment to solve his doubt: just as (the Lord) suffered Joseph first to be perturbed in mind, and then sends the Angel: for the soul with ease accepts the solution, when it has first been in perplexity. His perplexity neither lasts long (when it did occur), nor (did it occur) before this, but just at the moment when they "asked whether he were lodging there. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them." (supra, p. 142, and 145, note 7; v. 19, 20.) And this again is a plea for Peter in answer to the disciples, that he did doubt, and was instructed to doubt nothing. "For I," saith He, "have sent them." Great is the authority of the Spirit! What God doth, this the Spirit is said to do. Not so the Angel, but having first said, "Thy prayers and thine alms have ascended, for a memorial before God," to show that he is sent from thence, then he adds, "And now send men," etc.: the Spirit not so, but, "For I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee." (v. 21, 22.) They speak his praises, so as to persuade him that an Angel has in fact appeared unto him. "Then called he them in,"[1] (b) that they may suffer no harm, "and lodged them:" thenceforth he without scruple takes his meals with them. "And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Caesarea accompanied him. And the morrow after, they entered into Caesarea." (v. 23, 24.) The man was a person of note, and it was in a city of note that he then was.

(a) But let us look over again what has been said. "There was a certain man in Caesarea," etc. (Recapitulation, v. 1, 2.) Observe with whom the beginning of the Gentiles is made--with "a devout man," and one proved to be worthy by his works. For if, though the case be so, they are still offended, if this had not been the case, what would not have been the consequence! But[2] mark the greatness of the assurance. (c) To this end[3] all is done (in the way it is done), and the affair takes its beginning from Judea. (d) "He saw in a vision, evidently," etc. (v. 3). It was not in his sleep that the Angel appeared to him, but while he was awake, in the daytime, "about the ninth hour. He[4] saw an Angel of God coming in unto him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid." So occupied was he with himself. Implying, that it was in consequence of the Angel's calling him by a voice that he saw him; as, had he not called him, he would not have seen him: so taken up was he with the act in which he was engaged.[5] But the Angel says to him, "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God, and now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, who is called Peter." (v. 5.) So far, he signified that the sending for him would be for good consequences, but in what way good, he did not intimate.[6] So, neither does Peter relate the whole matter, but everywhere, the narratives are in part only, for the purpose of making the hearers apply their minds to what is said. "Send and call for Simon:" in like manner the Angel only calls Philip. "And[7] as they went on their journey, and drew nigh to the city" (v. 9): in order that Peter should not be in perplexity too long. "Peter went up upon the housetop," etc. Observe, that not even his hunger forced him to have recourse to the sheet. "Rise, Peter," saith the Voice, "kill and eat." (v. 13.) Probably he was on his knees when he saw the vision.--To me s it seems that this also denotes the Gospel (or, "the Preaching"). That the thing taking place was of God (the circumstances made evident, namely), both that he sees it (descending) from above, and that he is in a trance; and, that the voice comes from thence, and the thrice confessing that the creatures there were unclean, and its coming from thence, and being drawn back thither (all this), is a mighty token of the cleanness (imparted to them).--But why is this done? For[1] the sake of those thereafter, to whom he is about to relate it. For to himself it had been said, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles." (Matt. x. 5.)[* *] For if Paul needed both (to give) circumcision, and (to offer) sacrifice, much more (was some assurance needed) then, in the beginning of the Preaching, while they were as yet weaker. (Acts xvi. 3; xxi. 16.)--Observe[2] too how he did not at once receive them. For, it says, they "called, and asked, whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodging there." (v. 18.) As it was a mean looking house, they asked below, they inquired[3] of the neighbors. "And while Peter thought, the Spirit said unto him, Arise, get thee down, and go, nothing doubting, for I have sent them." (v. 19, 20.) And he does not say, For to this end did the vision appear unto thee; but, "I have sent them. Then Peter went down" (v. 21)--this is the way the Spirit must be obeyed, without demanding reasons. For it is sufficient for all assurance to be told by Him, This do, this believe: nothing more (is needed)--" Then Peter went down, and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek:[4] what is the cause wherefore ye are come?" He saw a soldier, saw a man:[5] it was not that he was afraid, on the contrary, having first confessed that he was the person whom they sought, then he asks for the cause (of their coming); that it may not be supposed that the reason of his asking the cause, was, that he wished to hide himself: (he asks it) in order, that if it be immediately urgent, he may also go forth with them, but if not, may receive them as guests. "And[6] they said, etc. into his house." (v. 22.) This he had ordered them. Do not think he has done this out of contempt: not as of contempt has he sent, but so he was ordered. "And Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends." (v. 24.) It was right that his kinsmen and friends should be gathered to him. But being there present,[4] they would have heard from him (what had happened).

See how great the virtue of alms, both in the former discourse, and here! There, it delivered from death temporal; here, from death eternal; and opened the gates of heaven. Such are the pains taken for the bringing of Cornelius to the faith, that both an angel is sent, and the Spirit works, and the chief of the Apostles is fetched to him, and such a vision is shown, and, in short, nothing is left undone. How many centurions were there not besides, and tribunes, and kings, and none of them obtained what this man did! Hear, all ye that are in military commands, all ye that stand beside kings. "A just man," it says, "fearing God; devout (v. 2, and 22); and what is more[7] than all, with all his house. Not as we (who): that our servants may be afraid of us, do everything. but not that they may be devout. And[8] over the domestics too, so[* *]. Not so this man; but he was "one that feared God with all his house" (v. 2), for he was as the common father of those with him, and of all the others (under his command.) But observe what (the soldier) says himself. For, fearing[* *], he adds this also: "well reported of by all the nation." For what if he was uncircumcised? Nay, but those give him a good report. Nothing like alms: great is the virtue of this practice, when the alms is poured forth from pure stores; for it is like a fountain discharging mud, when it issues froth unjust stores, but when from just gains, it is as a limpid and pure stream in a paradise, sweet to the sight, sweet to the touch, both light and cool, when given in the noon-day heat. Such is alms. Beside this fountain, not poplars and pines, nor cypresses, but other plants than these, and far better, of goodly stature: friendship with God, praise with men, glory to Godward, good-will from all; blotting out of sins, great boldness, contempt of wealth. This is the fountain by which the plant of love is nourished: for nothing is so wont to nourish love, as the being merciful: it makes its branches to lift themselves on high. This fountain is better than that in Paradise (Gen. ii. 10); a fountain, not dividing into four heads, but reaching unto Heaven itself: this gives birth to that river "which springeth up into eternal life" (John iv. 14): on this let Death light, and like a spark it is extinguished by the fountain: such, wherever it drops, are the mighty blessings it causes. This quenches, even as a spark, the river of fire: this so strangles that worm, as naught else can do. (Mark ix. 44.) He that has this, shall not gnash his teeth. Of the water of this, let there be dropped upon the chains, and it dissolves them: let it but touch the firebrands,[1] it quenches all.--A fountain does not give out streams for a while and anon run dry,--else must it be no more a fountain,--but ever gushes: so let our fountain give out more copiously of the streams of mercy (in alms). This cheers him that receives: this is alms, to give out not only a copious, but a perennial, stream. If thou wouldest that God rain down His mercy upon thee as from fountains, have thou also a fountain. And[2] yet there is no comparison (between God's fountain and thine): for if thou open the mouths of this fountain, such are the mouths of God's Fountain as to surpass every abyss. God does but seek to get an opportunity on our part, and pours forth from His storehouses His blessings. When He expends, when He lavishes, then is He rich, then is He affluent. Large is the mouth of that fountain: pure and limpid its water. If thou stop not up the fountain here, neither wilt thou stop up that fountain.--Let no unfruitful tree stand beside it, that it may not waste its spray. Hast thou wealth? Plant not poplars there: for such is luxury: it consumes much, and shows nothing for it in itself, but spoils the fruit. Plant not a pine-tree--such is wantonness in apparel, beautiful only to the sight, and useful for nothing--nor yet a fir-tree, nor any other of such trees as consume indeed, but are in no sort useful. Set it thick with young shoots: plant all that is fruitful, in the hands of the poor, all that thou wilt. Nothing richer than this ground. Though small the reach of the hand, yet the tree it plants starts up to heaven and stands firm. This it is to plant. For that which is planted on the earth will perish, though not now, at any rate a hundred years hence. Thou plantest many trees, of which thou shalt not enjoy the fruit, but ere thou canst enjoy it, death comes upon thee. This tree will give thee its fruit then, when thou art dead.--If thou plant, plant not in the maw of gluttony, that the fruit end not in the draught-house: but plant thou in the pinched belly, that the fruit may start up to heaven. Refresh the straightened soul of the poor, lest thou pinch thine own roomy soul.-See you not, that the plants which are overmuch watered at the root decay, but grow when watered in moderation? Thus also drench not thou thine own belly, that the root of the tree decay not: water that which is thirsty, that it may bear fruit. If thou water in moderation, the sun will not wither them, but if in excess, then it withers them: such is the nature of the sun. In all things, excess is bad; wherefore let us cut it off, that we also may obtain the things we ask for.--Fountains, it is said, rise on the most elevated spots. Let us be elevated in soul, and our alms will flow with a rapid stream: the elevated soul cannot but be merciful, and the merciful cannot but be elevated. For he that despises wealth, is higher than the root of evils.--Fountains are oftenest found in solitary places: let us withdraw our soul from the crowd, and alms will gush out with us. Fountains, the more they are cleaned, the more copiously they flow: so with us, the more we spend, the more all good grows.--He that has a fountain, has nothing to fear: then neither let us be afraid. For indeed this fountain is serviceable to us for drink, for irrigation, for building, for everything. Nothing better than this draught: it is not possible for this to inebriate. Better to possess such a fountain, than to have fountains running with gold. Better than all gold-bearing soil is the soul which bears this gold. For it advances us, not into these earthly palaces, but into those above. The gold becomes an ornament to the Church of God. Of this gold is wrought "the sword of the Spirit (Eph. vi. 17), the sword by which the dragon is beheaded. From this fountain come the precious stones which are on the King's head. Then let us not neglect so great wealth, but contribute our alms with largeness, that we may be found worthy of the mercy of God, by the grace and tender compassion of His only begotten Son, with Whom to the Father and Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

HOMILY XXIII.

ACTS X. 23, 24.

"Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends."

"HE called them in, and lodged them." Good, that first he gives the men friendly treatment, after the fatigue of their journey, and makes them at home with him; "and on the morrow," sets out with them." And certain accompany him: this too as Providence ordered it, that they should be witnesses afterwards when Peter would need to justify himself. "And Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends." This is the part of a friend, this the part of a devout man, that where such blessings are concerned, he takes care that his near friends shall be made partakers of all. Of course (his "near" friends), those in whom he had ever full confidence; fearing, with such an interest at stake, to entrust the matter to others. In my opinion, it was by Cornelius himself that both friends and kinsmen had been brought to a better mind. "And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him." (v. 25.) This, both to teach the others, and by way of giving thanks to God, and showing his own humility: thereby making it plain, that though he had been commanded, yet in himself he had great piety. What then did Peter? "But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man." (v. 26.) Do you mark how, before all else (the Apostles) teach them this lesson, not to think great things of them? "And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." (v. 27, 28.) Observe, he straightway speaks of the mercy of God, and points out to them that it is a great grace that God has shown them. Observe also how while he utters great things, at the same time he speaks modestly. For he does not say, We, being men who do not deign to keep company with any (such), have come to you: but what says he? "Ye know" --God commanded this[1]--" that it is against law to keep company with, or come Unto, one of another nation." Then he goes on to say, "And to me God has shown "--this he says, that none may account the thanks due to him --"that I should call no man"--that it may not look like obsequiousness to him, "no human being," says he--"common or unclean."[*] (v. 29.) "Wherefore also"--that they may not think the affair a breach of the law on his part, nor (Cornelius) suppose that because he was in a station of command therfore he had complied, but that they may ascribe all to God,--" wherefore also I came without gainsaying as soon as I was sent for:" (though) not only to keep company, but even to come unto (him) was not permitted. "I ask therefore, for what intent ye have sent for me." Already Peter had heard the whole matter from the soldiers also, but he wishes them first to confess, and to make them amenable to the Faith. What then does Cornelius? He does not say, Why, did not the soldiers tell thee? but observe again, how humbly he speaks. For he says, "From the fourth day I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And at the ninth hour," he says, "I was praying." (v. 30, 31.) It seems to me, that this man had also fixed for himself set times of a life under stricter rule, and on certain days) For this is why he says, "From the fourth day."[*] See how great a thing prayer is! When he advanced m piety, then the Angel appears to him. "From the fourth day:" i.e. of the week; not "four days ago." For, "on the morrow Peter went away with them, and on the morrow after they entered into Caesarea:" this is one day: and the day on which the persons sent came (to Joppa) one day: and on the third (the Angel) appeared: so that there are two days after that on which (Cornelius) had been praying. "And, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing:" he does not say, an Angel, so unassuming is he: "and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter: he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the seaside: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." (v. 31--33.) (b) See[2] what faith, what piety! He knew that it was no word of man that Peter spake, when he said, "God hath shown me." Then says the man, "We are present to hear all things that are commanded thee of the Lord. (a) Therefore it was that Peter asked, "For what intent have ye sent for me?" on purpose that he might so speak these very words. (d) "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respector of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him." (v. 34, 35.) That is, be he uncircumcised or circumcised. (c) This also Paul declaring, saith, "For there is no respect of persons with God."[*] (Rom. ii. 11.) (e) What then? (it may be asked) is the man yonder in Persia acceptable to Him? If he be worthy, in this regard he is acceptable, that it should be granted him to be brought unto faith (<greek>tw</greek> <greek>kataxiwqhnai</greek> <greek>ths</greek> <greek>pistews</greek>). The Eunuch from Ethiopia He overlooked not. "What shall one say then of the religious men who have been overlooked?" It is not the case, that any (such) ever was overlooked. But what he says is to this effect, that God rejects no man. "In every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness:" (by righteousness) he means, all virtue. Mark, how he subdues all elation of mind in him. That (the Jews) may not seem to be in the condition of persons cast off (he adds), "The word which He sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all (v. 36): this he says also for the sake of those present (of the Jews), that He may persuade them also: this is why he forces Cornelius to speak. "He," saith he, "is Lord of ally But observe at the very outset, "The word," says he, "which He sent unto the children of Israel;" he gives them the prëeminence. Then he adduces (these Gentiles) themselves as witnesses: "ye know," says he, "the matter which came to pass throughout all Judea, beginning at Galilee--then he confirms it from this also--" after the baptism which John preached (v. 37)--("even Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Ghost and with power." (v. 38.) He does not mean, Ye know Jesus, for they did not know Him, but he speaks of the things done by Him: "Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: by this[1] he shows that many cases of lost senses or paralyzed limbs are the devil's work, and a wrench given to the body by him: as also Christ said. "For God was with Him." Again, lowly terms. "And we are witnesses of all things which He did, both in the country of the Jews, and in Jerusalem" (v. 39): both "we," saith he, and ye. Then the Passion, and the reason why they do not believe: "Whom also they slew, and hanged on a tree. Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead. (v. 40, 41.) This is a proof of the Resurrection. "And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead." (v. 42.) This is great. Then he adduces the testimony from the Prophets: "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name, whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins. (v. 43.) This is a proof of that which was about to be this is the reason why he here cites the Prophets.

But let us look over again what relates to Cornelius. (Recapitulation.) He sent, it it says, to Joppa to fetch Peter. "He was waiting for him," etc; see how fully he believed that Peter would certainly come: (b) "and[1] fell down at his feet, and worshipped him." (v. 24, 25.) (a) Mark how on every side it is shown how worthy he is! (So) the Eunuch there desired Philip to come up and sit in the chariot (ch. viii. 31), although not knowing who he was, upon no other introduction (<greek>epaggelias</greek>) than that given by the Prophet. But here Cornelius fell at his feet. (c) "Stand up, I myself also am a man." (v. 26.) Observe how free from adulation his speech is on all occasions, and how full of humility. "And conversing with him, he came in." (a) (v. 27.) Conversing about what? I suppose saying these words: "I myself also am a man." (e) Do you mark (Peter's) unassuming temper? He himself also shows that his coming is God's doing: "Ye know that it is unlawful for a man that is a Jew," etc. (v. 28.) And why did he not speak of the linen sheet? Observe Peter's freedom from all vainglory: but, that he is sent of God, this indeed he mentions; of the manner in which he was sent, he speaks not at present; when the need has arisen, seeing he had said, "Ye know that it is unlawful for a man that is a Jew to keep company with, or to come unto, one of another nation," he simply adds, "but to me God hath shown," etc. There is nothing of vainglory here. "All ye," he says, "know." He makes their knowledge stand surety for him. But Cornelius says, "We are present before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of the Lord" (v. 33): not, Before man, but, "Before God." This is the way one ought to attend to God's servants. Do you see his awakened mind? do you see how worthy he was of all these things? "And Peter," it says, "opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." (v. 34.) This he said also by way of justifying himself with the Jews then present. For, being at the point to commit the Word to these (Gentiles), he first puts this by way of apology. What then? Was He "a respecter of persons" beforetime? God forbid! For beforetime likewise it was just the same: "Every one," as he saith, "that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, would be acceptable to Him." As when Paul saith, "For when the Gentiles which have not the Law, do by nature the things of the Law." (Rom. ii. 14.) "That feareth God and worketh righteousness:" he assumes[2] both doctrine and manner of life: is "accepted with Him;" for, if He did not overlook the Magi, nor the Ethiopian, nor the thief, nor the harlot, much more them that work righteousness, and are willing, shall He in anywise not overlook. "What say you then to this, that there are likely persons (<greek>epieikeis</greek>), men of mild disposition, and yet they will not believe?" (Above, p. 149, note[2].) Lo, you have yourself named the cause: they will not. But besides the. likely person he here speaks of is not this sort of man, but the man "that worketh righteousness:" that is, the man who in all points is virtuous and irreproachable, when he has the fear of God as he ought to have it. But whether a person be such, God only knows. See how this man was acceptable: see how, as soon as he heard, he was persuaded. "Yes, and now too," say you, "every one would be persuaded, be who he may." But the signs that are now, are much greater than those, and more wonderful.--Then Peter commences his teaching, and reserves for the Jews the privilege of their birth. "The[3] word," he says, "which He sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace (v. 36), not bringing judgment. He is sent to the Jews also: yet for all this He did not spare them. "Preaching peace through Jesus Christ. He is Lord of all." First he discourses of His being Lord and in exceeding elevated terms, seeing he had to deal with a soul more than commonly elevated, and that took all in with ardor. Then he proves how He was Lord of all, from the things which He achieved "throughout all Judea. For ye know," saith he, "the matter which came to pass throughout all Judea:" and, what is the wonderful part of it, "beginning at Galilee: after the baptism which John preached." (v. 37.) First he speaks of His success, and then again he says concerning Him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Why, what a stumbling-block, this birthplace! "How[1] God anointed Him with the Holy Ghost and with power. (v. 38.) Then again the proof--how does that appear? --from the good that He did. "Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil:" and the greatness of the power shown when He overcomes the devil; and the cause, "Because God was with Him." Therefore also the Jews spake thus: "We know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for none can do these miracles except God be with him." (John iii. 2.) Then, when he has shown that He was sent from God, he next speaks of this, that He was slain: that thou mayest not imagine[2] aught absurd. Seest thou how far they are from hiding the Cross out of view, nay, that together with the other circumstances they put also the manner? "Whom also," it says, "they slew by hanging on a tree. And gave Him," it is added, "to be made manifest not to all the people, but to witnesses before ordained of God, even unto us:" and yet it was (Christ) Himself that elected them; but this also he refers to God. "To the before-ordained," he says, "even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after that He was risen from the dead. (v. 39, 41.) See whence he fetches his assurance of the resurrection. What is the reason that being risen he did no sign, but only ate and drank? Because the Resurrection itself was a great sign, and of this nothing was so much s a sign as the eating and drinking. "To testify," saith he--in a manner calculated to alarm--that they may not have it in their power to fall back upon the excuse of ignorance: and he does not say, "that He is the Son of God," but, what would most alarm them, "that it is He which is ordained of God, to be the Judge of quick and dead." (v. 42.) "To him give all the Prophets witness," etc. (v. 43.) When by the terror he has agitated them, then he brings in the pardon, not spoken from himself but from the Prophets. And what is terrifying is from him, what is mild from the Prophets.

All ye that have received this forgiveness, all ye to whom it has been vouchsafed to attain unto faith, learn, I beseech you, the greatness of the Gift, and study not to be insolent to your Benefactor. For we obtained forgiveness, not that we should become worse, but to make us far better and more excellent. Let none say that God is the cause of our evil doings, in that He did not punish, nor take vengeance. If (as it is said) a ruler having taken a murderer, lets him go, say, is he (not)[4] judged to be the cause of the murders afterwards committed? See then, how we expose God to the tongues of the wicked. For what do they not say, what leave unuttered? "(God) Himself," say they, "allowed them;for he ought to have punished them as they deserved, not to honor them, nor crown them, nor admit them to the foremost privileges, but to punish and take vengeance upon them: but he that, instead of this, honors them, has made them to be such as they are." Do not, I beseech and implore you, do not let any man utter such speech as far as we are concerned. Better to be buried ten thousand times over, than that God through us should be so spoken of! The Jews, we read, said to (Christ) Himself, "Thou that destroyest the Temple, and in three days buildest it up, come down from the Cross" (Matt. xxvii. 40): and again, "If Thou be the Son of God:" but the reproaches here are more grievous than those, that[5] through us He should be called a teacher of wickedness! Let us cause the very opposite to be said, by having our conversation worthy of Him that calleth us, and (worthily) approaching to the baptism of adoption. For great indeed is the might of baptism (<greek>fwtismatos</greek>): it makes them quite other men than they were, that partake of the gift; it does not let the men be men (and nothing more). Make thou the Gentile (<greek>ton</greek> E<greek>llhna</greek>), to believe that great is the might of the Spirit, that it has new-moulded, that it has fashioned thee anew. Why waitest thou for the last gasp, like a runaway slave, like a malefactor, as though it were not thy duty to live unto God? Why dost thou stand affected to Him, as if thou hadst in Him a ruthless, cruel Master? What can be more heartless (<greek>yucroeron</greek>), what more miserable, than those who make that the time to receive baptism? God made thee a friend, and vouchsafed thee all His good things, that thou mayest act the part of a friend. Suppose you had done some man the greatest of wrongs, had insulted him, and brought upon him disgraces without end, suppose you had fallen into the hands of the person wronged, and he, in return for all this, had honored you, made you partaker of all that he had, and in the assembly of his friends, of those in whose presence he was in sulted, had crowned you, and declared that he would hold you as his own begotten son, and then straightway had died: say, would you not have bewailed him? would you not have deemed his death a calamity? would you not have said, Would that he were alive, that I might have it in my power to make the fit return, that I might requite him, that I might show myself not base to my benefactor? So then, where it is but man, this is how you would act; and where it is God, are you eager to be gone, that you may not requite your benefactor for so great gifts? Nay rather, choose the time for coming to Him so that you shall have it in your power to requite Him like for like. True,[1] say you, but I cannot keep (the gift). Has God commanded impossibilities? Hence it is that all is clean reversed, hence that, all the world over, every thing is marred--because nobody makes it his mark to live after God. Thus those who are yet Catechumens, because they make this their object, (how they may defer baptism to the last,) give themselves no concern about leading an upright life: and those who have been baptized (<greek>fwtisqentes</greek>), whether it be because they received it as children, or whether it be that having received it in sickness, and afterwards recovered (<greek>anenegkontes</greek>), they had no hearty desire to live on (to the glory of God), so it is, that neither do these make an earnest business of it: nay, even such as received it in health, have little enough to show of any good impression, and warmly affected for the time, these also presently let the fire go out. Why do you flee? why do you tremble? what is it you are afraid of? You do not mean to say that you are not permitted to follow your business? I do not part you from your wife! No, it is from fornication that I bar you. I do not debar you from the enjoyment of your wealth? No, but from covetousness and rapacity. I do not oblige you to empty out all your coffers? No, but to give some small matter according to your means to them that lack, your superfluities to their need, and not even this unrewarded. We do not urge you to fast? We do but forbid you to besot yourselves with drunkenness and gormandizing. The things we would retrench are but the very things which bring you disgrace; things which even here, on this side of hell-fire, you yourselves confess to be things to be shunned and hated. We do not forbid you to be glad and to rejoice? Nay, only rejoice not with a disgraceful and unbecoming merriment. What is it you dread, why are you afraid, why do you tremble? Where marriage is, where enjoyment of wealth, where food in moderation, what matter of sin is there in these things? And yet, they that are without enjoin the opposites to these, and are obeyed, For they demand not according to thy means, but they say, Thou must give thus much: and if thou allege poverty, they will[2] make no account of that. Not so Christ: Give, saith He, of what thou hast, and I inscribe thee in the first rank. Again those say, If thou wilt distinguish thyself, forsake father, mother, kindred, friends, and keep close attendance on the Palace, laboring, toiling, slaving, distracted, suffering miseries without number. Not so Christ; but keep thou, saith He, at home with thy wife, with thy children, and as for thy daily occupations reform and regulate them on the plan of leading a peaceable life, free from cares and from perils. True, say you, but the other promises wealth. Aye, but Christ a kingdom, and more, He promises wealth also with it. For, "Seek ye," saith He, "the kingdom of Heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. vi. 33): throwing in,[1] by way of additional boon, what the other holds out as the main thing: and the Psalmist says, he has "never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread." (Ps. xxxvii. 25.) Let us set about practising virtue, let us make a beginning; let us only lay hold on it, and you shall see what the good will be. For surely in these (worldly) objects you do not succeed so without labor, that you should be so faint-hearted for these (higher) objects--that[2] you should say, Those are to be had without labor, these only with toil. Nay,--what need to tell. you what is the true state of the case?--those are had only with greater labor. Let us not recoil from the Divine Mysteries, I beseech you. Look not at this, that one who was baptized before thee, has turned out ill, and has fallen from his hope: since among soldiers also we see some not doing their duty by the service, while we see others distinguishing themselves, and we do not look only at the idle ones, but we emulate these, the men who are successful. But besides, consider how many, after their baptism, have of men become angels! Fear the uncertainty of the future. "As a thief in the night," so death comes: and not merely as a thief, but while we sleep it sets upon us, and carries us off while we are idling. To this end has God made the future uncertain, that we may spend Our time in the practice of virtue, because of the uncertainty of expectation. But He is merciful, say you. How long shall we hear this senseless, ridiculous talk? I affirm not only that God is merciful, but that nothing can be more merciful than He, and that He orders all things concerning us for our good. How many all their life do you see afflicted with the worst form of leprosy! (<greek>en</greek> <greek>elefantidiagontas</greek>), "Elephantiasis,") how many blind from their earliest youth even to old age! others who have lost their eyesight, others in poverty, others in bonds, others again in the mines, others entombed (<greek>katacwsqentas</greek>) together, others (slaughtered) in wars! These things say you, do not look like mercy. Say, could He not have prevented these things had He wished, yet He permits them? True, say you. Say, those who are blind from their infancy, why are they so? I will not tell you, until you promise me to receive baptism, and, being baptized, to live aright. It is not right to give you the solution of these questions. The preaching is not meant just for amusement. For even if I solve this, on the back of this follows another question: of such questions there is a bottomless deep. Therefore[3] do not get into a habit of looking to have them solved for you: else we shall never stop questioning. For look, if I solve this, I do but lead the way to question upon question, numberless as the snowflakes. So that this is what we learn, rather to raise questions, not to solve the questions that are raised. For even if we do solve them, we have not solved them altogether, but (only) as far as man's reasoning goes. The proper solution of such questions is faith: the knowing that God does all things justly and mercifully and for the best: that to comprehend the reason of them is impossible. This is the one solution, and another better than this exists not. For say, what is the use of having a question solved? This, that one needs no longer to make a question of the thing which is solved. And if thou get thyself to believe this, that all things are ordered by the Providence of God, Who, for reasons known to Himself, permits some things and actively works others, thou art rid of the need of questioning, and hast gotten the gain of the solution. But let us come back to our subject. Do you not see such numbers of men suffering chastisements? God (say you) permits these things to be. Make the right use of the health of the body, in order to the health of the soul. But you will say, What is the use to me of labors and toil, when it is in my power to get quit of all (my sins) without labor? In the first place, this is not certain. It may happen, that a person not only does not get quit of his sins without labor, but that he departs hence with all his sins upon him. However, even if this were certain, still your argument is not to be tolerated. He has drawn thee to the contests: the golden arms lie there. When you ought to take them, and to handle them, you wish to be ingloriously saved, and to do no good work! Say, if war broke out, and the Emperor were here, and you saw some charging into the midst of the phalanxes of the enemy, hewing them down, dealing wounds by thousands, others thrusting (with the sword's point), others hounding (now here, now there), others dashing on horseback, and these praised by the Emperor, admired, applauded, crowned: others on the contrary thinking themselves well off if they take no harm, and keeping in the hindmost ranks, and sitting idly there; then after the close of the war, the former sort summoned, honored with the greatest gifts, their names proclaimed by the heralds: while of the latter, not even the name becomes known, and their reward of the good obtained is only that they are safe: which sort would you wish to belong to? Why, if you were made of stone, if you were more stupid even than senseless and lifeless things, would you not ten thousand times rather belong to the former? Yea, I beseech and implore you. For if need were to fall fighting, ought you not eagerly to choose this? See you not how it is with them that have fallen in the wars, how illustrious they are, how glorious? And yet they, die a death, after which there is no getting honor from the emperor. But in that other war, there is nothing of the kind, but thou shalt in any wise be presented with thy scars. Which scars, even without persecutions, may it be granted all us to have to exhibit, through Jesus Christ our Lord, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Return to Volume 20 Index