ACTS X. 44, 46.

"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God."

OBSERVE God's providential management. He does not suffer the speech to be finished, nor the baptism to take place upon a command of Peter, but, when He has made it evident how admirable their state of mind is, and a beginning is made of the work of teaching, and they have believed that assuredly baptism is the remission of sins, then forthwith comes the Spirit upon them. Now this is done by God's so disposing it as to provide for Peter a mighty ground of justification[*] And it is not simply that the Spirit came upon them, but, "they spake with tongues:" which was the thing that astonished those who had come together. They altogether disliked the matter, wherefore it is that the whole is of God; and as for Peter, it may almost be said, that he is present only to be taught[1] (with them) the lesson, that they must take the Gentiles in hand, and that they themselves are the persons by whom this must be done. For whereas after all these great events, still both in Caesarea and in Jerusalem a questioning is made about it, how would it have been if these (tokens) had not gone step by step with the progress of the affair? Therefore it is that this is carried to a sort of excess.[2] Peter seizes his advantage, and see the plea he makes of it. "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (v. 47.) Mark the issue to which he brings it; how he has been travailing to bring this forth. So (entirely) was he of this mind! "Can any one, he asks, "forbid water?" It is the language, we may almost say, of one triumphantly pressing his advantage (<greek>epembainontos</greek>) against such as would forbid, such as should say that this ought not to be. The whole thing, he says, is complete, the most essential part of the business, the baptism with which we were baptized. "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." (v. 48.) After he has cleared himself, then, and not before, he commands them to be baptized: teaching them by the facts themselves. Such was the dislike the Jews had to it! Therefore it is that he first clears himself, although the very facts cry aloud, and then gives the command. "Then prayed they him"--well might they do so--" to tarry certain days:" and with a good courage thenceforth he does tarry.

"And the Apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them." (ch. xi. 1-3.) After such great things, "they of the circumcision contended:" not the Apostles; God forbid It means, they took no small offence.[*] And see what they allege. They do not say, Why didst thou preach? but, Why didst thou eat with them? But Peter, not stopping to notice this frigid objection--for frigid indeed it is--takes his stand (<greek>istatsai</greek>) on that great argument, If they had the Spirit Itself given them, how could one refuse to give them the baptism? But how came it that in the case of the Samaritans this did not happen, but, on the contrary, neither before their baptism nor after it was there any controversy, and there they did not take it amiss, nay, as soon as they heard of it, sent the Apostles for this very purpose? (ch. viii. 14.) True, but neither in the present case is this the thing they complain of; for they knew that it was of Divine Grace: what they say is, Why didst thou eat with them? Besides, the difference[1] is not so great for Samaritans as it is for Gentiles. Moreover, it is so managed (as part of the Divine plan) that he is accused in this way: on purpose that they may learn: for Peter, without some cause given, would not have related the vision. But observe his freedom from all elation and vainglory. For it says, "But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, I was in the city of Joppa, praying:" he does not say why, nor on what occasion: "and in a trance I saw a vision, a certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me (v. 4, 5): upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto the, Arise, Peter; slay and eat." (v. 6, 7.) As much as to say, This of itself was enough to have persuaded me--my having seen the linen sheet: but moreover a Voice was added. "But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth." (v. 8.) Do you mark? "I did my part," says he: "I said, that I have never eaten aught common or unclean:" with reference to this that they said, "Thou wentest in, and didst eat with them." But this he does not say to Cornelius: for there was no need to mention it to him. "But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven." (v. 9, 10.) The essential points were those[2] (that ensued at Caesarea); but by these he prepares the way for them. Observe how he justifies himself (by reasons), and forbears to use his authority as teacher. For the more mildly he expresses himself, the more tractable he makes them. "At no time," says he, "has aught common or unclean entered into my mouth.--And, behold--this too was part of his defence --three men stood at the house in which I was, sent to me from Caesarea. And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting." (v. 11, 12.) Do you mark that it is to the Spirit the enacting of laws belongs! "And these also accompanied me"--noticing can be more lowly, when he alleges the brethren for witnesses!--"these six men, and we entered into the man's house: and he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved." (v. 13, 14.) And he does not mention the words spoken by the Angel to Cornelius, "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God, that he may not disgust them; but what says he? "He shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved:" with good reason this is added.[1] Also he says nothing of the man's fitness (<greek>epieikes</greek>). "The Spirit," he might say, "having sent (me), God having commanded, on the one part having summoned (me) through the Angel, on the other urging (me) on, and solving my doubt about the things, what was I to do?" He says none of these things, however: but makes his strong point of what happened last, which even in itself was an incontrovertible argument. "And as I began to speak," etc. (v. 15.) Then why did not this happen alone? Of superabundance (<greek>ek</greek> <greek>periousias</greek>) this is wrought by God, that it might be shown that the beginning too was not from the Apostle. But had he set out of his own motion, without any of these things having taken place, they would have been very much hurt: so[2] that from the beginning he disposes their minds in his favor[* *]: saying to them, "Who have received the Holy Ghost even as we." And not content with this, he reminds them also of the words of the Lord: "Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost." (v. 16.) He means, that no new thing has happened, but just what the Lord foretold. "But[3] there was no need to baptize?" (Comp. p. 158.) But the baptism was completed already. And he does not say, I ordered them to be baptized: but what says he? "Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?" (v. 17.) He shows that he had himself done nothing: for the very thing which we have obtained, he says, that same did those men receive. That he may more effectually stop their mouths, therefore he says, "The like gift." Do you perceive how he does not allow them to have less: when they believed, says he, the same gift did God give unto them, as He did to us who believed on the Lord, and Himself cleanses them. And he does not say, To you, but to us. Why do you feel aggrieved, when we[4] call them partakers (with us?) "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." (v. 18.) Do you mark that it all came of Peter's discourse, by his admirably skilful way of relating the facts? They glorified God that He had given repentance to themselves (<greek>kai</greek> <greek>autois</greek>) also: they were humbled by these words. Hence was the door of faith opened thenceforth to the Gentiles. But, if you please, let us look over again what has been said.

"While Peter yet spake," etc. (Recapitulation.) He does not say that Peter was astonished, but, "They of the circumcision:" since he knew what was in preparation. And yet they ought to have marvelled at this, how they themselves had believed. When they heard that they had believed, they were not astonished, but when God gave them the Spirit. Then[6] "answered Peter and said," etc. (v. 47.) And therefore it is that he says, "God hath shown that I should not call common or unclean any human being." (v. 28.) He knew this from the first, and plans his discourse beforehand (with a view to it). Gentiles? What Gentiles henceforth? They were no longer Gentiles, the Truth being come. It is nothing wonderful, he says, if before the act of baptism they received the Spirit: in our own case this same happened. Peter shows that not as the rest either were they baptized, but in a much better way. This is the reason why the thing takes place in this manner, that they may have nothing to say, but even in this way may account them equal with themselves. "And they besought him," it says, "to tarry certain days." (v. 48.) "And the Apostles and brethren, etc. And they of the circumcision contended with him." (ch. xi. 1. 2.) Do you remark how they, were not kindly disposed towards him? Saying Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them." (v. 3.) Do you note what zeal they had for the Law? Not Peter's authority abashed them, not the signs which had taken place, not the success achieved, what a thing it was, the Gentiles having "received the word:" but they contended about those petty things. For if none of those (signs) had taken place, was not the success (itself) enough?[1] But not so does Peter frame his defence: for he was wise, or rather it was not his wisdom, but the Spirit that spake the words. And by the matter of his defence, he shows that in no one point was he the author, but in every point God, and upon Him he casts the whole. "The trance," he says--"it was He that caused me to fall into it, for "I was in Joppa," etc.: the vessel--it was He that showed it; I objected: again, He spake, and even then I did not hear: the Spirit commanded me to go, and even then though I went, I did not run: I told that God had sent me, and after these things, even then I did not baptize, but again God did the whole. God baptized them, not I." And he does not say, Was it not right then to add the water? but, implying that nothing was lacking, "What was I, that I should withstand God?" What a defence is here! For he does not say, Then knowing these things, hold your peace; but what? He stands their attack, and to their impeachment he pleads--"What was I, to be able to hinder God?" It was not possible for me to hinder--a forcible plea indeed, and such as might well put them to shame. Whence being at last afraid, "they held their peace and glorified God."

In like manner ought we also to glorify God for the good things which befall our neighbors, only[2] not in the way that the rest of the newly-baptized are insulted, when they see others receiving baptism, and immediately departing this life. It, is right to glorify God, even though all be saved: and as for thee, if thou be willing, thou hast received a greater gift (than they): I do not mean in respect of the baptism, for the gift there is the same for him as for thee, but in regard that thou hast received a set time for winning distinction. The other put on the robe, and was not suffered to exhibit himself therewith in the procession, whereas to thee, God hath given full opportunity to use thine arms for the right purpose, thereby to make proof of them. The other goes his way, having only the reward of his faith: thou standest in the course, both able to obtain an abundant recompense for thy works, and to show thyself as much more glorious than he, as the sun is than the smallest star, as the general, nay rather as the Emperor himself, than the lowest soldier. Then blame thyself, or rather not blame, but correct: for it is not enough to blame thyself; it is in thy power to contend afresh. Hast thou been thrown? hast thou taken grievous hurt? Stand up, recover thyself: thou art still in the course, the meeting (<greek>qeatron</greek>) is not vet broken up. Do you not see how many that have been thrown in the wrestling have afterwards resumed the combat? Only do not willingly come by thy fall. Dost thou count him a happy man for departing this life? Much rather count thyself happy. Was he released of his sins? But thou, if thou wilt, shalt not only wash away thy sins, but shalt also have achievements (of good works), which in his case is not possible. It is in our power to recover ourselves. Great are the medicinal virtues (<greek>farmaka</greek>) Of repentance: let none despair of himself. That man truly deserves to be despaired of, who despairs of himself; that man has no more salvation, nor any hopes. It is not the having fallen into a depth of evils, it is the lying there when fallen, that is dreadful, it is not the having come into such a condition, it is the making light of it that is impious. The very thing that ought to make thee earnest, say, is it this that makes thee reckless? Having received so many wounds, hast thou fallen back? Of the soul, there can be no incurable wound; for the body, there are many such, but none for the soul: and yet for those we cease not in our endeavors to cure them, while for these we are supine. Seest thou not the thief (on the cross), in how short a time he achieved (his salvation)? Seest thou not the Martyrs, in how short a time they accomplished the whole work? "But martyrdom is not to be had nowadays." True, but there are contests to be had, as I have often told you, if we had the mind. "For they that wish," says the Apostle, "to live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution." (2 Tim. iii. 12.) They that live godly are always undergoing persecution, if not from men, at any rate from evil spirits, which is a more grievous persecution. Yes, and it is in consequence, first and foremost, of ease and comfort, that those who are not vigilant undergo this. Or thinkest thou it is a trifling persecution to be living at ease? This is more grievous than all, this is worse than persecution. For, like a running flux, ease makes the soul languid (<greek>cauuoi</greek>): and as summer and winter, so persecution and ease. But to show you that this is the worse persecution, listen: it induces sleep in the soul, an excessive yawning and drowsiness, it stirs up the passions on every side, it arms pride, it arms pleasure, it arms anger, envy, vainglory, jealousy. But in time of persecution none of these is able to make a disturbance; but fear, entering in, and plying the lash vigorously, as one does to a barking dog, will not let any of these passions so much as attempt to give tongue. Who shall be able in time of persecution to indulge in vainglory? Who to live in pleasure? Not one: but there is much trembling and fear, making a great calm, composing the harbor into stillness, filling the soul with awe. I have heard from our fathers (for in our own time God grant it may not happen, since we are bidden not to ask for temptation), that in the persecution of old time one might see men that were indeed Christian. None of them cared for money, none for wife, none for children, nor home, nor country: the one great concern with all was to save their lives (or, souls). There were they hiding, some in tombs and sepulchres, some in deserts: yes tender and dainty women too, fighting all the while with constant hunger. Then think whether any longing for sumptuous and dainty living at all came into the mind of a woman, while in hiding beside a coffin (<greek>para</greek> <greek>larnaki</greek>), and waiting for her maid-servant to bring her meal, and trembling lest she should be taken, and lying in her terror as in t a furnace: was she even aware that there ever was such a thing as dainty living, that such things as dress and ornaments exist at all (<greek>oti</greek> <greek>kosmos</greek> <greek>olws</greek> <greek>estin</greek>)? Seest thou that now is the persecution, with our passions, like wild beasts, setting upon us on every side? Now is the trying persecution, both in this regard, and especially if it is not even thought to be persecution at all. For this (persecution) has also this evil in it, that being war, it is thought to be peace, so that we do not even arm ourselves against it, so that we do not even rise: no one fears, no one trembles. But if ye do not believe me, ask the heathen, the persecutors, at what time was the conduct of the Christians more strict, at what time were they all more proved? Few indeed had they then become in number, but rich in virtue. For say, what profit is it, that there should be hay in plenty, when there might be precious tones? The amount consists not in the sum of numbers, but in the proved worth. Elias was one: yet the whole world was not worth so much as he. And yet the world consists of myriads: but they are no myriads, when they do not even come up to that one. "Better[1] is one that doeth the will of God, than ten thousand who are transgressors:" for the ten thousands have not yet reached to the one. "Desire not a multitude of unprofitable children." (Ecclus. xvi. 1.) Such bring more blasphemy against God, than if they were not Christians. What need have I of a multitude? It is (only)more food for the fire. This one might see even in the body, that better is moderate food with health, than a (fatted) calf with damage. This is more food than the other: this is food, but that is disease. This too one may see in war: that better are ten expert and brave men, than ten thousand of no experience. These latter, besides that they do no work, hinder also those that do work. The same too one may see to be the case in a ship, viz. that better are two experienced mariners, than ever so great a number of unskilful ones: for these will sink the ship. These things I say, not as looking with an evil eye upon your numbers, but wishing that all of you should be approved men, and not trust in your numbers. Many more in number are they who go down into hell: but greater than it is the Kingdom, however few it contain. As the sand of the sea was the multitude of the people (Israel) yet one man saved them. Moses was but one, and yet he availed more than they all: Joshua was one and he was enabled to do more than the six hundred thousand. Let us not make this our study merely, that (the people) may be many, but rather, that they may be excellent; when this shall have been effected, then will that other follow also. No one wishes at the outset to make a spacious house, but he first makes it strong and sure, then spacious: no one lays the foundations so that he may be laughed at. Let us first aim at this, and then at the other. Where this is, that also will be easy: but where this is not, the other, though it be, is to no profit. For if there be those who are able to shine in the Church, there will soon be also numbers: but where these are not, the numbers will never be good for anything. How many, suppose you, may there be in our city who are likely to be saved (<greek>tous</greek> <greek>swzomeuous</greek>)? It is disagreeable, what I am going to say, but I will say it nevertheless. Among all these myriads, there are not to be found one hundred likely to be saved: nay, even as to these, I question it. For think, what wickedness there is in the young, what supineness in the aged! None[1] makes it his duty to look after his own boy, none is moved by anything to be seen in his eider, to be emulous of imitating such an one. The patterns are defaced, and therefore it is that neither do the young become admirable in conduct. Tell not me, "We are a goodly multitude:" this is the speech of men who talk without thought or feeling (<greek>yucrwn</greek>.) In the concerns of men indeed, this might be said with some show of reason: but where God is concerned, (to say this with regard to Him) as having need of us,[2] can never be allowed. Nay, let me tell you, even in the former case, this is a senseless speech (<greek>yucron</greek>). Listen. A person that has a great number of domestics, if they be a corrupt set what a wretched time will he have of it! For him who has none, the hardship, it seems, amounts to this, that he is not waited on: but where a person has bad servants, the evil is, that he is ruining himself withal, and the damage is greater (the more there are of them.) For it is far worse than having to be one's own servant, to have to fight with others, and take up a (continual) warfare. These things I say, that none may admire the Church because of its numbers, but that we may study to make the multitude proof-worthy; that each may be earnest for his own share of the duty--not for his friends only, nor his kindred as I am always saying, nor for his neighbors, but that he may attract the strangers also. For example, Prayer is going on; there they lie (on bended knees), all the young, stupidly unconcerned (<greek>yucroi</greek>), (yes,) and old too:[3] filthy nuisances rather than young men; giggling, laughing outright, talking--for I have heard even this going on--and jeering one another as they lie along on their knees: and there stand you, young man or elder: rebuke them, if you see them (behaving thus): if any will not refrain, chide him more severely: call the deacon, threaten, do what is in your power to do: and if he dare do anything to you, assuredly you shall have all to help you. For who is so irrational, as, when he sees you chiding for such conduct, and them chidden not to take your part? Depart, having received your reward from the Prayer.--In a master's house, we count those his best-disposed servants, who cannot bear to see any part of his furniture in disorder. Answer me; if at home you should see the silver plate lie tossed out of doors, though it is not your business, you will pick it up and bring it into the house: if you see a garment flung out. of its place, though you have not the care of it, though you be at enmity with him whose business it is, yet, out of good-will to the master, will you not put it right? So in the present case. These are part of the furniture: if you see them lying about in disorder, put them to rights: apply to me, I do not refuse the trouble: inform me, make the offender known to me: it is not possible for me to see all: excuse me (in this). See, what wickedness overspreads the whole world! Said I without reason that we are (no better than) so much hay (disorderly as) a troubled sea? I am not talking of those (young people), that they behave thus; (what I complain of, is) that such a sleepy indifference possesses those who come in here, that they do not even correct this misbehavior. Again I see others stand talking while Prayer is going on; while the more consistent[4] of them (do this) not only during the Prayer, but even when the Priest is giving the Benediction. O, horror! When shall there be salvation? when shall it be possible for us to propitiate God?--Soldiers[1] go to their diversion, and you shall see them, all keeping time in the dance, and nothing done negligently, but, just as in embroidery and painting, from the well-ordered arrangement in each individual part of the composition, there results at once an exceeding harmony and good keeping, so it is here: we have one shield, one head, all of us (in common): and if but some casual point be deranged by negligence, the whole is deranged and is spoilt, and the good order of the many is defeated by the disorder of the one part. And, fearful indeed to think of, here you come, not to a diversion, not to act in a dance, and yet you stand disorderly. Know you not that you are standing in company with angels? with them you chant, with them sing hymns, and do you stand laughing? Is it not wonderful that a thunderbolt is not launched not only at those (who behave thus), but at us? For such behavior might well be visited with the thunderbolt. The Emperor is present, is reviewing the army: and do you, even with His eyes upon you, stand laughing, and endure to see another laughing? How long are we to go on chiding, how long complaining? Ought not such to be treated as very pests and nuisances; as abandoned, worthless reprobates, fraught with innumerable mischiefs, to be driven away from the Church? When will these forebear laughing, who laugh in the hour of the dread Mystery (<greek>en</greek> <greek>wra</greek> <greek>frikhs</greek>)? when refrain from their trifling, who talk at the instant of the Benediction? Have they no sense of shame before those who are present? have they no fear of God? Are our own idle thoughts not enough for us, is it not enough that in our prayers we rove hither and thither, but laughter also must needs intrude, and bursts of merriment? Is it a theatrical amusement, what is done here? Aye, but, methinks, it is the theatres that do this: to the theatres we owe it that the most of you so refuse to be curbed by us, and to be reformed. What we build up here, is thrown down there: and not only so, but the hearers themselves cannot help being filled with other filthinesses besides: so that the case is just the same as if one should want to clean out a place with a fountain above it discharging mire; for however much you may clean out, more runs in. So it is here. For when we clean people out, as they come here from the theatres with their filthiness, thither they go again, and take in a larger stock of filthiness, as if they lived for the purpose of only giving us trouble, and then come back to us, laden with ordure, in their manners, in their movements, in their words, in their laughter, in their idleness. Then once more we begin shovelling it out afresh, as if we had to do this only on purpose that, having sent them away clean, we may again see them clogging themselves with filth. Therefore I solemnly protest to you, the sound members, that this will be to you judgment and condemnation, and I give you over to God from this time forth, if any having seen a person behaving disorderly, if any having seen any person talking, especially in that part (of the Service), shall not inform against him, not bring him round (to a better behavior). To do this is better than prayer. Leave thy prayer and rebuke him, that thou mayst both do him good, and thyself get profit, and so we may be enabled all to be saved and to attain unto the Kingdom of Heaven, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.


ACTS XI. 19.

"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that rose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only."

THE persecution turned out to be no slight benefit as "to them that love God all things work together for good." (Rom. viii. 28.) If they had made it their express study how best to establish the Church, they would have done no other thing than this--they dispersed the teachers.[*] Mark in what quarters the preaching was extended. "They travelled," it says, "as far as Phenice and Cyprus and Antioch; to none however did they preach the word but to Jews only." Dost thou mark with what wise purposes of Providence so much was done in the case of Cornelius? This serves both to justify Christ, and to impeach the Jews. When Stephen was slain, when Paul was twice in danger, when the Apostles were scourged, then the Gentiles received the word, then the Samaritans. Which Paul also declares: "To you it was necessary that the Word of God should first be spoken; but since ye thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy, lo, we turn unto the Gentiles." (ch. xiii. 46.) Accordingly they went about, preaching to Gentiles also. "But some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus:" (v. 20.) for it is likely both that they could now speak Greek, and that there were such men in Antioch. "And the hand of the Lord," it says, "was with them," that is, they wrought miracles; "and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord." (v. 21.) Do you mark why now also there was heed of miracles (namely) that they might believe? "Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch." (v. 22.) What may be the reason that, when such a city received the word, they did not come themselves? Because of the Jews. But they send Barnabas. However, it is no small part of the providential management even so that Paul comes to be there. It is both natural, and it is wisely ordered, that they are averse to him, and (so) that Voice of the Gospel, that Trumpet of heaven, is not shut up in Jerusalem. Do you mark how on all occasions, Christ turns their ill dispositions to needful account and for the benefit of the Church? Of their hatred to the man, He availed Himself for the building up of the Church. But observe this holy man--Barnabas, I mean--how he looked not to his own interests, but hasted to Tarsus. "Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart, they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord." (v. 23, 24.) He was a very kind man, and single-hearted, and considerate (<greek>suggnwmonikos</greek>). "Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul." (v. 25.) He came to the athletic wrestler. the general (fit to lead armies) the champion of single combat, the lion--I am at a loss for words, say what I will--the hunting-dog, killer of lions, bull of strength, lamp of brightness, mouth sufficing for a world. "And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch." (v. 26.) Verily this is the reason why it was there they were appointed to be called Christians, because Paul there spent so long time! "And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the Church, and taught much people. And the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch."[*] No small matter of praise to that city! This is enough to make it a match for all, that for so long a time it had the benefit of that mouth, it first, and before all others: wherefore also it was there in the first place that men were accounted worthy of that name. Do you observe the benefit resulting (to that city) from Paul, to what a height that name, like a standard (<greek>shmeion</greek>), exalted it? Where three thousand, where five thousand, believed, where so great a multitude, nothing of the sort took place, but they were called "they[1] of the way:" here they were called Christians. "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch." (v. 27.) It was need that the fruit of alms should also be planted there. And see how of necessity (<greek>anagkaiws</greek>) (it comes about that) none of the men of note becomes their teacher. They got for their teachers, men of Cyprus, and Cyrene, and Paul--though he indeed surpassed (the Apostles) themselves--since Paul also had for teachers Ananias and Barnabas. But[2] here of necessity (this was the case). "And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there would be great dearth throughout the world, which also came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar." (v. 28.) "By the Spirit," it says: for; that they may not imagine that this was the reason why the famine came, (namely) because Christianity was come in, because the demons were departed, the Holy Ghost foretells it: this, however, was nothing wonderful, for in fact Christ predicted it. Not this was the reason, else this must have been the case from the beginning: but it was because of the evils done to the Apostles--and God had borne long with them; but, when they pressed upon them, a great famine ensues, betokening to the Jews the coming woes. "If it was because of them, in any vase it ought to have stopped (there), when it did exist. What harm had the Gentiles done, that they should have their share in the evils? They ought rather to have been marked as approved (<greek>eudokimhsai</greek>), because they were doing their part, were slaying, punishing, taking vengeance, persecuting on every side. And mark also at what time the famine comes: precisely when the Gentiles were thenceforth added to the Church. But if, as you say, it was because of the evils (done by the Jews), these ought to have been exempted." How so? Christ, forestalling this objection, said, "Ye shall have tribulation." (John xvi. 33.) (It is) just as if you should say, They ought not to have been scourged either. "Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea." (v. 29.) Mark how the famine becomes to them the means of salvation, an occasion of alms-giving, a harbinger of many blessing. And (so it might have been) to you, one may say, if you were so minded, but ye would not. But it is predicted, that they might be prepared beforehand for almsgiving. "Unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea;" for they were enduring great hardships, but before this, they were not suffering from famine. "Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul." (v. 30.) Do you mark them, that no sooner do they believe than they bring forth fruit, not only for their own but for those afar off? And Barnabas is sent and Saul, to minister (the same.) Of this occasion ('E<greek>ntauqa</greek>) he says (to the Galatians), "And James, Cephas, and John gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, only" (they would) "that we should remember the poor." (Gal. ii. 9.) James was yet living.[1]

"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution," etc. (Recapitulation.) Do you mark how even in the tribulation instead of failing to lamentations and tears as we do, they give themselves up to a great and good work? "Travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch," and there with more security preached the word. "And some of them, which were men of Cyprus and. Cyrene," etc. (v. 20.) And they did not say, "(What), we, Cyrenians and Cyprians, to attack this splendid and great city!" but trusting in the grace of God, they applied themselves to the work of teaching, nor did these (Gentiles) themselves think scorn to learn anything of them. Mark how by small means all is brought about: mark the preaching how it spreads: mark those in Jerusalem, having like care for all, holding the whole world as one house. "They heard that Samaria had received the word, and" (ch. viii. 14) to Samaria they send the Apostles: they heard what had befallen at Antioch, and to Antioch they send Barnabas: they also send again, and (these) prophets. For the distance was great, and it was not meet the Apostles at present should separate from thence, that they might not be thought to be fugitives, and to have fled from their own people. But then, almost precisely, is the time of their parting from Jerusalem, when the state (of the Jews) was shown to be past remedy, when the war was close at hand, and they must needs perish: when the sentence was made absolute. For, until Paul went to Rome, the Apostles were there (at Jerusalem). But they depart, not because afraid of the war--how should it be so?--seeing those they went to, were those that should bring the war: and moreover the war breaks out only after the Apostles were dead. For of them (the Apostles) says, "The wrath is come upon them unto the end." (1 Thess. ii. 16.) The more insignificant the persons, the more illustrious the grace, working great results by small means.--" And[2] he exhorted them to cleave unto the Lord, for he was a good man." (v. 23, 24.) By "good man," I take it, he means one that is kind, (<greek>crhston</greek>) sincere, exceedingly desirous of the salvation of his neighbors--" for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith. To[3] cleave unto the Lord with purpose of heart" (this is said): with encomium and praise. "And much people was added unto the Lord:" for like rich land this city received the word, and brought forth much fruit. "Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus," etc. (v. 25.) But why did he take him off from Tarsus and bring him here? Not without good reason; for here were both good hopes, and a greater city, and a great, body of people. See how grace works all, not[4] Paul: by small means the affair was taking its commencement. When it is become difficult the Apostles take it up. Why did they not before this seen Barnabas? Because they had enough to do (<greek>hscolhnto</greek>) with Jerusalem. Again they justified themselves[5] to the Jews, that the Gentiles were receiving (<greek>proselambane</greek>) the word, even without enjoying so great attention. There is about to be a questioning: therefore the affair of Cornelius forestalled it. Then indeed they say, "That we to the Gentiles, and they to the Circumcision." (Gal. ii. 9.) Observe, henceforth the very stress of the famine introduces the fellowship on the part of the Gentiles, namely, from the alms. For they receive the offerings sent from them.

"Now[1] they which were scattered abroad," etc. (v. 19) and not as we who pass our time in lamentations and tears, in our calamities; but with more fearlessness they passed their time, as having got to a distance from those hindering them, and as being among men not afraid of the Jews: which also helped. And they came to Cyprus, where they had the sea between them, and greater freedom from anxiety: so[2] they made no account of .the fear of men, but (still) they gave the precedence to the regard of the Law: "they spake to Jews only. But there were in Antioch certain men of Cyprus and Cyrene:" these, of all others, least cared for the Jews: "who spake unto the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus." (v. 20.) Probably it was because of their not knowing Hebrew, that they called them Greeks. And "when" Barnabas, it says, "came and had seen the grace of God,"--not the diligence of men--" he exhorted them to cleave unto the Lord" (v. 23): and by this he converted more. "And much people was added unto the Lord." Why do they not write to Paul, but send Barnabas? They They did not yet know the virtue of the man : but it is providentially ordered that Barnabas should come. As there was a multitude, and none to hinder, well might the faith grow, and above all because they had no trials to undergo. Paul also preaches, and is no longer compelled to flee. And it is well ordered, that not they speak of the famine, but the prophets. The men of Antioch also did not take it amiss that they sent not the Apostles, but were content with their teachers so fervent were they all for the word. They did not wait for (he famine to come, but before this they sent: "according as each had the ability." And observe, among the Apostles, others are put in charge with this trust but here Paul and Barnabas. For this was no small order (<greek>oikonomia</greek>) of Providence. Besides, it was the beginning, and it was not fit they should be offended.

"As each had the ability, they sent." But now, none does this, although there is a famine more grievous than that. For the cases are not alike, for (all) to bear the calamity in common, and, while all (the rest) abound, for the poorer to be famishing. And the expression shows that the givers also were poor, for, it says, "as each of them had the means." A twofold famine, even as the abundance is twofold: a severe famine, a famine not of hearing the word of the Lord, but of being nourished by alms.[3] Then, both the poor in Judea enjoyed the benefit, and so did those in Antioch who gave their money; yea, these more than those: but now, both we and the poor are famishing: they being in lack of necessary sustenance, and we in luxurious living,[4] lacking the mercy of God. But this is a food, than which nothing can be more necessary. This is not a food, from which one has to undergo the evils of repletion: not a food, of which the most part ends in the draught. (<greek>afedrwna</greek>.) Nothing more beauteous, nothing more healthful, than a soul nurtured by this food: it is set high above all disease, all pestilence, all indigestion and distemper: none shall be able to overcome it, (<greek>elein</greek>) but just as, if one's body were made of adamant, no iron, nor anything else, would have power to hurt it, even so when the soul is firmly compact by almsgiving, nothing at all shall be able to overcome it. For say, what shall spoil this? Shall poverty? It cannot be, for it is laid up in the royal treasuries. But shall robber and housebreaker? Nay, those are walls which none shall be able to break through. But shall the worm? Nay, this treasure is set far above the reach of this mischief also. But shall envy and the evil eye? Nay, neither by these can it be overcome. But shall false accusations and plottings of evil? No, neither shall this be, for safe as in an asylum is this treasure. But it were a shame should I make it appear as if the advantages which belong to almsgiving were only these (the absence of these evils), and not (the presence of) their opposites. For in truth it is not merely that it is secure from ill-will; it also gets abundant blessing from those whom it benefits. For as the cruel and unmerciful not only have for enemies those whom they have injured, but those also who are not themselves hurt, partake the grief and join in the accusation: so those that have done great good have not only those who are benefited, but those also who are not themselves affected, to speak their praises. Again (that), it is secure from the attacks of the evil-disposed, and robbers, and house-breakers--what, is this all the good, or is it this--that besides the not suffering diminution, it grows also and increases into multitude? What more shameful than Nebuchadnezzar, what more foul, what more iniquitous? The man was impious; after tokens and signs without number he refused to come to his senses (<greek>anenegkein</greek>), but cast the servants of God into a furnace: and (yet) after these doings, he worshipped. What then said the Prophet? "Wherefore," saith he, "O king let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, ransom (<greek>lutrwsai</greek>) thy sins by alms, and thine iniquities by mercies to the poor: peradventure there shall be pardon for thy transgressions." (Dan. iii. 27;) In so speaking, he said it not doubting, nay, with entire confidence, but wishing to put him in greater fear, and to make a stronger necessity of doing these things. For if he had spoken it as a thing unquestionable, the king would have been more supine: just as it is with us, we then most urge some person (whom we wish to persuade), when[1] they say to us, "Exhort such an one," and do not add, "he will be sure to hear," but only, "peradventure he will hear:" for by leaving it doubtful, the fear is made greater, and urges him the more. This is the reason why the Prophet did not make the thing certain to him. What sayest thou? For so great impieties shall there be pardon? Yes. There is no sin, which alms cannot cleanse, none, which alms cannot quench: all sin is beneath this: it is a medicine adapted for every wound. What worse than a publican? The very matter (<greek>upoqesis</greek>) (of his occupation) is altogether one of injustice: and yet Zaccheus washed away all these (sins). Mark how even Christ shows this, by the care taken to have a purse, and to bear the contributions put into it. And Paul also says, "Only that we remember the poor" (Gal. ii. 10): and everywhere the Scripture has much discourse concerning this matter. "The ransom," it saith, "of a man's soul is his own wealth" (Prov. 13, 8): and With reason: for, saith (Christ), "if thou wouldest be perfect, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and come, follow Me." (Matt. xix. 21.) This may well be part of perfection. But alms may be done not only by money, but by acts. For example: one may kindly stand (<greek>prosthnai</greek>) by a person (to succor and defend him), one may reach to him a helping hand: the service rendered (<greek>prostasia</greek>) by acts has often done more good even than money. Let us set to work all the different kinds of alms-giving. Can you do alms by money? Be not slack. Can you by good offices? Say not, Because I have no money, this is nothing. This is a very great point: look upon it as if you had given gold. Can you do it by kind attentions (<greek>qerapeias</greek>)? Do this also. For instance, if you be a physician, (give) your skill: for this also is a great matter. Can you by counsel? This (service) is much greater than all: this (alms) is better than all, or it is also more, by how much the gain it has is greater. For in so doing you put away not starvation, but a grievous death. (ch. iii. 6; vi. 4.) With such alms the Apostles above measure abounded: therefore it was that the distribution of money they put into the hands of those after them, themselves exhibiting the (mercy) shown by words. Or is it, think you, a small alms, to a lost, castaway soul, a soul in uttermost jeopardy, possessed by a burning fever (<greek>purwsews</greek>), tO be able to rid it of its disease? For example, do you see one possessed by love of money? Pity the man. Is he in danger of suffocation? Quench his fire. "What if he will not be persuaded?" Do your part, and be not remiss. Have you seen him in bonds?--for wealth is indeed bonds. (Matt. xxv. 35 ff.) Go to him, visit him, console him, try to release him of his bonds. if he refuse, he shall bear the blame himself. Have you seen him naked, and a stranger? --for he is indeed naked, and a stranger to heaven. Bring him to your own inn, clothe him with the garment of virtue, give him the city which is in heaven. "What if I myself be naked?" say you. Clothe also yourself first: if' you know that you are naked, assuredly you know that you need to be clothed; if you know what sort of nakedness this is.[2] What numbers of women now wear silken apparel but are indeed naked of the garments of virtue! Let their husbands clothe these women. "But they will not admit those garments; they choose to have these." Then do this also first: induce them to have a longing for those garments: show them that they are naked: speak to them of judgment to come: answer me,[1] what is the clothing we shall need there? But if ye will bear with me, I also will show you this nakedness. He that is naked, when it is cold, shrinks and shudders, and stands there cowering, and with his arms folded: but in summer heat, not so. If then I shall prove to you that your rich men, and rich women, the more they put on, the more naked they are, do not take it amiss. How then, I ask you, when we raise the subject of hell-fire, and of the torments there? Do not these shrink and shudder more than those naked ones? Do they not bitterly groan and condemn themselves? What? when they come to this or that man, and say to him, Pray for me, do they not speak the same words as those (naked wretches)? Now indeed, after all that we can say, the nakedness is not yet apparent: but it will be plain enough there. How, and in what way? When these silken garments and precious stones shall have perished, and it shall be only by the garments of virtue and of vice that all men are shown, when the poor shall be clad with exceeding glory, but the rich, naked and in disgraceful sort, shall be baled away to their punishments. What more naked (Edd. "more dainty ") than that rich man who arrayed himself in purple? What poorer than Lazarus? Then which of them uttered the words of beggars? which of them was in abundance? Say, if one should deck his house with abundance of tapestry hangings, and himself sit naked within, what were the benefit? So it is in the case of these women. Truly, the house of the soul, the body I mean, they hang round with plenty of garments: but the mistress of the house sits naked within. Lend me the eyes of the soul, and I will show you the soul's nakedness. For what is the garment of the soul? Virtue, of course. And what its nakedness? Vice. For just as, if one were to strip any decent person, that person would be ashamed, and would shrink and cower out of sight; just so the soul, if we wish to see it, the soul which has not these garments, blushes for shame. How many women, think you, at this moment feel ashamed, and would fain sink to the very depth, as if seeking some sort of curtain, or screen, that they may not hear these words? But those who have no evil conscience, are exhilarated, rejoice, find delight, and gayly deck themselves (<greek>egkallwpizontai</greek>) with the things said. Hear concerning that blessed Thekla,[2] how, that she might see Paul, she gave even her gold: and thou wilt not give even a farthing that thou mayest see Christ: thou admirest what she did, but dost not emulate her. Hearest thou not that "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy?" (Matt. v. 7.) What is the gain of your costly garments? how long shall we continue agape for this attire? Let us put on the glory of Christ: let us array ourselves with that beauty, that both here we may be praised, and there attain unto the eternal good things, by the grace and mercy of 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.


ACTS XII. 1, 2.

"Now at that time Herod the King stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. Then were the days of unleavened bread."

"AT that time," of course meaning the time immediately following: for[1] this is the custom of Scripture. And he well says that Herod "the king" (did this): this was not he of Christ's time. Lo, a different sort of trial--and mark what I said in the beginning, how things are blended, how rest and trouble alternate in the whole texture of the history--not now the Jews, nor the Sanhedrim, but the king. Greater the power, the warfare more severe, the more it was done to obtain favor with the Jews. "And," it says, "he slew James the brother of John with the sword:" (taking him) at random and without selection. But, should any raise a question, why God permitted this, we shall say, that it was for the sake of these (Jews) themselves: thereby, first, convincing them, that even when slain (the Apostles) prevail, just as it was in the case of Stephen: secondly, giving them opportunity, after satiating their rage, to recover from their madness; thirdly, showing them that it was by His permission this was done. "And when he saw," it says, "that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. O excessive wickedness! On whose behalf was it, that he gratified them by doing murders thus without plan or reason? "And it was the day of unleavened bread." Again, the idle preciseness of the Jews: to kill indeed they forbade not, but[2] at such a time they did such things! "Whom having arrested, he put in ward, having delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers." (v. 4.) This was done both of rage, and of fear. "He slew," it says, "James the brother of John with the sword." Do you mark their courage? For, that none may say that without danger or fear of danger they brave death, as being sure of God's delivering them, therefore he permits some to be put to death, and chief men too, Stephen and James, thereby convincing their slayers themselves, that not even these things make them fall away, and hinder them. "Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him." (v. 5.) For the contest was now for life and death: both the slaying of the one made them fearful, and the casting of the other into prison. "And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains; and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands." (v. 6, 7.) In that night He delivered him. "And a light shined in the prison," that[3] he might not deem it fancy: and none saw the light, but he only. For if, notwithstanding this was done, he thought it a fancy, because of its unexpectedness; if this had not been, much more would he have thought this: so[4] prepared was he for death. For his having waited there many days and not being saved caused this. Why then, say you, did He not suffer him to fall into the hands of Herod,[5] and then deliver him? Because that would have brought people into astonishment, whereas this was credible:[1] and they would not even have been thought human beings. But in the case of Stephen, what did He not do? Did He not show them his face as it had been the face of an angel? But what in short did He leave undone here also? "And the angel said to him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals." (v. 8.) Here again it shows, that it was not done of craft: for one that is in haste and wishes to break out (of prison), is not so particular as to take his sandals, and gird himself. "And he did so And he said unto him, Put on thy cloak, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him and wist not that it was true which was done by the Angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of its own accord." (v. 9, 10.) Behold, a second miracle. "And they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent His Angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews." (v. 10, 11.) When the angel departed, then Peter understood: "Now I perceive," says he, not then. But why is this so, and why is Peter not sensible of the things taking place, although he had already experienced a like deliverance when all were released? (ch. v. 18.) (The Lord) would have the pleasure come to him all at once, and that he should first be at liberty, and then be sensible of what had happened. The circumstance also of the chains having fallen off from his hands, is a strong argument of his not having fled.[2] "And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying." (v. 12.) Observe how Peter does not immediately withdraw, but first brings the good tidings to his friends. "And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness,"--Mark even the servant-girls, how full of piety they are,--"but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate." (v. 13-15.) But they, though it was so, shook their heads (incredulously): "And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. And they said, It is his angel. "But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go show these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place." (v. 16, 17.) But let us review the order of the narrative.

(Recapitulation.) "At that time," it says, "Herod the king stretched forth his hands to afflict certain of the Church." (v. 1.) Like a wild beast, he attacked all indiscriminately and without consideration. This is what Christ said: "My cup indeed ye shall drink, and with the baptism wherewith I am baptized, shall ye be baptized." (Mark x. 39.) (b) "And[3] he killed James the brother of John." (v. 2.) For there was also another James, the brother of the Lord: therefore to distinguish him, he says, "The brother of John."[*] Do you mark that the sum of affairs rested in these three, especially Peter and James? (a) And how was it he did not kill Peter immediately? It mentions the reason: "it was the day of unleavened bread:" and he wished rather to make a display (<greek>ekpompeusai</greek>) with the killing of him. "And when he saw it pleased the Jews." (v. 3.) For their own part, they now in consequence of Gamaliel's advice, abstained from bloodshedding: and besides, did not even invent accusations; but by means of others they compassed the same results. (c) This (counsel of Gamaliel's) above all was their condemnation: for the preaching was shown to be no longer a thing of men. "He proceeded further to kill Peter also." (ch. v. 8.) In very deed was that fulfilled, "We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." (Psa. xliv. 13.) "Seeing," it says, "it was a pleasing thing to the Jews." (Rom. viii. 36.) A pleasing thing, bloodshed, and unrighteous bloodshed, wickedness, impiety![1] He ministered to their senseless (<greek>atopois</greek>) lusts: for, whereas he ought to have done the contrary, to check their rage, he made them more eager, as if he were an executioner, and not a physician to their diseased minds. (And this) though he had numberless warnings in the case of both his grandfather and his father Herod, how the former in consequence of his putting the children to death suffered the greatest calamities,. and the latter by slaying John raised up against himself a grievous war. But[2] as they thought[* *] He feared lest Peter, in consequence of the slaying of James, should withdraw; and wishing to have him in safe keeping, he put him in prison: "and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers" (v. 4): the Stricter the custody, the more wondrous the display. "Peter therefore was kept in prison." (v. 5.) But this was all the better for Peter, who was thereby made more approved, and evinced his own manly courage. And it says, "there was earnest prayer making." It was the prayer of (filial) affection: it was for a father they asked, a father mild. "There was," it says, "earnest prayer." Hear how they were affected to their teachers. No factions, no perturbation:[8] but they betook them to prayer, to that alliance which is indeed invincible, to this they betook them for refuge. They did not say, "What? I, poor insignificant creature that I am, to pray for him!" for, as they acted of love, they did not give these things a thought. And observe, it was during the feast, that (their enemies) brought these trials upon them, that their worth might be the more approved. "And when Herod," etc. (v. 6.) See Peter sleeping, and not in distress or fear! That same night, after which he was to be brought forth, he slept, having cast all upon God. "Between two soldiers, bound with two chains." (comp. 1 Pet. v. 7.) Mark, how strict the ward! "And says, Arise." (v. 7.) The guards were asleep with him, and therefore perceived nothing of what was happening. "And a light shined." What was the light for? In order that Peter might see as well as hear, and not imagine it to be all fancy. And the command," Arise quickly,[4]" that he may not be remiss. He also smote him; so deeply did he sleep. (a) "Rise," says he, "quickly:" this is not to hurry him (<greek>qorubountos</greek>) but to persuade him not to delay. (c) "And" immediately "his chains fell off from his hands." (b) How? answer me: where are the heretics?--let them answer. "And the Angel said unto him," etc. (v. 8) by this also convincing him that it is no fancy: to this end he bids him gird himself and put on his shoes, that he may shake off his sleep, and know that it is real. (a) (e) "And he wist not that it was true that was done by the Angel, but thought he saw a vision" (v. 9): (e) well he might, by reason of the excessive greatness (<greek>up</greek><ss210><greek>rbolhn</greek>) of the things taking place. Do you mark what a thing it is for a miracle to be excessive (<greek>uperbolh</greek> <greek>shmeiou</greek>)? how it amazes (<greek>ekpLhttei</greek>) the beholder? how it will not let the thing be believed?[5] For if Peter "thought he saw a vision," though he had girded himself and put on his shoes, what would have been the case with another? "And," it says, "when they had passed the first and the second ward, they came to the iron gate, which opened unto them of its own accord" (v. 10): and yet the things that had happened within (the prison) were more marvellous: but this was now more after the manner of man. "And having gone out, they went along one street and immediately (all 'until') the Angel departed from him." (v. 11.) When there was no hindrance, then the Angel departed. For Peter would not have gone along (<greek>prohlqen</greek>), there being so many hindrances. "And when he came to himself;" for in very truth, it was indeed an amazement (<greek>ekplhxis</greek>). "Now," saith he, "I know"--now, not then, when I was in the prison,--" that the Lord hath sent His Angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered" (v. 12), it says: viz. where he was, or, that he must not without more ado depart but requite his Benefactor: "he came to the house of Mary the mother of John." Who is this John? Probably[1] he that was always with them: for this is why he adds his distinctive name (<greek>to</greek> <greek>parashmon</greek>), "whose surname was Mark." But observe, "praying" in the night, how much they got by it: what a good thing affliction is; how wakeful it made them! Do you see how great the gain resulting from the death of Stephen? do you see how great the benefit accruing from this imprisonment? For it is not by taking vengeance upon those who wronged them that God shows the greatness of the Gospel: but in the wrong-doers themselves,[2] without any harm happening to those, he shows what a mighty thing the afflictions in themselves are, that we may not seek in any wise deliverance from them, nor the avenging of our wrongs. And mark how the very servant-girls were henceforth upon an equality with them. "For joy," it says, "she opened not." (v. 13, 14.) This too is well done, that they likewise may not be amazed by seeing him at once, and that they may be incredulous, and their minds may be exercised. "But ran in," etc. just as we are wont to do, she was eager to be herself the bringer of the good tidings, for good news it was indeed. "And they said unto her, Thou art mad: but she constantly affirmed that it was even so: then said they, It is his Angel." (v. 15.) This is a truth, that each man has an Angel.[*] And what would the Angel?[8] It was from the time (of night) that they surmised this. But when he "continued knocking, and when they had opened, and saw him, they were astonished. But he beckoning to them with his hand" (v. 16, 17), made them keep quiet, to hear all that had happened to him. He was now an object of more affectionate desire to the disciples, not only in consequence of his being saved, but by his sudden coming in upon them and straightway departing. Now, both his friends learn all clearly; and the aliens also learn, if they had a mind, but they had not. The same thing happened in the case of Christ. "Tell these things," he says, "to James, and to the brethren." How free from all vainglory! Nor did he say, Make known these things to people everywhere, but, "to the brethren. And he withdrew to another place:" for he did not tempt God, nor fling himself into temptation: since, when they were commanded to do this, then they did it. "Go," it was said, "speak in the temple to the people." (ch. v. 20.) But this the Angel said not (here); on the contrary, by silently removing him and bringing him out by night, he gave him free permission to withdraw--and this too is done, that we may learn that many things are providentially brought about after the manner of men--so that he should not again fall into peril.--For that they may not say, "It was his Angel,"[4] after he was gone, they say this first, and then they see himself overthrowing their notion of the matter. Had it been the Angel, he would have knocked at the door, would not have retired to another place. And[6] what followed in the day, make them sure.

"So Peter was kept in the prison," etc. (v. 5.) They, being at large, were at prayer: he, bound, was in sleep. "And he wist not that it was true." (v. 9.) If he thought it was true that was happening, he would have been astonished, he would not have remembered[6] (all the circumstances): but now, seeming to be in a dream, he was free from perturbation. "When," it says, "they were past the first and the second ward"--see also how strong the guard was--"they came unto the iron gate." (v. 10.) "Now know I that the Lord hath sent His Angel." (v. 11.) Why is not this effected by themselves?[7] (I answer,) By this also the Lord honors them, that by the ministry of His Angels he rescues them. Then why was it not so in the case of Paul? There with good reason, because the jailer was to be converted, whereas here, it was only that the Apostle should be released. (ch. xvi. 25.) And God disposes all things in divers ways. And there too, it is beautiful, that Paul sings hymns, while here Peter was asleep. "And when he had considered, he came to the house of Mary," etc. (v. 12.) Then let us not hide God's marvels, but for our own good let us study to display these abroad for the edifying of the others. For as he deserves to be admired for choosing to be put into bonds, so is he worthy of more admiration, that he withdrew not until he had reported all to his friends. "And he said, Tell James and the brethren." (v. 17.) That they may rejoice: that they may not be anxious. Through these[1] those learn, not those through him: such thought had he for the humbler part!--

Truly, nothing better than affliction not above measure (<greek>summetrou</greek>). What think you must have been their state of mind--how full of delight! Where now are those women, who sleep the whole night through? Where are those men, who do not even turn themselves in their bed? Seest thou the watchful soul? With women, and children, and maidservants, they sang hymns to God, made purer than the sky by affliction. But now, if we see a little danger, we fall back. Nothing ever was more splendid than that Church. Let us imitate these, let us emulate them. Not for this was the night made, that we should sleep all through it and be idle. To this bear witness the artisans, the carriers, and the merchants (to this), the Church of God rising up in the midst of the night. Rise thou up also, and behold the quire of the stars, the deep silence, the profound repose: contemplate with awe the order (<greek>oikonomian</greek>) of thy Master's household. Then is thy soul purer: it is lighter, and subtler, and soaring disengaged: the darkness itself, the profound silence, are sufficient to lead thee to compunction. And if also thou look to the heavens studded with its stars, as with ten thousand eyes,[2] if thou bethink thee that all those multitudes who in the daytime are shouting, laughing, frisking, leaping, wronging, grasping, threatening, inflicting wrongs without number lie all one as dead, thou wilt condemn all the self-willedness of man. Sleep hath invaded and defeated (<greek>hlegxen</greek>) nature: it is the image of death, the image of the end of all things. If[3] thou (look out of window and) lean over into the street, thou wilt not hear even a sound: if thou look into the house, thou wilt see all lying as it were in a tomb. All this is enough to arouse the soul, and lead it to reflect on the end of all things.

Here indeed my discourse is for both men and women. Bend thy knees, send forth groans, beseech thy Master to be merciful: He is more moved by prayers in the night, when thou makest the time for rest a time for mourning. Remember what words that king uttered: "I have been weary with my groaning: every night will I wash my bed, I will water my couch with my tears." (Ps. vi. 6.) However delicate a liver thou mayest be, thou art not more delicate than he: however rich thou mayest be, thou art not richer than David. And again the same Psalmist saith, "At midnight I rose to give thanks unto Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness." (Ps. cxix. 62.) No vainglory then intrudes upon thee: how can it, when all are sleeping, and not looking at thee? Then neither sloth nor drowsiness invades thee: how can they, when thy soul is aroused by such great things? After such vigils come sweet slumbers and wondrous revelations. Do this, thou also the man, not the woman only. Let the house be a Church, consisting of men and women. For think not because thou art the only man, or because she is the only woman there, that this is any hindrance. "For where two," He saith, "are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt. xviii. 20.) Where Christ is in the midst, there is a great multitude. Where Christ is, there needs must Angels be, needs must Archangels also and the other Powers be there. Then ye are not alone, seeing ye have Him Who is Lord of all. Hear again the prophet also saying, "Better is one that doeth the will of the Lord, than ten thousand transgressors." (comp. Ecclus. xvi. 3.) Nothing more weak than a multitude of unrighteous men, nothing more strong than one man who lives according to the law of God. If thou hast children wake up them also, and let thy house altogether become a Church through the night: but if they be tender, and cannot endure the watching, let them stay for the first or second prayer, and then send them to rest: only stir up thyself, establish thyself in the habit. Nothing is better than that storehouse which receives such prayers as these. Hear the Prophet speaking: "If I remembered Thee upon my bed, I thought upon Thee in the dawn of the morning." (Ps. lxiii. 7.) But you will say: I have labored much during the day, and I cannot. Mere pretext this and subterfuge. For however much thou hast labored, thou wilt not toil like the smith, who lets fall such a heavy hammer from a great height upon the (metal flying off in) sparks, and takes in the smoke with his whole body: and yet at this work he spends the greater part of the night. Ye know also how the women, if there is need for us to go into the country, or to go forth unto a vigil, watch through the whole night. Then have thou also a spiritual forge, to fashion there not pots or cauldrons, but thine own soul, which is far better than either coppersmith or goldsmith can fashion. Thy soul, waxen old in sins, cast thou into the smelting-furnace of confession: let fall the hammer from on high: that is, the condemnation of thy words (<greek>twn</greek> <greek>rhmatwn</greek> <greek>thn</greek> <greek>katagnwsin</greek>): light up the fire of the Spirit. Thou hast a far mightier craft (than theirs). Thou art beating into shape not vessels of gold, but the soul, which is more precious than all gold, even as the smith hammers out his vessel. For it is no material vessel that thou art working at, but thou art freeing thy soul from all imaginations belonging to this life. Let a lamp be by thy side, not that one which we burn, but that which the prophet had, when he said, "Thy law is a lamp unto my feet." (Ps. cxix. 105.) Bring thy soul to a red heat, by prayer: when thou seest it hot enough, draw it out, and mould it into what shape thou wilt. Believe me, not fire so effectual to burn off rust, as night prayer to remove the rust of our sins. Let the night-watchers, if no one else, shame us. They, by man's law, go their rounds in the cold, shouting loudly, and walking through lanes (<greek>stenwpwn</greek>) and alleys, oftentimes drenched with rain and (all) congealed with cold, for thee and for thy safety, and the protection of thy property. There is he taking such care for thy property, while thou takest none even for thy soul. And yet I do not make thee go thy rounds in the open air like him, nor shout loudly and rend thy sides: but in thy closet itself, or in thy bedchamber, bend thy knees, and entreat thy Lord. Why did Christ Himself pass a whole night on the mountain? Was it not, that He might be an ensample to us? Then is it that the plants respire, in the night, I mean: and then also does the soul take in the dew even more than they. What the sun has parched by day becomes cool again at night. More refreshing than all dew, the tears of the night descend upon our lusts and upon all heat and fever of the soul, and do not let it be affected m any such way. But if it do not enjoy the benefit of that dew, it will be burnt up in the daytime. But God forbid (it should be so[1])! Rather, may we all, being refreshed, and enjoying the mercy of God, be freed from the burden of our sins, 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.


ACTS XII. 18, 19.

"Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and there abode."

SOME persons, it is likely, are at a loss how to explain it, that God should quietly look on while (His) champions[2] are put to death, and now again the soldiers on account of Peter: and yet it was possible for Him after (delivering) Peter to rescue them also. But it was not yet the time of judgment, so as to render to each according to his deserts. And besides, it was not Peter that put them into his hands. For the thing that most annoyed him was the being mocked; just as in the case of his grandfather when he was deceived by the wise men, that was what made him (feel) cut to the heart--the being (eluded and) made ridiculous.[1] "And having put them to the question," it says, "he ordered them to be led away to execution." (Matt. ii. 16.) And yet he had heard from them--for he had put them to the question--both that the chains had been left, and that he had taken his sandals, and that until that night he was with them. "Having put them to the question:" but what did they conceal?[2] Why then did they not themselves also flee? "He ordered them to be led away to execution:" and yet he ought to have marvelled, ought to have been astonished at this. The consequence is, by the death of these men (the thing), is made manifest to all: both his wickedness is exposed to view, and (it is made clear that) the wonder (is) of God. "And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and there abode: and Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country. And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, 'It is the voice of a god, and not of a man,' And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost." (v. xx. . 23.)[ * *] But see how (the writer) here does not hide these things.[8] Why does he mention this history? Say, what has it to do with the Gospel, that Herod is incensed with the Tyrians and Sidonians? It is not a small matter, even this, how immediately justice seized him; although not because of Peter, but because of his arrogant speaking. And yet, it may be said, if those shouted, what is that to him? Because he accepted the acclamation, because he accounted himself to be worthy of the adoration. Through him those most receive a lesson, who so thoughtlessly flattered him (al. <greek>oi</greek> <greek>kolakeuontes</greek>). Observe again, while both parties deserve punishment, this man is punished. For this is not the time of judgment, but He punishes him that had most to answer for, leaving the others to profit by this man's fate.[*] "And the word of God," it says, "grew," i.e. in consequence of this, "and multiplied." (v. 24.) Do you mark God's providential management? "But Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark." (v. 25.) "Now there were in the Church that was at Antioch, certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaën, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul." (ch. xiii. 1.) He still mentions Barnabas first: for Paul was not yet famous, he had not yet wrought any sign. "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." (v. 2, 3.) What means, "Ministering?" Preaching. "Separate for Me," it says, "Barnabas and Saul." What means, "Separate for Me?" For the work, for the Apostleship. See again by what persons he is ordained (<greek>gumnotera</greek>. Cat. <greek>semnotera</greek>, "more awful.") By Lucius the Cyrenean and Manaën, or rather, by the Spirit. The less the persons, the more palpable the grace. He is ordained henceforth to Apostleship, so as to preach with authority. How then does he himself say, "Not from men, nor by man?"[4] (Gal. i. 1.) Because it was not man that called or brought him over: this is why he says, "Not from men. Neither by man," that is, that he was not sent by this (man), but by the Spirit. Wherefore also (the writer) thus proceeds: "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus." (v. 4.) But let us look over again what has been said.

(Recapitulation.) "And when it was day," etc. (v. 18.) For[1] if the Angel had brought out the soldiers also, along with Peter, it would have been thought a case of flight. Then why, you may ask, was it not otherwise managed? Why, Where is the harm? Now, if we see that they who have suffered unjustly, take no harm, we shall not raise these questions. For why do you not say the same of James? Why did not (God) rescue him? "There was no small stir among the soldiers." So (clearly) had they perceived nothing (of what had happened). Lo, I take up the plea in their defence. The chains were there, and the keepers within, and the prison shut, nowhere a wall broken through, all told the same tale: the man had been carried off:[2] why dost thou condemn them? Had they wished to let him off, they would have done it before, or would have gone out with him. "But he gave them money ?" (ch. iii. 6.) And how should he, who had not to give even to a poor man, have the means to give to these? And then neither had the chains been broken, nor were they loosed. He ought to have seen, that the thing was of God, and no work of man. "And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and there abode. And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon," etc. (v. 19.) He is now going to mention (a matter of) history: this is the reason why he adds the names, that it may be shown how he keeps to the truth in all things. "And," it says, "having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, they desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country." (v. 20, 21.) For probably there was a famine. "And on a set day," etc. (Joseph. Ant. xix.) Josephus also says this, that he fell into a lingering disease. Now the generality were not aware of this,[3] but the Apostle sets it down: yet at the same time their ignorance was an advantage, in regard that they imputed what befell (Agrippa) to his putting James and the soldiers to death. Observe, when he slew the Apostle, he did nothing of this sort but when (he slew) these; in fact he knew not what to say about it :[4] as being at a loss, then, and feeling ashamed, "he went down from Judea to Caesarea." I suppose it was also to bring those (men of Tyre and Sidon) to apologize, that he withdrew (from Jerusalem.): for with those he was incensed, while paying such court to these. See how vainglorious the man is: meaning to confer the boon upon them, he makes an harangue. But Josephus says, that he was also arrayed in a splendid robe made of silver. Observe both what flatterers those were, and what a high spirit was shown by the Apostles: the man whom the whole nation so courted, the same they held in contempt. (v. 24.) But observe again a great refreshing granted to them, and the numberless benefits accruing from the vengeance inflicted upon him. But if this man, because it was said to him, "It is the voice of God and not of a man (v. 22) although he said nothing himself, suffered such things: much more should Christ, had He not Himself been God (have suffered) for saying always as He did, "These words of mine are not Mine" (John xiv. 10; xviii. 36) and, "Angels minister to Me," and such like. But that man ended His life by a shameful and miserable death, and thenceforth no more is seen of him. And observe him also, easily talked over even by Blastus, like a poor creature, soon incensed and again pacified, and on all occasions a slave of the populace, with nothing free and independent about him. But mark also the authority of the Holy Ghost: "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul." (ch. xiii. 2.) What being would have dared, if not of the same authority, to say this? "Separate," etc. But this is done, that they may not keep together among themselves. The Spirit saw that they had greater power, and were able to be sufficient for many. And how did He speak to them? Probably by prophets: therefore the writer premises, that there were prophets also. And they were fasting and ministering: that thou mayest learn that there was need of great sobriety. In Antioch he is ordained, where he preaches. Why did He not say, Separate for the Lord, but, "For me ?" It shows that He is of one authority and power. "And when they had fasted," etc. Seest thou what a great thing fasting is? "So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost:" it shows that the Spirit did all.

A great, yes a great good is fasting: it is circumscribed by no limits. When need was to ordain, then they fast: and to them while fasting, the Spirit spake. Thus much only do I enjoin: (I say) not fast, but abstain from luxury. Let us seek meats to nourish, not things to ruin us; seek meats for food, not occasions of diseases, of diseases both of soul and body: seek food which hath comfort, not luxury which is full of discomfort: the one is luxury, the other mischief; the one is pleasure, the other pain; the one is agreeable to nature, the other contrary to nature. For say, if one should give thee hemlock juice to drink, would it not be against nature? if one should give thee logs and stones, wouldest thou not reject them? Of course, for they are against nature. Well, and so is luxury. For just as in a city, under an invasion of enemies when there has been siege and tumult, great is the uproar, so is it in the soul, under invasion of wine and luxury. "Who hath woe? who hath tumults? who hath discomforts and babblings? Are they not they that tarry long at the wine? Whose are bloodshot eyes ?" (Prov. xxiii. 29, 30,) But yet, say what we will, we shall not bring off those who give themselves up to luxury, unless[1] we bring into conflict therewith a different affection. And first, let us address ourselves to the women. Nothing uglier than a woman given to luxury, nothing uglier than a woman given to drink. The bloom of her complexion is faded: the calm and mild expression of the eyes is rendered turbid, as when a cloud intercepts the rays of the sunshine. It is a vulgar, (<greek>aneleuqeron</greek>) slave-like, thoroughly low-lived habit. How disgusting is a woman when from her breath you catch sour whiffs of fetid wine: a woman belching, giving out a fume (<greek>cumon</greek>) of decomposing meats; herself weighed down, unable to keep upright; her face flushed with an unnatural red; yawning incessantly, and everything swimming in a mist before her eyes! But not such, she that abstains from luxurious living: no (this abstinence makes her look) a more beautiful, well-bred (<greek>swfronestera</greek>)woman. For even to the body, the composure of the soul imparts a beauty of its own. Do not imagine that the impression of beauty results only from the bodily features. Give me a handsome girl, but turbulent (<greek>tetaragmenhn</greek>), loquacious, railing, given to drink, extravagant, (and tell me) if she is not worse-looking than any ugly woman? But if she were bashful, if she would hold her peace, if she learnt to blush, if to speak modestly (<greek>summetrws</greek>), if to find time for fastings; her beauty would be twice as great, her freshness would be heightened, her look more engaging, fraught with modesty and good breeding (<greek>swfrosinhs</greek> <greek>kai</greek> <greek>kothtos</greek>). Now then, shall we speak of men? What can be uglier than a man in drink? He is an object of ridicule to his servants, of ridicule to his enemies, of pity to his friends; deserving condemnation without end: a wild beast rather than a human being; for to devour much food is proper to panther, and lion, and bear. No wonder (that they do so), for those creatures have not a reasonable soul. And yet even they, if they be gorged with food more than they need, and beyond the measure appointed them by nature, get their whole body ruined by it: how much more we? Therefore hath God contracted our stomach into a small compass; therefore hath He marked out a small measure of sustenance, that He may instruct us to attend to the soul.

Let us consider our very make, and we shall see there is in us but one little part that has this operation--for our mouth and tongue are meant for singing hymns, our throat for voice--therefore the very necessity of nature has tied us down, that we may not, even involuntarily, get into much trouble (<greek>pragmateian</greek>) (in this way). Since, if indeed luxurious living had not its pains, nor sickness and infirmities, it might be tolerated: but as the case is, He hath stinted thee by restrictions of nature, that even if thou wish to exceed, thou mayest not be able to do so. Is not pleasure thine object, beloved? This thou shalt find from moderation. Is not health? This too thou shalt so gain. Is not easiness of mind? This too. Is not freedom? is not vigor and good habit of body, is not sobriety and alertness of mind? (All these thou shalt find); so entirely are all good things there, while in the other are the contraries to these, discomfort, distemper, disease, embarrassment--waste of substance (<greek>aneleuqeria</greek>). Then how comes it, you will ask, that we all run eagerly after this? It comes of disease. For say, what is it that makes the sick man hanker after the thing that does him harm? Is not this very hankering a part of his disease? Why is it that the lame man does not walk upright? This very thing, does it come of his being lazy, and not choosing to go to the physician? For there are some things, in which the pleasure they bring with them is temporary, but lasting the punishment: others just the contrary, in which the endurance is for a time, the pleasure perpetual. He, therefore, that has so little solidity and strength of purpose as not to slight present sweets for future, is soon overcome. Say, how came Esau to be overcome? how came he to prefer the present pleasure to the future honor? Through want of solidity and firmness of character. (Gen. xxv. 33.) And this fault itself, say you, whence comes it? Of our ownselves: and it is plain from this consideration. When we have the mind, we do rouse ourselves, and become capable of endurance. Certain it is, if at any time necessity comes upon us, nay, often only from a spirit of emulation, we get to see clearly what is useful for us. When therefore thou art about to indulge in luxury, consider how brief the pleasure, consider the loss--for loss it is indeed to spend so much money to one's own hurt--the diseases, the infirmities: and despise luxury. How many shall I enumerate who have suffered evils from indulgence? Noah was drunken, and was exposed in his nakedness, and see what evils came of this. (Gen. ix. 20.) Esau through greediness abandoned his birthright, and was set upon fratricide. The people of Israel "sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." (Ex. xxxii. 6.) Therefore saith the Scripture, "When thou hast eaten and drunken, remember the Lord thy God." (Deut. vi. 12.) For they fell over a precipice, in failing into luxury. "The widow," he saith, "that liveth in pleasure, is dead while she liveth" (1 Tim. v. 6): and again, "The beloved waxed sleek, grew thick, and kicked" (Deut. xxxii. 15): and again the Apostle, "Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." (Rom. xiii. 14.) I am not enacting as a law that there shall be fasting, for indeed there is no one who would listen; but I am doing away with daintiness, I am cutting off luxury for the sake of your own profit: for like a winter torrent, luxury overthrows all: there is nothing to stop its course: it casts out from a kingdom: what is the gain of it (<greek>ti</greek> <greek>to</greek> <greek>pleon</greek>)? Would you enjoy a (real) luxury? Give to the poor; invite Christ, so that even after the table is removed, you may still have this luxury to enjoy. For now, indeed, you have it not, and no wonder: but then you will have it. Would you taste a (real) luxury? Nourish your soul, give to her of that food to which she is used: do not kill her by starvation.--It is the time for war, the time for contest: and do you sit enjoying yourself? Do you not see even those who wield sceptres, how they live frugally while abroad on their campaigns? "We wrestle not against flesh and blood" (Eph. vi. 12); and are you fattening yourself when about to wrestle? The adversary stands grinding his teeth, and are you giving a loose to jollity, and devoting yourself to the table? I know that I speak these things in vain, yet not (in vain) for all. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Luke viii. 8.) Christ is pining through hunger, and are you frittering yourself away (<greek>diaspos</greek>) with gluttony? Two inconsistencies (<greek>Duo</greek> <greek>ametriai</greek>). For what evil does not luxury cause? It is contrary to itself: so that I know not. how it gets its name: but just as that is called glory, which is (really) infamy, and that riches, which in truth is poverty, so the name of luxury is given to that which in reality is nauseousness. Do we intend ourselves for the shambles, that we so fatten ourselves? Why cater for the worm that it may have a sumptuous larder? Why make more of their humors (<greek>icwras</greek>)? Why store up in yourself sources of sweat and rink smelling? Why make yourself useless for everything? Do you wish your eye to be strong? Get your body well strung? For in musical strings, that which is coarse and not refined, is not fit to produce musical tones, but that which has been well scraped, stretches well, and vibrates with full harmony. Why do you bury the soul alive? why make the wall about it thicker? Why increase the reek and the cloud, with fumes like a mist steaming up from all sides? If none other, let the wrestlers teach you, that the more spare the body, the stronger it is: and (then) also the soul is more vigorous. In fact, it is like charioteer and horse. But there you see, just as in the case of men giving themselves to luxury, and making themselves plump, so the plump horses are unwieldy, and give the driver much ado. One may think one's self (<greek>agaphton</greek>) well off, even with a horse obedient to the rein and well-limbed, to be able to carry off the prize: but when the driver is forced to drag the horse along, and when the horse falls, though he goad him ever so much, he cannot make him get up, be he ever so skilful himself, he will be deprived of the victory. Then let us not endure to see our soul wronged because of the body, but let us make the soul herself more clear-sighted, let us make her wing light, her bonds looser: let us feed her with discourse, with frugality, (feeding) the body only so much that it may be healthy, that it may be vigorous, that it may rejoice and not be in pain: that having in this sort well ordered our concerns, we may be enabled to lay hold upon the highest virtue, and to attain unto the eternal good things by the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father and Holy Ghost together, be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.


ACTS XIII. 4, 5.

"So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister."

AS soon as they were ordained they went forth, and hasted to Cyprus, that being a place where was no ill-design hatching against them, and where moreover the Word had been sown already. In Antioch there were (teachers) enough, and Phoenice too was near to Palestine; but Cyprus not so. However, you are not to make a question of the why and wherefore, when it is the Spirit that directs their movements: for they were not only ordained by the Spirit, but sent forth by Him likewise. "And when they were come to Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews." Do you mark how they make a point of preaching the word to them first, not to make them more contentious?[*] The persons mentioned before "spake to none but to Jews only" (ch. xi. 19), and so here they betook them to the synagogues. "And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith." (v. 6-8.) Again a Jew sorcerer, as was Simon. And observe this man, how, while they preached to the others, he did not take it much amiss, but only when they approached the proconsul. And then in respect of the proconsul the wonder is, that although prepossessed by the man's sorcery, he was nevertheless willing to hear the Apostles. So it was with the Samaritans: and from the competition (<greek>sugkrisews</greek>) the victory appears, the sorcery being worsted. Everywhere, vainglory and love of power are a (fruitful) source of evils! "But Saul, who is also Paul,"--(v. 9) here his name is changed at the same time that he is ordained, as it was in Peter's case,--"filled with the Holy Ghost, looked upon him, and said, O full of all guile and all villany, thou child of the devil:" (v. 10) and observe, this is not abuse, but accusation: for so ought forward, impudent people to be rebuked "thou enemy of all righteousness;" here he lays bare what was in the thoughts of the man, while under pretext of saving he was ruining the proconsul: "wilt thou not cease," he says, "to pervert the ways of the Lord?" (He says it) both confidently (<greek>axiopistws</greek>), It is not with us thou art warring, nor art thou fighting (with us), but "the ways of the Lord" thou art perverting, and with praise (of these, he adds) "the right" ways. "And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind." (v. 11.) It was the sign by which he was himself converted, and by this he would fain convert this man. As also that expression, "for a season," puts it not as an act of punishing, but as meant for his conversion: had it been for punishment, he would have made him lastingly blind, but now it is not so, but "for a season" (and this), that he may gain the proconsul. For, as he was prepossessed by the sorcery, it was well to teach him a lesson by this infliction (and the sorcerer also), in the same way as the magicians (in Egypt) were taught by the boils.[*] (Ex. ix. 11.) "And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness: add he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord." (v. 12.) But observe, how they do not linger there, as (they might have been tempted to do) now that the proconsul was a believer, nor are enervated by being courted i and honored, but immediately keep on with their work, and set out for the country on the opposite coast. "Now when Paul and his company loosed froth Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down." (v. 13, 14.) And here again they entered the synagogues, in the character of Jews, that they might not be treated as enemies, and be driven away: and in this way they carried the whole matter successfully. "And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on." (v. 15.) From this point, we learn the history of Paul's doings, as in what was said above we have learned not a little about Peter. But let us review what has been said.

(Recapitulation.) "And when they were come to Salamis," the metropolis of Cyprus, "they preached the word of God." (v. 5.) They had spent a year in Antioch: it behooved that they should go hither also (to Cyprus) and not sit permanently where they were (the converts in Cyprus): needed greater teachers. See too how they remain no time in Seleucia, knowing that (the people there) might have reaped much benefit from the neighboring city (of Antioch): but they hasten on to the more pressing duties. When they came to the metropolis of the island, they were earnest to disabuse (<greek>diorqwsai</greek>) the proconsul. But that it is no flattery that (the writer) says, "he was with the proconsul, a prudent man" (v. 7), you may learn from the facts; for he needed not many discourses, and himself wished to hear them. And[1] he mentions also the names. * * * Observe, how he said nothing to the sorcerer, until he gave him an occasion: but they only "preached the word of the Lord." Since (though Elymas) saw the rest attending to them, he looked only to this one object, that the proconsul might not be won over. Why did not (Paul) perform some other miracle? Because there was none equal to this, the taking the enemy captive. And observe, he first impeaches, and then punishes, him. He shows how justly the man deserved to suffer, by his saying, "O full of all deceit" (v. 10): (" full of all,") he says: nothing wanting to the full measure: and he well says, of all "deceit," for the man was playing the part of a hypocrite.--" Child of the devil," because he was doing his work: "enemy of all righteousness," since this (which they preached) was the whole of righteousness (though at the same time): I suppose in these words he reproves his manner of life. His words were not prompted by anger, and to show this, the writer premises, "filled with the Holy Ghost," that is, with His operation. "And now behold the hand of the Lord is upon thee." (v. 11.) It was not vengeance then, but healing: for it is as though he said: "It is not I that do it, but the hand of God." Mark how unassuming! No "light,"[2] aS in the case of Paul, "shone round about him." (ch. ix. 3.) "Thou shalt be blind," he says, "not seeing the sun for a season," that he may give him opportunity for repentance: for we nowhere find them wishing to be made conspicuous by the more stern (exercise of their authority), even though it was against enemies that this was put forth: in respect of those of their own body (they used severity,), and with good reason, but in dealing with those without, not so; that (the obedience of faith) might not seem to be matter of compulsion and fear. It is a proof of his blindness, his "seeking some to lead him by the hand." (ch. v. 1. ff.) And[1] the proconsul sees the blindness inflicted, "and when he saw what was done, he believed:" and both alone believed not merely this, but, "being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord" (v. 12): he saw that these things were not mere words, nor trickery. Mark how he loved to receive instruction from his teachers, though he was in a station of so high authority. And (Paul) said not to the sorcerer, "Wilt thou not cease to pervert" the proconsul?[2] What may be the reason of John's going back from them? For "John," it says, "departing from them returned to Jerusalem" (v. 13): (he does it) because they are undertaking a still longer journey: and yet he was their attendant, and as for the danger, they incurred it (not he).--Again, when they were come to Perga, they hastily passed by the other cities, for they were in haste to the metropolis, Antioch. And observe how concise the historian is. " They sat down in the synagogue," he says, and, "on the sabbath day" (v. 14, 15): that they might prepare the way beforehand for the Word. And they do not speak first, but when invited: since as strangers, they called upon them to do so. Had they not waited, there would have been no discourse. Here for the first time we have Paul preaching. And observe his prudence: where the word was already sown, he passes on: but where there was none (to preach), he makes a stay: as he himself writes: "Yea, so have I strived to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named." (Rom. xv. 20.) Great courage this also. Truly, from the very outset, a wonderful man! crucified, ready for all encounters (<greek>paratagmenos</greek>), he knew how great grace he had obtained, and he brought to it zeal equivalent. He was not angry with John: for this was not for him :[3] but he kept to the work, he quailed not, he was unappalled, when shut up in the midst of a host. Observe how wisely it is ordered that Paul should not preach at Jerusalem: the very hearing that he is become a believer, this of itself is enough for them; for him to preach, they never would have endured, such was their hatred of him: so he departs far away, where he was not known. But[4] it is well done, that "they entered the synagogue on the sabbath day" when all were collected together. "And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word or exhortation for the people, say on." (v. 15.) Behold how they do this without grudging, but no longer after this. If ye did wish this (really), there was more need to exhort.

He first convicted the sorcerer (and showed), what he was; and that he was such, the sign showed: "thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun" this was a sign of the blindness of his soul: "for a season" (v. 11): he says, to bring him to repentance. But, oh that love of rule! oh, that lust of vainglory! how it does overturn and ruin everything; makes people stand up against their own, against each other's salvation; renders them blind indeed, and dark, insomuch that they have even to seek for some to lead them by the hand! Oh that they did even this, oh that they did seek were it but some to lead them by the hand! But no, they no longer endure this, they take the whole matter into their own hands. (This vice) will let no man see:like a mist and thick darkness it spreads itself over them, not letting any see through it. What pleas shall we have to offer, we who for one evil affection, overcome another evil affection (supra p. 176), but not for the fear of God! For example, many who are both lewd and covetous, have for their niggardliness put a bridle upon their lust, while other such, on the contrary, have for pleasure's sake, despised riches. Again, those who are both the one and the other, have by the lust of vainglory overcome both, lavishing their money unsparingly, and practising temperance to no (good) purpose; others again, who are exceedingly vainglorious, have despised that evil affection, submitting to many vile disgraces for the sake of their amours, or for the sake of their money: others again, that they may satiate their anger, have chosen to suffer losses. without end, and care for none of them, provided only they may work their own will. And yet, what passion can do with us, the fear of God is impotent to effect! Why speak I of passion? What shame before men can do with us, the fear of God has not the strength to effect! Many are the things we do right and wrong, from a feeling of shame before men; but God we fear not. How many have been shamed by regard to the opinions of men into flinging away money! How many have mistakenly made it a point of honor to give themselves up to the service of their friends (only), to their hurt! How many from respect for their friendships have been shamed into numberless wrong acts! Since then both passion and regard for the opinion of men are able to put us upon doing wrong things and right, it is idle to say, "we cannot:" we can, if we have the mind: and we ought to have the mind. Why canst not thou overcome the love of glory, when others do overcome it, having the same soul as thou, and the same body; bearing the same form, and living the same life? Think of God, think of the glory that is from above: weigh against that the things present, and thou wilt quickly recoil from this worldly glory. If at all events thou covet glory, covet that which is glory, indeed. What kind of glory is it, when it begets infamy? What kind of glory, when it compels one to desire the honor of those who are inferior, and stands in need of that? Real honor is the gaining the esteem of those who are greater than one's self. If at all events thou art enamoured of glory, be thou rather enamoured of that which comes from God. If enamoured of that glory thou despisest this world's glory, thou shall see how ignoble this is: but so long as thou seest not that glory, neither wilt thou be able to see this, how foul it is, how ridiculous. For as those who are under the spell of some wicked, hideously ugly woman, so long as they are in love with her, cannot see her ill-favoredness, because their passion spreads a darkness over their judgment: so is it here also: so long as we are possessed with the passion, we cannot perceive what a thing it is. How then might we be rid of it? Think of those who (for the sake of glory) have spent countless sums, and now are none the better for it:[1] think of the dead, what glory they got, and (now) this glory is nowhere abiding, but all perished and come to naught: bethink thee how it is only a name, and has nothing real in it. For say, what is glory? give me some definition. "The being admired by all," you will say. With justice, or also not with justice? For if it be not with justice, this is not admiration, but crimination (<greek>kathgoria</greek>), and flattery, and misrepresentation (<greek>diabolh</greek>). But if you say, With justice, why that is impossible: for in the populace there are no right judgments; those that minister to their lusts, those are the persons they admire. And if you would (see the proof of this), mark those who give away their substance to the harlots, to the charioteers, to the dancers. But you will say, we do not mean these, but those who are just and upright, and able to do great and noble good acts. Would that they wished it, and they soon would do good: but as things are, they do nothing of the kind. Who, I ask you, now praises the just and upright man? Nay, it is just the contrary. Could anything be more preposterous than for a just man, when doing any such good act, to seek glory of the many--as if an artist of consummate skill, employed upon an Emperor's portrait, should wish to have the praises of the ignorant! Moreover, a man who looks for honor from men, will soon enough desist from the acts which virtue enjoins. If he will needs be gaping for their praises, he will do just what they wish, not what himself wishes. What then would I advise you? You must look only to God, to the praise that is from Him, perform all things which are pleasing to Him, and go after the good things (that are with Him), not be gaping for anything that is of man: for this mars both fasting and prayer and alms-giving, and makes all our good deeds void. Which that it be not our case, let us flee this passion. To one thing alone let us look, to the praise which is from God, to the being accepted of Him, to the commendation from our common Master; that, having passed through our present life virtuously, we may obtain the promised blessings together with them that love Him, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

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