HOMILIES OF
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
ON THE EPISTLE OF
ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE
TO THE COLOSSIANS
HOMILIES V TO VIII (CHAPTERS 1 TO 3)

HOMILY V.

COLOSSIANS i. 26--28.

"Even the mystery which hath been hid from all ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to His saints, to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ."

HAVING said what we have come to, and showed the lovingkindness of God and the honor, by the greatness of the things given, he introduces yet another consideration that heightens them, namely, that neither before us did any one know Him.(1) As he doth also in the Epistle to the Ephesians, saying, neither Angels, nor principalities, nor any other created power, but only the Son of God knew. (Eph. iii. 5, 9, 10.) And he said, not simply hid, but "quite hid," and that even if it hath but now come to pass, yet it is of old, and from the beginning God willed these things, and they were so planned out; but why, he saith not yet. "From the ages," from the beginning, as one might say. And with reason he calleth that a mystery, which none knew, save God. And where hid? In Christ; as he saith in the Epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. iii. 9), or as when the Prophet saith, "From everlasting even to everlasting Thou art." (Ps. xc. 2.) But now hath been manifested, he saith, "to His saints." So that it is altogether of the dispensation of God. "But now hath been manifested," he saith. He saith not, "is come to pass," but, "hath been manifested to His saints." So that it is even now still hid, since it hath been manifested to His saints alone.

Let not others therefore deceive you, for they know not. Why to them alone? "To whom He was pleased," he saith. See how everywhere He stops the mouth of their questions. "To whom God was pleased to make known," he saith. Yet His will is not without reason. By way of making them accountable for grace, rather than allowing them to have high thoughts, as though it were of their own achieving, he said, "To whom he was pleased to make known." "What is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles." He hath spoken loftily, and accumulated emphasis, seeking, out of his great earnestness, for amplification upon amplification. For this also is an amplification, the saying indefinitely, "The riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles." For it is most of all apparent among the Gentiles, as he also says elsewhere, "And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy." (Rom. xv. 9.) For the great glory of this mystery is apparent among others also, but much more among these. For, on a sudden, to have brought men more senseless than stones to the dignity of Angels, simply through bare words, and faith alone, without any laboriousness, is indeed glory and riches of mystery: just as if one were to take a dog, quite consumed with hunger and the mange, foul, and loathsome to see, and not so much as able to move, but lying cast out, and make him all at once into a man, and to display him upon the royal throne. They were wont to worship stones and the earth; but they learned that themselves are better both than the heaven and the sun, and that the whole world serveth them; they were captives and prisoners of the devil: on a sudden they are placed above his head, and lay commands on him and scourge him: from being captives and slaves to demons, they are become the body of The Master of the Angels and the Archangels; from not knowing even what God is, they are become all at once sharers even in God's throne. Wouldest thou see the countless steps they overleaped? First, they had to learn that stones are not gods; secondly, that they not only are not gods, but inferior even to men; thirdly, to brutes even; fourthly, to plants even; fifthly, they brought together the extremes:(1) that not only stones but not earth even, nor animals, nor plants, nor man, nor heaven; or, to begin again, that not stones, not animals, not plants, not elements, pot things above, not things below, not man, not demons, not Angels, not Archangels, not any of those Powers above, ought to be worshiped by the nature of man. Being drawn up,(2) as it were, from some deep, they had to learn that the Lord of all, He is God, that Him alone is it right to worship; that the virtuous life(3) is a good thing; that this present death is not death, nor this life, life; that the body is raised, that it becomes incorruptible, that it will ascend into heaven, that it obtains even immortality, that it standeth with Angels, that it is removed thither. But Him who was there below, having cleared at a bound all these steps, He has placed on high upon the throne, having made Him that was lower than the stones, higher in dominion than the Angels, and the Archangels, and the thrones, and the dominions. Truly "What is the riches of the glory of this mystery?" Just as if one should show a fool to be all at once made a philosopher; yea rather, whatsoever one should say, it would be as nothing: for even the words of Paul are undefined. "What is the riches," he saith, "of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you?" Again, they had to learn that He who is above, and who ruleth Angels and dominions, and all the other Powers, came down below, and was made Man, and suffered countless things, and rose again, and was received up.

All these things were of the mystery; and he sets them down together with lofty praise, saying, "Which is Christ in you?" But if He be in you, why seek ye Angels? "Of this mystery." For there are other mysteries besides. But this is really a mystery, which no one knew, which is marvelous, which is beside the common expectation, which was hid. "Which is Christ in you," he saith, "the hope of glory, whom we proclaim," bringing Him from above. "Whom we," not Angels: "teaching" and "admonishing": not imperiously nor using constraint, for this too is of God's lovingkindness to men, not to bring them to Him after the manner of a tyrant. Seeing it was a great thing he had said, "teaching," he added, "admonishing," which is rather like a father than an instructor. "Whom," saith he, "we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom." So that all wisdom is needed. That is, saying all things in wisdom. For the ability to learn such things exists not in every one. "That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." What sayest thou, "every man"? Yea; this is what we are earnestly desirous of doing, he saith. For what, if this do not come to pass? the blessed Paul endeavored. "Perfect." This then is perfection, the other is imperfect: so that if one have not even the whole of wisdom, he is imperfect. "Perfect in Christ Jesus," not in the Law, nor in Angels, for that is not perfection. "In Christ," that is, in the knowledge of Christ. For he that knows what Christ has done, will have higher thoughts than to be satisfied with Angels.

"In Christ Jesus"; ver. 29. "Whereunto I labor also, striving." And he said not, "I am desirous" merely, nor in any indifferent way, but "I labor, striving," with great earnestness, with much watching. If I, for your good, thus watch, much more ought ye. Then again, showing that it is of God, he saith, "according to His working which worketh in me mightily." He shows that this is the work of God. He, now, that makes me strong for this, evidently wills it. Wherefore also when beginning he saith, "Through the will of God." (Ver. 1.) So that it is not only out of modesty he so expresses himself, but insisting on the truth of the Word as well. "And striving." In saying this, he shows that many are fighting against him. Then great is his tender affection.

Chap. ii. v. 1. "For I would have you know how greatly I strive for you, and for them at Laodicea."

Then lest this should seem owing to their peculiar weakness, he joined others also with them, and as yet condemned them not. But why does he say, "And as many as have not seen my face in the flesh"? He shows here after a divine manner, that they saw him constantly in the Spirit. And he bears witness to their great love.

Ver. 2. 3. "That their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God the Father,(1) and of Christ: in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden."

Now henceforward he is hastening and in pangs to enter upon the doctrine, neither accusing them, nor clearing them of accusation. "I strive," he saith. To what end? That they may be knit together. What he means is something like this; that they may stand firm in the faith. He doth not however so express himself; but extenuates the matter of accusation. That is, that they may be united with love, not with necessity nor with force. For as I have said, he always avoids offending, by leaving it to themselves;(2) and therefore "striving," because I wish it to be with love, and willingly. For I do not wish it to be with the lips merely, nor merely that they shall be brought together, but "that their hearts may be comforted."

"Being knit together in love unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding." That is, that they may doubt about nothing, that they may be fully assured in all things. But I meant full assurance which is by faith, for there is a full assurance which cometh by arguments, but that is worthy of no consideration. I know, he saith, that ye believe, but I would have you fully assured: not "unto riches" only, but "unto all riches"; that your full assurance may be intense, as well as in all things. And observe the wisdom of this blessed one. He said not, "Ye do ill that ye are not fully assured," nor accused them; but, ye know not how desirous I am that ye may be fully assured, and not merely so, but with understanding. For seeing he spoke of faith; suppose not, he saith, that I meant barely and unprofitably, but with understanding and love. "That they may know the mystery of God the Father and of Christ." So that this is the mystery of God, the being brought unto Him by the Son. "And of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." But if they are in Him, then wisely also no doubt He came at this time. Wherefore then do some foolish persons object to Him, "See how He discourseth with the simpler sort." "In whom are all the treasures." He himself knows all things. "Hid," for think not in truth that ye already have all; they are hidden also even from Angels, not, from you only; so that you ought to ask all things from Him. He himself giveth wisdom and knowledge. Now by saying, "treasures," he shows their largeness, by "All," that He is ignorant of nothing, by "hid," that He alone knoweth.

Ver. 4. "This I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech."

Seest thou that he saith, I have therefore said this, that ye may not seek it from men. "Delude you," he saith, "with persuasiveness of speech." For what if any doth speak, and speak persuasively?

Ver. 5. "For though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit."

The direct thing to have said here was, "even though I be absent in the flesh, yet, nevertheless, I know the deceivers"; but instead he has ended with praise, "Joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ." "Your order," he means, your good order. "And the steadfastness of your faith in Christ." This is still more in the way of encomium. And he said not "faith," but steadfastness, as to soldiers standing in good order and firmly. Now that which is steadfast, neither deceit nor trial can shake asunder. Not only, he saith, have ye not fallen, but no one hath so much as thrown you into disorder. He hath set himself over them, that they may fear him as though present; for thus is order preserved. From solidity follows compactedness, for you will then produce solidity, when having brought many things together, you shall cement them compactedly and inseparably; thus a solidity is produced, as in the case of a wall. But this is the peculiar work of love; for those who were by themselves, when it hath closely cemented and knit them together, it renders solid. And faith, again, doeth the same thing; when it allows not reasonings to intrude themselves. For as reasonings divide, and shake loose, so faith causes solidity and compactness.

For seeing God hath bestowed upon us benefits surpassing man's reasoning, suitably enough He hath brought in faith. It is not possible to be steadfast, when demanding reasons. For behold all our lofty doctrines, how destitute they are of reasonings, and dependent upon faith alone. God is not anywhere, and is everywhere. What hath less reason in it than this? Each by itself is full of difficulty. For, indeed, He is not in place; nor is there any place in which He is. He was not made, He made not Himself, He never began to be. What reasoning will receive this, if there be not faith? Does it not seem to be utterly ridiculous, and more endless than a riddle?

Now that He hath no beginning, and is uncreate, and uncircumscribed, and infinite, is, as we have said, a manifest difficulty; but let us consider His incorporealness, whether we can search out this by reasoning. God is incorporeal. What is incorporeal? A bare word, and no more, for the apprehension has received nothing, has impressed nothing upon itself; for if it does so impress, it comes to nature, and what constitutes body. So that the mouth speaks indeed, but the understanding knows not what it speaks, save one thing only, that it is not body, this is all it knows. And why do I speak of God? In the case of the soul, which is created, inclosed, circumscribed, what is incorporealness? say! show! Thou canst not. Is it air? But air is body, even though it be not compact, and it is plain from many proofs that it is a yielding body. Fire is body, whilst the energy of the soul is bodiless. Wherefore? Since it penetrateth everywhere. If it is not(1) itself body, then that which is incorporeal exists in place, therefore it is circumscribed; and that which is circumscribed has figure; and figures are linear, and lines belong to bodies. Again, that which is without figure, what conception does it admit? It has no figure, no form, no outline. Seest thou how the understanding becomes dizzy?

Again, That Nature [viz. God's] is not susceptible of evil. But He is also good of His own will; it is therefore susceptible. But one may not so say, far be it! Again, was He brought into being, willing it, or not willing it? But neither may one say this. Again, circumscribes He the world, or no? If He circumscribes it not, He is Himself circumscribed, but if He circumscribes it, He is infinite in His nature. Again, circumscribes He Himself? If He circumscribes Himself, then He is not without beginning to Himself, but to us; therefore He is not in His nature withOUt beginning. Everywhere one must grant contradictories.

Seest thou how great the darkness is; and how everywhere there is need of faith. This it is, that is solid. But, if you will, let us come to things which are less than these. That substance hath an operation. And what in His case is operation? Is it a certain motion? Then He is not immutable: for that which is moved, is not immutable: for, from being motionless it becomes in motion. But nevertheless He is in motion, and never stands still. But what kind of motion, tell me; for amongst us there are seven kinds; down, up, in, out, right, left, circular, or, if not this, increase, decrease, generation, destruction, alteration. But is His motion none of these, but such as the mind is moved with? No, nor this either. Far be it! for in many things the mind is even absurdly moved. Is to will, to operate, or not? If to will is to operate, and He wills all men to be good, and to be saved (1 Tim. ii. 4), how comes it not to pass? But to will is one thing, to operate, another. To will then is not sufficient for operation. How then saith the Scripture, "He hath done whatsoever He willed"? (Ps. cxv. 3.) And again, the leper saith unto Christ, "If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean." (Matt. viii. 2.) For if this follows in company with the will, what is to be said? Will ye that I mention yet another thing? How were the things that are, made out of things that are not? How will they be resolved into nothing? What is above the heaven? And again, what above that? and what above that? and beyond that? and so on to infinity. What is below the earth? Sea, and beyond this, what? and beyond that again? Nay; to the right, and to the left, is there not the same difficulty?

But these indeed are things unseen. Will ye that I lead the discourse to those which are seen; those which have already happened? Tell me, how did the beast contain Jonah in its belly, without his perishing? Is it not void of reason, and its motions without control? How spared it the righteous man? How was it that the heat did not suffocate him? How was it that it putrefied him not? For if to be in the deep only, is past contriving, to be both in the creature's bowels, and in that heat, is very far more unaccountable. If from within we breathe(1) the air, how did the respiration suffice for two animals? And how did it also vomit him forth unharmed? And how too did he speak? And how too was he self-possessed, and prayed? Are not these things incredible? If we test them by reasonings, they are incredible, if by faith, they are exceeding credible.

Shall I say something more than this? The wheat in the earth's bosom decays, and rises again. Behold marvels, opposite, and each surpassing the other; marvelous is the not becoming corrupted, marvelous, after becoming so, is the rising again. Where are they that make sport of such things, and disbelieve the Resurrection and say, This bone how shall it be cemented to that? and introduce such like silly tales. Tell me, how did Elias ascend in a chariot of fire? Fire is wont to burn, not to carry aloft. How lives he so long a time? In what place is he? Why was this done? Whither was Enoch translated? Lives he on like food with us? and what is it hinders him from being here? Nay, but does he not eat? And wherefore was he translated? Behold how God schooleth us by little and little. He translated Enoch; no very great thing that. This instructed us for the taking up of Elias. He shut in Noe into the ark (Gen. vii. 7); nor is this either any very great thing. This instructed us for the shutting up of the prophet within the whale. Thus even the things of old stood in need of forerunners and types. For as in a ladder the first step sends on to the second, and from the first it is not possible to step to the fourth, and this sends one on to that, that that may be the way to the next; and as it is not possible either to get to the second before the first; so also is it here.

And observe the signs of signs, and thou wilt discern this in the ladder which Jacob saw. "Above," it is said, "the Lord stood fast, and underneath Angels were ascending and descending." (Gen. xxviii. 13.) It was prophesied that the Father hath a Son; it was necessary this should be believed. Whence wouldest thou that I show thee the signs of this? From above, downward? From beneath, upward? Because He begetteth without passion,(2) for this reason did she that was barren first bear. Let us rather go higher. It was necessary to be believed, that He begat of Himself. What then? The thing happens obscurely indeed, as in type and shadow, but still it doth happen, and as it goes on it becomes somehow clearer. A woman is formed out of man alone, and he remains whole and entire. Again, it was necessary there should be some sure sign of the Conception of a Virgin. So the barren beareth, not once only, but a second time and a third, and many times. Of His birth then of a Virgin, the barren is a type, and she sends the mind forward to faith. Again, this was a type of God being able to beget alone. For if man is the chief agent,(3) and birth takes place without him, in a more excellent way, much rather, is One begotten of the Chiefest Agent. There is still another generation, which is a type of the Truth. I mean, ours by the Spirit. Of this again the barren a type, the fact that it is not of blood (John i. 13); this pertains to the generation above. The one--as also the types--shows that the generation is to be without passion; the other, that it could proceed from one above.

Christ is above, ruling over all things: it was necessary this should be believed. The same takes place in the earth with respect to man. "Let Us make man after Our image and likeness" (Gen. i. 26), for dominion of all the brutes. Thus He instructed us, not by words, but by actions. Paradise showed the separateness of his nature, and that man was the best thing of all. Christ was to rise again; see now how many sure signs there were; Enoch, Elias, Jonas, the fiery furnace, the case of Noah, baptism, the seeds, the plants, our own generation, that of all animals. For since on this everything was at stake, it, more than any other, had abundance of types.

That the Universe(4) is not without a Providence we may conjecture from things amongst ourselves, for nothing will continue to exist, if not provided for; but even herds, and all other things stand in need of governance. And that the Universe was not made by chance, Hell is a proof, and so was the deluge in Noah's day, the fire,(5) the overwhelming of the Egyptians in the sea, the things which happened in the wilderness.

It was necessary too that many things should prepare the way for Baptism; yea, thousands of things; those, for instance, in the Old Testament, those in the Pool,(6) the cleansing of him that was not sound in health, the deluge itself, and all the things that have been done in water, the baptism of John.

It was necessary to be believed that God giveth up His Son; a man did this by anticipation, Abraham the Patriarch. Types then of all these things, if we are so inclined, we shall find by searching in the Scriptures. But let us not be weary, but attune ourselves by these things. Let us hold the faith steadfastly, and show forth strictness of life: that having through all things returned thanks to God, we may be counted worthy of the good things promised to them that love Him, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.

HOMILY VI.

COLOSSIANS ii. 6, 7.

"As therefore ye received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in your faith, even as ye were taught, abounding in thanksgiving."

AGAIN, he takes hold on them beforehand with their own testimony, saying, "As therefore ye received." We introduce no strange addition, he saith, neither do ye. "Walk ye in Him," for He is the Way that leadeth to the Father: not in the Angels; this way leadeth not thither. "Rooted," that is, fixed; not one while going this way, another that, but "rooted": now that which is rooted, never can remove. Observe how appropriate are the expressions he employs. "And built up," that is, in thought attaining unto Him. "And stablished" in Him, that is, holding Him, built as on a foundation. He shows that they had fallen down, for the word "built"(1) has this force. For the faith is in truth a building; and needs both a strong foundation, and secure construction. For both if any one build not upon a secure foundation it will shake; and even though he do, if it be not firm, it will not stand. "As ye were taught." Again, the word "As." "Abounding," he saith, "in thanksgiving"; for this is the part of well-disposed persons, I say not simply to give thanks, but with great abundance, more than ye learned, if possible, with much ambition.

Ver. 8. "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you."

Seest thou how he shows him to be a thief, and an alien, and one that enters in softly? For he has already represented him to be entering in. "Beware." And he well said "maketh spoil." As one digging away a mound from underneath, may give no perceptible sign, yet it gradually settles, so do you also beware; for this is his main point, not even to let himself be perceived. As if some one were robbing every day, and he (the owner of the house) were told, "Beware lest there be some one"; and he shows the way--through this way--as if we were to say, through this chamber;(2) so, "through philosophy," says he.

Then because the term "philosophy" has an appearance of dignity, he added, "and vain deceit." For there is also a good deceit; such as many have been deceived by, which one ought not even to call a deceit at all. Whereof Jeremiah speaks; "O Lord, Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived"(3) (Jer. xx. 7); for such as this one ought not to call a deceit at all; for Jacob also deceived his father, but that was not a deceit, but an economy. "Through his philosophy," he saith, "and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments(4) of the world, and not after Christ." Now he sets about to reprove their observance of particular(5) days, meaning by elements of the world the sun and moon;(6) as he also said in the Epistle to the Galatians, "How turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly elements?" (Gal. iv. 9.) And he said not observances of days, but in general of the present world, to show its worthlessness: for if the present world be nothing, much more then its elements. Having first shown how great benefits and kindnesses they had received, he afterwards brings on his accusation, thereby to show its greater seriousness, and to convict his hearers. Thus too the Prophets do. They always first point out the benefits, and then they magnify their accusation; as Esaias saith, "I have begotten children, and exalted them, but they have rejected me" (Isa. i. 2, Sept.); and again, "O my people, what have I done unto thee, or wherein have I grieved thee, or wherein have I wearied thee"? (Mic. vi. 3) and David; as when he says, "I heard thee in the secret place of the tempest" (Ps. lxxxi. 7, Sept.); and again, "Open thy mouth, and I will fill it." (Ps. lxxxi. 10.) And everywhere you will find it the same.

That indeed were most one's duty, not to be persuaded by them, even did they say aught to the purpose; as it is, however, obligations apart even, it would be our duty to shun those things. "And not after Christ," he saith. For were it in such sort a matter done by halves, that ye were able to serve both the one and the other not even so ought ye to do it; as it is, however, he suffers you not to be "after Christ." Those things withdraw you from Him. Having first shaken to pieces the Grecian observances, he next overthrows the Jewish ones also. For both Greeks and Jews practiced many observances, but the former from philosophy, the latter from the Law. First then, he makes at those against whom lay the heavier accusation. How, "not after Christ"?

Ver. 9, 10. "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily: and in Him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power."

Observe how in his accusing of the one he thrusts through the other, by first giving the solution, and then the objection. For such a solution is not suspected, and the hearer accepts it the rather, that the speaker is not making it his aim. For in that case indeed he would make a point of not coming off worsted, but in this, not so. "For in Him dwelleth," that is, for God dwelleth in Him. But that thou mayest not think Him enclosed, as in a body, he saith, "All the fullness of the Godhead bodily: and ye are made full in Him." Others say that he intends the Church filled by His Godhead, as he elsewhere saith, "of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. i. 23), and that the term "bodily" is here, as the body in the head. How is it then that he did not add, "which is the Church"? Some again say it is with reference to The Father, that he says that the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him, but wrongly.(1) First, because "to dwell," cannot strictly be said of God: next, because the "fullness" is not that which receives, for "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof" (Ps. xxiv. 1); and again the Apostle, "until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." (Rom. xi. 25.) By "fullness" is meant "the whole." Then the word "bodily," what did it intend? "As in a head." But why does he say the same thing over again? "And ye are made full in Him." What then does it mean? That ye have nothing less than He. As it dwelt in Him, so also in you. For Paul is ever straining to bring us near to Christ; as when he says, "Hath raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with Him" (Eph. ii. 6): and, "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Tim. ii. 12): and, "How shall He not also with Him freely give us all things" (Rom. viii. 32): and calling us "fellow-heirs." Then as for His dignity. And He "is the head of all principality and power." (Eph. iii. 6.) He that is above all, The Cause, is He not Consubstantial? Then he has added the benefit in a marvelous way; and far more marvelous than in the Epistle to the Romans. For there indeed he saith, "circumcision of the heart in the spirit, not in the letter" (Rom. ii. 29), but here, in Christ.

Ver. 11. "In whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ."

See how near he is come to the thing. He saith, "In the putting" quite away,(2) not putting off merely. "The body of sins." He means, "the old life." He is continually adverting to this in different ways, as he said above, "Who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and reconciled us who were alienated," that we should be "holy and without blemish." (Col. i. 13, 21.) No longer, he saith, is the circumcision with(3) the knife, but in Christ Himself; for no hand imparts this circumcision, as is the case there, but the Spirit. It circumciseth not a part, but the whole man. It is the body both in the one and the other case, but in the one it is carnally, in the other it is spiritually circumcised; but not as the Jews, for ye have not put off flesh, but sins. When and where? In Baptism. And what he calls circumcision, he again calls burial. Observe how he again passes on to the subject of righteous doings; "of the sins," he saith, "of the flesh," the things they had done in the flesh. He speaks of a greater thing than circumcision, for they did not merely cast away that of which they were circumcised, but they destroyed it, they annihilated it.

Ver. 12. "Buried with him," he saith, "in Baptism, wherein ye were also raised with Him, through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead."

But it is not burial only: for behold what he says, "Wherein ye were also raised with Him, through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." He hath well said, "of faith,"(4) for it is all of faith. Ye believed that God is able to raise, and so ye were raised. Then note also His worthiness of belief, "Who raised Him," he saith, "from the dead."

He now shows the Resurrection. "And you who sometime were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did He quicken together with Him." For ye lay under judgment of death. But even though ye died, it was a profitable death. Observe how again he shows what they deserved in the words he subjoins:

Ver. 13, 14, 15. "Having forgiven us all our trespasses; having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the Cross; having put off from himself the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly,(1) triumphing over them in it."

"Having forgiven us," he saith, "all our trespasses," those which produced that deadness. What then? Did He allow them to remain? No, He even wiped them out; He did not scratch them out merely; so that they could not be seen. "In doctrines"(2) [ordinances], he saith. What doctrines? The Faith. It is enough to believe. He hath not set works against works, but works against faith. And what next? Blotting out is an advance upon remission; again he saith, "And hath taken it out of the way." Nor yet even so did He preserve it, but rent it even in sunder, "by nailing it to His Cross." "Having put off from himself the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." Nowhere has he spoken in so lofty a strain.

Seest thou how great His earnestness that the bond should be done away? To wit, we all were under sin and punishment. He Himself, through suffering punishment, did away with both the sin and the punishment, and He was punished on the Cross. To the Cross then He affixed it; as having power, He tore it asunder. What bond? He means either that which they said to Moses, namely, "All that God hath said will we do, and be obedient" (Ex. xxiv. 3), or, if not that, this, that we owe to God obedience; or if not this, he means that the devil held possession of it, the bond which God made for Adam, saying, "In the day thou eatest of the tree, thou shalt die." (Gen. ii. 17.) This bond then the devil held in his possession. And Christ did not give it to us, but Himself tore it in two, the action of one who remits joyfully.

"Having put off from himself the principalities and the powers." He means the diabolical powers; because human nature had arrayed itself in these, or because they had,(3) as it were, a hold, when He became Man He put away from Himself that hold. What is the meaning of "He made a show of them"? And well said he so; never yet was the devil in so shameful a plight. For whilst expecting to have Him, he lost even those he had; and when That Body was nailed to the Cross, the dead arose. There death received his wound, having met his death-stroke from a dead body. And as an athlete, when he thinks he has hit his adversary, himself is caught in a fatal grasp; so truly doth Christ also show, that to die with confidence(4) is the devil's shame.

For he would have done everything to persuade men that He did not die, had he had the power. For seeing that of His Resurrection indeed all succeeding time was proof demonstrative; whilst of His death, no other time save that whereat it happened could ever furnish proof; therefore it was, that He died publicly in the sight of all men, but He arose not publicly, knowing that the after time would bear witness to the truth. For, that whilst the world was looking on, the serpent should be slain on high upon the Cross, herein is the marvel. For what did not the devil do, that He might die in secret? Hear Pilate saying, "Take ye Him away, and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him" (John xix. 6), and withstanding them in a thousand ways. And again the Jews said unto Him, "If Thou art the Son of God, come down from the Cross." (Matt. xxvii. 40.) Then further, when He had received a mortal wound, and He came not down, for this reason He was also committed to burial; for it was in His power to have risen immediately: but He did not, that the fact might be believed. And yet in cases of private death indeed, it is possible to impute them to a swoon, but here, it is not possible to do this either. For even the soldiers brake not His legs, like those of the others, that it might be made manifest that He was dead. And those who buried The Body are known; and therefore too the Jews themselves seal the stone along with the soldiers. For, what was most of all attended to, was this very thing, that it should not be in obscurity. And the witnesses to it are from enemies, from the Jews. Hear them saying to Pilate, "That deceiver said, while he was vet alive, After three days I rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre" (Matt. xxvi. 63, 64) be guarded by the soldiers. This was accordingly done, themselves also sealing it. Hear them further saying even afterwards to the Apostles, "Ye intend to bring this Man's blood upon us." (Acts v. 28.) He suffered not the very fashion of His Cross to be put to shame. For since the Angels have suffered nothing like it, He therefore doth everything for this, showing that His death achieved a mighty work. There was, as it were, a single combat. Death wounded Christ: but Christ, being wounded, did afterwards kill death. He that seemed to be immortal, was destroyed by a mortal body; and this the whole world saw. And what is truly wonderful is, that He committed not this thing to another. But there was made again a second bond of another kind than the former.

Beware then lest we be condemned by this, after saying, I renounce Satan, and array myself with Thee, O Christ. Rather however this should not be called "a bond," but a covenant. For that is "a bond," whereby one is held accountable for debts: but this is a covenant. It hath no penalty, nor saith it, If this be done or if this be not done: what Moses said when he sprinkled the blood of the covenant, by this God also promised everlasting life. All this is a covenant. There, it was slave with master, here it is friend with friend: there, it is said, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt die" (Gen. ii. 17); an immediate threatening; but here is nothing of the kind. God arrives, and here is nakedness, and there was nakedness; there, however, one that had sinned was made naked, because he sinned, but here, one is made naked, that he may be set free. Then, man put off the glory which he had; now, he puts off the old man; and before going up (to the contest), puts him off as easily, as it were his garments.(1) He is anointed,(2) as wrestlers about to enter the lists. For he is born at once; and as that first man was, not by little and little, but immediately. (He is anointed,) not as the priests of old time, on the head alone, but rather in more abundant measure. For he indeed was anointed on the head, the right ear, the hand (Lev. viii. 23, 24); to excite him to obedience, and to good works; but this one, all over. For he cometh not to be instructed merely; but to wrestle, and to be exercised; he is advanced to another creation. For when one confesses (his belief) in the life everlasting,(3) he has confessed a second creation. He took dust from the earth, and formed man (Gen. ii. 7): but now, dust no longer, but the Holy Spirit; with This he is formed, with this harmonized, even as Himself was in the womb of the Virgin. He said not in Paradise, but "in Heaven." For deem not that, because the subject is earth, it is done on earth; he is(4) removed thither, to Heaven, there these things are transacted, in the midst of Angels: God taketh up thy soul above, above He harmonizeth it anew, He placeth thee near to the Kingly Throne. He is formed in the water, he receiveth spirit instead of a soul.(5) And after he is formed, He bringeth to him, not beasts, but demons, and their prince, and saith, "Tread upon serpents and scorpions." (Luke x. 19.) He saith not, "Let Us make man in our image, and after our likeness" (Gen. i. 26), but what? "He giveth them to become the sons of God; but of God," he saith, "they were born." (John i. 12, 13.) Then that thou give no ear to the serpent, straightway he teaches thee to say, "I renounce thee," that is, "whatsoever thou sayest, I will not hear thee." Then, that he destroy thee not by means of others, it is said,(6) "and thy pomp, and thy service, and thy angels." He hath set him no more to keep Paradise, but to have his citizenship in heaven. For straightway when he cometh up he pronounceth these words, "Our Father, Which art in Heaven, . . . Thy will be done, as in Heaven, so on earth." The plain falleth not on thy sight,(7) thou seest not tree, nor fountain, but straightway thou takest into thee the Lord Himself, thou art mingled with His Body, thou art intermixed with that Body that lieth above, whither the devil cannot approach. No woman is there, for him to approach, and deceive as the weaker; for it is said, "There is neither female, nor male." (Gal. iii. 28.) If thou go not down to him, he will not have power to come up where thou art; for thou art in Heaven, and Heaven is unapproachable by the devil. It hath no tree with knowledge of good and evil, but the Tree of Life only. No more shall woman be formed from thy side, but we all are one from the side of Christ. For if they who have been anointed of men take no harm by serpents, neither wilt thou take any harm at all, so long as thou art anointed; that thou mayst be able to grasp the Serpent and choke him, "to tread upon serpents and scorpions." (Luke x. 19.) But as the gifts are great, so is the punishment great also. It is not possible for him that hath fallen from Paradise, to dwell "in front of Paradise"(1) (Gen. iii. 24), nor to reascend thither from whence we have fallen. But what after this? Hell, and the worm undying. But far be it that any of us should become amenable to this punishment! but living virtuously, let us earnestly strive to do throughout His will. Let us become well-pleasing to God, that we may be able both to escape the punishment, and to obtain the good things eternal, of which may we all be counted worthy, through the grace and love toward man, &c.

HOMILY VII.

COLOSSIANS ii. 16-19.

"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day, or a new moon, or a sabbath day: which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ's. Let no man rob you of your prize by a voluntary humility and worshiping of the Angels, dwelling in the things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast the Head, from whom all the body being supplied and knit together, through the joints and bands, increaseth with the increase of God."

HAVING first said darkly, "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you after the tradition of men" (ver. 8); and again, further back, "This, I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech" (ver. 4); thus preoccupying their soul, and working in it anxious thoughts; next, having inserted those benefits, and increased this effect, he then brings in his reproof last, and says, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day, or a new moon, or a sabbath day." Seest thou how he depreciates them? If ye have obtained such things, he saith, why make yourselves accountable for these petty matters? And he makes light of them, saying, "or in the part(2) of a feast day,"" for in truth they did not retain the whole of the former rule, "or a new moon, or a sabbath day." He said not, "Do not then observe them," but, "let no man judge you." He showed that they were transgressing, and undoing, but he brought his charge against others. Endure not those that judge you, he saith, nay, not so much as this either, but he argues with those persons, almost stopping their mouths, and saying, Ye ought not to judge. But he would not have reflected on these. He said not "in clean and unclean," nor yet "in feasts of Tabernacles, and unleavened bread, and Pentecost," but "in part of a feast": for they ventured not to keep the whole; and if they did observe it, yet not so as to celebrate the feast. "In part," he saith, showing that the greater part is done away. For even if they did keep sabbath, they did not do so with precision. "Which are a shadow of the things to come"; he means, of the New Covenant; "but the body" is "Christ's." Some persons here punctuate thus "but the body" is "of Christ," i.e. the truth is come in with Christ: others thus; "The Body of Christ let no man adjudge away from you," that is, thwart you of it. The term <greek>katabrabeuqhnai</greek>, is employed when the victory is with one party, and the prize with another, when though a victor thou art thwarted. Thou standest above the devil and sin; why dost thou again subject thyself to sin? Therefore he said that "he is a debtor to fulfill the whole law" (Gal. v. 3); and again, "Is Christ" found to be "the minister of sin" (Gal. ii. 17)? which he said when writing to the Galatians. When he had filled them with anger through saying, "adjudge away from you," then he begins; "being a voluntary,"(3) he saith, "in humility and worshiping of Angels, intruding into things he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind." How "in humility," or how "puffed up "? He shows that the whole arose out of vainglory. But what is on the whole the drift of what is said? There are some who maintain that we must be brought near by Angels, not by Christ, that were too great a thing for us. Therefore it is that he turns over and over again what has been done by Christ, "through the Blood of His Cross" (c. i. 20); on this account he says that "He suffered for us"; that "He loved us." (1 Pet. ii. 21.) And besides in this very same thing, moreover, they were elevated afresh. And he said not "introduction by," but "worshiping of" Angels. "Intruding into things he hath not(4) seen." (Eph. ii. 4.) For he hath not seen Angels, and yet is affected as though he had. Therefore he saith, "Puffed up by his fleshly mind vainly," not about any true fact. About this doctrine, he is puffed up, and puts forward a show of humility. By his carnal mind, not spiritual; his reasoning is of man. "And not holding fast the Head," he saith, "from whom all the body." All the body thence hath its being, and its well-being. Why, letting go the Head, dost thou cling to the members? If thou art fallen off from it, thou art lost. "From whom all the body." Every one, be he who he may, thence has not life only, but also even connection. All the Church, so long as she holds The Head, increaseth; because here is no more passion of pride and vainglory, nor invention of human fancy.

Mark that "from(1) whom," meaning the Son. "Through the joints and bands," he says, "being supplied, and knit together, increases with the increase of God"; he means, that which is according to God, that of the best life. Ver. 20. "If ye died with Christ."

He puts that in the middle, and on either side, expressions of greater vehemence. "If ye died with Christ from the elements of the world," he saith, "why as though living in the world do ye subject yourselves to ordinances?" This is not the consequence, for what ought to have been said is, "how as though living are ye subject to those elements?" But letting this pass, what saith he?

Ver. 21, 22. "Handle not, nor taste, nor touch; all which things are to perish with the using; after the precepts and doctrines of men."

Ye are not in the world, he saith, how is it ye are subject to its elements? how to its observances? And mark how he makes sport of them, "touch not, handle not, taste not," as though they were cowards and keeping themselves clear of some great matters, "all which things are to perish with the using." He has taken down the swollenness of the many, and added, "after the precepts and doctrines of men." What sayest thou? Dost thou speak even of the Law? Henceforth it is but a doctrine of men, after the time is come.(2) Or, because they adulterated it, or else, he alludes to the Gentile institutions. The doctrine, he says, is altogether of man.

Ver. 23. "Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh."

"Show," he saith; not power, not truth. So that even though they have a show of wisdom, let us turn away from them. For he may seem to be a religious person, and modest, and to have a contempt for the body.

"Not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh." For God hath given it honor, but they use it not with honor. Thus, when it is a doctrine, he knows how to call it honor. They dishonor the flesh, he says, depriving it, and stripping it of its liberty, not giving leave to rule it with its will. God hath honored the flesh.

Chap. iii. ver. 1. "If then ye were raised together with Christ."

He brings them together, having above established that He died. Therefore he saith, "If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above." No observances are there. "Where Christ is seated on the right hand of God." Wonderful! Whither hath he led our minds aloft! How hath he filled them with mighty aspiration! It was not enough to say, "the things that are above," nor yet, "where Christ is," but what? "seated on the right hand of God." From that point he was preparing them henceforward to see the earth.

Ver. 2, 3, 4. "Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life shall be manifested, then shall ye also with Him be manifested in glory."

This is not your life, he saith, it is some other one. He is now urgent to remove them, and insists upon showing that they are seated above, and are dead; from both considerations establishing the position, that they are not to seek the things which are here. For whether ye be dead, ye ought not to seek them; or Whether ye be above, ye ought not to seek them. Doth Christ appear? Neither doth your life. It is in God, above. What then? When shall we live? When Christ shall be manifested, who is your life; then seek ye glory, then life, then enjoyment.

This is to prepare the way for drawing them off from pleasure and ease. Such is his wont: when establishing one position, he darts off to another; as, for instance, when discoursing of those who at supper were beforehand with one another, he all at once falls upon the observance of the Mysteries.(3) For he hath a great rebuke when it is administered unsuspected. "It is hid," he saith, from you. "Then shall ye also with Him be manifested." So that, now, ye do not appear. See how he hath removed them into the very heaven. For, as I said, he is always bent upon showing that they have the very same things which Christ hath; and through all his Epistles, the tenor is this, to show that in all things they are partakers with Him. Therefore he uses the terms, Head, and Body, and does everything to convey this to them.

If therefore we shall then be manifested, let us not grieve, when we enjoy not honor: if this life be not life, but it be hidden, we ought to live this life as though dead. "Then shall ye also," he saith, "with Him be manifested in glory." "In glory," he said, not merely "manifested." For the pearl too is hidden so long as it is within the oyster. If then we be treated with insult, let us not grieve; or whatever it be we suffer; for this life is not our life, we are strangers and sojourners. "For ye died," he saith. Who is so witless, as for a corpse, dead and buried, either to buy servants, or build houses, or prepare costly raiment? None. Neither then do ye; but as we seek one thing only, namely, that we be not in a naked state, so here too let us seek one thing and no more. Our first man is buried: buried not in earth, but in water; not death-destroyed, but buried by death's destroyer, not by the law of nature, but by the governing command that is stronger than nature. For what has been done by nature, may perchance be undone; but what has been done by His command, never. Nothing is more blessed than this burial, whereat all are rejoicing, both Angels, and men, and the Lord of Angels. At this burial, no need is there of vestments, nor of coffin, nor of anything else of that kind. Wouldest thou see the symbol of this? I will show thee a pool wherein the one was buried the other raised; in the Red Sea the Egyptians were sunk beneath it, but the Israelites went up from out of it; in the same act he buries the one, generates the other.

Marvel not that generation and destruction take place in Baptism; for, tell me, dissolving and cementing, are they not opposite? It is evident to all. Such is the effect of fire; for fire dissolves and destroys wax, but it cements together metallic earth, and works it into gold. So in truth here also, the force of the fire, having obliterated the statue of wax, has displayed a golden one in its stead; for in truth before the Bath we were of clay, but after it of gold. Whence is this evident? Hear him saying, "The first man is of the earth, earthy, the second man is the Lord from heaven." (1 Cor. xv. 47.) I spoke of a difference as great as that between clay and gold; but greater still do I find the difference between heavenly and earthy; not so widely do clay and gold differ, as do things earthy and heavenly. Waxen we were, and clay-formed. For the flame of lust did much more melt us, than fire doth wax, and any chance temptation did far rather shatter us than a stone doth things of clay. And, if ye will, let us give an outline of the former life, and see whether all was not earth and water, and full of fluctuation and dust, and instability, and flowing away.

And if ye will, let us scrutinize not the former things, but the present, and see whether we shall not find everything that is, mere dust and water. For what wilt thou tell me of? authority and power? for nothing in this present life is thought to be more enviable than these. But sooner may one find the dust when on the air stationary, than these things; especially now. For to whom are they not under subjection? To those who are lovers of them; to eunuchs; to those who will do anything for the sake of money; to the passions of the populace; to the wrath of the more powerful. He who was yesterday up high on his tribunal,(1) who had his heralds shouting with thrilling voice, and many to run before, and haughtily clear the way for i him through the forum, is to-day mean and low, and of all those things bereft and bare, like dust blast-driven, like a stream that hath passed by. And like as the dust is raised by our feet, so truly are magistracies also produced by those who are engaged about money, and in the whole of life have the rank and condition of feet; and like as the dust when it is raised occupies a large portion of the air, though itself be but a small body, so too doth power; and like as the dust blindeth the eyes, so too doth the pride of power bedim the eyes of the understanding.

But what? Wilt thou that we examine that object of many prayers, wealth? Come, let us examine it in its several parts. It hath luxury, it hath honors, it hath power. First then, if thou wilt, let us examine luxury. Is it not dust? yea, rather, it goeth by swifter than dust, for the pleasure of luxurious living reacheth only to the tongue, and when the belly is filled, not to the tongue even. But, saith one, honors are of themselves pleasant things. Yet what can be less pleasant than that same honor, when it is rendered with a view to money? When it is not from free choice and with a readiness of mind, it is not thou that reapest the honor, but thy wealth. So that this very thing makes the man of wealth, most of all men, dishonored. For, tell me; suppose all men honored thee, who hadst a friend; the while confessing that thou, to be sure, wert good for nothing, but that they were compelled to honor thee on his account; could they possibly in any other way have so dishonored thee? So that our wealth is the cause of dishonor to us, seeing it is more honored than are its very possessors, and a proof rather of weakness than of power. How then is it not absurd that we are not counted of as much value as earth and ashes, (for such is gold,) but that we are honored for its sake? With reason. But not so he that despiseth wealth; for it were better not to be honored at all, than so honored. For tell me, were one to say to thee, I think thee worthy of no honor at all, but for thy servants' sakes I honor thee, could now anything be worse than this dishonor? But if to be honored for the sake of servants, who are partakers of the same soul and nature with ourselves, be a disgrace, much more then is it such, to be honored for the sake of meaner things, such as the walls and courts of houses, and vessels of gold, and garments. A scorn indeed were this, and shame; better die than be so honored. For, tell me, if thou wert in peril in this thy pride, and some low and disgusting person were to be willing to extricate thee from thy peril, what could be worse than this? What ye say one to another about the city, I wish to say to you. Once on a time our(1) city gave offense to the Emperor,(2) and he gave orders that the whole of it should utterly be destroyed, men, children, houses, and all. (For such is the wrath of kings, they indulge their power as much as ever they choose, so great an evil is power.) It was then in the extremest of perils. The neighboring city, however, this one on the sea-coast, went and besought the king in our behalf: upon which the inhabitants of our city said that this was worse than if the city had been razed to the ground. So, to be thus honored is worse than being dishonored. For see whence honor hath its root. The hands of cooks procure us to be honored, so that to them we ought to feel gratitude; and swineherds supplying us with a rich table, and weavers, and spinners, and workers in metal, and confectioners, and table furnishers.

Were it not then better not to be honored at all, than to be beholden to these for the honor? And besides this, moreover, I will endeavor to prove clearly that opulence is a condition full of dishonor; it embases the soul; and what is more dishonorable than this? For tell me, suppose one had a comely person, and passing all in beauty, and wealth were to go to him and promise to make it ugly, and instead of healthy, diseased, instead of cool, inflamed; and having filled every limb with dropsy, were to make the countenance bloated, and distend it all over; and were to swell out the feet, and make them heavier than logs, and to puff up the belly, and make it larger than any turn; and after this, it should promise not even to grant permission to cure him, to those who should be desirous of doing so, (for such is the way with power,) but would give him so much liberty as to punish any one that should approach him to withdraw him from what was harming him; well then, tell me, when wealth works these effects in the soul, how can it be honorable?

But this power is a more grievous thing than the disease itself; as for one in disease not to be obedient to the physician's injunctions is a more serious evil than the being diseased; and this is the case with wealth, seeing it creates inflammation in every part of the soul, and forbids the physicians to come near it. So let us not felicitate these on the score of their power, but pity them; for neither were I to see a dropsical patient lying, and nobody forbidding him to take his fill of whatever drinks he pleased and of meats that are harmful, would I felicitate him because of his power. For not in all cases is power a good thing, nor are honors either, for these too fill one with much arrogance. But if thou wouldest not choose that the body should along with wealth contract such a disease, how comest thou to overlook the soul, and when contracting not this scourge alone, but another also? For it is on fire all over with burning fevers and inflammations, and that burning fever none can quench, for wealth will not allow of this, having persuaded it that those things are gains, which are really losses, such as not enduring any one and doing everything at will. For no other soul will one find so replete with lusts so great and so extravagant, as theirs who are desirous of being rich. For what silly trifles do they not picture to themselves! One may see these devising more extravagant things than limners of hippocentaurs, and chimæras, and dragon-footed things, and Scyllas, and monsters. And if one should choose to give a picture of one lust of theirs, neither Scylla, nor chimæra, nor hippocentaur will appear anything at all by the side of such a prodigy; but you will find it to contain every wild beast at once.

And perchance some one will suppose that I have been myself possessed of much wealth, seeing I am so true to what really comes of it. It is reported of one (for I will first confirm what I have said from the legends of the Greeks)--it is reported amongst them of a certain king, that he became so insolent in luxury, as to make a plane tree of gold,(3) and a sky above it, and there sate, and this too when invading a people skilled in warfare. Now was not this lust hippocentaurean, was it not Scyllæan? Another, again, used(1) to cast men into a wooden bull. Was not this a very Scylla? And even him,(2) the king I just mentioned, the warrior,(3) wealth made, from a man a woman, from a woman, what shall I say? a brute beast, and yet more degraded than this for the beasts, if they lodge under a tree, take up with nature, and seek for nothing further but the man in question overshot the nature even of beasts.

What then can be more senseless than are the wealthy? And this arises from the greediness of their desires. But, are there not many that admire him? Therefore truly do they share in the laughter he incurs. That displayed not his wealth but his folly. How much better than that golden plane tree is that which the earth produceth! For the natural is more grateful than the unnatural. But what meant that thy golden heaven, O senseless one? Seest thou how wealth that is abundant maketh men mad? How it inflamed them? I suppose he knows not the sea even, and perchance will presently have a mind to walk upon it.(4) Now is not this a chimæra? is it not a hippocentaur? But there are, at this time also, some who fall not short even of him, but are actually much more senseless. For in point of senselessness, wherein do they differ, tell me, from that golden plane tree, who make silver jars, pitchers, and scent bottles? And wherein do those women differ, (ashamed indeed I am, but it is necessary to speak it,) who make chamber utensils of silver?(5) It is ye should be ashamed, that are the makers of these things. When Christ is famishing, dost thou so revel in luxury? yea rather, so play the fool! What punishment shall these not suffer? And inquirest thou still, why there are robbers? why murderers? why such evils? when the devil has thus made you ridiculous. For the mere having of silver dishes indeed, this even is not in keeping with a soul devoted to wisdom, but is altogether a piece of luxury; but the making unclean vessels also of silver, is this then luxury? nay, I will not call it luxury, but senselessness; nay, nor yet this, but madness; nay rather, worse than even madness. I know that many persons make jokes at me for this; but I heed them not, only let some good result from it. In truth, to be wealthy does make people senseless and mad. Did their power reach to such an excess, they would have the earth too of gold, and walls of gold, perchance the heaven too, and the air of gold. What a madness is this, what an iniquity, what a burning fever! Another, made after the image of God, is perishing of cold; and dost thou furnish thyself with such things as these? O the senseless pride! What more would a madman have done? Dost thou pay such honor to thine excrements, as to receive them in silver? I know that ye are shocked at hearing this; but those women that make such things ought to be shocked, and the husbands that minister to such distempers. For this is wantonness, and savageness, and inhumanity, and brutishness, and lasciviousness. What Scylla, what chimæra, what dragon, yea rather what demon, what devil would have acted on this wise? What is the benefit of Christ? what of the Faith? when one has to put up with men being heathens, yea rather, not heathens, but demons? If to adorn the head with gold and pearls be not right; one that useth silver for a service so unclean, how shall he obtain pardon? Is not the rest enough, although even it is not bearable, chairs and footstools all of silver? although even these come of senselessness. But everywhere is excessive pride; everywhere is vainglory. Nowhere is it use, but everywhere excess.

I am afraid lest, under the impulse of this madness, the race of woman should go on to assume some portentous form: for it is likely that they will wish to have even their hair of gold. Else declare that ye were not(6) at all affected by what was said, nor were excited greatly, and fell a longing, and had not shame withheld you, would not have refused. For if they dare to do what is even more absurd than this, much more, I think, will they long for their hair, and lips, and eyebrows, and every part to be overlaid with molten gold.

But if ye are incredulous, and think I am speaking in jest, I will relate what I have heard, or rather what is now existing. The king of the Persians wears his beard golden; those who are adepts at such work winding leaf of gold about his hairs as about the woof, and it is laid up as a prodigy.

Glory to Thee, O Christ; with how many good things hast Thou filled us! How hast Thou provided for our health! From how great monstrousness, from how great unreasonableness, hast Thou set us free! Mark! I forewarn you, I advise no longer; but I command and charge; let him that wills, obey, and him that wills not, be disobedient; that if ye women do continue thus to act, I will not suffer it, nor receive you, nor permit you to pass across this threshold. For what need have I of a crowd of distempered people? And what if, in my training of you, I do not forbid what is not(1) excessive? And yet Paul forbade both gold and pearls. (1 Tim. ii. 9.) We are laughed at by the Greeks, our religion appears a fable.

And to the men I give this advice: Art thou come to school to be instructed in spiritual philosophy? Divest thyself of that pride! This is my advice both to men and women; and if any act otherwise, henceforward I will not suffer it. The disciples were but twelve, and hear what Christ saith unto them, "Would ye also go away?" (John vi. 67.) For if we go on for ever flattering you, when shall we reclaim you? when shall we do you service? "But," saith one, "there are other sects, and people go over." This is a cold argument, "Better is one that doeth the will of the Lord, than ten thousand transgressors." (Ecclus. xvi. 3.) For, what wouldest thou choose thyself, tell me; to have ten thousand servants that were runaways and thieves, or a single one that loved thee? Lo! I admonish and command you to break up both those gay deckings for the face, and such vessels as I have described, and give to the poor, and not to be so mad.

Let him that likes quit me at once; let him that likes accuse me, I will not suffer it in any one. When I am about to be judged at the Tribunal of Christ, ye stand afar off, and your favor, while I am giving in my account. "Those words have ruined all! he says,(3) 'let him not(4) go and transfer himself to another sect!' Nay! he is weak! condescend to him!" To what point? Till when? Once, and twice, and thrice, but not perpetually.

Lo! I charge you again, and protest after the pattern of the blessed Paul, "that if I come again I will not spare." (2 Cor. xiii. 2.) But when ye have done as ye ought, then ye will know how great the gain is, how great the advantage. Yes! I entreat and beseech you, and would not refuse to clasp your knees and supplicate you(5) in this behalf. What softness is it! What luxury, what wantonness! This is not luxury, but wantonness. What senselessness is it! What madness! So many poor stand around the Church; and though the Church has so many children, and so wealthy, she is unable to give relief to even one poor person; "but one is hungry, and another is drunken" (1 Cor. xi. 21); one voideth his excrement even into silver, another has not so much as bread! What madness! what brutishness so great as this? May we never come to the proof, whether we will prosecute the disobedient, nor to the indignation which allowing(6) these practices would cause us; but that willingly and with patience we may avoid all this, that we may live to God's glory, and be delivered from, the punishment in the other world, and may obtain the good things promised to those who love Him, through the grace and love toward man, &c.

HOMILY VIII.

COLOSSIANS iii. 5-7.

"Mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things' sake, cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience; in the which ye also walked aforetime, when ye lived in these things."

I KNOW that many are offended by the foregoing discourse, but what can I do? ye heard what the Master enjoined. Am I to blame? what shall I do? See ye not the creditors, when debtors are obstinate, how they wear(2) collars? Heard ye what Paul proclaimed today? "Mortify" he saith, "your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." What is worse than such a covetousness? This is worse than any desire. This is still more grievous than what I was speaking of, the madness, and the silly weakness about silver. "And covetousness," he saith, "which is idolatry." See in what the evil ends. Do not, I pray, take what I said amiss, for not by my own good-will, nor without reason, would I have enemies; but I was wishful ye should attain to such virtue, as that I might hear of you the things I ought.(1) So that I said it not for authority's sake, nor of imperiousness,(2) but out of pain and of sorrow. Forgive me, forgive! I have no wish to violate decency by discoursing upon such subjects, but I am compelled to it.

Not for the sake of the sorrows of the poor do I say these things, but for your salvation; for they will perish, will perish, that have not fed Christ. For what, if thou dost feed some poor man? still so long as thou livest so voluptuously and luxuriously, all is to no purpose. For what is required is, not the giving much, but not too little for the property thou hast; for this is but playing at it.

"Mortify therefore your members," he saith, "which are upon the earth." What sayest thou? Was it not thou that saidst, "Ye are buried; ye are buried together with Him; ye are circumcised: we have put off the body of the sins of the flesh" (c. ii. 11, 12; Rom. vi. 4); how then again sayest thou, "Mortify"?(3) Art thou sporting? Dost thou thus discourse, as though those things were in us? There is no contradiction; but like as if one, who has clean Scoured a statue that was filthy, or rather who has recast it, and displayed it bright afresh,(4) should say that the rust was eaten off and destroyed, and yet should again recommend diligence in clearing away the rust, he doth not contradict himself, for it is not that rust which he scoured off that he recommends should be cleared away, but that which grew afterwards; so it is not that former putting to death he speaks of, nor those fornications, but those which do afterwards grow.

He said that this is not our life, but another, that which is in heaven. Tell me now. When he said, Mortify your members that are upon the earth, is then the earth also accused? or does he speak of the things upon the earth as themselves sins?(5) "Fornication, uncleanness," he saith. He has passed over the actions which it is not becoming even to mention, and by "uncleanness" has expressed all together.

"Passion," he said, "evil desire."

Lo! he has expressed the whole in the class. For envy, anger, sorrow, all are "evil desire."

"And covetousness," he saith, "which is idolatry. For which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience."

By many things he had been withdrawing them; by the benefits which are already given, by the evils to come from which we had been delivered, being who, and wherefore; and all those considerations, as, for instance, who we were, and in what circumstances, and that we were delivered therefrom, how, and in what manner, and on what terms. These were enough to turn one away, but this one is of greater force than all; unpleasant indeed to speak of, not however to disservice, but even serviceable. "For which things' sake cometh," he saith, "the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience." He said not, "upon you," but, "upon the sons of disobedience."

"In the which ye also walked aforetime, when ye lived in them." In order to shame them, he saith, "when ye lived in them," and implying praise, as now no more so living: at that time they might.

Ver. 8. "But now put ye also away all these."

He speaks always both universally and particularly; but this is from earnestness.

Ver. 8, 9. "Anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth. Lie not one to another."

"Shameful speaking," he saith, "out of your mouth," clearly intimating that it pollutes it.

Ver. 9, 10. "Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man, which is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of Him that created him."

It is worth enquiring here, what can be the reason why he calls the corrupt life, "members," and "man," and "body," and again the virtuous life, the same. And if "the man" means "sins," how is it that he saith, "with his doings"? For once he said, "the old man," showing that this is not man, but the other. The moral choice doth rather determine one than the substance, and is rather "man" than the other. For his substance casteth him not into hell, nor leadeth him into the kingdom, but men the themselves: and we neither love nor hate any one so far as he is man, but so far as he is such or such a man. If then the substance be the body, and in either sort cannot be accountable, how doth he say that it is evil?(6) But what is that he saith, "with his doings"? He means the choice, with the acts. And he calleth him "old," on purpose to show his deformity, and hideousness, and imbecility; and "new," as if to say, Do not expect that it will be with this one even as with the other, but the reverse: for ever as he farther advances, he hasteneth not on to old age, but to a youthfulness greater than the preceding. For when he hath received a fuller knowledge, he is both counted worthy of greater things, and is in more perfect maturity, in higher vigor; and this, not from youthfulness alone, but from that "likeness" also, "after" which he is. Lo! the best life is styled a creation, after the image of Christ: for this is the meaning of, "after the image of Him that created him," for Christ too came not finally to(1) old age, but was so beautiful as it is not even possible to tell.

Ver. 11. "Where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman: but Christ is all, and in all."

Lo! here is a third encomium of this "man." With him, there is no difference admitted either of nation, or of rank, or of ancestry, seeing he hath nothing of externals, nor needeth them for all external things are such as these, "circumcision, and uncircumcision, bondman, freeman, Greek," that is, proselyte, "and Jew," from his ancestors. If thou have only this "man," thou wilt obtain the same things with the others that have him.

"But Christ," he saith, "is all, and in all" Christ will be all things to you, both rank, and descent, "and" Himself "in you all." Or he says another thing, to wit, that ye all are become one Christ, being His body.

Ver. 12. "Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved."

He shows the easiness of virtue, so that they might both possess it continually, and use it as the greatest ornament. The exhortation is accompanied also with praise, for then its force is greatest. For they had been before(2) holy, but not elect; but now both "elect, and holy, and beloved."

"A heart of compassion." He said not "mercy," but with greater emphasis used the two words. And he said not, that it should be as towards brethren, but, as fathers towards children. For tell me not that he sinned, therefore he said "a heart." And he said not "compassion," lest he should place them(3) in light estimation, but "a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."

Again, he speaks after the class,(4) and he always does it; for from kindness comes humbleness of mind, and from this, longsuffering. "Forbearing," he saith, "one another," that is, passing things over(5) And see, how he has shown it to be nothing, by calling it a "complaint," and saying, "even as Christ forgave you." Great is the example! and thus he always does; he exhorts them after Christ. "Complaint," he calls it. In these words indeed he showed it to be a petty matter; but when he has set before us the example, he has persuaded us that even if we had serious charges to bring, we ought to forgive. For the expression, "Even as Christ," signifies this, and not this only, but also with all the heart; and not this alone, but that they ought even to love. For Christ being brought into the midst, bringeth in all these things, both that even if the matters be great, and even if we have not been the first to injure, even if we be of great, they of small account, even if they are sure to insult us afterwards, we ought to lay down our lives for them, (for the words, "even as," demand this;) and that not even at death only ought one to stop, but if possible, to go on even after death.

Ver. 14. "And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness."

Dost thou see that he saith this? For since it is possible for one who forgives, not to love; yea, he saith, thou must love him too, and he points out a way whereby it becomes possible to forgive. For it is possible for one to be kind, and meek, and humbleminded, and longsuffering, and yet not affectionate. And therefore, he said at the first, "A heart of compassion," both love and pity. "And above all these things, love, which is the bond of perfectness." Now what he wishes to say is this; that there is no profit in those things, for all those things fall asunder, except they be done with love; this it is which clenches them all together; whatsoever good thing it be thou mentionest, if love be away, it is nothing, it melts away. And it is as in a ship, even though her rigging be large, yet if there be no girding ropes, it is of no service; and in an house, if there be no tie beams, it is the same; and in a body, though the bones be large, if there be no ligaments, they are of no service. For whatsoever good deeds any may have, all do vanish away, if love be not there. He said not that it is the summit, but what is greater, "the bond"; this is more necessary than the other. For "summit" indeed is an intensity of perfectness, but "bond" is the holding fast together of those things which produce the perfectness; it is, as it were, the root.

Ver. 15. "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful."

"The peace of God." This is that which is fixed and steadfast. If on man's account indeed thou hast peace, it quickly comes to dissolution, but if on God's account, never. Although he had spoken of love universally, yet again he comes to the particular. For there is a love too which is immoderate; for instance, when out of much love one makes accusations without reason, and is engaged in contentions, and contracts aversions. Not this, saith he, not this do I desire; not overdoing things,(1) but as God made peace with you, so do ye also make it. How made He peace? Of His own will, not having received anything of you. What is this? "Let the peace of God rule(2) in your hearts." If two thoughts are fighting together, set not anger, set not spitefulness to hold the prize, but peace; for instance, suppose one to have been insulted unjustly; of the insult are born two thoughts, the one bidding him to revenge, the other to endure; and these wrestle with one another: if the Peace of God stand forward as umpire, it bestows the prize on that which bids endure, and puts the other to shame. How? by persuading him that God is Peace, that He hath made peace with us. Not without reason he shows the great struggle there is in the matter. Let not anger, he saith, act as umpire, let not contentiousness, let not human peace, for human peace cometh of avenging, of suffering no dreadful ill. But not this do I intend, he saith, but that which He Himself left.

He hath represented an arena within, in the thoughts, and a contest, and a wrestling, and an umpire. Then again, exhortation, "to the which ye were called," he saith, that is, for the which ye were called. He has reminded them of how many good things peace is the cause; on account of this He called thee, for this He called thee, so as to receive a worthy(3) prize. For wherefore made He us "one body "? Was it not that she might rule? Was it not that we might have occasion of being at peace? Wherefore are we all one body? and now are we one body? Because of peace we are one body, and because we are one body, we are at peace. But why said he not, "Let the peace of God be victorious," but "be umpire"? He made her the more honorable. He would not have the evil thought to come to wrestle with her, but to stand below. And the very name "prize" cheered the hearer. For if she have given the prize to the good thought, however impudently the other behave, it is thereafter of no use. And besides, the other being aware that, perform what feats he might, he should not receive the prize; however he might puff, and attempt still more vehement onsets, would desist as laboring without profit. And he well added, "And be ye thankful." For this is to be thankful, and very effectively,(4) to deal with his fellow-servants as God doth with himself, to submit himself to the Master, to obey; to express his gratitude for all things,(5) even though one insult him, or beat him.

For in truth he that confesses thanks due to God for what he suffers, will not revenge himself on him that has done him wrong, since he at least that takes revenge, acknowledges no gratitude. But let not us follow him (that exacted)(6) the hundred pence, lest we hear, "Thou wicked servant," for nothing is worse than this ingratitude. So that they who revenge are ungrateful.

But why did he begin his list with fornication? For having said, "Mortify your members which are upon the earth" (c. iii. 5), he immediately says," fornication"; and so he does almost everywhere. Because this passion hath the greatest sway. For even when writing his Epistle to the Thessalonians he did the same. (1 Thess. iv. 3.) And what wonder? since to Timothy even he saith, "Keep thyself pure" (1 Tim. v. 22); and again elsewhere, "Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification," without which "no man shall see the Lord." (Heb. xii. 14.) "Put to death," he says, "your members." Ye know of what sort that is which is dead, namely, hated, loathed, dropping to decay. If thou put anything to death, it doth not when dead continue dead, but presently is corrupted, like the body. Extinguish then the heat; and nothing that is dead will continue. He shows one having the same thing in hand, which Christ wrought in the Layer; therefore also he calleth them "members," as though introducing some champion, thus advancing his discourse to greater emphasis. And he well said, "Which are upon the earth," for here they continue, and here they are corrupted, far rather than these our members. So that not so truly is the body of the earth, as sin is earthly, for the former indeed appears even beautiful at times, but those members never. And those members lust after all things that are upon the earth. If the eye be such, it seeth not the things in the heavens; if the ear, if the hand, if thou mention any other member whatsoever. The eye seeth bodies, and beauties, and riches; these are the things of earth, with these it is delighted: the ear with soft strains, and harp, and pipe, and filthy talking; these are things which are concerned with earth.

When therefore he has placed his hearers above, near the throne, he then says, "Mortify your members which are upon the earth." For it is not possible to stand above with these members; for there is nothing there for them to work upon. And this clay is worse than that, for that clay indeed becometh gold, "for this corruptible," he saith, "must put on incorruption" (1 Cor. xv. 53), but this clay can never be retempered more. So that these members are rather "upon the earth" than those. Therefore he said not, "of the earth," but, "which are upon the earth," for it is possible that these should not be upon the earth. For it is necessary that these(1) should be "upon the earth," but that those(2) should, is not necessary. For when the ear hears nothing of what is here uttered, but only in the heavens, when the eye sees nothing of what is here, but only what is above, it is not "upon the earth"; when the mouth speaketh nothing of the things here, it is not "upon the earth"; when the hand doeth no evil thing--these are not of things "upon the earth," but of those in the heavens.

So Christ also saith, "If thy right eye causeth thee to stumble," that is, if thou lookest unchastely, "cut it out" (Matt. v. 29), that is, thine evil thought. And he (Paul) seems to me to speak of "fornication, uncleanness, passion, desire" as the same, namely fornication: by means of all these expressions drawing us away from that thing. For in truth this is "a passion"; and like as the body is subject to any affection, either to fever or to wounds, so also is it with this. And he said not Restrain, but "Mortify" (put to death), so that they never rise up more, and "put them away." That which is dead, we put away; for instance, if there be callosities in the body, their body is dead, and we put it away. Now, if thou cut into that which is quick, it produces pain, but if into that which is dead, we are not even sensible of it. So, in truth, is it with the passions; they make the soul unclean; they make the soul, which is immortal, passible.

How covetousness is said to be idolatry, we have oftentimes explained. For the things which do most of all lord it over the human race, are these, covetousness, and unchasteness, and evil desire. "For which things' sake cometh," he saith, "the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience." Sons of disobedience, he calls them, to deprive them of excuse, and to show that it was because they would not be obedient, that they were in that condition. "In the which ye also," he saith, "walked aforetime," and (afterward) became obedient. He points them out as still in them, and praises them, saying, "But now do ye also put away all these, anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking." But against others he advanceth his discourse. Under the head of "passion and railing" he means revilings, just as under "wrath" he means wickedness.(3) And in another place, to shame them, he says, "for we are members one of another." (Eph. iv. 25.) He makes them out to be as it were manufacturers of men; casting away this one, and receiving that. He spoke of a man's "members" (v. 5); here he saith, "all." He spoke of his heart, wrath, mouth, blasphemy, eyes, fornication, covetousness, hands and feet, lying, the understanding itself, and the old mind. One royal form it hath, that, namely, of Christ. They whom he has in view, appear to me rather to be of the Gentiles. For like as earth, being but sand, even though one part be greater, another less, losing its own previous form, doth afterwards become gold; and like as wool, of whatever kind it be, receiveth another aspect, and hides its former one: so truly is it also with the faithful. "Forbearing," he saith, "one another"; he showeth what is just. Thou for-bearest him, and he thee; and so he says in the Epistle to the Galatians, "Bear ye one another's burdens." (Gal. vi. 2.) "And be ye thankful," he saith. For this is what he everywhere especially seeks; the chiefest of good things.

Give we thanks then in all things; whatever may have happened; for this is thankfulness. For to do so in prosperity indeed, is no great thing, for the nature of the circumstances of itself impels one thereto; but when being in extremities we give thanks, then it is admirable. For when, in circumstances under which others blaspheme, and exclaim discontentedly, we give thanks, see how great philosophy is here. First, thou hast rejoiced God; next, thou hast shamed the devil; thirdly, thou hast even made that which hath happened to be nothing; for all at once, thou both givest thanks, and God cuts short the pain, and the devil departs. For if thou have exclaimed discontentedly, he, as having succeeded to his wish, standeth close by thee, and God, as being blasphemed, leaveth thee, and thy calamity is heightened; but if thou have given thanks, he, as gaining nought, departs; and God, as being honored, requites thee with greater honor. And it is not possible, that a man, who giveth thanks for his evils should be sensible of them. For his soul rejoiceth, as doing what is right; forthwith his conscience is bright, it exults in its own commendation; and that soul which is bright, cannot possibly be sad of countenance. But in the other case, along with the misfortune, conscience also assails him with her lash; whilst in this she crowns, and proclaims him.

Nothing is holier than that tongue, which in evils giveth thanks to God; truly in no respect doth it fall short of that of martyrs; both are alike crowned, both this, and they. For over this one also Stands the executioner to force it to deny God, by blasphemy; the devil stands over it, torturing it with executioner thoughts, darkening it with despondencies. If then one bear his griefs, and give thanks, he hath gained a crown of martyrdom. For instance, is her little child sick, and doth she give God thanks? this is a crown to her. What torture so bad that despondency is not worse? still it doth not force her to vent forth a bitter word. It dies: again she hath given thanks. She hath become the daughter of Abraham. For if she sacrificed not with her own hand, yet was she pleased with the sacrifice, which is the same; she felt no indignation when the gift was taken away.

Again, is her child sick? She hath made no amulets.(1) It is counted to her as martyrdom, for she sacrificed her son in her resolve. For what, even though those things are unavailing, and a mere cheat and mockery, still there were nevertheless those who persuaded her that they do avail: and she chose rather to see her child dead, than to put up with idolatry. As then she is a martyr, whether it be in her own case, or in her son's, that she hath thus acted; or in her husband's, or in any other's of her dearest; so is that other one an idolatress. For it is evident that she would have done sacrifice, had it been allowed her to do sacrifice; yea, rather, she hath even now performed the act of sacrifice. For these amulets, though they who make money by them are forever rationalizing about them, and saying, "we call upon God, and do nothing extraordinary," and the like; and "the old woman is a Christian," says he, "and one of the faithful"; the thing is idolatry. Art thou one of the faithful? sign the Cross; say, this I have for my only weapon; this for my remedy; and other I know none. Tell me, if a physician should come to one, and, neglecting the remedies belonging to his art, should use incantation, should we call that man a physician? By no means: for we see not the medicines of the healing art; so neither, in this case, do we see those of Christianity.

Other women again tie about them(2) the names of rivers, and venture numberless things of like nature. Lo, I say, and forewarn you all, that if any be detected, I will not spare them again, whether they have made amulet, or incantation, or any other thing of such an art as this. What then, saith one, is the child to die? If he have lived through this means, he did then die, but if he have died without this, he then lived. But now, if thou seest him attaching himself to harlots, thou wishest him buried, and sayest, "why, what good is it for him to live?" but when thou seest him in peril of his salvation, dost thou wish to see him live? Heardest thou not Christ saying, "He that loseth his life, shall find it; and he that findeth it, shall lose it"? (Matt. xvi. 25.) Believest thou these sayings, or do they seem to thee fables? Tell me now, should one say, "Take him away to an idol temple, and he will live"; wouldest thou endure it? No! she replies. Why? "Because," she saith, "he urges me to commit idolatry; but here, there is no idolatry, but simple incantation:" this is the device of Satan, this is that wiliness of the devil to cloak over the deceit, and to give the deleterious drug in honey. After he found that he could not prevail with thee in the other way,(3) he hath gone this way about, to stitched charms, and old wives' fables; and the Cross indeed is dishonored, and these charms preferred before it. Christ is cast out, and a drunken and silly old woman is brought in. That mystery of ours is trodden under foot, and the imposture of the devil dances.

Wherefore then, saith one, doth not God reprove the aid from such sources? He hath many times reproved, and yet hath not persuaded thee; He now leaveth thee to thine error, for It saith, "God gave them up unto a reprobate mind." (Rom. i. 28.) These things, moreover, not even a Greek who hath understanding could endure. A certain demagogue in Athens is reported once to have hung these things about him: when a philosopher who was his instructor, on beholding them, rebuked him, expostulated, satirized, made sport of him. For in so wretched a plight are we, as even to believe in these things!

Why, saith one, are there not now those who raise the dead, and perform cures? Yes, then, why, I say: why are there not now those who have a contempt for this present life? Do we serve God for hire? When man's nature was weaker, when the Faith had to be planted, there were even many such; but now he would not have us to hang upon these signs, but to be ready for death. Why then clingest thou to the present life? why lookest thou not on the future? and for the sake of this indeed canst bear even to commit idolatry, but for the other not so much as to restrain sadness? For this cause it is that there are none such now; because that (future) life hath seemed to us honorless, seeing that for its sake we do nothing, whilst for this there is nothing we refuse to undergo. And why too that other farce, ashes, and soot, and salt? and the old woman again brought in? A farce truly, and a shame! And then, "an eye," say they, "hath caught the child."

Where will these satanical doings end? How will not the Greeks laugh? how will they not gibe when we say unto them, "Great is the virtue of the Cross"; how will they be won, when they see us having recourse to those things, which themselves laugh to scorn? Was it for this that God gave physicians and medicines? What then? Suppose they do not cure him, but the child depart? Whither will he depart? tell me, miserable and wretched one! Will he depart to the demons? Will he depart to some tyrant? Will he not depart to heaven? Will he not depart to his own Lord? Why then grievest thou? why weepest thou? why mournest thou? why lovest thou thine infant more than thy Lord? Is it not through Him that thou hast this also? Why art thou ungrateful? Dost thou love the gift more than the Giver? "But I am weak," she replies, "and cannot bear the fear of God." Well, if in bodily evils the greater covers the less, much rather in the soul, fear destroyed fear, and sorrow, sorrow. Was the child beautiful? But be it what it may, not more beauteous is he than Isaac: and he too was an only one. Was it born in thine old age? So too was he. But is it fair? Well: however fair it may be, it is not lovelier than Moses (Acts vii. 20), who drew even barbarian eyes unto a tender love of him, and this too at a time of life when beauty is not yet disclosed; and yet this beloved thing did the parents cast into the river. Thou indeed both seest it laid out, and deliverest it to the burying, and goest to its monument; but they did not so much as know whether it would be food for fishes, or for dogs, or for other beasts that prey in the sea; and this they did, knowing as yet nothing of the Kingdom, nor of the Resurrection.

But suppose it is not an only child; but that after thou hast lost many, this also hath departed. But not so sudden is thy calamity as was Job's, and (his was) of sadder aspect?(1) It is not when a roof has fallen in, it is not as they are feasting the while, it is not following on the tidings of other calamities.

But was it beloved by thee? But not more so than Joseph, the devoured of wild beasts; but still the father bore the calamity, and that which followed it, and the next to that. He wept; but acted not with impiety; he mourned, but he uttered not discontent, but stayed at those words, saying, "Joseph is not, Simeon is not, and will ye take Benjamin away? all these things are against me."(2) (Gen. xlii. 36.) Seest thou how the constraint of famine prevailed with him to be regardless of his children? and doth not the fear of God prevail with thee as much as famine?

Weep: I do not forbid thee: but aught blasphemous neither say nor do. Be thy child what he may, he is not like Abel; and yet nought of this kind did Adam say; although that calamity was a sore one, that his brother should have killed him. But I am reminded of others also that have killed their brothers; when, for instance, Absalom killed Amnon the eldest born (2 Sam. 13), and King David loved his child,(3) and sat indeed in sackcloth and ashes, but he neither brought soothsayers, nor enchanters, (although there were such then, as Saul shows,) but he made supplication to God. So do thou likewise: as that just man did, so do thou also; the same words say thou, when thy child is dead, "I shall go to him, but he will not come to me." (2 Sam. xii. 23.) This is true wisdom, this is affection. However much thou mayst love thy child, thou wilt not love so much as he did then. For even though his child were born of adultery, yet that blessed man's love of the mother was at its height,(4) and ye know that the offspring shares the love of the parents. And so great was his love toward it, that he even wished it to live, though it would be his own accuser, but still he gave thanks to God. What, thinkest thou, did Rebecca suffer, when his brother threatened Jacob, and she grieved not her husband, but bade him send her son away? (Gen. xxvii. 46; xxviii. 1.) When thou hast suffered any calamity, think on what is worse than it; and thou wilt have a sufficient consolation; and consider with thyself, what if he had died in battle? what if in fire? And whatsoever our sufferings may be, let us think upon things yet more fearful, and we shall have comfort sufficient, and let us ever look around us on those who have undergone more terrible things, and if we ourselves have ever suffered heavier calamities. So doth Paul also exhort us; as when he saith, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin" (Heb. xii. 4): and again, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear." (1 Cor. x. 13.) Be then our sufferings what they may, let us look round on what is worse; (for we shall find such,) and thus shall we be thankful. And above all, let us give thanks for all things continually; for so, both these things will be eased, and we shall live to the glory of God, and obtain the promised good things, whereunto may all we attain, through the grace and love toward man, &c.

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