HOMILIES IV TO VII (2 COR. 1, 2 & 3)


2 COR. i. 23.

"But I call God for a witness upon my soul, that to spare you I forbare to come unto Corinth."

WHAT sayest thou, O blessed Paul? To spare them thou camest not to Corinth? Surely thou presentest us with something of a contradiction. For a little above thou saidst that thou therefore camest not, because thou purposest not according to the flesh nor art thine own master, but art led about every where by the authority of the Spirit, and didst set forth thine afflictions. But here thou sayest it was thine own act that thou camest not, and not from the authority of the Spirit; for he saith, "To spare you I forbare to come to Corinth." What then is one to say? either, that this too was itself of the Spirit, and that he himself wished to come but the Spirit suggested to him not to do so, urging the motive of sparing them; or else, that he is speaking of some other coming, and would signify that before he wrote the former Epistle he was minded to come, and for love's sake restrained himself lest he should find them yet unamended. Perhaps also, after the second Epistle though the Spirit no longer forbade him to go, he involuntarily stayed away for this reason. And this suspicion is the more probable, that in the first instance the Spirit forbade him: but afterwards upon his own conviction also that this was more advisable, he stayed away.

And observe, I pray you, how he remembers again his own custom, (which I shall never cease to observe,) of making what seems against him tell in his favor. For since it was natural for them to respect this and say, 'It was because thou hatedst us, thou wouldest not come unto us,' he shows on the contrary, that the cause for which he would not come was that he loved them.

What is the expression, "to spare you?" I heard, he saith, that some among you had committed fornication; I would not therefore come and make you sorry: for had I come, I must needs have enquired into the matter, and prosecuted and punished, and exacted justice from many. I judged it then better to be away and to give opportunity for repentance, than to be with you and to prosecute, and be still more incensed. For towards the end of this Epistle he hath plainly declared it, saying, "I fear lest when I come, my God should humble me before you, and that I should mourn for many of them that have sinned heretofore, and repented not of the lasciviousness and uncleanness(1) which they committed." (2 Cor. xii. 20, 21.) This therefore here also he intimates, and he saith it indeed as in his own defence; yet rebuketh(2) them most severely and putteth them in fear; for he implied that they were open to punishment, and will also have somewhat to suffer, unless they be quickly reformed. And he says the same thing again at the end of the Epistle thus; "If I come again, I will not spare." (2 Cor. xiii. 2.) Only there he says it more plainly: but here, as it was the proem, he does not say it so but in a repressed(3) tone; nor is he content even with this, but he softens it down, applying a corrective. For seeing the expression was that of one asserting great authority, (for a man spares those whom he has also power to punish,) in order to relieve it, and draw a shade over what seems harsh, he saith,

Ver. 24. "Not for that we have lordship over your faith."

That is, I did not therefore say, "To spare you I came not," as lording it over you. Again, he said not you, but "your faith," which was at once gentler and truer. For him that hath no mind to believe, who hath power to compel?

"But are helpers of your joy."

For since, saith he, your joy is ours, I came not, that I might not plunge you into sorrow and increase my own despondency; but I stayed away that ye being reformed by the threat might be made glad. For we do every thing in order to your joy, and give diligence in this behalf, because we are ourselves partakers of it. "For by faith ye stand."

Behold him again speaking repressedly. For he was afraid to rebuke them again; since he had handled them severely in the former Epistle, and they had made some reformation. And if, now that they were reformed, they again received the same reproof, this was likely to throw them back. Whence this Epistle is much gentler than the former.

Chap. ii. 1. "But I determined(1) for myself that I would not come again to you with sorrow."

The expression "again" proves that he had already been made sorry from thence, and whilst he seems to be speaking in his own defence he covertly rebukes them. Now if they had both already made him sorry and were about again to make him sorry, consider how great the displeasure was likely to be. But he saith not thus, 'Ye made me sorry,' but turns the expression differently yet implying the very same thing thus, 'For this cause I came not that I might not make you sorry:' which has the same force as what I said, but is more palatable.

[2.] Ver. 2. "For if I make you sorry, who then is he that maketh me glad, but he that is made sorry by me?"

What is this consequence? A very just one indeed. For observe, I would not, he saith, come unto you, lest I should increase your sorrow, rebuking, showing anger and disgust. Then seeing that even this was strong and implied accusation that they so lived as to make Paul sorry, he applies a corrective in the words, "For if I make you sorry, who then is he that maketh me glad, but he that is made sorry by me?"

What he saith is of this kind. 'Even though I were to be in sorrow, being compelled to rebuke you and to see you sorry, still nevertheless this very thing would have made me glad. For this is a proof of the greatest love, that you hold me in such esteem as to be hurt at my being displeased with you.'

Behold too his prudence. Their doing what all disciples do, namely, smarting and feeling it when rebuked, he produces as an instance of their gratifying him; for, saith he, 'No man maketh me so glad as he that giveth heed to my words, and is sorry when he seeth me angry.'

Yet what followed naturally(2) was to say, 'For if I make you sorry, who then is he that can make you glad?' But he doth not say this, but turns his speech back again, dealing tenderly with them, and says, 'Though I make you sorry, even herein ye bestow on me a very great favor in that ye are hurt at what I say.'

Ver. 3. "And I wrote this very thing unto you."

What? That for this cause I came not, to spare you. When wrote he? In the former Epistle when he said, "I do not wish to see you now by the way?" (1 Cor. xvi. 7.) I think not; but in this Epistle when he said, "Lest when I come again, my God should humble me before you." (2 Cor. xii. 21.) I have written then towards the end this same, saith he, "lest when I come, my God will humble me, and I should mourn for many of them that have sinned heretofore."

But why didst thou write? "Lest when I came I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice, having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all?" For whereas he said he was made glad by their sorrow, and this was too arrogant and harsh, again he gave it a different turn and softened it by what he subjoined. For, he saith, I therefore wrote unto you before, that I might not with anguish find you unreformed; and I said this, "lest I should have sorrow," out of regard not to my own interest but yours. For I know that if ye see me rejoicing ye rejoice, and if ye behold me sad ye are sad. Observe therefore again the connection of what he said; for so his words will be more easy to understand. I came not, he says, lest I should cause you sorrow when finding you unreformed. And this I did, not studying my own advantage, but yours. For as to myself, when ye are made sorry I receive no little pleasure, seeing that you care so much about me as to be sorry and distressed at my being displeased. "For who is he that maketh me glad, but he that is made sorry by me." However, though it be so with myself, yet because I study your advantage, I wrote this same thing to you that I might not be made sorry, herein also again studying not my advantage, but yours; for I know, that were ye to see me sad, ye also would be sorry; as also ye are glad when ye see me rejoicing. Observe now his prudence. He said, I came not, that I might not make you sorry; although, saith be, this makes me glad. Then, lest he should seem to take pleasure in their pain, he saith, In this respect I am glad inasmuch as I make you feel, for in another respect I am sorry in that I am compelled to make those sorry who love me so much, not only by this rebuke, but also by being myself in sorrow and by this means causing you fresh sorrow.

But observe how he puts this so as to mingle praise; saying, "from them of whom I ought to rejoice," for these are the words of one testifying kindred and much tender affection; as if one were speaking of sons on whom he had bestowed many benefits and for whom he had toiled. If then for this I write and come not; it is with weighty meaning(3) I come not, and not because I feel hate or aversion, but rather exceeding love.

[3.] Next, whereas he said, he that makes me sorry makes me glad; lest they should say 'this then is what thou studiest, that thou mightest be made glad and mightest exhibit to all the extent of thy power;' he added,

Ver. 4. "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears, not that ye should be made sorry, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you."

What more tenderly affectioned than this man's spirit is? for he showeth himself to have been not less pained than they who had sinned, but even much more. For he saith not "out of affliction" merely, but "out of much," nor "with tears," but "with many tears" and "anguish of heart," that is, I was suffocated, I was choked with despondency; and when I could no longer endure the cloud of despondency," I wrote unto you: not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love," saith he, "which I have more abundantly unto you." And yet what naturally followed was to say, not that ye might be grieved, but that ye might be corrected: (for indeed with this purpose he wrote.) This however he doth not say, but, (more to sweeten his words, and win them to a greater affection,) he puts this for it, showing that he doth all from love. And he saith not simply "the love," but "which I have more abundantly unto you." For hereby also he desires to win them, by showing that he loveth them more than all and feels towards them as to chosen disciples. Whence he saith, "Even if I be not an Apostle unto others, yet at least I am to you;" (1 Cor. ix. 2.) and, "Though ye have many(1) tutors, yet have ye not many fathers; "(1 Cor. iv. 15.) and again, "By the grace of God we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly to you ward;" (2 Cor. i. 12.) and farther on, "Though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved;" and here "Which I have more abundantly unto you;" (2 Cor. xii. 15.) So that if my words were full of anger, yet out of much love and sadness was the anger; and whilst writing the Epistle, I suffered, I was pained, not because ye had sinned only, but also because I was compelled to make you sorry. And this itself was out of love. Just as a father whose legitimate(2) son is afflicted with a gangrene, being compelled to use the knife and cautery, is pained on both accounts, that he is diseased and that he is compelled to use the knife to him. So that what ye consider a sign of hating you was indeed a sign of excessive love. And if to have made you sorry was out of love, much more my gladness at that sorrow.

[4.] Having made this defence of himself, (for he frequently defends himself, without being ashamed; for if God doth so, saying, "O My people, what have I done unto thee?" (Mic. vi. 3.) much more might Paul,) having, I say, made this defence of himself, and being now about to pass on to the plea for him who had committed fornication, in order that they might not be distracted as at receiving contradictory commands, nor take to cavilling because he it was who both then was angry and was now commanding to forgive him, see how he provided(3) for this beforehand, both by what he has said and what he is going to say. For what saith he?

Ver. 5. "But if any hath caused sorrow, he hath caused sorrow not to me."

Having first praised them as feeling joy and sorrow for the same things as himself, he then strikes into the subject of this person, having said first, "my joy is the joy of you all." But if my joy is the joy of you all, need is that you should also now feel pleasure with me, as ye then were pained with me: for both in that ye were made sorry, ye made me glad; and now in that ye rejoice, (if as I suppose ye shall feel pleasure,) ye will do the same. He said not, my sorrow is the sorrow of you all; but having established this in the rest of what he said, he has now put forward that only which he most desired, namely, the joy: saying, my joy is the joy of you all. Then, he makes mention also of the former matter, saying,

"But if any hath caused sorrow he hath caused sorrow not to me, but in part (that I press not too heavily) to you all."

I know, he saith, that ye shared in my anger and indignation against him that had committed fornication, and that what had taken place grieved in part all of you. And therefore said I "in part," not as though ye were less hurt than I, but that I might not weigh down him that had committed fornication. He did not then grieve me only but you also equally, even though to spare him I said, "in part." Seest thou how at once he moderated their anger, by declaring that they shared also in his indignation.

Ver. 6. "Sufficient to such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the many"

And he saith not "to him that hath committed fornication," but here again "to such a one," as also in the former Epistle. Not however for the same reason; but there out of shame, here out of mercy. Wherefore he no where subsequently so much as mentions the crime; for it was time now to excuse.

Ver. 7. "So that contrariwise ye should rather forgive him and comfort him, lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up with his overmuch sorrow."

He bids them not only take off the censure: but, besides, restores him to his former estate; for if one let go him that hath been scourged and heal him not, he hath done nothing. And see how him too he keeps down lest he should be rendered worse by the forgiveness. For though he had both confessed and repented, he makes it manifest that he obtaineth remission not so much by his penitence as by this free gift. Wherefore he saith, "to forgive(1) him and to comfort him," and what follows again makes the same thing plain. 'For' saith he, 'it is not because he is worthy, not because he has shown sufficient penitence; but because he is weak, it is for this I request(2) it.' Whence also he added, "lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." And this is both as testifying to his deep repentance and as not allowing him to fall into despair (3).

But what means this, "swallowed up?" Either doing as Judas did, or even in living becoming worse. For, saith he, if he should rush away from longer enduring the anguish of this lengthened censure, perchance also despairing he will either come to hang himself, or fall into greater crimes afterwards. One ought then to take steps beforehand(4), lest the sore become too hard to deal with; and lest what we have well done we lose by want of moderation.

Now this he said, (as I have already observed,) both to keep him low, and to teach him not to be over-listless after this restoration. For, not as one who has washed all quite away; but as fearing lest he should work aught of deeper mischief, I have received him, he saith. Whence we learn that we must determine the penance, not only by the nature of the sins, but by the disposition and habit of them that sin. As the Apostle did in that instance. For he feared his weakness, and therefore said, "lest he be swallowed up,"as though by a wild beast, by a storm, by a billow.

Ver. 8. "Wherefore I beseech you."

He no longer commands but beseeches, not as a teacher but as an equal; and having seated them on the judgment seat he placed himself in the rank of an advocate; for having succeeded in his object, for joy he adopts without restraint the tone of supplication. And what can it be that thou beseechest? Tell me.

"To confirm your love toward him."

That is, 'make it strong,' not simply have intercourse with him, nor any how. Herein, again, he bears testimony to their virtue as very great; since they who were so friendly and so applauded him as even to be puffed up, were so estranged that Paul takes such pains to make them confirm their love towards him. Herein is excellence of disciples, herein excellence of teachers; that they should so obey the rein, he so manage their motions(1). If this were so even now, they who sin would not have transgressed senselessly. For one ought neither to love carelessly, nor to be estranged without some reason.

[5.] Ver. 9. "For to this end also did I write to you(2), that I might know the proof of you, whether ye are obedient in all things;" I not only in cutting off but also in reuniting. Seest thou how here again he brings the danger to their doors. For as when he sinned, he alarmed their minds, except they should cut him off, saying, "A little leaven leaventh the whole lump," (1 Cor. v, 6.) and several other things; so here too again he confronts them with the fear of disobedience, as good as saying, 'As then ye had to consult not for him, but for yourselves too, so now must ye not less for yourselves than for him; lest ye seem to be of such as love contention and have not human sensibilities, and not to be in all things obedient. And hence he saith, "For to this end also did I write to you, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye are obedient in all things."

For the former instance might have seemed to proceed even of envy and malice, but this shows very especially the obedience to be pure, and whether ye are apt unto loving kindness. For this is the test of right minded disciples; if they obey not only when ordered to do certain things, but when the contrary also. Therefore he said, "in all things," showing that if they disobey, they disgrace not him a so much as themselves, earning the character of lovers of contention; and he doth this that hence also he may drive them to obey. Whence also he saith, "For to this end did I write to you;" and yet he wrote not for this end, but he saith so in order to win them. For the leading object was the salvation of that person. But where it does no harm, he also gratifies them. And by saying, "In all things," he again praises them, recalling to memory and bringing forth to view their former obedience.

Ver. 10. "To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also."

Seest thou how again he assigns the second part to himself, showing them as beginning, himself following. This is the way to soften an exasperated, to compose a contentious spirit. Then lest he should make them careless, as though they were arbiters, and they should refuse forgiveness; he again constrains them unto this, saying, that himself also had forgiven him.

"For what I also have forgiven, if I have forgiven any thing, for your sakes have I forgiven it." For, this very thing I have done for your sakes, he saith. And as when he commanded them to cut him off, he left not with them the power to forgive, saying, "I have judged already to deliver such an one unto Satan," (1 Cor. v. 3, 5.) and again made them partners in his decision saying, "ye being gathered together to deliver him," (ib. 4, 5.) (thereby securing two most important things, viz., that the sentence should be passed; yet not without their consent, lest herein he might seem to hurt them;) and neither himself alone pronounces it, lest they should consider him self-willed, and themselves to be overlooked, nor yet leaves all to them, lest when possessed of the power they should deal treacherously with the offender by unseasonably forgiving him: so also doth he here, saying, 'I have already forgiven, who in the former Epistle had already judged.' Then lest they should be hurt, as though overlooked, he adds, "for your sakes." What then? did he for men's sake pardon? No; for on this account he added, "In the person of Christ."

What is "in the person of Christ?" Either he means according to [the will of] God, or unto the glory of Christ.(1)

Ver. 11. "That no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices."

Seest thou how he both committeth the power to them and again taketh away that by that he may soften them, by this eradicate their self will. But this is not all that he provides for by this, but shows also that should they be disobedient the harm would reach to all, just as he did at the outset also. For then too he said, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." (1 Cor. v. 6.) And here again, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us." And throughout, he maketh this forgiveness the joint act of himself and them. Consider it from the first. "But if any," saith he, "have caused sorrow he hath caused sorrow not to me, but in part (that I press not too heavily) to you all." Then again, "Sufficient to such a one is this punishment which was" inflicted by the "many." This is his own decision and opinion. He rested not however with this decision, but again makes them partners saying, "So that contrariwise ye should rather forgive" him "and comfort" him. "Wherefore I beseech you to confirm your love towards him." Having thus again made the whole their act, he passes to his own authority, saying, "For to this end did I write unto you, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye are obedient in all things." Then, again, he makes the favor theirs, saying, "To whom ye forgive anything." Then, his own, "I" forgive "also:" saying, "if I have forgiven anything, it is for your sakes." Then both theirs and his, "For," saith he, "if I have forgiven any thing, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ," either [that is] for the glory of Christ, or as though Christ commanding this also, which was most effectual to prevail with them. For after this they would have feared not to grant that which tended to His glory and which He willed. Then again he signifieth the common harm should they disobey, when he saith, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us;" well naming it, getting advantage. For he no more takes his own, but violently seizeth ours, for he(2) is reformed(3). And tell me not that this one only becomes the wild beast's prey, but consider this also, that the number of the herd is diminished, and now especially when it might recover what it had lost. "For we are not ignorant of his devices," That he destroys even under the show of piety. For not only by leading into fornication can he destroy, but even by the contrary, the unmeasured sorrow following on the repentance for it. When then besides his own he taketh ours too, when both by bidding to sin, he destroys; and when we bid repent, violently seizeth; how is not this case getting "advantage(4) ?" For he is not content with striking down by sin, but even by repentance he doth this except we be vigilant. Wherefore also with reason did he call it getting advantage, when he even conquereth our own weapons. For to take by sin is his proper work; by repentance, however, is no more his; for ours, not his, is that weapon. When then even by this he is able to take, think how disgraceful the defeat, how he will laugh at and run us down as weak and pitiful, if he is to subdue us with our own weapons. For it were matter for exceeding scorn and of the last disgrace, that he should inflict wounds on us through our own remedies. Therefore he said, "for we are not ignorant of his devices," exposing his versatility, his craftiness, his evil devices, his malice, his capacity to injure under a show of piety.

[6.] These things then having in mind, let us too never despise any one; nor ever, though we fall into sin, despair; on the other hand, again, let us not be easy-minded afterwards, but, when we transgress, afflict our minds and not merely give vent to words. For I know many who say indeed that they bewail their sins, but do nothing of account. They fast and wear rough garments; but after money are more eager than hucksters, are more the prey of anger than wild beasts, and take more pleasure in detraction than others do in commendations. These things are not repentance, these things are the semblance and shadow only of repentance, not repentance itself. Wherefore in the case of these persons too it is well to say, Take heed "lest Satan should get an advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices;" for some he destroys through sins, others through repentance; but these in yet another way, by suffering them to gain no fruit from repentance. For when he found not how he might destroy them by direct [attack,] he came another road, heightening their toils, whilst robbing them of the fruits, and persuading them, as if they had successfully accomplished all they had to do, therefore to be neglectful of what remains.

That we may not then fruitlessly afflict ourselves, let us address a few words to women of this character; for to women this disorder especially belongs. Praiseworthy indeed is even that which now ye do, your fasting and lying on the ground and ashes; but except the rest be added, these are of no avail. God hath showed how He remitteth sins. Why then forsaking that path, do ye carve another for yourselves. In old time the Ninevites sinned, and they did the things which ye too now are doing. Let us see however what it was that availed them. For as in the case of the sick, physicians apply many remedies; howbeit the man of understanding regardeth not that the sick person has tried this and that, but what was of service to him; such must be also our inquiry here. What then was it that availed those barbarians? They applied fasting unto the wounds, yea applied extreme fasting, lying on the ground too, putting on of sackcloth, and ashes, and lamentations; they applied also a change of life. Let us then see which of these things made them whole. And whence, saith one, shall we know? If we come to the Physician, if we ask Him: for He will not hide it from us, but will even eagerly disclose it. Rather that none may be ignorant, nor need to ask, He hath even set down in writing the medicine that restored them. What then is this? "God," saith He, "saw that they turned every one from his evil way, and He repented of the evil that He had said He would do unto them." (Jonah iii. 10.) He said not, He saw [their] fasting and sackcloth and ashes. And I say not this to overturn fasting, (God forbid!) but to exhort you that with fasting ye do that which is better than fasting, the abstaining from all evil. David also sinned. (2 Sam. xii. 17. &c.) Let us see then how he too repented. Three days he sat on ashes. But this he did not for the sin's sake, but for the child's, being as yet stupefied with that affliction. But the sin by other means did he wipe away, by humbleness, contrition of heart, compunction of soul, by falling into the like no more, by remembering it always, by bearing thankfully every thing that befalls him, by sparing those that grieve him, by forbearing to requite those who conspire against him; yea, even preventing those who desire to do this. For instance, when Shimei was bespattering him with reproaches without number (2 Sam. xvi. 5, 9.) and the captain who was with him was greatly indignant, he said, "Let him curse me, for the Lord hath bidden him:" for he had a contrite and humbled heart, and it was this especially which wiped away his sins. For this is confession, this is repentance. But if whilst we fast we are proud, we have been not only nothing profited but even injured.

[7.] Humble then thine heart, thou too, that thou mayest draw God unto thee. "For the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart." (Ps. xxxiii. 19.) Seest thou not in the gorgeous houses those who are in disgrace; how they answer not again when even the lower servants insult them, but put up with it because of the disgrace with which their fault hath surrounded them? So do thou too: and if any one revile thee, wax not fierce, but groan, not for the insult, but for that sin which cast thee into disgrace. Groan when thou hast sinned, not because thou art to be punished, (for this is nothing,) but because thou hast offended thy Master, one so gentle, one so kind, one that so loveth thee and longeth for thy salvation as to have given even His Son for thee. For this groan, and do this continually: for this is confession. Be not to-day cheerful, to-morrow of a sad countenance, then again cheerful; but continue ever in mourning and self contrition. For, "Blessed," saith he, "are they that mourn," that is, that do this perpetually. Continue then to do this perpetually, and to take heed to thyself, and to afflict thine heart; as one who had lost a beloved son might mourn. "Rend," saith he, "your hearts, and not your garments." (Joel ii. 13.) That which is rent will not lift itself on high; that which hath been broken cannot rise up again. Hence one saith, "Rend," and another, "a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise." (Ps. li. 17.) Yea, though thou be wise, or wealthy, or a ruler, rend thine heart. Suffer it not to have high thoughts nor to be inflated. For that which is rent is not inflated, and even if there be something to make it rise, from being rent it cannot retain the inflation. So also do thou be humble-minded. Consider that the publican was justified by one word, although that was not humiliation, but a true confession. Now if this hath power so great, how much more humiliation. Remit offences to those who have transgressed against thee, for this too remitteth sins. And concerning the former He saith, "I saw that he went sorrowful, and I healed his ways ;" (Is. lvii. 17. 18. LXX.) and in Ahab's case, this appeased the wrath of God: (1 Kings xxi. 29) concerning the latter, "Remit, and it shall be remitted unto you." There is also again another way which bringeth us this medicine; condemning what we have done amiss; for, "Declare thou first thy transgressions, that thou mayest be justified." (Is. xliii. 26. LXX.) And for one in afflictions to give thanks looseth his sins; and almsgiving, which is greater than all.

Reckon up therefore the medicines which heal thy wounds, and apply all unremittingly(1) , humbleness, confession, forgetting wrongs, giving thanks in afflictions, showing mercy both in alms and actions, persevering in prayer. So did the widow propitiate the cruel and unyielding judge. And if she the unjust, much mere thou the gentle. There is yet another way along with these, defending the oppressed; "for," He saith, "judge the fatherless, and plead for the widow; and come, and let us reason together, and though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow." (Is. i. 17, 18.) What excuse then can we deserve if with so many ways leading us up to heaven, and so many medicines to heal our wounds, even after the Layer we continue where we were. Let us then not only continue so, but let those indeed who have never yet fallen abide in their proper loveliness; yea, rather let them cultivate it more and more, (for these good works, where they find not sins, make the beauty greater:) and let us who in many things have done amiss, in order to the correction of our sins use the means mentioned: that we may stand at the tribunal of Christ with much boldness, whereunto may all we at in through the grace and love towards men of or Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, on power, and honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.


2 COR. ii. 12, 13.

"Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ, and when a door was opened unto me in the Lord, I had no relief for my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother."

THESE words seem on the one hand to be unworthy of Paul, if because of a brother's absence he threw away so great an opportunity of saving; and on the other, to hang apart from the context. What then? Will ye that we should first prove that they hang upon the context, or, that he hath said nothing unworthy of himself? As I think, the second(2), for so the other point also will be easier and clearer.

How then do these (words) hang upon those before them? Let us recall to mind what those were, and so we shall perceive this. What then were those before? What he said at the beginning. "I would not have you," saith he, "ignorant concerning our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power." (2 Cor. i. 8.) Now having shown the manner of his deliverance, and inserted the intermediate matter, he is of necessity led to teach them again that in yet another way he had been afflicted. How, and in what way? In not finding Titus. (vii. 6; viii. 6, 16, 22, 23, xii. 18.) Fearful indeed, and enough to prostrate the soul, is it even to endure trials; but when there is none to comfort and that can help to bear the burden, the tempest becometh greater. Now Titus is he, whom further on he speaks of as having come to him from them, and of whom he runs through many and great praises, and whom he said he had sent. With the view then of showing that in this point also he had been afflicted for their sakes, he said these things.

That the words then in question hang on what went before is from all this plain. And I will attempt to prove also that they are not unworthy of Paul. For He doth not say that the absence of Titus impeded the salvation of those who were about to come over, nor yet that he neglected those that believed on this account, but that he had no relief, that is, 'I was afflicted, I was distressed for the absence of my brother; 'showing how great a matter a brother's absence is; and therefore he departed thence. But what means, "when I came to Troas, for the Gospel?" he saith not simply 'I arrived," but 'so as to preach.' But still, though I had both come for that and found very much to do, (for "a door was opened unto me in the Lord,") I had, saith he, "no relief," not that for this he impeded the work. How then saith he,

Ver. 13. "Taking my leave of them, I went from thence?"

That is, 'I spent no longer time, being straitened and distressed.' And perhaps the work was even impeded by his absence. And this was no light consolation to them too. For if when a door was opened there, and for this purpose he had come; yet because he found not the brother, he quickly started away; much more, he saith, ought ye to make allowance for the compulsion of those affairs which lead us and lead us about everywhere, and suffer us not according as we desire either to journey, or to tarry longer amongst those with whom we may wish to remain. Whence also he proceeds in this place again to refer his journeyings to God, as he did above to the Spirit, saying,

Ver. 14. "But thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest through us the savor of His knowledge in every place."

For that he may not seem as though in sorrow to be lamenting these things, he sendeth up thanks to God. Now what he saith is this: 'Every where is trouble, every where straitness. I came into Asia, I was burdened beyond strength. I came to Troas, I found not the brother. I came not to you; this too bred in me no slight, yea rather, exceeding great dejection, both because many among you had sinned, and because on this account I see you not. For, "To spare you," he saith, "I came not as yet unto Corinth." That then he may not seem to be complaining in so speaking, he adds, 'We not only do not grieve in these afflictions, but we even rejoice; and, what is still greater, not for the sake of the rewards to come only, but those too even which are present. For even here we are by these things made glorious and conspicuous. So far then are we from lamenting, that we even call the thing a triumph(1); and glory in what happeneth.' For which cause also he said, "Now thanks be unto God, Which always causeth us to triumph," that is, 'Who maketh us renowned unto all. For what seemeth to be matter of disgrace, being persecuted from every quarter, this appeareth to us to be matter of very great honor.' Wherefore he said not, "Which maketh us seen of all," but, "Which causeth us to triumph:" showing that these persecutions set up a series(2) of trophies against the devil in every part of the world. Then having mentioned along with the author, the subject also of the triumph, he thereby also raiseth up the hearer. 'For not only are we made to triumph by God, but also "in Christ;'" that is, on account of Christ and the Gospel. 'For seeing it behooveth to triumph, all need is that we also who carry the trophy are seen of all, because we bear Him. For this reason we become observed and conspicuous.'

[2.] Ver. 14. "And which maketh manifest through us the savor of His knowledge in every place."

He said above, "Which always causeth us to triumph." Here he saith "in every place," showing that every place and every time is full of the Apostles' labors. And he uses yet another metaphor, that of the sweet savor. For 'like as those who bear ointment, so are we,' saith he, 'manifest to all'; calling the knowledge a very precious ointment. Moreover, he said not, 'the knowledge;' but "the savor of the knowledge;" for such is the nature of the present knowledge, not very clear nor uncovered. Whence also he said in the former Epistle, "For now we see in a mirror darkly." (1 Cor. xiii. 12.) And here he calls that which is such a "savor." Now he that perceiveth the savor knoweth that there is ointment lying somewhere; but of what nature it is he knows not yet, unless he happens before to have seen it. 'So also we. That God is, we know, but what in substance we know not yet. We are then, as it were, a Royal censer, breathing whithersoever we go of the heavenly ointment and the spiritual sweet savor.' Now he said this, at once both to set forth the power of the Preaching, in that by the very designs formed against them, they shine more than those who prosecute 'them and who cause the whole world to know both their trophies and their sweet savor: and to exhort them in regard to their afflictions and trials to bear all nobly, seeing that even before the Recompense they reap this glory inexpressible.

Ver. 15. " For we are a sweet savor of Christ unto God, in them that are saved and in them that perish."

Whether, saith he, one be saved or be lost, the Gospel continues to have its proper virtue: and as the light, although it blindeth the weakly, is still light, though causing blindness; and as honey, though it be bitter to those who are diseased, is in its nature sweet; so also is the Gospel of sweet savor, even though some should be lost who believe it not. For not It, but their own perverseness, worketh the perdition. And by this most of all is its sweet savor manifested, by which the corrupt and vicious perish; so that not only by the salvation of the good, but also by the perdition of the wicked is its excellence declared. Since both the sun, for this reason most especially that he is exceeding bright, doth wound the eyes of the weak: and the Saviour is "for the fall and rising again of many," (Luke ii. 34. ) but still He continueth to be a Saviour, though ten thousand fall; and His coming brought a sorer punishment upon them that believe not, but still it continueth to be full: of healing(1) . Whence also he saith, "We are unto God a sweet savor;" that is, 'even though some be lost we continue to be that which we are.' Moreover he said not simply "a sweet savor," but "unto God." And when we are a sweet savor unto God, and He decreeth these things, who shall henceforth gainsay?

The expression also, "sweet savor of Christ," appears to me to admit of a double interpretation: for he means either that in dying they offered themselves a sacrifice: or that they were a sweet savor of the death of Christ, as if one should say, this incense is a sweet savor of this victim. The expression then, sweet savor, either signifieth this, or, as I first said, that they are daily sacrificed for Christ's sake.(2)

[3.] Seest thou to what a height he hath advanced the trials, terming them a triumph and a sweet savor and a sacrifice offered unto God. Then, whereas he said, "we are a sweet savor, even in them that perish," lest thou shouldest think that these too are acceptable, he added,

Ver. 16. "To the one a savor from death unto death, to the other a savor from life unto life."

For this sweet savor some so receive that they are saved, others so that they perish. So that should any one be lost, the fault is from hismelf: for both ointment is said to suffoctae swine, and light (as I before observed,)to blind the weak. And such is the nature of good things; they not only correct what is akin to them, but also destroy the opposite: and in this way is their power most displayed. For so both fire, not only when it giveth light and when it purifieth gold, but even when it consumeth thorns, doth very greatly display its proper power, and so show itself to be fire: and Christ too herein also doth discover His own majesty when He "shall consume" Antichrist "with the breath of His mouth, and bring him to nought with the manifestation of His coming." (2 Thess. ii. 8. )

"And who is sufficient for these things?"

Seeing he had uttered great things, that 'we are a sacrifice of Christ and a sweet savor, and are every where made to triumph,' he again useth moderation, referring all to God. Whence also he saith, "and who is sufficient for these things?" 'for all,' saith he, 'is Christ's, nothing our own.' Seest thou how opposite his language to the false Apostles'? For they indeed glory, as contributing somewhat from themselves unto the message: he, on the contrary, saith, he therefore glorieth, because he saith that nothing is his own. "For our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience, that not in fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God, we behaved ourselves in the world." And that which they considered it a glory to acquire, I mean the wisdom from without, he makes it his to take away. Whence also he here saith, "And who is sufficient for these things?" But if none are sufficient, that which is done is of grace.

Ver. 17. "For we are not as the rest, which corrupt the word of God."

'For even if we use great sounding words, yet we declared nothing to be our own that we achieved, but all Christ's. For we will not imitate the false apostles; the men who say that most is of themselves.' For this is "to corrupt," when one adulterates the wine; when one sells for money what he ought to give freely. For he seems to me to be here both taunting them in respect to money, and again hinting at the very thing I have said, as that they mingle their own things with God's; which is the charge Isaiah brings when he said, "Thy vintners mingle wine with water:" (Is. i. 22, LXX.) for even if this was said of wine, yet one would not err in expounding it of doctrine too. 'But we,' saith he, 'do not so: but such as we have been entrusted with, such do we offer you, pouring out the word undiluted.' Whence he added, "But as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ."

'We do not,' saith he 'beguile you and so preach, as conferring a gift on you, or as bringing in and mingling somewhat from ourselves, "but as of God;" that is, we do not say that we confer any thing of our own, but that God hath given all.' For "of God" means this; To glory in nothing as if we had it of our own, but to refer every thing to Him. "Speak we in Christ."

Not by our own wisdom, but instructed by the power that cometh from Him. Those who glory speak not in this way, but as bringing in something from themselves. Whence he elsewhere also turns them into ridicule(1), saying, "For what hast thou that thou didst not receive? but if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it." (1 Cor. iv. 7.) This is the highest virtue, to refer every thing to God, to consider nothing to be our own, to do nothing out of regard to men's opinion, but to what God willeth. For He it is that requireth the account. Now however this order is reversed: and of Him that shall sit upon the tribunal and require the account, we have no exceeding fear, yet tremble at those who stand and are judged with us.

[4.] Whence then is this disease? Whence hath it broken out in our souls? From not meditating continually on the things of that world, but being rivetted to present things. Hence we both easily fall into wicked doings, and even if we do any good thing we do it for display, so that thence also loss cometh to us. For instance, one has looked on a person often with unbridled eyes, unseen of her or of those who walk with her(2), yet of the Eye that never sleeps was not unseen. For even before the commission of the sin, It saw the unbridled soul, and that madness within, and the thoughts that were whirled about in storm and surge; for no need hath He of witnesses and proofs Who knoweth all things. Look not then to thy fellow-servants: for though man praise, it availeth not if God accept not; and though man condemn, it harmeth not if God do not condemn. Oh! provoke not so thy Judge; of thy fellow-servants making great account, yet when Himself is angry, not in fear and trembling at Him. Let us then despise the praise that cometh of men. How long shall we be low-minded and grovelling? How long, when God lifteth us to heaven, take we pains to be trailed(3) along the ground? The brethren of Joseph, had they had the fear of God before their eyes, as men ought to have, would not have taken their brother in a lonely place and killed him. (Gen. xxxvii.) Cain again, had he feared that sentence as he should have feared, would not have said, "Come, and let us go into the field:" (Gen. iv. 8, LXX.) for to what end, O miserable and wretched! dost thou take him apart from him that begat him, and leadest him out into a lonely place? For doth not God see the daring deed even in the field? Hath thou not been taught by what befel thy father that He knoweth all things, and is present at all things that are done? And why, when he denied, said not God this unto him: 'Hidest thou from Me Who am present every where, and know the things that are secret?' Because as yet he knew not aright to comprehend these high truths(4). But what saith he? "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me." Not as though blood had a voice; but like as we say when things are plain and clear, "the matter speaketh for itself(5)."

Wherefore surely it behoveth to have before our eyes the sentence of God, and all terrors are extinguished. So too in prayers we can keep awake, if we bear in mind with whom we are conversing, if we reflect that we are offering sacrifice and have in our hands a knife and fire and wood; if in thought we throw wide the gates of heaven, if we transport ourselves thither and taking the sword of the Spirit infix it in the throat of the victim: make watchfulness the sacrifice and tears the libation to Him. For such is the blood of this victim. Such the slaughter that crimsons that altar. Suffer not then aught of worldly thoughts to occupy thy soul then. Bethink thee that Abraham also, when offering sacrifice, suffered nor wife nor servant nor any other to be present. Neither then do thou suffer any of the slavish and ignoble passions to be present unto thee, but go up alone into the mountain where he went up, where no second person is permitted to go up. And should any such thoughts attempt to go up with thee, command them with authority, and say, "Sit ye there, and land the lad will worship and return to you;" (Gen. xxii. 5. LXX.) and leaving the ass and the servants below, and whatever is void of reason and sense, go up, taking with thee whatever is reasonable, as he took Isaac. And build thine altar so as he, as having nothing human, but having outstepped nature. For he too, had he not outstepped nature, would not have slain his child. And let nothing disturb thee then, but be lift up above the very heavens. Groan bitterly, sacrifice confession, (for, saith he, "Declare thou first thy transgressions that thou mayest be justified," Is. xliii. 26. LXX.), sacrifice contrition of heart. These victims turn not to ashes nor dissolve into smoke nor melt into air; neither need they wood and fire, but only a deep-pricked heart. This is wood, this is fire to burn, yet not consume them. For he that prayeth with warmth is burnt, yet not consumed; but like gold that is tried by fire becometh brighter.

[5.] And withal observe heedfully one thing more, in praying to say none of those things that provoke thy Master; neither draw near [to pray] against enemies. For if to have enemies be a reproach, consider how great the evil to pray against them. For need is that thou defend thyself and show why thou hast enemies: but thou even accusest(1) them. And what forgiveness shalt thou obtain, when thou both revilest, and at such a time when thyself needest much mercy, For thou drewest near to supplicate for thine own sins: make not mention then of those of others, lest thou recall the memory of thine own. For if thou say, 'Smite mine enemy,' thou hast stopped thy mouth, thou hast cut off boldness from thy tongue; first, indeed, because thou hast angered the Judge at once in beginning; next, because thou asketh things at variance with the character of thy prayer. For if thou comest near for forgiveness of sins, how discoursest thou of punishment? The contrary surely was there need to do, and to pray for them in order that we may with boldness beseech this for ourselves also. But now thou hast forestalled the Judge's sentence by thine own, demanding that He punish them that sin: for this depriveth of all pardon. But if thou pray for them, even if thou say nothing in thine own sins' behalf, thou hast achieved all(2). Consider how many sacrifices there are in the law; a sacrifice of praise, a sacrifice of acknowledgment, a sacrifice of peace(3), a sacrifice of purifications, and numberless others, and not one of them against enemies, but all in behalf of either one's own sins or one's own successes. For comest thou to another God? To him thou comest that said, "Pray for your enemies." (Luke vi. 27, 35. Rom. xii. 14.) How then dost thou cry against them? How dost thou beseech God to break his own law? This is not the guise of a suppliant. None supplicates the destruction of another, but the safety of himself. Why then wearest thou the guise of a suppliant, but hast the words of an accuser? Yet when we pray for ourselves, we scratch ourselves and yawn, and fall into ten thousand thoughts; but when against our enemies, we do so wakefully. For since the devil knows that we are thrusting the sword against ourselves, he doth not distract nor call us off then, that he may work us the greater harm. But, saith one, 'I have been wronged and am afflicted.' Why not then pray against the devil, who injureth us most of all. This thou hast also been commanded to say, "Deliver us from the evil one." He is thy irreconcileable foe, but man, do whatsoever he will, is a friend and brother. With him then let us all be angry; against him let us beseech God, saying, "Bruise Satan under our feet;" (Rom. xvi. 20.) for he it is that breedeth also the enemies [we have]. But if thou pray against enemies, thou prayest so as he would have thee pray, just as if for thine enemies, then against him. Why then letting him go who is thine enemy indeed, dost thou tear thine own members, more cruel in this than wild beasts. 'But,' saith one, 'he insulted me and robbed me of money;' and which hath need to grieve, he that suffered injury, or he that inflicted injury? Plainly he that inflicted injury, since whilst he gained money he cast himself out of the favor of God, and lost more than he gained: so that he is the injured party. Surely then need is not that one pray against, but for him, that God would be merciful to him. See how many things the three children suffered, though they had done no harm. They lost country, liberty, were taken captive and made slaves; and when carried away into a foreign and barbarous land, were even on the point of being slain on account of the dream, without cause or object(4). (Dan. ii. 13.) What then? When they had entered in with Daniel, what prayed they? What said they? Dash down Nabuchodonosor, pull down his diadem, hurl him from the throne? Nothing of this sort; but they desired "mercies of God." (Dan. ii. 18. LXX.) And when they were in the furnace, likewise. But not so ye: but when ye suffer far less than they, and oftentimes justly, ye cease not to vent ten thousand imprecations. And one saith, 'Strike down my enemy as Thou overwhelmedst the chariot of Pharaoh;' another, 'Blast his flesh;' another again, 'Requite it on his children.' Recognize ye not these words? Whence then is this your laughter? Seest thou how laughable this is, when it is uttered without passion. And so all sin then discovereth how vile it is, when thou strippest it of the state of mind of the perpetrator. Shouldest thou remind one who has been angered of the words which he said in his passion, he will sink for shame and scorn himself and wish he had suffered a thousand punishments rather than those words to be his. And shouldest thou, when the embrace is over, bring the unchaste to the woman he sinned with, he too will turn away from her as disgusting. And so do ye, because ye are not under the influence of the passion, laugh now. For worthy to be laughed at are they, and the words of drunken old gossips; and springing from a womanish littleness of soul. And yet Joseph, though he had been sold and made a slave, and had tenanted a prison, uttered not even then a bitter word against the authors of his sorrows. But what saith he? "Indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews;" (Gen. xl. 15.) and addeth not by whom. For he feels more ashamed for the wickedness of his brethren, than they who wrought them. Such too ought to be our disposition, to grieve for them who wrong us more than they themselves do. For the hurt passeth on to them. As then they who kick against nails, yet are proud of it, are fit objects of pity and lamentation on account of this madness; so they who wrong those that do them no evil, inasmuch as they wound their own souls, are fit objects for many moans and lamentations, not for curses. For nothing is more polluted than a soul that curseth, or more impure than a tongue that offereth such sacrifices. Thou art a man; vomit not forth the poison of asps. Thou art a man; become not a wild beast. For this was thy mouth made, not that thou shouldest bite but that thou shouldest heal the wounds of others. 'Remember the charge I have given thee,' saith God, 'to pardon and forgive. But thou beseechest Me also to be a party to the overthrow of my own commandments, and devourest thy brother, and reddenest thy tongue, as madmen do their teeth on their own members.' How, thinkest thou, the devil is pleased and laughs, when he hears such a prayer? and how, God is provoked, and turneth from and abhorreth thee, when thou beseechest things like these? Than which, what can be more dangerous? For if none should approach the mysteries that hath enemies: how must not he, that not only hath, but also prayeth against them, be excluded even from the outer courts themselves? Thinking then on these things, and considering the Subject(1) of the Sacrifice, that He was sacrificed for enemies; let us not have an enemy: and if we have, let us pray for him; that we too having obtained forgiveness of the sins we have committed, may stand with boldness at the tribunal of Christ; to whom be glory for ever. Amen(2).


2 COR. iii. 1.

"Are we beginning, again to commend ourselves? or need we, as do some epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you?"

HE anticipates and puts himself an objection which others would have urged against him, 'Thou vauntest thyself;' and this though he had before employed so strong a corrective in the expressions, "Who is sufficient for these things?" and, "of sincerity... speak we." (2 Cor. ii. 16, 17.) Howbeit he is not satisfied with these. For such is his character. From appearing to say any thing great of himself he is far removed, and avoids it even to great superfluity and excess. And mark, I pray thee, by this instance also, the abundance of his wisdom. For a thing of woeful aspect, I mean tribulations, he so much exalted and showed to be bright and lustrous, that out of what he said the present objection rose up against him. And he does so also towards the end. For after having enumerated numberless perils, insults, straits, necessities, and as many such like things as be, he added, "We commend not ourselves, but speak as giving you occasion to glory.,, (2 Cor. v. 12.) And he expresses this again with vehemence in that place, and with more of encouragement. For here the words are those of love, "Need we, as do some, epistles of commendation?" but there what he says is full of a kind of pride even, necessarily and properly so, of pride, I say, and anger. "For we commend not ourselves again," saith he, "but speak as giving you occasion to glory;" (2 Cor. v. 12.) and, "Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? For(3) in the sight of God speak we in Christ. For I fear lest by any means when I come I should not find you such as I would, and should myself be found of you such as ye would not." (ib. xii. 19, 20.) For to prevent all appearance of a wish to flatter, as though he desired honor from them, he speaketh thus, "I fear lest by any means when I come I should not find you such as I would, and should myself be found of you such as ye would not." This however comes after many accusations(4); But in the beginning he speaketh not so, but more gently. And what is it he saith? He spoke of his trials and his perils, and that every where he is conducted as in procession(1) by God in Christ, and that the whole world knoweth of these triumphs. Since then he has uttered great things of himself, he urges this objection against himself, "Are we beginning again to commend ourselves?" Now what he Saith is this: Perchance some one will object, 'What is this, O Paul? Sayest thou these things of thyself, and exaltest thyself?' To do away then with this suspicion, he saith, We desire not this, that is, to boast and exalt ourselves; yea, so far are we from needing epistles of commendation to you that ye are to us instead of an epistle."For," saith he,

Ver. 2. "Ye are our epistle."

What means this, "ye are ?" 'Did we need to be commended to others, we should have produced you before them instead of an epistle.' And this he said in the former Epistle. "For the seal of mine Apostleship are ye." (1 Cor. ix. 2. ) But he doth not here say it in this manner, but in irony so as to make his question, "Do we need epistles of commendation?" more cutting. And in allusion to the false apostles, he added, "as do some, [epistles of commendation] to you, or letters of commendation from you" to others. Then because what he had said was severe, he softens it by adding, "Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known of all,

Ver. 3. "Being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ."

Here he testifieth not only to their love, but also to their good works: since they are able to show unto all men by their own virtue the high worth of their teacher, for this is the meaning of, "Ye are our epistle."

What letters would have done to commend and gain respect for us, that ye do both as seen and heard of; for the virtue of the disciples is wont to adorn and to commend the teacher more than any letter.

Ver. 3. "Written in our hearts."

That is, which all know; we so bear you about every where and have you in mind. As though he said, Ye are our commendation to others, for we both have you continually in our heart and proclaim to all your good works. Because then that even to others yourselves are our commendation, we need no epistles from you; but further, because we love you exceedingly, we need no commendation to you. For to those who are strangers one hath need of letters, but ye are in our mind. Yet he said not merely, "ye are [in it]," but "written in [it]," that is, ye cannot slide out of it. For just as from letters by reading, so from our heart by perceiving, all are acquainted with the love we bear you. If then the object of a letter be to certify, "such an one is my friend and let him have free intercourse [with you], your love is sufficient to secure all this. For should we go to you, we have no need of others to commend us, seeing your love anticipateth this; and should we go to others, again we need no letters, the same love again sufficing unto us in their stead, for we carry about the epistle in our hearts.

[2.] Then exalting them still higher, he even calleth them the epistle of Christ, saying,

Ver. 3. "Being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ."

And having said this, he afterwards hence takes ground and occasion for a discussion on the Law. And there is another(2) aim in his here styling them His epistle. For above as commending him, he called them an epistle; but here an epistle of Christ, as having the Law of God written in them. For what things God wished to declare to all and to you, these are written in your hearts. But it was we who prepared you to receive the writing. For just as Moses hewed the stones and tables, so we, your souls. Whence he saith,

"Ministered by us."

Yet in this they were on an equality; for the former were written on by God, and these by the Spirit. Where then is the difference?

"Written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in tables that are hearts of flesh."

Wide as the difference between the Spirit and ink, and a stony table and a fleshy, so wide is that between these and those; consequently between themselves(3) who ministered, and him(4) who ministered to them. Yet because it was a great thing he had uttered, he therefore quickly checks himself, saying,

Ver. 4. "And such confidence have we through Christ to Godward,"

And again refers all to God: for it is Christ, saith he, Who is the Author of these things to us.

Ver. 5. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to account any thing as from ourselves."

See again, yet another corrective. For he possesses this virtue, humility I mean, in singular perfection. Wherefore whenever he saith any thing great of himself, he maketh all diligence to soften down extremely and by every means, what he has said. And so he does in this place also, saying, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to account any thing as from ourselves:" that is, I said not, "We have confidence," as though part were ours and part God's; but I refer and ascribe the whole to Him.

Ver. 5, 6. "For(1) our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant."

What means, "made us sufficient?" Made us able and fitting. And it is not a little thing to be the bearer to the world of such tables and letters, greater far than the former. Whence also he added,

"Not of the letter, but of the spirit." See again another difference. What then? was not that Law spiritual? How then saith he, "We know that the Law is spiritual?" (Rom. vii. 14.) Spiritual indeed, but it bestowed not a spirit. For Moses bare not a spirit, but letters; but we have been entrusted with the giving of a spirit. Whence also in further completion of this [contrast,] he saith,

"For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."

Yet these things he saith not absolutely"; but in allusion to those who prided themselves upon the things of Judaism. And by "letter" here he meaneth the Law which punisheth them that transgress; but by "spirit" the grace which through Baptism giveth life to them who by sins were made dead. For having mentioned the difference arising from the nature of the tables, he doth not dwell upon it, but rapidly passing it by, bestows more labor upon this, which most enabled him to lay hold on his hearer from considerations of what was advantageous and easy; for, saith he, it is not laborious, and the gift it offers is greater. For if when discoursing of Christ, he puts especially forward those things which are of His lovingkindness, more than of our merit, and which are mutually connected, much greater necessity is there for his doing so when treating of the covenant. What then is the meaning of "the letter killeth?" He had said tables of stone and hearts of flesh: so far he seemed to mention no great difference. He added that the former [covenant] was written with letters or ink, but this with the Spirit. Neither did this rouse them thoroughly, He says at last what is indeed enough to give them wings(1); the one "killeth," the other "giveth life." And what doth this mean? In the Law, he that hath sin is punished; here, he that hath sins cometh and is baptized and is made righteous, and being made righteous, he liveth, being delivered from the death of sin. The Law, if it lay hold on a murderer, putteth him to death; the Gospel, if it lay hold on a murderer, enlighteneth, and giveth him life. And why do I instance a murderer? The Law laid hold on one that gathered sticks on a sabbath day, and stoned him. (Num. xv. 32, 36.) This is the meaning of, "the letter killeth." The Gospel takes hold on thousands of homicides and robbers, and baptizing delivereth them from their former vices. This is the meaning of, "the Spirit giveth life." The former maketh its captive dead from being alive, the latter rendereth the man it hath convicted alive from being dead. For, "come unto me, ye that labor and are heavy laden," (Matt. xi. 28.) and, He said not, ' I will punish you,' but, "I will give you rest." For in Baptism the sins are buried, the former things are blotted out, the man is made alive, the entire grace written upon his heart as it were a table. Consider then how high is the dignity of the Spirit, seeing that His tables are better than those former ones; seeing that even a greater thing is shown forth than the resurrection itself. For indeed, that state of death from which He delivers, is more irremediable than the former one: as much more so, as soul is of more value than the body: and this life is conferred by that, by that which the Spirit giveth. But if It be able to bestow this, much more then that which is less. For, that prophets wrought, but this they could not: for none can remit sins but God only; nor did the prophets bestow that life without the Spirit. But this is not the marvel only, that it giveth life, but that it enabled others also to do this. For He saith, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." (John xx. 22.) Wherefore? Because without the Spirit it might not be? [Yes,] but God, as showing that It is of supreme authority, and of that Kingly Essence, and hath the same power [with Himself,] saith this too. Whence also He adds, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." (ibid. 23.)

[3.] Since then It hath given us life, let us remain living and not return again to the former deadness: for "Christ dieth no more; for the death that He died, He died unto sin once:" (Rom. vi. 9, 10.) and He will not have us always saved by grace: for so we shall be empty of all things. Wherefore He will have us contribute something also from ourselves. Let us then contribute, and preserve to the soul its life. And what is life in a soul, learn from the body. For the body too we then affirm to live, when it moves with a healthy kind of motion; but when it lies prostrate and powerless, or its motions are disorderly, though it retain the semblance of life or motion, such a life is more grievous than any death: and should it utter nothing sane but words of the crazy, and see one object instead of another, such a man again is more pitiable than those who are dead. So also the soul when it hath no healthiness, though it retain a semblance of life, is dead: when it doth not see gold as gold but as something great and precious; when it thinketh not of the future but crawleth upon the ground; when it doth one thing in place of another. For whence is it clear that we have a soul? Is it not from its operations? When then it doth not perform the things proper to it, is it not dead? when, for instance, it hath no care for virtue, but is rapacious and transgresseth the law; whence can I tell that thou hast a soul? Because thou walkest? But this belongs to the irrational creatures as well. Because thou eatest and drinkest? But this too belongeth to wild beasts. Well then, because thou standest upright on two feet? This convinceth me rather that thou art a beast in human form. For when thou resemblest one in all other respects, but not in its manner of erecting itself, thou dost the more disturb and terrify me; and I the more consider that which I see to be a monster. For did I see a beast speaking with the voice of a man, I should not for that reason say it was a man, but even for that very reason a beast more monstrous than a beast. Whence then can I learn that thou hast the soul of a man, when thou kickest like the ass, when thou bearest malice like the camel, when thou bitest like the bear, when thou ravenest like the wolf, when thou stealest like the fox, when thou art wily as the serpent, when thou art shameless as the dog? Whence can I learn that thou hast the soul of a man? Will ye that I show you a dead soul and a living? Let us turn the discourse back to those men of old; and, if you will, let us set before us the rich man [in the story] of Lazarus, and we shall know what is death in a soul; for he had a dead soul, and it is plain from what he did. For, of the works of the soul he did not one, but ate and drank and lived in pleasure only. Such are even now the unmerciful and cruel, for these too have a dead soul as he had. For all its warmth that floweth out of the love of our neighbor hath been spent, and it is deader than a lifeless body. But the poor man was not such, but standing on the very summit of heavenly wisdom shone out; and though wrestling with continual hunger, and not even supplied with the food that was necessary, neither so spake he aught of blasphemy against God, but endured all nobly. Now this is no trifling work of the soul; but a very high proof that it is well-strung and healthful. And when there are not these qualities, it is plainly because the soul is dead that they have perished. Or, tell me, shall we not pronounce that soul dead which the Devil falls upon, striking, biting, spurning it, yet hath it no sense of any of these things, but lieth deadened nor grieveth when being robbed of its wealth; but he even leapeth upon it, yet it remaineth unmoved, like a body when the soul is departed, nor even feeleth it? For when the fear of God is not present with strictness, such must the soul needs be, and then the dead more miserable. For the soul is not dissolved into corruption and ashes and dust, but into things of fouler odor than these, into drunkenness and anger and covetousness, into improper loves and unseasonable desires. But if thou wouldest know more exactly how foul an odor it hath, give me a soul that is pure, and then thou wilt see clearly how foul the odor of this filthy and impure one. For at present thou wilt not be able to perceive it. For so long as we are in contact habitually with a foul odor, we are not sensible of it. But when we are fed with spiritual words, then shall we be cognizant of that evil. And yet to many this seemeth of no importance(1). And I say nothing as yet of hell; but let us, if you will, examine what is present, and how worthy of derision is he, not that practiseth, but that uttereth filthiness; how first he loadeth himself with contumely; just as one that sputtereth any filth from the mouth, so he defiles himself. For if the stream is so impure, think what must be the fountain of this filth! "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (Mat. xii. 34.) Yet not for this alone do I grieve, but because that to some this doth not even seem to be reckoned amongst improper things. Hence the evils are all made worse, when we both sin, and do not think we even do amiss.(2)

[4.] Wilt thou then learn how great an evil is filthy talking? See how the hearers blush at thy indecency. For what is viler than a filthy talker? what more infamous? For such thrust themselves into the rank of buffoons and of prostituted women, yea rather these have more shame than you. How canst thou teach a wife to be modest when by such language thou art training her to proceed unto lasciviousness? Better vent rottenness from the mouth than a filthy word. Now if thy mouth have an ill-odor, thou partakest not even of the common meats; when then thou hadst so foul a stink in thy soul, tell me, dost thou dare to partake of mysteries? Did any one take a dirty vessel and set it upon the table, thou wouldest have beaten him with clubs and driven him out: yet God at His own table, (for His table our mouth is when filled with thanksgiving,) when thou pourest out words more disgusting than any unclean vessel, tell me, dost thou think that thou provokest not? And how is this possible? For nothing doth so exasperate the holy and pure as do such words; nothing makes men so impudent(1) and shameless as to say and listen to such; nothing doth so unstring the sinews of modesty as the flame which these kindle. God hath set perfumes in thy mouth, but thou storest up words of fouler odor than a corpse, and destroyest the soul itself and makest it incapable of motion. For when thou insultest, this is not the voice of the soul, but of anger; when thou talkest filthily, it is lewdness, and not she that spake; when thou detractest, it is envy; when thou schemest, covetousness. These are not her works, but those of the affections(2) and the diseases belonging to her. As then corruption cometh not simply of the body, but of the death and the passion which is thus in the body; so also, in truth, these things come of the passions which grow upon the soul. For if thou wilt hear a voice from a living soul, hear Paul saying, "Having food and covering, we shall be therewith content:" (1 Tim. vi. 8.) and "Godliness is great gain:" (ib. 6.) and, "The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. vi. 14.) Hear Peter saying, "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, give I thee." (Acts iii. 6.) Hear Job giving thanks and saying, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away." (Job i. 21.) These things are the words of a living soul, of a soul discharging the functions proper to it. Thus also Jacob said, "If the Lord will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on." (Gen. xxviii. 20.) Thus also Joseph, "How shall I do this wickedness, and sin before God?" (ib. xxxix. 9.) But not so that barbarian woman; but as one drunken and insane(3), so spake she, saying, "Lie with me." (ibid. 7.) These things then knowing, let us earnestly covet the living soul, let us flee the dead one, that we may also obtain the life to come; of which may all we be made partakers, through the grace and love toward men of our Lord Jesus Christ, though Whom and with Whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.


2 COR. iii. 7, 8.

"But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly upon the face of Moses, for the glory of his face; which glory was passing away: how shall not rather the ministration of the Spirit be with glory?"

He said that the tables of Moses were of stone, as [also] they were written with letters; and that these were of flesh, I mean the hearts of the Apostles, and had been written on by the Spirit; and that the letter indeed killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. There was yet wanting to this comparison the addition of a further and not trifling particular, that of the glory of Moses; such as in the case of the New Covenant none saw with the eyes of the body. And even for this cause it appeared a great thing in that the glory was perceived by the senses; (for it was seen by the bodily eyes, even though it might not be approached;) but that of the New Covenant is perceived by the understanding. For to the weaker sort the apprehension of such a superiority is not clear; but the other did more take them, and turn them unto itself. Having then fallen upon this comparison and being set upon showing the superiority [in question], which yet was exceedingly difficult because of the dulness of the hearers; see what he does, and with what method(1) he proceeds in it, first by arguments placing the difference before them, and constructing these out of what he had said before.

For if that ministration were of death, but this of life, doubtless, saith he, the latter glory is also greater than the former. For since he could not exhibit it to the bodily eyes, by this logical inference he established its superiority, saying,

Ver. 8. "But if(4) the ministration of death came with glory, how shall not rather the ministration of the Spirit be with glory?"

Now by "ministration of death" he means the Law. And mark too how great the caution he uses in the comparison so as to give no handle to the heretics; for he said not, 'which causeth death,' but, "the ministration of death;" for it ministereth unto, but was not the parent of, death; for that which caused death was sin; but [the Law] brought in the punishment, and showed the sin, not caused it. For it more distinctly revealed the evil and punished it: it did not impel unto the evil: and it ministered not to the existence of sin or death, but to the suffering of retribution by the sinner. So that in this way it was even destructive of sin. For that which showeth it to be so fearful, it is obvious, maketh it also to be avoided. As then he that taketh the sword in his hands and cutteth off the condemned, ministers to the judge that passeth sentence, and it is not he that is his destruction, although he cutteth him off; nay, nor yet is it he who passeth sentence and condemneth, but the wickedness of him that is punished; so truly here also it is not that(1) destroyeth, but sin. This did both destroy and condemn, but that by punishing undermined its strength, by the fear of the punishment holding it back. But he was not content with this consideration only in order to establish the superiority [in question]; but he addeth yet another, saying, "written, and engraven on stones." See how he again cuts at the root of the Jewish arrogancy. For the Law was nothing else but letters: a certain succor was not found leaping forth from out the letters and inspiring them that combat, as is the case in Baptism; but pillars and writings bearing death to those who transgress the letters. Seest thou how in correcting the Jewish contentiousness, by his very expressions even he lessens its authority, speaking of stone and letters and a ministration of death, and adding that it was engraven? For hereby he declareth nothing else than this, that the Law was fixed in one place; not, as the Spirit, was present everywhere, breathing great might into all; or that the letters breathe much threatening, and threatening too which can not be effaced but remaineth for ever, as being engraved in stone. Then even whilst seeming to praise the old things, he again mixeth up accusation of the Jews. For having said, "written and engraven in stones, came with glory," he added, "so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly upon the face of Moses;" which was a mark of their great weakness and grovelling spirit. And again he doth not say, 'for the glory of the tables,' but, "for the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away;" for he showeth that he who beareth them is made glorious, and not they. For he said not, 'because they could not look steadfastly upon the tables,' but, "the face of Moses;" and again, not, 'for the glory of the tables,' but, "for the glory of his face." Then after he had extolled it, see how again he lowers it, saying, "which was passing away." Not however that this is in accusation, but in diminution; for he did not say, 'which was corrupt, which was evil,' but, 'which ceaseth and hath an end.'

"How shall not rather the ministration of the Spirit be with glory?" for henceforth with confidence he extolleth the things of the New [Covenant] as indisputable. And observe what he doth. He opposed 'stone' to 'heart,' and 'letter' to 'spirit.' Then having shown the results of each, he doth not set down the results of each; but having set down the work of the latter, namely, death and condemnation, he setteth not down that of the spirit, namely, life and righteousness; but the Spirit Itself; which added greatness to the argument. For the New Covenant not only gave life, but supplied also 'The Spirit' Which giveth the life, a far greater thing than the life. Wherefore he said, "the ministration of the Spirit." Then he again reverts to the same thing, saying,

Ver. 9. "For if the ministration of condemnation is glory."

Also, he interprets more clearly the meaning of the words, "The letter killeth," declaring it to be that which we have said above, namely, that the Law showed sin, not caused it.

"Much rather doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory." For those Tables indeed showed the sinners and punished them, but this not only did not punish the sinners, but even made them righteous: for this did Baptism confer.

[2.] Ver. 10. "For verily that which hath been made glorious hath not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasseth."

Now in what has gone before, indeed, he showed that this also is with glory; and not simply is with glory, but even exceedeth in it: for he did not say, "How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather in glory?" but, "exceed in glory;" deriving the proof from the arguments before stated. Here he also shows the superiority, how great it is, saying, 'if I compare this with that, the glory of the Old Covenant is not glory at all;' not absolutely laying down that there was no glory, but in view of the comparison. Wherefore also he added, "in this respect," that is, in respect of the comparison. Not that this doth disparage the Old Covenant, yea rather it highly commendeth it: for comparisons are wont to be made between things which are the same in kind. Next, he sets on foot yet another argument to prove the superiority also from a fresh ground. What then is this argument? That based upon duration, saying,

Ver. 11. "For if that which passeth away was with glory, much more that which remaineth is in glory."

For the one ceased, but the other abideth continually.

Ver. 12. "Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech."

For since when he had heard so many and so great things concerning the New [Covenant,] the hearer would be desirous of seeing this glory manifested to the eye, mark whither he hurleth him, [even] to the world to come. Wherefore also he brought forward the "hope," saying, "Having therefore such a hope." Such? Of what nature? That we have been counted worthy of greater things than Moses; not we the Apostles only, but also all the faithful. "We use great boldness of speech." Towards whom? tell me. Towards God, or towards the disciples? Towards you who are receiving instruction, he saith; that is, we speak every where with freedom, hiding nothing, withholding nothing, mistrusting nothing, but speaking openly; and we have not feared lest we should wound your eyesight, as Moses did that of the Jews. For that he alluded to this, hear what follows; or rather, it is necessary first to relate the history, for he himself keeps dwelling upon it. What then is the history? When, having received the Tables a second time, Moses came down, a certain glory darting from his countenance shone so much that the Jews were not able to approach and talk with him until he put a veil over his face. And thus it is written in Exodus, (Ex. xxxiv. 29, 34.) "When Moses came down from the Mount, the two Tables [were] in his hands. And Moses wist not that the skin of his countenance was made glorious to behold. And they were afraid to come nigh him. And Moses called them, and spake unto them. And when(1) Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But when he went in before the Lord to speak [with Him], he took the veil off until he came out."

Putting them in mind then of this history, he says,

Ver. 13. "And not as Moses, who put a veil upon his face, so that the children of Israel should not look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away."

Now what he says is of this nature. There is no need for us to cover ourselves as Moses did; for ye are able to look upon this glory which we are encircled with, although it is far greater and brighter than the other. Seest thou the advance? For he that in the former Epistle said, "I have fed you with milk, not with meat;" saith here, "We use great boldness of speech." And he produces Moses before them, carrying forward the discourse by means of comparison, and thus leading his hearer upwards.

And for the present he sets them above the Jews, saying that 'we have no need of a veil as he(2) had with those he governed;' but in what comes afterwards he advances them even to the dignity itself of the Lawgiver, or even to a much greater.

Mean time, however, let us hear what follows next.

Ver. 14. "But their minds were hardened, for until this day remaineth the same veil in the reading of the Old Covenant, [it] not being revealed to them(3) that it is done away in Christ."

See what he establisheth by this. For what happened then once in the case of Moses, the same happeneth continually in the case of the Law. What is said, therefore, is no accusation of the Law, as neither is it of Moses that he then veiled himself, but only the senseless Jews. For the law hath its proper glory, but they were unable to see it. 'Why therefore are ye perplexed,' he saith, 'if they are unable to see this glory of the Grace, since they saw not that lesser one of Moses, nor were able to look steadfastly upon his countenance? And why are ye troubled that the Jews believe not Christ, seeing at least that they believe not even the Law? For they were therefore ignorant of the Grace also, because they knew not even the Old Covenant nor the glory which was in it. For the glory of the Law is to turn [men] unto Christ.'

[3] Seest thou how from this consideration also he takes down the inflation of the Jews? By that in which they thought they had the advantage, namely, that Moses' face shone, he proves their grossness and groveling nature. Let them not therefore pride themselves on that, for what was that to Jews who enjoyed it not? Wherefore also he keeps on dwelling upon it, saying one while, "The same veil in the reading of the old covenant remaineth," it "not being revealed that it is done away in Christ:" another while, that "unto this day when Moses is read," (v. 15.) the same "veil lieth upon their heart; "showing that the veil lieth both on the reading and on their heart; and above, "So that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly upon the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which" (v. 7.) glory "was passing away." Than which what could mark less worth in them? Seeing that even of a glory that is to be done away, or rather is in comparison no glory at all, they are not able to be spectators, but it is covered from them, "so that they could not steadfastly look on the end of that which was passing away;" that is, of the law, because it hath an end; "but their minds were hardened." 'And what,' saith one, 'hath this to do with the veil then? 'Because it prefigured what would be. For not only did they not then perceive; but they do not even now see the Law. And the fault lies with themselves, for the hardness is that of an unimpressible and perverse judgment. So that it is we who know the law also; but to them not only Grace, but this as well is covered with a shadow; "For until this day the same veil upon the reading of the old covenant remaineth," he saith, it "not being revealed that it is done away in Christ." Now what he saith is this. This very thing they cannot see, that it is brought to an end, because they believe not Christ. For if it be brought to an end by Christ, as in truth it is brought to an end, and this the Law said by anticipation, how will they who receive not Christ that hath done away the Law, be able to see that the Law is done away? And being incapable of seeing this, it is very plain that even of the Law itself which asserted these things, they know not the power nor the full glory. 'And where,' saith one,' did it say this that it is done away in Christ?' It did not say it merely, but also showed it by what was done. And first indeed by shutting up its sacrifices and its whole ritual(1) in one place, the Temple, and afterwards destroying this. For had He not meant to bring these to an end and the whole of the Law concerning them, He would have done one or other of two things; either not destroyed the Temple, or having destroyed it, not forbidden to sacrifice elsewhere. But, as it is, the whole world and even Jerusalem itself He hath made forbidden ground for such religious rites; having allowed and appointed for them only the Temple. Then having destroyed this itself afterwards He showed completely even by what was done that the things of the Law are brought to an end by Christ; for the Temple also Christ destroyed. But if thou wilt see in words as well how the Law is done away in Christ, hear the Lawgiver himself speaking thus; "A Prophet shall the Lord raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; (Deut. xvii. 15, 19.) Him shall ye hear in all things what soever He shall command you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed(2)." (Acts iii. 22, 23.) Seest thou how the Law showed that it is done away in Christ? For this Prophet, that is, Christ according to the flesh, Whom Moses commanded them to hear, made to cease both sabbath and circumcison and all the other things. And David too, showing the very same thing, said concerning Christ, "Thou art a Priest after the order of Melchizedek," (Ps. cx. 4;) not after the order of Aaron. Wherefore also Paul, giving a clear interpretation of this, says, "The priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the Law." (Heb. vii. 12.) And in another place also he says again, "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not. In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hadst had no pleasure: then said I, Lo, I come." (Heb. x. 5, 7.) And other testimonies far mere numerous than these may be adduced out of the Old Testament, showing how the Law is done away by Christ. So that when thou shalt have forsaken the Law, thou shalt then see the Law clearly; but so long as thou holdest by it and believest not Christ, thou knowest not even the Law itself. Wherefore also he added, to establish this very thing more clearly;

Ver. 15. "But even unto this day, whensoever Moses is read, a veil lieth upon their heart."

For since he said that in the reading of the Old Testament the veil remaineth, lest any should think that this that is said is from the obscurity of the Law, he both by other things showed even before what his meaning was, (for by saying, "their minds were hardened," he shows that the fault was their own,) and, in this place too, again. For he said not, 'The veil remaineth on the writing,' but "in the reading;" (now the reading is the act of those that read;) and again, "When Moses is read." He showed this however with greater clearness in the expression which follows next, saying unreservedly, "The veil lieth upon their heart." For even upon the face of Moses it lay, not because of Moses, but because of the grossness and carnal mind of these.

[4.] Having then suitably(3) accused them, he points out also the manner of their correction. And what is this?

Ver. 16. "Nevertheless when [one] shall turn to the Lord," which is, to forsake the Law, "the veil is taken away(4)."

Seest thou that not over the face of Moses was there that veil, but over the eyesight of the Jews? For it was done, not that the glory of Moses might be hidden, but that the Jews might not see. For they were not capable. So that in them was the deficiency, for it(1) caused not him to be ignorant of any thing, but them. And he did not say indeed, "when thou shalt let go the Law," but he implied it, for "when thou shalt turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away." To the very last he(2) kept to the history. For when Moses talked with the Jews he kept his face covered; but when he turned to God it was uncovered. Now this was a type of that which was to come to pass, that when we have turned to the Lord, then we shall see the glory of the Law, and the face of the Lawgiver bare; yea rather, not this alone, but we shall then be even in the same rank with Moses. Seest thou how he inviteth the Jew unto the faith, by showing, that by coming unto Grace he is able not only to see Moses, but also to stand in the very same rank with the Lawgiver. 'For not only,' he saith, 'shalt thou look on the glory which then thou sawest not, but thou shalt thyself also be included in the same glory; yea rather, in a greater glory, even so great that that other shall not seem glory at all when compared with this.' How and in what manner? 'Because that when thou hast turned to the Lord and art included in the grace, thou wilt enjoy that glory, unto which the glory of Moses, if compared, is so much less as to be no glory at all. But still, small though it be and exceedingly below that other, whilst thou art a Jew, even this will not be vouchsafed thee(3); but having become a believer, it will then be vouchsafed thee to behold even that which is far greater than it.' And when he was addressing himself to the believers, he said, that "that which was made glorious had no glory;" but here he speaks not so; but how? "When one shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away:" leading him up by little and little, and first setting him in Moses' rank, and then making him partake of the greater things. For when thou hast seen Moses in glory, then afterwards thou shalt also turn unto God and enjoy this greater glory.

[5.] See then from the beginning, how many things he has laid down, as constituting the difference and showing the superiority, not the enmity or contradiction, of the New Covenant in respect to the old. That, saith he, is letter, and stone, and a ministration of death, and is done away: and yet the Jews were not even vouchsafed this glory. (Or, the glory of this.) This table is of the flesh, and spirit, and righteousness, and remaineth; and unto all of us is it vouchsafed, not to one only, as to Moses of the lesser then. (ver. 18.) "For," saith he, "we all with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord," not that of Moses. But since some maintain that the expression, "when one shall turn to the Lord," is spoken of the Son, in contradiction to what is quite acknowledged; let us examine the point more accurately, having first stated the ground on which they think to establish this. What then is this? Like, saith one, as it is said, "God is a Spirit;" (John iv. 24.) so also here, 'The Lord is a Spirit.' But he did not say, 'The Lord is a Spirit,' but, "The Spirit is the Lord." And there is a great difference between this construction and that. For when he is desirous of speaking so as you say, he does not join the article to the predicate. And besides, let us review all his discourse from the first, of whom hath he spoken? for instance, when he said, "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life:" (ver. 6.) and again, "Written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; "(ver. 3.) was he speaking of God, or of the Spirit? It is very plain that it was of the Spirit; for unto It he was calling them from the letter. For lest any, hearing of the Spirit, and then reflecting that Moses turned unto the Lord, but himself unto the Spirit, should think himself to have the worse, to correct such a suspicion as this, he says,

Ver. 17. "Now the Spirit Is the Lord." This too is Lord, he says. And that you may know that he is speaking of the Paraclete, he added,

"And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

For surely you will not assert, that he says, 'And where the Lord of the Lord is.' "Liberty," he said, with reference to the former bondage. Then, that you may not think that he is speaking of a time to come, he says,

Ver. 18. "But we all, with unveiled face, reflecting(4) as a mirror the glory of the Lord."

Not that which is brought to an end, but that which remaineth.

"Are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit."

Seest thou how again he places the Spirit in the rank of God, (vide infra) and raises them up to the rank of the Apostles. For he said before, "Ye are the Epistle of Christ; and here, "But we all with open face." Yet they came, like Moses, bringing a law. But like as we, he says, needed no veil, so neither ye who received it. And yet, this glory is far greater, for this is not of our countenance, but of the Spirit; but nevertheless ye are able as well as we to look steadfastly upon it. For they indeed could not even by a mediator, but ye even without a mediator can [look steadfastly on] a greater. They were not able to look upon that of Moses, ye even upon that of the Spirit. Now had the Spirit been at all inferior, He would not have set down these things as greater than those. But what is, "we reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image." This indeed was shown more clearly when the gifts of miracles were in operation; howbeit it is not even now difficult to see it, for one who hath believing eyes. For as soon as we are baptized, the soul beameth even more than the sun, being cleansed by the Spirit; and not only do we behold the glory of God, but from it also receive a sort of splendor. Just as if pure silver be turned towards the sun's rays, it will itself also shoot forth rays, not from its own natural property merely but also from the solar lustre; so also doth the soul being cleansed and made brighter than silver, receive a ray from the glory of the Spirit, and send it back. Wherefore also he saith, "Reflecting as a mirror we are transformed into the same image from glory," that of the Spirit, "to glory," our own, that which is generated in us; and that, of such sort, as one might expect from the Lord the Spirit. See how here also he calleth the Spirit, Lord. And in other places too one may see that lordship of His. For, saith he, "As they ministered and fasted unto the Lord, the Spirit said, Separate me Paul and Barnabas." (Acts xiii. 2.) For therefore he said, "as they ministered unto the Lord, Separate me," in order to show the [Spirit's] equality in honor. And again Christ saith, "The servant knoweth not what his lord doeth;" but even as a man knoweth his own things, so doth the Spirit know the things of God; not by being taught [them,] for so the similitude holdeth not good. Also the working as He willeth showeth His authority and lordship. This transformeth us. This suffereth not to be conformed to this world; for such is the creation of which This is the Author. For as he saith, "Created in Christ Jesus," (Ephes. ii. 10.) so saith he, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in my inward parts". (Ps. li. 10, LXX.)

[6.] Wilt thou that I show thee this also from the Apostles more obviously to the sense. Consider Paul, whose garments wrought: Peter, whose very shadows were mighty. (Acts xix, 12; v, 15. XX.) For had they not borne a King's image and their radiancy been unapproachable, their garments and shadows had not wrought so mightily. For the garments of a king are terrible even to robbers. Wouldest thou see this beaming even through the body? "Looking steadfastly," said he, "upon the face of Stephen, they saw it as it had been the face of an angel." (Acts vi. 15.) But this was nothing to the glory flashing within. For what Moses had upon his countenance, that did these carry about with them on their souls, yea 'rather' even far more. For that of Moses indeed was more obvious to the senses, but this was incorporeal. And like as fire-bright bodies streaming down from the shining bodies upon those which lie near them, impart to them also somewhat of their own splendor, so truly doth it also happen with the faithful. Therefore surely they with whom it is thus are set free from earth, and have their dreams of the things in the heavens. Woe is me! for well is it that we should here even groan bitterly, for that we who enjoy a birth so noble do not so much as know what is said, because we quickly lose the reality, and are dazzled about the objects of sense. For this glory, the unspeakable and awful, remaineth in us for a day or two, and then we quench it, bringing over it the winter of worldly concerns, and with the thickness of those clouds repelling its rays. For worldly things are a winter, and than winter more lowering. For not frost is engendered thence nor rain, neither doth it produce mire and deep swamps; but, things than all these more grievous, it formeth hell and the miseries of hell. And as in severe frost all the limbs are stiffened and are dead, so truly the soul shuddering in the winter of sins also, performeth none of its proper functions, stiffened, as it were, by a frost, as to conscience. For what cold is to the body, that an evil conscience is to the soul, whence also cometh cowardice. For nothing is more cowardly than the man that is rivetted to worldly things; for such an one lives the life of Cain, trembling every day. And why do I mention deaths, and losses, and offences, and flatteries, and services? for even without these he is in fear of ten thousand vicissitudes. And his coffers indeed are full of gold, but his soul is not freed from the fear of poverty. And very reasonably. For he is moored as it were on rotten and swiftly shifting things, and even though in his own case he experienced not the reverse, yet is he undone by seeing it happen in others; and great is his cowardice, great his unmanliness. For not only is such an one spiritless as to danger, but also as to all other things. And if desire of wealth assail him, he doth not like a free man beat off the assault; but like a bought slave, doth all [it bids], serving the love of money as it were a severe mistress. If again he have beheld some comely damsel, down he croucheth at once made captive, and followeth like a raging dog, though it behoveth to do the opposite. For when thou hast beheld a beautiful woman, consider not how thou mayest enjoy thy lust, but but how be delivered from thy lust. 'And how is this possible,' saith one? 'for loving is not my own doing.' Whose then? tell me. It is from the Devil's malice. Thou art quite convinced that that which plotteth against thee is a devil; wrestle then and fight with a distemper. But I cannot, he saith. Come then, let us first teach thee this, that what happeneth is from thine own listlessness, and that thou at the first gavest entrance to the Devil, and now if thou hast a mind, with much ease mayest drive him off. They that commit adultery, is it from lust they commit it, or simply from desire of dangers? Plainly from lust. Do they then therefore obtain forgiveness? Certainly not. Why not? Because the sin is their own. 'But,' saith one, 'why, pray, string syllogisms? For my conscience bears me witness that I wish to repel the passion; and cannot, but it keepeth close, presses me sore, and afflicts me grievously.' O man, thou dost wish to repel it, but thou dost not the things repellers should do; but it is with thee just as with a man in a fever, who drinking of cold streams to the fill, should say, 'How many things I devise with the wish to quench this fever, and I cannot; but they stir up my flame the more.' Let us see then whether at all thou too dost the things that inflame, yet thinkest thou art devising such as quench. 'I do not,' he saith. Tell me then, what hast thou ever essayed to do in order to quench the passion? and what is it, in fine, that will increase the passion? For even supposing we be not all of us obnoxious to these particular charges; (for more may be found who are captivated by the love of money than of beauty;) still the remedy to be proposed will be common to all, both to these and to those. For both that is an unreasonable passion, and this, is keener and fiercer than that. When then we have proved victorious over the greater, it is very plain that we shall easily subdue the less also. 'And how is it,' saith one, 'that if this be keener, all persons are not made captive by the vice, but a greater number are mad after money?' Because in the first place this last desire appears to be unattended with danger: next, although that of beauty be even fiercer, yet it is more speedily extinguished; for were it to continue like that of money, it would wholly destroy its captive.

[7.] Come then, let us discourse to you on this, the love of beauty, and let us see whereby the mischief is increased; for so we shall know whether the fault be ours, or not ours. And if ours, let us do everything to get the better of it; whereas if not ours, why do we afflict ourselves for nought? And why do we not pardon, but find fault, with those who are made captive by it? Whence then is this love engendered? 'From comeliness of feature,' saith one, 'when she that woundeth one is beautiful and of fair countenance.' It is said idly and in vain. For if it were beauty that attracted lovers, then would the maiden who is such have all men for her lovers; but if she hath not all, this thing cometh not of nature nor from beauty, but from unchaste eyes. For it was when by eyeing too curiously(1), thou didst admire and become enamored, that thou receivedst the shaft. 'And who,' saith one, ' when he sees a beautiful woman, can refrain from commending her he sees? If then admiring such things cometh not of deliberate choice, it follows that love depends not on ourselves.' Stop, O man! Why dost thou crowd all things together, running round and round on every side, and not choosing to see the root of the evil? For I see numbers admiring and commending, who yet are not enamored. 'And how is it possible to admire and not be enamored?' Clamor not, (for this I am coming to speak of,) but wait, and thou shalt hear Moses admiring the son of Jacob, and saying, "And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored exceedingly." (Gen. xxxix. 6, LXX.) Was he then enamored who speaketh this? By no means. 'For,' saith he, 'he did not even see him whom he commended.' We are affected, however, somewhat similarly towards beauties also which are described to us, not only which are beheld. But that thou cavil not with us on this point:--David, was he not comely exceedingly, and ruddy with beauty of eyes? (So 1 Sam. xvi. 12 & xvii. 42. LXX.) and indeed this beauty of the eyes, is even especially, a component of beauteousness of more despotic power than any. Was then any one enamored of him? By no means. Then to be also enamored cometh not [necessarily] with admiring. For many too have had mothers blooming exceedingly in beauty of person. What then? Were their children enamored of them? Away with the thought! but they admire what they see, yet fall not into a shameful love. 'No, for again this good provision is Nature's.' How Nature's? Tell me. 'Because they are mothers,' he saith. Then hearest thou not that Persians, and that without any compulsion, have intercourse with their own mothers, and that not one or two individuals, but a whole nation? But independent of these, it is hence also evident that this distemper cometh not from bloom of person nor from beauty merely, but from a listless and wandering soul. Many at least it is certain, oftentimes, having passed over thousands of well-favored women, have given themselves to such as were plainer. Whence it is evident that love depends not on beauty: for otherwise, surely, those would have caught such as fell into it, before these. What then is its cause? 'For,' saith he, 'if it be not beauty that causeth love, whence hath it its beginning and its root? From a wicked Demon?' It hath it indeed, thence also, but this is not what we are inquiring about, but whether we ourselves too be not the cause. For the plot is not theirs only, but along with them our own too in the first place. For from no other source is this wicked distemper so engendered as from habit, and flattering words, and leisure, and idleness, and having nothing to do. For great, great is the tyranny of habit, even so great as to be moulded into(1) a necessity of nature. Now if it be habit's to gender it, it is very evident that it is also [habit's] to extinguish it. Certain it is at least that many have in this way ceased to be enamored, from not seeing those they were enamored of. Now this for a little while indeed appears to be a bitter thing and exceedingly unpleasant; but in time it becometh pleasant, and even were they to wish it, they could not afterwards resume the passion.

[8.] How then, when without habit one is taken captive at first sight? Here also it is indolence of body, or self-indulgence, and not attending to one's duties, nor being occupied in necessary business. For such an one, wandering about like some vagabond, is transfixed by any wickedness; and like a child let loose, any one that liketh maketh such a soul his slave. For since it is its wont to be at work, when thou stoppest its workings in what is good, seeing it cannot be unemployed, it is compelled to engender what is otherwise. For just as the earth, when it is not sown nor planted, sends up simply weeds; so also the soul, when it hath nought of necessary things to do, being desirous by all means to be doing, giveth herself unto wicked deeds. And as the eye never ceaseth from seeing, and therefore will see wicked things, when good things are not set before it; so also doth the thought, when it secludes itself from necessary things, busy itself thereafter about such as are unprofitable. For that even the first assault occupation and thought are able to beat off, is evident from many things. When then thou hast looked on a beautiful woman, and weft moved towards her, look no more, and thou art delivered. 'And how shall I be able to look no more,' saith he, 'when drawn by that desire?' Give thyself to other things which may distract the soul, to books, to necessary cares, to protecting others, to assisting the injured, to prayers, to the wisdom which considers the things to come: with such things as these bind down thy soul. By these means, not only shalt thou cure a recent wound, but shalt wear away a confirmed and inveterate one easily. For if an insult according to the proverb prevails with the lover to give over his love, how shall not these spiritual charms(2) much rather be victorious over the evil, if only we have a mind to stand aloof. But if we are always conversing and associating with those who shoot such arrows at us, and talking with them and hearing what they say, we cherish the distemper. How then dost thou expect the fire to be quenched, when day by day thou stirrest up the flame?

And let this that we have said about habit be our speech unto the young; since to those who are men and taught in heavenly wisdom, stronger than all is the fear of God, the remembrance of hell, the desire of the kingdom of heaven; for these are able to quench the fire. And along with these take that thought also, that what thou seest is nothing else than rheum, and blood, and juices of decomposed food. 'Yet a gladsome thing is the bloom of the features,' saith one. But nothing is more gladsome than the blossoms of the earth, and these too rot and wither. Do not then in this either give heed to the bloom, but pass on further inward in thy thought, and stripping off that beauteous skin in thy thought, scan curiously what lies beneath it. For even the bodies of the dropsical shine brightly, and the surface hath nothing offensive; but still, shocked with the thought of the humor stored within we cannot love such persons. But languishing is the eye and glancing, and beautifully arched the brow, and dark the lashes, and soft the eyeball, and serene the look.' But see how even this itself again is nothing else than nerves, and veins, and membranes, and arteries. Think too, I pray, of this beautiful eye, when diseased and old, wasting with de spair, swelling with anger, how hateful to the sight it is, how quickly it perisheth, how sooner even than pictured ones, it is effaced. From these things make thy mind pass to the true beauty. 'But,' saith he, 'I do not see beauty of soul.' But if thou wilt choose, thou shalt see it: and as the absent beautiful may be with the mind admired, though with one's eyes unseen, so it is possible to see without eyes beauty of soul. Hast thou not often sketched a beauteous form, and felt moved unto the drawing? Image also now beauty of soul, and revel in that loveliness. 'But,' saith he, 'I do not see things incorporeal.' And yet we see these, rather than the corporeal, with the mind. Therefore it is, for instance, that although we see them not, we admire angels also and archangels, and habits of character, and virtue of soul. And if thou seest a man considerate and moderate, thou wilt more admire him than that beautiful countenance. And if thou seest one insulted, yet bearing it; wronged, yet giving way, admire and love such, even though they be striken in age. For such a thing is the beauty of the soul; even in old age it hath many enamored of it, and it never fadeth, but bloometh for ever. In order then that we also may gain this beauty, let us go in quest of those that have it, and be enamored of them. For so shall we too be able, when we have attained this beauty, to obtain the good things eternal, whereof may all we partake, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Spirit, be glory and might, for ever and ever. Amen.

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