HEBREWS xii. 11-13.

"No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous,[1] but grievous,[2] nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which area exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees: and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed."

[1.] They who drink bitter medicines, first submit to some unpleasantness, and afterwards feel the benefit. For such is virtue, such is vice. In the latter there is first the pleasure, then the despondency: in the former first the despondency, and then the pleasure. But there is no equality; for it is not the same, to be first grieved and afterwards pleased, and to be first pleased and afterwards grieved. How so? because in the latter case the expectation of coming despondency makes the present pleasure less: hut in the former the expectation of coming pleasure cuts away the violence of present despondency; so that the result is that in the one instance we never have pleasure, in the latter we never have grief. And the difference does not lie in this only, but also in other ways. As how? That the duration is not equal, but far greater and more ample. And here too, it is still more so in things spiritual.

From this [consideration] then Paul undertakes to console them; and again takes up the common judgment of men, which no one is able to stand against, nor to contend with the common decision, when one says what is acknowledged by all.

Ye are suffering, he says. For such is chastisement; such is its beginning. For "no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous but grievous." Well said he, "seemeth not," Chastisement he means is not grievous but "seemeth" so. "All chastisement": not this and that, but "all," both human and spiritual. Seest thou that he argues from our commonnotions? "Seemeth" (he says) "to be grievous," so that it is not [really so]. For what sort of grief brings forth joy? So neither does pleasure bring forth despondency.

"Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them which have been exercised thereby." Not "fruit" but "fruits,"[4] a great abundance.

"To them" (he says) "which have been exercised thereby." What is "to them which have been exercised thereby"? To them that have endured for a long while, and been patient. And he uses an auspicious[5] expression. So then, chastisement is exercise, making the athlete strong, and invincible in combats, irresistible in wars.

If then "all chastisement" be such, this also will be such: so that we ought to look for good things, and for a sweet and peaceful end. And do not wonder if, being itself hard, it has sweet fruits; since in trees also the bark is almost destitute of all quality,[6] and rough; but the fruits are sweet. But he took it from the common notion. If therefore we ought to look for such things, why do ye vex yourselves? Why, after ye have endured the painful, do ye despond as to the good? The distasteful things which ye had to endure, ye endured: do not then despond as to the recompense.

He speaks as to runners, and boxers, and warriors.[7] Seest thou how he arms them, how he encourages them? "Walk straight," he says. Here he speaks with reference to their thoughts; that is to say, not doubting. For if the chastisement be of love, if it begin from loving care, if it end with a good result (and this he proves both by facts and by words, and by all considerations), why are ye dispirited? For such are they who despair, who are not strengthened by the hope of the future. "Walk straight," he says, that your lameness may not be increased, but brought back to its former condition. For he that runs when he is lame, galls the sore place. Seest thou that it is in our power to be thoroughly healed?

[2.] Ver. 14. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." What he also said above, "Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together" (c. x. 25), he hints at in this place also. For nothing so especially makes persons easily vanquished and subdued in temptations, as isolation. For, tell me, scatter a phalanx in war, and the enemy will need no trouble, but will take them prisoners, coming on them separately, and thereby the more helpless. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness"[8] (he says). Therefore with the evil-doers as well? "If it be possible," he says, "as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (Rom. xii. 18.) For thy part (he means) "live peaceably," doing no harm to religion: but in whatever thou art ill-treated, bear it nobly. For the bearing with evil is a great weapon in trials. Thus Christ also made His disciples strong by saying, "Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves," (Matt. x. 16.) What dost Thou say? Are we "among wolves," and dost Thou bid us to be "as sheep," and "as doves"? Yea, He says. For nothing so shames him that is doing us evil, as bearing nobly the things which are brought upon us: and not avenging ourselves either by word or by deed. This both makes us more philosophical ourselves and procures a greater reward, and also benefits them. But has such an one been insolent? Do thou bless [him]. See how much thou wilt gain from this: thou hast quenched the evil, thou hast procured to thyself a reward, thou hast made him ashamed, and thou hast suffered nothing serious.

[3.] "Follow peace with all men, and holiness." What does he mean by "holiness"[1]? Chaste, and orderly living in marriage. If any person is unmarried (he says) let him remain pure, let him marry: or if he be married, let him not commit fornication, but let him live with his own wife: for this also is "holiness." How? Marriage is not "holiness," but marriage preserves the holiness which [proceeds] from Faith, not permitting union with a harlot. For "marriage is honorable" (c. xiii. 4), not holy. Marriage is pure: it does not however also give holiness, except by forbidding the defilement of that [holiness] which has been given by our Faith.

"Without which" (he says) "no man shall see the Lord." Which he also says in the [Epistle] to the Corinthians. "Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor idolaters, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor covetous persons, nor thieves, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. vi. 9, 10.) For how shall he who has become the body of a harlot, how shall he be able to be the body of Christ?

[4.] Ver. 15. "Looking diligently[2] test any man come short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled: lest there be any fornicator or profane person." Dost thou see how everywhere he puts the common salvation into the hands of each individual? "Exhorting one another daily" (he says) "while it is called To-day." (c. iii. 13.) Do not then cast all [the burden] on your teachers; do not [cast] all upon them who have the rule over you: ye also (he means) are able to edify one another. Which also he said in writing to the Thessalonians, "Edify one another, even as also ye do." (1 Thess. v. 11.) And again, "Comfort one another with these words." (1 Thess. iv. 18.) This we also now exhort you.

[5.] If ye be willing, ye will have more success with each other than we can have. For ye both are with one another for a longer time, and ye know more than we of each other's affairs, and ye are not ignorant of each other's failings, and ye have more freedom of speech, and love, and intimacy; and these are no small [advantages] for teaching, but great and opportune introductions for it: ye will be more able than we both to reprove and to exhort. And not this only, but because I am but one, whereas ye are many; and ye will be able, however many, to be teachers. Wherefore I entreat you, do not "neglect this gift." (1 Tim. iv. 14.) Each one of you has a wife, has a friend, has a servant, has a neighbor; let him reprove him, let him exhort him.

For how is it not absurd, with regard to [bodily] nourishment, to make associations for messing together, and for drinking together, and to have a set day whereon to club with one another, as they say, and to make up by the association what each person being alone by himself fails short of--as for instance, if it be necessary to go to a funeral, or to a dinner, or to assist a neighbor in any matter--and not to do this for the purpose of instruction in virtue? Yea, I entreat you, let no man neglect it. For great is the reward he receives from God. And that thou mayest understand, he who was entrusted with the five talents is the teacher: and he with the one is the learner. If the learner should say, I am a learner, I run no risk, and should hide the reason,[3] which he received of God, that common and simple [reason], and give no advice, should not speak plainly, should not rebuke, should not admonish, if he is able, but should bury [his talents] in the earth (for truly that heart is earth and ashes, which hides the gift of God): if then he hides it either from indolence, or from wickedness, it will be no defense to him to say, 'I had but one talent.' Thou hadst one talent. Thou oughtest then to have brought one besides, and to have doubled the talent. If thou hadst brought one in addition, thou wouldst not have been blamed. For neither did He say to him who brought the two, Wherefore hast thou not brought five? But He accounted him of the same worth with him who brought the five. Why? Because he gained as much as he had. And, because he had received fewer than the one entrusted with the five, he was not on this account negligent, nor did he use the smallness [of his trust, as an excuse] for idleness. And thou oughtest not to have looked to him who had the two; or rather, thou oughtest to have looked to him, and as he having two imitated him who had five, so oughtest thou to have emulated him who had two. For if for him who has means and does not give, there is punishment, how shall there not be the greatest punishment for him who is able to exhort in any way, and does it not? In the former case the body is nourished, in the latter the soul; there thou preventest temporal death, here eternal.

[6.] But I have no [skill of] speech,[1] you say. But there is no need of [skill of] speech nor of eloquence. If thou see a friend going into fornication, say to him, Thou art going after an evil thing; art thou not ashamed? Dost thou not blush? This is wrong. 'Why, does he not know' (you say) 'that it is wrong?' Yes, but he is dragged on by lust. They that are sick also know that it is bad to drink cold water, nevertheless they need persons who shall hinder [them from it]. For he who is suffering, will not easily be able to help himself in his sickness. There is need therefore of thee who art in health, for his cure. And if he be not persuaded by thy words, watch for him as he goes away and hold him fist; peradventure he will be ashamed.

'And what advantage is it' (you say), 'when he does this for my sake, and because he has been held back by me?' Do not be too minute in thy calculations. For a while, by whatever means, withdraw him from his evil practice; let him be accustomed not to go off to that pit, whether through thee, or through any means whatever. When thou hast accustomed him not to go, then by taking him after he has gained breath a little thou wilt be able to teach him that he ought to do this for God's sake, and not for man's. Do not wish to make all right at once, since you cannot: but do it gently and by degrees.

If thou see him going off to drinking, or to parties where there is nothing but drunkenness, then also do the same; and again on the other hand intreat him, if he observe that thou hast any failing, to help thee and set thee right. For in this way, he will even of himself, bear reproof, when he sees both that thou needest reproofs as well, and that thou helpest him, not as one that had done everything right, nor as a teacher, but as a friend and a brother. Say to him, I have done thee a service, in reminding thee of things expedient: do thou also, whatever failing thou seest me have, hold me back,[2] set me right. If thou see me irritable, if avaricious, restrain me, bind me by exhortation.

This is friendship; thus "brother aided by brother becomes a fortified city." (Prov. xviii. 19.) For not eating and drinking makes friendship: such friendship even robbers have and murderers. But if we are friends, if we truly care for one another, let us in these respects help one another. This leads us to a profitable friendship: let us hinder those things which lead away to hell.

[7.] Therefore let not him that is reproved be indignant: for we are men and we have failings; neither let him who reproves do it as exulting over him and making a display, but privately, with gentleness. He that reproves has need of greater gentleness, that thus he may persuade [them] to bear the cutting. Do you not see surgeons, when they burn, when they cut, with how great gentleness they apply their treatment? Much more ought those who reprove others to act thus. For reproof is sharper even than fire and knife, and makes [men] start. On this account surgeons take great pains to make them bear the cutting quietly, and apply it as tenderly as possible, even giving in[3] a little, then giving time to take breath.

So ought we also to offer reproofs, that the reproved may not start away. Even if therefore, it be necessary to be insulted, yea even to be struck, let us not decline it. For those also who are cut [by the surgeons] utter numberless cries against those who are cutting them; they however heed none of these things, but only the health of the patients. So indeed in this case also we ought to do all things that our reproof may be effectual, to bear all things, looking to the reward which is in store.

"Bear ye one another's burdens," saith he, "and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal. vi. 2.) So then, both reproving and bearing with one another, shall we be able to fulfill edification. And thus will ye make the labor light for us, in all things taking a part with us, and stretching out a hand, and becoming sharers and partakers, both in one another's salvation, and each one in his own. Let us then endure patiently, both bearing "one another's burdens," and reproving: that we may attain to the good things promised in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever and world without end. Amen.


HEBREWS xii. 14.

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness,[1] without which no one shall see the Lord."

[1.] There are many things characteristic of Christianity: but more than all, and better than all, Love towards one another, and Peace. Therefore Christ also saith, "My peace I give unto you." (John xiv. 27.) And again, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye love one another." (John xiii. 35.) Therefore Paul too says, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness," that is, purity,[2] "without which no man shall see the Lord."

"Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God." As if they were traveling together on some long journey, in a large company, he says, Take heed that no man be left behind: I do not seek this only, that ye should arrive yourselves, but also that ye should look diligently after the others.

"Lest any man" (he says) "fail of the grace of God." (He means the good things to come, the faith of the gospel, the best course of life: for they all are of" the Grace of God.") Do not tell me, It is [but] one that perisheth. Even for one Christ died. Hast thou no care for him "for whom Christ died"? (1 Cor. viii. 11.)

"Looking diligently," he saith, that is, searching carefully, considering, thoroughly ascertaining, as is done in the case of sick persons, and in all ways examining, thoroughly ascertaining. "Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you." (Deut. xxix. 18.) This is found in Deuteronomy; and he derived it from the metaphor of plants. "Lest any root of bitterness," he says; which he said also in another place when he writes, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." (1 Cor. v. 6.) Not for his sake alone do I wish this, he means, but also on account of the harm arising therefrom. That is to say, even if there be a root of this kind, do not suffer any shoot to come up, but let it be cut off, that it may not bear its proper fruits, that so it may not defile and pollute the others also. For, he saith, "Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you; and by it many be defiled."

And with good reason did he call sin "bitter": for truly nothing is more bitter than sin, and they know it, who after they have committed it pine away under their conscience, who endure much bitterness. For being exceedingly bitter, it perverts the reasoning faculty itself. Such is the nature of what is bitter: it is unprofitable.

And well said he, "root of bitterness." He said not, "bitter," but "of bitterness." For it is possible that a bitter root might bear sweet fruits; but it is not possible that a root and fountain and foundation of bitterness, should ever bear sweet fruit; for all is bitter, it has nothing sweet, all are bitter, all unpleasant, all full of hatred and abomination.

"And by this" (he says) "many be defiled." That is, Cut off the lascivious persons.

[2.] Ver. 16. "Lest there be any fornicator: or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright."[3]

And wherein was Esau a "fornicator"? He does not say that Esau was a fornicator. "Lest there be any fornicator," he says, then, "follow after holiness: lest there be any, as Esau, profane": that is, gluttonous, without self-control, worldly, selling away things spiritual.

"Who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright," who through his own slothfulness sold this honor which he had from God, and for a little pleasure, lost the greatest honor and glory. This was suitable to them. This [was the conduct] of an abominable, of an unclean person. So that not only is the fornicator unclean, but also the glutton, the slave of his belly. For he also is a slave of a different pleasure. He is forced to be overreaching, he is forced to be rapacious, to behave himself unseemly in ten thousand ways, being the slave of that passion, and oftentimes he blasphemes. So he accounted "his birthright" to be nothing worth. That is, providing for temporary refreshment, he went even to the [sacrifice of his] "birthright." So henceforth "the birthright" belongs to us, not to the Jews. And at the same time also this is added to their calamity, that the first is become last, and the second, first: the one, for courageous endurance; the other last for indolence.

[3.] Ver. 17. "For ye know" (he says) "how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected. For he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." What now is this? Doth he indeed exclude repentance? By no means. 'But how, you say, was it that "he found no place of repentance"?' For if he condemned himself, if he made a great wailing, why did he "find no place of repentance"? Because it was not really a case of repentance. For as the grief of Cain was not of repentance, and the murder proved it; so also in this case, his words were not those of repentance, and the murder afterwards proved it. For even he also in intention slew Jacob. For "The days of mourning for my father," he said, "are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob." (Gen. xxvii. 41.) "Tears" had not power to give him "repentance." And [the Apostle] did not say "by repentance" simply, but even "with tears, he found no place of repentance." Why now? Because he did not repent as he ought, for this is repentance he repented not as it behoved him.

For how is it that he [the Apostle] said this? How did he exhort them again after they had become "sluggish" (c. vi. 12)? How, when they were become "lame"? How, when they were "paralyzed"[1] (ver. 13)? How, when they were "relaxed"[1] (ver. 12)? For this is the beginning of a fall. He seems to me to hint at some fornicators amongst them, but not to wish at that time to correct them: but feigns ignorance that they might correct themselves. For it is right at first indeed to pretend ignorance: but afterwards, when they continue [in sin], then to add reproof also, that so they may not become shameless. Which Moses also did in the case of Zimri and the daughter of Cosbi.

"For he found" (he says) "no place of repentance," he found not repentance; or that he sinned beyond[2] repentance. There are then sins beyond repentance. His meaning is, Let us not fall by an incurable fall. So long as it is a matter of lameness, it is easy to become upright: but if we turn out of the way, what will be left? For it is to those who have not yet fallen that he thus discourses, striking them with terror, and says that it is not possible for him who is fallen to obtain consolation; but to those who have fallen, that they may not fall into despair, he says the contrary, speaking thus, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ he formed in you." (Gal. iv. 19.) And again, "Whosoever of you are justified by the Law, are fallen from Grace." (Gal. v. 4.) Lo! he testifies that they had fallen away. For he that standeth, hearing that it is not possible to obtain pardon after having fallen, will be more zealous, and more cautious about his standing: if however thou use the same violence towards one also who is fallen, he will never rise again. For by what hope will he show forth the change?

But he not only wept (you say), but also sought earnestly." He does not then exclude repentance; but makes them careful not to fall.

[4.] As many then as do not believe in Hell, let them call these things to mind: as many as think to sin without being punished, let them take account of these things. Why did Esau not obtain pardon? Because he repented not as he ought. Wouldest thou see perfect repentance? Hear of the repentance of Peter after his denial. For the Evangelist in relating to us the things concerning him, says, "And he went out and wept bitterly." (Matt. xxvi. 75.) Therefore even such a sin was forgiven him, because he repented as he ought. Although the Victim had not yet been offered, nor had The Sacrifice as yet been made, nor was sin as yet-taken away, it still had the rule and sovereignty.

And that thou mayest learn, that this denial [arose] not so much from sloth, as from His being forsaken of God, who was teaching him to know the measures of man and not to contradict the sayings of the Master, nor to be more high-minded than the rest, but to know that nothing can be done without God, and that "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it" (Ps. cxxvii. 1): therefore also Christ said to him alone, "Satan desired to sift thee as wheat," and I allowed it not, "that thy faith may not fail." (Luke xxii. 31, 32.) For since it was likely that he would be high-minded, being conscious to himself that he loved Christ more than they all, therefore "he wept bitterly"; and he did other things after his weeping, of the same character. For what did he do? After this he exposed himself to dangers innumerable, and by many means showed his manliness and courage.

Judas also repented, but in an evil way: for he hanged himself. Esau too repented; as I said; or rather, he did not even repent; for his tears were not [tears] of repentance, but rather of pride and wrath. And what followed proved this. The blessed David repented, thus saying, "Every night will I wash my bed: I will water my conch with my tears." (Ps. vi. 6.) And the sin which had been committed long ago, after so many years, after so many generations he bewailed, as if it had recently occurred.

[5.] For he who repents ought not to be angry, nor to be fierce, but to be contrite, as one condemned, as not having boldness, as one on whom sentence has been passed, as one who ought to be saved by mercy alone, as one who has shown himself ungrateful toward his Benefactor, as unthankful, as reprobate, as worthy of punishments innumerable. If he considers these things, he will not be angry, he will not be indignant, but will mourn, will weep, will groan, and lament night and day.

He that is penitent ought never to forget his sin, but on the one hand, to beseech God not to remember it; while on the other, he himself never forgets it. If we remember it, God will forget it. Let us exact punishment from ourselves; let us accuse ourselves; thus shall we propitiate the Judge. For sin confessed becomes less, but not confessed worse. For if sin add to itself shamelessness and ingratitude, how will he who does not know that he sinned before be at all able to guard himself from falling again into the same [evils]?

Let us then not deny [our sins], I beseech you, nor be shameless, that we may not unwillingly pay the penalty. Cain heard God say, "Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not; am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen. iv. 9.) Seest thou how this made his sin more grievous? But his father did not act thus. What then? When he heard," Adam, where art thou?" (Gen. iii. 9), he said, "I heard Thy voice, and I was afraid, because I am naked, and I hid myself." (Gen. iii. 10.) It is a great good to acknowledge our sins, and to bear them in mind continually. Nothing so effectually cures a fault, as a continual remembrance of it. Nothing makes a man so slow to wickedness.

[6.] I know that conscience starts back, and endures not to be scourged by the remembrance of evil deeds; but hold tight thy soul and place a muzzle on it. For like an ill-broken[1] horse, so it bears impatiently [what is put upon it], and is unwilling to persuade itself that it has sinned: but all this is the work of Satan.[2] But let us persuade it that it has sinned; let us persuade it that it has sinned, that it may also repent, in order that having repented it may escape torment. How dost thou think to obtain pardon for thy sins, tell me, when thou hast not yet confessed them? Assuredly he is worthy of compassion and kindness who has sinned. But thou who hast not yet persuaded thyself [that thou hast sinned], how dost thou think to be pitied, when thou art thus without shame for some things?[3]

Let us persuade ourselves that we have sinned. Let us say it not with the tongue only, but also with the mind. Let us not call ourselves sinners, but also count over our sins, going over them each specifically.[4] I do not say to thee, Make a parade of thyself, nor accuse thyself before others: but be persuaded by the prophet when he saith, "Reveal thy way unto the Lord." (Ps. xxxvii. 5.) Confess these things before God. Confess before the Judge thy sins with prayer; if not with tongue, yet in memory, and be worthy of mercy.

If thou keep thy sins continually in remembrance, thou wilt never bear in mind the wrongs of thy neighbor. I do not say, if thou art persuaded that thou art thyself a sinner; this does not avail so to humble the soul, as sins themselves [taken] by themselves, and examined specifically.[5] Thou wilt have no remembrance of wrongs [done thee], if thou hast these things continually in remembrance; thou wilt feel no anger, thou wilt not revile, thou wilt have no high thoughts, thou wilt not fall again into the same [sins], thou wilt be more earnest towards good things.

[7.] Seest thou how many excellent [effects] are produced from the remembrance of our sins? Let us then write them in our minds. I know that the soul does not endure a recollection which is so bitter: but let us constrain and force it. It is better that it should be gnawed with the remembrance now, than at that time with vengeance.

Now, if thou remember them, and continually present them before God (see p. 448), and pray for them, thou wilt speedily blot them out; but if thou forget them now, thou wilt then be reminded of them even against thy will, when they are brought out publicly before the whole world, displayed before all, both friends and enemies, and Angels. For surely He did not say to David only, "What thou didst secretly, I will make manifest to" (2 Sam. xii. 12) all, but even to us all. Thou wert afraid of men (he said) and respected them more than God; and God seeing thee, thou caredst not, but wert ashamed before men. For it says,[6] "the eyes of men, this is their fear." Therefore thou shalt suffer punishment in that very point; for I will reprove thee, setting thy sins before the eyes of all. For that this is true, and that in that day the sins of us all are [to be] publicly displayed, unless we now do them away by continual remembrance, hear how cruelty and inhumanity are publicly exposed, "I was an hungered" (He says) "gave Me no meat." and ye (Matt. xxv. 42.) When are these things said? Is it in a corner? Is it in a secret place?[7] By no means. When then? "When the Son of Man shall come in His glory" (Matt. xxv. 31, 32), and "all the nations" are gathered together, when He has separated the one from the other, then will He speak in the audience of all, and will "set" them "on His right hand" and "on" His "left" (Matt. xxv. 33): "I was an hungered and ye gave Me no meat."

See again the five virgins also, hearing before all, "I know you not." (Matt. xxv. 12.) For the five and five do not set forth the number of five only, but those virgins who are wicked and cruel and inhuman, and those who are not such. So also he that buried his one talent, heard before all, even of those who had brought the five and the two, "Thou wicked and slothful servant." (Matt. xxv. 26.) But not by words alone, but by deeds also does He then convict them: even as the Evangelist also says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced." (John xix. 37.) For the resurrection shall be of all at the same time, of sinners and of the righteous. At the same time shall He be present to all in the judgment.

[8.] Consider therefore who they are who shall then be in dismay, who in grief, who dragged away to the fire, while the others are crowned. "Come" (He says), "ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom which hath been prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matt. xxv. 34.) And again, "Depart from Me into the fire which hath been prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matt. xxv. 41.)

Let us not merely hear the words but writes them also before our sight, and let us imagine Him to be now present and saying these things, and that we are led away to that fire. What heart shall we have? What consolation? And what, when we are cut asunder? And what when we are accused of rapacity? What excuse shall we have to utter? What specious argument? None: but of necessity bound, bending down, we must be dragged to the mouths of the furnace, to the river of fire, to the darkness, to the never-dying punishments, and entreat no one. For it is not, it is not possible, He says, to pass across from this side to that: for "there is a great gulf betwixt us and you" (Luke xvi. 26), and it is not possible even for those who wish it to go across, and stretch out a helping hand: but we must needs burn continually, no one aiding us, even should it be father or mother, or any whosoever, yea though he have much boldness toward God. For, it says, "A brother doth not redeem; shall man redeem?" (Ps. xlix. 8.)

Since then it is not possible to have one's hopes of salvation in another, but [it must be] in one's self after the lovingkindness of God, let us do all things, I entreat you, so that our conduct may be pure, and our course of life the best, and that it may not receive any stain even from the beginning. But if not, at all events, let us not sleep after the stain, but continue always washing away the pollution by repentance, by tears, by prayers, by works of mercy.

What then, you say, if I cannot do works of mercy?[1] But thou hast "a cup of cold water" (Matt. x. 42), however poor thou art. But thou hast "two mites" (Mark xii. 42), in whatever poverty thou art; but thou hast feet, so as to visit the sick, so as to enter into a prison; but thou hast a roof, so as to receive strangers. For there is no pardon, no, none for him who does not do works of mercy.

These things we say to you continually, that we may effect if it be but a little by the continued repetition: these things we say, not caring so much for those who receive the benefits, as for yourselves. For ye give to them indeed things here, but in return you receive heavenly things: which may we all obtain, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father be glory, together with the Holy Ghost, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.


HEBREWS xii. 18-24.

"For ye are not come unto a fire[1] that might be touched and that burned, and unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more.[2] (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned.[3] And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake.) But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem; and to an innumerable company of Angels, to the general assembly,[4] and Church of the first-born which are written in Heaven; and to God the Judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect: and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant: and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than[5] that of Abel."

[1.] Wonderful indeed were the things in the Temple, the Holy of Holies; and again awful were those things also that were done at Mount Sins, "the fire, the darkness, the blackness, the tempest." (Cf. Deut. xxxiii. 2.) For, it says, "God appeared in Sins," and long ago were these things celebrated.[6] The New Covenant, however, was not given with any of these things, but has been given in simple discourse by God.[7]

See then how he makes the comparison in these points also. And with good reason has he put them afterwards. For when he had persuaded them by innumerable [arguments], when he had also shown the difference between each covenant, then afterwards, the one having been already condemned, he easily enters on these points also.

And what says he? "For ye are not come unto a fire that might be touched, and that burned, and unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more."

These things, he means, are terrible; and so terrible that they could not even bear to hear them, that not even "a beast" dared to go up. (But things that come hereafter[8] are not such. For what is Sins to Heaven? And what the "fire which might be touched" to God who cannot be touched? For "God is a consuming fire."--c. v. 29.) For it is said, "Let not God speak, but let Moses speak unto us. And so fearful was that which was commanded, Though even a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned; Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake." (Ex. xx. 19.) What wonder as respects the people? He himself who entered into "the darkness where God was," saith, "I exceedingly fear and quake." (Ex. xx. 21.)

[2.] "But ye are come unto Mount Sion and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem: and to an innumerable company of angels and to the general assembly and Church of the first-born which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better [things] hun that of Abel."

Instead of "Moses," Jesus. Instead of the people, "myriads of angels."

Of what "first-born" does he speak? Of the faithful.

"And to the spirits of just men made perfect." With these shall ye be, he says.

"And to Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better [things] than that of Abel." Did then the [blood] "of Abel" speak? "Yea," he saith, "and by it he being dead yet speaketh." (c. xi. 4.) And again God says, "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me." (Gen. iv. 10.) Either this [meaning] or that; because it is still even now celebrated: but not in such way as that of Christ. For this has cleansed all men, and sends forth a voice more clear and more distinct, in proportion as it has greater testimony, namely that by facts.

Ver. 25-29. "See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh. For if they escaped not, who refused him that spake[9] on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven. Whose voice then shook the earth: but now hath He promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we[1] serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire."

[3.] Fearful were those things, but these are far more admirable and glorious. For here there is not "darkness," nor "blackness," nor "tempest." It seems to me that by these words he hints at the obscurity of the Old [Testament], and the overshadowed and veiled[2] character of the Law. And besides the Giver of the Law appears in fire terrible, and apt to punish those who transgress.

But what are "the sounds of the trumpet"? Probably it is as though some King were coming. This at all events will also be at the second coming. "At the last trump" (1 Cor. xv.

52) all must be raised. But it is the trumpet of His voice which effects this. At that time then all things were objects of sense, and sights, and sounds; now all are objects of understanding, and invisible.

And, it says, "there was much smoke." (See Ex. xix. 18.) For since God is said to be fire, and appeared thus in the bush, He indicates the fire even by the smoke. And what is "the blackness and the darkness"? He again expresses its fearfulness. Thus Isaiah also says; "And the house was filled with smoke." (Isa. vi. 4.) And what is the object of "the tempest"? The human race was careless. It was therefore needful that they should be aroused by these things. For no one was so dull as not to have had his thoughts raised up, when these things were done, and the Law ordained.[3]

"Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice" (Ex. xix. 19):[4] for it was necessary that the voice of God should be uttered. Inasmuch as He was about to promulgate His Law through Moses, therefore He makes him worthy of confidence. They saw him not, because of the thick darkness: they heard him not, because of the weakness of his voice. What then? "God answered by a voice," addressing the multitude:[5] yea and his name shall be called.[6]

"They entreated" (he says) "that the word should not be spoken to them any more."[7]

From the first therefore they were themselves the cause of God's being manifested through the Flesh.[8] Let Moses speak with us, and "Let not God speak with us." (Ex. xx. 9.) They who make comparisons elevate the one side the more, that they may show the other to be far greater. In this respect also our [privileges][9] are more gentle and more admirable. For they are great in a twofold respect: because while they are glorious and greater, they are more accessible. This he says also in the Epistle to the Corinthians: "with unveiled countenance" (2 Cor. iii. 18), and, "not as Moses put a veil over his face." (2 Cor. iii. 13.) They, he means, were not counted worthy of what we [are]. For of what were they thought worthy? They saw "darkness, blackness"; they heard "a voice." Put thou also hast heard a voice, not through darkness, but through flesh. Thou hast not been disturbed, neither troubled, but thou hast stood and held discourse with the Mediator.

And in another way, by the "darkness" he shows the invisibleness.[10] "And darkness" (it says) "was under His feet." (Ps. xviii. 9.)

Then even Moses feared, but now no one.

As the people then stood below, so also do we. They were not below, but below Heaven. The Son is near to God, but not as Moses,[11]

There was a wilderness, here a city.

[4.] "And to an innumerable company of angels." Here he shows the joy, the delight, in place of the "blackness" and "darkness" and "tempest."

"And to the general assembly and church of the first-born which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all." They did not draw near, but stood afar off, even Moses: but "ye are come near."

Here he makes them fear, by saying, "And to God the Judge of all"; not of the Jews alone, and the faithful, but even of the whole world.

"And to the spirits of just men made perfect." He means the souls of those who are approved.

"And to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant: and to the blood of sprinkling," that is, of purification, "which speaketh better things than that of Abel." And if the blood speaks, much more does He who, having been slain, lives. But what does it speak? "The Spirit also" (he says) "speaketh with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Rom. viii. 26.) How does He speak? Whenever He falls into a sincere mind, He raises it up and makes it speak.

[5.] "See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh"; that is, that ye reject[1] [Him] not. "For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake[2] on earth." Whom does he mean? Moses, I suppose. But what he says is this: if they, having "refused Him "when He gave laws "on earth, did not escape," how shall we refuse Him, when He gives laws from Heaven? He declares here not that He is another; far from it. He does not set forth One and Another, but He appears terrible, when uttering His Voice "from Heaven."[3] It is He Himself then, both the one and the other: but the One is terrible. For he expresses not a difference of Persons but of the gift. Whence does this appear? "For if they escaped not," he says, "who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven." What then? Is this one different from the other? How then does he say, "whose voice then shook the earth"? For it was the "voice" of Him who "then" gave the Law, which "shook the earth. But now hath He promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things which are shaken, as of things that are made." All things therefore will be taken away, and will be compacted anew for the better. For this is what he suggests here. Why then dost thou grieve when thou sufferest in a world that abideth not; when thou art afflicted in a world which will very shortly have passed away? If our rest were [to be] in the latter period of the world, then one ought to be afflicted in looking to the end.

"That" (he says) "those which cannot be shaken may remain." But of what sort are "those things which cannot be shaken"? The things to come. [6.] Let us then do all for this, that we may attain that [rest], that we may enjoy those good things. Yea, I pray and beseech you, let us be earnest for this. No one builds in a city which is going to fall down. Tell me, I pray you, if any one said that after a year, this city would fall, but such a city not at all, wouldest thou have built in that which was about to fall? So I also now say this, Let us not build in this world; it will fall after a little, and all will be destroyed. But why do I say, It will fall? Before its fall we shall be destroyed, and suffer what is fearful; we shall be removed from them.

Why build we upon the sand? Let us build upon the rock: for whatsoever may happen, that building remains impregnable, nothing will be able to destroy it. With good reason. For to all such attacks that region is inaccessible, just as this is accessible. For earthquakes, and fires, and inroad of enemies, take it away from us even while we are alive: and oftentimes destroy us with it.

And even in case it remains, disease speedily removes us, or if we stay, suffers us not to enjoy it fairly. For what pleasure [is there], where there are sicknesses, and false accusations, and envy, and intrigues? Or should there be none of these things, yet oftentimes if we have no children, we are disquieted, we are impatient, not having any to whom we may leave houses and all other things; and thenceforward we pine away as laboring for others. Yea oftentimes too the inheritance passes away to our enemies, not only after we are gone, but even while we live. What is more miserable then than to toil for enemies, and ourselves to be gathering sins together in order that they may have rest? And many are the instances of this that are seen in our cities. And yet [I say no more] lest I should grieve those who have been despoiled. For I could have mentioned some of them even by name, and have had many histories to tell, and many houses to show you, which have received for masters the enemies of those who labored for them: nay not houses only, but slaves also and the whole inheritance have oftentimes come round to enemies. For such are things human.

But in Heaven there is nothing of this to fear,--lest after a man is dead, his enemy should come, and succeed to his inheritance. For there there is neither death nor enmity; the tabernacles of the saints are permanent abodes; and among those saints is exultation, joy, gladness. For "the voice of rejoicing" (it is said) is "in the tabernacles of the righteous." (Ps. cxviii. 15.) They are eternal, having no end. They do not fall down through age, they do not change their owners, but stand continually in their best estate. With good reason. For there is nothing corruptible, nor perishable there, but all is immortal, and undefiled. On this building let us exhaust all our wealth. We have no need of carpenters nor of laborers. The hands of the poor build such houses; the lame, the blind, the maimed, they build those houses. And wonder not, since they procure even a kingdom for us, and give us confidence towards God.

[7.] For mercifulness[1] is as it were a most excellent art, and a protector of those who labor at it. For it is dear to God, and ever stands near Him readily asking favor for whomsoever it will, if only it be not wronged by us; And it is wronged, when we do it by extortion. (See p. 481.) So, if it be pure, it gives great confidence to those who offer it up. It intercedes even for those who have offended, so great is its power, even for those who have sinned. It breaks the chains, disperses the darkness, quenches the fire, kills the worm, drives away the gnashing of teeth. The gates of heaven open to it with great security: And as when a Queen is entering, no one of the guards stationed at the doors dares to inquire who she is, and whence, but all straightway receive her; so also indeed with mercifulness. For she is truly a queen indeed, making men like God. For, he says, "ye shall be merciful, as your Heavenly Father is merciful." ( Luke vi. 36 .)

She is winged and buoyant, having golden pinions, with a flight which greatly delights the angels. There, it is said, are "the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her back with the yellowness of gold." (Ps. lxviii. 13.) As some dove golden and living, she flies, with gentle look, and mild eye. Nothing is better than that eye. The peacock is beautiful, but in comparison of her, is a jackdaw. So beautiful and worthy of admiration is this bird. She continually looks upwards; she is surrounded abundantly with God's glory: she is a virgin with golden wings, decked out, with a fair and mild countenance. She is winged, and buoyant, standing by the royal throne. When we are judged, she suddenly flies in, and shows herself, and rescues us from punishment, sheltering us with her own wings.

God would have her rather than sacrifices. Much does He discourse concerning her: so He loves her. "He will relieve" (it is said) "the widow" and "the fatherless" (Ps. cxlvi. 9) and the poor. God wishes to be called from her. "The Lord is pitiful and merciful,[2] long-suffering, and of great mercy" (Ps. cxlv. 8), and true. The mercy of God is over all the earth. She hath saved the race of mankind (see Ps. cxlv. 9): For unless she had pitied us, all things would have perished. "When we were enemies" (see Rom. v. 10), she "reconciled" us, she wrought innumerable blessings; she persuaded the Son of God to become a slave, and to empty Himself [of His glory].[3] (Phil. ii. 7.)

Let us earnestly emulate her by whom we have been saved; let us love her, let us prize her before wealth, and apart from wealth, let us have a merciful soul. Nothing is so characteristic of a Christian, as mercy. There is nothing which both unbelievers and all men so admire, as when we are merciful. For oftentimes we are ourselves also in need of this mercy, and say to God "Have mercy upon us, after Thy great goodness." (Ps. li. 1.) Let us begin first ourselves: or rather it is not we that begin first. For He has Himself already shown His mercy towards us: yet at least let us follow second. For if men have mercy on a merciful man, even if he has done innumerable wrongs, much more does God.

[8.] Hear the prophet saying, "But I" (his words are) "am like a fruitful olive tree in the house of God." (Ps. lii. 8.) Let us become such: let us become "as an olive tree": let us be laden on every side with the commandments. For it is not enough to be as an olive tree, but also to be fruitful. For there are persons who in doing alms give little, [only once] in the course of the whole year, or in each week, or who give away a mere chance matter. These are indeed olive trees, but not fruitful ones, but even withered. For because they show compassion they are olive trees, but because they do it not liberally, they are not fruitful olive trees. But let us be fruitful.

I have often said and I say now also: the greatness of the charity[4] is not shown by the measure of what is given, but by the disposition of the giver. You know the case of the widow. It is well continually to bring this example [forward], that not even the poor man may despair of himself, when he looks on her who threw in the two mites. Some contributed even hair in the fitting up of the temple, and not even these were rejected. (Ex. xxxv. 23.) But if when they had gold, they had brought hair, they [would have been] accursed: but if, having this only, they brought it, they were accepted. For this cause Cain also was blamed, not because he offered worthless things, but because they were the most worthless he had. "Accursed" (it is said) "is he which hath a male, and sacrificeth unto God a corrupt thing." (Mal. i. 14.) He did not speak absolutey, but, "he that hath" (he says) and spareth [it]. If then a man have nothing, he is freed from blame, or rather he has a reward. For what is of less value than two farthings, or more worthless than hair? What than a pint of meal? But nevertheless these were approved equally with the calves and the gold. For "a man is accepted according to that he hath, not according to that he hath not." (2 Cor. viii. 12.) And, it says, "according as thy hand hath, do good." (Prov. iii. 27.)

Wherefore, I entreat you, let us readily empty out what we have for the poor. Even if it be little we shall receive the same reward with them who have cast the most; or rather, more than those who cast in ten thousand talents. If we do these things we shall obtain the unspeakable treasures of God; if we not only hear, but practice also, if we do not praise [charity], but also show [it] by our deeds. Which may we all attain, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever and world without end. Amen.


HEBREWS xii. 28, 29.

"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace [or gratitude,][2] whereby we serve[2] God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire."

[1.] In another place he says the same, "for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2. Cor. iv. 18); and from this makes an exhortation with regard to the evils which we endure in this present life; and here he does this, and says, let us continue steadfast; "let us have thankfulness," i.e., let us give thanks unto God. For not only we ought not to be discouraged at present things, but even to show the greatest gratitude to Him, for those to come.

"Whereby we serve God acceptably," that is to say, 'for thus is it possible to serve God acceptably,' by giving him thanks in all things. "Do all things" (he says) "without murmurings and disputings." (Phil. ii. 14.) For whatever work a man does with murmuring, he cuts away and loses his reward; as the Israelites--how great a penalty they paid for their murmurings. Wherefore he says, "Neither murmur ye." (1 Cor. x. 10.) It is not therefore possible to "serve" Him "acceptably" without a sense of gratitude to Him for all things, both for our trials, and the alleviations of them. That is, let us utter nothing hasty, nothing disrespectful, but let us humble ourselves that we may be reverential. For this is "with reverence and godly fear."

Chap. xiii. 1, 2. "Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful of hospitality,[3] for hereby some have entertained angels unawares." See how he enjoins them to preserve what they had: he does not add other things. He did not say, "Be loving as brethren," but, "Let brotherly love continue." And again, he did not say, "Be hospitable," as if they were not, but, "Be not forgetful of hospitality," for this was likely to happen owing to their afflictions.

Therefore[4] (he says) "some have entertained angels unawares." Seest thou how great was the honor, how great the gain!

What is "unawares"?[5] They entertained them without knowing it. Therefore the reward also was great, because he entertained them, not knowing that they were Angels. For if he had known it, it would have been nothing wonderful. Some say that he here alludes to Lot also.

[2.] Ver. 3--5. "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them, them which suffer adversity as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage is honorable in all,[6] and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation be without covetousness: being content with such things as ye have."

See how large is his discourse concerning chastity. "Follow peace," he said, "and holiness; Lest there be any fornicator or profane person" (c. xii. 14); and again, "Fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (c. xii. 16.) In every case, the prohibition is with a penalty. "Follow peace with all men," he says, "and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: But fornicators and adulterers God will judge."

And having first set down "Marriage is honorable in all men, and the bed undefiled," he shows that he rightly added what follows. For if marriage has been conceded, justly is the fornicator punished, justly does the adulterer suffer vengeance.

Here he strips for[7] the heretics. He did not say again, Let no one be a fornicator; but having said it once for all, he then went on as with a general exhortation, and not as directing himself against them.

"Let your conversation be without covetousness," he says. He did not say, Possess nothing, but, "Let your conversation be without covetousness": that is, let it show forth the philosophical character of your mind.[1] [And it will show it, if we do not seek superfluities, if we keep only to what is necessary.][2] For he says above also, "And ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods." (c. x. 34.) He gives these exhortations, that they might not be covetous.

"Being content" (he says) "with such things as ye have." Then here also the consolation; (ver. 5) "For He" (he says) "hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee"; (ver. 6) "so that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Again consolation in their trials.

[3.] Ver. 7. "Remember them which have the rule over you." This he was laboring to say above: therefore "Follow peace with all men." (c. xii. 14.) He gave this exhortation also to the Thessalonians, to "hold them in honor exceedingly." (1 Thess. v. 13.)

"Remember" (he says) "them which have the rule over you,[3] who have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." What kind of following is this? Truly the best: for he says, beholding their life, "follow their faith." For from a pure life [cometh] faith.

Or else by "faith," he means steadfastness. How so? Because they believe in the things to come. For they would not have shown forth a pure life, if they had questioned about the things to come, if they had doubted. So that here also he is applying a remedy to the same [evil].[4]

Ver. 8, 9. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday and to-day and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established with grace, not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein."

In these words, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday and to-day and for ever," "yesterday" means all the time that is past: "to-day," the present: "for ever," the endless which is to come. That is to say: Ye have heard of an High Priest, but not an High Priest who fails. He is always the same. As though there were some who said, 'He is not, another will come,' he says this, that He who was "yesterday and to-day," is "the same also for ever." For even now the Jews say, that another will come; and having deprived themselves of Him that is will fall into the hands of Antichrist.

"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines." Not "with strange doctrines" only, but neither with "divers ones."

"For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace, not with meats which have not profited them that have been occupied[5] therein." Here he gently hints at those who introduce the observance of "meats." For by Faith all things are pure. There is need then of Faith, not of "meats."

For (ver. 10) "we have an altar whereof they have no right to eat which serve[6] the Tabernacle." Not as the Jewish [ordinances], are those among us, as it is not lawful even for the High Priest to partake of them. So that since he had said, "Do not observe,"[7] and this seemed to be [the language] of one who is throwing down his own building, he again turns it round. What, have not we then observances as well (he says)? [Yea we have], and we observe them very earnestly too, not sharing them even with the priests themselves.

[4.] Ver. 11, 12. "For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the High Priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered" (he says) "without the gate." Seest thou the type shining forth? "For sin," he says, and "suffered without the gate." (Ver. 13) "Let us go forth therefore to Him without the camp, bearing His reproach," that is, suffering the same things; having communion with Him in His sufferings. He was crucified without as a condemned person: neither let us then be ashamed to "go forth out" [of the world].

Ver. 14, 15. "For we have here no continuing city" (he says) "but we seek one to come. By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name."

"By Him," as by an High Priest, according to the flesh.[8] "Giving thanks"[9] (be says) "to His Name." (See p. 514.) Let us utter nothing blasphemous, nothing hasty, nothing bold, nothing presumptuous, nothing desperate. This is "with reverence and godly fear." (c. xii. 28.) For a soul in tribulations becomes desponding, and reckless.[10] But let not us [be so]. See here he again says the same thing which he said before, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together," for so shall we be able to do all things with reverence. For oftentimes even out of respect for men, we refrain from doing many evil things.

Ver. 16. "But to do good and to communicate forget not." I speak not [merely] with reference to the brethren present, but to those absent also. But if others have plundered your property, display your hospitality out of such things as ye have. What excuse then shall we have henceforward, when they, even after the spoiling of their goods, were thus admonished?

[5.] And he did not say, "Be not forgetful" of the entertaining of strangers,[1] but "of hospitality":[2] that is, do not merely entertain strangers, but [do it] with love for the strangers. Moreover he did not speak of the recompense that is future, and in store for us, lest he should make them more supine, but of that already given. For "thereby some" (he says) "have entertained angels unawares."

But let us see in what sense "Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled." Because (he means) it preserves the believer in chastity. Here he also alludes to the Jews, because they accounted the woman after childbirth[3] polluted: and "whosoever comes from the bed," it is said, "is not clean."[4] Those things are not polluted[5] which arise from nature O ungrateful and senseless Jew,[6] but those which arise from choice.[7] For if "marriage is honorable" and pure, why forsooth dost thou think that one is even polluted by it?

"Let your conversation" (he says) "be without covetousness": since many after having exhausted[8] their property, afterwards wish to recover it again under the guise of alms, therefore he says, "Let your conversation be without covetousness"; that is, that we should be [desirous only] of what is necessary[9] and indispensable. What then (you say) if we should not have a supply even of these? This is not possible; indeed it is not. "For He hath said," and He doth not lie, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we boldly say, The Lord is my Helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Thou hast the promise from Himself: do not doubt henceforward. He has promised; make no question. But this, "I will never leave thee," he says not concerning money only, but concerning all other things also. "The Lord is my Helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me"; with good reason.

This then also let us say in all temptations; let us laugh at human things, so long as we have God favorable to us. For as, when He is our enemy, it is no gain, though all men should be our friends, so when He is our friend, though all men together war against us, there is no harm. "I will not fear what man shall do unto me."

[6.] "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God." In this place I think that he is speaking about assistance also.[10] For this is [implied in the words] "who have spoken unto you the word of God."

"Whose faith follow considering the end of their conversation." What is, "considering"?[11] Continually revolving, examining it by yourselves, reasoning, investigating accurately, testing it as you choose. "The end of their conversation," that is, their conversation to the end: for "their conversation" had a good end.

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday and to-day and for ever." Do not think that then indeed He wrought wonders, but now works no wonders. He is the same. This is, "remember them that have the rule over you."[12]

"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines." "Strange," that is, different from those ye heard from us; ["Divers"] that is, of all sorts: for they have no stability, but are different [one from another]. For especially manifold[13] is the doctrine of meats.

"For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats." These are the" divers," these the "strange"[14] [doctrines]: especially as Christ has said, "not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man, but that which cometh out." (Matt. xv. 11.) And observe that he does not make bold to say this openly, but as it were by a hint.[15] "For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace, not with meats."

Faith is all. If that establishes [it], the heart stands in security. It follows that Faith establishes: consequently reasonings shake. For Faith is contrary to reasoning.

"Which" (he says) "have not profited them that have been occupied therein." For what is the gain from the observance[16] [of them], tell me. Does it not rather destroy? Does it not make such an one to be under sin? If it be necessary to observe [them], we must guard ourselves.[1]

"Which" (he says) "have not profiled them that have been occupied therein." That is, who have always diligently kept them.

There is one observance, abstaining from sin. For what profit is it, when some are so polluted, as not to be able to partake of the sacrifices? So that it did not save them at all; although they were zealous about the observances. But because they had not faith, even thus they profiled nothing.

[7.] In the next place he takes away[2] the sacrifice from the type, and directs his discourse to the prototype, saying, "The bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the High Priest, are burned without the camp." Then those things were a type of these and thus Christ, suffering "without," fulfilled all.

Here he makes it plain too that He suffered voluntarily, showing[3] that those things were not accidental, but even the [Divine] arrangement itself was of a suffering "without." [He suffered] without, but His Blood was borne up into Heaven. Thou seest then that we partake of Blood which has been carried into the Holy Place, the True Holy Place; of the Sacrifice of which the Priest alone had the privilege. We therefore partake of the Truth [the Reality]. If then we partake not of "reproach" [only] but of sanctification,[4] the "reproach" is the cause of the sanctification. For as He was reproached, so also are we. If we go forth "without" therefore, we have fellowship with Him.

But what is, "Let us go forth to Him"? Let us have fellowship with Him in His sufferings; let us bear His reproach. For He did not simply bid us dwell "outside the gate," but as He was reproached as a condemned person, so also we.

And "by Him let us offer a sacrifice to God." Of what kind of sacrifice does he speak? "The fruit of lips giving thanks to His Name." They [the Jews] brought sheep, and calves, and gave them to the Priest: let "us" bring none of these things, but thanksgiving. This "fruit" let "our lips" put forth.

"For with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Let us give such a sacrifice to Him, that He may offer [it] to The Father. For in no other way it is offered except through the Son, or rather also through a contrite mind. All these things [are said] for the weak. For that the thanks belong to the Son is evident: since otherwise, how is the honor equal? "That all men" (He says) "should honor the Son even as they honor the Father." (John v. 23.) Wherein is the honor equal? "The fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name."[5]

[8.] Let us bear all things thankfully, be it poverty, be it disease, be it anything else whatever: for He alone knows the things expedient for us. "For we know not what we should pray for as we ought." (Rom. viii. 26.) We then who do not know even how to ask for what is fitting, unless we have received of[6] the Spirit, let us take care to offer up thanksgiving for all things, and let us bear all things nobly. Are we in poverty? Let us give thanks. Are we in sickness? Let us give thanks. Are we falsely accused? Let us give thanks: when we suffer affliction, let us give thanks.

This brings us near to God: then we even have God for our debtor. But when we are in prosperity, it is we who are debtors and liable to be called to account. For when we are in prosperity, we are debtors to God: and oftentimes these things bring a judgment upon us, while those are for a payment of sins.[7] Those [afflictions] draw down mercy, they draw down kindness: while these on the other hand lift up even to an insane pride, and lead also to slothfulness, and dispose a man to fancy great things concerning himself; they puff up. Therefore the prophet also said, "It is good for me, Lord, that Thou hast afflicted[8] me; that I may learn Thy statutes." (Ps. cxix. 71.) When Hezekiah had received blessings and been freed from calamities, his heart was lifted up on high; when he fell sick, then was he humbled, then he became near to God. "When He slew them," it says, "then they sought Him diligently, and turned, and were early in coming to[9] God." (Ps. lxxviii. 34.) And again, "When the beloved waxed gross and fat, then he kicked." (Deut. xxxii. 15.) For "the Lord is known when He executeth judgments." (Ps. ix. 16.)

[9.] Affliction is a great good. "Narrow is the way" (Matt. vii. 14), so that affliction[10] thrusts us into the narrow [way]. He who is not pressed by affliction cannot enter. For he who afflicts himself in the narrow [way], is he who also enjoys ease; but he that spreads himself out,[11] does not enter in, and suffers from being so to say wedged in.[12] See how Paul enters into this narrow way. He "keeps under" his "body" (1 Cor. ix. 27), so as to be able to enter. Therefore, in all his afflictions, he continued giving thanks unto God. Hast thou lost thy property? This hath lightened thee of the most of thy wideness. Hast thou fallen from glory? This is another sort of wideness. Hast thou been falsely: accused? Have the things said against thee, of which thou art nowise conscious to thyself been believed? "Rejoice and leap for joy." For "blessed are ye" (He says) "when men reproach you, and say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in Heaven." (Matt. v. 11, 12.)

Why dost thou marvel, if thou art grieved, and wish to be set free from temptations? Paul wished to be set free, and oftentimes entreated God, and did not obtain. For the "thrice for this I besought the Lord," is oftentimes; "and He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. xii. 8, 9.) By "weakness," he here means "afflictions." What then? When he heard this he received it thankfully, and says, "Wherefore I take pleasure in infirmities" (2 Cor. xii. 10); that is, I am pleased, I rest in my afflictions. For all things then let us give thanks, both for comfort, and for affliction.[1] Let us not murmur: let us not be unthankful. "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, naked also shall I depart." (Job i. 21.) Thou didst not come forth glorious, do not seek glory. Thou wast brought into life naked, not of money alone, but also of glory, and of honorable name.

Consider how great evils have oftentimes arisen from wealth. For "It is easier" (it is said) "for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of Heaven." (Matt. xix. 24.) Seest thou to how many good things wealth is a hindrance, and dost thou seek to be rich? Dost thou not rejoice that the hindrance has been overthrown? So narrow is the way which leadeth into the Kingdom. So broad is wealth, and full of bulk and swelling out. Therefore He says, "Sell that thou hast" (Matt. xix. 21), that that way may receive thee. Why dost thou yearn after wealth? For this cause He took it away from thee, that He might free thee from slavery. For true fathers also, when a son is corrupted by some mistress, and having given him much exhortation they do not persuade him to part from her, send the mistress into banishment. Such also is abundance of wealth. Because the Lord cares for us, and delivers us from the harm [which arises] therefrom, He takes away wealth from us.

Let us not then think poverty an evil: sin is the only evil. For neither is wealth a good thing by itself: to be well-pleasing to God is the only good, Poverty then let us seek, this let us pursue: so shall we lay hold on heaven, so shall we attain to the other good things, Which may we all attain by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost be glory, power, honor, now and ever and world without end, Amen,


HEBREWS xiii. 17.

"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves. For they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief, a for this is unprofitable for you."

[1.] Anarchy[3] is an evil, and the occasion of many calamities, and the source of disorder and confusion. For as, if thou take away the leader from a chorus, the chorus will not be in tune and in order; and if from a phalanx of an army thou remove the commander, the evolutions will no longer be made in time and order, and if from a ship thou take away the helmsman, thou wilt sink the vessel; so too if from a flock thou remove the shepherd, thou hast overthrown and destroyed all.

Anarchy then is an evil, and a cause of ruin. But no less an evil also is the disobedience to rulers. For it comes again to the same. For a people not obeying a ruler, is like one which has none; and perhaps even worse. For in the former case they have at least an excuse for disorder, but no longer in the latter, but are punished.

But perhaps some one will say, there is also a third evil, when the ruler is bad. I myself too know it, and no small evil it is, but even a far worse evil than anarchy. For it is better to be led by no one, than to be led by one who is evil. For the former indeed are oftentimes saved, and oftentimes are in peril,[4] but the latter will be altogether in peril, being led into the pit [of destruction].

How then does Paul say, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves"? Having said above, "whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation" (c. ver. 7), he then said, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves."

What then (you say), when he is wicked should we obey?

Wicked? In what sense? If indeed in regard to Faith, flee and avoid him; not only if he be a man, but even if he be an angel come down from Heaven; but if in regard to life, be not over-curious. And this instance I do not allege from my own mind, but from the Divine Scripture. For hear Christ saying, "The Scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat." (Matt. xxiii. 2.) Having previously spoken many fearful things concerning them, He then says, "They sit on Moses' seat: all therefore whatsoever they tell you observe, do; but do not ye after their works." (Matt. xxiii. 2, 3.) They have (He means) the dignity of office, but are of unclean life. Do thou however attend, not to their life, but to their words. For as regards their characters, no one would be harmed [thereby]. How is this? Both because their characters are manifest to all, and also because though he were ten thousand times as wicked he will never teach what is wicked. But as respects Faith, [the evil] is not manifest to all, and the wicked [ruler] will not shrink from teaching it.

Moreover, "Judge not that ye be not judged" (Matt. vii. 1) concerns life, not faith: surely what follows makes this plain. For "why" (He says) "beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matt. vii. 3.)

"All things therefore" (He says) "which they bid you observe, do ye" (now to "do" belongs to works not to Faith) "but do not ye after their works." Seest thou that [the discourse] is not concerning doctrines, but concerning life and works?

[2.] Paul however previously commended them,[1] and then says, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls, as they that shall give account."

Let those who rule also hear, and not only those who are under their rule; that as the subjects ought to be obedient, so also the rulers ought to be watchful and sober. What sayest thou? He watches; he imperils his own head; he is subject to the punishments of thy sins, and for thy sake is amenable to what is so fearful, and art thou slothful, and affectedly indifferent, and at ease? Therefore he says, "That they may do this with joy, and not with grief:[2] for this is unprofitable for you."

Seest thou that the despised ruler ought not to avenge himself, but his great revenge is to weep and lament? For neither is it possible for the physician, despised by his patient, to avenge himself, but to weep and lament. But if [the ruler] lament (he means), God inflicts vengeance on thee. For if when we lament for our own sins we draw God to us, shall we not much rather [do this], when we lament for the arrogance and scornfulness of others? Seest thou that he does not suffer him to be led on to reproaches? Seest thou how great is his philosophy? He ought to lament who is despised, is trodden under foot, is spit upon.

Be not confident because he does not avenge himself on thee, for lamenting is worse than any revenge. For when of himself he profits nothing by lamenting, he calls on the Lord: and as in the case of a teacher and nurse, when the child does not listen to him, one is called in who will treat him more severely, so also in this case.

[3.] Oh! how great the danger! What should one say to those wretched men, who throw themselves upon so great an abyss of punishments? Thou hast to give account of all over whom thou rulest, women and children and men; into so great a fire dost thou put thy head. I marvel if any of the rulers can be saved, when in the face of[3] such a threat, and of the present indifference, I see some still even running on, and casting themselves upon so great a burden of authority.

For if they who are dragged by force[4] have no refuge or defense, if they discharge duty ill and are negligent; since even Aaron was dragged by force, and yet was imperiled;[5] and Moses again was imperiled, although he had oftentimes declined; and Saul having been entrusted with another kind of rule, after he had declined it, was in peril, because he managed it amiss; how much more they who take so great pains to obtain it, and cast themselves upon it? Such an one much more deprives himself of all excuse. For men ought to fear and to tremble, both because of conscience, and because of the burden of the office; and neither when dragged to it should they once for all decline, nor, when not dragged cast themselves upon it, but should even flee, foreseeing the greatness of the dignity; and when they have been seized, they ought again to show their godly fear.[1] Let there be nothing out of measure. If thou hast perceived it beforehand, retire; convince thyself that thou art unworthy of the office. Again, if thou hast been seized, in like manner be thou reverential,[2] always showing rightmindedness.[3]

[4.] Ver. 18. "Pray for us" (he says); "for we trust we have a good conscience among all,[4] willing to live honestly."

Thou seest that he used these apologies, as writing to persons grieved with him, as to those who turned away, who were disposed as towards a transgressor, not enduring even to hear his name? Inasmuch then as he asked from those who hated him what all others ask from those who love them [their prayers for him], therefore he here introduces this; saying, "We trust that we have a good conscience." For do not tell me of accusations; our conscience, he says, in nothing hurts[5] us; nor are we conscious to ourselves that we have plotted against you. "For we trust," he says, "that we have a good conscience among all," not among the Gentiles only, but also among you. We have done nothing with deceitfulness,[6] nothing with hypocrisy: for it was probable that these [calumnies] were reported respecting him. "For they have been informed concerning thee" (it is said) "that thou teachest apostasy." (Acts xxi. 21.) Not as an enemy, he means, nor as an adversary I write these things, but as a friend. And this he shows also by what follows.

Ver. 19. "But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner." His thus praying was [the act] of one who loved them greatly, and that not simply, but with all earnestness, that so, he says, I may come to you speedily. The earnest desire to come to them is [the mark] of one conscious to himself of nothing [wrong], also the entreating them to pray for him.

Therefore having first asked their prayers, he then himself also prays for all good things on them. (Ver. 20) "Now the God of peace," he says (be ye not therefore at variance one with another), "that brought again from the earth the Shepherd of the sheep" (this is said concerning the resurrection) "the Great [Shepherd]" (another addition: here again he confirms to them even to the end, his discourse concerning the Resurrection) "through the blood of the everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus Christ," (ver. 21) "make you perfect in every good work, to do His will, working in you[7] that which is well-pleasing in His sight."

Again he bears high testimony to them. For that is made "perfect" which having a beginning is afterwards completed. And he prays for them which is the act of one who yearns for them. And while in the other Epistles, he prays in the prefaces, here he does it at the end. "Working in you," he says, "that which is well-pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

[5.] Ver. 22. "And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation, for indeed I have written a letter unto you in few words." Seest thou that what he wrote to no one[else], he writes to them? For (he means) I do not even trouble you with long discourse.

I suppose that they were not at all unfavorably disposed towards Timothy: wherefore he also put him forward.[8] For (ver. 23) "know ye," he says, "that our brother Timothy is set at liberty,[9] with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you." "Set at liberty," he says; from whence? I suppose he had been cast into prison: or if not this, that he was sent away from Athens. For this also is mentioned in the Acts.[10]

Ver. 24, 25. "Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. Amen."

[6.] Seest[11] thou how he shows that virtue is born[12] neither wholly from God, nor yet from ourselves alone? First[13] by saying, "make you perfect in every good work"; Ye have virtue indeed, he means, but need to be made complete. What is "good work and word"?[14] So as to have both life and doctrines right. "According to His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight."

"In His sight," he says. For this is the highest virtue, to do that which is well-pleasing in the sight of God, as the Prophet also says, "And according to the cleanness of my hands in His eye-sight." (Ps. xviii. 24.)

And having written thus much, he said this was little, in comparison with what he was going to say. As he says also in another place, "As I wrote to you in few words: whereby when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ." (Eph. iii. 3, 4.)

And observe his wisdom. He says not, "I beseech you, suffer the word of" admonition, but "the word of exhortation,"[1] that is, of consolation, of encouragement. No one, he means, can be wearied at the length of what has been said (Did this then make them turn away from him? By no means: he does not indeed wish to express this): that is, even if ye be of little spirit, for it is the peculiarity of such persons not to endure a long discourse.

"Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty, with whom if he come shortly I will see you." This is enough to persuade them to submit themselves, if he is ready to come with his disciple.

"Salute them that have the rule over you, and all the saints." See how he honored them, since he wrote to them instead of to those [their rulers].

"They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. Amen." Which was for them all in common.

But how does "Grace" come to be "with" us? If we do not do despite to the benefit, if we do not become indolent in regard to the Gift. And what is "the grace"? Remission of sins, Cleansing: this is "with" us. For who (he means) can keep the Grace despitefully, and not destroy it? For instance; He freely forgave thee thy sins. How then shall the "Grace be with" thee, whether it be the good favor or the effectual working of the Spirit? If thou draw it to thee by good deeds. For the cause of all good things is this, the continual abiding with us of the "grace" of the Spirit. For this guides us to all [good things], just as when it flies away from us, it ruins us, and leaves us desolate.

[7.] Let us not then drive it from us. For on ourselves depends, both its remaining, and its departing. For the one results, when we mind heavenly things; the other, when [we mind] the things of this life. "Which the world" (He says) "cannot receive because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him." (John xiv. 17.) Seest thou that a worldly soul cannot have Him? We need great earnestness that so there He may be held fast by us, so as to direct all our affairs, and do them in security, and in much peace.

For as a ship sailing with favorable winds is neither to be hindered nor sunk, so long as it enjoys a prosperous and steady breeze, but also causes great admiration according to the march of its progress both to the mariners, and to the passengers, giving rest to the one, and not forcing them to toil on at their oars, and setting the others free from all fear, and giving them the most delightful view of her course; so too a soul strengthened by the Divine Spirit, is far above all the billows of this life, and more strongly than the ship, cuts the way bearing on to Heaven, since it is not sent along by wind, but has all the pure sails filled by the Paraclete Himself: and He casts out of our minds all that is slackened and relaxed.

For as the wind if it fall upon a slackened sail, would have no effect; so neither does the Spirit endure to continue in a slack soul; but there is need of much tension, of much vehemence, so that our mind may be on fire, and our conduct under all circumstances on the stretch, and braced up. For instance when we pray, we ought to do it with much intentness,[2] stretching forth the soul toward Heaven, not with cords, but with great earnestness. Again when we do works of mercy, we have need of intentness, lest by any means, thought for our household, and care for children, and anxiety about wife, and fear of poverty entering in, should slacken our sail. For if we put it on the stretch on all sides by the hope of the things to come, it receives well the energy[3] of the Spirit; and none of those perishable and wretched things will fall upon it, yea, and if any of them should fall, it does it no harm, but is quickly thrown back by the tightness, and is shaken off and fails down.

Therefore we have need of much intentness. For we too are sailing over a great and wide sea, full of many monsters, and of many rocks, and bringing forth for us many storms, and from the midst of serene weather raising up a most violent tempest. It is necessary then if we would sail with ease, and without danger, to stretch the sails, that is, our determination: for this is sufficient for us. For Abraham also, when he had stretched forth his affections towards God and set before Him his fixed resolution,[4] what else had he need of? Nothing: but "he believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Gen. xv. 6.) But Faith [comes] of a sincere will.[5] He offered up his son, and though he did not slay him, he received a recompense as if he had slain him, and though the work was not done the reward was given.

Let our sails then be in good order,[6] not grown old (for everything "that is decayed and waxen old is nigh to vanishing away"[7]) (c. viii. 13), not worn into holes, that so they may bear the energy of the Spirit. "For the natural man,"[8] it is said, "receiveth not the things of the Spirit." (1 Cor. ii. 14.) For as the webs of spiders could not receive a blast of wind, so neither will the soul devoted to this life, nor the natural man ever be able to receive the grace of the Spirit: for our reasonings differ nothing from them,[1] preserving a connection in appearance only but destitute of all power.

[8.] Our condition, however, is not such, if we are watchful: but whatever may fall upon [the Christian], he bears all, and is above all, stronger than any whirlpool.[2] For suppose there be a spiritual man, and that innumerable calamities befall him, yet is he overcome by none of them. And what do I say? Let poverty come upon him, disease, insults, revilings, mockings, stripes, every sort of infliction, every sort of mocking, and slanders, and insults: yet, as though he were outside the world, and set free from the feelings of the body, so will he laugh all to scorn.

And that my words are not mere boasting, I think many [such] exist even now; for instance, of those who have embraced the life of the desert. This however, you say, is nothing wonderful. But I say that of those also who live in cities, there are such men unsuspected. If thou wish however, I shall be able to exhibit some among those of old. And that thou mayest learn, consider Paul, I pray thee. What is there fearful that he did not suffer, and that he did not submit to? But he bore all nobly. Let us imitate him, for so shall we be able to land in the tranquil havens with much merchandise.

Let us then stretch our mind towards Heaven, let us be held fast by that desire, let us clothe ourselves with spiritual fire, let us gird ourselves with its flame. No man who bears flame fears those who meet him; be it wild beast, be it man, be it snares innumerable, so long as he is armed with fire, all things stand out of his way, all things retire. The flame is intolerable, the fire cannot be endured, it consumes all.

With this fire let us clothe ourselves, offering up glory to our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

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