Writings of John Chrysostom. Two Homilies on Eutropius

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St. Chrysostom:

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Two Homilies on Eutropius

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

Translated by Rev. W. R. W. Stephens, M.A., Prebendary of Chichester Cathedral, and Rector of Woolbeding, Sussex.


i. when he had taken refuge in the church. ii. when he had quitted the asylum of the church, and had been taken captive.


Introduction to the Two Homilies on Eutropius

The interest of the two following discourses depends not only on their intrinsic value as specimens of Chrysostom's eloquence, but also on the singular and dramatic character of the incidents which gave occasion to them. Arcadius the Emperor of the East like his brother Honorius the Emperor of the West was a man of feeble intellect. The history of the Empire under his reign is a melancholy record of imbecility on the part of the nominal rulers: of faithlessness and unscrupulous ambition on the part of their ministers. The chief administrator of affairs in the beginning of the reign of Arcadius was Rufinus, an Aquitanian Gaul; the very model of an accomplished adventurer. His intrigues, his arrogance, his rapacious avarice excited the indignation of the people, and he was at last assassinated by the troops to whom he was making an oration in the presence of the Emperor. His place in the favour and confidence of Arcadius was soon occupied by the eunuch Eutropius. The career of this person was a strange one. Born a slave, in the region of Mesopotamia, he had passed in boyhood and youth through the hands of many owners, performing the most menial offices incident to his position. At length Arnithus, an old military officer who had become his master, presented him to his daughter on her marriage; and in the words of the poet Claudian, "the future consul of the East was made over as part of a marriage dowry." [798] But the young lady after a time grew tired of the slave who was becoming elderly and wrinkled, and without trying to sell him turned him out of her household. He picked up a precarious living in Constantinople and was often in great want until an officer of the court took pity on him, and procured him a situation in the lower ranks of the imperial chamberlains. This was the beginning of his rise. By the diligence with which he discharged his humble duties, by occasional witty sayings, and the semblance of a fervent piety he attracted the notice of the great Emperor Theodosius (the father of Arcadius), and gradually won his confidence so as to be employed on difficult and delicate missions.

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On the death of Theodosius he became in the capacity of grand chamberlain the intimate adviser and constant attendant of Arcadius and the most subtle and determined rival of Rufinus. It was by his contrivance that the scheme of Rufinus for marrying his own daughter to the Emperor was defeated: and that Eudoxia the daughter of a Frankish general was substituted for her. After the murder of Rufinus the government was practically in his hands; but he exercised his power more craftily than the vain and boastful Gaul. He contrived at first to discharge all the duties which fell to his lot as chamberlain with humble assiduity, and sought no other title than he already possessed. Slowly but surely however he climbed to the summit of power by the simple process of putting out of the way on various pretexts all dangerous competitors. He deprived his victims of their last hope of escape by abolishing the right of the Church to afford shelter to fugitives. He sold the chief offices of the State, and the command of the provinces to the highest bidders. By surrounding the Emperor with a crowd of frivolous companions, by dissipating his mind with a perpetual round of amusements, by taking him every spring to Ancyra in Phrygia where he was subjected to the enervating influence of a soft climate and luxurious style of living he made the naturally feeble intellect of Arcadius more feeble still and withdrew it from the power of every superior mind but his own. From the pettiest detail of domestic life to the most important affairs of state, the wily minister at length ruled supreme. Arcadius was little more than a magnificently dressed puppet, and the eunuch slave was the real master of half the Roman world. It was by his advice that on the death of Nectarius in 397 that Chrysostom had been appointed, very much against his own will, to the vacant See of Constantinople. If Eutropius expected to find a complaisant courtier in the new Archbishop he certainly sustained a severe disappointment. Some little pretences which he made of assisting the work of the Church by patronising Chrysostom's missionary projects could not blind the Archbishop to the gross venality of his administration, or exempt him from the censure and warning of one who was too honest and bold to be any respecter of persons. In fact when the Archbishop declaimed against the cupidity and oppressions of the rich it was obvious to all that Eutropius was the most signal example of these vices. At last the minister, not content to remain as he was--enjoying the reality of power without the name--prepared the way for his own ruin by inducing the Emperor to bestow on him the titles of Patrician and Consul. The acquisition of these venerable names by the eunuch slave caused a profound sensation of shame and indignation throughout the Empire, but especially in the Western capital, where they were bound up with all the noblest and most glorious memories in the history of the Roman people. The name of Eutropius was omitted from the Fasti or catalogue of consuls inscribed in the Capitol at Rome. Amidst the general decadence and degeneracy of public spirit in the Empire the West did not descend, could not have descended, to those depths of servile adulation to which the Byzantines stooped at the inauguration of Eutropius as Consul. The senate, and all the great officials military and civil poured into the palace of the Cæsars to offer their homage, and emulated each other in the honor of kissing the hand and even the wrinkled visage of the eunuch. They saluted him as the bulwark of the laws, and the second father of the Emperor. Statues of bronze or marble were placed in various parts of the city representing him in the costume of warrior or judge, and the inscriptions on them styled him third founder of the city, after Byzas, and Constantine. No wonder that Claudian declaimed with bitter sarcasm against "a Byzantine nobility and Greek divinities" and invokes Neptune by a stroke of his trident to unseat and submerge the degenerate city which had inflicted such a deep disgrace on the Empire. [799] A blow indeed was about to fall upon the eastern capital, directed not by the hand of a mythic deity, but of a stout barbarian soldier. The consequences of it were averted from the city only by the sacrifice of the new consul upon whom it fell with crushing effect. He sank never to rise again. Tribigild, a distinguished gothic soldier who had been raised to the rank of Tribune in the Roman army, had demanded higher promotion for himself and higher pay for a body of military colonists in Phrygia of which he had the command. His petition had been coldly dismissed by Eutropius; Tribigild resent the affront and with the troops which he commanded broke into revolt. Eutropius entrusted the conduct of an expedition against him to one of his favorites, who suffered a most ignominious defeat in which he perished, and the greater part of his army was cut to pieces. Constantinople was convulsed with terror and indignation. Gäinas another Goth in command of the city troops declared that he could do nothing to check the progress of the revolt unless Eutropius was banished, the principal author of all the evils of the State. His demand was backed by the Empress Eudoxia, who had experienced much insolence from the minister. Eutropius was deprived of his official dignity, his property was declared confiscated, and he was commanded to quit the palace instantly under pain of death. Whither could the poor wretch fly who was thus in a moment hurled from the pinnacle of power into the lowest depths of degradation and destitution. There was but one place to which he could naturally turn in his distress--the sanctuary of the Church; but by the cruel irony of his fate, a law of his own devising here barred his entrance. Yet he knew that the law prohibiting asylum had been resented and resisted by the Church and it might be that the Archbishop would connive at the violation of the obnoxious measure by the very person who had passed it. He resolved to make the experiment. In the humblest guise of a suppliant, tears streaming down his puckered cheeks, his scant grey hairs smeared with dust, he crept into the Cathedral, drew aside the curtain in front of the altar and clung to one of the columns which supported it. Here he was found by Chrysostom in a state of pitiable and abject terror, for soldiers in search of him had entered the Church, and the clattering of their arms could be heard on the other side of the thin partition which concealed the fugitive. With quivering lips he craved the asylum of the church, and he was not repulsed as the destroyer of the refuge which he now sought. [800] Chrysostom rejoiced in the opportunity afforded to the church of taking a noble revenge on her adversary. [801] He concealed Eutropius in the sacristy, confronted his pursuers, and refused to surrender him. "None shall violate the sanctuary save over my body: the church is the bride of Christ who has entrusted her honor to me and I will never betray it." He desired to be conducted to the Emperor and taken like a prisoner between two rows of spearmen from the Cathedral to the palace [802] where he boldly vindicated the church's right of asylum in the presence of the Emperor. Arcadius promised to respect the retreat of the fallen minister, and with difficulty persuaded the angry troops to accept his decision. The next day was Sunday, and the Cathedral was thronged with a vast multitude eager to hear what the golden mouth of the Archbishop would utter who had dared in defence of the Church's right to defy the law, and confront the tide of popular feeling. But few probably were prepared to witness such a dramatic scene as was actually presented. The Archbishop had just taken his seat in the "Ambon" or high reading desk a little westward of the chancel from which he was wont to preach on the account of his diminutive stature, and a sea of faces was upturned to him waiting for the stream of golden eloquence when the curtain of the sanctuary was drawn aside and disclosed the cowering form of the miserable Eutropius clinging to one of the columns of the Holy Table. Many a time had the Archbishop preached to unheeding ears on the vain and fleeting character of worldly honor, prosperity, luxury, and wealth: now he would force attention, and drive home his lesson to the hearts of his vast congregation by pointing to a visible example of fallen grandeur in the poor wretch who lay grovelling behind him. Eutropius remained for some days within the precincts of the Church and then suddenly departed. Whether he mistrusted the security of his shelter and hoped to make his escape in disguise, or whether he surrendered himself on the understanding that exile would be substituted for capital punishment cannot be certainly known. Chrysostom declared that if he had not abandoned the Church, the Church would never have given him up. [803] Anyhow he was captured and conveyed to Cyprus, but soon afterwards he was tried at Constantinople on various charges of high crimes and misdemeanors against the State, and condemned to suffer capital punishment. He was taken to Chalcedon and there beheaded. [804] The second of the two following discourses was delivered a few days after Eutropius had quitted the sanctuary of the Church.

Footnotes

[798] In Eutrop. i. 104, 105. [799] In Eutrop. ii. 39, 136. [800] Hom. i. 2. [801] Hom. i. 3. [802] Hom. ii. 1. [803] Hom. ii. i. [804] For a fuller account of all these events, see Life of St. John Chrysostom by W. R. W. Stephens (pp. 298-356, 3d edition).


Eutropius, Patrician and Consul.

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Homily I.

On Eutropius, the eunuch, Patrician and Consul.

1. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity"--it is always seasonable to utter this but more especially at the present time. Where are now the brilliant surroundings of thy consulship? where are the gleaming torches? Where is the dancing, and the noise of dancers' feet, and the banquets and the festivals? where are the garlands and the curtains of the theatre? where is the applause which greeted thee in the city, where the acclamation in the hippodrome and the flatteries of spectators? They are gone--all gone: a wind has blown upon the tree shattering down all its leaves, and showing it to us quite bare, and shaken from its very root; for so great has been the violence of the blast, that it has given a shock to all these fibres of the tree and threatens to tear it up from the roots. Where now are your feigned friends? where are your drinking parties, and your suppers? where is the swarm of parasites, and the wine which used to be poured forth all day long, and the manifold dainties invented by your cooks? where are they who courted your power and did and said everything to win your favour? They were all mere visions of the night, and dreams which have vanished with the dawn of day: they were spring flowers, and when the spring was over they all withered: they were a shadow which has passed away--they were a smoke which has dispersed, bubbles which have burst, cobwebs which have been rent in pieces. Therefore we chant continually this spiritual song--"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." For this saying ought to be continually written on our walls, and garments, in the market place, and in the house, on the streets, and on the doors and entrances, and above all on the conscience of each one, and to be a perpetual theme for meditation. And inasmuch as deceitful things, and maskings and pretence seem to many to be realities it behoves each one every day both at supper and at breakfast, and in social assemblies to say to his neighbour and to hear his neighbour say in return "vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Was I not continually telling thee that wealth was a runaway? But you would not heed me. Did I not tell thee that it was an unthankful servant? But you would not be persuaded. Behold actual experience has now proved that it is not only a runaway, and ungrateful servant, but also a murderous one, for it is this which has caused thee now to fear and tremble. Did I not say to thee when you continually rebuked me for speaking the truth, "I love thee better than they do who flatter thee?" "I who reprove thee care more for thee than they who pay thee court?" Did I not add to these words by saying that the wounds of friends were more to be relied upon than the voluntary kisses of enemies. [805] If you had submitted to my wounds their kisses would not have wrought thee this destruction: for my wounds work health, but their kisses have produced an incurable disease. Where are now thy cup-bearers, where are they who cleared the way for thee in the market place, and sounded thy praises endlessly in the ears of all? They have fled, they have disowned thy friendship, they are providing for their own safety by means of thy distress. But I do not act thus, nay in thy misfortune I do not abandon thee, and now when thou art fallen I protect and tend thee. And the Church which you treated as an enemy has opened her bosom and received thee into it; whereas the theatres which you courted, and about which you were oftentimes indignant with me have betrayed and ruined thee. And yet I never ceased saying to thee "why doest thou these things?" "thou art exasperating the Church, and casting thyself down headlong," yet thou didst hurry away from all my warnings. And now the hippodromes, having exhausted thy wealth, have whetted the sword against thee, but the Church which experienced thy untimely wrath is hurrying in every direction, in her desire to pluck thee out of the net.

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2. And I say these things now not as trampling upon one who is prostrate, but from a desire to make those who are still standing more secure; not by way of irritating the sores of one who has been wounded, but rather to preserve those who have not yet been wounded in sound health; not by way of sinking one who is tossed by the waves, but as instructing those who are sailing with a favourable breeze, so that they may not become overwhelmed. And how may this be effected? by observing the vicissitudes of human affairs. For even this man had he stood in fear of vicissitude would not have experienced it; but whereas neither his own conscience, nor the counsels of others wrought any improvement in him, do ye at least who plume yourselves on your riches profit by his calamity: for nothing is weaker than human affairs. Whatever term therefore one may employ to express their insignificance it will fall short of the reality; whether he calls them smoke, or grass, or a dream or spring flowers, or by any other name; so perishable are they, and more naught than nonentities; [806] but that together with their nothingness they have also a very perilous element we have a proof before us. For who was more exalted than this man? Did he not surpass the whole world in wealth? had he not climbed to the very pinnacle of distinction? did not all tremble and fear before him? Yet lo! he has become more wretched than the prisoner, more pitiable than the menial slave, more indigent than the beggar wasting away with hunger, having every day a vision of sharpened swords and of the criminal's grave, and the public executioner leading him out to his death; and he does not even know if he once enjoyed past pleasure, nor is he sensible even of the sun's ray, but at mid day his sight is dimmed as if he were encompassed by the densest gloom. But even let me try my best I shall not be able to present to you in language the suffering which he must naturally undergo, in the hourly expectation of death. But indeed what need is there of any words from me, when he himself has clearly depicted this for us as in a visible image? For yesterday when they came to him from the royal court intending to drag him away by force, and he ran for refuge to the holy furniture, [807] his face was then, as it is now, no better than the countenance of one dead: and the chattering of his teeth, and the quaking and quivering of his whole body, and his faltering voice, and stammering tongue, and in fact his whole general appearance were suggestive of one whose soul was petrified.

3. Now I say these things not by way of reproaching him, or insulting his misfortune, but from a desire to soften your minds towards him, and to induce you to compassion, and to persuade you to be contented with the punishment which has already been inflicted. For since there are many inhuman persons amongst us who are inclined, perhaps, to find fault with me for having admitted him to the sanctuary, I parade his sufferings from a desire to soften their hardheartedness by my narrative.

For tell me, beloved brother, wherefore art thou indignant with me? You say it is because he who continually made war upon the Church has taken refuge within it. Yet surely we ought in the highest degree to glorify God, for permitting him to be placed in such a great strait as to experience both the power and the lovingkindness of the Church:--her power in that he has suffered this great vicissitude in consequence of the attacks which he made upon her: her lovingkindness in that she whom he attacked now casts her shield in front of him and has received him under her wings, and placed him in all security not resenting any of her former injuries, but most lovingly opening her bosom to him. For this is more glorious than any kind of trophy, this is a brilliant victory, this puts both Gentiles and Jews to shame, this displays the bright aspect of the Church: in that having received her enemy as a captive, she spares him, and when all have despised him in his desolation, she alone like an affectionate mother has concealed him under her cloak, [808] opposing both the wrath of the king, and the rage of the people, and their overwhelming hatred. This is an ornament for the altar. A strange kind of ornament, you say, when the accused sinner, the extortioner, the robber is permitted to lay hold of the altar. Nay! say not so: for even the harlot took hold of the feet of Jesus, she who was stained with the most accursed and unclean sin: yet her deed was no reproach to Jesus, but rather redounded to His admiration and praise: for the impure woman did no injury to Him who was pure, but rather was the vile harlot rendered pure by the touch of Him who was the pure and spotless one. Grudge not then, O man. We are the servants of the crucified one who said "Forgive them for they know not what they do." [809] But, you say, he cut off the right of refuge here by his ordinances and divers kinds of laws. Yes! yet now he has learned by experience what it was he did, and he himself by his own deeds has been the first to break the law, and has become a spectacle to the whole world, and silent though he is, he utters from thence a warning voice to all, saying "do not such things as I have done, that ye suffer not such things as I suffer." He appears as a teacher by means of his calamity, and the altar emits great lustre, inspiring now the greatest awe from the fact that it holds the lion in bondage; for any figure of royalty might be very much set off if the king were not only to be seen seated on his throne arrayed in purple and wearing his crown, but if also prostrate at the feet of the king barbarians with their hands bound behind their backs were bending low their heads. And that no persuasive arguments have been used, ye yourselves are witnesses of the enthusiasm, and the concourse of the people. For brilliant indeed is the scene before us to day, and magnificent the assembly, and I see as large a gathering here to-day as at the Holy Paschal Feast. Thus the man has summoned you here without speaking and yet uttering a voice through his actions clearer than the sound of a trumpet: and ye have all thronged hither to-day, maidens deserting their boudoirs, and matrons the women's chambers, and men the market place that ye may see human nature convicted, and the instability of worldly affairs exposed, and the harlot-face which a few days ago was radiant (such is the prosperity derived from extortion) looking uglier than any wrinkled old woman, this face I say you may see denuded of its enamel and pigments by the action of adversity as by a sponge.

4. Such is the force of this calamity: it has made one who was illustrious and conspicuous appear the most insignificant of men. And if a rich man should enter the assembly he derives much profit from the sight: for when he beholds the man who was shaking the whole world, now dragged down from so high a pinnacle of power, cowering with fright, more terrified than a hare or a frog, nailed fast to yonder pillar, without bonds, his fear serving instead of a chain, panic-stricken and trembling, he abates his haughtiness, he puts down his pride, and having acquired the kind of wisdom concerning human affairs which it concerns him to have he departs instructed by example in the lesson which Holy Scripture teaches by precept:--"All flesh is grass and all the glory of man as the flower of grass: the grass withereth and the flower faileth" [810] or "They shall wither away quickly as the grass, and as the green herb shall they quickly fail" [811] or "like smoke are his days," [812] and all passages of that kind. Again the poor man when he has entered and gazed at this spectacle does not think meanly of himself, nor bewail himself on account of his poverty, but feels grateful to his poverty, because it is a place of refuge to him, and a calm haven, and secure bulwark; and when he sees these things he would many times rather remain where he is, than enjoy the possession of all men for a little time and afterwards be in jeopardy of his own life. Seest thou how the rich and poor, high and low, bond and free have derived no small profit from this man's taking refuge here? Seest thou how each man will depart hence with a remedy, being cured merely by this sight? Well! have I softened your passion, and expelled your wrath? have I extinguished your cruelty? have I induced you to be pitiful? Indeed I think I have; and your countenances and the streams of tears you shed are proofs of it. Since then your hard rock has turned into deep and fertile soil let us hasten to produce some fruit of mercy, and to display a luxuriant crop of pity by falling down before the Emperor or rather by imploring the merciful God so to soften the rage of the Emperor, and make his heart tender that he may grant the whole of the favour which we ask. For indeed already since that day when this man fled here for refuge no slight change has taken place; for as soon as the Emperor knew that he had hurried to this asylum, although the army was present, and incensed on account of his misdeeds, and demanded him to be given up for execution, the Emperor made a long speech endeavouring to allay the rage of the soldiers, maintaining that not only his offences, but any good deed which he might have done ought to be taken into account, declaring that he felt gratitude for the latter, and was prepared to forgive him as a fellow creature for deeds which were otherwise. And when they again urged him to avenge the insult done to the imperial majesty, shouting, leaping, and brandishing their spears, he shed streams of tears from his gentle eyes, and having reminded them of the Holy Table to which the man had fled for refuge he succeeded at last in appeasing their wrath.

5. Moreover let me add some arguments which concern ourselves. For what pardon could you deserve, if the Emperor bears no resentment when he has been insulted, but ye who have experienced nothing of this kind display so much wrath? and how after this assembly has been dissolved will ye handle the holy mysteries, and repeat that prayer by which we are commanded to say "forgive us as we also forgive our debtors" [813] when ye are demanding vengeance upon your debtor? Has he inflicted great wrongs and insults on you? I will not deny it. Yet this is the season not for judgment but for mercy; not for requiring an account, but for showing loving kindness: not for investigating claims but for conceding them; not for verdicts and vengeance, but for mercy and favour. Let no one then be irritated or vexed, but let us rather beseech the merciful God to grant him a respite from death, and to rescue him from this impending destruction, so that he may put off his transgression, and let us unite to approach the merciful Emperor beseeching him for the sake of the Church, for the sake of the altar, to concede the life of one man as an offering to the Holy Table. If we do this the Emperor himself will accept us, and even before his praise we shall have the approval of God, who will bestow a large recompense upon us for our mercy. For as he rejects and hates the cruel and inhuman, so does He welcome and love the merciful and humane man; and if such a man be righteous, all the more glorious is the crown which is wreathed for him: and if he be a sinner, He passes over his sins granting this as the reward of compassion shown to his fellow-servant. "For" He saith "I will have mercy and not sacrifice," [814] and throughout the Scriptures you find Him always enquiring after this, and declaring it to be the means of release from sin. Thus then we shall dispose Him to be propitious to us, thus we shall release ourselves from our sins, thus we shall adorn the Church, thus also our merciful Emperor, as I have already said, will commend us, and all the people will applaud us, and the ends of the earth will admire the humanity and gentleness of our city, and all who hear of these deeds throughout the world will extol us. That we then may enjoy these good things, let us fall down in prayer and supplication, let us rescue the captive, the fugitive, the suppliant from danger that we ourselves may obtain the future blessings by the favour and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power, now and for ever, world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[805] Prov. xxvii. 6. [806] ton ouden onton oudaminotera. [807] Holy vessels would be the literal rendering of the word (sk(TM)uesi), but it is clear from what follows that the altar is intended. [808] Possibly an allusion to the curtain which in Eastern Churches, was drawn in front of the altar. [809] Luke xxiii. 34. [810] Is. xl. 6, 7. [811] Ps. xxxvii. 2. [812] Ps. cii. 4. [813] Matt. vi. 12. [814] Hosea vi. 6 .


Homily II.

After Eutropius having been found outside the Church had been taken captive.

1. Delectable indeed are the meadow, and the garden, but far more delectable the study of the divine writings. For there indeed are flowers which fade, but here are thoughts which abide in full bloom; there is the breeze of the zephyr, but here the breath of the Spirit: there is the hedge of thorns, but here is the guarding providence of God; there is the song of cicadæ, but here the melody of the prophets: there is the pleasure which comes from sight, but here the profit which comes from study. The garden is confined to one place, but the Scriptures are in all parts of the world; the garden is subject to the necessities of the seasons, but the Scriptures are rich in foliage, and laden with fruit alike in winter and in summer. Let us then give diligent heed to the study of the Scriptures: for if thou doest this the Scripture will expel thy despondency, and engender pleasure, extirpate vice, and make virtue take root, and in the tumult of life it will save thee from suffering like those who are tossed by troubled waves. The sea rages but thou sailest on with calm weather; for thou hast the study of the Scriptures for thy pilot; for this is the cable which the trials of life do not break asunder. Now that I lie not events themselves bear witness. A few days ago the Church was besieged: an army came, and fire issued from their eyes, yet it did not scorch the olive tree; swords were unsheathed, yet no one received a wound; the imperial gates were in distress, but the Church was in security. And yet the tide of war flowed hither; for here the refugee was sought, and we withstood them, not fearing their rage. And wherefore prithee? because we held as a sure pledge the saying "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." [815] And when I say the Church I mean not only a place but also a plan of life: [816] I mean not the walls of the Church but the laws of the Church. When thou takest refuge in a Church, do not seek shelter merely in the place but in the spirit of the place. For the Church is not wall and roof but faith and life.

Do not tell me that the man having been surrendered was surrendered by the Church; if he had not abandoned the Church he would not have been surrendered. Do not say that he fled here for refuge and then was given up: the Church did not abandon him but he abandoned the Church. He was not surrendered from within the Church but outside its walls. Wherefore did he forsake the Church? Didst thou desire to save thyself? Thou shouldst have held fast to the altar. There were no walls here, but there was the guarding providence of God. Wast thou a sinner? God does not reject thee: for "He came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." [817] The harlot was saved when she clung to His feet. Have ye heard the passage read to-day? Now I say these things that thou mayest not hesitate to take refuge in the Church. Abide with the Church, and the Church does not hand thee over to the enemy: but if thou fliest from the Church, the Church is not the cause of thy capture. For if thou art inside the fold the wolf does not enter: but if thou goest outside, thou art liable to be the wild beast's prey: yet this is not the fault of the fold, but of thy own pusillanimity. The Church hath no feet. Talk not to me of walls and arms: for walls wax old with time, but the Church has no old age. Walls are shattered by barbarians, but over the Church even demons do not prevail. And that my words are no mere vaunt there is the evidence of facts. How many have assailed the Church, and yet the assailants have perished while the Church herself has soared beyond the sky? Such might hath the Church: when she is assailed she conquers: when snares are laid for her she prevails: when she is insulted her prosperity increases: she is wounded yet sinks not under her wounds; tossed by waves yet not submerged; vexed by storms yet suffers no shipwreck; she wrestles and is not worsted, fights but is not vanquished. Wherefore then did she suffer this war to be? That she might make more manifest the splendour of her triumph. Ye were present on that day, and ye saw what weapons were set in motion against her, and how the rage of the soldiers burned more fiercely than fire, and I was hurried away to the imperial palace. [818] But what of that? By the grace of God none of those things dismayed me.

2. Now I say these things in order that ye too may follow my example. But wherefore was I not dismayed? Because I do not fear any present terrors. For what is terrible? Death? nay this is not terrible: for we speedily reach the unruffled haven. Or spoliation of goods? "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I depart;" [819] or exile? "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof;" [820] or false accusation? "Rejoice and be exceeding glad, when men shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for great is your reward in Heaven." [821] I saw the swords and I meditated on Heaven; I expected death, and I bethought me of the resurrection; I beheld the sufferings of this lower world, and I took account of the heavenly prizes; I observed the devices of the enemy, and I meditated on the heavenly crown: for the occasion of the contest was sufficient for encouragement and consolation. True! I was being forcibly dragged away, but I suffered no insult from the act; for there is only one real insult, namely sin: and should the whole world insult thee, yet if thou dost not insult thyself thou art not insulted. The only real betrayal is the betrayal of the conscience: betray not thy own conscience, and no one can betray thee. I was being dragged away and I saw the events--or rather I saw my words turned into events, I saw my discourse which I had uttered in words being preached in the market-place through the medium of actual events. What kind of discourse? the same which I was always repeating. The wind has blown and the leaves have fallen. "The grass has withered and the flower has faded." [822] The night has departed and the day has dawned; the shadow has been proved vain and the truth has appeared. They mounted up to the sky, and they came down to the level of earth: for the waves which were swelling high have been laid low by means of merely human events. How? The things which were taking place were a lesson. And I said to myself will posterity learn self-control? or before two days have passed by will these events have been abandoned to oblivion? The warnings were sounding in their ears. Again let me utter, yet again I will speak. What profit will there be? Certainly there will be profit. For if all do not hearken, the half will hearken; and if not the half, the third part: and if not the third the fourth: and if not the fourth, perhaps ten: and if not ten, perhaps five: and if not five perhaps one: and if not one, I myself have the reward prepared for me. "The grass withereth and the flower fadeth; but the word of God abideth for ever." [823]

3. Have ye seen the insignificance of human affairs? have ye seen the frailty of power? Have ye seen the wealth which I always called a runaway and not a runaway only, but also a murderer. For it not only deserts those who possess it, but also slaughters them; for when any one pays court to it then most of all does it betray him. Why dost thou pay court to wealth which to-day is for thee, and to-morrow for another? Why dost thou court wealth which can never be held fast? Dost thou desire to court it? dost thou desire to hold it fast? Do not bury it but give it into the hands of the poor. For wealth is a wild beast: if it be tightly held it runs away: if it be let loose it remains where it is; "For," it is said, "he hath dispersed abroad and given to the poor; his righteousness remaineth forever." [824] Disperse it then that it may remain with thee; bury it not lest it run away. Where is wealth? I would gladly enquire of those who have departed. Now I say these things not by way of reproach, God forbid, nor by way of irritating old sores, but as endeavouring to secure a haven for you out of the shipwreck of others. When soldiers and swords were threatening, when the city was in a blaze of fury, when the imperial majesty was powerless, and the purple was insulted, when all places were full of frenzy, where was wealth then? where was your silver plate? where were your silver couches? where your household slaves? they had all betaken themselves to flight; where were the eunuchs? they all ran away; where were your friends? they changed their masks. Where were your houses? they were shut up. Where was your money? the owner of it fled: and the money itself, where was that? it was buried. Where was it all hidden? Am I oppressive and irksome to you in constantly declaring that wealth betrays those who use it badly? The occasion has now come which proves the truth of my words. Why dost thou hold it so tightly, when in the time of trial it profiteth thee nothing? If it has power when thou fallest into a strait, let it come to thy aid, but if it then runs away what need hast thou of it? events themselves bear witness. What profit was there in it? The sword was whetted, death was impending, an army raging: there was apprehension of imminent peril; and yet wealth was nowhere to be seen. Where did the runaway flee? It was itself the cause which brought about all these evils, and yet in the hours of necessity it runs away. Nevertheless many reproach me saying continually thou fasteneth upon the rich: while they on the other hand fasten upon the poor. Well I do fasten upon the rich: or rather not the rich, but those who make a bad use of their riches. For I am continually saying that I do not attack the character of the rich man, but of the rapacious. A rich man is one thing, a rapacious man is another: an affluent man is one thing, a covetous man is another. Make clear distinctions, and do not confuse things which are diverse. Art thou a rich man? I forbid thee not. Art thou a rapacious man? I denounce thee. Hast thou property of thy own? enjoy it. Dost thou take the property of others? I will not hold my peace. Wouldest thou stone me for this? I am ready to shed my blood: only I forbid thy sin. I heed not hatred, I heed not war: one thing only do I heed, the advancement of my hearers. The rich are my children, and the poor also are my children: the same womb has travailed with both, both are the offspring of the same travail-pangs. If then thou fastenest reproaches on the poor man, I denounce thee: for the poor man does not suffer so much loss as the rich. For no great wrong is inflicted on the poor man, seeing that in his case the injury is confined to money; but in thy case the injury touches the soul. Let him who wills cast me off, let him who wills stone me, let him who wills hate me: for the plots of enemies are the pledges to me of crowns of victory, and the number of my rewards will be as the number of my wounds.

4. So then I fear not an enemy's plots: one thing only do I fear, which is sin. If no one convicts me of sin, then let the whole world make war upon me. For this kind of war only renders me more prosperous. Thus also do I wish to teach you a lesson. Fear not the devices of a potentate, but fear the power of sin. No man will do thee harm, if thou dost not deal a blow to thyself. If thou hast not sin, ten thousand swords may threaten thee, but God will snatch thee away out of their reach: but if thou hast sin, even shouldest thou be in paradise thou wilt be cast out. Adam was in paradise yet he fell; Job was on a dung hill, yet he was crowned victorious. What profit was paradise to the one? or what injury was the dung hill to the other? No man laid snares for the one, yet was he overthrown: the devil laid snares for the other, and yet he was crowned. Did not the devil take his property? Yes, but he did not rob him of his godliness. Did he not lay violent hands upon his sons? yes: but he did not shake his faith. Did he not tear his body to pieces? yes but he did not find his treasure. Did he not arm his wife against him? yes but he did not overthrow the soldier. Did he not hurl arrows and darts at him? yes but he received no wounds. He advanced his engines but could not shake the tower; he conducted his billows against him, but did not sink the ship. Observe this law I beseech you, yea I clasp your knees, if not with the bodily hand, yet in spirit, and pour forth tears of supplication. Observe this law I pray you, and no one can do you harm. Never call the rich man happy; never call any man miserable save him who is living in sin: and call him happy who lives in righteousness. For it is not the nature of their circumstances, but the disposition of the men which makes both the one and the other. Never be afraid of the sword if thy conscience does not accuse thee: never be afraid in war if thy conscience is clear. Where are they who have departed? tell me. Did not all men once bow down to them? did not those who were in authority tremble greatly before them? did they not pay court to them? But sin has come, and all things are manifested in their true lights; they who were attendants have become judges, the flatterers are turned into executioners; they who once kissed his hands, dragged him themselves from the church, and he who yesterday kissed his hand is to-day his enemy. Wherefore? Because neither did he yesterday love him with sincerity. For the opportunity came and the actors were unmasked. Didst thou not yesterday kiss his hands, and call him saviour, and guardian, and benefactor? Didst thou not compose panegyrics without end? wherefore to-day dost thou accuse him? Why yesterday a praiser, and to-day an accuser? why yesterday utter panegyrics, and to-day reproaches? What means this change? what means this revolution?

5. But I am not like this: I was the subject of his plots, yet I became his protector. I suffered countless troubles at his hands, yet I did not retaliate. For I copy the example of my Master, who said on the cross, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Now I say these things that you may not be perverted by the suspicion of wicked men. Now many changes have taken place, since I had the oversight of the city, and yet no one learns self-control? But when I say no one, I do not condemn all, God forbid. For it is impossible that this rich soil when it has received seed, should not produce one ear of corn: but I am insatiable, I do not wish many to be saved but all. And if but one be left in a perishing condition, I perish also, and deem that the Shepherd should be imitated who had ninety-nine sheep, and yet hastened after the one which had gone astray. [825] How long will money last? how long this silver and gold? how long these draughts of wine? how long the flatteries of slaves? how long these goblets wreathed with garlands? how long these satanic drinking feasts, full of diabolical activity?

Dost thou not know that the present life is a sojourn in a far country? for art thou a citizen? Nay thou art a wayfarer. Understandest thou what I say? Thou art not a citizen, but thou art a wayfarer, and a traveller. Say not: I have this city and that. No one has a city. The city is above. Present life is but a journey. We are journeying on every day, while nature is running its course. Some there are who store up goods on the way: some who bury jewellery on the road. Now when you enter an inn do you beautify the inn? not so, but you eat and drink and hasten to depart. The present life is an inn: we have entered it, and we bring present life to a close: let us be eager to depart with a good hope, let us leave nothing here, that we may not lose it there. When you enter the inn, what do you say to the servant? Take care where you put away our things, that you do not leave anything behind here, that nothing may be lost, not even what is small and trifling, in order that we may carry everything back to our home. Thou art a wayfarer and traveller, and indeed more insignificant than the wayfarer. How so? I will tell you. The wayfarer knows when he is going into the inn, and when he is going out; for the egress as well as the regress is in his own power: but when I enter the inn, that is to say this present life, I know not when I shall go out: and it may be that I am providing myself with sustenance for a long time when the Master suddenly summons me saying "Thou fool, for whom shall those things be which thou hast prepared? for on this very night thy soul is being taken from thee." [826] The time of thy departure is uncertain, the tenure of thy possessions insecure, there are innumerable precipices, and billows on every side of thee. Why dost thou rave about shadows? why desert the reality and run after shadows?

6. I say these things, and shall not cease saying them, causing continual pain, and dressing the wounds; and this not for the sake of the fallen, but of those who are still standing. For they have departed, and their career is ended, but those who are yet standing have gained a more secure position through their calamities. "What then," you say, "shall we do?" Do one thing only, hate riches, and love thy life--cast away thy goods; I do not say all of them, but cut off the superfluities. Be not covetous of other men's goods, strip not the widow, plunder not the orphan, seize not his house: I do not address myself to persons but to facts. But if any one's conscience attacks him, he himself is responsible for it, not my words. Why art thou grasping where thou bringest ill-will upon thyself? Grasp where there is a crown to be gained. Strive to lay hold not of earth but of heaven. "The kingdom of Heaven belongs to violent men and men of violence take it by force." [827] Why dost thou lay hold of the poor man who reproaches thee? Lay hold of Christ who praises thee for it. Dost thou see thy senselessness and madness? Dost thou lay hold of the poor man who has little? Christ says "lay hold of me; I thank thee for it, lay hold of my kingdom and take it by violence." If thou art minded to lay hold of an earthly kingdom, or rather if thou art minded to have designs upon it thou art punished; but in the case of the heavenly kingdom thou art punished if thou dost not lay hold of it. Where worldly things are concerned there is ill-will, but where spiritual there is love. Meditate daily on these things, and if two days hence thou seest another riding in a chariot, arrayed in raiment of silk, and elated with pride, be not again dismayed and troubled. Praise not a rich man, but only him who lives in righteousness. Revile not a poor man, but learn to have an upright and accurate judgment in all things.

Do not hold aloof from the Church; for nothing is stronger than the Church. The Church is thy hope, thy salvation, thy refuge. It is higher than the heaven, it is wider than the earth. It never waxes old, but is always in full vigour. Wherefore as significant of its solidity and stability Holy Scripture calls it a mountain: or of its purity a virgin, or of its magnificence a queen; or of its relationship to God a daughter; and to express its productiveness it calls her barren who has borne seven: in fact it employs countless names to represent its nobleness. For as the master of the Church has many names: being called the Father, and the way, [828] and the life, [829] and the light, [830] and the arm, [831] and the propitiation, [832] and the foundation, [833] and the door, [834] and the sinless one, [835] and the treasure, [836] and Lord, and God, and Son, and the only begotten, and the form of God, [837] and the image [838] of God so is it with the Church itself: does one name suffice to present the whole truth? by no means. But for this reason there are countless names, that we may learn something concerning God, though it be but a small part. Even so the Church also is called by many names. She is called a virgin, albeit formerly she was an harlot: for this is the miracle wrought by the Bridegroom, that He took her who was an harlot and hath made her a virgin. Oh! what a new and strange event! With us marriage destroys virginity, but with God marriage hath restored it. With us she who is a virgin, when married, is a virgin no longer: with Christ she who is an harlot, when married, becomes a virgin.

7. Let the heretic who inquires curiously into the nature of heavenly generation saying "how did the Father beget the Son?" interpret this single fact, ask him how did the Church, being an harlot, become a virgin? and how did she having brought forth children remain a virgin? "For I am jealous over you," saith Paul, "with a godly jealousy, for I espoused you to one husband that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ." [839] What wisdom and understanding! "I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy." What means this? "I am jealous," he says: art thou jealous seeing thou art a spiritual man? I am jealous he says as God is. And hath God jealousy? yea the jealousy not of passion, but of love, and earnest zeal. I am jealous over you with the jealousy of God. Shall I tell thee how He manifests His jealousy? He saw the world corrupted by devils, and He delivered His own Son to save it. For words spoken in reference to God have not the same force as when spoken in reference to ourselves: for instance we say God is jealous, God is wroth, God repents, God hates. These words are human, but they have a meaning which becomes the nature of God. How is God jealous? "I am jealous over you with the jealousy of God." [840] Is God wroth? "O Lord reproach me not in thine indignation." [841] Doth God slumber? "Awake, wherefore sleepest thou, O Lord?" [842] Doth God repent? "I repent that I have made man." [843] Doth God hate? "My soul hateth your feasts and your new moons." [844] Well do not consider the poverty of the expressions: but grasp their divine meaning. God is jealous, for He loves, God is wroth, not as yielding to passion, but for the purpose of chastising, and punishing. God sleeps, not as really slumbering, but as being long-suffering. Choose out the expression. Thus when thou hearest that God begets the Son, think not of division but of the unity of substance. For God has taken many of these words from us as we also have borrowed others from Him, that we may receive honour thereby.

8. Dost thou understand what I have said? Attend carefully my beloved. There are divine names, and there are human names. God has received from me, and He Himself hath given to me. Give me thine, and take mine He says. Thou hast need of mine: I have no need of thine, but thou hast of mine inasmuch as my nature is unmixed, but thou art a human being encompassed with a body, seeking also corporeal terms in order that, by borrowing expressions which are familiar to thee, thou who art thus encompassed with a body, mayest be able to think on thoughts which transcend thy understanding. What kind of names hath He received from me, and what kind hath He given to me? He Himself is God, and He hath called me God; with Him is the essential nature as an actual fact, with me only the honour of the name: "I have said ye are gods, and ye are all children of the most highest." [845] Here are words, but in the other case there is the actual reality. He hath called me god, for by that name I have received honour. He Himself was called man, he was called Son of man, he was called the Way, the Door, the Rock. These words He borrowed from me; the others He gave from Himself to me. Wherefore was He called the Way? That thou mightest understand that by Him we have access to the Father. Wherefore was He called the Rock? that thou mightest understand the secure and unshaken character of the faith. Wherefore was He called the Foundation? That thou mightest understand that He upholdeth all things. Wherefore was He called the Root? That thou mightest understand that in Him we have our power of growth. Wherefore was He called the Shepherd? Because He feeds us. Wherefore was He called a sheep? Because He was sacrificed for us and became a propitiatory offering. Wherefore was He called the Life? Because He raised us up when we were dead. Wherefore was He called the Light? Because He delivered us from darkness. Why was He called an Arm? Because He is of one substance with the Father. Why was He called the Word? Because He was begotten of the Father. For as my word is the offspring of my spirit, even so was the Son begotten of the Father. Wherefore is He called our raiment? Because I was clothed with Him when I was baptized. Why is He called a table? Because I feed upon Him when I partake of the mysteries. Why is He called a house? Because I dwell in Him. Why is He called an inmate of the house? Because we become His Temple. Wherefore is He called the Head? Because I have been made a member of His. Why is He called a Bridegroom? Because He hath taken me as His bride. Wherefore is He called undefiled? Because He took me as a virgin. Wherefore is He called Master? Because I am His bondmaid.

9. For observe the Church, how, as I was saying, she is sometimes a bride, sometimes a daughter, sometimes a virgin, sometimes a bondmaid, sometimes a queen, sometimes a barren woman, sometimes a mountain, sometimes a garden, sometimes fruitful in children, sometimes a lily, sometimes a fountain: She is all things. Therefore having heard these things, think not I pray you that they are corporeal; but stretch thy thought further: for such things cannot be corporeal. For example: the mountain is not the maid: the maid is not the bride: the queen is not the bond-maid: yet the Church is all these things. Wherefore? because the element in which they exist is not corporeal but spiritual. For in a corporeal sphere these things are confined within narrow limits: but in a spiritual sphere they have a wide field of operation. "The queen stood on thy right hand." [846] The queen? How did she who was down-trodden and poor become a queen? and where did she ascend? the queen herself stood on high by the side of the king. How? because the king became a servant; He was not that by nature, but He became so. Understand therefore the things which belong to the Godhead, and discern those which belong to the Dispensation. Understand what He was, and what He became for thy sake, and do not confuse things which are distinct, nor make the argument of his lovingkindness an occasion for blasphemy. He was lofty, and she was lowly: lofty not by position but by nature. His essence was pure, and imperishable: His nature was incorruptible, unintelligible, invisible, incomprehensible, eternal, unchangeable, transcending the nature of angels, higher than the powers above, overpowering reason, surpassing thought, apprehended not by sight but by faith alone. Angels beheld Him and trembled, the Cherubim veiled themselves with their wings, in awe. He looked upon the earth, and caused it to tremble: He threatened the sea and dried it up: [847] he brought rivers out of the desert: He weighed the mountains in scales, and the valleys in a balance. [848] How shall I express myself? how shall I present the truth? His greatness hath no bounds, His wisdom is beyond reckoning, His judgments are untraceable, His ways unsearchable. [849] Such is His greatness and His power, if indeed it is safe even to use such expressions. But what am I to do? I am a human being and I speak in human language: my tongue is of earth and I crave forgiveness from my Lord. For I do not use these expressions in a spirit of presumption, but on account of the poverty of my resources arising from my feebleness and the nature of our human tongue. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I utter these words not in presumption but because I have no others: nevertheless I do not rest content with the meanness of my speech, but soar upwards on the wings of my understanding. Such is His greatness and power. I say this, that without dwelling on the words, or on the poverty of the expressions, thou mayest also thyself learn to act in the same way. Why dost thou marvel if I do this, inasmuch as He also does the same, when He wishes to present something to our minds which transcends human powers? Since He addresses human beings He uses also human illustration, which are indeed insufficient to represent the thing spoken of, and cannot exhibit the full proportions of the matter, yet suffice for the infirmity of the hearers.

10. Make an effort, and do not grow weary of my prolonged discourse. For as when He manifests Himself, He is not manifested as He really is, nor is His bare essence manifested (for no man hath seen God in His real nature; for when He is but partially revealed the Cherubim tremble--the mountains smoke, the sea is dried up, the heaven is shaken, and if the revelation were not partial who could endure it?) as then, I say, He does not manifest Himself as He really is, but only as the beholder is able to see Him, therefore doth He appear sometimes in the form of old age, sometimes of youth, sometimes in fire, sometimes in air, sometimes in water, sometimes in armour, not altering his essential nature, but fashioning His appearance to suit the various condition of those who are affected by it. In like manner also when any one wishes to say anything concerning Him he employs human illustrations. For instance I say: "He went up into the mountain and He was transfigured before them, and His countenance shone as the sun, and His raiment became white as snow." [850] He disclosed, it is said, a little of the Godhead, He manifested to them the God dwelling amongst them "and He was transfigured before them." Attend carefully to the statement. The writer says and He was transfigured before them, and His raiment shone as the light, and His countenance was as the sun. When I said "such is His greatness and power" and added "be merciful to me O Lord," (for I do not rest satisfied with the expression but am perplexed, having no other framed for the purpose) I wish you to understand, that I learned this lesson from Holy Scripture. The evangelist then wished to describe His splendour and he says "He shone." How did He shine? tell me. Exceedingly. And how do you express this? He shone "as the sun." As the sun sayest thou? Yea. Wherefore? Because I know not any other luminary more brilliant. And He was white sayest thou as snow? wherefore as snow? Because I know not any other substance which is whiter. For that He did not really shine thus is proved by what follows: the disciples fell to the ground. If he had shone as the sun the disciples would not have fallen; for they saw the sun every day, and did not fall: but inasmuch as he shone more brilliantly than the sun or snow, they, being unable to bear the splendour, fell to the earth.

11. Tell me then, O evangelist, did He shine more brightly than the sun, and yet dost thou say, "as the sun?" Yea: wishing to make that light known to thee, I know not any other greater luminary, I have no other comparison which holds a royal place amongst luminaries. I have said these things that thou mayest not rest contentedly in the poverty of the language used: I have pointed out to thee the fall of the disciples: they fell to the earth, and were stupified and overwhelmed with slumber. "Arise" He said, and lifted them up, and yet they were oppressed. For they could not endure the excessive brightness of that shining, but heavy sleep took possession of their eyes: so far did the light which was manifested exceed the light of the sun. Yet the evangelist said "as the sun," because that luminary is familiar to us and surpasses all the rest.

But as I was saying, He who was thus great and powerful desired an harlot. I speak of our human nature under that name. If a man indeed desire an harlot he is condemned, and doth God desire one? Yea verily. Again a man desireth an harlot that he may become a fornicator: but God that He may convert the harlot into a virgin: so that the desire of the man is the destruction of her who is desired: but the desire of God is salvation to her who is desired. And why did He who is so great and powerful desire an harlot? that He might become the husband thereof. How doth He act? He doth not send to her any of His servants, He sendeth not angel, archangel, Cherubim, or Seraphim; but He himself draws nigh Who loves her. Again when thou hearest of love, deem it not sensuous. Cull out the thoughts which are contained in the words, even as an excellent bee settles on the flowers, and takes the honey comb, but leaves the herbs God desired an harlot, and how doth He act? He does not conduct her on high; for He would not bring an harlot into Heaven, but He Himself comes down. Since she could not ascend on high, He descends to earth. He cometh to the harlot, and is not ashamed: He cometh to her secret dwelling place. He beholds her in her drunkenness. And how doth He come? not in the bare essence of His original nature, but He becomes that which the harlot was, not in intention but in reality does He become this, in order that she may not be scared when she sees Him, that she may not rush away, and escape. He cometh to the harlot, and becomes man. And how does He become this? He is conceived in the womb, he increases little by little and follows like me the course of human growth. Who is it who does this? the Deity as manifested, not the Godhead; the form of the servant not that of the Master; the flesh which belongs to me, not the essential nature which belongs to Him: He increases little by little, and has intercourse with mankind. Although He finds the harlot, human nature, full of sores, brutalised, and oppressed by devils, how does He act? He draws nigh to her. She sees Him and flees away. He calleth the wise men saying Why are ye afraid? I am not a judge, but a physician. "I came not to judge the world but to save the world." [851] Straightway He calleth the wise men. Oh! new and strange event. The immediate first-fruits of His coming are wise men. He who upholds the world lieth in a manger, and He who careth for all things is a nursling in swaddling bands. The temple is founded and the God dwelleth therein. And wise men come and straightway worship Him: the publican comes and is turned into an evangelist: the harlot comes and is turned into a maiden: the Canaanitish woman comes and partakes of his lovingkindness. This is the mark of one who loves, to forbear demanding an account of sins, and to forgive transgressions and offences. And how does He act? He takes the sinner and espouses her to himself. And what doth He give her? a signet ring. Of what nature? the Holy Spirit. Paul saith "now He who establisheth us with you is God who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit." [852] The Spirit then He giveth her. Next He saith "Did not I plant thee in a garden?" She saith "yea." And how didst thou fall from thence? "The devil came and cast me out of the garden." Thou wast planted in the garden and he cast thee out: behold I plant thee in myself, I uphold thee. How? The devil dares not approach me. Neither do I take thee up into Heaven; but something greater than Heaven is here: I carry thee in myself who am the Lord of Heaven. The shepherd carries thee and the wolf no longer comes: or rather I permit him to approach. And so the Lord carrieth our nature: and the devil approaches and is worsted. "I have planted thee in myself:" therefore He saith "I am the root, ye are the branches:" [853] so He planted her in Himself. "But," she saith, "I am a sinner and unclean." "Let not this trouble thee, I am a physician. I know my vessel, I know how it was perverted. It was formerly a vessel of clay, and it was perverted. I remodel it by means of the laver of regeneration and I submit it to the action of fire." For observe: He took dust from the earth and made the man; He formed him. The devil came, and perverted him. Then the Lord came, took him again, and remoulded, and recast him in baptism, and He suffered not his body to be of clay, but made it of a harder ware. He subjected the soft clay to the fire of the Holy Spirit. "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:" [854] He was baptized with water that he might be remodelled, with fire that he might be hardened. Therefore the Prophet speaking beforehand under divine guidance declared "Thou shalt dash them in pieces like vessels of the potter." [855] He did not say like vessels of earthenware which every one possesses: for by a potter's vessels are meant those which the potter is fashioning on the wheel: now the potter's vessels are of clay, but ours are of harder ware. Speaking beforehand therefore of the remoulding which is wrought by means of baptism he saith, "thou shalt dash them in pieces like vessels of a potter"--He means that He remodels and recasts them. I descend into the water of baptism, and the fashion of my nature is remoulded, and the fire of the Spirit recasts it, and it is turned into a harder ware. And that my words are no empty vaunt hear what Job says, "He hath made us as clay," [856] and Paul, "but we have this treasure in earthen vessels." [857] But consider the strength of the earthen vessel: for it has been hardened not by fire, but by the Spirit. How was it proved to be an earthen vessel? "Five times received I forty stripes save one, thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned," [858] and yet the earthen vessel was not shattered. "A day and a night have I been in the deep." He hath been in the deep, and the earthen vessel was not dissolved: he suffered shipwreck and the treasure was not lost; the ship was submerged and yet the freight floated. "But we have this treasure" he says. What kind of treasure? a supply of the Spirit, righteousness, sanctification, redemption. Of what nature, tell me? "in the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk." [859] "Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole," [860] I say unto thee thou evil spirit, go out of him. [861]

12. Hast thou seen a treasure more brilliant than royal treasures? For what can the pearl of a king do like that which the words of an Apostle effected? Set crowns innumerable upon dead men, and they will not be raised: but one word went forth from an Apostle, and it brought back revoked nature, and restored it to its ancient condition. "But we have this treasure." O treasure which not only is preserved, but also preserves the house where it is stored up. Dost thou understand what I have said? The kings of the earth, and rulers when they have treasures, prepare large houses, having strong walls, bars, doors, guards, and bolts in order that the treasure may be preserved: but Christ did the contrary: He placed the treasure not in a stone vessel but in an earthen one. If the treasure is great wherefore is the vessel weak? But the reason why the vessel is weak is not because the treasure is great; for this is not preserved by the vessel, but itself preserves the vessel. I deposit the treasure: who is able henceforth to steal it? The devil has come, the world has come, multitudes have come, and yet they have not stolen the treasure: the vessel has been scourged, yet the treasure was not betrayed; it has been drowned in the sea, yet the treasure was not shipwrecked: it has died yet the treasure survives. He gave therefore the earnest of the Spirit. Where are they who blaspheme the Spirit's majesty? Give ye heed. "He that establisheth us with you in Christ is God who also hath given the earnest of the Spirit." [862] You all know that the earnest is a small part of the whole; let me tell you how. Some one goes to buy a house at a great price; and he says "give me an earnest that I may have confidence: or one goes to take a wife for himself, he arranges about dowry and property, and he says "give me an earnest." Observe: in the purchase of a slave and in all covenants there is an earnest. Since then Christ made a covenant with us (for He was about to take me as a bride) he also assigned a dowry to me not of money, but of blood. But this dowry which He assigns is the bestowal of good things "such as eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man." [863] He assigned them for the dowry:--immortality, praise with the angels, release from death, freedom from sin, the inheritance of a kingdom (so great are his riches), righteousness, sanctification, deliverance from present evils, discovery of future blessings. Great was my dowry. Now attend carefully: mark what He does. He came to take the harlot, for so I call her, unclean as she was, that thou mightest understand the love of the bridegroom. He came; He took me: He assigns me a dowry: He saith "I give thee my wealth." How? "Hast thou lost," He saith, "paradise?" take it back. Hast thou lost thy beauty? take it back; take all these things. But yet the dowry was not given to me here.

13. Observe, this is the reason why He speaks beforehand with reference to this dowry; He warranted to me in the dowry the resurrection of the body,--immortality. For immortality does not always follow resurrection, but the two are distinct. For many have risen, and been again laid low, like Lazarus and the bodies of the saints. [864] But in this case it is not so, but the promise is of resurrection, immortality, a place in the joyful company of angels, the meeting of the Son of Man in the clouds, and the fulfilment of the saying "so shall we ever be with the Lord," [865] the release from death, the freedom from sin, the complete overthrow of destruction. Of what kind is that? "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." Dost thou give me good things which I know not? He saith "yea; only be espoused to me here, love me in this world." "Wherefore dost thou not give me the dowry here?" "It will be given when thou hast come to my Father, when thou hast entered the royal palace. Didst thou come to me! nay I came to thee. I came not that thou shouldst abide here but that I might take thee and return. Seek not the dowry here: all depends on hope, and faith. "And dost thou give me nothing in this world?" He answers. "Receive an earnest that thou mayest trust me concerning that which is to come: receive pledges and betrothal gifts." Therefore Paul saith "I have espoused you." [866] As gifts of betrothal God has given us present blessings: they are an earnest of the future; but the full dowry abides in the other world. How so? I will tell you. Here I grow old, there I grow not old; here I die, there I die not, here I sorrow, there I sorrow not; here is poverty, and disease, and intrigue, there nothing of that kind exists: here is darkness and light, there is light alone: here is intrigue, there is liberty; here is disease, there is health; here is life which has an end, there is life which hath no end; here is sin, there is righteousness, and sin is banished; here is envy, there nothing of the kind exists. "Give me these things" one says; "Nay! wait in order that thy fellow-servants also may be saved; wait I say. He who establisheth us and hath given us the earnest"--what kind of earnest? the Holy Spirit, the supply of the Spirit. Let me speak concerning the Spirit. He gave the signet ring to the Apostles, saying "take this and give it to all." Is the ring then portioned out, and yet not divided? It is so. Let me teach you the meaning of the supply of the Spirit: Peter received, and Paul also received the Holy Spirit. He went about the world, he released sinners from their sins, he restored the lame, he clothed the naked, he raised the dead, he cleansed the lepers, he bridled the devil, he strangled the demons, he held converse with God, he planted a Church, levelled temples to the earth, overturned altars, destroyed vice, established virtue, made angels of men.

14. All these things we were. But "the earnest" filled the whole world. And when I say the whole I mean all which the sun shines upon, sea, islands, mountains, valleys, and hills. Paul went hither and thither, like some winged creature, with one mouth only contending against the enemy, he the tentmaker, who handled the workman's knife and sewed skins together: and yet this his craft was no hindrance to his virtue, but the tentmaker was stronger than demons, the uneloquent man was wiser than the wise. Whence was this? He received the earnest, he bore the signet ring and carried it about. All men saw that the King had espoused our nature: the demon saw it and retreated, he saw the earnest, and trembled and withdrew: he saw but the Apostle's garments [867] and fled. O the power of the Holy Spirit. He bestowed authority not on the soul, nor on the body, but even on raiment; nor on raiment only but even on a shadow. Peter went about and his shadow put diseases to flight, [868] and expelled demons, and raised the dead to life. Paul went about the world, cutting away the thorns of ungodliness, sowing broadcast the seeds of godliness, like an excellent ploughman handling the ploughshare of doctrine. And to whom did he go? To Thracians, to Scythians, to Indians, to Maurians, to Sardinians, to Goths, to wild savages, and he changed them all. By what means? By means of "the earnest." How was he sufficient for these things? By the grace of the Spirit. Unskilled, ill-clothed, ill-shod he was upheld by Him "who also hath given the earnest of the Spirit." Therefore he saith "and who is sufficient for these things? [869] But our sufficiency is of God, who hath made us sufficient as ministers of the new Testament, not of the letter but of the Spirit." [870] Behold what the Spirit hath wrought: He found the earth filled with demons and He has made it heaven. For meditate not on present things but review the past in your thought. Formerly there was lamentation, there were altars everywhere, everywhere the smoke and fumes of sacrifice, everywhere unclean rites and mysteries, and sacrifices, everywhere demons holding their orgies, everywhere a citadel of the devil, everywhere fornication decked with wreaths of honour; and Paul stood alone. How did he escape being overwhelmed, or torn in pieces? How could he open his mouth? He entered the Thebaid, [871] and made captives of men, He entered the royal palace, and made a disciple of the king. [872] He entered the hall of judgment, and the judge saith to him "almost thou persuadest me to become a Christian," [873] and the judge became a disciple. He entered the prison, and took the jailor captive. [874] He visited an island of barbarians, and made a viper the instrument of his teaching. [875] He visited the Romans, and attracted the senate to his doctrine. He visited rivers, and desert places in all parts of the world. There is no land or sea which has not shared in the benefits of his labours; for God has given human nature the earnest of His signet, and when He gives it He saith: some things I give thee now, and others I promise. Therefore the prophet saith concerning her "The queen did stand upon thy right hand in a vesture woven with gold." He does not mean a real vesture, but virtue. Therefore the Scripture elsewhere saith "How camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?" so that here he does not mean a garment, but fornication, and foul and unclean living. As then foul raiment signifies sin, so does golden raiment signify virtue. But this raiment belonged to the king. He Himself bestowed the raiment upon her: for she was naked, naked and disfigured. "The queen stood on thy right hand in a vesture woven with gold." [876] He is speaking not of raiment but of virtue. Observe: the expression itself has great nobility of meaning. He does not say "in a vesture of gold" but "in a vesture woven with gold." Listen intelligently. A vesture of gold is one which is gold throughout: but a vesture woven with gold is one which is partly of gold, partly of silk. Why then did he say that the bride wore not a vesture of gold, but one woven with gold? Attend carefully. He means the constitution of the Church in its varied manifestations. For since we do not all belong to one condition of life, but one is a virgin, another a widow, a third lives a life of devotion--so the robe of the Church signifies the constitution of the Church.

15. Inasmuch then as our Master knew that if He carved out only one road for us, many must shrink from it, He carved out divers roads. Thou canst not enter the kingdom it may be by the way of virginity. Enter it then by the way of single marriage. Canst thou not enter it by one marriage? Perchance thou mayest by means of a second marriage. Thou canst not enter by the way of continence: enter then by the way of almsgiving: or thou canst not enter by the way of almsgiving? then try the way of fasting. If thou canst not use this way, take that--or if not that, then take this. Therefore the prophet spoke not of a garment of gold, but of one woven with gold. It is of silk, or purple, or gold. Thou canst not be a golden part? then be a silken one. I accept thee, if only thou art clothed in my raiment. Therefore also Paul saith "If any man builds upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones." [877] Thou canst not be the precious stone? then be the gold. Thou canst not be the gold? then be the silver, if only thou art resting upon the foundation. And again elsewhere, "there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars." [878] Thou canst not be a sun? then be a moon. Thou canst not be a moon? then be a star. Thou canst not be a large star? be content to be a little one if only thou art in the Heaven. Thou canst not be a virgin? then live continently in the married state, only abiding in the Church. Thou canst not be without possessions? then give alms, only abiding in the Church, only wearing the proper raiment, only submitting to the queen. [879] The raiment is woven with gold, it is manifold in texture. I do not bar the way against thee: for the abundance of virtues has rendered the dispensation of the king easy in operation. "Clothed in a vesture woven with gold, manifold in texture." Her vesture is manifold: unfold, if you please, the deep meaning of the expression here used, and fix your eyes upon this garment woven with gold. For here indeed some live celibate, others live in an honourable estate of matrimony being not much inferior to them: some have married once, others are widows in the flower of their age. For what purpose is a paradise? and wherefore its variety? having divers flowers, and trees, and many pearls. There are many stars, but only one sun: there are many ways of living, but only one paradise; there are many temples, but only one mother of them all. There is the body, the eye, the finger, but all these make up but one man. There is the same distinction between the small, the great, and the less. The virgin hath need of the married woman; for the virgin also is the product of marriage, that marriage may not be despised by her. The virgin is the root of marriage: thus all things have been linked together, the small with the great, and the great with the small. "The queen did stand on thy right hand clothed in a vesture wrought with gold, manifold in texture." Then follows "Hearken! O daughter." The conductor of the bride says that thou art about to go forth from thy home to the home of the bridegroom who in his essential nature far surpasses thee. I am the conductor of the bride. "Hearken O daughter." Did she immediately become the wife? Yea: for here there is nothing corporeal. For He espoused her as a wife, He loves her as a daughter, He provides for her as a handmaid, He guards her as a virgin, He fences her round like a garden, and cherishes her like a member: as a head He provides for her, as a root he causes her to grow, as a shepherd He feeds her, as a bridegroom He weds her, as a propitiation He pardons her, as a sheep He is sacrificed, as a bridegroom He preserves her in beauty, as a husband He provides for her support. Many are the meanings in order that we may enjoy a part if it be but a small part of the divine economy of grace. "Hearken O daughter" and behold, and look upon things which are bridal and yet spiritual. Hearken O daughter. She was at first a daughter of demons, a daughter of the earth, unworthy of the earth and now she has become a daughter of the king. And this He wished who loved her. For he who loves does not investigate character: love does not regard uncomeliness: on this account indeed is it called love because it oftentimes hath affection for an uncomely person. [880] Thus also did Christ. He saw one who was uncomely (for comely I could not call her) and He loved her, and He makes her young, not having spot or wrinkle. Oh what a bridegroom! adorning with grace the ungracefulness of his bride! Hearken O daughter! hearken and behold! Two things He saith "Hearken" and "Behold," two which depend on thyself, one on thy eyes, the other on thy hearing. Now since her dowry depended on hearing (and although some of you have been acute enough to perceive this already, let them tarry for those who are feebler: I commend those who have anticipated the truth, and make allowances for those who only follow in their track) since the dowry then depended on hearing--(and what is meant by hearing? faith: for "faith cometh by hearing" faith as opposed to fruition, and actual experience) I said before that He divided the dowry into two, and gave some portion to the bride for an earnest, whilst He promised others in the future. What did He give her? He gave her forgiveness of sins, remission of punishment, righteousness, sanctification, redemption, the body of the Lord, the divine, spiritual Table, the resurrection of the dead. For all these things the Apostles had. Therefore He gave some parts and promised others. Of some there was experience and fruition, others depended upon hope and faith. Now listen. What did He bestow? Baptism and the Sacrifice. Of these there is experience. What did He promise? Resurrection, immortality of the body, union with angels, a place in the joyful company of archangels, and as a citizen in His kingdom, immaculate life, the good things "which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard nor have entered into the heart of man, things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."

16. Understand what is said, lest ye lose it: I am labouring to enable you to perceive it. The dowry of the bride then was divided into two portions consisting of things present and things to come; things seen and things heard, things given and things taken on trust, things experienced, and things to be enjoyed hereafter; things belonging to present life, and things to come after the resurrection. The former things you see, the latter you hear. Observe then what He says to her that you may not suppose that she received the former things only, though they be great and ineffable, and surpassing all understanding. "Hearken O daughter and behold;" hear the latter things and behold the former that thou mayest not say "am I again to depend on hope, again on faith, again on the future?" See now: I give some things, and I promise others: the latter indeed depend on hope, but do thou receive the others as pledges, as an earnest, as a proof of the remainder. I promise thee a kingdom: and let present things be the ground of thy trust, thy trust in me. Dost thou promise me a kingdom? Yea. I have given thee the greater part, even the Lord of the kingdom, for "he who spared not his own son, but gave him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" [881] Dost thou give me the resurrection of the body? Yea; I have given thee the greater part. What is the nature of it? Release from sins. How is that the greater part? Because sin brought forth death. I have destroyed the parent, and shall I not destroy the offspring? I have dried up the root, and shall I not destroy the produce. "Hearken O daughter and behold." What am I to behold? Dead men raised to life, lepers cleansed, the sea restrained, the paralytic braced up into vigour, paradise opened, loaves poured forth in abundance, sins remitted, the lame man leaping, the robber made a citizen of paradise, the publican turned into an evangelist, the harlot become more modest than the maid. Hear and behold. Hear of the former things and behold these. Accept from present things a proof of the others; concerning those I have given thee pledges, things which are better than they are. "What is the meaning of this thy saying?" These things are mine. "Hearken O daughter and behold." These things are my dower to thee. And what doth the bride contribute? Let us see. What I pray thee dost thou bring that thou mayest not be portionless? What can I, she answers, bring to thee from heathen altars, and the steam of sacrifices and from devils? What have I to contribute? what? sayest thou? Thy will and thy faith. "Hearken O daughter and behold." And what wilt thou have me do? "Forget thy own people." What kind of people? the devils, the idols, the sacrificial smoke, and steam, and blood. "Forget thy own people, and thy father's house." Leave thy father and come after me. I left my Father, and came to thee, and wilt thou not leave thy father? But when the word leave is used in reference to the Son do not understand by it an actual leaving. What He means is "I condescended, I accommodated myself to thee, I assumed human flesh." This is the duty of the bridegroom, and of the bride, that thou shouldest abandon thy parents, and that we should be wedded to one another. "Hearken O daughter and behold, and forget thy own people, and thy father's house." And what dost thou give me if I do forget them? "and the king shall desire thy beauty." Thou hast the Lord for thy lover. If thou hast Him for thy lover, thou hast also the things which are his. I trust ye may be able to understand what is said: for the thought is a subtle one, and I wish to stop the mouth of the Jews.

Now exert your minds I pray: for whether one hears, or forbears to hear I shall dig and till the soil. "Hearken O daughter, and behold, forget also thy own people, and thy father's house, and the king shall desire thy beauty." By beauty in this passage the Jew understands sensible beauty; not spiritual but corporeal.

17. Attend, and let us learn what corporeal, and what spiritual beauty are. There is soul and body: they are two substances: there is a beauty of body, and there is a beauty of soul. What is beauty of body? an extended eyebrow, a merry glance, a blushing cheek, ruddy lips, a straight neck, long wavy hair, tapering fingers, upright stature, a fair blooming complexion. Does this bodily beauty come from nature, or from choice? Confessedly it comes from nature. Attend that thou mayest learn the conception of philosophers. This beauty whether of the countenance, of the eye, of the hair, of the brow, does it come from nature, or from choice? It is obvious that it comes from nature. For the ungraceful woman, even if she cultivate beauty in countless ways, cannot become graceful in body: for natural conditions are fixed, and confined by limits which they cannot pass over. Therefore the beautiful woman is always beautiful, even if she has no taste for beauty: and the ungraceful cannot make herself graceful, nor the graceful ungraceful. Wherefore? because these things come from nature. Well! thou hast seen corporeal beauty. Now let us turn inwards to the soul: let the handmaid approach the mistress! let us turn I say to the soul. Look upon that beauty, or rather listen to it: for thou canst not see it since it is invisible--Listen to that beauty. What then is beauty of soul? Temperance, mildness, almsgiving, love, brotherly kindness, tender affection, obedience to God, the fulfilment of the law, righteousness, contrition of heart. These things are the beauty of the soul. These things then are not the results of nature, but of moral disposition. And he who does not possess these things is able to receive them, and he who has them, if he becomes careless, loses them. For as in the case of the body I was saying that she who is ungraceful cannot become graceful; so in the case of the soul I say the contrary that the graceless soul can become full of grace. For what was more graceless than the soul of Paul when he was a blasphemer and insulter: what more full of grace when he said "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." [882] What was more graceless than the soul of the robber? what more full of grace when he heard the words "Verily I say unto thee to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise?" [883] What was more graceless than the publican when he practised extortion? but what more full of grace when he declared his resolution. [884] Seest thou that thou canst not alter grace of body, for it is the result not of moral disposition, but of nature. But grace of soul is supplied out of our own moral choice. Thou hast now received the definition. Of what kind are they? that the beauty of the soul proceeds from obedience to God. For if the graceless soul obeys God it puts off its ungracefulness, and becomes full of grace. "Saul! Saul!" it was said, "why persecutest thou me?" and he replied "and who art Thou Lord?" "I am Jesus." [885] And he obeyed, and his obedience made the graceless soul full of grace. Again, He saith to the publican "come follow me" [886] and the publican rose up and became an apostle: and the graceless soul became full of grace. Whence? by obedience. Again He saith to the fishermen "Come ye after me and I will make you to become fishers of men:" [887] and by their obedience their minds became full of grace. Let us see then what kind of beauty He is speaking of here. "Hearken O daughter and behold, and forget thy own people and thy father's house, and the king shall desire thy beauty." What kind of beauty will he desire? the spiritual kind. How so? because she is to "forget" He saith "hearken and forget." These are acts of moral choice. "Hearken!" he said: an ungraceful one hears and her ungracefulness being that of the body is not removed. To the sinful woman He has said "Hearken," and if she will obey she sees what manner of beauty is bestowed upon her. Since then the ungracefulness of the bride was not physical, but moral (for she did not obey God but transgressed) therefore he leads her to another remedy. Thou didst become ungraceful then, not by nature, but by moral choice: and thou didst become full of grace by obedience. "Hearken O daughter and behold and forget thy own people, and thy father's house, and the king shall desire thy beauty." Then that thou mayest learn that he does not mean anything visible to sense, when thou hearest the word beauty, think not of eye, or nose, or mouth, or neck, but of piety, faith, love, things which are within--"for all the glory of the king's daughter is from within." Now for all these things let us offer thanks to God, the giver, for to Him alone belongeth glory, honour, might, for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[815] Matt. xvi. 18. [816] ou topon monon /=lla kai tropon. [817] Matt. ix. 13. [818] See Introduction. [819] Job i. 21. [820] Ps. xxiv. 1. [821] Matt. v. 12. [822] Is. xl. 8. [823] Is. xl. 8. [824] Ps. cxii. 9. [825] Luke xv. 4. [826] Luke xii. 20, a free quotation. Chrysostom transposes the clauses and substitutes lambEURnousi "they are taking," for /=paitousin /=po sou, "they are demanding from thee." [827] Matt. xi. 12, slightly altered by Chrysostom from the original he basil(TM)ia ton ouranon biEURzetai, the kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence. [828] John xiv. 6. [829] Ibid. [830] John i. 8, 9; viii. 12. [831] Perhaps Ps. xcviii. 1; Is. xxxiii. 2; li. 9, and other passages of the same kind. [832] 1 John ii. 2. [833] 1 Cor. iii. 11. [834] John x. 7. [835] 1 John iii. 5; 1 Peter ii. 22. [836] Perhaps Matt. vi. 21; viii. 44. [837] Phil. ii. 6. [838] Col. i. 15. [839] 2 Cor. xi. 2. [840] 2 Cor. xi. 2. [841] Ps. vi. 2. [842] Ps. xliv. 23. [843] Gen. vi. 7. [844] Is. i. 14. [845] Ps. lxxxii. 6; comp. John x. 34. [846] Ps. xlv. 10. [847] Is. li. 10. [848] Is. xl. 12. Septuagint. [849] Rom. xi. 33. Chrysostom has transposed the order of the adjectives. [850] Matt. xvii. 2: Mark ix. 2. Chrysostom mixes up the accounts of the two Evangelists, and does not quote the exact words of either. [851] John xii. 47. [852] 2 Cor. i. 21, 22. [853] John xv. 5. In the original, "I am the vine," etc. [854] Matt. iii. 11. [855] Ps. ii. 9. [856] Job x. 9. [857] 2 Cor. iv. 7. [858] 2 Cor. xi. 24, etc. [859] Acts iii. 6. [860] Acts ix. 34. [861] Acts xvi. 18. [862] 2 Cor. i. 21, 22. [863] 1 Cor. ii. 9. [864] John xi.; Matt. xxvii. 52. [865] 1 Thess. iv. 17. [866] 2 Cor. xi. 2. [867] Acts xix. 11. [868] Acts v. 15. [869] 2 Cor. ii. 16. [870] 2 Cor. iii. 5, 6. [871] Strictly speaking, the name of the Egyptian desert in the neighborhood of Thebes; but here it must be used in a general sense, to denote any wild country. The whole passage is highly rhetorical. [872] He probably means Sergius Paulus. Acts xiii. 12. [873] Acts xxvi. 28. It is doubtful, however, whether this is the right interpretation of the words. See the revised translation. [874] Acts xvi. 30, etc. [875] Acts xxviii. 3, etc. [876] Ps. xlv. 10. [877] 1 Cor. iii. 12. [878] 1 Cor. xv. 41. [879] i.e., the Church. [880] The statement is grounded on a mistaken etymology. There is also an allusion to the proverbial blindness of love. [881] Rom. viii. 32. [882] 2 Tim. iv. 7. [883] Luke xxiii. 43. [884] Luke xix. 8. [885] Acts ix. 4, 5. [886] Matt. ix. 9. [887] Matt. iv. 19. .


St. Chrysostom:

A Treatise to prove that no one can harm the man who does not injure himself.

Translated by Rev. W. R. W. Stephens, M.A., Prebendary of Chichester Cathedral, and Rector of Woolbeding, Sussex.


Introduction to the Treatise that no one can harm the man who does not injure himself

This very beautiful treatise was composed when St. Chrysostom was in exile, probably not long before his death, and was sent with a letter to his great friend the deaconess Olympias in Constantinople.

Plato in the 10th book of his Dialogue called the "Republic" employs an argument to prove the immortality of the soul, so nearly resembling a portion of this treatise that I can scarcely doubt St. Chrysostom had it in his mind. The following is the passage in the Platonic dialogue as rendered in the excellent translation of Messrs. Davies & Vaughan. I omit a few sentences here and there.

"Have you not learned, I asked, that our soul is immortal and never dies?

He looked at me and said in amazement. No really I have not: but can you maintain this doctrine?

Yes as I am an honest man, I replied, and I think you could also. It is quite easy to do it.

Proceed by all means.

So you call one thing good and another evil?

I do.

And do we hold the same opinion as to the meaning of two terms?

What opinion do you hold?

I hold that the term evil comprises everything that destroys and corrupts, and the term good everything that preserves and benefits.

So do I.

Again; do you maintain that everything has its evil and its good? Do you say for example that the eyes are liable to the evil of ophthalmia, the entire body to disease, corn to mildew, timber to rot, copper and iron to rust or in other words that almost everything is liable to some connatural evil and malady?

I do.

And is it not the case that, whenever an object is attacked by one of these maladies it is impaired; and in the end completely broken up and destroyed by it?

Doubtless it is so?

Hence everything is destroyed by its own connatural evil and vice: otherwise if it be not destroyed by this, there is nothing else that can corrupt it. For that which is good will never destroy anything, nor yet that which is neither good nor evil.

Of course not.

If then we can find among existing things one which is liable to a particular evil which can indeed mar it, but cannot break it up or destroy it, shall we not be at once certain that a thing so constituted can never perish?

That would be a reasonable conclusion.

Well then is not the soul liable to a malady which renders it evil?

Certainly it is: all those things which we were lately discussing--injustice, intemperance, cowardice, and ignorance--produce that result."

Then having proved that although these things injure the soul they do not actually destroy it he proceeds.

"Well, it is irrational to suppose that a thing can be destroyed by the depravity of another thing, though it cannot be destroyed by its own.

True it is irrational.

Yes it is: for you must remember that we do not imagine that a body is to be destroyed by the proper depravity of its food whatever that may be, whether mouldiness or rottenness or anything else. But if the depravity of the food itself produces in the body a disorder proper to the body, we shall assert that the body has been destroyed by its food remotely, but by its own proper vice or disease, immediately: and we shall always disclaim the notion that the body can be corrupted by the depravity of its food which is a different thing from the body--that is to say, the notion that the body can be corrupted by an alien evil without the introduction of its own native evil.

You are perfectly correct.

Then according to the same reasoning I continued, unless depravity of body introduces into the soul depravity of soul let us never suppose that the soul can be destroyed by an alien evil without the presence of its own peculiar disease: for that would be to suppose that one thing can be destroyed by the evil of another thing.

That is a reasonable statement.

Well then let us either refute this doctrine and point out our mistake or else, so long as it remains unrefuted, let us never assert that a fever or any other disease, or fatal violence, or even the act of cutting up the entire body into the smallest possible pieces can have any tendency to destroy the soul, until it has been demonstrated that in consequence of this treatment of the body the soul itself becomes more unjust and more unholy. For so long as a thing is exempt from its own proper evil, while an evil foreign to it appears in another subject, let us not allow it to be said that this thing whether it be a soul or anything else is in danger of being destroyed.

Well, certainly no one will prove that the souls of the dying become more unjust in consequence of death." Here follows a passage to prove that even injustice does not destroy the soul, after which he proceeds,

"Surely then when the soul cannot be killed and destroyed by its own depravity and its own evil, hardly will the evil which is charged with the destruction of another thing destroy a soul or anything else beyond its own appropriate object.

Hardly: at least that is the natural inference.

Hence, as it is destroyed by no evil at all, whether foreign to it or its own, it is clear that the soul must be always existing, and therefore immortal.

It must."

If any one will compare this extract with chapters 2 to 6 in the following treatise he cannot fail to be struck by the similarity of thought and language, although in the latter case it is more apparent in the original than it can be in translation. The aim of the two writers is not indeed identical: Chrysostom's object is to prove that nothing can really injure a man except sin--depravity of soul--Plato begins by proving this, and proceeds to maintain that if even that which corrupts the soul cannot actually destroy it the soul must be imperishable. They employ the same argument, only Plato carries it a step further than Chrysostom.


A Treatise to prove that no one can harm the man who does not injure himself

1. I know well that to coarse-minded persons, who are greedy in the pursuit of present things, and are nailed to earth, and enslaved to physical pleasure, and have no strong hold upon spiritual ideas, this treatise will be of a strange and paradoxical kind: and they will laugh immoderately, and condemn me for uttering incredible things from the very outset of my theme. Nevertheless, I shall not on this account desist from my promise, but for this very reason shall proceed with great earnestness to the proof of what I have undertaken. For if those who take that view of my subject will please not to make a clamour and disturbance, but wait to the end of my discourse, I am sure that they will take my side, and condemn themselves, finding that they have been deceived hitherto, and will make a recantation, and apology, and crave pardon for the mistaken opinion which they held concerning these matters, and will express great gratitude to me, as patients do to physicians, when they have been relieved from the disorders which lay seige to their body. For do not tell me of the judgment which is prevailing in your mind at the present time, but wait to hear the contention of my arguments and then you will be able to record an impartial verdict without being hindered by ignorance from forming a true judgment. For even judges in secular causes, if they see the first orator pouring forth a mighty torrent of words and overwhelming everything with his speech do not venture to record their decision without having patiently listened to the other speaker who is opposed to him; and even if the remarks of the first speaker seem to be just to an unlimited extent, they reserve an unprejudiced hearing for the second. In fact the special merit of judges consists in ascertaining with all possible accuracy what each side has to allege and then bringing forward their own judgment.

Now in the place of an orator we have the common assumption of mankind which in the course of ages has taken deep root in the minds of the multitude, and declaims to the following effect throughout the world. "All things" it says "have been turned upside down, the human race is full of much confusion and many are they who every day are being wronged, insulted, subjected to violence and injury, the weak by the strong, the poor by the rich: and as it is impossible to number the waves of the sea, so is it impossible to reckon the multitude of those who are the victims of intrigue, insult, and suffering; and neither the correction of law, nor the fear of being brought to trial, nor anything else can arrest this pestilence and disorder, but the evil is increasing every day, and the groans, and lamentations, and weeping of the sufferers are universal; and the judges who are appointed to reform such evils, themselves intensify the tempest, and inflame the disorder, and hence many of the more senseless and despicable kind, seized with a new kind of frenzy, accuse the providence of God, when they see the forbearing man often violently seized, racked, and oppressed, and the audacious, impetuous, low and low-born man waxing rich, and invested with authority, and becoming formidable to many, and inflicting countless troubles upon the more moderate, and this perpetrated both in town and country, and desert, on sea and land. This discourse of ours of necessity comes in by way of direct opposition to what has been alleged, maintaining a contention which is new, as I said at the beginning, and contrary to opinion, yet useful and true, and profitable to those who will give heed to it and be persuaded by it; for what I undertake is to prove (only make no commotion) that no one of those who are wronged is wronged by another, but experiences this injury at his own hands.

2. But in order to make my argument plainer, let us first of all enquire what injustice is, and of what kind of things the material of it is wont to be composed; also what human virtue is, and what it is which ruins it; and further what it is which seems to ruin it but really does not. For instance (for I must complete my argument by means of examples) each thing is subject to one evil which ruins it; iron to rust, wool to moth, flocks of sheep to wolves. The virtue of wine is injured when it ferments and turns sour: of honey when it loses its natural sweetness, and is reduced to a bitter juice. Ears of corn are ruined by mildew and drought, and the fruit, and leaves, and branches of vines by the mischievous host of locusts, other trees by the caterpillar, and irrational creatures by diseases of various kinds: and not to lengthen the list by going through all possible examples, our own flesh is subject to fevers, and palsies, and a crowd of other maladies. As then each one of these things is liable to that which ruins its virtue, let us now consider what it is which injures the human race, and what it is which ruins the virtue of a human being. Most men think that there are divers things which have this effect; for I must mention the erroneous opinions on the subject, and, after confuting them, proceed to exhibit that which really does ruin our virtue: and to demonstrate clearly that no one could inflict this injury or bring this ruin upon us unless we betrayed ourselves. The multitude then having erroneous opinions imagine that there are many different things which ruin our virtue: some say it is poverty, others bodily disease, others loss of property, others calumny, others death and they are perpetually bewailing and lamenting these things: and whilst they are commiserating the sufferers and shedding tears they excitedly exclaim to one another "What a calamity has befallen such and such a man! he has been deprived of all his fortune at a blow." Of another again one will say: "such and such a man has been attacked by severe sickness and is despaired of by the physicians in attendance." Some bewail and lament the inmates of the prison, some those who have been expelled from their country and transported to the land of exile, others those who have been deprived of their freedom, others those who have been seized and made captives by enemies, others those who have been drowned, or burnt, or buried by the fall of a house, but no one mourns those who are living in wickedness: on the contrary, which is worse than all, they often congratulate them, a practice which is the cause of all manner of evils. Come then (only, as I exhorted you at the outset, do not make a commotion), let me prove that none of the things which have been mentioned injure the man who lives soberly, nor can ruin his virtue. For tell me if a man has lost his all either at the hands of calumniators or of robbers, or has been stripped of his goods by knavish servants, what harm has the loss done to the virtue of the man?

But if it seems well let me rather indicate in the first place what is the virtue of a man, beginning by dealing with the subject in the case of existences of another kind so as to make it more intelligible and plain to the majority of readers.

3. What then is the virtue of a horse? is it to have a bridle studded with gold and girths to match, and a band of silken threads to fasten the housing, and clothes wrought in divers colours and gold tissue, and head gear studded with jewels, and locks of hair plaited with gold cord? or is it to be swift and strong in its legs, and even in its paces, and to have hoofs suitable to a well bred horse, and courage fitted for long journies and warfare, and to be able to behave with calmness in the battle field, and if a rout takes place to save its rider? Is it not manifest that these are the things which constitute the virtue of the horse, not the others? Again, what should you say was the virtue of asses and mules? is it not the power of carrying burdens with contentment, and accomplishing journies with ease, and having hoofs like rock? Shall we say that their outside trappings contribute anything to their own proper virtue? By no means. And what kind of vine shall we admire? one which abounds in leaves and branches, or one which is laden with fruit? or what kind of virtue do we predicate of an olive? is it to have large boughs, and great luxuriance of leaves, or to exhibit an abundance of its proper fruit dispersed over all parts of the tree? Well, let us act in the same way in the case of human beings also: let us determine what is the virtue of man, and let us regard that alone as an injury, which is destructive to it. What then is the virtue of man? not riches that thou shouldest fear poverty: nor health of body that thou shouldest dread sickness, nor the opinion of the public, that thou shouldest view an evil reputation with alarm, nor life simply for its own sake, that death should be terrible to thee: nor liberty that thou shouldest avoid servitude: but carefulness in holding true doctrine, and rectitude in life. Of these things not even the devil himself will be able to rob a man, if he who possesses them guards them with the needful carefulness: and that most malicious and ferocious demon is aware of this. For this cause also he robbed Job of his substance, not to make him poor, but that he might force him into uttering some blasphemous speech; and he tortured his body, not to subject him to infirmity, but to upset the virtue of his soul. But nevertheless when he had set all his devices in motion, and turned him from a rich man into a poor one (that calamity which seems to us the most terrible of all), and had made him childless who was once surrounded by many children, and had scarified his whole body more cruelly than the executioners do in the public tribunals (for their nails do not lacerate the sides of those who fall into their hands so severely as the gnawing of the worms lacerated his body), and when he had fastened a bad reputation upon him (for Job's friends who were present with him said "thou hast not received the chastisement which thy sins deserve," and directed many words of accusation against him), and after he had not merely expelled him from city and home and transferred him to another city, but had actually made the dunghill serve as his home and city; after all this, he not only did him no damage but rendered him more glorious by the designs which he formed against him. And he not only failed to rob him of any of his possessions although he had robbed him of so many things, but he even increased the wealth of his virtue. For after these things he enjoyed greater confidence inasmuch as he had contended in a more severe contest. Now if he who underwent such sufferings, and this not at the hand of man, but at the hand of the devil who is more wicked than all men, sustained no injury, which of those persons who say such and such a man injured and damaged me will have any defence to make in future? For if the devil who is full of such great malice, after having set all his instruments in motion, and discharged all his weapons, and poured out all the evils incident to man, in a superlative degree upon the family and the person of that righteous man nevertheless did him no injury, but as I was saying rather profited him: how shall certain be able to accuse such and such a man alleging that they have suffered injury at their hands, not at their own?

4. What then? some one will say, did he not inflict injury on Adam, and upset him, and cast him out of paradise? No: he did it not, but the cause was the listlessness of him who was injured, and his want of temperance and vigilance. For he who applied such powerful and manifold devices and yet was not able to subdue Job, how could he by inferior means have mastered Adam, had not Adam betrayed himself through his own listlessness? What then? Has not he been injured who has been exposed to slander, and suffered confiscation of his property, having been deprived of all his goods, and is thrown out of his patrimony, and struggles with extreme poverty? No! he has not been injured, but has even profited, if he be sober. For, tell me, what harm did this do the apostles? Were they not continually struggling with hunger, and thirst and nakedness? And this was the very reason why they were so illustrious, and distinguished, and won for themselves much help from God. Again what harm was done to Lazarus by his disease, and sores, and poverty and dearth of protectors? Were they not the reasons why garlands of victory were more abundantly woven for him? Or what harm was done to Joseph by his getting evil reported of, both in his own land, and in the land of strangers for he was supposed to be both an adulterer and fornicator: or what harm did servitude do him or expatriation? Is it not specially on account of these things that we regard him with admiration and astonishment? And why do I speak of removal into a foreign land, and poverty, and evil report, and bondage? For what harm did death itself inflict on Abel, although it was a violent and untimely death, and perpetrated by a brother's hand? Is not this the reason why his praise is sounded throughout the whole world? Seest thou how the discourse has demonstrated even more than it promised? For not only has it disclosed the fact that no one is injured by anybody, but also that they who take heed to themselves derive the greater gain (from such assaults). What is the purpose then it will be said of penalties and punishments? What is the purpose of hell? What is the purpose of such great threatenings, if no one is either injured or injures? What is it thou sayest? Why dost thou confuse the argument? For I did not say that no one injures, but that no one is injured. And how is it possible, you will say, for no one to be injured when many are committing injury? In the way which I indicated just now. For Joseph's brethren did indeed injure him, yet he himself was not injured: and Cain laid snares for Abel, yet he himself was not ensnared. This is the reason why there are penalties and punishments. For God does not abolish penalties on account of the virtue of those who suffer; but he ordains punishments on account of the malice of those who do wickedly. For although they who are evil entreated become more illustrious in consequence of the designs formed against them, this is not due to the intention of those who plan the designs, but to the courage of those who are the victims of them. Wherefore for the latter the rewards of philosophy are made ready and prepared, for the former the penalties of wickedness. Hast thou been deprived of thy money? Read the word "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither." [888] And add to this the apostolic saying "for we brought nothing into this world; it is certain we can carry nothing out." [889] Art thou evil reported of, and have some men loaded thee with countless abuse? Remember that passage where it is said "Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you" [890] and "rejoice ye and leap for joy when they shall cast upon you an evil name." [891] Hast thou been transported into the land of exile? Consider that thou hast not here a fatherland, but that if thou wilt be wise thou art bidden to regard the whole world as a strange country. Or hast thou been given over to a sore disease? quote the apostolic saying "the more our outward man decayeth, so much the more is the inward man renewed day by day." [892] Has any one suffered a violent death? consider the case of John, his head cut off in prison, carried in a charger, and made the reward of a harlot's dancing. Consider the recompense which is derived from these things: for all these sufferings when they are unjustly inflicted by any one on another, expiate sins, and work righteousness. So great is the advantage of them in the case of those who bear them bravely.

5. When then neither loss of money, nor slander, nor railing, nor banishment, nor diseases, nor tortures, nor that which seems more formidable than all, namely death, harms those who suffer them, but rather adds to their profit, whence can you prove to me that any one is injured when he is not injured at all from any of these things? For I will endeavour to prove the reverse, showing that they who are most injured and insulted, and suffer the most incurable evils are the persons who do these things. For what could be more miserable than the condition of Cain, who dealt with his brother in this fashion? what more pitiable than that of Phillip's wife who beheaded John? or the brethren of Joseph who sold him away, and transported him into the land of exile? or the devil who tortured Job with such great calamities? For not only on account of his other iniquities, but at the same time also for this assault he will pay no trifling penalty. Dost thou see how here the argument has proved even more than was proposed, shewing that those who are insulted not only sustain no harm from these assaults, but that the whole mischief recoils on the head of those who contrive them? For since neither wealth nor freedom, nor life in our native land nor the other things which I have mentioned, but only right actions of the soul, constitute the virtue of man, naturally when the harm is directed against these things, human virtue itself is no wise harmed. What then? supposing some one does harm the moral condition of the soul? Even then if a man suffers damage, the damage does not come from another but proceeds from within, and from the man himself. "How so," do you say? When any one having been beaten by another, or deprived of his goods, or having endured some other grievous insult, utters a blasphemous speech, he certainly sustains a damage thereby, and a very great one, nevertheless it does not proceed from him who has inflicted the insult, but from his own littleness of soul. For what I said before I will now repeat, no man if he be infinitely wicked could attack any one more wickedly or more bitterly than that revengeful demon who is implacably hostile to us, the devil: but yet this cruel demon had not power to upset or overthrow him who lived before the law, and before the time of grace, although he discharged so many and such bitter weapons against him from all quarters. Such is the force of nobility of soul. And what shall I say of Paul? Did he not suffer so many distresses that even to make a list of them is no easy matter? He was put in prison, loaded with chains, dragged hither and hither, scourged by the Jews, stoned, lacerated on the back not only by thongs, but also by rods, he was immersed in the sea, oftentimes beset by robbers, involved in strife with his own countrymen, continually assailed both by foes and by acquaintance, subjected to countless intrigues, struggling with hunger and nakedness, undergoing other frequent and lasting mischances and afflictions: and why need I mention the greater part of them? he was dying every day: but yet, although subjected to so many and such grievous sufferings, he not only uttered no blasphemous word, but rejoiced over these things and gloried in them: and one time he says "I rejoice in my sufferings," [893] and then again "not only this but we also glory in afflictions." [894] If then he rejoiced and gloried when suffering such great troubles what excuse will you have, and what defence will you make if you blaspheme when you do not undergo the smallest fraction of them.

6. But I am injured in other ways, one will say, and even if I do not blaspheme, yet when I am robbed of my money I am disabled from giving alms. This is a mere pretext and pretence. For if you grieve on this account know certainly that poverty is no bar to almsgiving. For even if you are infinitely poor you are not poorer than the woman who possessed only a handful of meal, [895] and the one who had only two mites, [896] each of whom having spent all her substance upon those who were in need was an object of surpassing admiration: and such great poverty was no hindrance to such great lovingkindness, but the alms bestowed from the two mites was so abundant and generous as to eclipse all who had riches, and in wealth of intention and superabundance of zeal to surpass those who cast in much coin. Wherefore even in this matter thou art not injured but rather benefitted, receiving by means of a small contribution rewards more glorious than they who put down large sums. But since, if I were to say these things for ever, sensuous characters which delight to grovel in worldly things, and revel in present things would not readily endure parting from the fading flowers (for such are the pleasant things of this life) or letting go its shadows: but the better sort of men indeed cling to both the one and the other, while the more pitiable and abject cling more strongly to the former than to the latter, come let us [897] strip off the pleasant and showy masks which hide the base and ugly countenance of these things, and let us expose the foul deformity of the harlot. For such is the character of a life of this kind which is devoted to luxury, and wealth and power: it is foul and ugly and full of much abomination, disagreeable and burdensome, and charged with bitterness. For this indeed is the special feature in this life which deprives those who are captivated by it of every excuse, that although it is the aim of their longings and endeavours, yet is it filled with much annoyance and bitterness, and teems with innumerable evils, dangers, bloodshed, precipices, crags, murders, fears and tremblings, envy and ill-will, and intrigue, perpetual anxiety and care, and derives no profit, and produces no fruit from these great evils save punishment and revenge, and incessant torment. But although this is its character it seems to be to most men an object of ambition, and eager contention, which is a sign of the folly of those who are captivated by it, not of the blessedness of the thing itself. Little children indeed are eager and excited about toys and cannot take notice of the things which become full grown men. There is an excuse for them on account of their immaturity: but these others are debarred from the right of defence, because, although of full age they are childish in disposition, and more foolish than children in their manner of life.

Now tell me why is wealth an object of ambition? For it is necessary to start from this point, because to the majority of those who are afflicted with this grievous malady it seems to be more precious than health and life, and public reputation, and good opinion, and country, and household, and friends, and kindred and everything else. Moreover the flame has ascended to the very clouds: and this fierce heat has taken possession of land and sea. Nor is there any one to quench this fire: but all people are engaged in stirring it up, both those who have been already caught by it, and those who have not yet been caught, in order that they may be captured. And you may see every one, husband and wife, household slave, and freeman, rich and poor, each according to his ability carrying loads which supply much fuel to this fire by day and night: loads not of wood or faggots (for the fire is not of that kind), but loads of souls and bodies, of unrighteousness and iniquity. For such is the material of which a fire of this kind is wont to be kindled. For those who have riches place no limit anywhere to this monstrous passion, even if they compass the whole world: and the poor press on to get in advance of them, and a kind of incurable craze, and unrestrainable frenzy and irremediable disease possesses the souls of all. And this affection has conquered every other kind and thrust it away expelling it from the soul: neither friends nor kindred are taken into account: and why do I speak of friends and kindred? not even wife and children are regarded, and what can be dearer to man than these? but all things are dashed to the ground and trampled underfoot, when this savage and inhuman mistress has laid hold of the souls of all who are taken captive by her. For as an inhuman mistress, and harsh tyrant, and savage barbarian, and public and expensive prostitute she debases and exhausts and punishes with innumerable dangers and torments those who have chosen to be in bondage to her; and yet although she is terrible and harsh, and fierce and cruel, and has the face of a barbarian, or rather of a wild beast, fiercer than a wolf or a lion, she seems to those who have been taken captive by her gentle and loveable, and sweeter than honey. And although she forges swords and weapons against them every day, and digs pitfalls and leads them to precipices and crags and weaves endless snares of punishment for them, yet is she supposed to make these things objects of ambition to those who have been made captive, and those who are desiring to be captured. And just as a sow delights and revels in wallowing in the ditch and mire, and beetles delight in perpetually crawling over dung; even so they who are captivated by the love of money are more miserable than these creatures. For the abomination is greater in this case, and the mire more offensive: for they who are addicted to this passion imagine that much pleasure is derived from it: which does not arise from the nature of the thing, but of the understanding which is afflicted with such an irrational taste. And this taste is worse in their case than in that of brutes: for as with the mire and the dung the cause of pleasure is not in them, but in the irrational nature of the creatures who plunge into it; even so count it to be in the case of human beings.

7. And how might we cure those who are thus disposed? It would be possible if they would open their ears to us, and unfold their heart, and receive our words. For it is impossible to turn and divert the irrational animals from their unclean habit; for they are destitute of reason: but this the gentlest of all tribes, honoured by reason and speech, I mean human nature, might, if it chose, readily and easily be released from the mire and the stench, and the dung hill and its abomination. For wherefore, O man, do riches seem to thee worthy such diligent pursuit? Is it on account of the pleasure which no doubt is derived from the table? or on account of the honour and the escort of those who pay court to thee, because of thy wealth? is it because thou art able to defend thyself against those who annoy thee, and to be an object of fear to all? For yon cannot name any other reasons, save pleasure and flattery, and fear, and the power of taking revenge; for wealth is not generally wont to make any one wiser, or more self-controlled, or more gentle, or more intelligent, or kind, or benevolent, or superior to anger, or gluttony or pleasure: it does not train any one to be moderate, or teach him how to be humble, nor introduce and implant any other piece of virtue in the soul. Neither could you say for which of these things it deserves to be so diligently sought and desired. For not only is it ignorant how to plant and cultivate any good thing, but even if it finds a store of them it mars and stunts and blights them; and some of them it even uproots, and introduces their opposites, unmeasured licentiousness, unseasonable wrath, unrighteous anger, pride, arrogance, foolishness. But let me not speak of these; for they who have been seized by this malady will not endure to hear about virtue and vice, being entirely abandoned to pleasure and therefore enslaved to it. Come then let us forego for the time being the consideration of these points, and let us bring forward the others which remain, and see whether wealth has any pleasure, or any honour: for in my eyes the case is quite the reverse. And first of all, if you please, let us investigate the meals of rich and poor, and ask the guests which they are who enjoy the purest and most genuine pleasure; is it they who recline for a full day on couches, and join breakfast and dinner together, and distend their stomach, and blunt their senses, and sink the vessel by an overladen cargo of food, and waterlog the ship, and drench it as in some shipwreck of the body, and devise fetters, and manacles, and gags, and bind their whole body with the band of drunkenness and surfeit more grievous than an iron chain, and enjoy no sound pure sleep undisturbed by frightful dreams, and are more miserable than madmen and introduce a kind of self-imposed demon into the soul and display themselves as a laughing stock to the gaze of their servants, or rather to the kinder sort amongst them as a tragical spectacle eliciting tears, and cannot recognize any of those who are present, and are incapable of speaking or hearing but have to be carried away from their couches to their bed;--or is it they who are sober and vigilant, and limit their eating by their need, and sail with a favourable breeze, and find hunger and thirst the best relish in their food and drink? For nothing is so conducive to enjoyment and health as to be hungry and thirsty when one attacks the viands, and to identify satiety with the simple necessity of food, never overstepping the limits of this, nor imposing a load upon the body too great for its strength.

8. But if you disbelieve my statement study the physical condition, and the soul of each class. Are not the bodies vigorous of those who live thus moderately (for do not tell me of that which rarely happens, although some may be weak from some other circumstance, but form your judgment from those instances which are of constant occurrence), I say are they not vigorous, and their senses clear, fulfilling their proper function with much ease? whereas the bodies of the others are flaccid and softer than wax, and beset with a crowd of maladies? For gout soon fastens upon them, and untimely palsy, and premature old age, and headache, and flatulence, and feebleness of digestion, and loss of appetite, and they require constant attendance of physicians, and perpetual doseing, and daily care. Are these things pleasurable? tell me. Who of those that know what pleasure really is would say so? For pleasure is produced when desire leads the way, and fruition follows: now if there is fruition, but desire is nowhere to be found, the conditions of pleasure fail and vanish. On this account also invalids, although the most charming food is set before them, partake of it with a feeling of disgust and sense of oppression: because there is no desire which gives a keen relish to the enjoyment of it. For it is not the nature of the food, or of the drink, but the appetite of the eaters which is wont to produce the desire, and is capable of causing pleasure. Therefore also a certain wise man who had an accurate knowledge of all that concerned pleasure, and understood how to moralize about these things said "the full soul mocketh at honeycombs:" [898] showing that the conditions of pleasure consist not in the nature of the meal, but in the disposition of the eaters. Therefore also the prophet recounting the wonders in Egypt and in the desert mentioned this in connexion with the others "He satisfied them with honey out of the rock." [899] And yet nowhere does it appear that honey actually sprang forth for them out of the rock: what then is the meaning of the expression? Because the people being exhausted by much toil and long travelling, and distressed by great thirst rushed to the cool spring, their craving for drink serving as a relish, the writer wishing to describe the pleasures which they received from those fountains called the water honey, not meaning that the element was converted into honey, but that the pleasure received from the water rivalled the sweetness of honey, inasmuch as those who partook of it rushed to it in their eagerness to drink.

Since then these things are so and no one can deny it, however stupid he may be: is it not perfectly plain that pure, undiluted, and lively pleasure is to be found at the tables of the poor? whereas at the tables of the rich there is discomfort, and disgust and defilement? as that wise man has said "even sweet things seem to be a vexation." [900]

9. But riches some one will say procure honour for those who possess them, and enable them to take vengeance on their enemies with ease. And is this a reason, pray, why riches seem to you desirable and worth contending for;--that they nourish the most dangerous passion in our nature, leading on anger into action, swelling the empty bubbles of ambition, and stimulating and urging men to arrogance? Why these are just the very reasons why we ought resolutely to turn our backs upon riches, because they introduce certain fierce and dangerous wild beasts into our heart depriving us of the real honour which we might receive from all, and introducing to deluded men another which is the opposite of this, only painted over with its colours, and persuading them to fancy that it is the same, when by nature it is not so, but only seems to be so to the eye. For as the beauty of courtesans, made up as it is of dyes and pigments, is destitute of real beauty, yet makes a foul and ugly face appear fair and beautiful to those who are deluded by it when it is not so in reality: even so also riches force flattery to look like honour. For I beg you not to consider the praises which are openly bestowed through fear and fawning: for these are only tints and pigments; but unfold the conscience of each of those who flatter you in this fashion, and inside it you will see countless accusers declaring against you, and loathing and detesting you more than your bitterest adversaries and foes. And if ever a change of circumstances should occur which would remove and expose this mask which fear has manufactured, just as the sun when it emits a hotter ray than usual discloses the real countenances of those women whom I mentioned, then you will see clearly that all through the former time you were held in the greatest contempt by those who paid court to you, and you fancied you were enjoying honour from those who thoroughly hated you, and in their heart poured infinite abuse upon you, and longed to see you involved in extreme calamities. For there is nothing like virtue to produce honour,--honour neither forced nor feigned, nor hidden under a mask of deceit, but real and genuine, and able to stand the test of hard times.

10. But do you wish to take vengeance on those who have annoyed you? This, as I was saying just now, is the very reason why wealth ought specially to be avoided. For it prepares thee to thrust the sword against thyself, and renders thee liable to a heavier account in the future day of reckoning, and makes thy punishment intolerable. For revenge is so great an evil that it actually revokes the mercy of God, and cancels the forgiveness of countless sins which has been already bestowed. For he who received remission of the debt of ten thousand talents, and after having obtained so great a boon by merely asking for it then made a demand of one hundred pence from his fellow servant, a demand, that is, for satisfaction for his transgression against himself, in his severity towards his fellow servant recorded his own condemnation; and for this reason and no other he was delivered to the tormentors, and racked, and required to pay back the ten thousand talents; and he was not allowed the benefit of any excuse or defence, but suffered the most extreme penalty, having been commanded to deposit the whole debt which the lovingkindness of God had formerly remitted. [901] Is this then the reason, pray, why wealth is so earnestly pursued by thee, because it so easily conducts thee into sin of this kind? Nay verily, this is why you ought to abhor it as a foe and an adversary teeming with countless murders. But poverty, some one will say, disposes men to be discontented and often also to utter profane words, and condescend to mean actions. It is not poverty which does this, but littleness of soul: for Lazarus also was poor, aye! very poor: and besides poverty he suffered from infirmity, a bitterer trial than any form of poverty, and one which makes poverty more severely felt; and in addition to infirmity there was a total absence of protectors, and difficulty in finding any to supply his wants, which increased the bitterness of poverty and infirmity. For each of these things is painful in itself, but when there are none to minister to the sufferer's wants, the suffering becomes greater, the flame more painful, the distress more bitter, the tempest fiercer, the billows stronger, the furnace hotter. And if one examines the case thoroughly there was yet a fourth trial besides these--the unconcern and luxury of the rich man who dwelt hard by. And if you would find a fifth thing, serving as fuel to the flame, you will see quite clearly that he was beset by it. For not only was that rich man living luxuriously, but twice, and thrice, or rather indeed several times in the day he saw the poor man: for he had been laid at his gate, being a grievous spectacle of pitiable distress, and the bare sight of him was sufficient to soften even a heart of stone: and yet even this did not induce that unmerciful man to assist this case of poverty: but he had his luxurious table spread, and goblets wreathed with flowers, and pure wine plentifully poured forth, and grand armies of cooks, and parasites, and flatterers from early dawn, and troops of singers, cupbearers, and jesters; and he spent all his time in devising every species of dissipation, and drunkenness, and surfeiting, and in revelling in dress and feasting and many other things. But although he saw that poor man every day distressed by grievous hunger and the bitterest infirmity, and the oppression of his many sores, and by destitution, and the ills which result from these things, he never even gave him a thought: yet the parasites and the flatterers were pampered even beyond their need; but the poor man, and he so very poor, and encompassed with so many miseries, was not even vouchsafed the crumbs which fell from that table, although he greatly desired them: and yet none of these things injured him, he did not give vent to a bitter word, he did not utter a profane speech; but like a piece of gold which shines all the more brilliantly when it is purified by excessive heat, even so he, although oppressed by these sufferings, was superior to all of them, and to the agitation which in many cases is produced by them. For if generally speaking poor men, when they see rich men, are consumed with envy and racked by malicious ill-will, and deem life not worth living, and this even when they are well supplied with necessary food, and have persons to minister to their wants; what would the condition of this poor man have been had he not been very wise and noble hearted, seeing that he was poor beyond all other poor men, and not only poor, but also infirm, and without any one to protect or cheer him, and lay in the midst of the city as if in a remote desert, and wasted away with bitter hunger, and saw all good things being poured upon the rich man as out of a fountain, and had not the benefit of any human consolation, but lay exposed as a perpetual meal for the tongues of the dogs, for he was so enfeebled and broken down in body that he could not scare them away? Dost thou perceive that he who does not injure himself suffers no evil? for I will again take up the same argument.

11. For what harm was done to this hero by his bodily infirmity? or by the absence of protectors? or by the coming of the dogs? or the evil proximity of the rich man? or by the great luxury, haughtiness and arrogance of the latter? Did it enervate him for the contest on behalf of virtue? Did it ruin his fortitude? Nowhere was he harmed at all, but that multitude of sufferings, and the cruelty of the rich man, rather increased his strength, and became the pledge for him of infinite crowns of victory, a means of adding to his rewards, an augmentation of his recompense, and a promise of an increased requital. For he was crowned not merely on account of his poverty, or of his hunger or of his sores, or of the dogs licking them: but because, having such a neighbour as the rich man, and being seen by him every day, and perpetually overlooked he endured this trial bravely and with much fortitude, a trial which added no small flame but in fact a very strong one to the fire of poverty, and infirmity and loneliness.

And, tell me, what was the case of the blessed Paul? for there is nothing to prevent my making mention of him again. Did he not experience innumerable storms of trial? And in what respect was he injured by them? Was he not crowned with victory all the more in consequence,--because he suffered hunger, because he was consumed with cold and nakedness, because he was often tortured with the scourge, because he was stoned, because he was cast into the sea? But then some one says he was Paul, and called by Christ. Yet Judas also was one of the twelve, and he too was called of Christ; but neither his being of the twelve nor his call profited him, because he had not a mind disposed to virtue. But Paul although struggling with hunger, and at a loss to procure necessary food, and daily undergoing such great sufferings, pursued with great zeal the road which leads to heaven: whereas Judas although he had been called before him, and enjoyed the same advantages as he did, and was initiated in the highest form of Christian life, and partook of the holy table and that most awful of sacred feasts, and received such grace as to be able to raise the dead, and cleanse the lepers, and cast out devils, and often heard discourses concerning poverty, and spent so long a time in the company of Christ Himself, and was entrusted with the money of the poor, so that his passion might be soothed thereby (for he was a thief) even then did not become any better, although he had been favoured with such great condescension. For since Christ knew that he was covetous, and destined to perish on account of his love of money he not only did not demand punishment of him for this at that time, but with a view to softening down his passion he was entrusted with the money of the poor, that having some means of appeasing his greed he might be saved from falling into that appalling gulf of sin, checking the greater evil beforehand by a lesser one.

12. Thus in no case will any one be able to injure a man who does not choose to injure himself: but if a man is not willing to be temperate, and to aid himself from his own resources no one will ever be able to profit him. Therefore also that wonderful history of the Holy Scriptures, as in some lofty, large, and broad picture, has portrayed the lives of the men of old time, extending the narrative from Adam to the coming of Christ: and it exhibits to you both those who are upset, and those who are crowned with victory in the contest, in order that it may instruct you by means of all examples that no one will be able to injure one who is not injured by himself, even if all the world were to kindle a fierce war against him. For it is not stress of circumstances, nor variation of seasons, nor insults of men in power, nor intrigues besetting thee like snow storms, nor a crowd of calamities, nor a promiscuous collection of all the ills to which mankind is subject, which can disturb even slightly the man who is brave, and temperate, and watchful; just as on the contrary the indolent and supine man who is his own betrayer cannot be made better, even with the aid of innumerable ministrations. This at least was made manifest to us by the parable of the two men, of whom the one built his house upon the rock, the other upon the sand: [902] not that we are to think of sand and rock, or of a building of stone, and a roof, or of rivers, and rain, and wild winds, beating against the buildings, but we are to extract virtue and vice as the meaning of these things, and to perceive from them that no one injures a man who does not injure himself. Therefore neither the rain although driven furiously along, nor the streams dashing against it with much vehemence, nor the wild winds beating against it with a mighty rush, shook the one house in any degree: but it remained undisturbed, unmoved: that thou mightest understand that no trial can agitate the man who does not betray himself. But the house of the other man was easily swept away, not on account of the force of the trials (for in that case the other would have experienced the same fate), but on account of his own folly; for it did not fall because the wind blew upon it, but because it was built upon the sand, that is to say upon indolence and iniquity. For before that tempest beat upon it, it was weak and ready to fall. For buildings of that kind, even if no one puts any pressure on them, fall to pieces of themselves, the foundation sinking and giving way in every direction. And just as cobwebs part asunder, although no strain is put upon them, but adamant remains unshaken even when it is struck: even so also they who do not injure themselves become stronger, even if they receive innumerable blows; but they who betray themselves, even if there is no one to harass them, fall of themselves, and collapse and perish. For even thus did Judas perish, not only having been unassailed by any trial of this kind, but having actually enjoyed the benefit of much assistance.

13. Would you like me to illustrate this argument in the case of whole nations? What great forethought was bestowed upon the Jewish nation! was not the whole visible creation arranged with a view to their service? was not a new and strange method of life introduced amongst them? For they had not to send down to a market, and so they had the benefit of things which are sold for money without paying any price for them: neither did they cleave furrows nor drag a plough, nor harrow the ground, nor cast in seed, nor had they need of rain and wind, and annual seasons, nor sunshine, nor phases of the moon, nor climate, nor anything of that kind; they prepared no threshing floor, they threshed no grain, they used no winnowing fan for separating the grain from the chaff, they turned no mill-stone, they built no oven, they brought neither wood nor fire into the house, they needed no baker's art, they handled no spade, they sharpened no sickle, they required no other art, I mean of weaving or building or supplying shoes: but the word of God was everything to them. And they had a table prepared off hand, free of all toil and labour. For such was the nature of the manna; it was new and fresh, nowhere costing them any trouble, nor straining them by labour. And their clothes, and shoes, and even their physical frame forgot their natural infirmity: for the former did not wear out in the course of so long a time nor did their feet swell although they made such long marches. Of physicians, and medicine, and all other concern about that kind of art, there was no mention at all amongst them; so completely banished was infirmity of every kind: for it is said "He brought them out with silver and gold; and there was not one feeble person among their tribes." [903] But like men who had quitted this world, and were transplanted to another and a better one, even so did they eat and drink, neither did the sun's ray when it waxed hot smite their heads; for the cloud parted them from the fiery beam, hovering all round them, and serving like a portable shelter for the whole body of the people. Neither at night did they need a torch to disperse the darkness, but they had the pillar of fire, a source of unspeakable light, supplying two wants, one by its shining, the other by directing the course of their journey; for it was not only luminous, but also conducted that countless host along the wilderness with more certainty than any human guide. And they journeyed not only upon land but also upon sea as if it had been dry land; and they made an audacious experiment upon the laws of nature by treading upon that angry sea, marching through it as if it had been the hard and resisting surface of a rock; and indeed when they placed their feet upon it the element became like solid earth, and gently sloping plains and fields; but when it received their enemies it wrought after the nature of sea; and to the Israelites indeed it served as a chariot, but to their enemies it became a grave; conveying the former across with ease, but drowning the latter with great violence. And the disorderly flood of water displayed the good order and subordination which marks reasonable and highly intelligent men, fulfilling the part at one time of a guardian, at another of an executioner, and exhibiting these opposites together on one day. What shall one say of the rocks which gave forth streams of water? what of the clouds of birds which covered the whole face of the earth by the number of their carcases? what of the wonders in Egypt? what of the marvels in the wilderness? what of the triumphs and bloodless victories? for they subdued those who opposed them like men keeping holiday rather than making war. And they vanquished their own masters without the use of arms; and overcame those who fought with them after they left Egypt by means of singing and music; and what they did was a festival rather than a campaign, a religious ceremony rather than a battle. For all these wonders took place not merely for the purpose of supplying their need, but also that the people might preserve more accurately the doctrine which Moses inculcated of the knowledge of God; and voices proclaiming the presence of their Master were uttered on all sides of them. For the sea loudly declared this, by becoming a road for them to march upon, and then turning into sea again: and the waters of the Nile uttered this voice when they were converted into the nature of blood; and the frogs, and the great army of locusts, and the caterpillar and blight declared the same thing to all the people; and the wonders in the desert, the manna, the pillar of fire, the cloud, the quails, and all the other incidents served them as a book, and writing which could never be effaced, echoing daily in their memory and resounding in their mind. Nevertheless after such great and remarkable providence, after all those unspeakable benefits, after such mighty miracles, after care indescribable, after continual teaching, after instruction by means of speech, and admonition by means of deeds, after glorious victories, after extraordinary triumphs, after abundant supply of food, after the plentiful production of water, after the ineffable glory with which they were invested in the eyes of the human race, being ungrateful and senseless they worshipped a calf, and paid reverence to the head of a bull, even when the memorials of God's benefits in Egypt were fresh in their minds, and they were still in actual enjoyment of many more.

14. But the Ninevites, although a barbarous and foreign people who had never participated in any of these benefits, small or great, neither words, nor wonders, nor works, when they saw a man who had been saved from shipwreck, who had never associated with them before, but appeared then for the first time, enter their city and say "yet three days and Nineveh shall be overthrown," [904] were so converted and reformed by the mere sound of these words, and putting away their former wickedness, advanced in the direction of virtue by the path of repentance, that they caused the sentence of God to be revoked, and arrested the threatened disturbance of their city, and averted the heaven-sent wrath, and were delivered from every kind of evil. "For," we read, "God saw that every man turned from his evil way, and was converted to the Lord." [905] How turned? I ask. Although their wickedness was great, their iniquity unspeakable, their moral sores difficult to heal, which was plainly shown by the prophet when he said "their wickedness ascended even unto the heaven:" [906] indicating by the distance of the place the magnitude of their wickedness; nevertheless such great iniquity which was piled up to such a height as to reach even to the heaven, all this in the course of three days in a brief moment of time through the effect of a few words which they heard from the mouth of one man and he an unknown shipwrecked stranger they so thoroughly abolished, removed out of sight, and put away, as to have the happiness of hearing the declaration "God saw that every one turned from his evil way, and He repented of the evil which God said He would do them." Seest thou that he who is temperate and watchful not only suffers no injury at the hands of man, but even turns back Heaven-sent wrath? whereas he who betrays himself and harms himself by his own doing, even if he receives countess benefits, reaps no great advantage. So, at least, the Jews were not profited by those great miracles, nor on the other hand were the Ninevites harmed by having no share in them; but inasmuch as they were inwardly well-disposed, having laid hold of a slight opportunity they became better, barbarians and foreigners though they were, ignorant of all divine revelation, and dwelling at a distance from Palestine.

15. Again, I ask, was the virtue of the "three children" corrupted by the troubles which beset them? Whilst they were still young, mere youths, of immature age, did they not undergo that grievous affliction of captivity? had they not to make a long journey from home, and when they had arrived in the foreign country were they not cut off from fatherland and home and temple, and altar and sacrifices, and offerings, and drink offerings, and even the singing of psalms? For not only were they debarred from their home, but as a consequence from many forms of worship also. Were they not given up into the hands of barbarians, wolves rather than men? and, most painful calamity of all, when they had been banished into so distant and barbarous a country, and were suffering such a grievous captivity were they not without teacher, without prophets, without ruler? "for," it is written, "there is no ruler, nor prophet, nor governor, nor place for offering before Thee and finding mercy." [907] Yea moreover they were cast into the royal palace, as upon some cliff and crag, and a sea full of rocks and reefs, being compelled to sail over that angry sea without a pilot or signal man, or crew, or sails; and they were cooped up in the royal court as in a prison. For inasmuch as they knew spiritual wisdom, and were superior to worldly things, and despised all human pride and made the wings of their soul soar upwards, they counted their sojourn there as an aggravation of their trouble. For had they been outside the court, and dwelling in a private house they would have enjoyed more independence: but having been cast into that prison (for they deemed the splendour of the palace no better than a prison, no safer than a place of rocks and crags) they were straightway subjected to cruel embarrassment. For the king commanded them to be partakers of his own table, a luxurious, unclean and profane table, a thing which was forbidden them, and seemed more terrible than death; and they were lonely men hemmed in like lambs amongst so many wolves. And they were constrained to choose between being consumed by famine or rather led off to execution, and tasting of forbidden meats. What then did these youths do, forlorn as they were, captives, strangers, slaves of those who commanded these things. They did not consider that this strait or the absolute power of him who possessed the state sufficed to justify their compliance; but they employed every device and expedient to enable them to avoid the sin, although they were abandoned on every side. For they could not influence men by money: how should they, being captives? nor by friendship and social intercourse? how should they being strangers? nor could they get the better of them by any exertion of power: how was it possible being slaves? nor master them by force of numbers: how could they being only three? Therefore they approached the eunuch who possessed the necessary authority, and persuaded him by their arguments. For when they saw him fearful and trembling, and in an agony of alarm concerning his own safety, and the dread of death which agitated his soul was intolerable: "for I fear" said he "my lord the king, lest he should see your countenances sadder than the children which are of your sort and so shall ye endanger my head to the king," [908] having released him from this fear they persuaded him to grant them the favour. And inasmuch as they brought to the work all the strength which they had, God also henceforth contributed his strength to it. For it was not God's doing only that they achieved those things for the sake of which they were to receive a reward, but the beginning and starting point was from their own purpose, and having manifested that to be noble and brave, they won for themselves the help of God, and so accomplished their aim.

16. Dost thou then perceive that if a man does not injure himself, no one else will be able to harm him? Behold at least youthfulness, and captivity and destitution, and removal into a foreign land, and loneliness, and dearth of protectors, and a stern command, and great fear of death assailing the mind of the eunuch, and poverty, and feebleness of numbers, and dwelling in the midst of barbarians, and having enemies for masters, and surrender into the hands of the king himself, and separation from all their kindred, and removal from priests and prophets, and from all others who cared for them, and the cessation of drink offerings and sacrifices, and loss of the temple and psalmody, and yet none of these things harmed them; but they had more renown then than when they enjoyed these things in their native land. And after they had accomplished this task first and had wreathed their brows with the glorious garland of victory, and had kept the law even in a foreign land, and trampled under foot the tyrant's command, and overcome fear of the avenger, and yet received no harm from any quarter, as if they had been quietly living at home and enjoying the benefit of all those things which I mentioned, after they had thus fearlessly accomplished their work they were again summoned to other contests. And again they were the same men; and they were subjected to a more severe trial than the former one, and a furnace was kindled, and they were confronted by the barbarian army in company with the king: and the whole Persian force was set in motion and everything was devised which tended to put deceit or constraint upon them: divers kinds of music, and various forms of punishment, and threats, and what they saw on every side of them was alarming, and the words which they heard were more alarming than what they saw; nevertheless inasmuch as they did not betray themselves, but made the most of their own strength, they never sustained any kind of damage: but even won for themselves more glorious crowns of victory than before. For Nabuchadonosor bound them and cast them into the furnace, yet he burnt them not, but rather benefited them, and rendered them more illustrious. And although they were deprived of temple (for I will repeat my former remarks) and altar, and fatherland, and priests and prophets, although they were in a foreign and barbarous country, in the very midst of the furnace, surrounded by all that mighty host, the king himself who wrought this looking on, they set up a glorious trophy, and won a notable victory, having sung that admirable and extraordinary hymn which from that day to this has been sung throughout the world and will continue to be sung to future generations.

Thus then when a man does not injure himself, he cannot possibly be hurt by another: for I will not cease harping constantly upon this saying. For if captivity, and bondage, and loneliness and loss of country and all kindred and death, and burning, and a great army and a savage tyrant could not do any damage to the innate virtue of the three children captives, bondmen, strangers though they were in a foreign land, but the enemy's assault became to them rather the occasion of greater confidence: what shall be able to harm the temperate man? There is nothing, even should he have the whole world in arms against him. But, some one may say, in their case God stood beside them, and plucked them out of the flame. Certainly He did; and if thou wilt play thy part to the best of thy power, the help which God supplies will assuredly follow.

17. Nevertheless the reason why I admire those youths, and pronounce them blessed, and enviable, is not because they tramped on the flame, and vanquished the force of the fire: but because they were bound, and cast into the furnace, and delivered to the fire for the sake of true doctrine. For this it was which constituted the completeness of their triumph, and the wreath of victory was placed on their brows as soon as they were cast into the furnace and before the issue of events it began to be weaved for them from the moment that they uttered those words which they spoke with much boldness and freedom of speech to the king when they were brought into his presence. "We have no need to answer thee concerning this thing: for our God in Heaven whom we serve is able to rescue us out of the burning fiery furnace: and He will deliver us out of thy hands, O King. But if not, be it known unto thee, O King, that we will not serve thy Gods nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." [909] After the utterance of these words I proclaimed them conquerors; after these words having grasped the prize of victory, they hastened on to the glorious crown of martyrdom, following up the confession which they made through their words with the confession made through their deeds. But if when they had been cast into it, the fire had respect for their bodies, and undid their bonds, and suffered them to go down into it without fear, and forgot its natural force, so that the furnace of fire became as a fountain of cool water, this marvel was the effect of God's grace and of the divine wonder-working power. Yet the heroes themselves even before these things took place, as soon as they set foot in the flames had erected their trophy, and won their victory, and put on their crown, and had been proclaimed conquerors both in Heaven and on earth, and so far as they were concerned nothing was wanting for their renown. What then wouldst thou have to say to these things? Hast thou been driven into exile, and expelled from thy country? Behold so also were they. Hast thou suffered captivity, and become the servant of barbarian masters. Well! this also thou wilt find befell these men. But thou hast no one present there to regulate thy state nor to advise or instruct thee? Well! of attention of this kind these men were destitute. Or thou hast been bound, burned, put to death? for thou canst not tell me of anything more painful than these things. Yet lo! these men having gone through them all, were made more glorious by each one of them, yea more exceedingly illustrious, and increased the store of their treasures in Heaven. And the Jews indeed who had both temple, and altar, and ark and cherubim, and mercy-seat, and veil, and an infinite multitude of priests, and daily services, and morning and evening sacrifices, and continually heard the voices of the prophets, both living and departed, sounding in their ears, and carried about with them the recollection of the wonders which were done in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and all the rest, and turned the story of these things over in their hands, and had them inscribed upon their door posts and enjoyed the benefit at that time of much supernatural power and every other kind of help were yet no wise profited, but rather damaged, having set up idols in the temple itself, and having sacrificed their sons and daughters under trees, and in almost every part of the country in Palestine having offered those unlawful and accursed sacrifices, and perpetrated countless other deeds yet more monstrous. But these men although in the midst of a barbarous and hostile land, having their occupation in a tyrant's house, deprived of all that care of which I have been speaking, led away to execution, and subjected to burning, not only suffered no harm there from small or great, but became the more illustrious. Knowing then these things, and collecting instances of the like kind from the inspired divine Scriptures (for it is possible to find many such examples in the case of various other persons) we deem that neither a difficulty arising from seasons or events, nor compulsion and force, nor the arbitrary authority of potentates furnish a sufficient excuse for us when we transgress. I will now conclude my discourse by repeating what I said at the beginning, that if any one be harmed and injured he certainly suffers this at his own hands, not at the hands of others even if there be countless multitudes injuring and insulting him: so that if he does not suffer this at his own hands, not all the creatures who inhabit the whole earth and sea if they combined to attack him would be able to hurt one who is vigilant and sober in the Lord. Let us then, I beseech you, be sober and vigilant at all times, and let us endure all painful things bravely that we may obtain those everlasting and pure blessings in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power, now and ever throughout all ages. Amen.

Footnotes

[888] Job i. 21. [889] 1 Tim. vi. 7. [890] Luke vi. 26. [891] There is a confusion in the quotation here between Matt. v. 11, and Luke vi. 22. [892] 2 Cor. iv. 16. [893] Col. i. 24. [894] Rom. v. 3. [895] 1 Kings xvii. 12. [896] Luke xxi. 2. [897] The passage is obscure, but St. Chrysostom seems to divide the pleasures of this world into two classes: the more sensual he calls flowers, the rest he calls shadows: the grosser natures cling to the former more tenaciously than to any other kind. Comp. Homily LXXVI. on St. Matt., near the end. [898] Prov. xxvii. 7. Septuagint. [899] Ps. lxxxi. 16. [900] Referring to Prov. xxvii. 7. [901] Matt. xviii. 23-35. [902] Matt. vii. 24, etc. [903] Ps. cv. 37. [904] Jonah iii. 4. [905] Jonah iii. 10. [906] Jonah i. 2. [907] Song of the Three Children, v. 15. [908] Dan. i. 10. [909] Dan. iii. 16-18.


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