Writings of John Chrysostom. The Gospel of St. Matthew.

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St. Chrysostom:

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople,

On the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Translated by Rev. Sir George Prevost, Baronet, M.A., of Oriel College, Oxford.

Revised, with notes, by Rev. M. B. Riddle, D.D., Professor of New Testament Exegesis in the Western Theological Seminary at Allegheny, PA.

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

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Preface to the Oxford Edition.

The Homilies of St. Chrysostom on St. Matthew were undoubtedly delivered at Antioch (see Hom. vii. p. 43) and probably in the latter part of the time during which he preached as a Presbyter. Montfaucon considers his little mention of the sin of swearing a sign of his having accomplished some reformation on that point by his previous exertions. In the Homilies delivered from 386 to 388, it is a constant topic; and the Homilies known to belong to that date are so numerous, as scarcely leave room for such a series as the present. These, however, contain very little to mark the period to which they belong. The argument from his reference to dissensions some time gone by, possibly those between St. Meletius and Paulinus and Evagrius, in commenting on St. Matt. xxiii. 6. is not very conclusive.

A modern reader must sometimes be struck with finding in St. Chrysostom a kind of criticism, which we are apt to think belongs only to later times. His main object, however, is moral, and he searches out with diligence both the meaning and the applications of particular passages, usually concluding with an eloquent exhortation to some special virtue. Some of the most remarkable of these exhortations are on the subject of Alms-giving, which he seems to have pressed with some success at last. His calculation in Hom. lxvi. as to what might be done, is somewhat curious. In the end of Hom. lxxxviii. he demands a reformation as the condition of his entering on the controversy with Infidels. In the next Homily he discusses the evidence of the Resurrection with nearly the same arguments as would still be used against an objector.

The Theatres are the theme of his frequent reprobation, and the Monks of the mountains near Antioch of his praise. In Hom. lxix. and lxx. he describes their mode of life as an edifying example to all. He frequently attacks the Anomœan or extreme Arian Heresy, and sometimes also the Manichæan. It is perhaps worth while to recollect the nearly contemporaneous prevalence of Manichæism in the West, as it appears in the early history of St. Augustine. In Hom. lxxxvi. there are some remarks on the device of Satan by which evil is introduced by little and little, which are worthy of consideration as applicable to the growth of erroneous doctrine and practice within the Church.

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For all information with respect to the Text and Manuscripts of these Homilies, the learned reader is referred to the Greek Edition of Mr. Field, which has been of great service, as affording a safe basis for the Translation. The paucity of materials possessed by Savile, and the carelessness of the Benedictine Editor, had left much room for improvement by a judicious and faithful use of the existing copies. It may now at last be hoped, that we have a Text very closely approximating to the genuine work of the Author.

For the Translation, the Editors are indebted to the Rev. Sir George Prevost, M.A. of Oriel College, and for the Index to the Rev. J. E. Tweed, M.A. of Christ Church, Oxford. It will be their endeavor to complete the commentaries of St. Chrysostom on the New Testament, by bringing out the remainder of the Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, and those on the Epistle to the Hebrews, as soon as they are able. In both instances, however, the corrupt state of the Text has occasioned some difficulty and delay.

C. Marriott.

Oxford, Advent, 1851.


Introductory Essay. St. Chrysostom as an Exegete.

By M. B. Riddle, D.D.

The pre-eminence of Chrysostom as a preacher remains undisputed, despite the many reversals of judgment that have resulted from modern historical investigations; no voice has been raised against the popular verdict, repeated in every age, that awards to him the first place among pulpit orators in the Eastern Church.

Nor has there been any serious difference of opinion in regard to his personal character. His intense moral earnestness has always been recognized, and the man has been honored because it was distinctly felt that the man gave power to the oration. "Golden mouth" avails little, unless it belongs to a golden man. The rhetorical training of his earlier years doubtless contributed much to his skill as a preacher, but his exegetical method was perhaps a still more important factor.


I. The Place of Chrysostom in the History of Exegesis.

The position held by Chrysostom in the history of exegesis is remarkable. Owing to a peculiar combination of circumstances he, more than any of the Fathers, was enabled to avoid the errors alike of the allegorizing and dogmatic tendencies. The former tendency was the prevalent one in the Christian Church in the Ante-Nicene period; the latter, especially in the West, became dominant during the Post-Nicene period, using for its own ends the earlier erroneous theory. Chrysostom represents the Antiochian reaction against the allegorizing method, while he ante-dates by a generation, at least, the time when the ecclesiastical or dogmatic theory became overpowering in its influence. This historical position must be recognized in estimating his character as an exegete, as well as in accounting for his eminence as an interpreter of Scripture. Modern scholarship with comparative unanimity accords to him this eminence. It is true that one is disposed to dissent from this judgment on first reading the Homilies of Chrysostom. Trained in our modern exegetical methods the reader may unconsciously compare the expositions of the Greek Father with those of Luther and Calvin, if not with those of Meyer and Weiss. Such a comparison is of course an anachronism. A study of other patristic exegetes must lead to an endorsement of the prevalent opinion as to the merits of Chrysostom as an expositor. An immense mass of homiletical literature of which he was the author has been preserved, and of course reveals very unequal results. Marks of carelessness, especially in citation, abound; the habits of the "practical preacher" often leads to long digressions, to elaboration of matters that at best hold only the relation of a tangent to the truth of the text. Yet less than most pulpit orators does Chrysostom warp the interpretation itself to suit his homiletical purpose. Occasionally vehement invective occurs when an exegetical difficulty is encountered, and it is easy to suppose that unconsciously the former has been used to cover up the latter. But there are few evidences of lack of candor in the treatment of such difficulties. It must be confessed that Chrysostom is not always true to his own principles of interpretation, yet these instances of inconsistency are usually due to a desire to enforce an ethical lesson pertinent to the occasion, even though the application was scarcely pertinent to the text. Owing to his ignorance of Hebrew, Chrysostom was not properly equipped for the work of expounding the Old Testament. He treats the LXX. as though it were of final authority, save in a few instances where the variations of other Greek versions have occasioned discussion. Frequently he makes use of verbal suggestions of the Greek that have no warrant in the Hebrew text. Yet, where he is not thus misled, his comments on the Old Testament present the same characteristics as those on the New.

The most marked peculiarity of Chrysostom as an exegete is his comparative freedom from the allegorizing tendency that prevailed in the early Christian centuries. In contending with the Jews, the Christian apologists, from Justin Martyr onward, had inevitably followed to some extent the methods of their opponents. The Jewish schools of interpreters, both at Alexandria and in Palestine, while somewhat antagonistic to each other, had in common this allegorizing habit. Argument about the meaning of the Old Testament necessarily fostered a similar tendency among Christian writers. Moreover, the Christian authors of the second and third centuries were not men of pre-eminent talent or acquirements. The victory won by the church was ethical rather than intellectual. Then, as now, profound piety, when not combined with accurate knowledge and mental acumen, delighted in mystical fancies. Types could be invented far more easily than texts could be investigated. At length this tendency found in Origen an advocate who had the ability to formulate its principles, and also the learning and industry necessary to illustrate the method by copious comments of his own. Facile princeps as a mystical interpreter, Origen's influence is still felt, and in his own age it was dominant in exegesis. It is true the dogmatic principle was already gaining the mastery, yet both the Orthodox and their opponents made use of allegory: the former combined the two tendencies, the latter placed them in antagonism. Curiously enough the doctrinal controversy that arose in consequence of some of Origen's views was made the occasion of an attack upon Chrysostom, and the kindness he showed to certain Egyptian monks, who were followers of Origen, became the pretext for those harsh measures which resulted in his banishment and death. [1] Yet Chrysostom, in his writings, shows no sympathy with the philosophic speculations of Origen, and his method as an exegete is far removed from that implied in the principles laid down by the latter. The great preacher never dishonors the literal, or historical, sense of Scripture, and though he occasionally refers to interpretations kat nagōgn, using the phrase applied by Origen to the mystical sense of passages, these are never exalted above the plain meaning of the words of the text. No one living in the age of Chrysostom could be a diligent student of the Bible and ignore the labors of Origen. Despite his advocacy of the mystical theory and his excessive speculative tendency he had done more for exegetical theology than any of his predecessors. In these days we owe him too much to forget these services. The wonder is that Chrysostom, familiar with his writings, was so little influenced by the erroneous hermeneutical principles he advocated and exemplified. The earnest practical purpose of Chrysostom did much in preserving him from allegorizing, but his training of Antioch under Diodorus, afterwards bishop of Tarsus, was probably still more influential for good. Diodorus is reckoned the leader of the so-called Antiochian school of exegetes. He was the first to oppose directly the false methods of Origen. It is true "the Three Cappadocians," Basil the Great, his brother Gregory of Nyssa, and his friend Gregory of Nazianzen, had but a qualified admiration for the exegetical results attained by Origen, though diligent in their use of his writings. The conflicts of the period interfered, however, with any decided hermeneutical advance; the dogmatic interest of the Arian controversy still overshadowing all other theological movements. Diodorus (394) was president of a monastery in the vicinity of Antioch. Under his guidance Chrysostom and his friend Basil pursued a semi-monastic life of seclusion and study for nearly six years (ending in A.D. 381). Theodore, who was afterwards bishop of Mopsuestia, and the father of the Nestorian theology, was also his friend and fellow-student. While Diodorus was not free from rationalizing tendencies, he undoubtedly represents a healthy re-action toward the historico-exegetical theory of interpretation. His writings and his influence on his two most distinguished pupils, Chrysostom and Theodore, plainly prove this. "The practical element in Diodorus, his method of literal and common-sense interpretation of Holy Scripture, was inherited chiefly by Chrysostom; the intellectual vein, his conceptions of the relation between the Godhead and Manhood in Christ, his opinions respecting the final restoration of mankind, which were almost equivalent to a denial of eternal punishment, were reproduced mainly by Theodore." [2]

While the influence of the Antiochian school seems transient, it has achieved much in stating more clearly the correct principles of interpretation; it has achieved still more in preparing for his work the greatest preacher of the Greek church. Avoiding to a great extent the extremes of both Origen and Diodorus, Chrysostom as an interpreter is probably nearer to us than any Father of the Eastern Church. A careful study of his Homilies must lead to that conviction. "He set forth the verbal meaning with constant attention to the course of thought, and connected therewith, in harmony with the form which he had chosen, the religious and moral observations which were founded directly on the text. Dogmatic and polemic digressions were not necessarily excluded, but were never made the principal thing, and the more or less frequently inserted allegorical additions appear rather as rhetorical ornament and deference to custom than as something necessary to the expositor." [3]

The doctrinal views of Chrysostom were positive and usually well defined. He does not fail to oppose heretical opinions. So great a preacher could not be without a theology. Yet, as already intimated, the dogmatic principle of interpretation does not dominate his exegesis to any great extent.

It thus appears that, whatever may be defects in his expositions, however faulty his comments may seem to us, Chrysostom stands as the representative of more correct principles than any of the early Fathers. That his eminence as a preacher is due to this fact can scarcely be doubted. A new interest in his writings would serve to emphasize the importance of adherence to the historico-exegetical method of interpretation. Great pulpit orators do not need to indulge in mystical fancies, nor does their true power arise from dogmatic warping of the sense of Scripture.

Footnotes

[1] See Stephens, Life of St. Chrysostom, pp. 286-326; Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. III., pp. 702 et seq. [2] Stephens St. Chrysostom, p. 31; comp. pp. 27-32, on Diodorus. On the Antiochian School, see Schaff, Church History, III. pp. 935-7; Reuss History of the New Testament, II., pp. 542-6, American edition. [3] Reuss, History New Testament, p. 544, American edition.


II. Extent and Character of Chrysostom's Exegetical Labors.

1. The exegetical labors of Chrysostom are embodied in his Homilies, of which more than six hundred have been preserved. These are for the most part expository in their character, usually forming a continuous series upon some book of Scripture. The parts of the Bible thus treated are: in the Old Testament, Genesis and the Book of Psalms; in the New Testament, all the books except the gospels of Mark and Luke, the Catholic Epistles and Revelation. "Commentaries, properly so-called, he wrote only on the first eight chapters of Isaiah and on the Epistle to the Galatians" (Schaff [4] ). Most of the Homilies were preserved by short-hand reports, but some were published by Chrysostom himself. [5] There are internal evidences that in many cases the spoken discourse had not been previously written, e.g., the rebuke of applause and of inattention on account of some distracting incident. Previous study is equally manifest in the expository portions; but the method of delivery as well as the method of preservation must modify our judgment of the preacher's exegetical accuracy. Probably many of the inconsistencies and inexact citations, noticeable in the Homilies, are due to one or the other of these causes.

From an exegetical point of view the Homilies on the Old Testament rank lowest, those on the Pauline Epistles highest. The reasons for this are easily discovered. For the exposition of the Old Testament Chrysostom did not have the necessary equipment, being ignorant of Hebrew. In explaining the Gospels he fails to discuss the historical questions with fullness. This was owing no doubt to his distinct homiletical purpose. For the same reason he passes over most of the harmonistic questions, or answers them indefinitely. But in expounding our Lord's longer discourses the same qualities as an interpreter which fitted him so well for explaining the Pauline Epistles enable him to rise to his full eminence.

2. In all the Homilies there is apparent a proper conception of the relation of the Old Testament and the New. Chrysostom's treatment of the two parts of revelation agrees in many respects with the methods now generally accepted in the subdivision of Exegetical Theology technically termed Biblical Theology. He recognized the progressive movement; thus holding to the essential unity of Scripture, but also admitting the incompleteness of the Old Testament and superiority of the New. The distinction between the two is never regarded as an antagonism. Indeed some of the severest utterances in the Homilies is in opposition to the error that denies the authority of the Old Testament as a revelation from the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. But the unity of the two parts of Scripture are not maintained at the expense of the historical sense of the Old Testament. While Chrysostom finds in the older revelation a prophecy of Christ who was to come, "he fails not also to point out the moral aspect of prophecy as a system of teaching rather than prediction, as preparatory to the advent of Jesus Christ in the flesh, not only by informing men's minds, but disciplining their hearts to receive Him." [6] Probably the absence of any polemical purpose against the Jews aided him in attaining a position more correct than most of some of the earlier Fathers. His view of the relation of Christ to the law is set forth in Homily XVI. on Matthew. [7] In his view of inspiration Chrysostom recognized the Divine-human character of the Scriptures. While he does not formally state his theory, the method he adopts implies the value of each and every part of the Bible, the importance of marking the sense of every word. But the mechanical theory is nowhere suggested: it is in fact opposed by his statements regarding the variations in the Gospels. [8] Indeed no one could be such an expositor as Chrysostom was without an acceptance alike of the Divine authority and human authorship of the Scriptures. These not in antithesis, but in synthesis. Denying the former, there could have been no such power in preaching; ignoring the latter, there would have been no such care in his comments. This view of the Bible was the result of his profound and constant study of it. The same study gave him the wealth of Scriptural illustration and suggestion so noticeable in his Homilies. Knowledge of the whole Bible and love of the whole Bible are manifest everywhere.

3. In textual criticism Chrysostom does not afford us the help that might be expected from the extent of his labors. Origen is incomparably more useful to the textual critic. Even in citing the LXX. many inaccuracies occur, and the Hebrew text is ignored, except in a few cases where doctrinal discussion had arisen. [9]

As Westcott and Hort have shown, [10] the Syrian text of the New Testament had become dominant in the Eastern church about A.D. 350. It held in the time of Chrysostom very much the same position afterwards allowed to the received text during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Accordingly we find few indications of any critical investigations of the text, and the variations from the Syrian text in the Homilies are neither numerous nor important. Yet the differences from the received text of our day are worth noticing. [11] In all such matters, however, there enter several elements of uncertainty, combining to subtract from the value of the Homilies or critical purposes. [12] In the case of Chrysostom we know that the Homilies were taken down by others. Hence we are not sure how accurately the preacher made his citations, how correctly they were reported, nor how much of change has been made by copyists in the interest of conformity to the text prevalent at the time of transcription. Quite frequently the same passage occurs in two forms within the limits of the same Homily. The labors of Mr. Field on the Greek text of Chrysostom show how much remains to be done before we can cite this Father as a trustworthy witness in regard to the minor variations of the New Testament text. Fortunately Tischendorf, who had access to a very ancient codex of the Homilies on Matthew, [13] has given the results of his collation in his painstaking way. As this codex was not included in the apparatus criticus of Mr. Field, the supplementary value of Tischendorf's citations is increased.

Some peculiar readings occur in the Homilies on Matthew; the most remarkable is, however, a reading of Luke ix. 31. In Homily LVI. 3 (p. 346 of this volume), Chrysostom expressly reads dxan for exodon, commenting upon the word. It seems altogether probable that there was no such reading prevalent in his day, but that the word dx, which stands immediately before in Luke ix. 31, was accidentally substituted for exodon. This might happen from a slip of the memory on the part of Chrysostom, or some scribe might have made the blunder in an isolated copy used by the preacher. In other respects Chrysostom is a witness for the prevalence of the Antiochian or Syrian text, from which our received text has descended. He ignores the pericope of the woman taken in adultery (John vii. 53, viii. 11), as do all the Greek Fathers before the eighth century.

The minor variations do not fully appear in the Oxford translation, owing to the habit of using the text of the Authorized Version, even when its differences from the text of Chrysostom were quite obvious. Accordingly the emendations of the Revised Version have been given, without comment, in the additional foot-notes to this volume, wherever that Version represents more accurately the readings in the Homilies.

4. As already intimated, Chrysostom's ignorance of Hebrew detracts from his trustworthiness as an Old Testament expositor. In the New Testament he is much superior. Yet even here he is open to criticism. Besides an occasional allegorizing comment, he shows much inaccuracy, sometimes inconsistency, in dealing with the historical questions that arise in connection with the Gospel History. He seems to have no taste for the dis cussion of such questions. Augustin shows far more judgment in his treatment of these problems. But the ethical purpose probably debarred Chrysostom from such investigations. As regards the length of our Lord's ministry, the vexed question of our Lord's brethren, the identity of Mary Magdalene and the woman who was a sinner, etc., we derive little satisfaction from these Homilies. Occasionally topographical and archæological topics are referred to in terms that are misleading or positively erroneous. Hence the Homilies on the Gospels are usually estimated as less valuable than those on the Epistles.

But where the exegesis deals with the human heart, its motives, its weakness, or with the grace and love of Jesus Christ, there Chrysostom rises, and remains "the Master in Israel." Few have made advances beyond him in commenting upon the parables, the miracles of healing, the great discourses of our Lord. His sturdy common sense enabled him to expound the great eschatological discourse (Matt. xxiv, xxv.) in a manner so free from chiliastic extravagance, that to-day his exposition can be used with little alteration.

These characteristics of his exegesis fitted Chrysostom to excel in his exposition of the Epistles. Here there is more of continuated and logical method than in the Homilies on the Gospels. Each Epistle he is careful to consider "as a connected whole; and, in order to impress this on his hearers, he frequently recapitulates at the beginning of a Homily all the steps by which the part under consideration has been reached. In his introduction to each letter he generally makes useful observations on the author, the time, place, and style of composition, the readers for whom it was intended, the general character and arrangement of its contents." [14] The Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews is accepted in all the references to that book which occur in the Homilies or other portions of Scripture.

The doctrinal positions of Chrysostom naturally influence his explanations of certain portions of the Epistle, but these are to be judged by the stage of development attained by the theology of the Eastern Church in the Post-Nicene period.

The minute attention necessary in editing this volume has compelled the writer to note the excellence of the great Greek Father as an exegete. Beginning the task with some prejudice, mainly due to a knowledge of the inaccuracy of Chrysostom's citations, he now gladly pays his humble tribute to the genius of the author, hoping that students of the volume will be enabled to echo the praises that for so many centuries have been bestowed upon John of the Golden Mouth.

Footnotes

[4] History of the Christian Church, III., p. 939. [5] Stephens, St. Chrysostom, p. 427. He refers to Tillemont, Memoires, vol. xi. p. 37. [6] Stephens, pp. 423-4. [7] See pp. 103, etc. in this volume. [8] See p. 3, in this volume. [9] See, for example, on p. 32, where the pre-eminence of the LXX. version is asserted, in the discussion of Isa. viii. 3. [10] Westcott and Hort, Greek Testament, vol. ii. pp. 135-143. [11] In this volume most of the variations from the received text are indicated in the additional foot-notes. [12] On the untrustworthiness of patristic citations, see Scrivener, Introduction to Criticism of New Testament, 3d Ed., pp. 416-7. The labor bestowed on the present volume enables the editor to endorse, con amore, the judgment of Mr. Scrivener. [13] The codex is of the sixth century (Wolfenbüttel), designated in Tischendorf's notes as Chr^gue. See Scrivener, Introduction, etc., p. 419. [14] Stephens, St. Chrysostom, p. 425. .


Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople,

On the Gospel According to St. Matthew.

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Homily I.

It were indeed meet for us not at all to require [15] the aid of the written Word, but to exhibit a life so pure, that the grace of the Spirit should be instead of books to our souls, and that as these are inscribed with ink, even so should our hearts be with the Spirit. But, since we have utterly put away from us this grace, come, let us at any rate embrace the second best course.

For that the former was better, God hath made manifest, [16] both by His words, and by His doings. Since unto Noah, and unto Abraham, and unto his offspring, and unto Job, and unto Moses too, He discoursed not by writings, but Himself by Himself, finding their mind pure. But after the whole people of the Hebrews had fallen into the very pit of wickedness, then and thereafter was a written word, and tables, and the admonition which is given by these.

And this one may perceive was the case, not of the saints in the Old Testament only, but also of those in the New. For neither to the apostles did God give anything in writing, but instead of written words He promised that He would give them the grace of the Spirit: for "He," saith our Lord, "shall bring all things to your remembrance." [17] And that thou mayest learn that this was far better, hear what He saith by the Prophet: "I will make a new covenant with you, putting my laws into their mind, and in their heart I will write them," and, "they shall be all taught of God." [18] And Paul too, pointing out the same superiority, said, that they had received a law "not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." [19]

But since in process of time they made shipwreck, some with regard to doctrines, others as to life and manners, there was again need that they should be put in remembrance by the written word.

2. Reflect then how great an evil it is for us, who ought to live so purely as not even to need written words, but to yield up our hearts, as books, to the Spirit; now that we have lost that honor, and are come to have need of these, to fail again in duly employing even this second remedy. For if it be a blame to stand in need of written words, and not to have brought down on ourselves the grace of the Spirit; consider how heavy the charge of not choosing to profit even after this assistance, but rather treating what is written with neglect, as if it were cast forth without purpose, and at random, and so bringing down upon ourselves our punishment with increase. [20]

But that no such effect may ensue, let us give strict heed unto the things that are written; and let us learn how the Old Law was given on the one hand, how on the other the New Covenant.

3. How then was that law given in time past, and when, and where? After the destruction of the Egyptians, in the wilderness, on Mount Sinai, when smoke and fire were rising up out of the mountain, a trumpet sounding, thunders and lightnings, and Moses entering into the very depth of the cloud. [21] But in the new covenant not so,'neither in a wilderness, nor in a mountain, nor with smoke and darkness and cloud and tempest; but at the beginning of the day, in a house, while all were sitting together, with great quietness, all took place. For to those, being more unreasonable, and hard to guide, there was need of outward pomp, [22] as of a wilderness, a mountain, a smoke, a sound of trumpet, and the other like things: but they who were of a higher character, and submissive, and who had risen above mere corporeal imaginations, [23] Yea, for it was removal of punishment, and remission of sins, and "righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption," [24] and adoption, and an inheritance of Heaven, and a relationship unto the Son of God, which he came declaring unto all; to enemies, to the perverse, to them that were sitting in darkness. What then could ever be equal to these good tidings? God on earth, man in Heaven; and all became mingled together, angels joined the choirs of men, men had fellowship with the angels, and with the other powers above: and one might see the long war brought to an end, and reconciliation made between God and our nature, [25] the devil brought to shame, demons in flight, death destroyed, Paradise opened, the curse blotted out, sin put out of the way, error driven off, truth returning, the word of godliness everywhere sown, and flourishing in its growth, the polity of those above planted on the earth, those powers in secure intercourse with us, and on earth angels continually haunting, and hope abundant touching things to come.

Therefore he hath called the history good tidings, forasmuch as all other things surely are words only without substance; as, for instance, plenty of wealth, greatness of power, kingdoms, and glories, and honors, and whatever other things among men are accounted to be good: but those which are published by the fishermen would be legitimately and properly called good tidings: not only as being sure and immoveable blessings, and beyond our deserts, but also as being given to us with all facility.

For not by laboring and sweating, not by fatigue and suffering, but merely as being beloved of God, we received what we have received.

5. And why can it have been, that when there were so many disciples, two write only from among the apostles, and two from among their followers? (For one that was a disciple of Paul, and another of Peter, together with Matthew and John, wrote the Gospels.) It was because they did nothing for vainglory, but all things for use.

"What then? Was not one evangelist sufficient to tell all?" One indeed was sufficient; but if there be four that write, not at the same times, nor in the same places, neither after having met together, and conversed one with another, and then they speak all things as it were out of one mouth, this becomes a very great demonstration of the truth. [26]

6. "But the contrary," it may be said, "hath come to pass, for in many places they are convicted of discordance." Nay, this very thing is a very great evidence of their truth. For if they had agreed in all things exactly even to time, and place, and to the very words, none of our enemies would have believed but that they had met together, and had written what they wrote by some human compact; because such entire agreement as this cometh not of simplicity. But now even that discordance which seems to exist in little matters delivers them from all suspicion, and speaks clearly in behalf of the character of the writers.

But if there be anything touching times or places, which they have related differently, this nothing [27] injures the truth of what they have said. And these things too, so far as God shall enable us, we will endeavor, as we proceed, to point out; requiring you, together with what we have mentioned, to observe, that in the chief heads, those which constitute our life and furnish out [28] our doctrine, nowhere is any of them found to have disagreed, no not ever so little.

But what are these points? Such as follow: That God became man, that He wrought miracles, that He was crucified, that He was buried, that He rose again, that He ascended, that He will judge, that He hath given commandments tending to salvation, that He hath brought in a law not contrary to the Old Testament, that He is a Son, that He is only-begotten, that He is a true Son, that He is of the same substance with the Father, and as many things as are like these; for touching these we shall find that there is in them a full agreement.

And if amongst the miracles they have not all of them mentioned all, but one these, the other those, let not this trouble thee. For if on the one hand one had spoken of all, the number of the rest would have been superfluous; and if again all had written fresh things, and different one from another, the proof of their agreement would not have been manifest. For this cause they have both treated of many in common, and each of them hath also received and declared something of his own; that, on the one hand, he might not seem superfluous, and cast on the heap [29] to no purpose; on the other, he might make our test of the truth of their affirmations perfect. [30]

7. Now Luke tells us also the cause wherefore he proceeds to write: "that thou mayest hold," saith he, "the certainty of the words wherein thou hast been instructed;" [31] that is, that being continually reminded thou mayest hold to the certainty, [32] and abide in certainty.

But as to John, he hath himself kept silence touching the cause; yet, [33] (as a tradition [34] saith, which hath come down to us from the first, even from the Fathers,) neither did he come to write without purpose; but forasmuch as it had been the care of the three to dwell upon the account of the dispensation, [35] and the doctrines of the Godhead were near being left in silence, he, moved by Christ, then and not till then set himself to compose his Gospel. [36] And this is manifest both from the history itself, and from the opening of his Gospel. For he doth not begin like the rest from beneath, but from above, from the same point, at which he was aiming, and it was with a view to this that [37] he composed the whole book. And not in the beginning only, but throughout all the Gospel, he is more lofty than the rest.

Of Matthew again it is said, [38] that when those who from amongst the Jews had believed came to him, and besought him to leave to them in writing those same things, which he had spoken to them by word, he also composed his Gospel in the language of the Hebrews. And Mark too, in Egypt, [39] is said to have done this self-same thing at the entreaty of the disciples.

For this cause then Matthew, as writing to Hebrews, sought to shew nothing more, than that He was from Abraham, and David; but Luke, as discoursing to all in general, traces up the account higher, going on even to Adam. And the one begins with His generation, because nothing was so soothing to the Jew as to be told that Christ was the offspring of Abraham and David: the other doth not so, but mentions many other things, and then proceeds to the genealogy.

8. But the harmony between them we will establish, both by the whole world, which hath received their statements, and by the very enemies of the truth. For many sects have had birth, since their time, holding opinions opposed to their words; whereof some have received all that they have said, while some have cut off from the rest certain portions of their statements, and so retain them for themselves. [40] But if there were any hostility [41] in their statements, neither would the sects, who maintain the contrary part, have received all, but only so much as seemed to harmonize with themselves; nor would those, which have parted off a portion, be utterly refuted by that portion; so that the very fragments [42] cannot be hid, but declare aloud their connexion [43] with the whole body. And like as if thou shouldest take any part from the side of an animal, even in that part thou wouldest find all the things out of which the whole is composed;'nerves and veins, bones, arteries, and blood, and a sample, as one might say, of the whole lump;'so likewise with regard to the Scriptures; in each portion of what is there stated, one may see the connexion with the whole clearly appearing. Whereas, if they were in discord, neither could this have been pointed out, and the doctrine itself had long since been brought to nought: "for every kingdom," saith He, "divided against itself shall not stand." [44] But now even in this shines forth the might of the Spirit, namely, in that it prevailed on these men, engaged as they were in those things which are more necessary and very urgent, to take no hurt at all from these little matters.

Now, where each one was abiding, when he wrote, it is not right for us to affirm very positively.

But that they are not opposed to each other, this we will endeavor to prove, throughout the whole work. And thou, in accusing them of disagreement, art doing just the same as if thou wert to insist upon their using the same words and forms of speech.

9. And I do not yet say, that those likewise who glory greatly in rhetoric and philosophy, having many of them written many books touching the same matters, have not merely expressed themselves differently, but have even spoken in opposition to one another (for it is one thing to speak differently and another to speak at variance); none of these things do I say. Far be it from me to frame our defense from the frenzy of those men, neither am I willing out of falsehood to make recommendations for the truth.

But this I would be glad to inquire: how were the differing accounts believed? how did they prevail? how was it that, while saying opposite things, they were admired, were believed, were celebrated everywhere in the world?

And yet the witnesses of what they said were many, and many too were the adversaries and enemies thereof. For they did not write these things in one corner and bury them, but everywhere, by sea and by land, they unfolded them in the ears of all, and these things were read in the presence of enemies, even as they are now, and none of the things which they said offended any one. And very naturally, for it was a divine power that pervaded all, and made it to prosper with all men.

10. For if it had not been so, how could the publican, and the fisherman, and the unlearned, have attained to such philosophy? [45] For things, which they that are without have never been able to imagine, no not in a dream, are by these men with great certainty both published and made convincing, and not in their lives only, but even after death: neither to two men, nor twenty men, nor an hundred, nor a thousand, nor ten thousand, but to cities, nations, and people, both to land and sea, in the land both of Greeks and barbarians, both inhabited and desert; and all concerning things far beyond our nature. For leaving the earth, all their discourse is concerning the things in heaven, while they bring in unto us another principle of life, another manner of living: both wealth and poverty, freedom and slavery, life and death, our world and our polity, all changed.

Not like Plato, who composed that ridiculous Republic, [46] or Zeno, or if there be any one else that hath written a polity, or hath framed laws. For indeed, touching all these, it hath been made manifest by themselves, that an evil spirit, and some cruel demon at war with our race, a foe to modesty, and an enemy to good order, oversetting all things, hath made his voice be heard in their soul. When, for example, they make their women common to all, and stripping virgins naked in the Palæstra, bring them into the gaze of men; and when they establish secret marriages, mingling all things together and confounding them, and overturning the limits of nature, what else is there to say? For that these their sayings are all inventions of devils, and contrary to nature, even nature herself would testify, not tolerating what we have mentioned; and this, though they write not amidst persecutions, nor dangers, nor fightings, but in all security and freedom, and deck it out with many ornaments from many sources. But these doctrines of the fishermen, chased as they were, scourged and in jeopardy, both learned and unlearned, both bond and free, both kings and private soldiers, both barbarians and Greeks, have received with all good will.

11. And thou canst not say, that it was because these things were trifling and low, that they were easily to be received by all men: nay, for these doctrines are far higher than those. For as to virginity, they never imagined even the name thereof so much as in a dream, nor yet of voluntary poverty, nor of fasting, nor of any other of those things that are high.

But they that are of our part not only exterminate lust, they chastise not only the act, but even an unchaste look, and insulting language, and disorderly laughter, and dress, and gait, and clamor, and they carry on their exactness even to the smallest things, and have filled the whole earth with the plant of virginity. And touching God too, and the things in heaven, they persuade men to be wise [47] with such knowledge as no one of those hath at any time been able so much as to conceive in his mind. For how could they, who made for gods images of beasts, and of monsters that crawl on the earth, and of other things still more vile?

Yet these high doctrines were both accepted and believed, and they flourish every day and increase; but the others have passed away, and perished, having disappeared more easily than spiders' webs.

And very naturally, for they were demons that published these things; wherefore besides their uncleanness, their obscurity is great, and the labor they require greater. For what could be more ridiculous than that "republic," [48] in which, besides what I have mentioned, the philosopher, when he hath spent lines without number, that he may be able to shew what justice is, hath over and above this prolixity filled his discourse with much indistinctness? This, even if it did contain anything profitable, must needs be very useless for the life of man. For if the husbandman and the smith, the builder and the pilot, and every one who subsists by the labor of his hands, is to leave his trade, and his honest toils, and is to spend such and such a number of years in order to learn what justice is; before he has learnt he will often times be absolutely destroyed by hunger, and perish because of this justice, not having learnt anything else useful to be known, and having ended his life by a cruel death.

12. But our lessons are not such; rather Christ hath taught [49] us what is just, and what is seemly, and what is expedient, and all virtue in general, comprising it in few and plain words: at one time saying that, "on two commandments hang the Law and the Prophets;" [50] that is to say, on the love of God and on the love of our neighbor: at another time, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets." [51]

And these things even to a laborer, and to a servant, and to a widow woman, and to a very child, and to him that appeareth to be exceedingly slow of understanding, are all plain to comprehend and easy to learn. For the lessons of the truth are like this; and the actual result bears witness thereto. All at least have learned what things they are to do, and not learned only, but been emulous also of them; and not in the cities alone nor in the midst of the market places, but also in the summits of the mountains.

Yea, for there wilt thou see true wisdom [52] abounding, and choirs of angels shining forth in a human body, and the commonwealth [53] of Heaven manifested here on earth. For a commonwealth [54] did these fishermen too write for us, not with commands that it should be embraced from childhood, like those others, nor making it a law that the virtuous man must be so many years old, but addressing their discourse generally to every age. For those lessons are children's toys, but these are the truth of things.

And as a place for this their commonwealth [55] they have assigned Heaven, and God they have brought in as the framer thereof, and as lawgiver of the statutes there set; as indeed was their duty. And the rewards in their commonwealth [56] are not leaves of bay nor olive, nor an allowance of meat in the public hall, nor statues of brass, these cold and ordinary things, but a life which hath no end, and to become children of God, to join the angels' choir, and to stand by the royal throne, and to be always with Christ. And the popular guides of this commonwealth [57] are publicans, and fishermen, and tent-makers, not such as have lived for a short time, but such as are now living for ever. Therefore even after their death they may possibly do the greatest good to the governed.

This republic [58] is at war not with men, but with devils, and those incorporeal powers. Wherefore also their captain is no one of men, nor of angels, but God Himself. And the armor too of these warriors suits the nature of the warfare, for it is not formed of hides and steel, but of truth and of righteousness, and faith, and all true love of wisdom. [59]

13. Since then the aforesaid republic [60] is both the subject on which this book was written, and it is now proposed for us to speak thereof, let us give careful heed to Matthew, discoursing plainly concerning this: for what he saith is not his own, but all Christ's, who hath made the laws of this city. [61] Let us give heed, I say, that we may be capable of enrolment therein, and of shining forth among those that have already become citizens thereof, and are awaiting those incorruptible crowns. To many, however, this discourse seems to be easy, while the prophetic writings are difficult. But this again is the view of men who know not the depth of the thoughts laid up therein. Wherefore I entreat you to follow us with much diligence, so as to enter into the very ocean of the things written, with Christ for our guide at this our entering in.

But in order that the word may be the more easy to learn, we pray and entreat you, as we have done also with respect to the other Scriptures, to take up beforehand that portion of the Scripture which we may be going to explain, that your reading may prepare the way for your understanding (as also was the case with the eunuch [62] ), and so may greatly facilitate our task.

14. And this because [63] the questions are many and frequent. See, for instance, at once in the beginning of his Gospel, how many difficulties might be raised one after the other. As first, wherefore the genealogy of Joseph is traced, who was not father of Christ. Secondly, whence may it be made manifest that He derives His origin from David, while the forefathers of Mary, who bare Him, are not known, for the Virgin's genealogy is not traced? Thirdly, on what account Joseph's genealogy is traced, when he had nothing to do with the birth; while with regard to the Virgin, who was the very mother, it is not shown of what fathers, or grandfathers, or ancestors, she is sprung.

And along with these things, this is also worth inquiry, wherefore it can be, that, when tracing the genealogy through the men, he hath mentioned women also; and why since he determined upon doing this, he yet did not mention them all, but passing over the more eminent, such as Sarah, Rebecca, and as many as are like them, he hath brought forward only them that are famed for some bad thing; as, for instance, if any was a harlot, or an adulteress, or a mother by an unlawful marriage, if any was a stranger or barbarian. For he hath made mention of the wife of Uriah, and of Thamar, and of Rahab, and of Ruth, of whom one was of a strange race, another an harlot, another was defiled by her near kinsman, and with him not in the form of marriage, but by a stolen intercourse, when she had put on herself the mask of an harlot; and touching the wife of Uriah no one is ignorant, by reason of the notoriety of the crime. And yet the evangelist hath passed by all the rest, and inserted in the genealogy these alone. Whereas, if women were to be mentioned, all ought to be so; if not all but some, then those famed in the way of virtue, not for evil deeds.

See you how much care is required of us straightway in the first beginning? and yet the beginning seems to be plainer than the rest; to many perhaps even superfluous, as being a mere numbering of names.

After this, another point again is worth inquiry; wherefore he hath omitted three kings. For if, because they were exceeding ungodly, he therefore passed by their names in silence, neither should he have mentioned the others, that were like them.

And this again [64] is another question; why, after having spoken of fourteen generations, he hath not in the third division maintained the number. [65]

And wherefore Luke hath made mention of other names, and not only not all of them the same, but also many more of them, while Matthew hath both fewer and different, though he too hath ended with Joseph, with whom Luke likewise concluded.

Ye see how much wakeful attention is needed on our part, not only for explanation, but even that we may learn what things we have to explain. For neither is this a little matter, to be able to find out the difficulties; there being also this other hard point, how Elizabeth, who was of the Levitical tribe, was kinswoman to Mary.

15. But that we may not overload your memory, by stringing many things together, here let us stay our discourse for a time. For it is enough for you in order that ye be thoroughly roused, that you learn [66] the questions only. But if ye long for [67] their solution also, this again depends on yourselves, before we speak. For if I see you thoroughly awakened, and longing to learn, I will endeavor to add the solution also; but if gaping and not attending, I will conceal both the difficulties, and their solution, in obedience to a divine law. For, saith He, "Give not the holy things to the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet." [68]

But who is he that tramples them under foot? He that doth not account these things precious, and venerable. And who, it may be asked, is so wretched as not to esteem these things venerable, and more precious than all? He who doth not bestow on them so much leisure as on the harlot women in the theatres of Satan. For there the multitude pass the whole day, and give up not a few of their domestic concerns for the sake of this unseasonable employment, and they retain with exactness whatever they have heard, and this though it be to the injury of their souls, that they keep it. But here, where God is speaking, they will not bear to tarry even a little time.

Therefore, let me warn you, we have nothing in common with Heaven, but our citizenship [69] goes no further than words. And yet because of this, God hath threatened even hell, not in order to cast us therein, but that He might persuade us to flee this grievous tyranny. But we do the opposite, and run each day the way that leads thither, and while God is commanding us not only to hear, but also to do what He saith, we do not submit so much as to hearken.

When then, I pray thee, are we to do what is commanded, and to put our hand to the works, if we do not endure so much as to hear the words that relate to them, but are impatient and restless about the time we stay here, although it be exceedingly short?

16. And besides, when we are talking of indifferent matters, if we see those that are in company do not attend, we call what they do an insult; but do we consider that we are provoking God, if, while He is discoursing of such things as these, we despise what is said, and look another way?

Why, he that is grown old, and hath travelled over much country, reports to us with all exactness the number of stadia, and the situations of cities, their plans, and their harbors and markets; but we ourselves know not even how far we are from the city that is in Heaven. For surely we should have endeavored to shorten the space, had we known the distance. That city being not only as far from us as Heaven is from the earth, but even much farther, if we be negligent; like as, on the other hand, if we do our best, [70] even in one instant we shall come to the gates thereof. For not by local space, but by moral disposition, are these distances defined.

But thou knowest exactly the affairs of the world, as well new as old, and such too as are quite ancient; thou canst number the princes under whom thou hast served in time past, and the ruler of the games, and them that gained the prize, and the leaders of armies, matters that are of no concern to thee; but who hath become ruler in this city, the first or the second or the third, and for how long, each of them; and what each hath accomplished, and brought to pass, thou hast not imagined even as in a dream. And the laws that are set in this city thou wilt not endure to hear, nor attend to them, even when others tell thee of them. How then, I pray thee, dost thou expect to obtain the blessings that are promised, when thou dost not even attend to what is said?

17. But though never before, now, at any rate, let us do this. Yea, for we [71] are on the point of entering into a city (if God permit) of gold, and more precious than any gold.

Let us then mark her foundations, her gates consisting of sapphires and pearls; for indeed we have in Matthew an excellent guide. For through his gate we shall now enter in, and much diligence is required on our part. For should He see any one not attentive, He casts him out of the city.

Yes, for the city is most kingly and glorious; not as the cities with us, divided into a market-place, and the royal courts; for there all is the court of the King. Let us open therefore the gates of our mind, let us open our ears, and with great trembling, when on the point of setting foot on the threshold, let us worship the King that is therein. For indeed the first approach hath power straightway to confound the beholder.

For the present we find the gates closed; but when we see them thrown open (for this is the solution of the difficulties), then we shall perceive the greatness of the splendor within. For there also, leading thee with the eyes of the Spirit, is one who offers to show thee all, even this Publican; where the King sitteth, and who of His host stand by Him; where are the angels, where the archangels; and what place is set apart for the new citizens in this city, and what kind of way it is that leads thither, and what manner of portion they have received, who first were citizens therein, and those next after them, and such as followed these. And how many are the orders of these tribes, how many those of the senate, how many the distinctions of dignity.

Let us not therefore with noise or tumult enter in, but with a mystical silence.

For if in a theatre, when a great silence hath been made, then the letters of the king are read, much more in this city must all be composed, and stand with soul and ear erect. For it is not the letters of any earthly master, but of the Lord of angels, which are on the point of being read.

If we would order ourselves on this wise, the grace itself of the Spirit will lead us in great perfection, and we shall arrive at the very royal throne, and attain to all the good things, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost, now and always, even for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[15] [mēd desthai, "not even to need," as below in sec. 2.'R.] [16] [edlōsen, "made evident, showed." The translator very frequently renders the aorist by the English perfect. Attention will be called in some instances, where the sense is affected by such renderings.'R.] [17] John xiv. 26. [18] Jerem. xxxi. 31-33; Is. liv. 13; Heb. viii. 8-11; John vi. 45. [19] 2 Cor. iii. 3. [The text here agrees with the Rec., not with the oldest mss. followed in the R.V.'R.] [20] [Literally, "the punishment that is greater."'R.] [21] [Literally, "the very cloud."'R.] [22] sōmatik phantasa. [23] tn tn sōmtōn nnoianeanglion).'R.] [24] [A reminiscence of 1 Cor. i. 30.'R.] [25] [Literally, "reconciliations of God to our nature." The doctrinal point of view is Pauline: God is reconciled, His anger removed.'R.] [26] [The independence of the Gospels is thus emphasized by the most competent exegete of the Nicene period. His treatment of the apparent discrepancies is suggestive.'R.] [27] [That is, "in nothing," in no respect.'R.] [28] sunkrotosin. [Literally, "weld together," used of organizing a body of soldiers.'R.] [29] prosephai pl. [30] ["accurate."'R.] [31] Luke i. 4. [32] 'Asphleia, "certainty," seems to be used here first objectively, as when we say, "a thing is certain," then subjectively, as "I am certain of it." [33] [The translator, with the Latin, follows the reading d; most mss. have gr, which is the more difficult reading.'R.] [34] So St. Irenæus, iii. 11, 1. "John, the disciple of the Lord, purposing by the publication of a Gospel to take away the error which Cerinthus had sown among men, and long before him those who are called Nicolaitans, thus began the instruction of his Gospel: In the beginning, &c." See also St. Clem. of Alex. in Euseb. E. H. vi. 14; St. Jerome, Pref. to Com. on St. Matth. [35] okonoma, i.e., our Lord's assumption of the Manhood. The word is so used continually by the Fathers. [36] [This paraphrase fairly brings out the sense, but is a very free rendering of the text.'R.] [37] [ka di toto.] [38] Euseb. E. H. iii. 24; St. Jer. de Vir. Ill. 3; Orig. in Matth. t. iii. 440; St. Iren. iii. 1. But St. Chrysostom seems to be quoting the words of some other writer besides these. [39] Or in Rome, before the death of St. Peter, who approved the Gospel. So St. Clem. Alex. in Euseb. E. H. ii. 15; St. Jer. de Vir. Illustr. c. 8. St. Iren. iii. 1, seems rather to agree with St. Chrysostom. Perhaps they may be reconciled by supposing St. Mark's Gospel written at Rome and approved by St. Peter, but not published until after his death, when St. Mark was in Egypt. See Massuet's note on the place in St. Irenæus; and Euseb. ii. 16. [40] The Arians, e.g. and kindred sects, received all the Scriptures; the Marcionites, besides rejecting the Old Testament received only the Gospel of St. Luke, and ten of St. Paul's epistles: out of which Tertulian refutes them at large. The Manichæans rejected the Old Testament and The Acts of the Apostles in which latter the Montanists agreed with them. This was besides numerous interpolations which they all alleged in the books which they did receive. See St. Aug. Ep. 237. [41] [mchē, the technical term for "contradiction" when applied to statements. See Sophocles' Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine periods; sub voce.'R.] [42] kmmata, Gr. [43] kmmata, Gr. [44] Matt. xii. 25; Mark iii. 24; Luke xi. 17. [45] [Literally, "philosophize such things." Chrysostom, in common with other and earlier Fathers uses the terms philosopha and philosophen, in a wide sense. As the translator varies his rendering of these words to suit the context, it seems proper to indicate when Chrysostom uses them.'R] [46] [politean, as in the latter part of the sentence. This term also is variously rendered by the translator, to suit the context. But in this Homily there is always a reference to Plato's Republic, when the word politea is used. Hence attention is called to the instances where it occurs.'R.] [47] [philosophen. Literally "to philosophize what no one of them was at any time able even to," etc. The negatives are repeated in the original for greater emphasis.'R.] [48] [politea.] [49] [eddaxen.] [50] Matt. xxii. 40. [51] Matt. vii. 12. [52] [philosophan=true wisdom.'R.] [53] [politea, in its proper case.] [54] [politea, in its proper case.] [55] [politea, in its proper case.] [56] [politea, in its proper case.] [57] [politea, in its proper case.] [58] [politea, in its proper case.] [59] [philosopha.] [60] [politea, in its proper case.] [61] [politea, in its proper case.] [62] Acts viii. 28. [63] [Ka gr.] [64] [Ka gr ka toto.] [65] [See Homily iv., where this question is discussed.'R.] [66] [Literally, "and learn."'R.] [67] erte [68] Matt. vii. 6. [The citation is not, however, verbally accurate.'R.] [69] [politea ] [70] [spoudzōmen; the verb is rendered "endeavor" in the preceding sentence.'R.] [71] [Ka gr.] .


Homily II.

Matt. I. 1.

"The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham."

Do ye indeed remember the charge, which we lately made you, entreating you to hearken unto all the things that are said with all silence, and mystical quietness? For [72] we are to-day to set foot within the holy vestibule, wherefore I have also put you in mind of the charge.

Since, if the Jews, when they were to approach "a mountain that burned, and fire, and blackness, and darkness, and tempest;" [73] 'or rather when they were not so much as to approach, but both to see and to hear these things from afar;'were commanded for three days before to abstain from their wives, and to wash their garments, and were in trembling and fear, both themselves and Moses with them; much more we, when we are to hearken to such words, and are not to stand far from a smoking mountain, but to enter into Heaven itself, ought to show forth a greater self-denial; [74] not washing our garments, but wiping clean the robe of our soul, and ridding ourselves of all mixture with worldly things. For it is not blackness that ye shall see, nor smoke, nor tempest, but the King Himself sitting on the throne of that unspeakable glory, and angels, and archangels standing by Him, and the tribes of the saints, with those interminable myriads.

For such is the city of God, having "the Church of the first-born, the spirits of the just, the general assembly of the angels, the blood of sprinkling," [75] whereby all are knit into one, and Heaven hath received the things of earth, and earth the things of Heaven, and that peace hath come which was of old longed for both by angels and by saints.

Herein standeth the trophy of the cross, glorious, and conspicuous, the spoils won by Christ, the first-fruits [76] of our nature, the booty of our King; all these, I say, we shall out of the Gospels know perfectly. If thou follow in becoming quietness, we shall be able to lead thee about everywhere, and to show where death is set forth crucified, and where sin is hanged up, and where are the many and wondrous offerings from this war, from this battle.

Thou shalt see likewise the tyrant here bound, and the multitude of the captives following, and the citadel from which that unholy demon overran all things in time past. Thou wilt see the hiding places, and the dens of the robber, broken up now, and laid open, for even there also was our King present. [77]

But be not thou weary, beloved, for if any one were describing a visible war, and trophies, and victories, wouldest thou feel no satiety at all; nay, thou wouldest not prefer either drink or meat to this history. But if that kind of narrative be welcome, much more this. For consider what a thing it is to hear, how on the one side God from Heaven, arising "out of the royal thrones, leaped down [78] " unto the earth, and even unto hell itself, and stood in the battle array; and how the devil on the other hand set himself in array against Him; or rather not against God unveiled, but God hidden in man's nature.

And what is marvellous, thou wilt see death destroyed by death, and curse extinguished by curse, and the dominion of the devil put down by those very things whereby he did prevail. Let us therefore rouse ourselves thoroughly, and let us not sleep, for lo, I see the gates opening to us; but let us enter in with all seemly order, and with trembling, setting foot straightway within the vestibule itself.

2. But what is this vestibule? "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham."

"What sayest thou? Didst thou not promise to discourse of the Only-begotten Son of God, and dost thou make mention of David, a man born after a thousand generations, and say that he is both father and ancestor?" Stay, seek not to learn all at once, but gently and by little and little. Why, it is in the vestibule that thou art standing, by the very porch; why then dost thou hasten towards the inner shrine? As yet thou hast not well marked all without. For neither for a while do I declare unto thee that other generation: or rather not even this which cometh after, for it is unutterable, and unspeakable. And before me the Prophet Esaias hath told thee this; where [79] when proclaiming His passion, and His great care for the world, and admiring who He was, and what He became, and whither He descended, he cried out loud and clear, saying thus, "Who shall declare His generation?" [80]

It is not then of that we are now to speak, but of this beneath, this which took place on earth, which was amongst ten thousand witnesses. And concerning this again we will relate in such wise as it may be possible for us, having received the grace of the Spirit. For not even this may any one set forth altogether plainly, forasmuch as this too is most awful. Think not, therefore, it is of small things thou art hearing, when thou hearest of this birth, but rouse up thy mind, and straightway tremble, being told that God hath come upon earth. For so marvellous was this, and beyond expectation, that because of these things the very angels formed a choir, and in behalf of the world offered up their praise for them, and the prophets from the first were amazed at this, that "He was seen upon earth, and conversed with men [81] ." Yea, for it is far beyond all thought to hear that God the Unspeakable, [82] the Unutterable, the Incomprehensible, and He that is equal to the Father, hath passed through a virgin's womb, and hath vouchsafed to be born of a woman, and to have Abraham and David for forefathers. But why do I say Abraham and David? For what is even more amazing, there are those women, whom we have lately mentioned.

3. Hearing these things, arise, and surmise nothing low: but even because of this very thing most of all shouldest thou marvel, [83] that being Son of the Unoriginate God, and His true Son, He suffered Himself to be called also Son of David, that He might make thee Son of God. He suffered a slave to be father to Him, that He might make the Lord Father to thee a slave.

Seest thou at once from the beginning of what nature are the Gospels? If thou doubt concerning the things that pertain to thee, from what belongs to Him believe these also. For it is far more difficult, judging by human reason, for God to become man, than for a man to be declared a Son of God. When therefore thou art told that the Son of God is Son of David and of Abraham, doubt not any more that thou too, the son of Adam, shall be son of God. For not at random, nor in vain did He abase Himself so greatly, only He was minded to exalt us. Thus He was born after the flesh, that thou mightest be born after the Spirit; He was born of a woman, that thou mightest cease to be the son of a woman.

Wherefore the birth was twofold, both made like unto us, and also surpassing ours. For to be born of a woman indeed was our lot, but "to be born not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor of man," but of the Holy Ghost, [84] was to proclaim beforehand the birth surpassing us, the birth to come, which He was about freely to give us of the Spirit. And everything else too was like this. Thus His baptism also was of the same kind, for it partook of the old, and it partook also of the new. To be baptized by the prophet marked the old, but the coming down of the Spirit shadowed out the new. And like as though any one were to place himself in the space between any two persons that were standing apart, and stretching forth both his hands were to lay hold on either side, and tie them together; even so hath He done, joining the old covenant with the new, God's nature with man's, the things that are His with ours.

Seest thou the flashing brightness [85] of the city, with how great a splendor it hath dazzled thee from the very beginning? how it hath straightway shown the King in thine own form; as though in a camp? For neither there doth the king always appear bearing his proper dignity, but laying aside the purple and the diadem, he often disguises himself in the garb of a common soldier. But there it is, lest by being known he should draw the enemy upon himself; but here on the contrary, lest, if He were known, He should cause the enemy to fly from the conflict with Him, and lest He should confound all His own people: for His purpose was to save, not to dismay.

4. For this reason he hath also straightway called Him by this title, naming Him Jesus. For this name, Jesus, is not Greek, but in the Hebrew language it is thus called Jesus; which is, when interpreted into the Greek tongue, "A Saviour." And He is called a Saviour, from His saving His people.

Seest thou how he hath given wings to the hearer, at once speaking things familiar, and at the same time by these indicating to us things beyond all hope? I mean that [86] both these names were well known to the Jews. For, because the things that were to happen were beyond expectation, the types even of the names went before, in order that from the very first all the unsettling power of novelty might be taken away. Thus he is called Jesus, who after Moses brought the people into the land of promise. Hast thou seen the type? Behold the truth. That led into the land of promise, this into heaven, and to the good things in the heavens; that, after Moses was dead, this after the law had ceased; that as a leader, this as a King.

However, lest having heard the word Jesus, thou shouldest by reason of the identity of the name be perplexed, he hath added, "Jesus Christ, Son of David." But that other was not of David, but of another tribe.

5. But wherefore doth he call it a "book of the generation of Jesus Christ," while yet this book hath not the birth only, but the whole dispensation? Because this is the sum of the whole dispensation, and is made an origin and root of all our blessings. As then Moses calleth it the book of heaven and earth, [87] although he hath not discoursed of heaven and earth only, but also of all things that are in the midst thereof; so also this man hath named his book from that which is the sum of all the great things done. For that which teems with astonishment, and is beyond hope and all expectation, is that God should become man. But this having come to pass, all afterwards follows in reasonable consequence.

6. But wherefore did he not say, "the Son of Abraham," and then "the Son of David?" It is not, as some suppose, that he means to proceed upward from the lower point, since then he would have done the same as Luke, but now he doth the contrary. Why then hath he made mention of David? The man was in the mouths of all, both from his distinction, and from the time, for he had not been so very long since dead, like Abraham. And though God made promises to both, yet the one, as old, was passed over in silence, while the other, as fresh and recent, was repeated of all. Themselves, for instance, say, "Doth not Christ come of the seed of David, and out of Bethlehem, the town where David was?" [88] And no man called Him Son of Abraham, but all Son of David; and that because this last was more in the recollection of all, both on account of the time, as I have already said, and because of his royalty. On this principle again all the kings whom they had in honor after his time were named from him, both by the people themselves and by God. For both Ezekiel [89] and other prophets besides speak of David as coming and rising again; not meaning him that was dead, but them who were emulating his virtue. And to Hezekiah He saith, "I will defend this city, for mine own sake and for my servant David's sake." [90] And to Solomon too He said, that for David's sake He rent not the kingdom during his lifetime. [91] For great was the glory of the man, both with God and with men.

On account of this he makes the beginning at once from him who was more known, and then runs up to his father; accounting it superfluous, as far as regards the Jews, to carry the genealogy higher up. For these were principally the persons held in admiration; the one as a prophet and a king, the other as a patriarch and a prophet.

7. "But [92] whence is it manifest that He is of David?" one may say. For if He was not sprung of a man, but from a woman only, and the Virgin hath not her genealogy traced, how shall we know that He was of David's race? Thus, there are two things inquired; both why His mother's genealogy is not recited, and wherefore it can be that Joseph is mentioned by them, who hath no part in the birth: since the latter seems to be superfluous, and the former a defect.

Of which then is it necessary to speak first? How the Virgin is of David. How then shall we know that she is of David? Hearken unto God, telling Gabriel to go unto "a virgin betrothed to a man (whose name was Joseph), of the house and lineage of David." [93] What now wouldest thou have plainer than this, when thou hast heard that the Virgin was of the house and lineage of David?

Hence it is evident that Joseph also was of the same. Yes, for there was a law, which bade that it should not be lawful to take a wife from any other stock, but from the same tribe. And the patriarch Jacob also foretold that He should arise out of the tribe of Judah, saying on this wise: "there shall not fail a ruler out of Judah, nor a governor out of his loins, until He come for whom it is appointed, and He is the expectation of the Gentiles." [94]

"Well; this prophecy doth indeed make it clear that He was of the tribe of Judah, but not also that He was of the family of David. Was there then in the tribe of Judah one family only, even that of David, or were there not also many others? And might it not happen for one to be of the tribe of Judah, but not also of the family of David?"

Nay, lest thou shouldest say this, the evangelist hath removed this suspicion of thine, by saying, that He was "of the house and lineage of David."

And if thou wish to learn this from another reason besides, neither shall we be at a loss for another proof. For not only was it not allowed to take a wife out of another tribe, but not even from another lineage, that is, from another kindred. So that if either we connect with the Virgin the words, "of the house and lineage of David," what hath been said stands good; or if with Joseph, by that fact this also is proved. For if Joseph was of the house and lineage of David, he would not have taken his wife from another than that whence he himself was sprung.

"What then," one may say, "if he transgressed the law?" Why, for this cause he hath by anticipation testified that Joseph was righteous, on purpose that thou mightest not say this, but having been told his virtue, mightest be sure also that he would not have transgressed the law. For he who was so benevolent, and free from passion, as not to wish, even when urged by suspicion, to attempt inflicting punishment on the Virgin, how should he have transgressed the law for lust? he that showed wisdom and self-restraint beyond the law (for to put her away, and that privily, was to act with self-restraint beyond the law), how should he have done anything contrary to the law; and this when there was no cause to urge him? [95]

8. Now that the Virgin was of the race of David is indeed from these things evident; but wherefore he gave not her genealogy, but Joseph's, requires explanation. For what cause was it then? It was not the law among the Jews that the genealogy of women should be traced. In order then that he might keep the custom, and not seem to be making alterations [96] from the beginning, and yet might make the Virgin known to us, for this cause he hath passed over her ancestors in silence, and traced the genealogy of Joseph. For if he had done this with respect to the Virgin, he would have seemed to be introducing novelties; and if he had passed over Joseph in silence, we should not have known the Virgin's forefathers. In order therefore that we might learn, touching Mary, who she was, and of what origin, and that the laws might remain undisturbed, he hath traced the genealogy of her espoused husband, and shown him to be of the house of David. For when this hath been clearly proved, that other fact is demonstrated with it, namely, that the Virgin likewise is sprung from thence, by reason that this righteous man, even as I have already said, would not have endured to take a wife from another race.

There is also another reason, which one might mention, of a more mystical nature, because of which the Virgin's forefathers were passed over in silence; but this it were not seasonable now to declare, because so much has been already said. [97]

9. Wherefore let us stay at this point our discourse concerning the questions, and in the meanwhile let us retain with accuracy what hath been revealed to us; as, for instance, why he mentioned David first; wherefore he called the book, "a book of the generation;" on what account he said, "of Jesus Christ;" how the birth is common and not common; whence it was that Mary was shown to be from David; and wherefore Joseph's genealogy is traced, while her ancestors are passed over in silence.

For if ye retain these things, ye will the more encourage us with respect to what is to come; but if ye reject and cast them from your mind, we shall be the more backward as to the rest. Just as no husbandman would care to pay attention to a soil which had destroyed the former seed.

Wherefore I entreat you to revolve these things. For from taking thought concerning such matters, there springs in the soul some great good, tending unto salvation. For by these meditations we shall be able to please God Himself; and our mouths will be pure from insults, and filthy talking, and reviling, while they are exercising themselves in spiritual sayings; and we shall be formidable to the devils, while arming our tongue with such words; and we shall draw unto ourselves God's grace the more, and it will render our eye more piercing. For indeed both eyes and mouth and hearing He set in us to this intent, that all our members may serve Him, that we may speak His words, and do His deeds, that we may sing unto Him continual hymns, that we may offer up sacrifices of thanksgiving, [98] and by these may thoroughly purify our consciences.

For as a body will be more in health when enjoying the benefits of a pure air, even so will a soul be more endued with practical wisdom [99] when nourished in such exercises as these. Seest thou not even the eyes of the body, that when they abide in smoke they are always weeping; but when they are in clear air, and in a meadow, and in fountains and gardens, they become more quicksighted and more healthy? Like this is the soul's eye also, for should it feed in the meadow of spiritual oracles, it will be clear and piercing, and quick of sight; but should it depart into the smoke of the things of this life, it will weep without end, and wail both now and hereafter. For indeed the things of this life are like smoke. On this account also one hath said, "My days have failed like smoke." [100] He indeed was referring to their shortness of duration, and to their unsubstantial nature, but I would say that we should take what is said, not in this sense alone, but also as to their turbid character.

For nothing doth so hurt and dim the eye of the soul as the crowd of worldly anxieties and the swarm of desires. For these are the wood that feedeth this smoke. And as fire, when it lays hold of any damp and saturated fuel, kindles much smoke; so likewise this desire, so vehement and burning, when it lays hold of a soul that is (so to speak) damp and dissolute, produces also in its way abundance of smoke. For this cause there is need of the dew of the Spirit, and of that air, that it may extinguish the fire, and scatter the smoke, and give wings to our thoughts. For it cannot, it cannot be that one weighed down with so great evils should soar up to heaven; it is well if being without impediment [101] we can cleave our way thither; or rather it is not possible even so, unless we obtain the wing of the Spirit.

Now if there be need both of an unencum bered mind, and of spiritual grace, that we may mount up to that height; what if there be none of these things, but we draw to ourselves whatever is opposite to them, even a satanical weight? how shall we be able to soar upwards, when dragged down by so great a load? For indeed, should any one attempt to weigh our words as it were in just balances; in ten thousand talents of worldly talk he will scarcely find an hundred pence of spiritual words, or rather, I should say, not even ten farthings. Is it not then a disgrace, and an extreme mockery, that if we have a servant, we make use of him for the most part in things necessary, but being possessed of a tongue, we do not deal with our member so well even as with a slave, but on the contrary make use of it for things unprofitable, and mere makeweights? [102] And would it were only for makeweights: [103] but now it is for what are contrary and hurtful and in no respect advantageous to us. For if the things that we spoke were profitable to us, they would assuredly be also pleasing to God. But as it is, whatever the devil may suggest, we speak it all, now laughing, and now speaking wittily; now cursing and insulting, and now swearing, lying, and taking false oaths; now murmuring, and now making vain babblings, and talking trifles more than old wives; uttering all things that are of no concern to us.

For, tell me, who of you that stand here, if he were required, could repeat one Psalm, or any other portion of the divine Scriptures? There is not one.

And it is not this only that is the grievous thing, but that while ye are become so backward with respect to things spiritual, yet in regard of what belongs to Satan ye are more vehement than fire. Thus should any one be minded to ask of you songs of devils and impure effeminate melodies, he will find many that know these perfectly, and repeat them with much pleasure.

10. But what is the answer to these charges? "I am not," you will say, "one of the monks, but I have both a wife and children, and the care of a household." Why, this is what hath ruined all, your supposing that the reading of the divine Scriptures appertains to those only, when ye need it much more than they. For they that dwell in the world, [104] and each day receive wounds, these have most need of medicines. So that it is far worse than not reading, to account the thing even "superfluous:" for these are the words of diabolical invention. Hear ye not Paul saying, "that all these things are written for our admonition"? [105]

And thou, if thou hadst to take up a Gospel, wouldest not choose to do so with hands unwashed; but the things that are laid up within it, dost thou not think to be highly necessary? It is because of this, that all things are turned upside down.

For if thou wouldest learn how great is the profit of the Scriptures, examine thyself, what thou becomest by hearing Psalms, and what by listening to a song of Satan; and how thou art disposed when staying in a Church, and how when sitting in a theatre; and thou wilt see that great is the difference between this soul and that, although both be one. Therefore Paul said, "Evil communications corrupt good manners." [106] For this cause we have need continually of those songs, which serve as charms from the Spirit. Yes, for this it is whereby we excel the irrational creatures, since with respect to all other things, we are even exceedingly inferior to them.

This is a soul's food, this its ornament, this its security; even as not to hear is famine and wasting; for "I will give them," saith He, "not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but a famine of hearing the word of the Lord." [107]

What then can be more wretched? when the very evil, which God threatens in the way of punishment, this thou art drawing upon thine head of thine own accord, bringing into thy soul a sort of grievous famine, and making it the feeblest thing in the world? For it is its nature both to be wasted and to be saved by words. Yea, this leads it on to anger; and the same kind of thing again makes it meek: a filthy expression is wont to kindle it to lust, and it is trained to temperance by speech full of gravity.

But if a word merely have such great power, tell me, how is it thou dost despise the Scriptures? And if an admonition can do such great things, far more when the admonitions are with the Spirit. Yes, for a word from the divine Scriptures, made to sound in the ear, doth more than fire soften the hardened soul, and renders it fit for all good things.

11. In this way too did Paul, when he had found the Corinthians puffed up and inflamed, compose them, and make them more considerate. For they were priding themselves on those very things, touching which they ought to have been ashamed, and to have hid their face. But after they had received the letter, hear the change in them, of which the Teacher himself hath borne witness for them, saying on this wise: for "this very thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge." [108] In this way do we bring to order servants and children, wives, and friends, and make our enemies friends.

In this way the great men too, they that were dear to God, became better. David, for instance, after his sin, when he had had the benefit of certain words, then it was that he came unto that most excellent repentance; and the apostles also by this mean became what they did become, and drew after them the whole world.

"And what is the profit," one may say, "when any one hears, but doeth not what is said?" No little will the profit be even from hearing. For he will go on to condemn himself, [109] and to groan inwardly, and will come in time also to do the things that are spoken of. But he that doth not even know that he hath sinned, when will he cease from his negligence? when will he condemn himself?

Let us not therefore despise the hearing of the divine Scriptures. For this is of Satan's devising; not suffering us to see the treasure, lest we should gain the riches. Therefore he saith that the hearing the divine laws is nothing, lest he should see us from the hearing acquiring the practice also.

Knowing then this his evil art, let us fortify ourselves against him on all sides, that being fenced with this armor, we may both abide unconquered ourselves, and smite him on the head: and thus, having crowned ourselves with the glorious wreaths of victory, we may attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[72] [ka gr; but there is some variation in the readings.'R.] [73] Heb. xii. 18. [Here the Greek text agrees more closely with that of the received text in Hebrews than with that of the earliest mss.'R.] [74] [philosophan.] [75] Heb. xii. 22, 23, 44. [The citation is free; but it is evident that Chrysostom accepts the view indicated in the R.V. margin: "the general assembly of angels."'R.] [76] [t krothnia, "the chief spoils," see Heb. vii. 4.'R.] [77] See 1 Pet. iii. 19, 20; iv. 6; St. Iren. iv. 45; iii. 23; iv. 39, 56, 66; v. 31; Orig. in Joan, t. ii. 30; contr. Cels. ii. 43; in Rom. lib. 5, l. t. iv. 551. B; Tert. de Anim. 7; St. Greg. Naz. Or. 42, p. 693. Ed. Morell; and others cited by Cotelerius on St. Hermas. iii. 16. [78] Wisd. xviii. 15. [79] [Literally, "for."] [80] Isaiah liii. 8. [Here genen occurs; not the term used by Matthew, but in the phrase "that other generation," gnnēsin, occurs.'R.] [81] Baruch iii. 37. [82] Or Unapproachable aprsito, according to some mss. Savil. [83] [Chrysostom uses the imperative: "Because of this very thing especially marvel," etc.'R.] [84] John i. 13. [85] astrapn. [Used of a flash of lightning, or dazzling brightness.'R.] [86] [ka gr.] [87] Gen. ii. 4. [88] John vii. 42. [89] Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24; xxxvii. 24, 25; Jer. xxx. 9; Hos. iii. 5. [90] 2 Kings xix. 34. [91] 1 Kings ii. 11, 12, 13. [92] [Ka.] [93] Luke i. 27. [The words, "and lineage" occur in some mss. of the New Testament. But the citation here is probably made with freedom.'R.] [94] Gen. xlix. 10, from LXX. Our translation preserving the Hebrew word renders it "until Shiloh come." [Comp. the marginal renderings of the R.V. in loco.'R.] [95] [The labored argument here suggests that Chrysostom was not sure of his exegetical position. In Luke i. 27, the phrase "of the house of David" is most naturally joined with "Joseph," and so Chrysostom himself implies.'R.] [96] paracharttein. [This word is the technical one for counterfeiting or forging.'R.] [97] See Hom. iii. sec. 1. [98] echarista. [99] [philosophōtra is rendered, "more endued with practical wisdom."'R.] [100] Ps. cii. 3, LXX. [R.V., "My days consume away like smoke." The LXX. has the aorist, hence, "have failed" is the rendering here adopted. Some editions of Chrysostom read the imperfect here. The Oxford edition has a second note, the meaning of which is not clear: "Rather have failed, LXX."'R.] [101] [eznou, "well-girded," then figuratively, "unencumbered."'R.] [102] [parlkonta .] [103] [parlkonta.] [104] [en ms strephomnoi .] [105] 1 Cor. x. 11. [106] 1 Cor. xv. 33. [107] Amos viii. 11. [108] [2 Cor. vii. 11 is here cited, but in abridged form. All the mss. and editions of Chrysostom, except the Benedictine, give the briefer reading, but in Migne's edition, all phbon, ll pipthēsin ("yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire") are supplied in brackets. In the New Testament passage there is no variation in text, so far as these phrases are concerned. Like most patristic authors, this great Homilist was quite free in his method of citing Scripture.'R.] [109] [Literally, "will condemn himself."'R.] .


Homily III.

Matt. I. 1.

"The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham."

Behold a third discourse, and we have not yet made an end of the prefatory matter. It was not then for nought that I said, It is the nature of these thoughts to have a great depth.

Come, then, let us speak to-day what remains. What is it then that is now required? Why Joseph's genealogy is traced, who had no part in the birth. And one cause we have mentioned already; but it is necessary to mention likewise the other, that which is more mystical and secret than the first. What then is this? He would not that it should be manifest to the Jews, at the time of the birth, that Christ was born of a virgin.

Nay, be not troubled at the strangeness of the saying. For it is no statement of mine, but of our fathers, wonderful and illustrious men. [110] For if He disguised many things from the first, calling Himself Son of Man, and hath not everywhere clearly unfolded to us even His equality with the Father; why dost thou wonder at His having for a time disguised this also, taking order as He was for a certain great and marvellous purpose? [111] and would have condemned her for adultery. For if in regard to the other matters, for which they had frequent precedents likewise in the old dispensation, they were quite shameless in their obstinacy [112] (for so, because He had cast out devils, they called Him possessed; and because He healed on the Sabbath day, they supposed Him to be an adversary of God; and yet oftentimes even before this had the Sabbath been broken), what would they not have said, if this had been told them? Especially as [113] they had all time before this on their side, in that it never had produced any such thing. For if after so many miracles they still called Him son of Joseph, how before the miracles would they have believed that He was born of a virgin?

It is then for this reason that both Joseph has his genealogy traced, and the Virgin betrothed to him. For if even he, who was both a just and wondrous man, required many things, in order that he should receive that which had come to pass; an angel, and the vision in dreams, and the testimony from the prophets; how could the Jews, being both dull and depraved, and of so unfriendly spirit towards Him, have admitted this idea into their minds? For the strangeness and novelty thereof would be sure greatly to disturb them, and the fact that they had never so much as heard of such a thing having happened in the times of their forefathers. For as the man who was once persuaded that He is Son of God, would after that have no cause to doubt concerning this too; so he who was accounting Him to be a deceiver and an adversary of God, how could he but have been yet more offended by this, and have been led on unto the opposite [114] notion? For this cause neither do the apostles at the first directly say this, but while of His resurrection they discourse much and often (forasmuch as of this there were examples in the times before, although not such as this); that He was born of a virgin they do not say always: nay, not even His mother herself ventured to utter this. See, for instance, what saith the Virgin even to Himself: "Behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee." [115] For if this suspicion had been entertained, neither would He any longer have been accounted to be a Son of David, and this opinion not being held, many other evils besides would have arisen. For this cause neither do the angels say these things to all, but to Mary only, and Joseph; but when showing to the shepherds the glad tidings of that which was come to pass, they no longer added this.

2. But why is it, that having mentioned Abraham, and having said that "he begat Isaac, and Isaac, Jacob;" and not having made any mention of his brother; when he is come to Jacob, he remembers both "Judah, and his brethren"? Now there are some that say, it was because of the perverseness of Esau, and of the rest that came before. But I should not say this; for if it were so, how is it that he a little after mentions such women? It being out of contraries, in this place, that His glory is manifested; not by having great forefathers, but low and of little account. For to the lofty One it is a great glory to be able to abase Himself exceedingly. Wherefore then did He not mention them? Because Saracens, and Ishmaelites, and Arabians, and as many as are sprung from those ancestors, have nothing in common with the race of the Israelites. For this cause then he passes over those in silence, and hastens on to His forefathers, and those of the Jewish people. Wherefore he saith, "And Jacob begat Judas and his brethren." For at this point the race of the Jews begins to have its peculiar mark.

3. "And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar." [116] "What doest thou, O man, putting us in remembrance of a history that contains an unlawful intercourse?" But why is this said? [117] Since, if we were recounting the race of a mere man, one might naturally have been silent touching these things; but if of God Incarnate, so far from being silent, one ought to make a glory of them, showing forth His tender care, and His power. Yea, it was for this cause He came, not to escape our disgraces, but to bear them away. Therefore as He is the more admired, in that He not only died, but was even crucified (though the thing be opprobrious, yet the more opprobrious the more doth it show Him full of love to man), so likewise may we speak touching His birth; it is not only because He took flesh upon Him, and became man, that we justly stand amazed at Him, but because He vouchsafed to have also such kinsfolk, being in no respect ashamed of our evils. And this He was proclaiming from the very beginnings of His birth, that He is ashamed of none of those things that belong to us; while He teaches us also hereby, never to hide our face at our forefathers' wickedness, but to seek after one thing alone, even virtue. For such a man, though he have an alien for his ancestor, though he have a mother who is a prostitute, or what you will, can take no hurt thereby. For if the whoremonger himself, being changed, is nothing disgraced by his former life, much more will the wickedness of his ancestry have no power to bring to shame him that is sprung of an harlot or an adulteress, if he be virtuous.

But he did these things not only to instruct us, but also to bring down the haughtiness of the Jews. For since they, negligent about virtue in their own souls, were parading the name of Abraham, [118] thinking they had for a plea their forefathers' virtue; he shows from the very beginning that it is not in these things men ought to glory, but in their own good deeds.

Besides this, he is establishing another point also, to show that all are under sin, even their forefathers themselves. At least their patriarch and namesake is shown to have committed no small sin, for Thamar stands against him, to accuse his whoredom. And David too had Solomon by the wife whom he corrupted. But if by the great ones the law was not fulfilled, much more by the less. And if it was not fulfilled, all have sinned, and Christ's coming is become necessary.

For this cause he made mention also of the twelve patriarchs, by this again bringing down their pride at the noble birth of their fathers. Because many of these also were born of women that were slaves; but nevertheless the difference of the parents did not make a difference in the children. For all were equally both patriarchs and heads of tribes. For this is the precedence of the Church, this the prerogative of the nobility that is among us, taking its type from the beginning. So that whether thou be bond or free, thou hast from thence nothing more nor less; but the question is all about one thing only, namely, the mind, and the disposition of the soul.

4. But besides what we have said, there is another cause also, wherefore he hath mentioned even this history; for to be sure, Zara's name was not cast at random on that of Phares. (For indeed it was irrelevant, and superfluous, when he had mentioned Phares, from whom he was to trace Christ's genealogy, to mention Zara also.) Wherefore then did he mention him? When Thamar was on the point of giving birth to them, the pangs having come upon her, Zara put forth his hand first. [119] Then the midwife, when she saw this, in order that the first should be known, bound his hand with scarlet; but the child, when he was bound, drew in his hand, and when he had drawn it in, Phares came forth first, and then Zara. The midwife when she saw this said, "Why was the hedge broken up for thee?" [120]

Seest thou the dark expression of mysteries? For it was not without purpose that these things were recorded for us: since neither was it worth our study to learn, what it might be that the midwife said; nor worth a narrative to know, that he who came out second, put forth his hand first. What then is the mysterious lesson? [121] First, from the name of the child [122] we learn what is inquired, for Phares is "a division," and "a breach." And moreover from the thing itself, which took place; for it was not in the order of nature that, having thrust out his hand, he should draw it in again when bound; these thing neither belonged to a movement directed by reason, nor did they take place in the way of natural consequence. For after the hand had found its way out, that another child should come forth before was perhaps not unnatural; but that he should draw it back, and give a passage for another, was no longer after the manner of children at the birth, but the grace of God was present with the children, ordering these things, and sketching out for us by them a sort of image of the things that were to come.

What then? Some of those who have examined these things accurately say, that these children are a type of the two nations. [123] And so in order that thou mightest learn that the polity of the latter people shone forth previously to the origin of the former, the child that hath the hand stretched forth doth not show itself entire, but draws even it in again; and after his brother had glided forth whole, then he too appears entire. And this took place also with regard to the two nations. I mean, that after the polity of the Church had been manifested in the times of Abraham, and then had been withdrawn in the midst of its course, the Jewish people came, and the legal polity, and then the new people appeared entire with their own laws. Wherefore also the midwife saith, "Why was the hedge broken up for thee?" because the law coming in had broken in upon the freedom of the polity. For indeed the Scripture is ever wont to call the law a hedge; as the prophet saith: "Thou hast broken down her hedge, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck off her grapes:" [124] and, "I have set a hedge about it:" [125] and Paul, "Having broken down the middle wall of the hedge." [126] But others say, that the saying, "Why was the hedge broken up for thee?" was spoken touching the new people: for this at its coming put down the law. [127]

5. Seest thou that it was not for few nor small causes that he brought to our remembrance the whole history concerning Judah? For this end he hath mentioned Ruth also and Rahab, the one an alien, the other an harlot, that thou mayest learn that He came to do away with all our ills. For He hath come as a Physician, not as a Judge. Therefore in like manner as those of old took harlots for wives, even so God too espoused unto Himself the nature which had played the harlot: and this also prophets [128] from the beginning declare to have taken place with respect to the Synagogue. But that spouse was ungrateful towards Him who had been an husband to her, whereas, the Church, when once delivered from the evils received from our fathers, continued to embrace the Bridegroom.

See, for instance, what befell Ruth, how like it is to the things which belong to us. For she was both of a strange race, and reduced to the utmost poverty, yet Boaz when he saw her neither despised her poverty nor abhorred her mean birth, as Christ having received the Church, being both an alien and in much poverty, took her to be partaker of the great blessings. But even as Ruth, if she had not before left her father, and renounced household and race, country and kindred, would not have attained unto this alliance; so the Church too, having forsaken the customs which men had received from their fathers, then, and not before, [129] became lovely to the Bridegroom. Of this therefore the prophet discourses unto her, and saith, "Forget thy people, and thy father's house, so shall the king have pleasure in thy beauty." [130] This Ruth did too, and because of this she became a mother of kings, even as the Church did likewise. For of her David himself sprung. So then to shame them by all these things, and to prevail on them not to be high-minded, he hath both composed the genealogy, and brought forward these women. Yes, for this last, through those who intervened, was parent to the great king, and of these David is not ashamed. For it cannot, nay, it cannot be that a man should be good or bad, obscure or glorious, either by the virtue or by the vice of his forefathers; but if one must say somewhat even paradoxical, he shines forth the more, who not being of worthy ancestors, has yet become excellent.

6. Let no one therefore be high-minded on account of these matters, but let him consider the forefathers of the Lord, and put away all his haughtiness, and let good actions be his pride; or rather, not even these. For thus it was that the Pharisee came to be inferior to the Publican. Thus, if thou wouldest show the good work to be great, have no high thought, [131] and thou hast proved it so much the greater. Make account that thou hast done nothing, and then thou hast done all. For if, being sinners, when we account ourselves to be what we are, we become righteous, as indeed the Publican did; how much more, when being righteous we account ourselves to be sinners. Since if out of sinners men are made righteous by a lowly mind (although this were not to be lowly-minded but to be right-minded); if then to be right-minded avails so much in the case of sinners, consider what will not lowliness of mind do with respect to righteous men.

Do not then mar thy labors, nor cast away from thee the fruits of thy toils, neither run thou in vain, making frustrate all thy labor after the many courses thou hast run. Nay, for thy Lord knows thy good works better than thou dost. Though thou give but a cup of cold water, not even this doth He overlook; though thou contribute but a farthing, though thou shouldest utter a sigh only, He receives it all with great favor and is mindful thereof, and assigns for it great rewards.

But wherefore dost thou search out thine own doings, and bring them out before us continually? Knowest thou not, that if thou praise thyself, God will no more praise thee? even as if thou bewail thyself, [132] He will not cease proclaiming thee before all. For it is not at all His will that thy labors should be disparaged. Why do I say, disparaged? Nay, He is doing and contriving all things, so that even for little He may crown thee; and He goes about seeking excuses, whereby thou mayest be delivered from hell. For this cause, though thou shouldest work but the eleventh hour of the day, He gives thy wages entire; and though thou afford no ground of salvation, He saith, "I do it for mine own sake, that my name be not profaned:" [133] though thou shouldest sigh only, though thou shouldest only weep, all these things He quickly catches hold of, for an occasion of saving thee.

Let us not therefore lift up ourselves, but let us declare ourselves unprofitable, that we may become profitable. For if thou call thyself approved, thou art become unprofitable, though thou wert approved; but if useless, thou art become profitable, even though thou wert reprobate.

7. Wherefore it is necessary to forget our good actions. "Yet how is it possible," one may say, "not to know these things with which we are well acquainted?" How sayest thou? Offending thy Lord perpetually, thou livest delicately, and laughest, and dost not so much as know that thou hast sinned, but hast consigned all to oblivion; and of thy good actions canst thou not put away the memory? And yet fear is a stronger kind of thing. But we do the very contrary; on the one hand, whilst each day we are offending, we do not so much as put it before our mind; on the other, if we give a little money to a poor person, this we are ever revolving. This kind of conduct comes of utter madness, and it is a very great loss to him who so makes his reckoning. [134] For the secure storehouse of good works is to forget our good works. And as with regard to raiment and gold, when we expose them in a market-place, we attract many ill-meaning persons; but if we put them by at home and hide them, we shall deposit them all in security: even so with respect to our good deeds; if we are continually keeping them in memory, we provoke the Lord, we arm the enemy, we invite him to steal them away; but if no one know of them, besides Him who alone ought to know, they will lie in safety.

Be not therefore for ever parading them, lest some one should take them away. As was the case with the Pharisee, for bearing them about upon his lips; whence also the devil caught them away. And yet it was with thanksgiving he made mention of them, and referred the whole to God. But not even did this suffice Him. For it is not thanksgiving to revile others, to be vainglorious before many, to exalt one's self against them that have offended. Rather, if thou art giving thanks to God, be content with Him only, and publish it not unto men, neither condemn thy neighbor; for this is not thanksgiving. Wouldest thou learn words of thanksgiving? hearken unto the Three Children, saying, "We have sinned, we have transgressed. Thou art righteous, O Lord, in all that thou hast done unto us, because thou hast brought all things upon us by a true judgment." [135] For to confess [136] one's own sins, this is to give thanks with confession [137] unto God: a kind of thing which implies one to be guilty of numberless offenses, yet not to have the due penalty exacted. This man most of all is the giver of thanks.

8. Let us beware therefore of saying anything about ourselves, for this renders us both odious with men and abominable to God. For this reason, the greater the good works we do, the less let us say of ourselves; this being the way to reap the greatest glory both with men and with God. Or rather, not only glory from God, but a reward, yea, a great recompense. Demand not therefore a reward that thou mayest receive a reward. Confess thyself to be saved by grace, that He may profess Himself a debtor to thee; and not for thy good works only, but also for such rightness of mind. For when we do good works, we have Him debtor for our good works only; but when we do not so much as think we have done any good work, then also for this disposition itself; and more for this, than for the other things: so that this is equivalent to our good works. For should this be absent, neither will they appear great. For in the same way, we too, when we have servants, [138] do then most approve them when, after having performed all their service with good will, they do not think they have done anything great. Wherefore, if thou wouldest make thy good deeds great, do not think them to be great, and then they will be great.

It was in this way that the centurion also said, "I am not fit that thou shouldest enter under my roof;" because of this, he became worthy, and was "marvelled at" [139] above all Jews. On this wise again Paul saith, "I am not meet to be called an apostle;" [140] because of this he became even first of all. So likewise John: "I am not meet to loose the latchet of His shoe;" [141] because of this he was the "friend of the Bridegroom," and the hand which he affirmed to be unworthy to touch His shoes, this did Christ draw unto His own head. [142] So Peter too said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man;" [143] because of this he became a foundation of the Church.

For nothing is so acceptable to God as to number one's self with the last. This is a first principle of all practical wisdom. [144] For he that is humbled, and bruised in heart, will not be vainglorious, will not be wrathful, will not envy his neighbor, will not harbor any other passion. For neither when a hand is bruised, though we strive ten thousand times, shall we be able to lift it up on high. If therefore we were thus to bruise our heart [145] likewise, though it were stirred by ten thousand swelling passions, it could not be lifted up, no, not ever so little. For if a man, by mourning for things pertaining to this life, drives out all the diseases of his soul, much more will he, who mourns for sins, enjoy the blessing of self-restraint. [146]

9. "But who," one may say, "will be able thus to bruise his own heart?" Listen to David, who became illustrious chiefly because of this, and see the contrition of his soul. How after ten thousand good works, and when he was on the point of being deprived of country, and home, and life itself, at the very season of his calamity, seeing a vile and outcast common soldier trample on the turn of his fortunes [147] and revile him; so far from reviling him again, he utterly forbad one of his captains, who was desirous to have slain him, saying, "Let him alone, for the Lord hath bidden him." [148] And again, when the priests desired to carry about the ark of God [149] with him, he did not permit it; but what doth he say? [150] "Let me set it down in the temple, and if God deliver me from the dangers that are before me, I shall see the beauty thereof; but if He say to me, I have no delight in thee, behold, here am I, let Him do to me as seemeth good unto Him." And that which was done with regard to Saul, again and again, even oftentimes, what excellence of self-restraint doth it not show? Yea, for he even surpassed the old law, and came near to the apostolic injunctions. For this cause he bore with contentedness all that came from the Lord's hands; not contending against what befell him, but aiming at one object alone, namely, in everything to obey, and follow the laws set by Him. And when after so many noble deeds on his part, he saw the tyrant, the parricide, the murderer of his own brother, that injurious, that frenzied one, possessing in his stead his own kingdom, not even so was he offended. But "if this please God," saith he, "that I should be chased, and wander, and flee, and that he should be in honor, I acquiesce, and accept it, and do thank God for His many afflictions." Not like many of the shameless and impudent ones, who when they have not done, no not the least part of his good works, yet if they see any in prosperity, and themselves enduring a little discouragement, ruin their own souls by ten thousand blasphemies. But David was not such an one; rather he showed forth all modesty. [151] Wherefore also God said, "I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart." [152]

Such a spirit as this let us too acquire, and whatever we may suffer we shall bear it easily, and before the Kingdom, we shall reap here the gain accruing from lowliness of mind. Thus "learn," saith He, "of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." [153] Therefore in order that we may enjoy rest both here and hereafter, let us with great diligence implant in our souls the mother of all things that are good, I mean humility. For thus we shall be enabled both to pass over the sea of this life without waves, and to end our voyage in that calm harbor; by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[110] St. Ignatius ad Ephes. xix. init. Ka lathen ton rchonta to ano touto parthena Mara, ka tokets at, moō ka thnato to Kurou tra mustria kraug tina n such Theo prchthē. "Now the virginity of Mary, and her delivery, was kept in secret from the prince of this world, as was also the Lord's death; three most notable mysteries, yet done in Secret of God." [See Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I., p. 57. The Greek given in this note is from the "briefer" form of the Ignatian Epistles. But the "longer" form differs very little, and the Syriac version, brief as it is, contains this sentence.'R.] And Origen, 6th Homily on St. Luke, says, "It has been well written in one of the epistles of a certain martyr, I mean Ignatius, the next Bishop of Antioch after the blessed Peter, him who fought with wild beasts in the persecution at Rome, 'Now the virginity of Mary was kept in secret from the prince of this world.' It was concealed because of Joseph, because of her espousals, because she was supposed to have a husband. For, had she had no spouse or supposed husband, it could not have been concealed from the prince of this world. For presently the thought would have silently occurred to the evil one, 'How is she with child, who knoweth not a man? This conception must be divine, it must be something higher than human nature.' On the contrary, our Saviour had purposed that the devil should be ignorant of his Œconomy and Incarnation: for which cause He both in His birth concealed the same, and commanded His disciples afterwards that they should not make Him known. Also when tempted by the devil in person, He no where owned Himself Son of God." Origen then quotes 1 Cor. ii. 6-8, to the same effect. And in answer to the objection, How the devils which were from time to time cast out knew Him to be the Son of God, he suggests that it might be owing to their inferiority in malice and mischief: according to the rule among men, that the worse they are, the less they can know of Christ. [The Homilies of Origen are not included in the Ante-Nicene Fathers.] See also a supposed Homily of St. Basil's, De Christi generatione, Ed. Ben. ii. 598, c.; and St. Jerome on St. Matt. i. 18. [111] [thaumastn ti ka mga okonomnkakourgonte . [112] phaner naischntoun. [113] [Ka gr.] [114] [ekenēn.] [115] Luke ii. 48. [116] Matt. i. 3. [117] [More accurately, "But why is this? one may say."'R.] [118] [tn Abram nō ka ktō parpheron.] [119] Gen. xxxviii. 27. [120] Our marginal translation is, "Wherefore hast thou made this breach against thee?" Gen. xxxviii. 29. [R.V. text: "Wherefore hast thou made a breach for thyself," with the margin: "Or, How hast thou made a breach ! A breach be upon thee!" The LXX. rendering, which Chrysostom cites, misses the suggestion of the original Hebrew.'R.] [121] t anigma. [122] [t proēgopa to paidou. The terms seem to be chosen to suggest that the name of the child came from the greeting given it by the midwife.'R.] [123] i.e., The Jewish and the Christian. Compare the 62d Homily on Genesis, t. i. 478, ed. Sav. "Zara being interpreted, is 'the East.' And that these things did not take place at random, but were a type of what was to come, the facts themselves indicate. For that which happened was not in the order of nature. For how was it possible, when the hand had been bound with the scarlet thread, for it to be again drawn back to afford passage to him who came after had there not been some divine power which before ordained these things, and as in a kind of shadow drew out this figure; that at first and from the beginning Zara (that is the East, which is the type of the Church) began to increase, and after it had made a little progress and then retired, the observance of the Law, represented by Phares, came in: and after prevailing a long time, on a second advance of Zara, who had before retired, made room on the contrary for the Church; I mean, the whole Jewish polity did so." "Perhaps, however, it is necessary now to state the matter more briefly and clearly. There was a beginning, like the putting forth of Zara's hand, in Abel, Enoch, Noah, Melchisedek, Abraham, making extreme account of what might please God. Afterwards, when they had grown into a multitude, and had heaped on themselves heavy burdens of sin, and needed the benefit of some slight consolation, the Law was given as a kind of shadow, not as taking away sins, but as declaring and making them manifest: that as imperfect children living on milk they might be capable of attaining full age. But when even thus they failed of profiting, yea, kept mingling themselves up again with their sins, all the while that the Law was pointing out the greatness of the same, He came who is our common Lord, and freely bestowed on mankind this present spiritual polity, full of all virtue, whereof Zara was to stand as a type. For this cause the evangelist also both mentioned Thamar and her children, saying, 'Judas begat Pharez and Zarah of Thamar.'" Compare also St. Cyr. of Alex. 6 lib. in Gen. t. i. 201, ed. Aubert; Theod. in Gen. qu. 96; St. Aug. in Ps. 61, t. iv. 442, D. [A good specimen of the allegorizing exegesis which even such an expositor as Chrysostom could indulge in. The detailed account of the birth of Pharez is justified by the importance attached to the position of first-born.'R.] [124] Ps. lxxx. 12. [125] Is. v. 2, where the marginal translation is, He made a wall about it: the word hedge occurs verse 5. [R.V., verse 2. "He made a trench about it," with margin, "Or, digged it." In the LXX. phragmn occurs, however.'R.] [126] Eph. ii. 14, where this word is translated "partition." [Retained in the R.V.] [127] [The entire paragraph is based on the LXX. rendering, which by introducing phragms suggests an idea foreign to the original Hebrew.'R.] [128] Hos. i. 2; Jer. iii.; Ezek. xxiii. 4, 5, 11. [129] [The Greek text has simply tte, a term that is usually paraphrased by the translator.'R.] [130] Ps. xlv. 11, 12. [131] [That is, no proud thought.'R.] [132] ["Thyself" is supplied by the translator.'R.] [133] Ezek. xxxvi. 22. [134] to sullgonto. [135] Song of the Three Children, Vers. 6, 8, 4. [136] homologen'homologonta. There seems an allusion to the two meanings of confiteor and the kindred words. [137] homologen'homologonta. There seems an allusion to the two meanings of confiteor and the kindred words. [138] Luke xvii. 10. [139] Matt. viii. 8. [140] 1 Cor. xv. 9. [141] Mark i. 7; Luke iii. 16; John i. 27, iii. 29. [142] Alluding to Matthew iii. 14, 15; and to the custom of the ancient Church of adding imposition of hands for the gift of the strengthening Spirit immediately on baptism, if the bishop were present. See Bingham, xii. 1, 1, and the writers quoted by him, especially Tertullian, de Bapt. 7. "As soon as we are come out of the water, we are anointed with the consecrated oil" Then we receive imposition of hands, summoning and inviting the Holy Spirit in the way of solemn benediction." [Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. iii. p. 672. The second sentence is the beginning of chap. 8 in Tertullian's treatise.'R.] [143] Luke v. 8. [144] [philosopha.] [145] [psuchn.] [146] [t philosophia.] [147] epembanonta ato t kair. [148] 2 Sam. xvi. 10. [149] [The words "of God" are supplied by the translator.'R.] [150] Or, "Carry back the ark of God into the city, and put it in its place: if I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord," &c. Benedict. and Savil. 2 Sam. xv. 25, 26. [151] epiekean. [152] Acts. xiii. 22; 1 Sam. xiii. 14. [153] Matt. xi. 29. .


Homily IV.

Matt. I. 17.

"So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations."

He hath divided all the generations into three portions, to indicate that not even when their form of government was changed did they become better, but alike under an aristocracy, and under a king, and under an oligarchy, they were in the same evil ways, and whether popular leaders, or priests, or kings controlled them, it was no advantage to them in the way of virtue.

But wherefore hath he in the middle portion passed over three kings, and in the last, having set down twelve generations, affirmed them to be fourteen? The former question I leave for you to examine; [154] for neither is it needful for me to explain all things to you, lest ye should grow indolent: but the second we will explain. [155] To me then he seems in this place to be putting in the place of a generation, both the time of the captivity, and Christ Himself, by every means connecting Him with us. And full well doth he put us in mind of that captivity, making it manifest that not even when they went down thither, did they become more sober-minded; in order that from everything His coming may be shown to be necessary.

"Why then," one may say, "doth not Mark do this, nor trace Christ's genealogy, but utter everything briefly?" It seems to me that Matthew was before the rest in entering on the subject (wherefore he both sets down the genealogy with exactness, and stops at those things which require it): but that Mark came after him, which is why he took a short course, as putting his hand to what had been already spoken and made manifest. [156]

How is it then that Luke not only traces the genealogy, but doth it through a greater number? As was natural, Matthew having led the way, he seeks to teach us somewhat in addition to former statements. And each too in like manner imitated his master; the one Paul, who flows fuller than any river; the other Peter, who studies brevity.

2. And what may be the reason that Matthew said not at the beginning, in the same way as the prophet, "the vision which I saw," and "the word which came unto me"? Because he was writing unto men well disposed, and exceedingly attentive to him. For both the miracles that were done cried aloud, and they who received the word were exceeding faithful. But in the case of the prophets, there were neither so many miracles to proclaim them; and besides, the tribe of the false prophets, no small one, was riotously breaking in upon them: to whom the people of the Jews gave even more heed. This kind of opening therefore was necessary in their case.

And if ever miracles were done, they were done for the aliens' sake, to increase the number of the proselytes; and for manifestation of God's power, if haply their enemies having taken them captives, fancied they prevailed, because their own gods were mighty: like as in Egypt, out of which no small "mixed multitude" [157] went up; and, after that, in Babylon, what befell touching the furnace and the dreams. And miracles were wrought also, when they were by themselves in the wilderness; as also in our case: for among us too, when we had just come out of error, many wonderful works were shown forth; but afterwards they stayed, when in all countries true religion had taken root.

And what took place at a later period [158] were few and at intervals; for example, when the sun stood still in its course, and started back in the opposite direction. And this one may see to have occurred in our case also. For so even in our generation, in the instance of him who surpassed all in ungodliness, I mean Julian, many strange things happened. Thus when the Jews were attempting to raise up again the temple at Jerusalem, fire burst out from the foundations, and utterly hindered them all; and when both his treasurer, [159] and his uncle and namesake, made the sacred vessels the subject of their open insolence, the one was "eaten with worms, and gave up the ghost," [160] the other "burst asunder in the midst." Moreover, the fountains failing, [161] when sacrifices were made there, and the entrance of the famine into the cities together with the emperor himself, was a very great sign. For it is usual with God to do such things; when evils are multiplied, and He sees His own people afflicted, and their adversaries greatly intoxicated with their dominion over them, then to display His own power; which he did also in Persia with respect to the Jews.

3. Wherefore, that he was not acting without an object, or by chance, when he distributed Christ's forefathers into three portions, is plain from what hath been said. And mark, too, whence he begins, and where he ends. From Abraham to David; from David to the captivity of Babylon; from this unto Christ Himself. For both at the beginning he put the two in close succession, David and Abraham, and also in summing up he mentions both in the same way. And this, because, as I have already said, it was to them that the promises were made.

But why can it be, that as he mentioned the captivity of Babylon, he did not mention also the descent into Egypt? Because they had ceased to be any longer afraid of the Egyptians, but the Babylonians they dreaded still. And the one thing was ancient, but the other fresh, and had taken place of late. And to the one they were carried down for no sins, but to the other, transgressions were the cause of their being removed.

And also with regard to the very names, if any one were to attempt to translate their etymologies, even thence would he derive great matter of divine speculation, [162] and such as is of great importance with regard to the New Testament: as, for instance, from Abraham's name, from Jacob's, from Solomon's, from Zorobabel's. For it was not without purpose that these names were given them. But lest we should seem to be wearisome by running out a great length, let us pass these things by, and proceed to what is urgent.

4. Having then mentioned all His forefathers, and ending with Joseph, he did not stop at this, but added, "Joseph the husband of Mary;" intimating that it was for her sake he traced his genealogy also. Then, lest when thou hast heard of the "husband of Mary," thou shouldest suppose that Christ was born after the common law of nature, mark, how he sets it right by that which follows. "Thou hast heard," saith he, "of an husband, thou hast heard of a mother, thou hast heard a name assigned to the child, therefore hear the manner too of the birth." "The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise." [163] "Of what kind of birth art thou telling me, I pray thee, since thou hast already mentioned His ancestors?" "I still wish to tell thee the manner also of His birth." Seest thou, how he wakens up the hearer? For as though he were about to speak of something unusual, [164] he promises to tell also the manner thereof.

And observe a most admirable order in the things he hath mentioned. For he did not proceed directly to the birth, but puts us in mind first, how many generations he was from Abraham, how many from David, and from the captivity of Babylon; and thus he sets the careful hearer upon considering the times, to show that this is the Christ who was preached by the prophets. For when thou hast numbered the generations, and hast learnt by the time that this is He, thou wilt readily receive likewise the miracle which took place in His birth. Thus, being about to tell of a certain great thing, His birth of a virgin, he first shadows over the statement, until he hath numbered the generations, by speaking of "an husband of Mary;" or rather he doth even put in short space [165] the narration of the birth itself, and then proceeds to number also the years, reminding the hearer, that this is He, of whom the patriarch Jacob had said, He should then at length come, when the Jewish rulers had come to an end; of whom the prophet Daniel had proclaimed beforehand, that He should come after those many weeks. And if any one, counting the years spoken of to Daniel by the angel in a number of weeks, would trace down the time from the building of the city to His birth, by reckoning he will perceive the one to agree with the other. [166]

5. How then was He born, I pray thee? "When as His mother Mary was espoused:" [167] He saith not "virgin," but merely "mother;" so that his account is easy to be received. And so having beforehand prepared the hearer to look for some ordinary piece of information, and by this laying hold of him, after all he amazes him by adding the marvellous fact, saying, "Before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." He saith not, "before she was brought to the bridegroom's house;" for indeed she was therein. It being the way of the ancients for the most part to keep their espoused wives in their house: [168] in those parts, at least, where one may see the same practised even now. Thus also Lot's sons-in-law were in his house with him. Mary then herself likewise was in the house with Joseph.

And wherefore did she not conceive before her espousal? It was, as I said at first, that what had been done might be concealed awhile, and that the Virgin might escape every evil suspicion. For when he, who had most right of all to feel jealousy, so far from making her a show, or degrading her, is found even receiving and cherishing her after her conception; it was quite clear that, unless he had fully persuaded himself that what was done was of the operation of the Holy Spirit, he would not have kept her with him, and ministered to her in all other things. And most properly hath he said, that "she was 'found' with child," the sort of expression that is wont to be used with respect to things strange, and such as happen beyond all expectation, and are unlooked for.

Proceed therefore no further, neither require anything more than what hath been said; neither say thou, "But how was it that the Spirit wrought this of a virgin?" For if, when nature is at work, it is impossible to explain the manner of the formation; how, when the Spirit is working miracles, shall we be able to express these? And lest thou shouldest weary the evangelist, or disturb him by continually asking these things, he hath said who it was that wrought the miracle, and so withdrawn himself. "For I know," saith he, "nothing more, but that what was done was the work of the Holy Ghost."

6. Shame on them who busy themselves touching the generation on high. For if this birth, which hath witnesses without number, and had been proclaimed so long a time before, and was manifested and handled with hands, can by no man be explained; of what excess of madness do they come short who make themselves busy and curious touching that unutterable generation? For neither Gabriel nor Matthew was able to say anything more, but only that it was of the Spirit; but how, of the Spirit, or in what manner, neither of them hath explained; for neither was it possible.

Nor think that thou hast learnt all, by hearing "of the Spirit;" nay, for we are ignorant of many things, even when we have learnt this; as, for instance, how the Infinite is in a womb, how He that contains all things is carried, as unborn, by a woman; how the Virgin bears, and continues a virgin. How, I pray thee, did the Spirit frame that Temple? how did He take not all the flesh from the womb, but a part thereof, and increased it, and fashioned it? For that He did come forth of the Virgin's flesh, He hath declared by speaking of "that which was conceived in her;" [169] and Paul, by saying, "made of a woman;" whereby he stops the mouths of them [170] that say, Christ came among us as through some conduit. For, if this were so, what need of the womb? If this were so, He hath nothing in common with us, but that flesh is of some other kind, and not of the mass which belongs to us. How then was He of the root of Jesse? How was He a rod? how Son of man? how was Mary His mother? how was He of David's seed? how did he "take the form of a servant?" [171] how "was the Word made flesh?" [172] and how saith Paul to the Romans, "Of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is God over all?" [173] Therefore that He was of us, and of our substance, [174] and of the Virgin's womb, is manifest from these things, and from others beside; but how, is not also manifest. Do not either thou then inquire; but receive what is revealed, and be not curious about what is kept secret.

7. "And Joseph her husband, being," saith he "a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily." [175]

Having said that it was of the Holy Ghost, and without cohabitation, he establishes his statement in another way again. [176] Lest any one should say, "Whence doth this appear? Who hath heard, who hath seen any such thing ever come to pass?"'or lest you should suspect the disciple as inventing these things to favor his Master;'he introduces Joseph as contributing, by what he underwent, to the proof of the things mentioned; and by his narrative all but says, "If thou doubt me, and if thou suspect my testimony, believe her husband." For "Joseph," saith he, "her husband, being a just man." By "a just man" in this place he means him that is virtuous in all things. For both freedom from covetousness is justice, and universal virtue is also justice; [177] and it is mostly in this latter sense that the Scripture uses the name of justice; as when it saith, "a man that was just and true;" [178] and again, "they were both just." [179] Being then "just," that is good and considerate, "he was minded to put her away privily." For this intent he tells what took place before Joseph's being fully informed, that thou mightest not mistrust what was done after he knew. However, such a one was not liable to be made a public example only, but that she should also be punished was the command of the law. Whereas Joseph remitted not only that greater punishment, but the less likewise, namely, the disgrace. For so far from punishing, he was not minded even to make an example of her. Seest thou a man under self-restraint, and freed from the most tyrannical of passions. For ye know how great a thing jealousy is: and therefore He said, to whom these things are clearly known, "For full of jealousy is the rage of a husband;" [180] "he will not spare in the day of vengeance:" and "jealousy is cruel as the grave." [181] And we too know of many that have chosen to give up their lives rather than fall under the suspicion of jealousy. But in this case it was not so little as suspicion, the burden of the womb entirely convicting her. But nevertheless he was so free from passion as to be unwilling to grieve the Virgin even in the least matters. Thus, whereas to keep her in his house seemed like a transgression of the law, but to expose and bring her to trial would constrain him to deliver her to die; he doth none of these things, but conducts himself now by a higher rule than the law. For grace being come, there must needs henceforth be many tokens of that exalted citizenship. For as the sun, though as yet he show not his beams, doth from afar by his light illumine more than half [182] the world; so likewise Christ, when about to rise from that womb, even before He came forth, shone over all the world. Wherefore, even before her travail, prophets danced for joy, and women foretold what was to come, and John, when he had not yet come forth from the belly, leaped from the very womb. Hence also this man exhibited great self-command, in that he neither accused nor upbraided, but only set about putting her away.

8. The matter then being in this state, and all at their wits' end, [183] the angel comes to solve all their difficulties. But it is worth inquiring, why the angel did not speak sooner, before the husband had such thoughts: but, "when he thought on it," not until then, he came; for it is said, "While he thought on these things, the angel" comes. And yet to her he declares the good tidings even before she conceived. And this again contains another difficulty; for even though the angel had not spoken, wherefore was the Virgin silent, who had been informed by the angel; and why, when she saw her betrothed husband in trouble, did she not put an end to his perplexity?

Wherefore then did not the angel speak before Joseph became troubled. For we must needs explain the former difficulty first. For what reason then did he not speak? Lest Joseph should be unbelieving, and the same happen to him as to Zacharias. For when the thing was visible, belief was thenceforth easy; but when it had not yet a beginning, it was not equally easy to receive his saying. For this reason the angel spake not at the first, and through the same cause the Virgin too held her peace. For she did not think to obtain credit with her betrothed husband, in declaring to him a thing unheard of, but rather that she should provoke him the more, as though she were cloking a sin that had been committed. Since if she herself, who was to receive so great a favor, is affected somewhat after the manner of man, and saith, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" [184] much more would he have doubted; and especially when hearing it from the woman who was under suspicion. Wherefore the Virgin saith nothing to him, but the angel, the time demanding it, presents himself to him.

9. Why then, it may be asked, did he not so in the Virgin's case also, and declare the good tidings to her after the conception? Lest she should be in agitation and great trouble. For it were likely that she, not knowing the certainty, might have even devised something amiss touching herself, and have gone on to strangle or to stab herself, not enduring the disgrace. For wondrous indeed was that Virgin, and Luke points out her excellency, saying, that when she heard the salutation, she did not straightway pour herself out, [185] neither did she accept the saying, but "was troubled," seeking "what manner of salutation this might be." [186] Now she who was of such perfect delicacy would even have been distracted with dismay at the thought of her shame, not expecting, by whatever she might say, to convince any one who should hear of it, but that what had happened was adultery. Therefore to prevent these things, the angel came before the conception. Besides that, it was meet that womb should be free from trouble which the Maker of all things entered; and the soul rid of all perturbation, which was thought worthy to become the minister of such mysteries. For these reasons He speaks to the Virgin before the conception, but to Joseph at the time of travail.

And this many of the simpler sort, not understanding, have said there is a discordance; because Luke saith it was Mary to whom he declared the good tidings, but Matthew, that it was Joseph; not knowing that both took place. And this sort of thing it is necessary to bear in mind throughout the whole history; for in this way we shall solve many seeming discordances.

10. The angel then comes, when Joseph is troubled. For in addition to the causes mentioned, with a view also to the manifestation of his self-command, he defers his coming. But when the thing was on the point of taking place, then at last he presents himself. "While he thought on these things, an angel appeareth to Joseph in a dream." [187]

Seest thou the mildness of the husband? So far from punishing, he did not even declare it to any one, no not even to her whom he suspected, but was thinking it over with himself, as aiming to conceal the cause even from the Virgin herself. For neither is it said that he was minded to "cast her out," but to "put her away," so very mild and gentle was the man. "But while he is thinking on these things, the angel appeareth in a dream."

And why not openly, as to the shepherds, and to Zacharias, and to the Virgin? The man was exceedingly full of faith, and needed not this vision. Whereas the Virgin, as having declared to her very exceeding good tidings, greater than to Zacharias, and this before the event, needed also a marvellous vision; and the shepherds, as being by disposition rather dull and clownish. [188] But this man, after the conception, [189] and wide the interval between the two men; wherefore neither was there need of rebuke.

But by saying, "fear not," he signifies him to have been afraid, lest he should give offense to God, as retaining an adulteress; since, if it had not been for this, he would not have even thought of casting her out. In all ways then he points out that the angel came from God, bringing forward and setting before him all, both what he thought to do, and what he felt in his mind.

Now having mentioned her name, he stayed not at this, but added also, "thy wife;" whereas he would not have called her so, if she had been corrupted. And here he calls her that is espoused "a wife;" as indeed the Scripture is wont to call betrothed husbands sons-in-law even before marriage.

But what means, "to take unto thee?" To retain her in his house, for in intention she had been now put away by him. "Her, being put away, do thou retain," saith he, "as committed unto thee by God, not by her parents. And He commits her not for marriage; but to dwell with thee; and by my voice doth He commit her." Much as Christ Himself afterwards committed her to His disciple, so even now unto Joseph.

12. Then having obscurely signified the matter in hand, he mentioned not the evil suspicion; but, in a manner more reverent and seemly, by telling the cause of travail he removed this also; implying that the very thing which had made him afraid, and for which he would have cast her out,'this very thing, I say, was a just cause why he should take her and retain her in his house. Thus more than entirely [190] doing away with his distress. "For she is not only free," saith he, "from unlawful intercourse, but even above all nature is her conception. Not only therefore put away thy fear, but even rejoice more exceedingly, 'for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.'"

A strange thing it was which he spake of, surpassing man's reason, and above all the laws of nature. How then is he to believe, to whom such tidings are altogether new? "By the things that are past," saith he, "by the revelations." For with this intent he laid open all things that were in his mind, what he felt, what he feared, what he was resolved to do;'that by these he might assure himself of this point.

Or rather, not by things past only, but like wise by things to come, he wins him over. "And she shall bring forth," saith he, "a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus." [191] "For do not thou, because He is of the Holy Ghost, imagine that thou art an alien to the ministry of this dispensation. Since although in the birth thou hast no part, but the Virgin abode untouched, nevertheless, what pertains to a father, not injuring the honor of virginity, that do I give thee, to set a Name on that which is born: for "thou shalt call Him." For though the offspring be not thine, yet shalt thou exhibit a father's care towards Him. Wherefore I do straightway, even from the giving of the name, connect thee with Him that is born."

Then lest on the other hand any one should from this suspect him to be the father, hear what follows, with what exact care he states it. "She shall bring forth," he saith, "a Son:" he doth not say, "bring forth to thee," but merely "she shall bring forth," putting it indefinitely: [192] since not to him did she bring forth, but to the whole world.

13. For this cause too the angel came bringing His name from Heaven, hereby again intimating that this is a wondrous birth: it being God Himself who sends the name from above by the angel to Joseph. For neither was this without an object, but a treasure of ten thousand blessings. Wherefore the angel also interprets it, and suggests good hopes, in this way again leading him to belief. For to these things we are wont to be more inclined, and therefore are also fonder of believing them.

So having established his faith by all, by the past things, by the future, by the present, by the honor given to himself, he brings in the prophet also in good time, to give his suffrage in support of all these. But before introducing him, he proclaims beforehand the good things which were to befall the world through Him. And what are these? Sins removed and done away. [193] "For He shall save His people from their sins."

Here again the thing is signified to be beyond all expectation. For not from visible wars, neither from barbarians, but what was far greater than these, from sins, he declares the glad tidings of deliverance; a work which had never been possible to any one before.

But wherefore, one may ask, did he say, "His people," and not add the Gentiles also? That he might not startle the hearer yet a while. For to him that listens with understanding he darkly signified the Gentiles too. For "His people" are not the Jews only, but also all that draw nigh and receive the knowledge that is from Him.

And mark how he hath by the way discovered to us also His dignity, by calling the Jewish nation "His people." For this is the word of one implying nought else, but that He who is born is God's child, and that the King of those on high is the subject of his discourse. As neither doth forgiving sins belong to any other power, but only to that single essence.

14. Forasmuch then as we have partaken of so great a gift, let us do everything not to dishonor such a benefit. For if even before this honor, what was done was worthy of punishment, much more now, after this unspeakable benefit. And this I say not now for no cause, [194] but because I see many after their baptism living more carelessly than the uninitiated, and having nothing peculiar to distinguish them in their way of life. It is, you see, for this cause, that neither in the market nor in the Church is it possible to know quickly who is a believer and who an unbeliever; unless one be present at the time of the mysteries, and see the one sort put out, the others remaining within. Whereas they ought to be distinguished not by their place, but by their way of life. For as men's outward [195] dignities are naturally to be discovered by the outward signs with which they are invested, so ours ought to be discernible by the soul. That is, the believer ought to be manifest not by the gift only, but also by the new life. The believer ought to be the light and salt of the world. But when thou dost not give light even to thyself, neither bind up thine own gangrene, what remains, whereby we are to know thee? Because thou hast entered the holy waters? Nay, this to thee becomes a store [196] of punishment. For greatness of honor is, to them who do not choose to live worthy of the honor, an increase of vengeance. Yea, the believer ought to shine forth not only by what he hath received from God, but also by what he himself hath contributed; and should be discernible by everything, by his gait, by his look, by his garb, by his voice. And this I have said, not that display, but that the profit of beholders, may be the rule by which we frame ourselves.

15. But now, what things soever I might seek to recognize thee by, I find thee in all points distinguished by the contraries of the same. For whether by thy place I would fain discern thee, I see thee spending thy day in horse races, and theatres, and scenes of lawlessness, in the wicked assemblies in the market places, and in companies of depraved men; or by the fashion of thy countenance, I see thee continually laughing to excess, and dissolute as a grinning [197] and abandoned harlot; or by thy clothes, I see thee in no better trim than the people on the stage; or by thy followers, thou art leading about parasites and flatterers; or by thy words, I hear thee say nothing wholesome, nothing necessary, nothing of moment to our life; or by thy table, yet heavier from thence will the charge against thee appear.

By what then, tell me, am I to recognize the believer [198] in thee, while all the things I have mentioned give the contrary sentence? And why do I say, the believer? since I can not clearly make out whether thou art a man. For when thou art like an ass, kicking, and like a bull, wantoning, and like a horse neighing after women; when thou dost play the glutton like the bear, and pamper thy flesh as the mule, and bear malice like the camel; [199] also?

Further, if I were bidding thee make another man gentle, not even so ought I to seem as one enjoining impossible things; however, thou mightest then object that thou hast not the control of another's disposition, and that it doth not altogether rest with thee. But now it is thine own wild beast, and a thing which absolutely depends on thee. What plea then hast thou? or what fair excuse wilt thou be able to put forth, turning as thou art a lion into a man, and regardless that thou thyself art of a man becoming a lion; upon the beast bestowing what is above nature, but for thyself not even preserving what is natural? Yea, while the wild beasts are by thine earnest endeavors advanced into our noble estate, thou art by thyself cast down from the throne of the kingdom, and thrust out into their madness. Thus, imagine, if thou wilt, thy wrath to be a kind of wild beast, and as much zeal as others have displayed about lions, so much do thou in regard of thyself, and cause that way of taking things [200] to become gentle and meek. Because this too hath grievous teeth and talons, and if thou tame it not, it will lay waste all things. For not even lion nor serpent hath such power to rend the vitals as wrath, with its iron talons continually doing so. Since it mars, we see, not the body only, but the very health likewise of the soul is corrupted by it, devouring, rending, tearing to pieces all its strength, and making it useless for everything. For if a man nourishing worms in his entrails, shall not be able so much as to breathe, his inward parts all wasting away; how shall we, having so large a serpent eating up all within us (it is wrath I mean), how, I say, shall we be able to produce anything noble?

17. How then are we to be freed from this pest? If we can drink a potion that is able to kill the worms within us and the serpents. "And of what nature," it will be asked, "may this potion be, that hath such power?" The precious Blood of Christ, if it be received with full assurance, [201] (for this will have power to extinguish every disease); and together with this the divine Scriptures carefully heard, and almsgiving added to our hearing; for by means of all these things we shall be enabled to mortify the affections that mar our soul. And then only shall we live; for now surely we are in no better state than the dead: forasmuch as it cannot be, that while those passions live, we should live too, but we must necessarily perish. And unless we first kill them here, they will be sure to kill us in the other life; or rather before that death they will exact of us, even here, the utmost penalty. Yes, for every such passion is both cruel and tyrannical and insatiable, and never ceases to devour us every day. For "their teeth are the teeth of a lion," [202] or rather even far more fierce. For the lion, as soon as ever he is satisfied, is wont to leave the carcass that hath fallen in his way; but these passions neither are satisfied, nor do they leave the man whom they have seized, until they have set him nigh the devil. For so great is their power, that the very service which Paul showed forth to Christ, [203] despising both hell and the kingdom for His sake, even this same do they require of them whom they have seized. For whether it be with the love of women, or of riches, or of glory, that any one is entangled, he laughs at hell thenceforth, and despises the kingdom, that he may work the will of these. Let us not then doubt Paul when he saith that he so loved Christ. For when some are found so doing service to their passions, how should that other afterwards seem incredible? Yea, and this is the reason why our longing for Christ is feebler, because all our strength is consumed on this love, and we rob, and defraud, and are slaves to vainglory; than which what can be more worthless?

For though thou shouldest become infinitely conspicuous, thou wilt be nothing better than the base: rather for this selfsame cause thou wilt even be baser. For when they who are willing to give thee glory, and make thee illustrious, do for this very cause ridicule thee, that thou desirest the glory which comes of them, how can such instances fail to turn the contrary way in regard of thee. For indeed this thing is among those which attract censure. So that even as in the case of one desiring to commit adultery or fornication, should any one praise or flatter him, by this very act he becomes an accuser rather than a commender of the person indulging such desires: so with regard to him who is desirous of glory; when we all praise, it is accusation rather than praise which we bestow on those who wish to be made glorious.

18. Why then bring upon thyself that, from which the very opposite is wont to befall thee. Yea, if thou wilt be glorified, despise glory; so shalt thou be more illustrious than any. Why feel as Nebuchadnezzar felt? For he too set up an image, thinking from wood and from a senseless figure to procure to himself an increase of fame, and the living would fain appear more glorious by the help of that which hath no life. Seest thou the excess of his madness; how, thinking to do honor, he rather offered insult, to himself? For when it appears that he is relying rather on the lifeless thing, than on himself and the soul that lives in him, and when for this cause he advances the stock unto such high precedence, how can he be other than ridiculous, endeavoring as he doth to adorn himself, not by his way of living, but by planks of wood? Just as if a man should think proper to give himself airs, because of the pavement of his house, and his beautiful staircase rather than because he is a man. Him do many too amongst us imitate now. For as he for his image, so some men claim to be admired for their clothes, others for their house; or for their mules and chariots, and for the columns in their house. For inasmuch as they have lost their being as men, they go about gathering to themselves from other quarters such glory as is full of exceeding ridicule.

But as to the noble and great servants of God, not by these means, but by such as best became them, even by such did they shine forth. For captives as they were, and slaves, and youths, and strangers, and stripped of all resources of their own, they proved at that time far more awful than he who was invested with all these things. And while Nebuchadnezzar found neither so great an image, nor satraps, nor captains of the host, nor endless legions, nor abundance of gold, nor other pomp, enough to meet his desire, and to show him great; to these, on the other hand, stripped of all this, their high self-restraint alone was sufficient, and showed him that wore the diadem and the purple, as much inferior in glory to those who had no such thing, as the sun is more glorious than a pearl. [204] For they were led forth in the midst of the whole world, being at once youths, and captives, and slaves, and straightway on their appearance the king darted fire from his eyes, and captains, and deputies, and governors, and the whole amphitheatre of the devil, stood around; and a voice of pipes from all sides, and of trumpets, and of all music, borne up to Heaven, was sounding in their ears, and the furnace burned up to a boundless height, and the flame reached the very clouds, and all was full of terror and dismay. But none of these things dismayed them, but they laughed it all to scorn, as they would children mocking them, and exhibited their courage and meekness, and uttering a voice clearer than those trumpets, they said, "Be it known unto thee, O king." [205] For they did not wish to affront the king, no not so much as by a word, but to declare their religion [206] only. For which cause, neither did they extend their speech to any great length, but set forth all briefly; "For there is," say they, "a God in Heaven, who is able to deliver us," [207] "why showest thou me the multitude? why the furnace? why the sharpened swords? why the terrible guards? our Lord is higher and more mighty than all these."

Then when they considered that it was possible that God might be willing even to permit them to be burnt; lest, if this should come to pass, they might seem to be speaking falsehoods; they add this also and say, "If this happen not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we serve not thy gods." [208] For had they said, "Sins are the cause of His not delivering us, should He fail to deliver," they would not have been believed. Wherefore in this place they are silent on that subject, though they speak of it in the furnace, again and again alleging their sins. But before the king they say no such thing; only, that though they were to be burnt, they would not give up their religion.

For it was not for rewards and recompenses that they did what they did, but out of love alone; and yet they were in captivity too, and in slavery, and had enjoyed no good thing. Yea, they had lost their country, and their freedom, and all their possessions. For tell me not of their honors in the king's courts, for holy and righteous as they were, they would have chosen ten thousand times rather to have been beggars at home, and to have been partakers of the blessings in the temple. "For I had rather," it is said, "be an outcast [209] in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of sinners." And "one day in thy courts is better than thousands." [210] They would have chosen then ten thousand times rather to be outcasts at home, than kings in Babylon. And this is manifest, from what they declare even in the furnace, grieving at their continuance in that country. For although themselves enjoyed great honors, yet seeing the calamities of the rest they were exceedingly vexed; and this kind of thing is most especially characteristic of saints, that no glory, nor honor, nor anything else should be more precious to them than their neighbor's welfare. See, for example, how even when they were in a furnace, they made their supplication for all the people. But we not even when at large bear our brethren in mind. And again, when they were inquiring about the dreams, [211] they were looking "not to their own but the common good," [212] for that they despised death they showed by many things afterwards. But everywhere they put themselves forward, as wishing to prevail [213] with God by importunity. Next, as not accounting themselves either to be sufficient, they flee to the Fathers; but of themselves they said that they offer nothing more than "a contrite spirit." [214]

19. These men then let us also imitate. Because now too there is set up a golden image, even the tyranny of Mammon. But let us not give heed to the timbrels, nor to the flutes, nor to the harps, nor to the rest of the pomp of riches; yea, though we must needs fall into a furnace of poverty, let us choose it, rather than worship that idol, and there will be "in the midst a moist whistling wind." [215] Let us not then shudder at hearing of "a furnace of poverty." For so too at that time they that fell into the furnace were shewn the more glorious, but they that worshipped were destroyed. Only then all took place at once, but in this case some part will be accomplished here, some there, some both here and in the day that is to come. For they that have chosen poverty, in order that they might not worship mammon, will be more glorious both here and then, but they that have been rich unjustly here, shall then pay the utmost penalty.

From this furnace Lazarus too went forth, not less glorious than those children; but the rich man who was in the place of them that worshipped the image, was condemned to hell. [216] For indeed what we have now mentioned was a type of this. Wherefore as in this instance they who fell into the furnace suffered no hurt, but they who sat without were laid hold of with great fierceness, so likewise shall it be then. The saints walking through the river of fire shall suffer no pain, nay they will even appear joyous; but they that have worshipped the image, shall see the fire rest upon them fiercer than any wild beast, and draw them in. So that if any one disbelieves hell, when he sees this furnace, let him from the things present believe things to come, and fear not the furnace of poverty, but the furnace of sin. For this is flame and torment, but that, dew [217] and refreshment; and by this stands the devil, by that, angels wafting aside the flame.

20. These things let them hear that are rich, that are kindling the furnace of poverty. For though they shall not hurt those others, "the dew" [218] coming to their aid; yet themselves they will render an easy prey to the flame, which they have kindled with their own hands.

Then, an angel went down with those children; now, let us go down with [219] them that are in the furnace of poverty, and by alms-deeds let us make a "dewy air," [220] and waft the flame quite aside, that we may be partakers of their crowns also; that the flames of hell may likewise be scattered by the voice of Christ saying, "Ye saw me an hungered, and fed me." [221] For that voice shall then be with us instead of a "moist wind whistling" [222] through the midst of the flame. Let us then go down with alms-giving, unto the furnace of poverty; let us behold them that in self-restraint walk therein, and trample on the burning coals; let us behold the marvel, strange and beyond thought, a man singing praise in a furnace, a man giving thanks in fire, chained unto extreme poverty, yet offering much praise to Christ. Since they, who bear poverty with thankfulness, really become equal to those children. For no flame is so terrible as poverty, nor so apt to set us on fire. But those children were not set on fire; rather, on their giving thanks to the Lord, their bonds too were at once loosed. So likewise now, if when thou hast fallen into poverty, thou art thankful, both the bonds are loosened, and the flame extinguished; or though it be not extinguished (what is much more marvellous), it becomes a fountain instead of a flame: which then likewise came to pass, and in the midst of a furnace they enjoyed a pure dew. For the fire indeed it quenched not, but the burning of those cast in it altogether hindered. This one may see in their case also who live by the rules of wisdom, [223] for they, even in poverty, feel more secure than the rich.

Let us not therefore sit down without the furnace, feeling no pity towards the poor; lest the same befall us as then befell those executioners. For if thou shouldest go down to them, and take thy stand with the children, the fire will no longer work thee any harm; but if thou shouldest sit above and neglect them in the flame of their poverty, the flame will burn thee up. Go down therefore into the fire, that thou mayest not be burnt up by the fire; sit not down without the fire, lest the flame catch hold of thee. For if it should find thee amongst the poor, it will depart from thee; but if alienated from them, it will run upon thee quickly, and catch thee. Do not therefore stand off from them that are cast in, but when the devil gives command to cast them that have not worshipped gold into the furnace of poverty, be not thou of them that cast others in, but of them that are cast in; that thou mayest be of the number of the saved, and not of the burned. For indeed it is a most effectual dew, to be held in no subjection by desire of wealth, to be associate with poor persons. These are wealthier than all, who have trampled under foot the desire of riches. Forasmuch as those children too, by despising the king at that time, became more glorious than the king. And thou therefore, if thou despise the things of the world, shalt become more honorable than all the world; like those holy men, "of whom the world was not worthy." [224]

In order then to become worthy of the things in Heaven, I bid thee laugh to scorn things present. For in this way thou shalt both be more glorious here, and enjoy the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom be glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[154] See St. Jerome in loc. [155] [St. Augustin's Harmony of the Gospels, ii. 4; Nicene Fathers, vol. vi. pp. 105, 106, where the sum of the names (forty) is given a symbolical significance.'R.] [156] [But see Homily I. 5, 6, where the independence of the evangelists is emphasized.'R.] [157] Exod. xii. 38; Jer. l. 37. [158] [E d ka met tata ngonen.] [159] "The tyrant commanded the sacred vessels to be delivered up to the imperial treasury. "Into the Temple of God then," at Antioch, "there entered, along with Julian the Prefect of the East, Felix the Steward of the Imperial Treasures" And they say that Julian grievously insulted the sacred table, and when Euzoius" (the Arian bishop) "endeavored to prevent him, he gave him a blow on the temple" Julian, however, presently fell into a grievous disease, and had his bowels wasted with a kind of mortification and so came to an end of his life. Felix also for his part being afflicted with a scourge from God, had to vomit blood night and day from his mouth "until he also wasted away." Theodoret. E H. iii. 8, 9, ed. Schulze. See also Sozom. E. H. v. 8. St. Chrys. Orat. in Babylam. t. v. p. 246, sub fin. where he says that Felix "burst asunder." [160] Acts xii. 23, i. 18. [161] He mentions this miracle too with the former ones, Hom. in Ps. cx. t. 1, 738; and in his first Hom. on St. Paul, t. 8, 44. "The fountains among us, whose current is stronger than the rivers, shrank suddenly and started back (a thing which never had occurred to them before), upon the Emperor's attempting to defile the place with sacrifices and libations." [162] theōran: the allegorical or mystical sense. See Suicer on the word; and St. Just. Mart. Cohort. ad Græc. p. 29. A. Ed. Morell. See also in the Catena Aurea, from St. Jerome, the interpretation of the names in our Lord's genealogy. [163] Matt. i. 18. [164] [kainteron.] [165] sntemnei. [166] See the different opinions of the Fathers on these dates, in St. Jerome on Daniel ix. [167] Matt. i. 18. [168] Gen. xix. 8, 14. [169] Gal. iv. 4. [170] i.e., the Valentinians and some other Gnostics. Theodoret, Ep. 145. "Valentinus, and Basilides, and Bardesanes, and Harmonius, and those of their company, allow indeed the Virgin's conception and the birth, but affirm that God the Word took nothing of the Virgin, but in a manner made Himself a passage through her as through a conduit, and that in manifesting Himself to men He was employing a mere phantom, and only seeming to be a man; as He appeared to Abraham and certain other of the ancients." S. Epiph. Hær. xxxi. 7. "They affirm that He brought down His body from Heaven, and that as water through a conduit, so He passed through the Virgin Mary taking nothing of His mother's womb, but having His body from Heaven, as I said before." Comp. Massuet's 1st Dissert. prefixed to the Benedictine Irenæus, sec. 73. [Comp. the recovered work of Hippolytus (unknown when the Oxford translation was made), Refutation of all Heresies, Book VI., VII., Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V. pp. 81 et sqq.'R.] [171] Phil. ii. 7. [172] John i. 14. [173] Rom. ix. 5. [174] phurmato. [175] Matt. i. 19. [176] [The punctuation of the translation has here been conformed to that of the Greek text.'R.] [177] See Arist. Eth. Nicom. v. 1, 2. [178] Job i. 1. [179] Luke i. 6. [180] Prov. vi. 34. [181] Cant. viii. 6. [182] [t pleon.] [183] [pntōn n mēchan kathesttōn.] [184] Luke i. 34. [185] [That is, did not give way to her feeling, with loud cry, whether of joy or grief.'R.] [186] Luke i. 29. [187] Matt. i. 20. [188] [agroikikteron, "more boorish."'R.] [189] tn tkonoikonomoumena. [190] ek periousa, "superabundantly."'R.] [191] Matt. i. 21. [192] metōron. [193] [More literally, "Removal and destruction of sins."'R.] [194] [och pl, here in the sense, "not generally, not at random."'R.] [195] exōthen. 1 Cor. v. 13. [196] ephdion. [197] sesēruan. [198] [pistn. The translator sometimes, as in this instance, rendered the word "Christian." For the sake of uniformity, "believer" has been substituted several times in this paragraph.'R.] [199] The Hebrew name proairseō, deliberate choice.'R.] [200] tn toioton logismn. [201] paēsa. ["Boldness" or "confidence" would better express the meaning.'R.] [202] Joel i. 6. [203] Rom. viii. 38. [204] margarou. [205] Dan. iii. 18. [206] [esbeian.] [207] Dan. iii. 17. [208] Dan. iii. 18. [209] paraiptesthai, i.e., be a worshipper outside the courts. Our marginal translation is, "I would choose rather to sit at the threshold." [The R.V. margin is, "I had rather stand at the threshold."'R.] [210] Ps. lxxxiv. 10, LXX. [211] Dan. ii. 17, 18. [212] Phil. ii. 4; 1 Cor. x. 33. [213] dusōpsai. [214] Song of the Three Children, v. 16. [215] Song of the Three Children, v. 26. [The Greek phrase, drso diasurzousa, literally means, "a dew continually whistling." Chrysostom refers several times in what follows to the "dew," having this citation in mind.'R.] [216] Gehenna. [But in Luke xvi. 23, "Hades" occurs. The context in the Gospel, however, justifies the interpretation of the passage given here.'R.] [217] [See note 11, (p. 29).'R.] [218] [See note 11, (p. 29).'R.] [219] sunkatabmen, "condescend." [220] [See note 11, (p. 29).'R.] [221] Matt. xxv. 35. [222] [See note 11, (p. 29).'R.] [223] [tn philosophontōn.] [224] Heb. xi. 38.


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