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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Homily V.

Matt. I. 22, 23.

"Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying, Behold, a Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel."

I Hear many say, "While we are here, and enjoying the privilege of hearing, we are awed, but when we are gone out, we become altered men again, and the flame of zeal is quenched." What then may be done, that this may not come to pass? Let us observe whence it arises. Whence then doth so great a change in us arise? From the unbecoming employment of our time, and from the company of evil men. For we ought not as soon as we retire from the Communion, [225] to plunge into business unsuited to the Communion, but as soon as ever we get home, to take our Bible into our hands, and call our wife and children to join us in putting together what we have heard, and then, not before, engage in the business of life. [226]

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For if after the bath you would not choose to hurry into the market place, lest by the business in the market you should destroy the refreshment thence derived; much more ought we to act on this principle after the Communion. But as it is, we do the contrary, and in this very way throw away all. For while the profitable effect of what hath been said to us is not yet well fixed, the great force of the things that press upon us from without sweeps all entirely away.

That this then may not be the case, when you retire from the Communion, you must account nothing more necessary than that you should put together the things that have been said to you. Yes, for it were the utmost folly for us, while we give up five and even six days to the business of this life, not to bestow on things spiritual so much as one day, or rather not so much as a small part of one day. See ye not our own children, that whatever lessons are given them, those they study throughout the whole day? This then let us do likewise, since otherwise we shall derive no profit from coming here, drawing water daily into a vessel with holes, and not bestowing on the retaining of what we have heard even so much earnestness as we plainly show with respect to gold and silver. For any one who has received a few pence both puts them into a bag and sets a seal thereon; but we, having given us oracles more precious than either gold or costly stones, and receiving the treasures of the Spirit, do not put them away in the storehouses of our soul, but thoughtlessly and at random suffer them to escape from our minds. Who then will pity us after all this, plotting against our own interests, and casting ourselves into so deep poverty? Therefore, that this may not be so, let us write it down an unalterable law for ourselves, for our wives, and for our children, to give up this one day of the week entire to hearing, and to the recollection of the things we have heard. For thus with greater aptness for learning shall we approach what is next to be said; and to us the labor will be less, and to you the profit greater, when, bearing in memory what hath been lately spoken, ye hearken accordingly to what comes afterwards. For no little doth this also contribute towards the understanding of what is said, when ye know accurately the connexion of the thoughts, which we are busy in weaving together for you. For since it is not possible to set down all in one day, you must by continued remembrance make the things laid before you on many days into a kind of chain, and so wrap it about your soul: that the body of the Scriptures may appear entire.

Therefore let us not either to-day go on to the subjects set before us, without first recalling what was lately said to our memory. [227]

2. But what are the things set before us to-day? "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying." In a tone worthy of the wonder, with all his might he hath uttered his voice, saying, "Now all this was done." For when he saw the sea and the abyss of the love of God towards man, and that actually come to pass which never had been looked for, and nature's laws broken, and reconciliations made, Him who is above all come down to him that is lower than all, and "the middle walls of partition broken," [228] and the impediments removed, and many more things than these done besides; in one word he hath put before us the miracle, saying, "Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord." For, "think not," saith he, "that these things are now determined upon; they were prefigured of old." Which same thing, Paul also everywhere labors to prove.

And the angel proceeds to refer Joseph to Isaiah; in order that even if he should, when awakened, forget his own words, as newly spoken, he might by being reminded of those of the prophet, with which he had been nourished up continually, retain likewise the substance of what he had said. [229] And to the woman he mentioned none of these things, as being a damsel and unskilled in them, but to the husband, as being a righteous man and one who studied the prophets, from them he reasons. And before this he saith, "Mary, thy wife;" but now, when he hath brought the prophet before him, he then trusts him with the name of virginity; for Joseph would not have continued thus unshaken, when he heard from him of a virgin, unless [230] he had first heard it also from Isaiah. For indeed it was nothing novel that he was to hear out of the prophets, [231] but what was familiar to him, and had been for a long time the subject of his meditations. For this cause the angel, to make what he said easy to be received, brings in Isaiah. And neither here doth he stop, but connects the discourse with God. For he doth not call the saying Isaiah's, but that of the God of all things. For this cause he said not, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of Isaiah," but "which was spoken of the Lord." For the mouth indeed was Isaiah's, but the oracle was wafted from above.

3. What then saith this oracle? "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel."

How was it then, one may say, that His name was not called Emmanuel, but Jesus Christ? Because he said not, "thou shalt call," but "they shall call," that is, the multitude, and the issue of events. For here he puts the event as a name: and this is customary in Scripture, to substitute the events that take place for names.

Therefore, to say, "they shall call" Him "Emmanuel," means nothing else than that they shall see God amongst men. For He hath indeed always been amongst men, but never so manifestly.

But if Jews are obstinate, we will ask the, when was the child called, "Make speed to the spoil, hasten the prey?" Why, they could not say. How is it then that the prophet said, "Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz?" [232] Because, when he was born, there was a taking and dividing of spoils, therefore the event that took place in his time is put as his name. And the city, too, it is said, shall be called "the city of righteousness, the faithful city Sion." [233] And yet we nowhere find that the city was called "righteousness," but it continued to be called Jerusalem. However, inasmuch as this came to pass in fact, when the city underwent a change for the better, on that account he saith it is so called. For when any event happens which marks out him who brings it to pass, or who is benefited by it, more clearly than his name, the Scripture [234] speaks of the truth of the event as being a name to him.

4. But if, when their mouths are stopped on this point, they should seek another, namely, what is said touching Mary's virginity, and should object to us other translators, [235] saying, that they used not the term "virgin," but "young woman;" in the first place we will say this, that the Seventy were justly entitled to confidence above all the others. For these made their translation after Christ's coming, continuing to be Jews, and may justly be suspected as having spoken rather in enmity, and as darkening the prophecies on purpose; but the Seventy, as having entered upon this work an hundred years or more before the coming of Christ, stand clear from all such suspicion, and on account of the date, and of their number, and of their agreement, [236] would have a better right to be trusted.

But even if they bring in the testimony of those others, yet so the tokens of victory would be with us. Because the Scripture is wont to put the word "youth," for "virginity;" and this with respect not to women only, but also to men. For it is said, "young men and maidens, old men with younger ones." [237] And again, speaking of the damsel who is attacked, it saith, "if the young woman cry out," [238] meaning the virgin.

And what goes before also establishes this interpretation. For he doth not merely say, "Behold, the Virgin shall be with child," but having first said, "Behold, the Lord Himself shall give you a sign," then he subjoins, "Behold, the Virgin shall be with child." [239] Whereas, if she that was to give birth was not a virgin, but this happened in the way of marriage, what sort of sign would the event be? For that which is a sign must of course be beyond the course of common events, it must be strange and extraordinary; else how could it be a sign?

5. "Then Joseph, being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him." Seest thou obedience, and a submissive mind? Seest thou a soul truly wakened, and in all things incorruptible? For neither when he suspected something painful or amiss could he endure to keep the Virgin with him; nor yet, after he was freed from this suspicion, could he bear to cast her out, but he rather keeps her with him, and ministers to the whole Dispensation.

"And took unto him Mary his wife." Seest thou how continually the evangelist uses this word, not willing that that mystery should be disclosed as yet, and annihilating that evil suspicion?

And when he had taken her, "he knew her not, till she had brought forth her first-born Son." [240] He hath here used the word "till," not that thou shouldest suspect that afterwards he did know her, but to inform thee that before the birth the Virgin was wholly untouched by man. But why then, it may be said, hath he used the word, "till"? Because it is usual in Scripture often to do this, and to use this expression without reference to limited times. For so with respect to the ark likewise, it is said, "The raven returned not till the earth was dried up." [241] And yet it did not return even after that time. And when discoursing also of God, the Scripture saith, "From age until age Thou art," [242] not as fixing limits in this case. And again when it is preaching the Gospel beforehand, and saying, "In his days shall righteousness flourish, and abundance of peace, till the moon be taken away," [243] it doth not set a limit to this fair part of creation. So then here likewise, it uses the word "till," to make certain what was before the birth, but as to what follows, it leaves thee to make the inference. Thus, what it was necessary for thee to learn of Him, this He Himself hath said; that the Virgin was untouched by man until the birth; but that which both was seen to be a consequence of the former statement, and was acknowledged, this in its turn he leaves for thee to perceive; namely, that not even after this, she having so become a mother, and having been counted worthy of a new sort of travail, and a child-bearing so strange, could that righteous man ever have endured to know her. For if he had known her, and had kept her in the place of a wife, how is it that our Lord [244] commits her, as unprotected, and having no one, to His disciple, and commands him to take her to his own home?

How then, one may say, are James and the others called His brethren? In the same kind of way as Joseph himself was supposed to be husband of Mary. For many were the veils provided, that the birth, being such as it was, might be for a time screened. Wherefore even John so called them, saying, "For neither did His brethren believe in Him." [245]

6. Nevertheless they, who did not believe at first, became afterwards admirable, and illustrious. At least when Paul and they that were of his company were come up to Jerusalem about decrees, [246] they went in straightway unto James. For he was so admired as even to be the first to be entrusted with the bishop's office. And they say he gave himself up to such great austerity, that even his members became all of them as dead, and that from his continual praying, and his perpetual intercourse with the ground, his forehead became so callous as to be in no better state than a camel's knees, simply by reason of his striking it so against the earth. [247] This man gives directions to Paul himself, when he was after this come up again to Jerusalem, saying, [248] "Thou seest, brother, how many thousands there are of them that are come together." So great was his understanding and his zeal, or rather so great the power of Christ. For they that mock Him when living, after His death are so filled with awe, as even to die for Him with exceeding readiness. Such things most of all show the power of His resurrection. For this, you see, was the reason of the more glorious things being kept till afterwards, viz. that this proof might become indisputable. For seeing that even those who are admired amongst us in their life, when they are gone, are apt to be forgotten by us; how was it that they, who made light of this Man living, afterwards thought Him to be God, if He was but one of the many? How was it that they consented even to be slain for His sake, unless they received His resurrection on clear proof?

7. And these things we tell you, that ye may not hear only, but imitate also his manly severity, [249] his plainness of speech, his righteousness in all things; that no one may despair of himself, though hitherto he have been careless, that he may set his hopes on nothing else, after God's mercy, but on his own virtue. For if these were nothing the better for such a kindred, though they were of the same house and lineage with Christ, until they gave proof of virtue; what favor can we possibly receive, when we plead righteous kinsmen and brethren, unless we be exceeding dutiful, [250] and have lived in virtue? As the prophet too said, intimating the selfsame thing, "A brother redeemeth not, shall a man redeem?" [251] No, not although it were [252] Moses, Samuel, Jeremiah. Hear, for example, what God saith unto this last, "Pray not thou for this people, for I will not hear thee." [253] And why marvellest thou if I hear not thee? "Though Moses himself and Samuel stood before me," [254] I would not receive their supplication for these men." Yea, if it be Ezekiel who entreats, he will be told, "Though Noah stand forth, and Job, and Daniel, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters." [255] Though the patriarch Abraham be supplicating for them that are most incurably diseased, and change not, God will leave him and go His way, [256] that he may not receive his cry in their behalf. Though again it be Samuel who is doing this, He saith unto him, "Mourn not thou for Saul." [257] Though for his own sister one entreat, when it is not fitting, he again shall have the same sort of answer as Moses, "If her father had but spit in her face." [258]

Let us not then be looking open-mouthed towards others. For it is true, the prayers of the saints have the greatest power; on condition however of our repentance and amendment. Since even Moses, who had rescued his own brother and six hundred thousand men from the wrath that was then coming upon them from God, had no power to deliver his sister; [259] and yet the sin was not equal; for whereas she had done despite but to Moses, in that other case it was plain impiety, what they ventured on. But this difficulty I leave for you; while that which is yet harder, I will try to explain.

For why should we speak of his sister? since he who stood forth the advocate of so great a people had not power to prevail for himself, but after his countless toils, and sufferings, and his assiduity for forty years, was prohibited from setting foot on that land, touching which there had been so many declarations and promises. What then was the cause? To grant this favor would not be profitable, but would, on the contrary, bring with it much harm, and would be sure to prove a stumbling-block to many of the Jews. For if when they were merely delivered from Egypt, they forsook God, and sought after Moses, and imputed all to him; had they seen him also lead them into the land of promise, to what extent of impiety might they not have been cast away? And for this reason also, let me add, neither was his tomb made known.

And Samuel again was not able to save Saul from the wrath from above, yet he oftentimes preserved the Israelites. And Jeremiah prevailed not for the Jews, but some one else he did haply cover from evil by his prophecy. [260] And Daniel saved the barbarians from slaughter, [261] but he did not deliver the Jews from their captivity.

And in the Gospels too we shall see both these events come to pass, not in the case of different persons, but of the same; and the same man now prevailing for himself and now given up. For he who owed the ten thousand talents, though he had delivered himself from the danger by entreaty, yet again he prevailed not, [262] and another on the contrary, who had before thrown himself away, afterwards had power to help himself in the greatest degree. [263] But who is this? He that devoured his Father's substance.

So that on the one hand, if we be careless, we shall not be able to obtain salvation, no not even by the help of others; if, on the other hand, we be watchful, we shall be able to do this by ourselves, and by ourselves rather than by others. Yes; for God is more willing to give His grace to us, than to others for us; that we by endeavoring ourselves to do away His wrath, may both enjoy confidence towards Him, and become better men. Thus He had pity on the Canaanitish woman, thus He saved the harlot, thus the thief, when there was none to be mediator nor advocate.

8. And this I say, not that we may omit supplicating the saints, but to hinder our being careless, and entrusting our concerns to others only, while we fall back and slumber ourselves. For so when He said, "make to yourselves friends," [264] he did not stop at this only, but He added, "of the unrighteous mammon;" that so again the good work may be thine own; for it is nothing else but almsgiving which He hath here signified. And, what is marvellous, neither doth He make a strict account with us, if we withdraw ourselves from injustice. For what He saith is like this: "Hast thou gained ill? spend well. Hast thou gathered by unrighteousness? scatter abroad in righteousness." And yet, what manner of virtue is this, to give out of such gains? God, however, being full of love to man, condescends even to this and if we thus do, promises us many good things. But we are so past all feeling, as not to give even of our unjust gain, but while plundering without end, if we contribute the smallest part, we think we have fulfilled all. Hast thou not heard Paul saying, "He which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly"? [265] Wherefore then dost thou spare? What, is the act an outlay? is it an expense? Nay, it is gain and good merchandise. Where there is merchandise, there is also increase; where there is sowing, there is also reaping. But thou, if thou hadst to till a rich and deep soil, and capable of receiving much seed, wouldest both spend what thou hadst, and wouldest borrow of other men, accounting parsimony in such cases to be loss; but, when it is Heaven which thou art to cultivate, which is exposed to no variation of weather, and will surely repay thine outlay with abundant increase, thou art slow and backward, and considerest not that it is possible by sparing to lose, and by not sparing to gain.

9. Disperse therefore, that thou mayest not lose; keep not, that thou mayest keep; lay out, that thou mayest save; spend, that thou mayest gain. If thy treasures are to be hoarded, do not thou hoard them, for thou wilt surely cast them away; but entrust them to God, for thence no man makes spoil of them. Do not thou traffic, for thou knowest not at all how to gain; but lend unto Him who gives an interest greater than the principal. Lend, where is no envy, no accusation, nor evil design, nor fear. Lend unto Him who wants nothing, yet hath need for thy sake; who feeds all men, yet is an hungered, that thou mayest not suffer famine; who is poor, that thou mayest be rich. Lend there, where thy return cannot be death, but life instead of death. For this usury is the harbinger of a kingdom, that, of hell; the one coming of covetousness, the other of self-denial; the one of cruelty, the other of humanity. What excuse then will be ours, when having the power to receive more, and that with security, and in due season, and in great freedom, without either reproaches, or fears, or dangers, we let go these gains, and follow after that other sort, base and vile as they are, insecure and perishable, and greatly aggravating the furnace for us? For nothing, nothing is baser than the usury of this world, nothing more cruel. Why, other persons' calamities are such a man's traffic; he makes himself gain of the distress of another, and demands wages for kindness, as though he were afraid to seem merciful, and under the cloak of kindness he digs the pitfall deeper, by the act of help galling a man's poverty, and in the act of stretching out the hand thrusting him down, and when receiving him as in harbor, involving him in shipwreck, as on a rock, or shoal, or reef.

"But what dost thou require?" saith one; "that I should give another for his use that money which I have got together, and which is to me useful, and demand no recompense?" Far from it: I say not this: yea, I earnestly desire that thou shouldest have a recompense; not however a mean nor small one, but far greater; for in return for gold, I would that thou shouldest receive Heaven for usury. Why then shut thyself up in poverty, crawling about the earth, and demanding little for great? Nay, this is the part of one who knows not how to be rich. For when God in return for a little money is promising thee the good things that are in Heaven, and thou sayest, "Give me not Heaven, but instead of Heaven the gold that perisheth," this is for one who wishes to continue in poverty. Even as he surely who desires wealth and abundance will choose things abiding rather than things perishing; the inexhaustible, rather than such as waste away; much rather than little, the incorruptible rather than the corruptible. For so the other sort too will follow. For as he who seeks earth before Heaven, will surely lose earth also, so he that prefers Heaven to earth, shall enjoy both in great excellency. And that this may be the case with us, let us despise all things here, and choose the good things to come. For thus shall we obtain both the one and the other, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom be glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[225] [t sunxeō, the technical term for a religious service among Christians. It does not of itself imply a Eucharistic service, as the above rendering seems to suggest. Indeed, the exordium of this Homily points directly to a service in which the sermon was prominent, making no allusion to the Lord's Supper. For a wider use, see the close of Homily LXXXVIII.'R.] [226] Comp. Herbert's Country Parson, c. 10. "He himself, or his wife, takes account of sermons, and how every one profits, comparing this year with the last." [227] ["Let us therefore remember again what was lately said, and thus go on to what is set before us to-day."'R.] [228] Ephes. ii. 14. [229] [The view here indicated, that this citation was part of the angelic message, is not generally held (but see J. A. Alexander in loco). It seems to me inconsistent with the last clause of verse 23: "which is, being interpreted," etc.'R.] [230] ["Unless," is not found in the mss., but inserted by the editors as necessary to the sense.'R.] [231] ["Prophet" is the correct rendering; the plural in the Oxford version is probably due to a typographical error.'R.] [232] Isa. viii. 3. [Chrysostom does not use the Hebrew name here, but simply repeats a part of the Greek phrase used to translate "Maher-shalal-hash-baz" in the LXX., which he had already given in the previous sentence: Tachō skleuson, xō pronmeuson. The R.V. in loco does not accept the imperative rendering, but gives this marginal explanation: "That is, The spoil speedeth, the prey hasteth."'R.] [233] Isa. i. 26, 27. [234] [Supplied by translator; literally, "it speaks."'R.] [235] i.e., Aquila who flourished A.D. 128, Theodotion, A.D. 175, Symmachus, A.D. 201: who were all of them Jews or Judaizing heretics. Cave, Hist. Lit. i. 32, 48, 64. [236] [This reference to the "agreement" of the LXX. seems to indicate an acceptance of the current tradition in regard to the supernatural exactness of that version.'R.] [237] Ps. cxlviii. 12. [238] Deut. xxii. 27. In our translation, "the betrothed damsel cried." This place is cited by St. Jerome on Matt. with reference to the same argument. [239] Isa. vii. 14. [240] [There is no indication here of any knowledge of the reading found in the oldest authorities of every class (uncials, cursives and versions): eteken un, instead of eteken tn un at tn prōttokon. The latter is the reading of all authorities in Luke ii. 7.'R.] [241] Gen. viii. 7. [242] Ps. xc. 2. [243] Ps. lxxii. 7. [244] John xix. 27. [245] John vii. 5. [In regard to the "brethren of our Lord," there seems to be some confusion in the statements of Chrysostom: Comp. Hom. LXXXVIII., on chap. xxvii. 55, 56. The digression here to the character of James seems intended to divert from the historical discussion.'R.] [246] Acts xv. 4, xvi. 4, xxi. 18. [247] See Hegesippus in St. Jerome de Viris Illustr., c. 2. [248] Acts xxi. 20; see also verse 22. [249] [andrean, "manliness."'R.] [250] epieike. [251] Ps. xlix. 7. [This is the rendering of the LXX.'R.] [252] [kan , "even if it were."'R.] [253] Jer. xi. 14. [254] Jer. xv. 1. [255] Ezek. xiv. 14, 16. [256] Gen. xviii. 33. [257] 1 Sam. xvi. 1. [258] Num. xii. 14. [259] Ex. xxxii.; Num. xii. [260] Alluding, perhaps, to 2 Maccab. xv. 13-16. [261] Dan. ii. 24. [262] Matt. xviii. 26-34. [263] Luke xv. 13-20. [264] Luke xvi. 9. It would seem from this that the saints whom we are to supplicate for their help are those on earth, whom we may assist by our alms. And the examples before tend to confirm this view. [265] 2 Cor. xix. 6. .


Homily VI.

Matt. II. 1, 2.

"When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him."

We have need of much wakefulness, and many prayers, that we may arrive at the interpretation of the passage now before us, and that we may learn who these wise men were, and whence they came, and how; and at whose persuasion, and what was the star. Or rather, if ye will, let us first bring forward what the enemies of the truth say. Because the devil hath blown upon them with so violent a blast, as even from this passage try to arm them against the words of truth.

What then do they allege? "Behold," say they, "even when Christ was born a star appeared; which is a sign that astrology may be depended on." How then, if He had His birth according to that law, did He put down astrology, and take away fate, and stop the mouths of demons, and cast out error, and overthrow all such sorcery?

And what moreover do the wise men learn from the star of itself? That He was King of the Jews? And yet He was not king of this kingdom; even as He said also to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world." At any rate He made no display of this kind, for He had neither guards armed with spear or shield, nor horses, nor chariots of mules, nor any other such thing around Him; but He followed this life of meanness and poverty, carrying about with Him twelve men of mean estate.

And even if they knew Him to be a king, for what intent are they come? For surely this is not the business of astrology, to know from the stars who are born, but from the hour when men are born to predict what shall befall them: so it is said. But these were neither present with the mother in her pangs, nor did they know the time when He was born, neither did they, beginning at that moment, from the motion of the stars compute what was to happen: but conversely, having a long time before seen a star appear in their own country, they come to see Him that was born.

Which circumstance in itself would afford a still greater difficulty even than the former. For what reason induced them, or the hope of what benefits, to worship one who was king so far off? Why, had He been to reign over themselves, most assuredly not even so would the circumstance be capable of a reasonable account. To be sure, if He had been born in royal courts, and with His father, himself a king, present by Him, any one would naturally say, that they, from a wish to pay court to the father, had worshipped the child that was born, and in this way were laying up for themselves beforehand much ground of patronage. But now when they did not so much as expect Him to be their own king, but of a strange nation, far distant from their country, neither seeing Him as yet grown to manhood; wherefore do they set forth on so long a journey, and offer gifts, and this when dangers were sure to beset their whole proceeding? For both Herod, when he heard it, was exceedingly troubled, and the whole people was confounded on being told of these things by them.

"But these men did not foresee this." Nay, this is not reasonable. For let them have been ever so foolish, of this they could not be ignorant, that when they came to a city under a king, and proclaimed such things as these, and set forth another king besides him who then reigned, they must needs be bringing down on themselves a thousand deaths.

2. And why did they at all worship one who was in swaddling clothes? For if He had been a grown man, one might say, that in expectation of the succor they should receive from Him, they cast themselves into a danger which they foresaw; a thing however to the utmost degree unreasonable, that the Persian, the barbarian, and one that had nothing in common with the nation of the Jews, should be willing to depart from his home, to give up country, and kindred, and friends, and that they should subject themselves to another kingdom.

But if this be foolish, what follows is much more foolish. Of what nature then is this? That after they had entered on so long a journey, and worshipped, and thrown all into confusion, they went away immediately. And what sign at all of royalty did they behold, when they saw a shed, and a manger, and a child in swaddling clothes, and a poor mother? And to whom moreover did they offer their gifts, and for what intent? Was it then usual and customary, thus to pay court to the kings that were born in every place? and did they always keep going about the whole world, worshipping them who they knew should become kings out of a low and mean estate, before they ascended the royal throne? Nay, this no one can say.

And for what purpose did they worship Him at all? If for the sake of things present, then what did they expect to receive from an infant, and a mother of mean condition? If for things future, then whence did they know that the child whom they had worshipped in swaddling clothes would remember what was then done? But if His mother was to remind Him, not even so were they worthy of honor, but of punishment, as bringing Him into danger which they must have foreseen. Thence at any rate it was that Herod was troubled, and sought, and pried, and took in hand to slay Him. And indeed everywhere, he who makes known the future king, supposing him in his earliest age in a private condition, doth nothing else than betray him to slaughter, and kindle against him endless warfare.

Seest thou how manifold the absurdities appear, if we examine these transactions according to the course of human things and ordinary custom? For not these topics only, but more than these might be mentioned, containing more matter for questions than what we have spoken of. But lest, stringing questions upon questions, we should bewilder you, come let us now enter upon the solution of the matters inquired of, making a beginning of our solution with the star itself.

3. For if ye can learn what the star was, and of what kind, and whether it were one of the common stars, or new and unlike the rest, and whether it was a star by nature or a star in appearance only, we shall easily know the other things also. Whence then will these points be manifest? From the very things that are written. Thus, that this star was not of the common sort, or rather not a star at all, as it seems at least to me, but some invisible power transformed into this appearance, is in the first place evident from its very course. For there is not, there is not any star that moves by this way, but whether it be the sun you mention, or the moon, or all the other stars, we see them going from east to west; but this was wafted from north to south; for so is Palestine situated with respect to Persia.

In the second place, one may see this from the time also. For it appears not in the night, but in mid-day, while the sun is shining; and this is not within the power of a star, nay not of the moon; for the moon that so much surpasses all, when the beams of the sun appear, straightway hides herself, and vanishes away. But this by the excess of its own splendor overcame even the beams of the sun, appearing brighter than they, and in so much light shining out more illustriously.

In the third place, from its appearing, and hiding itself again. For on their way as far as Palestine it appeared leading them, but after they set foot within Jerusalem, it hid itself: then again, when they had left Herod, having told him on what account they came, and were on the point of departing, it shows itself; all which is not like the motion of a star, but of some power highly endued with reason. For it had not even any course at all of its own, but when they were to move, it moved; when to stand, it stood, dispensing [266] all as need required: in the same kind of way as the pillar of the cloud, now halting and now rousing up the camp of the Jews, when it was needful.

In the fourth place, one may perceive this clearly, from its mode of pointing Him out. For it did not, remaining on high, point out the place; it not being possible for them so to ascertain it, but it came down and performed this office. For ye know that a spot of so small dimensions, being only as much as a shed would occupy, or rather as much as the body of a little infant would take up, could not possibly be marked out by a star. For by reason of its immense height, it could not sufficiently distinguish so confined a spot, and discover it to them that were desiring to see it. And this any one may see by the moon, which being so far superior to the stars, seems to all that dwell in the world, and are scattered over so great an extent of earth,'seems, I say, near to them every one. How then, tell me, did the star point out a spot so confined, just the space of a manger and shed, unless it left that height and came down, and stood over the very head of the young child? And at this the evangelist was hinting when he said, "Lo, the star went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was."

4. Seest thou, by what store of proofs this star is shown not to be one of the many, nor to have shown itself according to the order of the outward creation? And for what intent did it appear? To reprove the Jews for their insensibility, and to cut off from them all occasion of excuse for their willful ignorance. For, since He who came was to put an end to the ancient polity, and to call the world to the worship of Himself, and to be worshipped in all land and sea, straightway, from the beginning, He opens the door to the Gentiles, willing through strangers to admonish His own people. Thus, because the prophets were continually heard speaking of His advent, and they gave no great heed, He made even barbarians come from a far country, to seek after the king that was among them. And they learn from a Persian tongue first of all, what they would not submit to learn from the prophets; that, if on the one hand they were disposed to be candid, they might have the strongest motive for obedience; if, on the other hand, they were contentious, they might henceforth be deprived of all excuse. For what could they have to say, who did not receive Christ after so many prophets, when they saw that wise men, at the sight of a single star, had received this same, and had worshipped Him who was made manifest. Much in the same way then as He acted in the case of the Ninevites, when He sent Jonas, and as in the case of the Samaritan and the Canaanitish women; so He did likewise in the instance of the magi. For this cause He also said, "The men of Nineveh shall rise up, and shall condemn:" and, "the Queen of the South shall rise up, and shall condemn this generation:" [267] because these believed the lesser things, but the Jews not even the greater.

"And wherefore," one may say, "did He attract them by such a vision?" Why, how should He have done? Sent prophets? But the magi would not have submitted to prophets. Uttered a voice from above? Nay, they would not have attended. Sent an angel? But even him they would have hurried by. And so for this cause dismissing all those means, God calleth them by the things that are familiar, in exceeding condescension; and He shows a large and extraordinary star, so as to astonish them, both at the greatness and beauty of its appearance, and the manner of its course.

In imitation of this, Paul also reasons with the Greeks from an heathen altar, and brings forward testimonies from the poets. [268] And not without circumcision doth he harangue the Jews. Sacrifices he makes the beginning of his instruction to them that are living under the law. For, since to every one what is familiar is dear, both God, and the men that are sent by Him, manage things on this principle with a view to the salvation of the world. Think it not therefore unworthy of Him to have called them by a star; since by the same rule thou wilt find fault with all the Jewish rites also, the sacrifices, and the purifications, and the new moons, and the ark, and the temple too itself. For even these derived their origin from Gentile grossness. [269] Yet for all that, God, for the salvation of them that were in error, endured to be served by these things, whereby those without were used to serve devils; only He slightly altered them; that He might draw them off by degrees from their customs, and lead them towards the highest wisdom. Just so He did in the case of the wise men also, not disdaining to call them by sight of a star, that He might lift them higher ever after. Therefore after He hath brought them, leading them by the hand, and hath set them by the manger; it is no longer by a star, but by an angel that He now discourses unto them. Thus did they by little and little become better men.

This did He also with respect to them of Ascalon, and of Gaza. For those five cities too (when at the coming of the ark they had been smitten with a deadly plague, and found no deliverance from the ills under which they lay)'the men of them called their prophets, and gathered an assembly, and sought to discover an escape from this divine scourge. Then, when their prophets said that they should yoke to the ark heifers untamed, and having their first calves, and let them go their way, with no man to guide them, for so it would be evident whether the plague was from God or whether it was any accident which brought the disease;'("for if," it is said, "they break the yoke in pieces for want of practice, or turn where their calves are lowing, 'it is a chance that hath happened;' [270] but if they go on right, and err not from the way, and neither the lowing of their young, nor their ignorance of the way, have any effect on them, it is quite plain that it is the hand of God that hath visited those cities:")'when, I say, on these words of their prophets the inhabitants of those cities obeyed and did as they were commanded, God also followed up the counsel of the prophets, showing condescension in that instance also, and counted it not unworthy of Himself to bring to effect the prediction of the prophets, and to make them seem trustworthy in what they had then said. For so the good achieved was greater, in that His very enemies themselves bore witness to the power of God; yea, their own teachers gave their voice concerning Him. And one may see many other such things brought about by God. For what took place with respect to the witch, [271] is again like this sort of dispensation; which circumstance also you will now be able to explain from what hath been said.

With respect to the star, we have said these things, and yet more perhaps may be said by you; for, it is said, "Give occasion to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser:" [272] but we must now come to the beginning of what hath been read.

5. And what is the beginning? "When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem." While wise men followed under the auspices of a star, these believed not, with prophets even sounding in their ears. But wherefore doth he mention to us both the time and the place, saying, "in Bethlehem," and "in the days of Herod the king?" And for what reason doth he add his rank also? His rank, because there was also another Herod, he who slew John: but that was a tetrarch, this a king. And the place likewise, and the time, he puts down, to bring to our remembrance ancient prophecies; whereof one was uttered by Micah, saying, "And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art by no means the least among the princes of Judah;" [273] and the other by the patriarch Jacob, distinctly marking out to us the time, and setting forth the great sign of His coming. For, "A ruler," saith he, "shall not fail out of Judah, nor a leader out of his loins, until He come for whom it is appointed, and He is the expectation of the Gentiles." [274]

And this again is worth inquiry, whence it was that they came to entertain such a thought, and who it was that stirred them up to this. For it doth not seem to me to be the work of the star only, but also of God, who moved their soul; which same kind of thing He did also in the case of Cyrus, disposing him to let the Jews go. He did not however so do this as to destroy their free will, since even when He called Paul from above by a voice, He manifested both His own grace and Paul's obedience.

And wherefore, one may ask, did He not reveal this to all the wise men of the East? Because all would not have believed, but these were better prepared than the rest; since also there were countless nations that perished, but it was to the Ninevites only that the prophet was sent; and there were two thieves on the cross, but one only was saved. See at least the virtue of these men, not only by their coming, but also by their boldness of speech. For so that they may not seem to be a sort of impostors, [275] they tell who showed them the way, and the length of their journey; and being come, they had boldness of speech: "for we are come," that is their statement, "to worship Him:" and they were afraid neither of the people's anger, nor of the tyranny of the king. Whence to me at least they seem to have been at home also teachers of their countrymen. [276] For they who here did not shrink from saying this, much more would they speak boldly in their own country, as having received both the oracle from the angel, and the testimony from the prophet.

6. But "when Herod," saith the Scripture, "had heard, he was troubled, and all Jerusa lem with him." Herod naturally, as being king, and afraid both for himself and for his children; but why Jerusalem? Surely the prophets had foretold Him a Saviour, and Benefactor, and a Deliverer from above. Wherefore then was Jerusalem [277] troubled? From the same feeling which caused them before also to turn away from God when pouring His benefits on them, and to be mindful of the flesh-pots of Egypt, while in the enjoyment of great freedom.

But mark, I pray thee, the accuracy of the prophets. For this selfsame thing also had the prophet foretold from the first, [278] saying, "They would be glad, if they had been burnt with fire; for unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given." [279]

But nevertheless, although troubled, they seek not to see what hath happened, neither do they follow the wise men, nor make any particular inquiry; to such a degree were they at once both contentious and careless above all men. For when they had reason rather to pride themselves that the king was born amongst them, and had attracted to Him the land of the Persians, and they were on the point of having all subject to them, as though their affairs had advanced towards improvement, and from the very outset His empire had become so glorious; nevertheless, they do not even for this become better. And yet they were but just delivered from their captivity there; and it was natural for them to think (even if they knew none of those things that are high and mysterious, but formed their judgment from what is present only), "If they thus tremble before our king at His birth, much more when grown up will they fear and obey Him, and our estate will be more glorious than that of the barbarians."

7. But none of these things thoroughly awakens them, so great was their dullness, and with this their envy also: both which we must with exact care root out of our mind; and he must be more fervent than fire who is to stand in such an array. Wherefore also Christ said, "I am come to send fire on earth, and I would it were already kindled." [280] in the same lot with it, even so godly tears are a germ of perpetual and unfading joy. In this way the very harlot became more honorable than virgins when seized by this fire. That is, being thoroughly warmed by repentance, she was thenceforth carried out of herself by her longing desire toward Christ; loosing her hair, and drenching with her tears His holy feet, and wiping them with her own tresses, and exhausting the ointment. [281] And all these were outward results, but those wrought in her mind were far more fervent than these; which things God Himself alone beheld. And therefore, every one, when he hears, rejoices with her and takes delight in her good works, and acquits her of every blame. But if we that are evil pass this judgment, consider what sentence she obtained from that God who is a lover of mankind; and how much, even before God's gifts, her repentance caused her to reap in the way of blessing.

For much as after a violent burst of rain, there is a clear open sky; so likewise when tears are pouring down, a calm arises, and serenity, and the darkness that ensues on our sins quite disappears. And like as by water and the spirit, so by tears and confession are we cleansed the second time; unless we be acting thus for display and vanity: for as to a woman whose tears were of that sort, I should call her justly condemnable, more than if she decked herself out with [282] lines and coloring. For I seek those tears which are shed not for display, but in compunction; those which trickle down secretly and in closets, and in sight of no man, softly and noiselessly; those which arise from a certain depth of mind, those shed in anguish and in sorrow, those which are for God alone; such as were Hannah's, for "her lips moved," it is said, "but her voice was not heard;" [283] however, her tears alone uttered a cry more clear than any trumpet. And because of this, God also opened her womb, and made the hard rock a fruitful field.

If thou also weep thus, thou art become a follower of thy Lord. Yea, for He also wept, both over Lazarus, and over the city; and touching Judas He was greatly troubled. And this indeed one may often see Him do, but nowhere laugh, nay, nor smile but a little; no one at least of the evangelists hath mentioned this. Therefore also with regard to Paul, that he wept, that he did so three years night and day, [284] both he hath said of himself, and others say this of him; but that he laughed, neither hath he said himself anywhere, neither hath so much as one other of the saints, either concerning him, or any other like him; but this is said of Sarah only, [285] when she is blamed, and of the son of Noe, when for a freeman he became a slave. [286]

9. And these things I say, not to suppress [287] all laughter, but to take away dissipation of mind. For wherefore, I pray thee, art thou luxurious and dissolute, while thou art still liable to such heavy charges, and are to stand at a fearful judgment-seat, and to give a strict account of all that hath been done here? Yes: for we are to give an account both of what we have sinned willingly, and what against our will:'for "whosoever shall deny me," saith He, "before men, him will I also deny before my Father:" [288] 'and surely such a denial is against our will; but nevertheless it doth not escape punishment, but of it too we have to give account:'both of what we know, and of what we do not know; "For I know nothing by myself," saith one, "yet am I not hereby justified:" [289] 'both for what we have done in ignorance, and what in knowledge; "For I bear them record," it is said, "that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge;" [290] but yet this doth not suffice for an excuse for them. And when writing to the Corinthians also he saith, "For I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." [291]

The things then being so great, for which thou art to give account, dost thou sit laughing and talking wittily, and giving thyself up to luxury? "Why," one may say, "if I did not so, but mourned, what would be the profit?" Very great indeed; even so great, as it is not possible so much as to set it forth by word. For while, before the temporal tribunals, be thy weeping ever so abundant, thou canst not escape punishment after the sentence; here, on the contrary, shouldest thou only sigh, thou hast annulled the sentence, and hast obtained pardon. Therefore it is that Christ discourses to us much of mourning, and blesses them that mourn, and pronounces them that laugh wretched. For this is not the theatre for laughter, neither did we come together for this intent, that we may give way to immoderate mirth, but that we may groan, and by this groaning inherit a kingdom. But thou, when standing by a king, dost not endure so much as merely to smile; having then the Lord of the angels dwelling in thee, dost thou not stand with trembling, and all due self-restraint, but rather laughest, oftentimes when He is displeased? And dost thou not consider that thou provokest Him in this way more than by thy sins? For God is not wont to turn Himself away so much from them that sin, as from those that are not awestruck after their sin.

But for all this, some are of so senseless a disposition, as even after these words to say, "Nay, far be it from me to weep at any time, but may God grant me to laugh and to play all my days." And what can be more childish than this mind? For it is not God that grants to play, but the devil. At least hear, what was the portion of them that played. "The people," it is said, "sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." [292] Such were they at Sodom, such were they at the time of the deluge. For touching them of Sodom likewise it is said, that "in pride, and in plenty, and in fullness of bread, they waxed wanton." [293] And they who were in Noah's time, seeing the ark a preparing for so many years, lived on in senseless mirth, forseeing nought of what was coming. For this cause also the flood came and swept them all away, and wrought in that instant the common shipwreck of the world.

Ask not then of God these things, which thou receivest of the devil. For it is God's part to give a contrite and humbled heart, sober, self-possessed, and awestruck, full of repentance and compunction. These are His gifts, forasmuch as it is also of these things that we are most in need. Yes, for a grievous conflict is at hand, and against the powers unseen is our wrestling; against "the spiritual wickednesses" [294] our fight, "against principalities, against powers" our warfare: and it is well for us, if when we are earnest and sober and thoroughly awakened, we can be able to sustain that savage phalanx. But if we are laughing and sporting, and always taking things easily, even before the conflict, we shall be overthrown by our own remissness.

10. It becometh not us then to be continually laughing, and to be dissolute, and luxurious, but it belongs to those upon the stage, the harlot women, the men that are trimmed for this intent, parasites, and flatterers; not them that are called unto heaven, not them that are enrolled into the city above, not them that bear spiritual arms, but them that are enlisted on the devil's side. For it is he, yea, it is he, that even made the thing an art, that he might weaken Christ's soldiers, and soften the nerves of their zeal. For this cause he also built theatres in the cities, and having trained those buffoons, by their pernicious influence he causes that kind of pestilence to light upon the whole city, persuading men to follow those things which Paul bade us flee, "foolish talking and jesting." [295] And what is yet more grievous than these things is the subject of the laughter. For when they that act those absurd things utter any word of blasphemy or filthiness, then many among the more thoughtless laugh and are pleased, applauding in them what they ought to stone them for; and drawing down on their own heads by this amusement the furnace of fire. For they who praise the utterers of such words, it is these above all who induce men so to speak: wherefore they must be more justly accountable for the penalty allotted to these things. For were there no one to be a spectator in such cases, neither would there be one to act; but when they see you forsaking your workshops, and your crafts, and your income from these, and in short everything, for the sake of continuing there, they derive hence a greater forwardness, and exert a greater diligence about these things.

And this I say, not freeing them from reproof, but that ye may learn that it is you chiefly who supply the principle and root of such lawlessness; ye who consume your whole day on these matters, and profanely exhibit the sacred things of marriage, and make an open mock of the great mystery. For not even he who acts these things is so much the offender, as thou art before him; thou who biddest him make a play on these things, or rather who not only biddest him, but art even zealous about it, taking delight, and laughing, and praising what is done, and in every way gaining strength for such workshops of the devil.

Tell me then, with what eyes wilt thou after this look upon thy wife at home, having seen her insulted there? Or how dost thou not blush being put in mind of the partner of thy home, when thou seest nature herself put to an open shame? Nay, tell me not, that what is done is acting; for this acting hath made many adulterers, and subverted many families. And it is for this most especially that I grieve, that what is done doth not so much as seem evil, but there is even applause and clamor, and much laughter, at commission of so foul adultery. What sayest thou? that what is done is acting? Why, for this selfsame reason they must be worthy of ten thousand deaths, that what things all laws command men to flee, they have taken pains to imitate. For if the thing itself be bad, the imitation thereof also is bad. And I do not yet say how many adulterers they make who act these scenes of adultery, how they render the spectators of such things bold and shameless; for nothing is more full of whoredom and boldness than an eye that endures to look at such things.

And thou in a market-place wouldest not choose to see a woman stripped naked, or rather not even in a house, but callest such a thing an outrage. And goest thou up into the theatre, to insult the common nature of men and women, and disgrace thine own eyes? For say not this, that she that is stripped is an harlot; but that the nature is the same, and they are bodies alike, both that of the harlot, and that of the free-woman. For if this be nothing amiss, what is the cause that if thou were to see this done in a market place, thou wouldest both hasten away thyself, and drive thence her who was behaving herself unseemly? Or is it that when we are apart, then such a thing is outrageous, but when we are assembled and all sitting together, it is no longer equally shameful? Nay, this is absurdity and a disgrace, and words of the utmost madness; and it were better to besmear the eyes all over with mud and mire than to be a spectator of such a transgression. For surely mire is not so much an hurt to an eye, as an unchaste sight, and the spectacle of a woman stripped naked. Hear, for example, what it was that caused nakedness at the beginning, and read the occasion of such disgrace. What then did cause nakedness? Our disobedience, [296] and the devil's counsel. Thus, from the first, even from the very beginning, this was his contrivance. Yet they were at least ashamed when they were naked, but ye take a pride in it; "having," according to that saying of the apostle, "your glory in your shame." [297]

How then will thy wife thenceforward look upon thee, when thou art returned from such wickedness? how receive thee? how speak to thee, after thou hast so publicly put to shame the common nature of woman, and art made by such a sight the harlots' captive and slave? [298]

Now if ye grieve at hearing these things, I thank you much, for "who is he that maketh me glad, but he which is made sorry by me?" [299] Do not then ever cease to grieve and be vexed for them, for the sorrow that comes of such things will be to you a beginning of a change for the better. For this cause I also have made my language the stronger, that by cutting deeper I might free you from the venom of them that intoxicate you; that I might bring you back to a pure health of soul; which God grant we may all enjoy by all means, and attain unto the rewards laid up for these good deeds; by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[266] okonomn. [267] Matt. xii. 41, 42. [268] Acts xvii. 23, 28; 1 Cor. xv. 33; Titus i. 12. [269] See St. Iren. iv. 28, 29; Tertull. adv. Marc. i. 18, 22; St. Chrys. adv. Jud. Hom. i. t. 6, 318. [270] 1 Sam. vi. 9. [271] 1 Sam. xxviii. [272] Prov. ix. 9. [273] Micah v. 2. [274] Gen. xlix. 10. [275] hupobolimaoi tine. [276] So in Op. Imperf. in Matt. Hom. 2. "After their return, they continued serving God more than before, and instructed many by their preaching. And at last, when Thomas had gone into that province, they joined themselves to him and were baptized, and became doers of his word." This work has been attributed to St. Chrysostom, and seems certainly of the same date with him. [277] [Literally, "were they."'R.] [278] [anōthen, "from above." The word occurs in the previous paragraph, and is probably used here in the same sense.'R.] [279] Is. ix. 5, 6, LXX. i.e. "They (the enemies of Christ) would rather have been burned, than for this to happen." The LXX., reading differently from the present Hebrew, seem to construe the passage thus. [The R.V. renders Is. ix. 5 thus: "For all the armor of the armed man in the tumult, and the garments rolled in blood, shall even be for burning, for fuel of fire." This opposes entirely the interpretation given above (and possibly implied in the LXX.). The rendering of the A.V. is quite obscure, in spite of its verbal splendor.'R.] [280] ēthelon for t thlōsunkeklērōmnēn . [281] [In Homily LXXX. the woman who was "a sinner" is identified with the woman who anointed our Lord at Bethany. The confusion of the persons is wide-spread, and the name of Mary Magdalene has been unwarrantably connected with one or both occasions.'R.] [282] [The mss. read ka, for which some editors substitute en. The better supported reading must be rendered "with both lines and colorings."'R.] [283] 1 Sam. i. 13. [The LXX., followed in the text, reads kai "and her voice," etc.'R.] [284] Acts xx. 31; comp. v. 37. [285] Gen. xviii. 12-15. [286] Gen. ix. 25. [287] ekkptōn. [288] Matt. x. 33. [289] 1 Cor. iv. 4. [290] Rom. x. 2. [291] 2 Cor. xii. 3. (It is interesting to note that this citation has three readings, followed in the received text, but rejected by recent critics on the authority of the most ancient mss. In one reading the order is that of the ancient mss. against the received text. Still the text of these Homilies may have been edited to conform to the later Syrian N.T. text.'R.] [292] 1 Cor. x. 7; Exod. xxxii. 6. [293] Ezek. xvi. 49. [294] Eph. vi. 12. [295] Eph. v. 4. [296] [áĒ' parako, "the disobedience," recorded in Genesis.'R.] [297] Phil. iii. 19. [298] [It is a long step from the troubled mind of Jerusalem to the denunciation of libidinous play-acting. But the protest has not lost its force, since the modern theatre, and too often the modern novel, is open to the same severe criticism. See Homily VII. 7, 8, for another instance of the same method of application.'R.] [299] 2 Cor. ii. 2. .


Homily VII.

Matt. II. 4, 5.

"And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, in Bethlehem of Judæa."

Seest thou how all things are done to convict the Jews? how, as long as He was out of their sight, the envy had not yet laid hold of them, and they rehearsed the testimonies of Him with truth; but when they saw the glory that arose from the miracles, a grudging spirit possessed them, and thenceforth they betrayed the truth.

However, the truth was exalted by all things, and strength was the more gathered for it even by its enemies. See for example in this very case, how wonderful and beyond expectation are the results secretly provided for. [300] For both the barbarians and the Jews do the same time alike learn something more of one another, and teach one another. Thus the Jews, for their part, heard from the wise men, that a star also had proclaimed Him in the land of the Persians; the wise men, in their turn, were informed by the Jews that this Man, whom the star proclaimed, prophets also had made known from a long time of old. And the ground [301] of their inquiry was made to both an occasion of setting forth clearer and more perfect instruction; and the enemies of the truth are compelled even against their will to read the writings in favor of the truth, and to interpret the prophecy; although not all of it. For having spoken of Bethlehem, and how that out of it He shall come that should rule Israel, they proceed not afterwards to add what follows, out of flattery to the king. And what was this? That "His goings forth are from of old, from everlasting."

2. "But why," one may say, "if He was to come from thence, did He live in Nazareth after the birth, and obscure the prophecy?" Nay, He did not obscure it, but unfolded it the more. For the fact, that while His mother had her constant residence in the one place, He was born in the other, shows the thing to have been done by a Divine dispensation. [302]

And for this cause, let me add, neither did He remove from thence straightway after His birth, but abode forty days, giving opportunity to them that were disposed to be inquisitive to examine all things accurately. Because there were in truth many things to move them to such an inquiry, at least if they had been disposed to give heed to them. Thus at the coming of the wise men the whole city was in a flutter, [303] and together with the city the king, and the prophet was brought forward, and a court of high authority was summoned; and many other things too were done there, all which Luke relates minutely. Such were what concerns Anna, and Simeon, and Zacharias, and the angels, and the shepherds; all which things were to the attentive sufficient to give hints for ascertaining what had taken place. For if the wise men, who came from Persia, were not ignorant of the place, much more might they, whose abode it was, acquaint themselves with these things.

He manifested Himself then from the beginning by many miracles, but when they would not see, He hid Himself for a while, to be again revealed from another more glorious beginning. For it was no longer the wise men, nor the star, but the Father from above that proclaimed Him at the streams of Jordan; and the Spirit likewise came upon Him, guiding that voice to the head of Him just baptized; and John, with all plainness of speech, cried out everywhere in Judæa, till inhabited and waste country alike were filled with that kind of doctrine; and the witness too of the miracles, and earth, and sea, and the whole creation, uttered in His behalf a distinct voice. But at the time of the birth, just so many things happened as were fitted quietly to mark out Him that was come. Thus, in order that the Jews might not say, "We know not when He was born, nor whereabouts," both all these events in which the wise men were concerned were brought about by God's providence, and the rest of the things which we have mentioned; so that they would have no excuse to plead, for not having inquired into that which had come to pass.

But mark also the exactness of the prophecy. For it does not say, "He will abide" in Bethlehem, but "He will come out" thence. So that this too was a subject of prophecy, His being simply born there.

Some of them, however, being past shame, say that these things were spoken of Zerubbabel. But how can they be right? For surely "his goings forth" were not "from of old, from everlasting." [304] And how can that suit him which is said at the beginning, "Out of thee shall He come forth:" Zorobabel not having been born in Judæa, but in Babylon, whence also he was called Zorobabel, [305] because he had his origin there? And as many as know the Syrians' language know what I say.

And together with what hath been said, all the time also since these things is sufficient to establish the testimony. For what saith he? "Thou art not the least among the princes of Judah," and he adds the cause of the pre-eminence, saying, "out of thee shall He come." But no one else hath made that place illustrious or eminent, excepting Him alone. For example: since that birth, men come from the ends of the earth to see the manger, and the site of the shed. And this the prophet foretold aloud from the first, saying, "Thou art not the least among the princes of Judah;" that is, among the heads of tribes. By which expression he comprehended even Jerusalem. [306] But not even so have they given heed, although the advantage passes on to themselves. Yea, and because of this the prophets at the beginning discourse nowhere so much of His dignity, as touching the benefit which accrued to them by Him. For so, when the Virgin was bearing the child, he saith, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus;" [307] and he gives the reason saying, "for He shall save His people from their sins." And the wise men too said not, "Where is the Son of God?" but "He that is born King of the Jews." And here again it is not affirmed, "Out of thee shall come forth" the Son of God, but "a Governor, that shall feed my people Israel." [308] For it was needful to converse with them at first, setting out in a tone of very exceeding condescension, lest they should be offended; and to preach what related to their salvation in particular, that hereby they might be the rather won over. At any rate, all the testimonies that are first cited, and for which it was the season immediately at the time of the birth, say nothing great, nor lofty concerning Him, nor such as those subsequent to the manifestation of the miracles; for these discourse more distinctly concerning His dignity. For instance, when after many miracles children were singing hymns unto Him, hear what saith the prophet, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise." [309] And again, "I will consider the Heavens, the works of Thy fingers;" which signifies Him to be Maker of the universe. And the testimony too, which was produced after the ascension, manifests His equality with the Father; thus saying, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand." [310] And Isaiah too saith, "He that riseth up to rule over the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles trust." [311]

But how saith he that Bethlehem is "not the least among the princes of Judah?" for not in Palestine alone, but in the whole world, the village hath become conspicuous. Why, so far he was speaking to Jews; wherefore also he added, "He shall feed my people Israel." And yet He fed the whole world; but as I have said, He is fain not to offend as yet, by revealing what He hath to say touching the Gentiles.

But how was it, one may say, that He did not feed the Jewish people? I answer, first, this too is accomplished: for by the term Israel in this place, he figuratively meant such as believed on Him from among the Jews. And Paul interpreting this, saith, "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel," [312] but as many as have been born by faith and promise. And if He did not feed them all, this is their own fault and blame. For when they ought to have worshipped with the wise men, and have glorified God that such a time was come, doing away all their sins (for not a word was spoken to them of judgments set, or of accounts to be given, but of a mild and meek Shepherd); they for their part do just the contrary, and are troubled, and make disturbance, and go on continually framing plots without end.

3. "Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently [313] what time the star appeared:" [314]

Attempting to slay that which was born,'an act of extreme idiotcy [315] not of madness only; since what had been said and done was enough to have withholden him from any such attempt. For those occurrences were not after the manner of man. A star, I mean, calling the wise men from on high; and barbarians making so long a pilgrimage, to worship Him that lay in swaddling clothes and a manger; and prophets too from of old, proclaiming beforehand all this;'these and all the rest were more than human events: but nevertheless, none of these things restrained him. For such a thing is wickedness. It falls foul of itself, and is ever attempting impossibilities. And mark his utter folly. If on the one hand he believed the prophecy, and accounted it to be unchangeable, it was quite clear that he was attempting impossibilities; if again he disbelieved, and did not expect that those sayings would come to pass, he need not have been in fear and alarm, nor have formed any plot on that behalf. So that in either way his craft was superfluous.

And this too came of the utmost folly, to think that the wise men would make more account of him than of the Child that was born, for the sake of which they had come so long a journey. For if, before they saw, they were so inflamed with longing for Him; after they had seen with their eyes, and been confirmed by the prophecy, how hoped he to persuade them to betray the young Child to him?

Nevertheless, many as were the reasons to withhold him, he made the attempt; and having "privily called the wise men, he inquired of them." [316] Because he thought that Jews would be concerned in favor of the Child, and he never could expect that they would fall away unto such madness as to be willing to give up to His enemies their Protector and Saviour, and Him who was come for the deliverance of their nation. On account of this he both calls them privily, and seeks the time not of the Child, but of the star: thereby marking out the object of his chase so as to include far more than it. [317] For the star, I think, must have appeared a long time before. It was a long time which the wise men had to spend on their journey. In order, therefore, that they might present themselves just after His birth (it being meet for Him to be worshipped in His very swaddling clothes, that the marvellous and strange nature of the thing might appear), the star, a long time before, makes itself visible. Whereas if at the moment of His birth in Palestine, and not before, it had been seen by them in the East, they, consuming a long time in their journey, would not have seen Him in swaddling clothes on their arrival. As to his slaying the children "from two years old and under," let us not marvel; for his wrath and dread, for the sake of a fuller security, added very much to the time, so that not one might escape.

Having therefore called them, he saith, "Go and search diligently [318] for the young Child; and when ye have found Him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship Him also." [319]

Seest thou his extreme folly? Why, if thou sayest these things in sincerity, wherefore dost thou inquire privily? But if intending to plot against Him, how is it thou dost not perceive, that from the fact of their being asked secretly the wise men will be able to perceive thy craft? But as I have already said, a soul taken captive by any wickedness becomes more utterly senseless than any thing.

And he said not, "go and learn concerning the King," but "concerning the young Child;" for he could not even endure to call Him by the name of His dominion.

4. But the wise men perceive nothing of this, by reason of their exceeding reverence (for they never could have expected that he could have gone on to so great wickedness, and would have attempted to form plots against a dispensation so marvellous): and they depart suspecting none of these things, but from what was in themselves auguring all that would be in the rest of mankind.

"And, lo! the star, which they saw in the east, went before them." [320]

For therefore only was it hidden, that having lost their guide, they might come to be obliged to make inquiry of the Jews, and so the matter might be made evident to all. Since after they have made inquiries, and have had His enemies [321] for informants, it appears to them again. And mark how excellent was the order; how in the first place after the star the people [322] of the Jews receives them, and the king, and these bring in the prophecy to explain what had appeared: how next, after the prophet, an angel again took them up and taught them all things; but for a time they journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem by the guidance of the star, the star again journeying with them from that place also; that hence too thou mightest learn, that this was not one of the ordinary stars, for there is not so much as one star that hath this nature. And it not merely moved, but "went before them," drawing and guiding them on in mid-day.

"But what need of this star any more," one may ask, "when the place was ascertained?" In order that the Child also might be seen. For there was not anything to make Him manifest, since the house was not conspicuous, neither was His mother glorious, or distinguished. There was need then of the star, to set them by the place. Wherefore it re-appears on their coming out of Jerusalem, and stays not, before it hath reached the manger.

And marvel was linked on to marvel; for both were strange things, as well the magi worshipping, as the star going before them; and enough to attract even such as were made all of stone. For if the wise men had said, they had heard prophets say these things, or that angels had discoursed with them in private, they might have been disbelieved; but now, when the vision of the star appeared on high, even they that were exceeding shameless had their mouths stopped.

Moreover, the star, when it stood over the young Child, stayed its course again: which thing itself also was of a greater power than belongs to a star, now to hide itself, now to appear, and having appeared to stand still. Hence they too received an increase of faith. For this cause they rejoiced also, that they had found what they were seeking, that they had proved messengers of truth, that not without fruit had they come so great a journey; so great a longing (so to speak) had they for Christ. For first it came and stood over His very head, showing that what is born is Divine; next standing there, it leads them to worship Him; being not simply barbarians, but the wiser sort amongst them.

Seest thou, with how great fitness the star appeared? Why; because even after the prophecy, and after the interpretation of the chief priests and scribes, they still had their minds turned towards it.

5. Shame upon Marcion, shame upon Paul of Samosata, [323] for refusing to see what those wise men saw,'the forefathers of the Church; for I am not ashamed so to call them. Let Marcion be ashamed, beholding God worshipped in the flesh. Let Paul be ashamed, beholding Him worshipped as not being merely a man. As to His being in the flesh, that first is signified by the swaddling clothes and the manger; as to their not worshipping Him as a mere man, they declare it, by offering Him, at that unripe age, such gifts as were meet to be offered to God. And together with them let the Jews also be ashamed, seeing themselves anticipated by barbarians and magi, whilst they submit not so much as to come after them. For indeed what happened then was a type of the things to come, and from the very beginning it was shown that the Gentiles would anticipate their nation.

"But how was it," one may ask, "that not at the beginning, but afterwards, He said, 'Go ye, and make disciples of all nations'"? Because the occurrence was a type, as I said, of the future, and a sort of declaration of it beforehand. For the natural order was that Jews should come unto Him first; but forasmuch as they of their own choice gave up their proper benefit, the order of things was inverted. Since not even in this instance should the wise men have come before the Jews, nor should persons from so great a distance have anticipated those who were settled about the very city, nor should those who had heard nothing have prevented [324] them that were nurtured in so many prophecies. But because they were exceedingly ignorant of their own blessings, those from Persia anticipate those at Jerusalem. And this indeed is what Paul also saith: "It was necessary that the word of the Lord should first have been spoken to you, but seeing ye have judged yourselves unworthy, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." [325] For even though before they did not obey, at any rate when they heard it from the wise men, they ought to have made all haste; but they would not. Therefore, while those are slumbering, these run before.

6. Let us then also follow the magi, let us separate ourselves from our barbarian customs, and make our distance therefrom great, that we may see Christ, since they too, had they not been far from their own country, would have missed seeing Him. Let us depart from the things of earth. For so the wise men, while they were in Persia, saw but the star, but after they had departed from Persia, they beheld the Sun of Righteousness. Or rather, they would not have seen so much as the star, unless they had readily risen up from thence. Let us then also rise up; though all men be troubled, let us run to the house of the young Child; though kings, though nations, though tyrants interrupt this our path, let not our desire pass away. For so shall we thoroughly repel all the dangers that beset us. Since these too, except they had seen the young Child, would not have escaped their danger from the king. Before seeing the young Child, fears and dangers and troubles pressed upon them from every side; but after the adoration, it is calm and security; and no longer a star but an angel receives them, having become priests from the act of adoration; for we see that they offered gifts also.

Do thou therefore likewise leave the Jewish people, the troubled city, the blood-thirsty tyrant, the pomp of the world, and hasten to Bethlehem, where is the [326] house of the spiritual Bread. [327] For though thou be a shepherd, and come hither, thou wilt behold the young Child in an inn: though thou be a king, and approach not here, thy purple robe will profit thee nothing; though thou be one of the wise men, this will be no hindrance to thee; only let thy coming be to honor and adore, not to spurn the Son of God; only do this with trembling and joy: for it is possible for both of these to concur in one.

But take heed that thou be not like Herod, and say, "that I may come and worship Him," and when thou art come, be minded to slay Him. For him do they resemble, who partake of the mysteries unworthily: it being said, that such a one "shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord." [328] Yes; for they have in themselves the tyrant who is grieved at Christ's kingdom, him that is more wicked than Herod of old, even Mammon. For he would fain have the dominion, and sends them that are his own to worship in appearance, but slaying while they worship. Let us fear then, lest at any time, while we have the appearance of suppliants and worshippers, we should in deed show forth the contrary.

And let us cast everything out of our hands when we are to worship; though it be gold that we have, let us offer it unto him and not bury it. For if those barbarians then offered it for honor, what will become of thee, not giving even to Him that hath need? If those men journeyed so far to see Him newly born, what sort of excuse wilt thou have, not going out of thy way one alley's length, that thou mayest visit Him sick or in bonds? And yet when they are sick or in bonds, even our enemies have our pity; thine is denied even to thy Benefactor and Lord. And they offered gold, thou hardly givest bread. They saw the star and were glad, thou, seeing Christ Himself a stranger and naked, art not moved.

For which of you, for Christ's sake, hath made so long a pilgrimage, you that have received countless benefits, as these barbarians, or rather, these wiser than the wisest philosophers? And why say I, so long a journey? Nay, many of our women are so delicate, that they go not over so much as one crossing of the streets to behold Him on the spiritual manger, [329] unless they can have mules to draw them. And others being able to walk, yet prefer to their attendance here, some a crowd of worldly business, some the theatres. Whereas the barbarians accomplished so great a journey for His sake, before seeing Him; thou not even after thou hast seen Him dost emulate them, but forsakest Him after seeing Him, and runnest to see the stage player. (For I touch again on the same subjects, as I did also of late. [330] ) And seeing Christ lying in the manger, thou leavest Him, that thou mayest see women on the stage.

7. What thunderbolts do not these things deserve? For tell me, if any one were to lead [331] thee into a palace, and show thee the king on his throne, wouldest thou indeed choose to see the theatre instead of those things? And yet even in the palace there is nothing to gain; but here a spiritual well of fire gushes up out of this table. And thou leavest this, and runnest down to the theatre, to see women swimming, and nature put to open dishonor, leaving Christ sitting by the well? Yes: for now, as of old, He sits down by the well, not discoursing to a Samaritan woman, but to a whole city. Or perchance now too with a Samaritan woman only. For neither now is any one with Him; but some with their bodies only, and some not even with these. But nevertheless, He retires not, but remains, and asks of us to drink, not water, but holiness, for "His holy things He gives unto the holy." [332] For it is not water that He gives us from this fountain, but living blood; and it is indeed a symbol of death, but it is become the cause of life.

But thou, leaving the fountain of blood, the awful cup, goest thy way unto the fountain of the devil, to see a harlot swim, and to suffer shipwreck of the soul. For that water is a sea of lasciviousness, not drowning bodies, but working shipwreck of souls. And whereas she swims with naked body, thou beholding, art sunk into the deep of lasciviousness. For such is the devil's net; it sinks, not them that go down into the water itself, but them that sit above more than such as wallow therein; and it chokes them more grievously than Pharaoh, who was of old sunk in the sea with his horses and his chariots. And if souls could but be seen, I could show you many floating on these waters, like the bodies of the Egyptians at that time. But what is still more grievous is this, that they even call such utter destruction a delight, and they term the sea of perdition a channel for a pleasure voyage. [333] Yet surely one might easier pass over in safety the Ægean or the Tuscan sea, than this spectacle. For in the first place, through a whole night the devil preoccupies their souls with the expectation of it; then having shown them the expected object, he binds them at once, and makes them captives. For think not, because thou hast not been joined unto the harlot, thou art clean from the sin; for in the purpose of thine heart thou hast done it all. Since if thou be taken by lust, thou hast kindled the flame up higher; if thou feel nothing at what thou seest, thou deservest a heavier charge, for being a scandal to others, by encouraging them in these spectacles, and for polluting thine own eye-sight, and together with thine eye-sight, thy soul.

However, not merely to find fault, come let us devise a mode of correction too. What then will the mode be? I would commit you to your own wives, that they may instruct you. It is true, according to Paul's law, [334] you ought to be the teachers. But since that order is reversed by sin, and the body has come to be above, and the head beneath, let us even take this way.

But if thou art ashamed to have a woman for thy teacher, fly from sin, and thou wilt quickly be able to mount up on the throne which God hath given thee. Since so long as thou sinnest the Scripture sends thee not to a woman only, but even to things irrational, and those of the viler sort; yea, it is not ashamed to send thee who art honored with reason, as a disciple to the ant. [335] Plainly this is no charge against the Scripture, but against them that so betray their own nobility of race. This then we will do likewise; and for the present we will commit thee to thy wife; but if thou despise her, we will send thee away to the school of the very brutes, and will point out to thee how many birds, fishes, four-footed beasts, and creeping things are found more honorable, and chaster than thou.

If now thou art ashamed, and dost blush at the comparison, mount up to thine own nobility, and fly the sea of hell, and the flood of fire, I mean the pool in the theatre. For this pool introduces to that sea, and kindles that abyss of flame. Since if "he that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery," [336] he who is forced even to see her naked, how doth he not become ten thousandfold a captive? The flood in the days of Noah did not so utterly destroy the race of men as these swimming women drown all that are there with great disgrace. For as to that rain, though it wrought indeed a death of the body, yet did it repress the wickedness of the soul; but this hath the contrary effect; while the bodies remain, it destroys the soul. And ye, when there is a question of precedence, claim to take place of the whole word, forasmuch as our city first crowned itself with the name of Christian; [337] but in the competition of chastity, ye are not ashamed to be behind the rudest cities.

8. "Well," saith one, "and what dost thou require us to do? to occupy the mountains, and become monks?" Why it is this which makes me sigh, that ye think them alone to be properly concerned with decency and chastity; and yet assuredly Christ made His laws common to all. Thus, when He saith, "if any one look on a woman to lust after her," He speaks not to the solitary, but to him also that hath a wife; since in fact that mount was at that time filled with all kinds of persons of that description. Form then in thy mind an image of that amphitheatre, and hate thou this, which is the devil's. Neither do thou condemn the severity of my speech. For I neither "forbid to marry," [338] nor hinder thy taking pleasure; but I would have this be done in chastity, not with shame, and reproach, and imputations without end. I do not make it a law that you are to occupy the mountains and the deserts, but to be good and considerate and chaste, dwelling in the midst of the city. For in fact all our laws are common to the monks also, except marriage; yea rather, even with respect to this, Paul commands us to put ourselves altogether on a level with them; saying, "For the fashion of this world passeth away:" that "they that have wives be as though they had none." [339]

"Wherefore" (so he speaks) "I do not bid you take possession of the summits of the mountains; it is true I could wish it, since the cities imitate the things that were done in Sodom; nevertheless, I do not enforce this. Abide, having house and children and wife; only do not insult thy wife, nor put thy children to shame, neither bring into thine house the infection from the theatre." Hearest thou not Paul saying, "The husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife," [340] and setting down laws common to both? But thou, if thy wife be continually thrusting herself into a public assembly, art severe in blaming her; but thyself, spending whole days on public shows, thou dost not account worthy of blame. Yea, touching thy wife's modesty thou art so strict as even to go beyond necessity or measure, and not to allow her so much as indispensable absences; but to thyself thou deemest all things lawful. Yet Paul allows thee not, who gives the wife likewise the same authority, for thus he speaks: "Let the husband render unto the wife due honor." [341] What sort of honor then is this, when thou insultest her in the chiefest things, and givest up her body to harlots (for thy body is hers); when thou bringest tumults and wars into thine house, when thou doest in the market place such things, as being related by thyself to thy wife at home, overwhelm her with shame, and put to shame also thy daughter if present, and more than them, surely, thyself? For thou must necessarily either be silent, or behave thyself so unseemly, that it would be just for thy very servants to be scourged for it. What plea then wilt thou have, I pray thee, beholding, as thou dost, with great eagerness, things which even to name is disgraceful; preferring to all sights these, which even to recount is intolerable?

Now then for a season, in order not to be too burdensome, I will here bring my discourse to an end. But if ye continue in the same courses, I will make the knife sharper, and the cut deeper; and I will not cease, till I have scattered the theatre of the devil, and so purified the assembly of the Church. For in this way we shall both be delivered from the present disgrace, and shall reap the fruit of the life 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

[300] okonometai . [301] i.e, Their assuming that the Christ should be born at that time. [302] ex okonoma. [303] aneptrōthē. [304] Micah v. 2. [305] St. Jerome, de Nom. Hebr. t. 3, 77, ed. Venet. 1767. "Zorobabel, 'princeps vel magister Babylonis', sive 'aliena translatio,' vel 'ortus in Babylone.'" [306] i.e. He made Bethlehem so far greater than Jerusalem: because "not the least" seems here equivalent to "the greatest." [307] Matt. i. 21. [308] [The R.V. renders more accurately: "Which shall be shepherd of my people Israel."'R.] [309] Matt. xxi. 16; Ps. viii. 2. [310] Ps. cx. 1; Acts ii. 34. [311] Isa. xi. 10; Rom. xv. 12. [The latter passage also follows the LXX. The word "trust" should be changed to "hope," as in R.V., Rom. xv. 12.'R.] [312] Rom. ix. 6. [313] [R.V. "learned of them carefully" (ēkrbōsen par atn). "Diligently" is from the Vulgate.'R.] [314] Matt. ii. 7. [315] anoa. [Rendered "folly," "extreme folly," etc., below.'R.] [316] [epunthneto par atn, a paraphrase of the New Testament passage, a trace of which appears in the A.V.'R.] [317] ek poll t periousa tithe t thrama. Comp. Viger. de Idiotism. Græc. ix. 3, 3. ["Marking his prey out of great superfluity," is the more literal rendering. The sense seems to be, "including more than was necessary that he might certainly include his prey."'R.] [318] ["Search out carefully," R.V. The Greek text of the New Testament is accurately cited.'R.] [319] Matt. ii. 8. [320] Matt. ii. 9. [321] Some mss. read "the Jews." [322] [dmo. The translation is somewhat obscure, throughout the entire sentence.'R.] [323] Because Marcion denied Christ's human nature, Paul His Divinity. See Epiph. Hær. 22 and 65. [324] [That is "preceded;" comp. 1 Thess. iv. 15 (R.V.) where the same Greek word occurs, which is rendered "prevent" in the A.V.'R.] [325] Acts xiii. 46. [326] Acts xiii. 46. [327] Bethlehem signifies, in Hebrew, "the house of bread." [328] 1 Cor. xi. 27. [329] Or, "Spiritual Table." Savile. [330] See Hom. vi. 10. [331] [eagagen pēngellto, "were promising to introduce."'R.] [332] This expression, T gia to goi, "Holy Things for Holy Persons," is used in the liturgies of St. Clement, St. James, St. Mark, St. Chrysostom, the Ethiopian liturgy, and that of Severus. [333] hēdon eripon. [334] 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35. [335] Prov. vi. 6. [336] Matt. v. 28. [337] Acts xi. 26. [More literally. "the name of the Christians," indicating more directly the reference to the passage in Acts.'R.] [338] 1 Tim. iv. 2. [339] 1 Cor. vii. 31, 29. [340] 1 Cor. vii. 4. [341] 1 Cor. vii. 3. In our copies of the Greek Testament, and in the mss. of St. Chrysostom, here it is, enoian, not timn. But Mr. Field writes timn, 1. from internal evidence; 2, from comparison of St. Chrysostom's own Commentary on this place of St. Paul; and accounts for it by supposing that he quoted from memory, as often, and confused the verse with 1 Peter iii. 7. [The text in 1 Cor. vii. 3, according to most of the best Greek and Latin mss., is tn pheiln (R.V., "her duo"). The text and argument of Chrysostom indicate careless citation. The translator's note was written before New Testament textual criticism had received any attention from more modern English divines.'R.] .


Homily VIII.

Matt. II. 2.

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother." [342]

How then saith Luke, that He was lying in the manger? Because at the birth indeed she presently laid Him there (for, as was not unlikely, in that large assemblage for the taxing, they could find no house; which Luke also signifies, by saying, "Because there was no room, she laid Him" there); but afterwards she took Him up, and held Him on her knees. For no sooner was she arrived at Bethlehem than she brought her pangs to an end, [343] that thou mayest thence also learn the whole dispensation, and that these things were not done at random, or by chance, but that they all were in course of accomplishment, according to some Divine foreknowledge, and prophetic order.

But what was it that induced them to worship? For neither was the Virgin conspicuous, nor the house distinguished, nor was any other of the things which they saw apt to amaze or attract them. Yet they not only worship, but also "open their treasures," and "offer gifts;" and gifts, not as to a man, but as to God. For the frankincense and the myrrh were a symbol of this. What then was their inducement? That which wrought upon them to set out from home and to come so long a journey; and this was both the star, and the illumination wrought of God in their mind, guiding them by little and little to the more perfect knowledge. For, surely, had it not been so, all that was in sight being ordinary, they would not have shown so great honor. Therefore none of the outward circumstances was great in that instance, but it was a manger, and a shed, and a mother in poor estate; to set before thine eyes, naked and bare, those wise men's love of wisdom, [344] and to prove to thee, that not as mere man they approached Him, but as a God, and Benefactor. Wherefore neither were they offended by ought of what they saw outwardly, but even worshipped, and brought gifts; gifts not only free from Judaical grossness, in that they sacrificed not sheep and calves, but also coming nigh to the self-devotion of the Church, for it was knowledge and obedience and love that they offered unto Him.

"And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return unto Herod, they departed into their own country another way." [345]

See from this also their faith, how they were not offended, but are docile, and considerate; neither are they troubled, nor reason with themselves, saying, "And yet, if this Child be great, and hath any might, what need of flight, and of a clandestine retreat? and wherefore can it be, that when we have come openly and with boldness, and have stood against so great a people, and against a king's madness, the angel sends us out of the city as runaways and fugitives?" But none of these things did they either say or think. For this most especially belongs to faith, not to seek an account of what is enjoined, but merely to obey the commandments laid upon us.

2. "And when they were departed, behold, an angel appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt." [346]

There is something here worth inquiring into, both touching the magi, and touching the Child; for if even they were not troubled, but received all with faith, it is worthy of examination on our part, why they and the young Child are not preserved, continuing there, but they as fugitives go into Persia, He with His mother into Egypt. But what? should He have fallen into the hands of Herod, and having fallen, not have been cut off? Nay, He would not have been thought to have taken flesh upon Him; the greatness of the Economy would not have been believed.

For if, while these things are taking place, and many circumstances are being ordered mysteriously after the manner of men, some have dared to say that His assumption of our flesh [347] is a fable; in what degree of impiety would they not have been wrecked had He done all in a manner becoming His Godhead, and according to His own power?

As to the wise men, He sends them off quickly, at once both commissioning them as teachers to the land of the Persians, and at the same time intercepting the madness of the king, that he might learn that he was attempting things impossible, and might quench his wrath, and desist from this his vain labor. For not alone openly to subdue His enemies, but also to deceive them with ease, is worthy of His power. Thus, for example, He deceived the Egyptians also in the case of the Jews, and having power to transfer their wealth openly into the hands of the Hebrews, He bids them do this secretly and with craft; and this surely, not less than the other miracles, made Him an object of terror to His enemies. At least, they of Ascalon, and all the rest, when they had taken the ark, and being smitten, did after that devise their countrymen not to fight, nor to set themselves against Him, with the other miracles brought this also forward, saying, "Wherefore harden ye your hearts, as Egypt and Pharaoh hardened? when He had mocked them, did He not after that send forth His people, and they departed?" [348] Now this they said, as accounting this fresh one not inferior to those other signs that had been done openly, towards the demonstration of His power, and of His greatness. And the like ensued on this occasion too; a thing sufficient to astonish the tyrant. For consider what it was natural for Herod to feel, and how his very breath would be stopped, deceived as he was by the wise men, and thus laughed to scorn. For what, if he did not become better? It is not His fault, who marvellously ordered all this, but it is the excess of Herod's madness, not yielding even to those things which had virtue [349] to have persuaded him, and deterred him from his wickedness, but going on still further, to receive a yet sharper punishment for folly so great.

3. But wherefore, it may be said, is the young Child sent into Egypt? In the first place, the evangelist himself hath mentioned the cause, saying, "That it might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt have I called my Son." And at the same time beginnings of fair hopes were thenceforth proclaimed before to the world. That is, since Babylon and Egypt, most in the whole earth, were burnt up with the flame of ungodliness, He, signifying from the first that He means to correct and amend both, and inducing men hereby to expect His bounties in regard of the whole world likewise, sent to the one the wise men, the other He Himself visited with His mother.

And besides what I have said, there is another lesson also, which we are hereby taught, tending not slightly to true self-command in us. Of what kind then is it? To look from the beginning for temptations and plots. See, for instance, how this was the case even at once from His swaddling clothes. Thus you see at His birth, first a tyrant raging, then flight ensuing, and departure beyond the border; and for no crime His mother is exiled into the land of the barbarians: that thou, hearing these things (supposing thee thought worthy to minister to any spiritual matter, and then to see thyself suffering incurable ills, and enduring countless dangers), shouldest not be greatly troubled, nor say, "What can this be? yet surely I ought to be crowned and celebrated, and be glorious and illustrious for fulfilling the Lord's commandment:" but that having this example, thou mightest bear all things nobly, knowing that this especially is the order of all things spiritual, to have everywhere temptations in the same lot with them. See at least how this is the case not only with regard to the mother of the young Child, but also of those barbarians; since they for their part retire secretly in the condition of fugitives; and she again, who had never passed over the threshold of her house, is commanded to undergo so long a journey of affliction, on account of this wonderful birth, and her spiritual travail.

And behold a wonder again. Palestine plots, and Egypt receives and preserves Him that is the object of the plots. For, as it appears, not only in the instance of the sons of the patriarch [350] did types take place, but also in our Lord's own case. In many instances, we are sure, His doings at that time were prophetic declarations of what was to happen afterwards; as, for example, in the matter of the ass and the colt. [351]

4. Now the angel having thus appeared, talks not with Mary, but with Joseph; and what saith he? "Arise, and take the young Child and His mother." Here, he saith not any more, "thy wife," but "His mother." For after that the birth had taken place, and the suspicion was done away, and the husband appeased, thenceforth the angel talks openly, calling neither child nor wife his, but "take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt;" and he mentions the cause of the flight: "For Herod," saith he, "will seek the young Child's life."

Joseph, when he had heard these things, was not offended, nether did he say, "The thing is hard to understand: Didst thou not say just now, that He should save His people?' and now He saves not even Himself: but we must fly, and go far from home, and be a long time away: the facts are contrary to the promise." Nay, none of these things doth he say (for the man was faithful): neither is he curious about the time of his return; and this though the angel had put it indefinitely thus: "Be thou there until I tell thee." But nevertheless, not even at this did he shudder, but submits and obeys, undergoing all the trials with joy.

And this because God, who is full of love to man, did with these hardships mingle things pleasant also; which indeed is His way with regard to all the saints, making neither their dangers nor their refreshment continual, but weaving the life of all righteous men, out of both the one and the other. This very thing He did here also: for consider, Joseph saw the Virgin with child; this cast him into agitation and the utmost trouble, for he was suspecting the damsel of adultery. But straightway the angel was at hand to do away his suspicion, and remove his fears; and seeing the young child born, he reaped the greatest joy. Again, this joy no trifling danger succeeds, the city being troubled, and the king in his madness seeking after Him that was born. But this trouble was again succeeded by another joy; the star, and the adoration of the wise men. Again, after this pleasure, fear and danger; "For Herod," saith he, "is seeking the young Child's life," and He must needs fly and withdraw Himself as any mortal might: the working of miracles not being seasonable as yet. For if from His earliest infancy He had shown forth wonders, He would not have been accounted a Man.

Because of this, let me add, neither is a temple framed at once; but a regular conception takes place, and a time of nine months, and pangs, and a delivery, and giving suck, and silence for so long a space, and He awaits the age proper to manhood; that by all means acceptance might be won for the mystery of His Economy.

"But wherefore then," one may say, "were even these signs wrought at the beginning?" For His mother's sake; for the sake of Joseph and of Simeon, who was presently to depart; for the sake of the shepherds and of the wise men; for the sake of the Jews. Since they, had they been willing to mind diligently what was taking place, would from this event also have reaped no small advantage in regard of what was to come.

But if the prophets do not mention what relates to the wise men, be not troubled; for they neither foretold all things, nor were they silent touching all. For as without any warning to see those things coming to pass, would naturally occasion much astonishment and trouble; so also to have been informed of all would dispose the hearer to sleep, and would have left nothing for the evangelists to add.

5. And if the Jews should raise a question touching the prophecy, and say, that the words, "Out of Egypt have I called my Son," were uttered concerning themselves; we would tell them, This is a law of prophecy, that in many cases much that is spoken of one set of persons is fulfilled in another; of which kind is that which is said touching Simeon and Levi, "I will divide them," saith He, "in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel." [352] And yet not in themselves did this come to pass, but in their descendants; and Noah's saying again about Canaan, came to pass in the Gibeonites, Canaan's descendants. [353] And that concerning Jacob one may see to have so come to pass; for those blessings which say, "Be lord over thy brother, and let thy father's sons worship thee," [354] had no accomplishment in himself (how could they, he being in fear and trembling, and worshipping his brother over and over again? [355] ), but in his offspring they had. The very same may be said in this case also. For which may be called the truer son of God, he that worships a calf, and is joined to Baalpeor [356] and sacrifices his sons to devils? or He that is a Son by nature, and honors Him that begat Him? So that, except this man had come, the prophecy would not have received, its due fulfillment. It is worth observing, too, that the evangelist intimates the same by the phrase, "that it might be fulfilled;" implying that it would not have been fulfilled, unless He had come.

And this makes the Virgin also in no common degree glorious and distinguished; that the very thing which was the whole people's special endowment in the way of praise, she also might thenceforth have for her own. I mean, that whereas they were proud of their coming up from Egypt, and used to boast of it (which indeed the prophet also was hinting at, when he said, "Have I not brought up the strangers from Cappadocia, and the Assyrians from the pit" [357] ), He makes this pre-eminence belong to the Virgin likewise.

Rather, however, both the people and the patriarch, going down thither, and coming up thence, were together completing the type of this His return. Thus, as they went down to avoid death by famine, so He death by conspiracy. But whereas they on their arrival were for the time delivered from the famine, this man, when He had gone down, sanctified the whole land, by setting His foot thereon.

At least it is observable how, in the midst of His humiliations, the tokens of His Godhead are disclosed. Thus, first of all, the angel saying, "Flee into Egypt," did not promise to journey with them, either in their descent or return; intimating that they have a great fellow-traveller, the Child that had been born; such an one as actually changed all things immediately on His appearing, and wrought so that His enemies should minister in many ways to this Economy. Thus magi and barbarians, leaving the superstition of their fathers, are come to worship: thus Augustus ministers to the birth at Bethlehem by the decree for the taxing; Egypt receives and preserves Him, driven from His home, and plotted against, and obtains a sort of first impulse towards her union unto Him; so that when in after-time she should hear Him preached by the apostles, she might have this at least to glory of, as having received Him first. And yet this privilege did belong unto Palestine alone; but the second proved more fervent than the first.

6. And now, shouldest thou come unto the desert of Egypt, thou wilt see this desert become better than any paradise, and ten thousand choirs of angels in human forms, and nations of martyrs, and companies of virgins, and all the devil's tyranny put down, while Christ's kingdom shines forth in its brightness. And the mother of poets, and wise men, and magicians, [358] were but inventions of sottish old women, but the real philosophy, and worthy of heaven, is this, which was declared unto them by the fishermen. And for this very cause, together with their so great exactness in doctrine, they exhibit also by their life that extreme seriousness. For when they have stripped themselves of all that they have, and are crucified to the whole world, they urge their course on again yet farther, using the labor of their body for the nourishment of them that be in need. For neither, because they fast and watch, do they think it meet to be idle by day; but their nights they spend in the holy hymns and in vigils, and their days in prayers, and at the same time in laboring with their own hands imitating the zeal of the apostle. [359] For if he when the whole world was looking unto him for the sake of nourishing them that were in need, both occupied a workshop, and practised a craft, and being thus employed did not so much as sleep by night; how much more, say they, is it meet that we, who have taken up our abode in the wilderness, and have nothing to do with the turmoils in the cities, should use the leisure of our quiet for spiritual labors!

Let us then be ashamed all of us, both they that are rich, and they that are poor, when those having nothing at all but a body only and hands, force their way on and strive eagerly to find thence a supply for the poor; while we, having endless stores within, touch not even our superfluities for these objects. What kind of plea shall we have then, I pray thee? and what sort of excuse?

Yet further consider, how of old these Egyptians were both avaricious, and gluttonous, together with their other vices. For there were the flesh-pots [360] which the Jews remember; there, the great tyranny of the belly. Nevertheless, having a willing mind, they changed: and having caught fire from Christ, they set off at once on their voyage towards heaven; and though more ardent than the rest of mankind, and more headstrong, both in anger, and in bodily pleasures, they imitate the incorporeal powers in meekness, and in the rest of that freedom from passions which pertains unto self-denial.

7. Now if any man hath been in the country, he knows what I say. But if he have never entered those tabernacles, let him call to mind him who even until now is in the mouths of all men,'him whom, after the apostles, Egypt brought forth,'the blessed and great Antony; and let him put it to himself, "This man, too, was born in the same country with Pharaoh; nevertheless he was not thereby damaged, but both had a divine vision vouchsafed him, and showed forth such a life as the laws of Christ require." And this any man shall know perfectly, when he hath read the book that contains the history of that man's life; [361] in which also he will perceive much prophecy. I allude to his prediction about those infected with the errors of Arius, and his statement of the mischief that would arise from them; God even then having shown them to him, and sketched out before his eyes all that was coming. A thing which most especially (among the rest) serves to demonstrate the truth, that no person, belonging to the heresies without, hath such a man to mention. But, not to depend on us for this information, look earnestly into what is written in that book, and ye will learn all exactly, and thence be instructed in much self-denial.

And this advice I give, that we not merely peruse what is written there, but that we also emulate it, and make neither place, nor education, nor forefathers' wickedness an excuse. For if we will take heed to ourselves, none of these things shall be an hindrance to us, since even Abraham had an ungodly father, [362] but he inherited not his wickedness; and Hezekiah, Ahaz: yet nevertheless he became dear to God. And Joseph too when in the midst of Egypt, adorned himself with the crowns of temperance; and the Three Children no less in the midst of Babylon, and of the palace, when a table like those at Sybaris was set before them, showed the highest self-denial; and Moses also in Egypt, and Paul in the whole world; but nothing was to any one of these an hindrance in the race of virtue.

Let us then, bearing in mind all these things, put out of the way these our superfluous pleas and excuses, and apply ourselves to those toils which the cause of virtue requires. For thus shall we both attract to ourselves more favor from God, and persuade Him to assist us in our struggles, and we shall obtain the eternal blessings; unto which God grant that we may all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and victory for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[342] [The entire verse is given in Field's Greek text; the Homily covers verses 11-15.'R.] [343] ōdna lusen. Comp. Acts. ii. 24. [344] philosophan . [345] Matt. ii. 12. [346] Matt. ii. 13. [347] [t sarks.] [348] 1 Sam. vi. 6, LXX. [349] [to dunamnoi.] [350] i.e., of Jacob. [351] The received mystical interpretation of our Lord's final entry into Jerusalem represented the ass as the type of the Jewish converts, and the colt, of the Gentile Church. See hereafter, Hom. LXVI., and comp. Origen on St. Matt. t. 16, 15; St. Amb. in Luc. lib. 9, 4-14; St. Just. Mart. Dial. cum. Tryph. c. 53. The interpretation to which St. Chrysostom points of the flight into Egypt, is probably the same with that of St. Hilary on this place. "Joseph is admonished by the angel to take the young child into Egypt: Egypt full of idols, and given to the worship of all kinds of portents for gods. Accordingly, after the persecution by the Jews, and the assent of that profane multitude to His murder, Christ passes over to the nations, sold as they were to the vainest superstitions. He leaves Jewry, and is carried into the world which knows Him not: while Bethlehem, i.e., Judæa, overflows with the blood of martyrs. As to Herod's rage and his murdering the infants, it is the type of the Jewish people raging against the Christians, under the notion that by the slaughter of the blessed martyrs they may blot out Christ's name from the faith and profession of all men." p.613, ed. Ben. Paris, 1693. [352] Gen. xlix. 7. [353] Gen. ix. 25; Josh. ix. 27; 2 Chron. viii. 7-9. [354] Gen. xxvii. 19. [355] Gen. xxxiii. 3. [356] [The reference is to Numb. xxv. 3. But as usual, the LXX. form of the name is cited: beelphegr .'R.] [357] Amos ix. 7. "The Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir," Heb. [The LXX. has to llophlu (here rendered "the strangers") the usual term for designating "the Philistines." Comp. 1 and 2 Samuel, passim (in LXX.).'R.] [358] [sophn ka mgōn. The translator has rendered mgoi sometimes by "wise men," and sometimes by t mn kenōn, i.e., those things taught by the heathen philosophers of Egypt.'R.] [359] Acts xx. 34; 1 Thess. ii. 9. [360] Ex. xvi. 3. [361] In the works of St. Athanasius. [362] Josh. xxiv. 2. .


Homily IX.

Matt. II. 16.

"Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth."

Yet surely it was a case not for anger, but for fear and awe: he ought to have perceived that he was attempting impossible things. But he is not refrained. For when a soul is insensible and incurable, it yields to none of the medicines given by God. See for example this man following up his former efforts, [363] and adding many murders to one, and hurried down the steep any whither. For driven wild by this anger, and envy, as by some demon, he takes account of nothing, but rages even against nature herself, and his anger against the wise men who had mocked him he vents upon the children that had done no wrong: venturing then in Palestine upon a deed akin to the things that had been done in Egypt. For he "sent forth," it is said, "and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men."

Here attend to me carefully. Because many things are uttered by many very idly touching these children, and the course of events is charged with injustice, and some of these express their perplexity about it in a more moderate way, others with more of audaciousness and frenzy. In order then that we may free these of their madness and those of their perplexity, suffer us to discourse a little upon this topic. Plainly, then, if this be their charge, that the children were left to be slain, they should find fault likewise with the slaughter of the soldiers that kept Peter. [364] For as here, when the young child had fled, other children are massacred in the place of Him who was sought; even so then, too, Peter having been delivered from his prison and chains by the angel, one of like name with this tyrant, and like temper too, when he had sought him, and found him not, slew instead of him the soldiers that kept him.

"But what is this?" it may be said; "why this is not a solution, but an enhancement of our difficulty." I know it too, and for this intent I bring forward all such cases, that to all I may adduce one and the same solution. What then is the solution of these things? or what fair account of them can we give? That Christ was not the cause of their slaughter, but the king's cruelty; as indeed neither was Peter to those others, but the madness of Herod. For if he had seen the wall broken through, or the doors overthrown, he might, perhaps, have had ground to accuse the soldiers that kept the apostle, of neglect; but now when all things continued in due form, [365] and the doors were thrown wide open, and the chains fastened to the hands of them that kept him (for in fact they were bound unto him), he might have inferred from these things (that is, if he had been strictly doing a judge's office on the matters before him), that the event was not of human power or craft, but of some divine and wonder-working power; he might have adored the doer of these things, instead of waging war with the sentinels. For God had so done all that He did, that so far from exposing the keepers, He was by their means leading the king unto the truth. But if he proved senseless, what signifies to [366] the skillful Physician of Souls, managing all things to do good, the insubordination of him that is diseased?

And just this one may say in the present case likewise. For, wherefore art thou wroth, O Herod, at being mocked of the wise men? didst thou not know that the birth was divine? didst thou not summon the chief priests? didst thou not gather together the scribes? did not they, being called, bring the prophet also with them into thy court of judgment, proclaiming these things beforehand from of old? Didst thou not see how the old things agreed with the new? Didst thou not hear that a star also ministered to these men? Didst thou not reverence the zeal of the barbarians? Didst thou not marvel at their boldness? Wast thou not horror-struck at the truth of the prophet? Didst thou not from the former things perceive the very last also? Wherefore didst thou not reason with thyself from all these things, that this event was not of the craft of the wise men, but of a Divine Power, duly dispensing all things? And even if thou wert deceived by the wise men, what is that to [367] the young children, who have done no wrong?

2. "Yea," saith one, "Herod thou hast full well deprived of excuse, and proved him blood-thirsty; but thou hast not yet solved the question about the injustice of what took place. For if he did unjustly, wherefore did God permit it?" Now, what should we say to this? That which I do not cease to say continually, in church, in the market-place and everywhere; that which I also wish you carefully to keep in mind, for it is a sort of rule for us, suited to every such perplexity. What then is our rule, and what our saying? That although there be many that injure, yet is there not so much as one that is injured. And in order that the riddle may not disturb you too much, I add the solution too with all speed. I mean, that what we may suffer unjustly from any one, it tells either to the doing away of our sins, God so putting that wrong to our account; or unto the recompense of rewards.

And that what I may say may be clearer, let us conduct our argument in the way of illustration. As thus: suppose a certain servant who owes much money to his master, and then that this servant has been despitefully used by unjust men, and robbed of some of his goods. If then the master, in whose power it was to stay the plunderer and wrong doer, should not indeed restore that same property, but should reckon what was taken away towards what was owed him by his servant, is the servant then injured? By no means. But what if he should repay him even more? Has he not then even gained more than he has lost? Every one, I suppose, perceives it.

Now this same reckoning we are to make in regard of our own sufferings. For as to the fact, that in consideration of what we may suffer wrongfully, we either have sins done away, or receive more glorious crowns, if the amount of our sins be not so great: hear what Paul says concerning him that had committed fornication, "Deliver ye such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved." [368] "But what is this?" you may say, "for the discourse was about them that were injured by others, not about them that are corrected by their teachers." I might answer, that there is no difference; [369] for the question was, whether to suffer evil be not an indignity to the sufferer. But, to bring my argument nearer the very point inquired of; remember David, how, when he saw Shimei at a certain time assailing him, and trampling on his affliction, and pouring on him revilings without end, his captains desiring to slay him, he utterly forbade them, saying, "Let him curse, that the Lord may look upon mine abasement, and that he may requite me good for this cursing this day." [370] And in the Psalms too in his chanting, he said, "Consider mine enemies, that they are multiplied, and they hate me with unjust hatred," and "forgive all my sins." [371] And Lazarus again for the same cause enjoyed remission, having in this life suffered innumerable evils. They therefore who are wronged, are not wronged if they bear nobly all that they suffer, yea, rather they gain even more abundantly, whether they be smitten of God, or scourged by the devil.

3. "But what kind of sin had these children," it may be said, "that they should do it away? for touching those who are of full age, and have been guilty of many negligences, one might with show of reason speak thus: but they who so underwent premature death, what sort of sins did they by their sufferings put away?" Didst thou not hear me say, that though there were no sins, there is a recompense of rewards hereafter for them that suffer ill here? Wherein then were the young children hurt in being slain for such a cause, and borne away speedily into that waveless harbor? "Because," sayest thou, "they would in many instances have achieved, had they lived, many and great deeds of goodness." Why, for this cause He lays up for them beforehand no small reward, the ending their lives for such a cause. Besides, if the children were to have been any great persons, He would not have suffered them to be snatched away beforehand. For if they that eventually will live in continual wickedness are endured by Him with so great long-sufferings, much more would He not have suffered these to be so taken off had He foreknown they would accomplish any great things.

And these are the reasons we have to give; yet these are not all; but there are also others more mysterious than these, which He knoweth perfectly, who Himself ordereth these things. Let us then give up unto Him the more perfect understanding of this matter, and apply ourselves to what follows, and in the calamities of others let us learn to bear all things nobly. Yea, for it was no little scene of woe, which then befell Bethlehem, the children were snatched from their mother's breast, and dragged unto this unjust slaughter.

And if thou art yet faint-hearted, and not equal to controlling thyself in these things, learn the end of him who dared all this, and recover thyself a little. For very quickly was he overtaken by punishment for these things; and he paid the due penalty of such an abominable act, ending his life by a grievous death, and more pitiable than that which he now dared inflict; [372] suffering also countless additional ills, which ye may know of by perusing Josephus' account of these events. But, lest we should make our discourse long, and interrupt its continuity, we have not thought it necessary to insert that account in what we are saying.

4. "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, [373] saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." [374]

Thus having filled the hearer with horror by relating these things: the slaughter so violent and unjust, so extremely cruel and lawless; he comforts him again, by saying, Not from God's wanting power to prevent it did all this take place, nor from any ignorance of His, but when He both knew it, and foretold it, [375] and that loudly by His prophet. Be not troubled then, neither despond, looking unto His unspeakable providence, which one may most clearly see, alike by what He works, and by what He permits. And this He intimated in another place also, when discoursing to His disciples. I mean where, having forewarned them of the judgment seats, and executions, and of the wars of the world, and of the battle that knows no truce, to uphold their spirit and to comfort them He saith, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father which is in Heaven." [376] These things He said, signifying that nothing is done without His knowledge, but while He knows all, yet not in all doth He act. "Be not then troubled," He saith, "neither be disturbed." For if He know what ye suffer, and hath power to hinder it, it is quite clear that it is in His providence and care for you that He doth not hinder it. And this we ought to bear in mind in our own temptations also, and great will be the consolation we shall thence receive.

But what, it may be said, hath Rachel to do with Bethlehem? For it saith, "Rachel weeping for her children." And what hath Rama to do with Rachel? Rachel was the mother of Benjamin, and on his death, they buried her in the horse-course that was near this place. [377] The tomb then being near, and the portion pertaining unto Benjamin her infant (for Rama was of the tribe of Benjamin), from the head of the tribe first, and next from the place of her sepulture, He naturally denominates her young children who were massacred. [378] Then to show that the wound that befell her was incurable and cruel, He saith, "she would not be comforted because they are not."

Hence again we are taught this, which I mentioned before, never to be confounded when what is happening is contrary to the promise of God. Behold, for instance, when He was come for the salvation of the people, or rather for the salvation of the world, of what kind were His beginnings. His mother, first, in flight; His birth-place is involved in irremediable calamities, and a murder is perpetrated of all murders the bitterest, and there is lamentation and great mourning, and wailings everywhere. But be not troubled; for He is wont ever to accomplish His own dispensations by their contraries, affording us from thence a very great demonstration of His power.

Thus did He lead on His own disciples also, and prepared them to do all their duty, bringing about things by their contraries, that the marvel might be greater. They, at any rate, being scourged and persecuted, and suffering terrors without end, did in this way get the better of them that were beating and persecuting them.

5. "But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph saying, Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel." [379]

He no more saith "fly," but "go." Seest thou again after the temptation refreshment? then after the refreshment danger again? in that he was freed indeed from his banishment, and came back again to his own country; and beheld the murderer of the children brought to the slaughter; [380] but when he hath set foot on his own country, he finds again a remnant of the former perils, the son of the tyrant living, and being king.

But how did Archelaus reign over Judæa, when Pontius Pilate was governor? Herod's death had recently taken place, and the kingdom had not yet been divided into many parts; but as he had only just ended his life, the son for a while kept possession of the kingdom "in the room of his father Herod;" his brother also bearing this name, which is the reason why the evangelist added, "in the room of his father Herod."

It may be said, however, "if he was afraid to settle in Judæa on account of Archelaus, he had cause to fear Galilee also on account of Herod." I answer, By his changing the place, the whole matter was thenceforward thrown into shade; for the whole assault was upon "Bethlehem and the coasts thereof." Therefore now that the slaughter had taken place, the youth Archelaus had no other thought, but that the whole was come to an end, and that amongst the many, He that was sought had been destroyed. And besides, his father having come to such an end of his life before his eyes, he became for the future more cautious about farther proceedings, and about urging on that course of iniquity.

Joseph therefore comes to Nazareth, partly to avoid the danger, partly also delighting to abide in his native place. To give him the more courage, he receives also an oracle from the angel touching this matter. Luke, however, doth not say that he came there by Divine warning, but that when they had fulfilled all the purification, they returned to Nazareth. [381] What then may one say? That Luke is giving an account of the time before the going down to Egypt, when he saith these things. For He would not have brought them down thither before the purification, in order that nothing should be done contrary to the law, but he waited for her to be purified, and to go to Nazareth, and that then they should go down to Egypt. Then, after their return, He bids them go to Nazareth. But before this they were not warned of God to go thither, but yearning after their native place, they did so of their own accord. For since they had gone up for no other cause but on account of the taxing, and had not so much as a place where to stay, when they had fulfilled that for which they had come up, they went down to Nazareth. [382]

6. We see here the cause why the angel also, putting them at ease for the future, restores them to their home. And not even this simply, but he adds to it a prophecy, "That it might be fulfilled," saith he, "which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene." [383]

And what manner of prophet said this? Be not curious, nor overbusy. For many of the prophetic writings have been lost; and this one may see from the history of the Chronicles. [384] For being negligent, and continually falling into ungodliness, some they suffered to perish, others they themselves burnt up [385] and cut to pieces. The latter fact Jeremiah relates; [386] the former, he who composed the fourth book of Kings, saying, that after [387] a long time the book of Deuteronomy was hardly found, buried somewhere and lost. But if, when there was no barbarian there, they so betrayed their books, much more when the barbarians had overrun them. For as to the fact, that the prophet had foretold it, the apostles themselves in many places call Him a Nazarene. [388]

"Was not this then," one may say, "casting a shade over the prophecy touching Bethlehem?" By no means: rather this very fact was sure greatly to stir up men, and to awaken them to the search of what was said of Him. Thus, for example, Nathanael too enters on the inquiry concerning Him, saying, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" [389] For the place was of little esteem; or rather not that place only, but also the whole district of Galilee. Therefore the Pharisees said, "Search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." [390] Nevertheless, He is not ashamed to be named even from thence, signifying that He needs not ought of the things of men; and His disciples also He choses out of Galilee; everywhere cutting off the pretexts of them who are disposed to be remiss, and giving tokens that we have no need of outward things, if we practise virtue. For this cause He doth not choose for Himself so much as a house; for "the Son of Man," saith He, "hath not where to lay His head;" [391] and when Herod is plotting against Him, He fleeth, and at His birth is laid in a manger, and abides in an inn, and takes a mother of low estate; teaching us to think no such thing a disgrace, and from the first outset trampling under foot the haughtiness of man, and bidding us give ourselves up to virtue only.

7. For why dost thou pride thyself on thy country, when I am commanding thee to be a stranger to the whole world? (so He speaks); when thou hast leave to become such as that all the universe shall not be worthy of thee? For these things are so utterly contemptible, that they are not thought worthy of any consideration even amongst the philosophers of the Greeks, but are called Externals, and occupy the lowest place.

"But yet Paul," one may say, "allows them, saying on this wise, 'As touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake.'" [392] But tell me, when, and of what things was he discoursing, and to whom? Why, to those of Gentile origin, who were puffing themselves up on their faith, and exalting themselves against the Jews, and so breaking them off the more: to quell the swelling pride of the one, and to win over the others, and thoroughly excite them to the same emulation. For when he is speaking of those noble and great men, hear how he saith, "They that say these things, show plainly that they seek a country; and truly if they had been mindful of that from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned: but now they desire another, a better country." [393] And again, "These all died in faith, not having obtained the promises, but having seen them afar off, and embraced them." [394] And John too said unto those that were coming to him, "Think not to say, We have Abraham to our father." [395] And Paul again, "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel; neither they, which are the children of the flesh, are they the children of God." [396] For what were the sons of Samuel advantaged, tell me, by their father's nobleness, when they were not heirs of their father's virtue? And what profit had Moses' sons, not having emulated his perfection? [397] Therefore neither did they inherit the dominion; but whilst they enrolled him as their father, the rule of the people passed away to another, to him who had become his son in the way of virtue. And what harm was it to Timothy, that he was of a Greek father? Or what on the other hand again was Noah's son profited by the virtue of his father, when he became a slave instead of free? Seest thou, how little the nobleness of a father avails his children in the way of advocacy? [398] For the wickedness of Ham's disposition overcame the laws of nature, and cast him not only out of the nobility which he had in respect of his father, but also out of his free estate. And what of Esau? Was he not son of Isaac, and had he not his father to stand his friend? Yea, his father too endeavored and desired that he should partake of the blessings, and he himself for the sake of this did all that was commanded him. Nevertheless, because he was untoward, [399] none of these things profited him; but although he was by birth first, and had his father on his side doing everything for this object, yet not having God with him, he lost all.

But why do I speak of men? The Jews were sons of God, and gained nothing by this their high birth. Now if a man, having become a son of God, but failing to show forth an excellency meet for this noble birth, is even punished the more abundantly; why dost thou bring me forward the nobleness of ancestors remote or near? For not under the old covenant [400] only, but even under the new, one may find this rule to have held. For "as many as received Him," it is said "to them gave He power to become the sons of God." [401] And yet many of these children Paul hath affirmed to be nothing profited by their father; "For if ye be circumcised," saith he, "Christ shall profit you nothing." [402] And if Christ be no help to those who will not take heed to themselves, how shall a man stand up in their behalf?

8. Let us not therefore pride ourselves either on high birth, or on wealth, but rather despise them who are so minded: neither let us be dejected at poverty. But let us seek that wealth, which consists in good works; let us flee that poverty, which causes men to be in wickedness, by reason of which also that rich man was poor; [403] wherefore he had not at his command so much as a drop of water, and that, although he made much entreaty. Whereas, who can be so poor amongst us, [404] as to want water enough even for comfort? There is none such. For even they that are pining with extreme hunger, may have the comfort of a drop of water; and not of a drop only, but of refreshment too far more abundant. Not so that rich man, but he was poor even to this degree: and what was yet more grievous, he could not so much as soothe his poverty from any source. Why then do we gape after riches, since they bring us not into Heaven?

For tell me, if any king among those upon earth had said, It is impossible for him that is rich to be distinguished at court, or to enjoy any honor; would ye not have thrown away every one his riches with contempt? So then, if they cast us out from such honor as is in the palaces below, they shall be worthy of all contempt: but, when the King of Heaven is day by day crying aloud and saying, "It is hard with them, to set foot on that sacred threshold;" shall we not give up all, and withdraw from our possessions, that with boldness we may enter into the kingdom? And of what consideration are we worthy, who are at great pains to encompass ourselves with the things that obstruct our way thither; and to hide them not only in chests, but even in the earth, when we might entrust them to the guard of the very Heavens? Since now surely thou art doing the same, as if any husbandman, having gotten wheat wherewith to sow a rich land, was to leave the land alone, and bury all the wheat in a pit, so as neither to enjoy it himself, nor for the wheat to come to ought, but decay and waste. But what is their common plea, when we accuse them of these things? It gives no little comfort, say they, to know that all is laid up for us in safety at home. Nay, rather not to know of its being laid up is a comfort. For even if thou art not afraid of famine, yet other more grievous things, on account of this store, must needs be a terror to thee: deaths, wars, plots laid against thee. And if a famine should ever befall us, the people again, constrained by the belly, takes weapon in hand against thy house. Or rather, in so doing, thou art first of all bringing famine into our cities, and next thou art forming for thine own house this gulf, more grievous than famine. For by stress of famine I know not any who have come to a speedy end; there being in fact many means in many quarters which may be devised to assuage that evil: but for possessions and riches, and the pursuits connected with them, I can show many to have come by their ruin, some in secret, some openly. And with many such instances the highways abound, with many the courts of law, and the market-places. But why speak I of the highways, the courts of law and the market-places? Why, the very sea thou mayest behold filled with their blood. For not over the land only, as it seems, hath this tyranny prevailed, but over the ocean also hath walked in festal procession with great excess. And one makes a voyage for gold, another, again, is stabbed for the same; and the same tyrannical power hath made one a merchant, the other a murderer.

What then can be less trustworthy than Mammon, seeing that for his sake one travels, and ventures, and is slain? "But who," it is said, "will pity a charmer that is bitten with a serpent?" [405] For we ought, knowing its cruel tyranny, to flee that slavery, and destroy that grievous longing. "But how," saith one, "is this possible?" By introducing another longing, the longing for Heaven. Since he that desires the kingdom will laugh covetousness to scorn; he that is become Christ's slave is no slave of mammon, but rather his lord; for him that flieth from him, he is wont to follow, and to fly from him that pursues. He honors not so much his pursuer as his despiser; no one doth he so laugh to scorn, as them that desire him; nor doth he only laugh them to scorn, but wraps round them also innumerable bonds.

Be it ours then, however late, to loose these grievous chains. Why bring thy reasonable soul into bondage to brute matter, to the mother of those untold evils? But, oh the absurdity! that while we are warring against it in words, it makes war with us by deeds, and leads and carries us everywhere about, insulting us as purchased with money, and meet for the lash; and what can be more disgraceful and dishonorable than this?

Again: if we do not get the better of senseless forms of matter, how shall we have the advantage of the incorporeal powers? If we despise not vile earth and abject stones, how shall we bring into subjection the principalities and authorities? How shall we practise temperance? I mean, if silver dazzle and overpower us, when shall we be able to hurry by a fair face? For, in fact, some are so sold under this tyranny, as be moved somehow even at the mere show of the gold, and in playfulness to say, that the very eyes are the better for a gold coin coming in sight. But make not such jests, whoever thou art; [406] for nothing so injures the eyes, both those of the body and those of the soul, as the lust of these things. For instance; it was this grievous longing that put out the lamps of those virgins, and cast them out of the bride chamber. This sight, which (as thou saidst) "doeth good to the eyes," suffered not the wretched Judas to hearken unto the Lord's voice, but led him even to the halter, made him burst asunder in the midst; and, after all that, conducted him on to hell.

What then can be more lawless than this? what more horrible? I do not mean the substance of riches, but the unseasonable and frantic desire of them? Why, it even drops human gore, and looks murder, and is fiercer than any wild beast, tearing in pieces them that fall in its way, and what is much worse, it suffers them not even to have any sense of being so mangled. For reason would that those who are so treated should stretch forth their hand to them that pass by, and call them to their assistance, but these are even thankful for such rendings of their flesh, than which what can be more wretched?

Let us then, bearing in mind all these things, flee the incurable disease; let us heal the wounds it hath made, and withdraw ourselves from such a pest: in order that both here we may live a secure and untroubled life, and attain to the future treasure; unto which God grant that we may all attain, [407] by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom unto the Father together with the Holy Ghost be glory, might, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[363] to protroi pagōnizmenon. Comp. Jude 3. [364] Acts xii. 19. [365] ep schmato. [366] [t prs, "what is that to," as in following paragraph.'R.] [367] [t prs.] [368] 1 Cor. v. 5. [369] [Mlista mn odn t mson.] [370] 2 Sam. xvi. 11, 12. [The citation varies from the LXX., and the latter from the Hebrew: comp. R.V. in loco, where the LXX. is represented in the marginal note.'R.] [371] Ps. xxv. 18, 17. [372] See Josephus, A.J. xvii. 6, 5. [373] Jer. xxxi. 15. [374] Matt. ii. 17, 18. [375] [proanakērttonto, "proclaiming beforehand," a technical term of ecclesiastical Greek.'R.] [376] Matt. x. 29. [377] Gen. xxxv. 19, LXX. and xlviii. 7. [378] ["He calls the young children who were massacred hers," i.e., Rachel's.'R.] [379] Matt. ii. 19, 20. [380] sphagiasthnta. ["Massacred," a bold figure of speech.'R.] [381] Luke ii. 39. [382] [Of this there is no hint in the narrative; it is a harmonistic conjecture, with little to recommend it.'R.] [383] Matt. ii. 23. [384] See 2 Chron. ix. 29, where it is said that certain of the acts of Solomon were written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite; and in the visions of Iddo the Seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat. See also ibid. xii. 15, and xiii. 22. [The explanation given above is as bold as it is ingenious.'R.] [385] [The Oxford edition reads "brought up;" evidently a misprint for "burnt up" (katkaion ).'R.] [386] Jer. xxxvi. 23. [387] 2 Kings xxii. 8, etc. [388] See Acts iii. 22, iii. 6, iv. 10, vi. 14, etc. [389] John i. 46. [390] John vii. 52. [R.V. text: "Search, and see that out of Galilee ariseth no prophet."'R.] [391] Matt. viii. 20. [392] Rom. xi. 28. [The Oxford edition reads: "for the Fathers sake;" a misprint, conveying an incorrect sense.'R.] [393] Heb. xi. 14, 15. [394] Heb. xi. 13. [R.V., more correctly: "having seen them and greeted them from afar."'R.] [395] Matt. iii. 9. [396] Rom. ix. 6-8. [397] [akrbeian, "strictness."'R.] [398] [prostasan, "advancement."'R.] [399] skao. [400] [t palai, without a substantive, the technical term in ecclesiastical Greek for the Old Testament.'R.] [401] John i. 12. [402] Gal. v. 2. [403] Luke xvi. 24. [404] The words in italics are omitted in several mss. [In four mss and two versions the clause is wanting; see note at close of this Homily.'R.] [405] Ecclus. xii. 13. [406] [anthrōpe.] [407] Om. in one or two mss. [The clause in brackets is wanting in four mss. and in two versions; the identical authorities which omit the clause in sec. 8. The Oxford editor estimates the facts differently in the two instances, without any adequate reason.'R.] .


Homily X.

Matt. III. 1, 2.

"In those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judæa, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

How "in those days"? For not then, surely, when He was a child, and came to Nazareth, but thirty years after, John cometh; as Luke also testifies. How then is it said, "in those days"? The Scripture is always wont to use this manner of speech, not only when it is mentioning what occurs in the time immediately after, but also of things which are to come to pass many years later. Thus also, for example, when His disciples came unto Him as He sat on the Mount of Olives, and sought to learn about His coming, and the taking of Jerusalem: [408] and yet ye know how great is the interval between those several periods. I mean, that having spoken of the subversion of the mother city, and completed His discourse on that subject, and being about to pass to that on the consummation, he inserted, "Then shall these things also come to pass;" [409] not bringing together the times by the word then, but indicating that time only in which these things were to happen. And this sort of thing he doth now also, saying, "In those days." For this is not put to signify the days that come immediately after, but those in which these things were to take place, which he was preparing to relate.

"But why was it after thirty years," it may be said, "that Jesus came unto His baptism"? After this baptism He was thenceforth to do away with the law: wherefore even until this age, which admits of all sins, He continues fulfilling it all; that no one might say, that because He Himself could not fulfill it, He did it away. For neither do all passions assail us at all times; but while in the first age of life there is much thoughtlessness and timidity, in that which comes after it, pleasure is more vehement, and after this again the desire of wealth. For this cause he awaits the fullness of His adult age, and throughout it all fulfills the law, and so comes to His baptism, adding it as something which follows upon the complete keeping of all the other commandments.

To prove that this was to Him the last good work of those enjoined by the law, hear His own words: "For thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." [410] Now what He saith is like this: "We have performed all the duties of the law, we have not transgressed so much as one commandment. Since therefore this only remains, this too must be added, and so shall we "fulfill all righteousness." For He here calls by the name of "righteousness" the full performance of all the commandments.

2. Now that on this account Christ came to His baptism, is from this evident. But wherefore was this baptism devised for Him? For that not of himself did the son of Zacharias proceed to this, but of God who moved him,'this Luke also declares, when he saith, "The word of the Lord came unto him," [411] that is, His commandment. And he himself too saith, "He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending like a dove, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." [412] Wherefore then was he sent to baptize? The Baptist again makes this also plain to us, saying, "I knew Him not, but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water." [413]

And if this was the only cause, how saith Luke, that "he came into the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins?" [414] And yet it had not remission, but this gift pertained unto the baptism that was given afterwards; for in this "we are buried with Him," [415] and our old man was then crucified with Him, and before the cross there doth not appear remission anywhere; for everywhere this is imputed to His blood. And Paul too saith, "But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified," not by the baptism of John, but "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God." [416] And elsewhere too he saith, "John verily preached a baptism of repentance," (he saith not "of remission,") "that they should believe on Him that should come after him." [417] For when the sacrifice was not yet offered, neither had the spirit yet come down, nor sin was put away, nor the enmity removed, nor the curse destroyed; how was remission to take place?

What means then, "for the remission of sins?"

The Jews were senseless, and had never any feeling of their own sins, but while they were justly accountable for the worst evils, they were justifying themselves in every respect; and this more than anything caused their destruction, and led them away from the faith. This, for example, Paul himself was laying to their charge, when he said, that "they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about [418] to establish their own, had not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." [419] And again: "What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained [420] to righteousness; but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained [421] unto the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works." [422]

Since therefore this was the cause of their evils, John cometh, doing nothing else but bringing them to a sense of their own sins. This, among other things, his very garb declared, being that of repentance and confession. This was indicated also by what he preached, for nothing else did he say, but "bring forth fruits meet for repentance." [423] Forasmuch then as their not condemning their own sins, as Paul also hath explained, made them start off from Christ, while their coming to a sense thereof would set them upon longing to seek after their Redeemer, and to desire remission; this John came to bring about, and to persuade them to repent, not in order that they might be punished, but that having become by repentance more humble, and condemning themselves, they might hasten to receive remission.

But let us see how exactly he hath expressed it; how, having said, that he "came preaching the baptism of repentance in the wilderness of Judæa," he adds, "for remission," as though he said, For this end he exhorted them to confess and repent of their sins; not that they should be punished, but that they might more easily receive the subsequent remission. For had they not condemned themselves, they could not have sought after His grace; and not seeking, they could not have obtained remission.

Thus that baptism led the way for this; wherefore also he said, that "they should believe on Him which should come after him;" [424] together with that which hath been mentioned setting forth this other cause of His baptism. For neither would it have been as much for him to have gone about to their houses, and to have led Christ around, taking Him by the hand, and to have said, "Believe in This Man;" as for that blessed voice to be uttered, and all those other things performed in the presence and sight of all.

On account of this He cometh to the baptism. Since in fact both the credit of him that was baptizing, and the purport of the thing itself, [425] was attracting the whole city, and calling it unto Jordan; and it became a great spectacle. [426]

Therefore he humbles them also when they are come, and persuades them to have no high fancies about themselves; showing them liable to the utmost evils, unless they would repent, and leaving their forefathers, and all vaunting in them, would receive Him that was coming.

Because in fact the things concerning Christ had been up to that time veiled, and many thought He was dead, owing to the massacre which took place at Bethlehem. For though at twelve years old He discovered Himself, yet did He also quickly veil Himself again. And for this cause there was need of that splendid exordium and of a loftier beginning. Wherefore also then for the first time he with clear voice proclaims things which the Jews had never heard, neither from prophets, nor from any besides; making mention of Heaven, and of the kingdom there, and no longer saying anything touching the earth.

But by the kingdom in this place he means His former and His last advent.

3. "But what is this to the Jews?" one may say, "for they know not even what thou sayest." "Why, for this cause," saith he, "do I so speak, in order that being roused by the obscurity of my words, they may proceed to seek Him, whom I preach." In point of fact, he so excited them with good hopes when they came near, that even many publicans and soldiers inquired what they should do, and how they should direct their own life; which was a sign of being thenceforth set free from all worldly things, and of looking to other greater objects, and of foreboding [427] things to come. Yea, for all, both the sights and the words of that time, led them unto lofty thoughts.

Conceive, for example, how great a thing it was to see a man after thirty years coming down from the wilderness, being the son of a chief priest, who had never known the common wants of men, and was on every account venerable, and had Isaiah with him. For he too was present proclaiming him, and saying, "This is he who I said should come crying, and preaching throughout the whole wilderness with a clear voice." For so great was the earnestness of the prophets touching these things, that not their own Lord only, but him also who was to minister unto Him, they proclaimed a long time beforehand, and they not only mentioned him, but the place too in which he was to abide, and the manner of the doctrine which he had to teach when he came, and the good effect that was produced by him.

See, at least, how both the prophet and the Baptist go upon the same ideas, although not upon the same words.

Thus the prophet saith that he shall come saying, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." [428] And he himself when he was come said, "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance," [429] which corresponds with, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." Seest thou that both by the words of the prophet, and by his own preaching, this one thing is manifested alone; that he was come, making a way and preparing beforehand, not bestowing the gift, which was the remission, but ordering in good time the souls of such as should receive the God of all?

But Luke expresses somewhat further: not repeating the exordium, and so passing on, but setting down likewise all the prophecy. "For every valley," saith he, "shall be filled; and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." [430] Dost thou perceive how the prophet hath anticipated all by his words; the concourse of the people, the change of things for the better, the easiness of that which was preached, the first cause of all that was occurring, even if he hath expressed it rather as in figure, it being in truth a prophecy which he was uttering? Thus, when he saith, "Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;" he is signifying the exaltation of the lowly, the humiliation of the self-willed, the hardness of the law changed into easiness of faith. For it is no longer toils and labors, saith he, but grace, and forgiveness of sins, affording great facility of salvation. Next he states the cause of these things, saying, "All flesh shall see the salvation of God;" no longer Jews and proselytes only, but also all earth and sea, and the whole race of men. Because by "the crooked things" he signified our whole corrupt life, publicans, harlots, robbers, magicians, as many as having been perverted before afterwards walked in the right way: much as He Himself likewise said, "publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you," [431] because they believed. And in other words also again the prophet declared the self-same thing, thus saying, "Then wolves and lambs shall feed together." [432] For like as here by the hills and valleys, he meant that incongruities of character [433] are blended into one and the same evenness of self-restraint, so also there, by the characters of the brute animals indicating the different dispositions of men, he again spoke of their being linked in one and the same harmony of godliness. Here also, as before, stating the cause. That cause is, "There shall be He that riseth to reign over the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles trust:" [434] much the same as here too he said, "All flesh shall see the salvation of God," everywhere declaring that the power and knowledge of these our Gospels would be poured out to the ends of the world, converting the human race, from a brutish disposition and a fierce temper to something very gentle and mild.

4. "And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins." [435]

Observe, how the prophets foretold some things, others they left to the evangelists. Wherefore also Matthew both sets down the prophecies, and adds his own part, not accounting even this superfluous, to speak of the dress of the righteous man.

For indeed it was a marvellous and strange thing to behold so great austerity in a human frame: which thing also particularly attracted the Jews, seeing in him the great Elijah, and guided by what they then beheld, to the memory of that blessed man; or rather, even to a greater astonishment. For the one indeed was brought up in cities and in houses, the other dwelt entirely in the wilderness from his very swaddling clothes. For it became the forerunner of Him who was to put away all the ancient ills, the labor, for example, the curse, the sorrow, the sweat; himself also to have certain tokens of such a gift, and to come at once to be above that condemnation. Thus he neither ploughed land, nor opened furrow, he ate not his bread by the sweat of his face, but his table was hastily supplied, and his clothing more easily furnished than his table, and his lodging yet less troublesome than his clothing. For he needed neither roof, nor bed, nor table, nor any other of these things, but a kind of angel's life in this our flesh did he exhibit. For this cause his very garment was of hair, that by his dress he might instruct men to separate themselves from all things human, and to have nothing in common with the earth, but to hasten back to their earlier nobleness, wherein Adam was before he wanted garments or robe. Thus that garb bore tokens of nothing less than a kingdom, and of repentance.

And do not say to me, "Whence had he a garment of hair and a girdle, dwelling as he did in the wilderness?" For if thou art to make a difficulty of this, thou wilt also inquire into more things besides; how in the winters, and how in the heats of summer, he continued in the wilderness, and this with a delicate body, and at an immature age? how the nature of his infant flesh endured such great inconstancy of weather, and a diet so uncommon, and all the other hardships arising from the wilderness?

Where now are the philosophers of the Greeks, who at random and for nought emu lated the shamelessness of the Cynics (for what is the profit of being shut up in a tub, and afterwards running into such wantonness)? they who encompassed themselves with rings and cups, and men servants and maid servants, and with much pomp besides, falling into either extreme. But this man was not so; but he dwelt in the wilderness as in Heaven, showing forth all strictness of self-restraint. And from thence, like some angel from Heaven, he went down unto the cities, being a champion of godliness, and a crowned victor over the world, and a philosopher of that philosophy which is worthy of the heavens. And these things were, when sin was not yet put away, when the law had not yet ceased, when death was not yet bound, when the brazen gates were not yet broken up, but while the ancient polity still was in force.

Such is the nature of a noble and thoroughly vigilant soul, for it is everywhere springing forward, and passing beyond the limits set to it; as Paul [436] also did with respect to the new polity.

But why, it may be asked, did he use a girdle with his raiment? This was customary with them of old time, before men passed into this soft and loose kind of dress. Thus, for instance, both Peter [437] appears to have been "girded," and Paul; for it saith, "the man that owneth this girdle." [438] And Elijah [439] too was thus arrayed, and every one of the saints, because they were at work continually, laboring, and busying themselves either in journeyings, or about some other necessary matter; and not for this cause only, but also with a view of trampling under foot all ornaments, and practising all austerity. This very kind of thing accordingly Christ declares to be the greatest praise of virtue, thus saying, "What went ye out for to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in king's houses." [440]

But if he, who was so pure, and more glorious than the heaven, and above all prophets, than whom none greater was born, and who had such great boldness of speech, thus exercised himself in austerity, scorning so exceedingly all dissolute delicacy, and training himself to this hard life; what excuse shall we have, who after so great a benefit, and the unnumbered burdens of our sins, do not show forth so much as the least part of his penance, [441] but are drinking and surfeiting, and smelling of perfumes, and in no better trim than the harlot women on the stage, and are by all means softening ourselves, and making ourselves an easy prey to the devil? [442]

5. "Then went out to him all Judea, and Jerusalem, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him, confessing their sins." [443]

Seest thou how great power was in the coming of the prophet? how he stirred up all the people; how he led them to a consideration of their own sins? For it was indeed worthy of wonder to behold him in human form showing forth such things and using so great freedom of speech, and rising up in condemnation of all as children, and having his great grace beaming out from his countenance. And, moreover, the appearance of a prophet after the great interval of time contributed to their amazement, because the gift had failed them, and returned to them after a long time. And the nature of his preaching too was strange and unusual. For they heard of none of those things to which they were accustomed; such as wars and battles and victories below, and famine and pestilence, and Babylonians and Persians, and the taking of the city, and the other things with which they were familiar, but of Heaven and of the kingdom there, and of the punishment in hell. And it was for this cause, let me add, that although they that committed revolt in the wilderness, those in the company of Judas, and of Theudas, [444] had been all of them slain no great while before, yet they were not the more backward to go out thither. For neither was it for the same objects that he summoned them, as for dominion, or revolt, or revolution; but in order to lead them by the hand to the kingdom on high. Wherefore neither did he keep them in the wilderness to take them about with him, but baptizing them, and teaching them the rules concerning self-denial, he dismissed them; by all means instructing them to scorn whatever things are on earth, and to raise themselves up to the things to come, and press on every day.

6. This man then let us also emulate, and forsaking luxury and drunkenness let us go over unto the life of restraint. For this surely is the time of confession both for the uninitiated and for the baptized; for the one, that upon their repentance they may partake of the sacred mysteries; for the others, that having washed away their stain after baptism, they may approach the table with a clean conscience. Let us then forsake this soft and effeminate way of living. For it is not, it is not possible at once both to do penance [445] and to live in luxury. And this let John teach you by his raiment, by his food, by his abode. What then? dost thou require us, you may say, to practise such self-restraint as this? I do not require it, but I advise and recommend it. But if this be not possible to you, let us at least, though in cities, show forth repentance, for the judgment is surely at our doors. But even if it were further off, we ought not even so to be emboldened, for the term of each man's life is the end of the world virtually to him that is summoned. But that it is even at the doors, hear Paul saying, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand;" [446] and again, "He that cometh will come, and will not tarry." [447]

For the signs too are now complete, which announce that day. For "this Gospel of the Kingdoms," saith He, "shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." [448] Attend with care to what is said. He said not, "when it hath been believed by all men," but "when it hath been preached to [449] all." For this cause he also said, "for a witness to the nations," to show, that He doth not wait for all men to believe, and then for Him to come. Since the phrase, "for a witness," hath this meaning, "for accusation," "for reproof," "for condemnation of them that have not believed."

But we, while hearing these things and seeing them, slumber, and see dreams, sunk in a lethargy, as in some very deepest night. [450] For the things present are nothing better than dreams, whether they be prosperous, or whether they be painful. Wherefore I entreat you now at length to be awakened, and to look another way, unto the Sun of Righteousness. For no man while sleeping can see the sun, nor delight his eyes with the beauty of its beams; but whatever he may see, he beholds all as in a dream. For this cause we need much penance, and many tears; both as being in a state of insensibility while we err, and because our sins are great, and beyond excuse. And that I lie not, the more part of them that hear me are witnesses. Nevertheless, although they be beyond excuse, let us repent, and we shall receive crowns.

7. But by repentance I mean, not only to forsake our former evil deeds, but also to show forth good deeds greater than those. For, "bring forth," saith he, "fruits meet for repentance." [451] But how shall we bring them forth? If we do the opposite things: as for instance, hast thou seized by violence the goods of others? henceforth give away even thine own. Hast thou been guilty of fornication for a long time? abstain even from thy wife for certain appointed days; exercise continence. Hast thou insulted and stricken such as were passing by? Henceforth bless them that insult thee, and do good to them that smite thee. For it sufficeth not for our health to have plucked out the dart only, but we must also apply remedies to the wound. Hast thou lived in self-indulgence, and been drunken in time past? Fast, and take care to drink water, in order to destroy the mischief that hath so grown up within thee. Hast thou beheld with unchaste eyes beauty that belonged to another? Henceforth do not so much as look upon a woman at all, that thou mayest stand in more safety. For it is said, "Depart from evil, and do good;" [452] and again, "Make thy tongue to cease from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile." [453] "But tell me the good too." "Seek peace, and pursue it:" I mean not peace with man only, but also peace with God. And he hath well said, "pursue" her: for she is driven away, and cast out; she hath left the earth, and is gone to sojourn in Heaven. Yet shall we be able to bring her back again, if we will put away pride and boasting, and whatsoever things stand in her way, and will follow this temperate and frugal life. [454] For nothing is more grievous than wrath and fierce anger. This renders men both puffed up and servile, by the former making them ridiculous, by the other hateful; and bringing in opposite vices, pride and flattery, at the same time. But if we will cut off the greediness of this passion, we shall be both lowly with exactness, and exalted with safety. For in our bodies too all distempers arise from excess; and when the elements thereof leave their proper limits, and go on beyond moderation, then all these countless diseases are generated, and grievous kinds of death. Somewhat of the same kind one may see take place with respect to the soul likewise.

8. Let us therefore cut away excess, and drinking the salutary medicine of moderation, let us abide in our proper temperament, and give careful heed to our prayers. Though we receive not, let us persevere that we may receive; and if we do receive, then because we have received. For it is not at all His wish to defer giving, but by such delay He is contriving for us to persevere. With this intent He doth also lengthen out [455] what is good for us better than we do, and loves us more ardently than those who gave us birth. And let both these considerations be a charm for us to chant to ourselves in every terror that occurs, that so we may quell our despondency, and in all things glorify Him, who on our behalf doeth and ordereth all, even God.

For so we shall both easily repulse all hostile devices, and attain unto the incorruptible crowns: by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom be unto the Father glory, might, and honor, together with the Holy Ghost, now, and always, even for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[408] Matt. xxiv. 3. [409] Matt. xxiv. 23. [410] Matt. iii. 15. [411] Luke iii. 2. [412] John i. 33. [413] John i. 31. [414] Luke iii. 3. [415] Col. ii. 12; Rom. vi. 4. [416] 1 Cor. vi. 11. [417] Acts xix. 4. [418] [zētonte, "seeking," R.V.] [419] Rom. x. 3. [420] katlabe [R.V., "attained."] [421] ephthase [R.V., "did not arrive."] [422] Rom. ix. 30-32. [See R.V. The text of Chrysostom follows one of the readings accepted by the Revisers, omitting nmou at the close of the citation; but it inserts dikaiosnē (with Rec.) a second time in verse 31.'R.] [423] Matt. iii. 8. [424] Acts xix. 4. [425] hē to prgmato pthesi. [426] thatron. [427] oneiropolen . [428] Is. xl. 3. [429] Matt. iii. 8. [430] Luke iii. 5, 6. [431] Matt. xxi. 31. [432] Isa. xi. 6. [433] t nmalon to thou. [434] Isa. xi. 10; see also Rom. xv. 12. ["Hope" instead of "trust;" see foot-note on Hom. vii. 2, p. 45.'R.] [435] Matt. iii. 4. [436] As in refusing to be supported (in several cases) by those to whom he preached the gospel. See his account of his views in so doing, 1 Cor. ix., especially towards the end of the chapter. [437] John xxi. 7. [438] Acts xxi. 11. [439] 2 Kings i. 8. [440] Matt. xi. 8. [441] exomologseō . [442] [t diabl. The Oxford edition has "the devils," but this is misleading, since it suggests a reference to "demons." Probably the plural is a misprint.'R.] [443] Matt. iii. 5, 6. [444] Acts v. 36, 37. [445] exomologesthai . [446] Rom. xiii. 12. [447] Heb. x. 37. [448] Matt. xxiv. 14. ["All the nations," so R.V., and comp. what follows here.'R.] [449] [par pntōn nthrpōn 'par pas, is the explanation of Chrysostom, paraphrasing the New Testament passage.'R.] [450] [en bathutt nukt.] [451] Matt. iii. 8. [R.V., more literally, "worthy of repentance," with margin, "Or, your repentance," the Greek being t metanoa; so in the text of Chrysostom.'R.] [452] Ps. xxxiv. 14. [453] Ps. xxxiv. 13 [LXX.]. [454] ["If we desire (thlōmen), by putting away, etc. 'to pursue this temperate and frugal life.'"R.] [455] hupertthetai, used as in the word huprthesichrin edte pr pntōn t edti.]


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