Writings of John Chrysostom. On the Epistle to the Corinthians.

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St. Chrysostom:

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

On the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians

The Oxford Translation, revised with additional notes by Rev. Talbot W. Chambers, D.D.,
Pastor of the Collegiate Reformed Dutch Church, New York.

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


Homily XIX.

1 Cor. vii. 1, 2

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote to me: it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of fornications, let each man have his own wife; and let each woman have her own husband.

Having corrected the three heaviest things laid to their charge, one, the distraction of the Church, another, about the fornicator, a third, about the covetous person, he thenceforth uses a milder sort of speech. And he interposes some exhortation and advice about marriage and virginity, giving the hearers some respite from more unpleasant subjects. But in the second Epistle he does the contrary; he begins from the milder topics, and ends with the more distressing. And here also, after he has finished his discourse about virginity, he again launches forth into matter more akin to reproof; not setting all down in regular order, but varying his discourse in either kind, as the occasion required and the exigency of the matters in hand.

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Wherefore he says, "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me." For they had written to him, "Whether it was right to abstain from one's wife, or not:" and writing back in answer to this and giving rules about marriage, he introduces also the discourse concerning virginity: "It is good for a man not to touch a woman." "For if," says he, "thou enquire what is the excellent and greatly superior course, it is better not to have any connection whatever with a woman: but if you ask what is safe and helpful to thine own infirmity, be connected by marriage."

But since it was likely, as also happens now, that the husband might be willing but the wife not, or perhaps the reverse, mark how he discusses each case. Some indeed say that this discourse was addressed by him to priests. But I, judging from what follows, could not affirm that it was so: since he would not have given his advice in general terms. For if he were writing these things only for the priests, he would have said, "It is good for the teacher not to touch a woman." But now he has made it of universal application, saying, "It is good for a man;" not for priest only. And again, "Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife." He said not, "You who are a priest and teacher," but indefinitely. And the whole of his speech goes on entirely in the same tones. And in saying, "Because of fornications, let every man have his own wife" by the very cause alleged for the concession he guides men to continence.

[2.] Ver. 3. "Let the husband pay the wife the honor [88] due to her: in like manner the wife the husband."

Now what is the meaning of "the due honor? The wife hath not power over her own body;" but is both the slave and the mistress of the husband. And if you decline the service which is due, you have offended God. But if thou wish to withdraw thyself, it must be with the husband's permission, though it be but a for short time. For this is why he calls the matter a debt, to shew that no one is master of himself but that they are servants to each other.

When therefore thou seest an harlot tempting thee, say, "My body is not mine, but my wife's." The same also let the woman say to those who would undermine her chastity, "My body is not mine, but my husband's."

Now if neither husband nor wife hath power even over their own body, much less have they over their property. Hear ye, all that have husbands and all that have wives: that if you must not count your body your own, much less your money.

Elsewhere I grant He gives to the husband abundant precedence, both in the New Testament, and the Old saying, (he apostrophe sou, LXX. Gen. iii. 16.) "Thy turning shall be towards thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Paul doth so too by making a distinction thus, and writing, (Ephes. v. 25, 33.) "Husbands, love your wives; and let the wife see that she reverence her husband." But in this place we hear no more of greater and less, but it is one and the same right. Now why is this? Because his speech was about chastity. "In all other things," says he, "let the husband have the prerogative; but not so where the question is about chastity." "The husband hath no power over his own body, neither the wife." There is great equality of honor, and no prerogative.

[3.] Ver. 5. "Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent."

What then can this mean? "Let not the wife," says he, "exercise continence, if the husband be unwilling; nor yet the husband without the wife's consent." Why so? Because great evils spring from this sort of continence. For adulteries and fornications and the ruin of families have often arisen from hence. For if when men have their own wives they commit fornication, much more if you defraud them of this consolation. And well says he, "Defraud not; fraud" here, and "debt" above, that he might shew the strictness of the right of dominion in question. For that one should practice continence against the will of the other is "defrauding;" but not so, with the other's consent: any more than I count myself defrauded, if after persuading me you take away any thing of mine. Since only he defrauds who takes against another's will and by force. A thing which many women do, working sin rather than righteousness, and thereby becoming accountable for the husband's uncleanness, and rending all asunder. Whereas they should value concord above all things, since this is more important than all beside.

We will, if you please, consider it with a view to actual cases. Thus, suppose a wife and husband, and let the wife be continent, without consent of her husband; well then, if hereupon he commit fornication, or though abstaining from fornication fret and grow restless and be heated and quarrel and give all kind of trouble to his wife; where is all the gain of the fasting and the continence, a breach being made in love? There is none. For what strange reproaches, how much trouble, how great a war must of course arise! since when in an house man and wife are at variance, the house will be no better off than a ship in a storm when the master is upon ill terms with the man at the head. Wherefore he saith, "Defraud not one another, unless it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer." It is prayer with unusual earnestness which he here means. For if he is forbidding those who have intercourse with one another to pray, how could "pray without ceasing" have any place? It is possible then to live with a wife and yet give heed unto prayer. But by continence prayer is made more perfect. For he did not say merely, "That ye may pray;" but, "That ye may give yourselves unto it;" as though what he speaks of might cause not uncleanness but much occupation.

"And may be together again, that Satan tempt you not." Thus lest it should seem to be a matter of express enactment, he adds the reason. And what is it? "That Satan tempt you not." And that you may understand that it is not the devil only who causeth this crime, I mean adultery, he adds, "because of your incontinency."

"But this I say by way of permission, not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself; in a state of continence." This he doth in many places when he is advising about difficult matters; he brings forward himself, and says, "Be ye imitators of me."

"Howbeit each man hath his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that." Thus since he had heavily charged them saying, "for your incontinence," he again comforteth them by the words, "each one hath his own gift of God;" not declaring that towards that virtue there is no need of zeal on our part, but, as I was saying before, to comfort them. For if it be a "gift," and man contributes nothing thereunto, how sayest thou, "But (v. 8.) I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I: (v. 9.) but if they have not continency let them marry?" Do you see the strong sense of Paul how he both signifies that continence is better, and yet puts no force on the person who cannot attain to it; fearing lest some offence arise?

"For it is better to marry than to burn." He indicates how great is the tyranny of concupiscence. What he means is something like this: "If you have to endure much violence and burning desire, withdraw yourself from your pains and toils, lest haply you be subverted."

[4.] Ver. 10. "But to the married I give charge, yet not I, but the Lord."

Because it is a law expressly appointed by Christ which he is about to read to them about the "not putting away a wife without fornication; "(S. Matt. v. 32., xix. 9; S. Mark x. 11; S. Luke xvi. 18.) therefore he says, "Not I." True it is what was before spoken though it were not expressly stated, yet it also is His decree. But this, you see, He had delivered in express words. So that the words "I and not I" have this difference of meaning. For that you might not imagine even his own words to be human, therefore he added, "For I think that I also have the Spirit of God."

Now what is that which "to the married the Lord commanded? That the wife depart not from her husband: (v. 11.) but if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled unto her husband." Here, seeing that both on the score of continence and other pretexts, and because of infirmities of temper, (mikropsuchias.) it fell out that separations took place: it were better, he says, that such things should not be at all; but however if they take place, let the wife remain with her husband, if not to cohabit with him, yet so as not to introduce any other to be her husband.

Ver. 12. "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord. If any brother have a wife that believeth not, and she is content to dwell with him, let him not leave her. And if any woman hath an husband that believeth not, and he is content to dwell with her, let her not leave him."

For as when discoursing about separating from fornicators, he made the matter easy by the correction which he applied to his words, saying, "Howbeit, not altogether with the fornicators of this world;" so also in this case he provideth for the abundant easiness of the duty, saying, "If any wife have a husband, or husband a wife, that believeth not, let him not leave her." What sayest thou? "If he be an unbeliever, let him remain with the wife, but not if he be a fornicator? And yet fornication is a less sin than unbelief." I grant, fornication is a less sin: but God spares thine infirmities extremely. And this is what He doth about the sacrifice, saying, (S. Matt. v. 24.) "Leave the sacrifice, and be reconciled to thy brother." This also in the case of the man who owed ten thousand talents. For him too He did not punish for owing him ten thousand talents, but for demanding back a hundred pence from his fellow-servant He took vengeance on him.

Then lest the woman might fear, as though she became unclean because of intercourse with her husband, he says, "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the husband." And yet, if "he that is joined to an harlot is one body," it is quite clear that the woman also who is joined to an idolater is one body. Well: it is one body; nevertheless she becomes not unclean, but the cleanness of the wife overcomes the uncleanness of the husband; and again, the cleanness of the believing husband overcomes the uncleanness of the unbelieving wife.

How then in this case is the uncleanness overcome, and therefore the intercourse allowed; while in the woman who prostitutes herself, the husband is not condemned in casting her out? Because here there is hope that the lost member may be saved through the marriage; but in the other case the marriage has already been dissolved; and there again both are corrupted; but here the fault is in one only of the two. I mean something like this: she that has been guilty of fornication is utterly abominable: if then "he that is joined to an harlot is one body," he also becomes abominable by having connection with an harlot; wherefore all the purity flits away. But in the case before us it is not so. But how? The idolater is unclean but the woman is not unclean. For if indeed she were a partner with him in that wherein he is unclean, I mean his impiety, she herself would also become unclean. But now the idolater is unclean in one way, and the wife holds communion with him in another wherein he is not unclean. For marriage and mixture of bodies is that wherein the communion consists.

Again, there is a hope that this man may be reclaimed by his wife for she is made completely his own: but for the other it is not very easy. For how will she who dishonored him in former times and became another's and destroyed the rights of marriage, have power to reclaim him whom she had wronged; him, moreover, who still remains to her as an alien?

Again in that case, after the fornication the husband is not a husband: but here, although the wife be an idolatress, the husband's rights are not destroyed.

However, he doth not simply recommend cohabitation with the unbeliever, but with the qualification that he wills it. Wherefore he said, "And he himself be content to dwell with her." For, tell me, what harm is there when the duties of piety remain unimpaired and there are good hopes about the unbeliever, that those already joined should so abide and not bring in occasions of unnecessary warfare? For the question now is not about those who have never yet come together, but about those who are already joined. He did not say, If any one wish to take an unbelieving wife, but, "If any one hath an unbelieving wife." Which means, If any after marrying or being married have received the word of godliness, and then the other party which had continued in unbelief still yearn for them to dwell together, let not the marriage be broken off. "For," saith he, "the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife." So great is the superabundance of thy purity.

What then, is the Greek holy? Certainly not: for he said not, He is holy; but, "He is sanctified in his wife." And this he said, not to signify that he is holy, but to deliver the woman as completely as possible from her fear and lead the man to desire the truth. For the uncleanness is not in the bodies wherein there is communion, but in the mind and the thoughts. And here follows the proof; namely, that if thou continuing unclean have offspring, the child, not being of thee alone, is of course unclean or half clean. But now it is not unclean. To which effect he adds, "else were your children unclean; but now are they holy;" that is, not unclean. But the Apostle calls them, "holy," by the intensity of the expression again casting out the dread arising from that sort of suspicion.

Ver. 15. "Yet if the unbelieving departeth, let him depart," for in this case the matter is no longer fornication. But what is the meaning of, "if the unbelieving departeth?" For instance, if he bid thee sacrifice and take part in his ungodliness on account of thy marriage, or else part company; it were better the marriage were annulled, and no breach made in godliness. Wherefore he adds, "A brother is not under bondage, nor yet a sister, in such cases." If day by day he buffet thee and keep up combats on this account, it is better to separate. For this is what he glances at, saying, "But God hath called us in peace." For it is the other party who furnished the ground of separation, even as he did who committed uncleanness.

Ver. 16. "For how knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thine husband?" This again refers to that expression, "let her not leave him." That is, "if he makes no disturbance, remain," saith he, "for there is even profit in this; remain and advise and give counsel and persuade." For no teacher will have such power to prevail (Reg. peisai. Bened. ischusai. [89] ) as a wife. And neither, on one hand, doth he lay any necessity upon her and absolutely demand the point of her, that he may not again do what would be too painful; nor, on the other, doth he tell her to despair: but he leaves the matter in suspense through the uncertainty of the future, saying, "For how knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O husband whether thou shalt save thy wife?"

[5.] And again, ver. 17. "Only as God hath distributed to each man, as the Lord hath called each, so let him walk. Was any one called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Was any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let each man abide in that calling wherein he was called. Wast thou called, being a slave? Care not for it." These things contribute nothing unto faith, saith he. Be not then contentious neither be troubled; for the faith hath cast out all these things.

"Let each man abide in that calling wherein he was called. Hast thou been called, having an unbelieving wife? Continue to have her. Cast not out thy wife for the faith's sake. Hast thou been called, being a slave? Care not for it. Continue to be a slave. Hast thou been called, being in uncircumcision? Remain uncircumcised. Being circumcised, didst thou become a believer? Continue circumcised. For this is the meaning of, "As God hath distributed unto each man." For these are no hindrances to piety. Thou art called, being a slave; another, with an unbelieving wife; another, being circumcised.

Astonishing! where has he put slavery? As circumcision profits not: and uncircumcision does no harm; so neither doth slavery, nor yet liberty. And that he might point out this with surpassing clearness, he says, "But even (All' ei kai dunasai) if thou canst become free, use it rather:" that is, rather continue a slave. Now upon what possible ground does he tell the person who might be set free to remain a slave? He means to point out that slavery is no harm but rather an advantage.

Now we are not ignorant that some say, the words, "use it rather," are spoken with regard to liberty: interpreting it, "if thou canst become free, become free." [90]But the expression would be very contrary to Paul's manner if he intended this. For he would not, when consoling the slave and signifying that he was in no respect injured, have told him to get free. Since perhaps some one might say, "What then, if I am not able? I am an injured and degraded person." This then is not what he says: but as I said, meaning to point out that a man gets nothing by being made free, he says, "Though thou hast it in thy power to be made free, remain rather in slavery."

Next he adds also the cause; "For he that was called in the Lord being a bondservant, is the Lord's free man: likewise he that was called, being free, is Christ's bondservant." "For," saith he, "in the things that relate to Christ, both are equal: and like as thou art the slave of Christ, so also is thy master. How then is the slave a free man? Because He has freed thee not only from sin, but also from outward slavery while continuing a slave. For he suffers not the slave to be a slave, not even though he be a man abiding in slavery: and this is the great wonder.

But how is the slave a free man while continuing a slave? When he is freed from passions and the diseases of the mind: when he looks down upon riches and wrath and all other the like passions.

Ver. 23. "Ye were bought with a price: become not bondservants of men." This saying is addressed not to slaves only but also to free men. For it is possible for one who is a slave not to be a slave; and for one who is a freeman to be a slave. "And how can one be a slave and not a slave?" When he doeth all for God: when he feigns nothing, and doeth nothing out of eye-service towards men: that is how one that is a slave to men can be free. Or again, how doth one that is free become a slave? When he serves men in any evil service, either for gluttony or desire of wealth or for office' sake. For such an one, though he be free, is more of a slave than any man.

And consider both these points. Joseph was a slave but not a slave to men: wherefore even in slavery he was freer than all that are free. For instance, he yielded not to his mistress; yielded not to the purposes which she who possessed him desired. Again she was free; yet none ever so like a slave, courting and beseeching her own servant. But she prevailed not on him, who was free, to do what he would not. This then was not slavery; but it was liberty of the most exalted kind. For what impediment to virtue had he from his slavery? Let men hear, both slaves and free. Which was the slave? He that was entreated or she that did entreat? She that besought or he that despised her supplication?

In fact, there are limits set to slaves by God Himself; and up to what point one ought to keep them, has also been determined, and to transgress them is wrong. Namely, when your master commands nothing which is unpleasing to God, it is right to follow and to obey; but no farther. For thus the slave becomes free. But if you go further, even though you are free you are become a slave. At least he intimates this, saying, "Be not ye the servants of men."

But if this be not the meaning, if he bade them forsake their masters and strive contentiously to become free, in what sense did he exhort them, saying, "Let each one remain in the calling in which he is called?" And in another place, (1 Tim. vi. 1, 2.) "As many servants as are under the yoke, let them count their own masters worthy of all honor; and those that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren who partake of the benefit." And writing to the Ephesians also and to the Colossians, he ordains and exacts the same rules. Whence it is plain that it is not this slavery which he annuls, but that which caused as it is by vice befalls free men also: and this is the worst kind of slavery, though he be a free man who is in bondage to it. For what profit had Joseph's brethren of their freedom? Were they not more servile than all slaves; both speaking lies to their father, and to the merchants using false pretences, as well as to their brother? But not such was the free man: rather every where and in all things he was true. And nothing had power to enslave him, neither chain nor bondage nor the love of his mistress nor his being in a strange land. But he abode free every where. For this is liberty in the truest sense when even in bondage it shines through.

[6.] Such a thing is Christianity; in slavery it bestows freedom. And as that which is by nature an invulnerable body then shews itself to be invulnerable when having received a dart it suffers no harm; so also he that is strictly free then shows himself, when even under masters he is not enslaved. For this cause his bidding is, "remain a slave." But if it is impossible for one who is a slave to be a Christian such as he ought to be, the Greeks will condemn true religion of great weakness: whereas if they can be taught that slavery in no way impairs godliness, they will admire our doctrine. For if death hurt us not, nor scourges, nor chains, much less slavery. Fire and iron and tyrannies innumerable and diseases and poverty and wild beasts and countless things more dreadful than these, have not been able to injure the faithful; nay, they have made them even mightier. And how shall slavery be able to hurt? It is not slavery itself, beloved, that hurts; but the real slavery is that of sin. And if thou be not a slave in this sense, be bold and rejoice. No one shall have power to do thee any wrong, having the temper which cannot be enslaved. But if thou be a slave to sin, even though thou be ten thousand times free thou hast no good of thy freedom.

For, tell me, what profit is it when, though not in bondage to a man, thou liest down in subjection to thy passions? Since men indeed often know how to spare; but those masters are never satiated with thy destruction. Art thou in bondage to a man? Why, thy master also is slave to thee, in arranging about thy food, in taking care of thy health and in looking after thy shoes and all the other things. And thou dost not fear so much less thou shouldest offend thy master, as he fears lest any of those necessaries should fail thee. "But he sits down, while thou standest." And what of that? Since this may be said of thee as well as of him. Often, at least, when thou art lying down and sleeping sweetly, he is not only standing, but undergoing endless discomforts in the market-place; and he lies awake more painfully than thou.

For instance; what did Joseph suffer from his mistress to be compared with what she suffered from her evil desire? For he indeed did not the things which she wished to put upon him; but she performed every thing which her mistress ordered her, I mean her spirit of unchastity: which left not off until it had put her to open shame. What master commands such things? what savage tyrant? "Intreat thy slave," that is the word: "flatter the person bought with thy money, supplicate the captive; even if he reject thee with disgust, again besiege him: even if thou speakest to him oftentimes, and he consent not, watch for his being alone, and force him, and become an object of derision." What can be more dishonorable, what more shameful, than these words? "And if even by these means you make no progress, why, accuse him falsely and deceive your husband." Mark how mean, how shameful are the commands, how unmerciful and savage and frantic. What command does the master ever lay on his slave, such as those which her wantonness then laid upon that royal woman? And yet she dare not disobey. But Joseph underwent nothing of this sort, but every thing on the contrary which brought glory and honor.

Would you like to see yet another man under severe orders from a hard mistress, and without spirit to disobey any of them? Consider Cain, what commands were laid on him by his envy. She ordered him to slay his brother, to lie unto God, to grieve his father, to cast off shame; and he did it all, and in nothing refused to obey. And why marvel that over a single person so great should be the power of this mistress? She hath often destroyed entire nations. For instance, the Midianitish women took the Jews, and all but bound them in captivity; their own beauty kindling desire, was the means of their vanquishing that whole nation. Paul then to cast out this sort of slavery, said, "Become not servants of men;" that is, "Obey not men commanding unreasonable things: nay, obey not yourselves." Then having raised up their mind and made it mount on high, he says,

[7.] Ver. 25. "Now concerning virgins. I have no commandment of the Lord; but I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful."

Advancing on his way in regular order, he proceeds next to speak concerning virginity. For after that he had exercised and trained them, in his words concerning continence, he goes forth towards what is greater, saying, "I have no commandment, but I esteem it to be good." For what reason? For the self-same reason as he had mentioned respecting continence.

Ver. 27. "Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife."

These words carry no contradiction to what had been said before but rather the most entire agreement with them. For he says in that place also, "Except it be by consent:" as here he says, "Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not separation." This is no contradiction. For its being against consent makes a dissolution: but if with consent both live continently, it is no dissolution.

Then, lest this should seem to be laying down a law, he subjoins, (v. 28.) "but if thou marry, thou hast not sinned." He next alleges the existing state of things, "the present distress, the shortness of the time," and "the affliction." For marriage draws along with it many things, which indeed he hath glanced at, as well here as also in the discourse about continence: there, by saying, "the wife hath not power over herself;" and here, by the expression, "Thou art bound."

"But if and thou marry, thou hast not sinned." He is not speaking about her who hath made choice of virginity, for if it comes to that, she hath sinned. Since if the widows [91] are condemned for having to do with second marriages after they have once chosen widowhood, much more the virgins.

"But such shall have trouble in the flesh." "And pleasure too," you will say: but observe how he curtails this by the shortness of the time, saying, (v. 28.) "the time is shortened;" that is, "we are exhorted to depart now and go forth, but thou art running further in." And yet even although marriage had no troubles, even so we ought to press on towards things to come. But when it hath affliction too, what need to draw on one's self an additional burden. What occasion to take up such a load, when even after taking it you must use it as having it not? For "those even that have wives must be," he saith, "as though they had none."

Then, having interposed something about the future, he brings back his speech to the present. For some of his topics are spiritual; as that, "the one careth about the things which be her husband's, the other about those which be God's." Others relate to this present life; as, "I would have you to be free from cares." But still with all this he leaves it to their own choice: inasmuch as he who after proving what is best goes back to compulsion, seems as if he did not trust his own statements. Wherefore he rather attracts them by concession, and checks them as follows:

Ver. 35. "And this I say for your own profit, not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is seemly, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. Let the virgins hear that not by that one point is virginity defined; for she that is careful about the things of the world cannot be a virgin, nor seemly. Thus, when he said, "There is difference between a wife and a virgin," he added this as the difference, and that wherein they are distinguished from each other. And laying down the definition of a virgin and her that is not a virgin, he names, not marriage nor continence but leisure from engagements and multiplicity of engagements. For the evil is not in the cohabitation, but in the impediment to the strictness of life.

Ver. 36. "But if any man think that he behaveth himself unseemly toward his virgin."

Here he seems to be talking about marriage; but all that he says relates to virginity; for he allows even a second marriage, saying, "only in the Lord." Now what means, "in the Lord?" With chastity, with honor: for this is needed every where, and must be pursued for else we cannot see God.

Now if we have passed lightly by what he says of virginity, let no one accuse us of negligence; for indeed an entire book hath been composed by us upon this topic and as we have there with all the accuracy which we could, gone through every branch of the subject, we considered it a waste of words to introduce it again here. Wherefore, referring the hearer to that work as concerns these things, we will say this one thing here: We must follow after continence. For, saith he, "follow after peace, and the sanctification without which no one shall see the Lord." Therefore that we may be accounted worthy to see Him, whether we be in virginity or in the first marriage or the second, let us follow after this that we may obtain the kingdom of heaven, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; to Whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, honor, now, henceforth, and for everlasting ages. Amen.

Footnotes

[88] timen: rec. text. eunoian. [The latest editors adopt the reading opheilen. C.] [89] [The latter is adopted by Field.] [90] [This is the view of Calvin, Neander, Hoffmann, etc., but Bengel, De Wette, Meyer, Alford, Stanley, Principal Edwards agree with Chrysostom. The question is a very nice one. C.] [91] i.e. the widows whom St. Paul mentions, 1 Tim. v. 11, 12.


Homily XX.

1 Cor. viii. 1

Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth.

It is necessary first to say what the meaning of this passage is: for so shall we readily comprehend the Apostle's discourse. For he that sees a charge brought against any one, except he first perceive the nature of the offence will not understand what is said. What then is it of which he was then accusing the Corinthians? A heavy charge and the cause of many evils. Well, what is it? Many among them, having learnt that (St. Matt. xv. 11.) "not the things which enter in defile the man, but the things which proceed out," and that idols of wood and stone, and demons, have no power to hurt or help, had made an immoderate use of their perfect knowledge of this to the harm both of others and of themselves. They had both gone in where idols were and had partaken of the tables there, and were producing thereby great and ruinous evil. For, on the one hand, those who still retained the fear of idols and knew not how to contemn them, took part in those meals, because they saw the more perfect sort doing this; and hence they got the greatest injury: since they did not touch what was set before them with the same mind as the others, but as things offered in sacrifice to idols; and the thing was becoming a way to idolatry. On the other hand, these very persons who pretended to be more perfect were injured in no common way, partaking in the tables of demons.

This then was the subject of complaint. Now this blessed man being about to correct it, did not immediately begin to speak vehemently; for that which was done came more of folly than of wickedness: wherefore in the first instance there was need rather of exhortation than of severe rebuke and wrath. Now herein observe his good sense, how he immediately begins to admonish.

"Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge." Leaving alone the weak, which he always doth, he discourses with the strong first. And this is what he did also in the Epistle to the Romans, saying, (Rom. xiv. 10.) "But thou, why dost thou judge thy brother?" for this is the sort of person that is able to receive rebuke also with readiness. Exactly the same then he doth here also.

And first he makes void their conceit by declaring that this very thing which they considered as peculiar to themselves, the having perfect knowledge, was common to all. Thus, "we know," saith he, "that we all have knowledge." For if allowing them to have high thoughts, he had first pointed out how hurtful the thing was to others, he would not have done them so much good as harm. For the ambitious soul when it plumes itself upon any thing, even though the same do harm to others, yet strongly adheres to it because of the tyranny of vain-glory. Wherefore Paul first examines the matter itself by itself: just as he had done before in the case of the wisdom from without, demolishing it with a high hand. But in that case he did it as we might have expected: for the whole thing was altogether blameworthy and his task was very easy. Wherefore he signifies it to be not only useless, but even contrary to the Gospel. But in the present case it was not possible to do this. For what was done was of knowledge, and perfect knowledge. Nor was it safe to overthrow it, and yet in no other way was it possible to cast out the conceit which had resulted from it. What then doeth he? First, by signifying that it was common, he curbs that swelling pride of theirs. For they who possess something great and excellent are more elated, when they alone have it; but if it be made out that they possess it in common with others, they no longer have so much of this feeling. First then he makes it common property, because they considered it to belong to themselves alone.

Next, having made it common, he does not make himself singly a sharer in it with them; for in this way too he would have rather set them up; for as to be the only possessor elates, so to have one partner or two perhaps among leading persons has this effect just as much. For this reason he does not mention himself but all: he said not, "I too have knowledge," but, "we know that we all have knowledge."

[2.] This then is one way, and the first, by which he cast down their pride; the next hath greater force. What then is this? In that he shews that not even this thing itself was in all points complete, but imperfect, and extremely so. And not only imperfect, but also injurious, unless there were another thing joined together with it. For having said that "we have knowledge," he added, "Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth:" so that when it is without love, it lifts men up to absolute arrogance.

"And yet not even love," you will say, "without knowledge hath any advantage." Well: this he did not say; but omitting it as a thing allowed by all, he signifies that knowledge stands in extreme need of love. For he who loves, inasmuch as he fulfils the commandment which is most absolute of all, even though he have some defects, will quickly be blest with knowledge because of his love; as Cornelius and many others. But he that hath knowledge but hath not love, not only shall gain nothing more, but shall also be cast out of that which he hath, in many cases falling into arrogance. It seems then that knowledge is not productive of love, but on the contrary debars from it him that is not on his guard, puffing him up and elating him. For arrogance is wont to cause divisions: but love both draws together and leads to knowledge. And to make this plain he saith, "But if any man loveth God, the same is known of Him." So that "I forbid not this," saith he, "namely, your having perfect knowledge; but your having it with love, that I enjoin; else is it no gain, but rather loss."

Do you see how he already sounds the first note of his discourse concerning love? For since all these evils were springing from the following root, i.e., not from perfect knowledge, but from their not greatly loving nor sparing their neighbors; whence ensued both their variance and their self-satisfaction, and all the rest which he had charged them with; both before this and after he is continually providing for love; so correcting the fountain of all good things. "Now why," saith he, "are ye puffed up about knowledge? For if ye have not love, ye shall even be injured thereby. For what is worse than boasting? But if the other be added, the first also will be in safety. For although you may know something more than your neighbor, if you love him you will not set yourself up but lead him also to the same." Wherefore also having said, "Knowledge puffeth up," he added, "but love edifieth." He did not say, "Behaveth itself modestly," but what is much more, and more gainful. For their knowledge was not only puffing them up but also distracting them. On this account he opposes the one to the other.

[3.] And then he adds a third consideration, which was of force to set them down. What then is this? that although charity be joined with it, yet not even in that case is this our knowledge perfect. And therefore he adds,

Ver. 2. "But if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." This is a mortal blow. "I dwell not," saith he, "on the knowledge being common to all. I say not that by hating your neighbor and by arrogance, you injure yourself most. But even though you have it by yourself alone, though you be modest, though you love your brother, even in this case you are imperfect in regard of knowledge. "For as yet thou knowest nothing as thou oughtest to know," Now if we possess as yet exact knowledge of nothing, how is it that some have rushed on to such a pitch of frenzy as to say that they know God with all exactness? Whereas, though we had an exact knowledge of all other things, not even so were it possible to possess this knowledge to such an extent. For how far He is apart from all things, it is impossible even to say.

And mark how he pulls down their swelling pride: for he said not, "of the matters before us ye have not the proper knowledge," but, "about every thing." And he did not say, "ye," but, "no one whatever," be it Peter, be it Paul, be it any one else. For by this he both soothed them and carefully kept them under.

Ver. 3. "But if any man love God, the same," he doth not say, "knoweth Him," but, "is known of Him." For we have not known Him, but He hath known us. And therefore did Christ say, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you." And Paul elsewhere, "Then shall I know fully, [92] even as also I have been known."

Observe now, I pray, by what means he brings down their high-mindedness. First, he points out that not they alone knew the things which they knew; for "we all," he saith," have knowledge." Next, that the thing itself was hurtful so long as it was without love; for "knowledge," saith he, "puffeth up." Thirdly, that even joined with love it is not complete nor perfect. "For if any man thinketh that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing as yet as he ought to know," so he speaks. In addition to this, that they have not even this from themselves, but by gift from God. For he said not, "hath known God," but, "is known of Him." Again, that this very thing comes of love which they have not as they ought. For, "if any man," saith he, "love God, the same is known of Him." Having then so much at large allayed their irritation, he begins to speak doctrinally, saying thus.

[4.] Ver. 4. "Concerning therefore the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no God but one." Look what a strait he hath fallen into! For indeed his mind is to prove both; that one ought to abstain from this kind of banquet, and that it hath no power to hurt those who partake of it: things which were not greatly in agreement with each other. For when they were told that they had no harm in them, they would naturally run to them as indifferent things. But when forbidden to touch them, they would suspect, on the contrary, that their having power to do hurt occasioned the prohibition. Wherefore, you see, he puts down their opinion about idols, and then states as a first reason for their abstaining the scandals which they place in the way of their brethren; in these words: "Now concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world." Again he makes it common property and doth not allow this to be theirs alone, but extends the knowledge all over the world. For "not among you alone," says he, "but every where on earth this doctrine prevails." What then is it? "That no idol is anything in the world; that there is no God but one." What then? are there no idols? no statues? Indeed there are; but they have no power: neither are they gods, but stones and demons. For he is now setting himself against both parties; both the grosser sort among them, and those who were accounted lovers of wisdom. Thus, seeing that the former know of no more than the mere stones, the others assert that certain powers reside in them [93] , which they also call gods; to the former accordingly he says, that "no idol is anything in the world," to the other, that "there is no God but one."

Do you mark how he writes these things, not simply as laying down doctrine, but in opposition to those without? A thing indeed which we must at all times narrowly observe, whether he says anything abstractedly, or whether he is opposing any persons. For this contributes in no ordinary way to the accuracy of our doctrinal views, and to the exact understanding of his expressions.

[5.] Ver. 5. "For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, as there are gods many and lords many; yet to us there is one God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we unto Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things, and we through Him." Since he had said, that "an idol is nothing" and that "there is no other God;" and yet there were idols and there were those that were called gods; that he might not seem to be contradicting plain facts, he goes on to say, "For though there be that are called gods, as indeed there are;" not absolutely, "there are;" but, "called," not in reality having this but in name: "be it in heaven or on earth:--in heaven," meaning the sun and the moon and the remainder of the choir of stars; for these too the Greeks worshipped: but upon the earth demons, and all those who had been made gods of men:--"yet to us there is One God, the Father." In the first instance having expressed it without the word "Father," and said, "there is no God but one," he now adds this also, when he had utterly cast out the others.

Next, he adduces what indeed is the greatest token of divinity; "of Whom are all things." For this implies also that those others are not gods. For it is said (Jer. x. 11.), "Let the gods who made not the heaven and the earth perish." Then he subjoins what is not less than this, "and we unto Him." For when he saith, "of Whom are all things," he means the creation and the bringing of things out of nothing into existence. But when he saith, "and we unto Him," he speaks of the word of faith and mutual appropriation (oikeioseos), as also he said before (1 Cor. i. 30.), "but of Him are ye also in Christ Jesus." In two ways we are of Him, by being made when we were not, and by being made believers. For this also is a creation: a thing which he also declares elsewhere; (Ephes. ii. 15.) "that He might create in Himself of the twain one new man."

"And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things, and we through Him." And in regard to Christ again, we must conceive of this in like manner. For through Him the race of men was both produced out of nothing into existence, and returned from error to truth. So that as to the phrase "of Whom," it is not to be understood apart from Christ. For of Him, through Christ, were we created.

[6.] Nor yet, if you observe, hath he distributed the names as if belonging exclusively, assigning to the Son the name Lord, and to the Father, God. For the Scripture useth also often to interchange them; as when it saith, (Ps. cx. 1.) "The Lord saith unto My Lord;" and again, (Ps. lxv. 8.) "Wherefore God Thy God hath appointed Thee;" and, (Rom. ix. 5.) "Of Whom is Christ according to the flesh, Who is God over all." And in many instances you may see these names changing their places. Besides, if they were allotted to each nature severally, and if the Son were not God, and God as the Father, yet continuing a Son: after saying, "but to us there is but One God," it would have been superfluous, his adding the word "Father," with a view to declare the Unbegotten. For the word of God was sufficient to explain this, if it were such as to denote Him only.

And this is not all, but there is another remark to make: that if you say, "Because it is said `One God,' therefore the word God doth not apply to the Son;" observe that the same holds of the Son also. For the Son also is called "One Lord," yet we do not maintain that therefore the term Lord applies to Him alone. So then, the same force which the expression "One" has, applied to the Son, it has also, applied to the Father. And as the Father is not thrust out from being the Lord, in the same sense as the Son is the Lord, because He, the Son, is spoken of as one Lord; so neither does it cast out the Son from being God, in the same sense as the Father is God, because the Father is styled One God.

[7.] Now if any were to say, "Why did he make no mention of the Spirit?" our answer might be this: His argument was with idolaters, and the contention was about "gods many and lords many." And this is why, having called the Father, God, he calls the Son, Lord. If now he ventured not to call the Father Lord together with the Son, lest they might suspect him to be speaking of two Lords; nor yet the Son, God, with the Father, lest he might be supposed to speak of two Gods: why marvel at his not having mentioned the Spirit? His contest was, so far, with the Gentiles: his point, to signify that with us there is no plurality of Gods. Wherefore he keeps hold continually of this word, "One;" saying, "There is no God but One; and, to us there is One God, and One Lord." From which it is plain, that to spare the weakness of the hearers he used this mode of explanation, and for this reason made no mention at all of the Spirit. For if it be not this, neither ought he to make mention of the Spirit elsewhere, nor to join Him with the Father and the Son. For if He be rejected from the Father and Son, much more ought He not to be put in the same rank with them in the matter of Baptism; where most especially the dignity of the Godhead appears and gifts are bestowed which pertain to God alone to afford. Thus then I have assigned the cause why in this place He is passed over in silence. Now do thou if this be not the true reason, tell me, why He is ranked with Them in Baptism? But thou canst not give any other reason but His being of equal honor. At any rate, when he has no such constraint upon him, he puts Him in the same rank, saying thus: (2 Cor. xiii. 14.) "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the Father, [94] and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you all:" and again, (ch. xii. 4.) "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit: and there are diversities of administrations, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of workings but the same God." But because now his speech was with Greeks and the weaker sort of the converts from among Greeks, for this reason he husbands it (tamieuetai) so far. And this is what the prophets do in regard of the Son; no where making mention of Him plainly because of the infirmity of the hearers.

Ver. 7. "But not in all is knowledge," saith he. What knowledge doth he mean? about God, or about things offered in sacrifice to idols? For either he here glances at the Greeks who say that there are many gods and lords, and who know not Him that is truly God; or at the converts from among Greeks who were still rather infirm, such as did not yet know clearly that they ought not to fear idols and that "an idol is nothing in the world." But in saying this, he gently soothes and encourages the latter. For there was no need of mentioning all he had to reprove, particularly as he intended to visit them again with more severity.

[8.] "But some being used to the idol eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience being weak is defiled." They still tremble at idols, he saith. For tell me not of the present establishment, and that you have received the true religion from your ancestors. But carry back your thoughts to those times, and consider when the Gospel was just set on foot, and impiety was still at its height, and altars burning, and sacrifices and libations offering up, and the greater part of men were Gentiles; think, I say, of those who from their ancestors had received impiety, and who were the descendants of fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers like themselves, and who had suffered great miseries from the demons. How must they have felt after their sudden change! How would they face and tremble at the assaults of the demons! For their sake also he employs some reserve, saying, "But some with conscience of the things sacrificed to an idol. [95] " Thus he neither exposed them openly, not to strike them hard; nor doth he pass by them altogether: but makes mention of them in a vague manner, saying, "Now some with conscience of the idol even until now eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol; that is, with the same thoughts as they did in former times: `and their conscience being weak is defiled;'" not yet being able to despise and once for all laugh them to scorn, but still in some doubt. Just as if a man were to think that by touching a dead body he should pollute himself according to the Jewish custom, and then seeing others touching it with a clear conscience, but not with the same mind touching it himself, would be polluted. This was their state of feeling at that time. "For some," saith he, "with conscience of the idol do it even until now." Not without cause did he add, "even until now;" but to signify that they gained no ground by their refusing to condescend. For this was not the way to bring them in, but in some other way persuading them by word and by teaching.

"And their conscience being weak is defiled." No where as yet doth he state his argument about the nature of the thing, but turns himself this way and that as concerning the conscience of the person partaking. For he was afraid lest in his wish to correct the weak person, he should inflict a heavy blow upon the strong one, and make him also weak. On which account he spares the one no less than the other. Nor doth he allow the thing itself to be thought of any consequence, but makes his argument very full to prevent any suspicion of the kind.

[9.] Ver. 8. "But meat doth not commend us to God. For neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we eat not are we the worse." Do you see how again he takes down their high spirit? in that, after saying that "not only they but all of us have knowledge," and that "no one knoweth any thing as he ought to know," and that "knowledge puffeth up;" then having soothed them, and said that "this knowledge is not in all," and that "weakness is the cause of these being defiled," in order that they might not say, "And what is it to us, if knowledge be not in all? Why then has not such an one knowledge? Why is he weak?"--I say, in order that they might not rejoin in these terms, he did not proceed immediately to point out clearly that for fear of the other's harm one ought to abstain: but having first made but a sort of skirmish upon mention of him, he points out what is more than this. What then is this? That although no one were injured nor any perversion of another ensued, not even in this case were it right so to do. For the former topic by itself is laboring in vain. Since he that hears of another being hurt while himself has the gain, is not very apt to abstain; but then rather he doth so, when he finds out that he himself is no way advantaged by the thing. Wherefore he sets this down first, saying, "But meat commendeth us not to God." See how cheap he holds that which was accounted to spring from perfect knowledge! "For neither if we eat are we the better," (that is, stand higher in God's estimation, as if we had done any thing good or great:) "nor if we eat not are we the worse," that is, fall in any way short of others. So far then he hath signified that the thing itself is superfluous, and as nothing. For that which being done profits not, and which being left undone injures not, must be superfluous.

[10.] But as he goes on, he discloses all the harm which was likely to arise from the matter. For the present, however, that which befel the brethren is his subject.

Ver. 9. "For take heed," saith he, "lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling-block to the weak among the brethren." (ton adelphon not in rec. text.)

He did not say, "Your liberty is become a stumbling-block," nor did he positively affirm it that he might not make them more shameless; but how? "Take heed;" frightening them, and making them ashamed, and leading them to disavow any such conduct. And he said not, "This your knowledge," which would have sounded more like praise; nor "this your perfectness;" but, "your liberty;" a thing which seemed to savor more of rashness and obstinacy and arrogance. Neither said he, "To the brethren," but, "To those of the brethren who are weak;" enhancing his accusation from their not even sparing the weak, and those too their brethren. For let it be so that you correct them not, nor arouse them: yet why trip them up, and make them to stumble, when you ought to stretch out the hand? but for that you have no mind: well then, at least avoid casting them down. Since if one were wicked, he required punishment; if weak, healing: but now he is not only weak, but also a brother.

Ver. 10. "For if a man see thee who hast knowledge, sitting at meat in an idol's temple, will not his conscience if he is weak, be emboldened [96] to eat things sacrificed to idols?"

After having said, "Take heed lest this your liberty become a stumbling-block," he explains how and in what manner it becomes so: and he continually employs the term "weakness," that the mischief may not be thought to arise from the nature of the thing, nor demons appear formidable. As thus: "At present," saith he, "a man is on the point of withdrawing himself entirely from all idols; but when he sees you fond of loitering about them, he takes the circumstance for a recommendation and abides there himself also. So that not only his weakness, but also your ill-timed behavior, helps to further the plot against him; for it is you who make him weaker."

Ver. 11. "And through thy meat [97] he that is weak perisheth, the brother for whose sake Christ died."

For there are two things which deprive you of excuse in this mischief; one, that he is weak, the other, that he is thy brother: rather, I should say, there is a third also, and one more terrible than all. What then is this? That whereas Christ refused not even to die for him, thou canst not bear even to accommodate thyself to him. By these means, you see, he reminds the perfect man also, what he too was before, and that for him He died. And he said not, "For whom even to die was thy duty;" but what is much stronger, that even Christ died for his sake. "Did thy Lord then not refuse to die for him, and dost thou so make him of none account as not even to abstain from a polluted table for his sake? Yea, dost thou permit him to perish, after the salvation so wrought, and, what is still more grievous, `for a morsel of meat?' "For he said not, "for thy perfectness," nor "for thy knowledge," but "for thy meat." So that the charges are four, and these extremely heavy: that it was a brother, that he was weak, and one of whom Christ made so much account as even to die for him, and that after all this for a "morsel of meat" he is destroyed.

Ver. 12. "And thus sinning against the brethren, and wounding their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ."

Do you observe how quietly and gradually he hath brought their offence up to the very summit of iniquity? And again, he makes mention of the infirmity of the other sort: and so, the very thing which these considered to make for them, that he every where turns round upon their own head. And he said not, "Putting stumbling-blocks in their way," but, "wounding;" so as by the force of his expression to indicate their cruelty. For what can be more savage than a man who wounds the sick? and yet no wound is so grievous as making a man to stumble. Often, in fact, is this also the cause of death.

But how do they "sin against Christ?" In one way, because He considers the concerns of His servants as His own; in another, because those who are wounded go to make up His Body and that which is part of Him: in a third way, because that work of His which He built up by His own blood, these are destroying for their ambition's sake.

[11.] Ver. 13. "Wherefore, if meat make my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh for ever." This is like the best of teachers, to teach in his own person the things which he speaks. Nor did he say whether justly or unjustly; but in any case. "I say not," (such is his tone,) "meat offered in sacrifice to an idol, which is already prohibited for another reason; but if any even of those things which are within license and are permitted causes stumbling, from these also will I abstain: and not one or two days, but all the time of my life." For he saith, "I will eat no flesh for ever." And he said not, "Lest I destroy my brother," but simply, "That I make not my brother to stumble." For indeed it comes of folly in the extreme that what things are greatly cared for by Christ, and such as He should have even chosen to die for them, these we should esteem so entirely beneath our notice as not even to abstain from meats on their account.

Now these things might be seasonably spoken not to them only, but also to us, apt as we are to esteem lightly the salvation of our neighbors and to utter those satanical words. I say, satanical: for the expression, "What care I, though such an one stumble, and such another perish?" savors of his cruelty and inhuman mind. And yet in that instance, the infirmity also of those who were offended had some share in the result: but in our case it is not so, sinning as we do in such a way as to offend even the strong. For when we smite, and raven, and overreach, and use the free as if they were slaves, whom is not this enough to offend? Tell me not of such a man's being a shoemaker, another a dyer, another a brazier: but bear in mind that he is a believer and a brother. Why these are they whose disciples we are; the fishermen, the publicans, the tent-makers, of Him who was brought up in the house of a carpenter; and who deigned to have the carpenter's betrothed wife for a mother; and who was laid, after His swaddling clothes, in a manger; and who had not where to lay His head;--of Him whose journeys were so long that His very journeying was enough to tire Him down; of Him who was supported by others.

[12.] Think on these things, and esteem the pride of man to be nothing. But count the tent-maker as well as thy brother, as him that is borne upon a chariot and hath innumerable servants and struts in the market-place: nay, rather the former than the latter; since the term brother would more naturally be used where there is the greater resemblance. Which then resembles the fisherman? He who is supported by daily labor and hath neither servant nor dwelling, but is quite beset with privations; or that other who is surrounded with such vast pomp, and who acts contrary to the laws of God? Despise not then him that is more of the two thy brother, for he comes nearer to the Apostolic pattern.

"Not however," say you, "of his own accord, but by compulsion; for he doeth not this of his own mind." How comes this? Hast thou not heard, "Judge not, that ye be not judged?" But, to convince thyself that he doeth it not against his inclination, approach and give him ten thousand talents of gold, and thou shalt see him putting it away from him. And thus, even though he have received no wealth by inheritance from his ancestors, yet when it is in his power to take it, and he lets it not come near him neither adds to his goods, he exhibits a mighty proof of his contempt of wealth. For so John was the son of Zebedee that extremely poor man: yet I suppose we are not therefore to say that his poverty was forced upon him.

Whensoever then thou seest one driving nails, smiting with a hammer, covered with soot, do not therefore hold him cheap, but rather for that reason admire him. Since even Peter girded himself, and handled the dragnet, and went a fishing after the Resurrection of the Lord.

And why say I Peter? For this same Paul himself, after his incessant runnings to and fro and all those vast miracles, standing in a tent-maker's shop, sewed hides together: while angels were reverencing him and demons trembling. And he was not ashamed to say, (Acts xx. 34.) "Unto my necessities, and to those who were with me, these hands ministered." What say I, that he was not ashamed? Yea, he gloried in this very thing.

But you will say, "Who is there now to be compared with the virtue of Paul?" I too am aware that there is no one, yet not on this account are those who live now to be despised: for if for Christ's sake thou give honor, though one be last of all, yet if he be a believer he shall justly be honored. For suppose a general and a common soldier both present themselves before you, being friends of the king, and you open your house to both: in which of their persons would you seem to pay most honor to the king? Plainly in that of a soldier. For there were in the general, beside his loyalty to the king, many other things apt to win such a mark of respect from you: but the soldier had nothing else but his loyalty to the king.

Wherefore God bade us call to our suppers and our feasts the lame, and the maimed, and those who cannot repay us; for these are most of all properly called good deeds which are done for God's sake. Whereas if thou entertain some great and distinguished man, it is not such pure mercy, what thou doest: but some portion many times is assigned to thyself also, [98] both by vain-glory, and by the return of the favor, and by thy rising in many men's estimation on account of thy guest. At any rate, I think I could point out many who with this view pay court to the more distinguished among the saints, namely, that by their means they may enjoy a greater intimacy with rulers, and that they may find them thenceforth more useful in their own affairs and to their families. And many such favors do they ask in recompense from those saints; a thing which mars the repayment of their hospitality, they seeking it with such a mind.

And why need I say this about the saints? Since he who seeks, even from God, the reward of his labors in the present life and follows after virtue for this world's good, is sure to diminish his recompense. But he that asks for all his crowns wholly there, is found far more admirable; like that Lazarus, who even now is "receiving" (St. Luke xvi. 25.) there all "his good things;" like those Three Children, who when they were on the point of being thrown into the furnace said, (Dan. xvii. 17, 18.) "There is a God in heaven able to deliver us; and if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up:" like Abraham, who even offered [99] his son and slew him; and this he did, not for any reward, but esteeming this one thing the greatest recompense, to obey the Lord.

These let us also imitate. For so shall we be visited with a return of all our good deeds and that abundantly, because we do all with such a mind as this: so shall we obtain also the brighter crowns. And God grant that we may all obtain them, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, honor, now, henceforth, and for everlasting ages. Amen.

Footnotes

[92] epignosomai. [93] Olympius the Sophist, of Alexandria, A.D. 389, thus comforted the people when their idols were destroyed: "Shapes and counterfeits they were, fashioned of matter subject unto corruption, therefore to grind them to dust was easy: but those celestial powers which dwelt and resided in them are ascended to Heaven." Sozom. vii. 15, quoted by Hooker, E. P. v. 65. 15. [94] kai Patros, om. in rec. text. [95] tou eidolothutou. rec. text. eidolou. [96] oikodomethesetai, "established," "edified." [97] brosei, rec. text gnosei, Comp. Rom. xiv. 15. [98] merizetai ti pros se. [99] anegage.


Homily XXI.

1 Cor. ix. 1

Am I not an Apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

Inasmuch as he had said, "If meat make my brother to stumble I will eat no flesh forever;" a thing which he had not yet done, but professed he would do if need require: lest any man should say, "Thou vauntest thyself at random, and art severe in discourse, and utterest words of promise, a thing easy to me or to any body; but if these sayings come from thy heart, shew by deeds something which thou hast slighted in order to avoid making thy brother stumble:" for this cause, I say, in what follows he is compelled to enter on the proof of this also, and to point out how he was used to forego even things permitted that he might not give offence, although without any law to enforce his doing so.

And we are not yet come to the admirable part of the matter: though it be admirable that he abstain even from things lawful to avoid offence: but it is his habit of doing so at the cost of so much trouble and danger [100] . "For why," saith he, "speak of the idol sacrifices? Since although Christ had enjoined that those who preach the Gospel should live at the charge of their disciples, I did not so, but chose, if need were, to end my life with famine and die the most grievous of deaths, so I might avoid receiving of those whom I instruct."

Not because they would otherwise be made to stumble, but because his not receiving would edify them [101] : a much greater thing for him to do. And to witness this he summons themselves, among whom he was used to live in toil and in hunger, nourished by others, and put to straits, in order not to offend them. And yet there was no ground for their taking offence, for it would but have been a law which he was fulfilling. But for all this, by a sort of supererogation [102] he used to spare them.

Now if he did more than was enacted lest they should take offence, and abstained from permitted things to edify others; what must they deserve who abstain not from idol sacrifices? and that, when many perish thereby? a thing which even apart from all scandal one ought to shrink from, as being "the table of demons."

The sum therefore of this whole topic is this which he works out in many verses. But we must resume it and make a fresh entrance on what he hath alleged. For neither hath he set it down thus expressly as I have worded it; nor doth he leap at once upon it; but begins from another topic, thus speaking;

[2.] "Am I not an Apostle?" For besides all that hath been said, this also makes no small difference that Paul himself is the person thus conducting himself. As thus: To prevent their alleging, "You may taste of the sacrifices, sealing [103] at the same time:" for a while he withstands not that statement, but argues, "Though it were lawful, your brethren's harm should keep you from doing so;" and afterwards he proves that it is not even lawful. In this particular place, however, he establishes the former point from circumstances relating to himself. And intending presently to say that he had received nothing from them, he sets it not down at once, but his own dignity is what he first affirms: "Am I not an Apostle? am I not free?"

Thus, to hinder their saying, "True; thou didst not receive, but the reason thou didst not was its not being lawful;" he sets down therefore first the causes why he might reasonably have received, had he been willing to do so.

Further: that there might not seem to be any thing invidious in regard of Peter and such as Peter, in his saying these things, (for they did not use to decline receiving;) he first shows that they had authority to receive, and then that no one might say, "Peter had authority to receive but thou hadst not," he possesses the hearer beforehand with these encomiums of himself. And perceiving that he must praise himself, (for that was the way to correct the Corinthians,) yet disliking to say any great thing of himself, see how he hath tempered both feelings as the occasion required: limiting his own panegyric, not by what he knew of himself, but by what the subject of necessity required. For he might have said, "I most of all had a right to receive, even more than they, because `I labored more abundantly than they.'" But this he omits, being a point wherein he surpassed them; and those points wherein they were great and which were just grounds for their receiving, those only he sets down: as follows:

"Am I not an Apostle? am I not free?" i.e. "have I not authority over myself? am I under any, to overrule me and forbid my receiving?"

"But they have an advantage over you, in having been with Christ."

"Nay, neither is this denied me." With a view to which he saith,

"Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" For "last of all," (c. xv. 8.) saith he, "as unto one born out of due time, He appeared unto me also." Now this likewise was no small dignity: since "many Prophets," (S. Matt. xiii. 17.) saith He, "and righteous men have desired to see the things which ye see, and have not seen them:" and, "Days will come when ye shall desire to see one of these days." (S. Luke xvii. 22.)

"What then, though thou be `an Apostle,' and `free,' and hast `seen Christ,' if thou hast not exhibited any work of an Apostle; how then can it be right for thee to receive?" Wherefore after this he adds,

"Are not ye my work in the Lord?" For this is the great thing; and those others avail nothing, apart from this. Even Judas himself was "an Apostle," and "free," and "saw Christ;" but because he had not "the work of an Apostle," all those things profited him not. You see then why he adds this also, and calls themselves to be witnesses of it.

Moreover, because it was a great thing which he had uttered, see how he chastens it, adding, "In the Lord:" i.e., "the work is God's, not mine."

Ver. 2. "If to others I am not an Apostle, yet at least I am to you."

Do you see how far he is from enlarging here without necessity? And yet he had the whole world to speak of, and barbarous nations, and sea and land. However, he mentions none of these things, but carries his point by concession, and even granting more than he need. As if he had said, "Why need I dwell on things over and above, since these even alone are enough for my present purpose? I speak not, you will observe, of my achievements in other quarters, but of those which have you for witnesses. Upon which it follows that if from no other quarter, yet from you I have a right to receive. Nevertheless, from whom I had most right to receive, even you whose teacher I was, from those I received not."

"If to others I am not an Apostle, yet at least I am to you." Again, he states his point by concession. For the whole world had him for its Apostle. "However," saith he, "I say not that, I am not contending nor disputing, but what concerns you I lay down. `For the seal of mine Apostleship are ye:'" i.e., its proof. "Should any one, moreover, desire to learn whence I am an Apostle, you are the persons whom I bring forward: for all the signs of an Apostle have I exhibited among you, and not one have I failed in." As also he speaks in the Second Epistle, saying, (2 Cor. xii. 12.) "Though I am nothing, truly the signs of an Apostle were wrought among you in all patience, by signs and wonders and mighty works. For what is there wherein ye were made inferior to the rest of the Churches?" Wherefore he saith, "The seal of mine Apostleship are ye." "For I both exhibited miracles, and taught by word, and underwent dangers, and shewed forth a blameless life." And these topics you may see fully set forth by these two Epistles, how he lays before them the demonstration of each with all exactness.

[3.] Ver. 3. "My defence to them that examine me is this." What is, "My defence to them that examine me is this?" "To those who seek to know whereby I am proved to be an Apostle, or who accuse me as receiving money, or inquire the cause of my not receiving, or would fain shew that I am not an Apostle: to all such, my instruction given to you and these things which I am about to say, may stand for a full explanation and defence." What then are these?

Ver. 4, 5. "Have we no right to eat and to drink? Have we no right to lead about a wife that is a believer?" Why, how are these sayings a defence? "Because, when it appears that I abstain even from things which are allowed, it cannot be just to look suspiciously on me as a deceiver or one acting for gain."

Wherefore, from what was before alleged and from my having instructed you and from this which I have now said, I have matter sufficient to make my defence to you: and all who examine me I meet upon this ground, alleging both what has gone before and this which follows: "Have we no right to eat and to drink? have we no right to lead about a wife that is a believer? "Yet for all this, having it I abstain?"

What then? did he not use to eat or to drink? It were most true to say that in many places he really did not eat nor drink: for (c. iv. 11.) "in hunger," saith he, "and in thirst, and in nakedness" we were abiding." Here, however, this is not his meaning; but what? "We eat not nor drink, receiving of those whom we instruct, though we have a right so to receive."

"Have we no right to lead about a wife that is a believer, even as the rest of the Apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" Observe his skilfulness. The leader of the choir stands last in his arrangement: since that is the time for laying down the strongest of all one's topics. Nor was it so wonderful for one to be able to point out examples of this conduct in the rest, as in the foremost champion and in him who was entrusted with the keys of heaven. But neither does he mention Peter alone, but all of them: as if he had said, Whether you seek the inferior sort or the more eminent, in all you find patterns of this sort.

For the brethren too of the Lord, being freed from their first unbelief (vid. S. John vii. 5.), had come to be among those who were approved, although they attained not to the Apostles. And accordingly the middle place is that which he hath assigned to them, setting down those who were in the extremes before and after.

Ver. 6. "Or I only and Barnabas, have we not a right to forbear working?"

(See his humility of mind and his soul pure from envy, how he takes care not to conceal him whom he knew to be a partaker with himself in this perfection.) For if the other things be common, how is not this common? Both they and we are apostles and are free, and have seen Christ, and have exhibited the works of Apostles. Therefore we likewise have a right both to live without working and to be supported by our disciples.

[4.] Ver. 7. "What soldier ever serveth at his own charges?" For since, which was the strongest point, he had proved from the Apostles that it is lawful to do so, he next comes to examples and to the common practice; as he uses to do: "What soldier serveth at his own charges?" saith he. But do thou consider, I pray, how very suitable are the examples to his proposed subject, and how he mentions first that which is accompanied with danger; viz. soldiership and arms and wars. For such a kind of thing was the Apostolate, nay rather much more hazardous than these. For not with men alone was their warfare, but with demons also, and against the prince of those beings was their battle array. What he saith therefore is this: "Not even do heathen governors, cruel and unjust as they are, require their soldiers to endure service and peril and live on their own means. How then could Christ ever have required this?"

Nor is he satisfied with one example. For to him who is rather simple and dull, this also is wont to come as a great refreshment, viz. their seeing the common custom also going along with the laws of God. Wherefore he proceeds to another topic also and says, "Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof?" For as by the former he indicated his dangers, so by this his labor and abundant travail and care.

He adds likewise a third example, saying, "Who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk thereof?" He is exhibiting the great concern which it becomes a teacher to show for those who are under his rule. For, in fact, the Apostles were both soldiers and husbandmen and shepherds, not of the earth nor of irrational animals, nor in such wars as are perceptible by sense; but of reasonable souls and in battle array with the demons.

It also must be remarked how every where he preserves moderation, seeking the useful only, not the extraordinary. For he said not, "What soldier serveth and is not enriched?" but, "What soldier ever serveth at his own charges?" Neither did he say, "Who planteth a vineyard, and gathereth not gold, or spareth to collect the whole fruit?" but, "Who eateth not of the fruit thereof?" Neither did he say, "Who feedeth a flock, and maketh not merchandize of the lambs?" But what? "And eateth not of the milk thereof?" Not of the lambs, but of the milk; signifying, that a little relief should be enough for the teacher, even his necessary food alone. (This refers to those who would devour all and gather the whole of the fruit.) "So likewise the Lord ordained," saying, "The laborer is worthy of his food." (St. Matt. x. 10.)

And not this only doth he establish by his illustrations, but he shows also what kind of man a priest ought to be. For he ought to possess both the courage of a soldier and the diligence of a husbandman and the carefulness of a shepherd, and after all these, to seek nothing more than necessaries.

[5.] Having shewn, as you see, both from the Apostles, that it is not forbidden the teacher to receive, and from illustrations found in common life, he proceeds also to a third head, thus saying,

Ver. 8. "Do I speak these things after the manner of men? or saith not the law also the same?"

For since he had hitherto alleged nothing out of the Scriptures, but put forward the common custom; "think not," saith he, "that I am confident in these alone, nor that I go to the opinions of men for the ground of these enactments. For I can shew that these things are also well-pleasing to God, and I read an ancient law enjoining them." Wherefore also he carries on his discourse in the form of a question, which is apt to be done in things fully acknowledged; thus saying, "Say I these things after the manner of men?" i.e. "do I strengthen myself only by human examples?" "or saith not the law also the same?"

Ver. 9. "For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn."

And on what account hath he mentioned this, having the example of the priests? Wishing to establish it far beyond what the case required. Further, lest any should say, "And what have we to do with the saying about the oxen?" he works it out more exactly, saying, "Is it for the oxen that God careth;" Doth God then, tell me, take no care for oxen? Well, He doth take care of them, but not so as to make a law concerning such a thing as this. So that had he not been hinting at something important, training the Jews to mercy in the case of the brutes, and through these, discoursing with them of the teachers also; he would not have taken so much interest as even to make a law to forbid the muzzling of oxen.

Wherein he points out another thing likewise, that the labor of teachers both is and ought to be great.

And again another thing. What then is this? That whatever is said by the Old Testament respecting care for brutes, in its principal meaning bears on the instruction of human beings: as in fact do all the rest: the precepts, for example, concerning various garments; and those concerning vineyards and seeds and not making the ground bear divers crops, [104] and those concerning leprosy; and, in a word, all the rest: for they being of a duller sort He was discoursing with them from these topics, advancing them by little and little.

And see how in what follows he doth not even confirm it, as being clear and self-evident. For having said, "Is it for the oxen that God careth?" he added, "or saith he it altogether for our sake?" Not adding even the "altogether" at random, but that he might not leave the hearer any thing whatever to reply.

And he dwells upon the metaphor, saying and declaring, "Yea for our sakes it was written, because he who ploweth ought to plow in hope;" i.e., the teacher ought to enjoy the returns of his labors; "and he that thresheth ought to thresh in hope of partaking." And observe his wisdom in that from the seed he transferred the matter to the threshing floor; herein also again manifesting the many toils of the teachers, that they in their own persons both plough and tread the floor. And of the ploughing, because there was nothing to reap, but labor only, he used the word, "hope;" but of treading the floor he presently allows the fruit, saying, "He that thresheth is a partaker of his hope."

Further, lest any should say, "Is this then the return for so many toils," he adds, "in hope," i.e., "which is to come." No other thing therefore doth the mouth of this animal being unmuzzled declare than this; that the teachers who labor ought also to enjoy some return.

[6.] Ver. 11. "If we sowed unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your carnal things?"

Lo, he adds also a fourth argument for the duty of yielding support. For since he had said, "What soldier ever serveth at his own charges?" and, "who planteth a vineyard?" and, "who feedeth a flock?" and introduced the ox that treadeth the corn; he points out likewise another most reasonable cause on account of which they might justly receive; viz. having bestowed much greater gifts, no more as having labored only. What is it then? "if we sowed unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your carnal things?" Seest thou a most just allegation and fuller of reason than all the former? for "in those instances," says he, "carnal is the seed, carnal also is the fruit; but here not so, but the seed is spiritual, the return carnal." Thus, to prevent high thoughts in those who contribute to their teachers, he signified that they receive more than they give. As if he had said, "Husbandmen, whatsoever they sow, this also do they receive; but we, sowing in your souls spiritual things, do reap carnal." For such is the kind of support given by them. Further, and still more to put them to the blush.

Ver. 12. "If others partake of this right over you, do not we yet more?"

See also again another argument, and this too from examples though not of the same kind. For it is not Peter whom he mentions here nor the Apostles, but certain other spurious ones, with whom he afterwards enters into combat, and concerning whom he says, (2 Cor. xi. 20.) "If a man devour you, if he take you captive, if he exalt himself, if he smite you on the face," and already he is sounding the prelude [105] to the fight with them. Wherefore neither did he say, "If others take of you," but pointing out their insolence and tyranny and trafficking, he says, "if others partake of this right over you," i.e., "rule you, exercise authority, use you as servants, not taking you captive only, but with much authority." Wherefore he added "do not we yet more?" which he would not have said if the discourse were concerning the Apostles. But it is evident that he hints at certain pestilent men, and deceivers of them. "So that besides the law of Moses even ye yourselves have made a law in behalf of the duty of contribution."

And having said, "do not we yet more?" he does not prove why yet more, but leaves it to their consciences to convince them of that, wishing at the same time both to alarm and to abash them more thoroughly.

[7.] Nevertheless, we did not use this right;" i.e., "did not receive." Do you see, when he had by so many reasons before proved that receiving is not unlawful, how he next says, "we receive not," that he might not seem to abstain as from a thing forbidden? "For not because it is unlawful," saith he, "do I not receive; for it is lawful and this we have many ways shown: from the Apostles; from the affairs of life, the soldier, the husbandman, and the shepherd; from the law of Moses; from the very nature of the case, in that we have sown unto you spiritual things; from what yourselves have done to others." But as he had laid down these things, lest he should seem to put to shame the Apostles who were in the habit of receiving; abashing them and signifying that not as from a forbidden thing doth he abstain from it: so again, lest by his large store of proof and the examples and reasonings by which he had pointed out the propriety of receiving, he should seem to be anxious to receive himself and therefore to say these things; he now corrects it. And afterwards he laid it down more clearly where he says, "And I wrote not these things, that it may be so done in my case;" but here his words are, "we did not use this right."

And what is a still greater thing, neither could any have this to say, that being in abundance we declined using it; rather, when necessity pressed upon us we would not yield to the necessity. Which also in the second Epistle he says; "I robbed other Churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto you; and when I was present with you, and was in want, I was not a burden on any man." (2 Cor. xi. 8, 9.) And in this Epistle again, "We both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted." (1 Cor. iv. 11.) And here again he hints the same thing, saying, "But we bear all things." For by saying, "we bear all things," he intimates both hunger and great straits and all the other things. "But not even thus have we been compelled," saith he, "to break the law which we laid down for ourselves. Wherefore? "that we may cause no hinderance to the Gospel of Christ." For since the Corinthians were rather weak-minded, "lest we should wound you," saith he "by receiving, we chose to do even more than was commanded rather than hinder the Gospel," i.e., your instruction. Now if we in a matter left free to us, and when we were both enduring much hardship and having Apostles for our pattern, used abstinence lest we should give hindrance, (and he did not say, "subversion," but "hindrance;" nor simply "hindrance," but "any" hindrance,) that we might not, so to speak, cause so much as the slightest suspense and delay to the course of the Word: "If now," saith he, "we used so great care, how much more ought you to abstain, who both come far short of the Apostles and have no law to mention, giving you permission: but contrariwise are both putting your hand to things forbidden and things which tend to the great injury of the Gospel, not to its hindrance only [106] ; and not even having any pressing necessity in view." For all this discussion he had moved on account of these Corinthians, who were making their weaker brethren to stumble by eating of things sacrificed to idols.

[8.] These things also let us listen to, beloved; that we may not despise those who are offended, nor, "cause any hindrance to the Gospel of Christ;" that we may not betray our own salvation. And say not thou to me when thy brother is offended, "this or that, whereby he is offended, hath not been forbidden; it is permitted." For I have something greater to say to thee: "although Christ Himself have permitted it, yet if thou seest any injured, stop and do not use the permission." For this also did Paul; when he might have received, Christ having granted permission, he received not. Thus hath our Lord in His mercy mingled much gentleness with His precepts that it might not be all merely of commandment, but that we might do much also of our own mind. Since it was in His power, had He not been so minded, to extend the commandments further and to say, "he who fasts not continually, let him be chastised; he who keeps not his virginity, let him be punished; he that doth not strip himself of all that he hath, let him suffer the severest penalty." But he did not so, giving thee occasion, if thou wilt, to be forward in doing more. Wherefore both when He was discoursing about virginity, He said, "He that is able to receive, let him receive it:" and in the case of the rich man, some things He commanded, but some He left to the determination of his mind. For He said not, "Sell what thou hast," but, "If thou wilt be perfect, sell."

But we are not only not forward to do more, and to go beyond the precepts, but we fall very short even of the measure of things commanded. And whereas Paul suffered hunger that he might not hinder the Gospel; we have not the heart even to touch what is in our own stores, though we see innumerable souls overthrown. "Yea" saith one, "let the moth eat, and let not the poor eat; let the worm devour, and let not the naked be clothed; let all be wasted away with time, and let not Christ be fed; and this when He hungereth." "Why, who said this?" it will be asked. Nay, this is the very grievance, that not in words but in deeds these things are said: for it were less grievous uttered in words than done in deeds. For is not this the cry, day by day, of the inhuman and cruel tyrant, Covetousness, to those who are led captive by her? "Let your goods be set before informers and robbers and traitors for luxury, and not before the hungry and needy for their sustenance." Is it not ye then who make robbers? Is it not ye who minister fuel to the fire of the envious? Is it not ye who make vagabonds and traitors, putting your wealth before them for a bait? What madness is this? (for a madness it is, and plain distraction,) to fill your chests with apparel, and overlook him that is made after God's image and similitude, naked and trembling with cold, and with difficulty keeping himself upright.

"But he pretends," saith one, "this tremor and weakness." And dost thou not fear lest a thunderbolt from heaven, kindled by this word, should fall upon thee? (For I am bursting with wrath: bear with me.) Thou, I say, pampering and fattening thyself and extending thy potations to the dead of night and comforting thyself in soft coverlets, dost not deem thyself liable to judgment, so lawlessly using the gifts of God: (for wine was not made that we should be drunken; nor food, that we should pamper our appetites; nor meats, that we should distend the belly.) But from the poor, the wretched, from him that is as good as dead, from him demandest thou strict accounts, and dost thou not fear Christ's tribunal, so full of all awfulness and terror? Why, if he do play the hypocrite, he doth it of necessity and want, because of thy cruelty and inhumanity, requiring the use of such masks and refusing all inclination to mercy. For who is so wretched and miserable as without urgent necessity, for one loaf of bread, to submit to such disgrace, and to bewail himself and endure so severe a punishment? So that this hypocrisy of his goeth about, the herald of thine inhumanity. For since by supplicating and beseeching and uttering piteous expressions and lamenting and weeping and going about all day, he doth not obtain even necessary food, he devised perhaps even this contrivance also, the disgrace and blame whereof falls not so much on himself as on thee: for he indeed is meet to be pitied because he hath fallen into so great necessity; but we are worthy of innumerable punishments because we compel the poor to suffer such things. For if we would easily give way, never would he have chosen to endure such things.

And why speak I of nakedness and trembling? For I will tell a thing yet more to be shuddered at, that some have been compelled even to deprive their children of sight at an early age in order that they might touch our insensibility. For since when they could see and went about naked, neither by their age nor by their misfortunes could they win favor of the unpitying, they added to so great evils another yet sterner tragedy, that they might remove their hunger; thinking it to be a lighter thing to be deprived of this common light and that sunshine which is given to all, than to struggle with continual famine and endure the most miserable of deaths. Thus, since you have not learned to pity poverty, but delight yourselves in misfortunes, they satisfy your insatiable desire, and both for themselves and for us kindle a fiercer flame in hell.

[9.] And to convince you that this is the reason why these and such like things are done, I will tell you of an acknowledged proof which no man can gainsay. There are other poor men, of light and unsteady minds and not knowing how to bear hunger, but rather enduring every thing than it. These having often tried to deal with us by piteous gestures and words and finding that they availed nothing, have left off those supplications and henceforward our very wonder-workers are surpassed by them, some chewing the skins of worn-out shoes, and some fixing sharp nails into their heads, others lying about in frozen pools with naked stomachs, and others enduring different things yet more horrid than these, that they may draw around them the ungodly spectators. And thou, while these things are going on, standest laughing and wondering the while and making a fine show of other men's miseries, our common nature disgracing itself. And what could a fierce demon do more? Next, you give him money in abundance that he may do these things more promptly. And to him that prays and calls on God and approaches with modesty, you vouchsafe neither an answer nor a look: rather you utter to him, continually teazing you, those disgusting expressions, "Ought this fellow to live? or at all to breathe and see this sun?" whereas to the other sort you are both cheerful and liberal, as though you were appointed to dispense the prize of that ridiculous and Satanic unseemliness. Wherefore with more propriety to those who appoint these sports and bestow nothing till they see others punishing themselves, might these words be addressed, "Ought these men to live, to breathe at all, or see the sun, who transgress against our common nature, who insult God?" For whereas God saith, "Give alms, and I give thee the kingdom of heaven," thou hearest not: but when the Devil shews thee a head pierced with nails, on a sudden thou hast become liberal. And the contrivance of the evil spirit pregnant with so much mischief, hath wrought upon thee more than the promise of God bringing innumerable blessings. If gold were to be laid down to prevent the doing of these things or the looking upon them when done, there is nothing which thou oughtest not to practise and endure, to get rid of so excessive madness; but ye contrive every thing to have them done, and look on the doing of them. Still askest thou then, tell me, to what end is hell-fire? Nay, ask not that any more, but how is there one hell only? For of how many punishments are not they worthy, who get up this cruel and merciless spectacle and laugh at what both they and yourselves ought to weep over; yea, rather of the two, ye who compel them to such unseemly doings.

"But I do not compel them," say you. What else but compelling is it, I should like to know? Those who are more modest and shed tears and invoke God, thou art impatient even of listening to; but for these thou both findest silver in abundance and bringest around thee many to admire them.

"Well, let us leave off," say you, "pitying them. And dost thou too enjoin this?" Nay, it is not pity, O man, to demand so severe a punishment for a few pence, to order men to maim themselves for necessary food and cut into many pieces the skin of their head so mercilessly and pitifully. "Gently," say you, "for it is not we who pierce those heads." Would it were thou, and the horror would not be so horrible. For he that slays a man does a much more grievous [107] thing than he who bids him slay himself, which indeed happens in the case of these persons. For they endure more bitter pains when they are bidden to be themselves the executors of these wicked commands.

And all this in Antioch, where men were first called Christians, wherein are bred the most civilized of mankind, where in old time the fruit of charity flourished so abundantly. For not only to those at hand but also to those very far off, they used to send, and this when famine was expected.

[10.] What then ought we to do? say you. To cease from this savage practice: and to convince all that are in need that by doing these things they will gain nothing, but if they modestly approach they shall find your liberality great. Let them be once aware of this, even though they be of all men most miserable, they will never choose to punish themselves so severely, I pledge myself; nay, they will even give you thanks for delivering them both from the mockery and the pain of that way of life. But as it is, for charioteers you would let out even your own children, and for dancers you would throw away your very souls, while for Christ an hungered you spare not the smallest portion of your substance. But if you give a little silver, you think as much of it as if you had laid out all you have, not knowing that not the giving but the giving liberally, this is true almsgiving. Wherefore also it is not those simply who give whom the prophet proclaims and calls happy, but those who bestow liberally. For he doth not say simply, He hath given, but what? (Ps. cxii. 8.) "he hath dispersed abroad, he hath given to the poor." For what profit is it, when out of it thou givest as it were a glass of water out of the sea, and even a widow's magnanimity is beyond thy emulation? And how wilt thou say, "Pity me, O Lord, according to thy great pity, and according to the multitude of thy mercies blot out my transgression," thyself not pitying according to any great pity, nay, haply not according to any little. For I am greatly ashamed, I own, when I see many of the rich riding upon their golden-bitted chargers with a train of domestics clad in gold, and having couches of silver and other and more pomp, and yet when there is need to give to a poor man, becoming more beggarly than the very poorest.

[11.] But what is their constant talk? "He hath," they say, "the common church-allowance." And what is that to thee? For thou wilt not be saved because I give; nor if the Church bestow hast thou blotted out thine own sins. For this cause givest thou not, because the Church ought to give to the needy? Because the priests pray, wilt thou never pray thyself? And because others fast, wilt thou be continually drunken? Knowest thou not that God enacted not almsgiving so much for the sake of the poor as for the sake of the persons themselves who bestow?

But dost thou suspect the priest? Why this thing itself, to begin with, is a grievous sin. However, I will not examine the matter too nicely. Do thou it all in thine own person, and so shalt thou reap a double reward. Since in fact, what we say in behalf of almsgiving, we say not, that thou shouldest offer to us, but that thou shouldest thyself minister by thine own hands. For if thou bringest thine alms to me, perhaps thou mayest even be led captive by vain-glory, and oftentimes likewise thou shalt go away offended through suspicion of something evil: but if ye do all things by yourselves, ye shall both be rid of offences and of unreasonable suspicion, and greater is your reward. Not therefore to compel you to bring your money hither, do I say these things; nor from indignation on account of the priests being ill-reported of. For if one must be indignant and grieve, for you should be our grief, who say this ill. Since to them who are spoken ill of falsely and vainly the reward is greater, but to the speakers the condemnation and punishment is heavier. I say not these things therefore in their behalf, but in solicitude and care for you. For what marvel is it if some in our generation are suspected, when in the case of those holy men who imitated the angels, who possessed nothing of their own, I mean the Apostles, there was a murmuring in the ministration to the widows (Acts vi. 1.) that the poor were overlooked? when "not one said that aught of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things common?" (Acts iv. 32.)

Let us not then put forward these pretexts, nor account it an excuse that the Church is wealthy. But when you see the greatness of her substance, bear in mind also the crowds of poor who are on her list, the multitudes of her sick, her occasions of endless expenses. Investigate, scrutinize, there is none to forbid, nay, they are even ready to give you an account. But I wish to go much farther. Namely, when we have given in our accounts and proved that our expenditure is no less than our income, nay, sometimes more, I would gladly ask you this further question: When we depart hence and shall hear Christ saying, "Ye saw me hungry, and gave me no meat; naked, and ye clothed me not;" what shall we say? what apology shall we make? Shall we bring forward such and such a person who disobeyed these commands? or some of the priests who were suspected? "Nay, what is this to thee? for I accuse thee," saith He, "of those things wherein thou hast thyself sinned. And the apology for these would be, to have washed away thine own offences, not to point to others whose errors have been the same as thine."

In fact, the Church through your meanness is compelled to have such property as it has now. Since, if men did all things according to the apostolical laws, its revenue should have been your good will, which were both a secure chest and an inexhaustible treasury. But now when ye lay up for yourselves treasures upon the earth and shut up all things in your own stores, while the Church is compelled to be at charges with bands of widows, choirs of virgins, sojournings of strangers, distresses of foreigners, the misfortunes of prisoners, the necessities of the sick and maimed, and other such like causes, what must be done? Turn away from all these, and block up so many ports? Who then could endure the shipwrecks that would ensue; the weepings, the lamentations, the wailings which would reach us from every quarter?

Let us not then speak at random what comes into our mind. For now, as I have just said, we are really prepared to render up our accounts to you. But even if it were the reverse, and ye had corrupt teachers plundering and grasping at every thing, not even so were their wickedness an apology for you. For the Lover of mankind and All-wise, the Only-Begotten Son of God, seeing all things, and knowing the chance that in so great length of time and in so vast a world there would be many corrupt priests; lest the carelessness of those under their rule should increase through their neglect, removing every excuse for indifference; "In Moses' seat," saith He, "sit the Scribes and the Pharisees; all things, therefore, whatsoever they bid you, these do ye, but do not ye after their works:" implying, that even if thou hast a bad teacher, this will not avail thee, shouldest thou not attend to the things which are spoken. For not from what thy teacher hath done but from what thou hast heard and disobeyed, from that, I say, doth God pass his sentence upon thee. So that if thou doest the things commanded, thou shalt then stand with much boldness: but if thou disobey the things spoken, even though thou shouldest show ten thousand corrupt priests, this will not plead for thee at all. Since Judas also was an apostle, but nevertheless this shall never be any apology for the sacrilegious and covetous. Nor will any be able when accused to say, "Why the Apostle was a thief and sacrilegious, and a traitor;" yea, this very thing shall most of all be our punishment and condemnation that not even by the evils of others were we corrected. For this cause also these things were written that we might shun all emulation of such things.

Wherefore, leaving this person and that, let us take heed to ourselves. For "each of us shall give account of himself to God." In order therefore that we may render up this account with a good defence, let us well order our own lives and stretch out a liberal hand to the needy, knowing that this only is our defence, the showing ourselves to have rightly done the things commanded; there is no other whatever. And if we be able to produce this, we shall escape those intolerable pains of hell, and obtain the good things to come; unto which may we all attain, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[100] The reading here adopted is Savile's. [101] A slight transposition has been made here: the sense seeming to require it. [102] ek periousias. [103] i.e. making the sign of the Cross: sphragizonti. [104] diaphoron poiein ten gen. See Deut. xxii. 9. LXX. [105] proanakrouetai. [106] The reading seems imperfect, and unintelligible: it is rendered as if it were, ouk epi to enkopen monon dounai. [107] chalepoteron; the sense seems to require "less grievous:" perhaps the negative has slipped out of the text.


Homily XXII.

1 Cor. ix. 13, 14

Know ye not that they which minister about sacred things eat of the temple? and they which wait upon the altar have their portion with the altar? Even so did the Lord ordain that they which proclaim the Gospel should live of the Gospel.

He takes great care to show that the receiving was not forbidden. Whereupon having said so much before, he was not content but proceeds also to the Law, furnishing an example closer to the point than the former. For it was not the same thing to bring forward the oxen and to adduce the law expressly given concerning priests.

But consider, I pray, in this also the wisdom of Paul, how he mentions the matter in a way to give it dignity. For he did not say, "They which minister about sacred things receive of those who offer them." But what? "They eat of the temple:" so that neither they who receive may be blamed nor they who give may be lifted up. Wherefore also what follows he hath set down in the same way.

For neither did he say, "They which wait upon the altar receive of them which sacrifice," but, "have their portion with the altar." For the things offered now no longer belonged to those who offered them, but to the temple and the altar. And he said not, "They receive the holy things," but, they "eat of the temple," indicating again their moderation, and that it behoves them not to make money nor to be rich. And though he say that they have their portion "with the altar," he doth not speak of equal distribution but of relief given them as their due. And yet the case of the Apostles was much stronger. For in the former instance the priesthood was an honor, but in the latter it was dangers and slaughters and violent deaths. Wherefore all the other examples together did not come up to the saying, "If we sowed unto you spiritual things:" since in saying, "we sowed," he points out the storms, the danger, the snares, the unspeakable evils, which they endured in preaching. Nevertheless, though the superiority was so great, he was unwilling either to abase the things of the old law or to exalt the things which belong to himself: nay he even contracts his own, reckoning the superiority not from the dangers, but from the greatness of the gift. For he said not, "if we have jeoparded ourselves" or "exposed ourselves to snares" but "if we sowed unto you spiritual things."

And the part of the priests, as far as possible, he exalts, saying, "They which minister about sacred things," and "they that wait upon the altar," thereby intending to point out their continual servitude and patience. Again, as he had spoken of the priests among the Jews, viz. both the Levites and the Chief Priests, so he hath expressed each of the orders, both the inferior and the superior; the one by saying, "they which minister about sacred things," and the other by saying, "they which wait upon the altar." For not to all was one work commanded; but some were entrusted with the coarser, others with the more exalted offices. Comprehending therefore all these, lest any should say, "why talk to us of the old law? knowest thou not that ours is the time of more perfect commandments?" after all those topics he placed that which is strongest of all, saying,

Ver. 14. "Even so did the Lord ordain that they who proclaim the Gospel should live of the Gospel."

Nor doth he even here say that they are supported by men, but as in the case of the priests, of "the temple" and "of the altar," so likewise here, "of the Gospel;" and as there he saith, "eat," so here, "live," not make merchandize nor lay up treasures. "For the laborer," saith He, "is worthy of his hire."

[2.] Ver. 15. "But I have used none of these things:"

What then if thou hast not used them now, saith one, but intendest to use them at a future time, and on this account sayest these things. Far from it; for he speedily corrected the notion, thus saying;

"And I write not these things that it may be so done in my case."

And see with what vehemence he disavows and repels the thing:

"For it were good for me rather to die, than that any man should make my glorying void."

And not once nor twice, but many times he uses this expression. For above he said, "We did not use this right:" and after this again, "that I abuse not my right:" and here, "but I have used none of these things." "These things;" what things? The many examples. [108]That is to say, many things giving me license; the soldier, the husbandman, the shepherd, the Apostles, the law, the things done by us unto you, the things done by you unto the others, the priests, the ordinance of Christ; by none of these have I been induced to abolish my own law, and to receive. And speak not to me of the past: (although I could say, that I have endured much even in past times on this account,) nevertheless I do not rest on it alone, but likewise concerning the future I pledge myself, that I would choose rather to die of hunger than be deprived of these crowns.

"For it were good for me rather to die," saith he, "than that any man should make my glorying void."

He said not, "that any man should abolish my law," but, "my glorying." For lest any should say, "he doth it indeed but not cheerfully, but with lamentation and grief," willing to show the excess of his joy and the abundance of his zeal, he even calls the matter "glorying." So far was he from vexing himself that he even glories, and chooses rather to die than to fall from this "glorying." So much dearer to him even than life itself was that proceeding of his.

[3.] Next, he exalts it from another consideration also, and signifies that it was a great thing, not that he might show himself famous, (for far was he from that disposition,) but to signify that he rejoices, and with a view more abundantly to take away all suspicion. For on this account, as I before said, he also called it a glorying: and what saith he?

Ver. 16, 17, 18. "For if I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel! For if I do this of mine own will, I have a reward: but if not of mine own will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What then is my reward? That when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without charge, so as not to use to the full my right in the Gospel."

What sayest thou? tell me. "If thou preach the Gospel, it is nothing for thee to glory of, but it is, if thou make the Gospel of Christ without charge?" Is this therefore greater than that? By no means; but in another point of view it hath some advantage, inasmuch as the one is a command, but the other is a good deed of my own free-will: for what things are done beyond the commandment, have a great reward in this respect: but such as are in pursuance of a commandment, not so great: and so in this respect he says, the one is more than the other; not in the very nature of the thing. For what is equal to preaching; since it maketh men vie even with the angels themselves. Nevertheless since the one is a commandment and a debt, the other a forwardness of free-will, in this respect this is more than that. Wherefore he saith, explaining the same, what I just now mentioned:

"For if I do this of mine own will, I have a reward, but if not of mine own will, a stewardship is entrusted to me;" taking the words of mine own "will" and "not of mine own will," of its being committed or not committed to him. And thus we must understand the expression, "for necessity is laid upon me;" not as though he did aught of these things against his will, God forbid, but as though he were bound by the things commanded, and for contradistinction to the liberty in receiving before mentioned. Wherefore also Christ said to the disciples, (St. Luke xvii. 10.) "When ye have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants; for we have done that which was our duty to do."

"What then is my reward? That when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel without charge." What then, tell me, hath Peter no reward? Nay, who can ever have so great an one as he? And what shall we say of the other Apostles? How then said he, "If I do this of mine own will I have a reward, but if not of mine own will, a stewardship is entrusted to me?" Seest thou here also his wisdom? For he said not, "But if not of mine own will," I have no reward, but, "a stewardship is committed unto me:" implying that even thus he hath a reward, but such as he obtains who hath performed what was commanded, not such as belongs to him who hath of his own resources been generous and exceeded the commandment.

"What then is the reward? That, when I preach the Gospel," saith he, "I may make the Gospel without charge, so as not to use to the full my right in the Gospel." See how throughout he uses the term "right," intimating this, as I have often observed; that neither are they who receive worthy of blame. But he added, "in the Gospel," partly to show the reasonableness of it, partly also to forbid our carrying the matter out into every case. For the teacher ought to receive, but not the mere drone also. [109]

[4.] Ver. 19. "For though I was free from all men, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more."

Here again he introduces another high step in advance. For a great thing it is even not to receive, but this which he is about to mention is much more than that. What then is it that he says? "Not only have I not received," saith he," not only have I not used this right, but I have even made myself a slave, and in a slavery manifold and universal. For not in money alone, but, which was much more than money, in employments many and various have I made good this same rule: and I have made myself a slave when I was subject to none, having no necessity in any respect, (for this is the meaning of, "though I was free from all men;") and not to any single person have I been a slave, but to the whole world."

Wherefore also he subjoined, "I brought myself under bondage to all." That is, "To preach the Gospel I was commanded, and to proclaim the things committed to my trust; but the contriving and devising numberless things beside, all that was of my own zeal. For I was only under obligation to invest the money, whereas I did every thing in order to get a return for it, attempting more than was commanded." Thus doing as he did all things of free choice and zeal and love to Christ, he had an insatiable desire for the salvation of mankind. Wherefore also he used to overpass by a very great deal the lines marked out, in every way springing higher than the very heaven.

[5.] Next, having mentioned his servitude, he describes in what follows the various modes of it. And what are these?

Ver. 20. "And I became," says he, "to the Jews as a Jew, that I might gain Jews." And how did this take place? When he circumcised that he might abolish circumcision. Wherefore he said not, "a Jew," but, "as a Jew," which was a wise arrangement. What sayest thou? The herald of the world and he who touched the very heavens and shone so bright in grace, doth he all at once descend so low? Yea. For this is to ascend. For you are not to look to the fact only of his descending, but also to his raising up him that was bowed down and bringing him up to himself.

"To them that are under the law, as under the law, not being myself under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law." Either it is the explanation of what went before, or he hints at some other thing besides the former: calling those Jews, who were such originally and from the first: but "under the law," the proselytes, or those who became believers and yet adhered to the law. For they were no longer as Jews, yet `under the law.' And when was he under the law? When he shaved his head; when he offered sacrifice. Now these things were done, not because his mind changed, (since such conduct would have been wickedness,) but because his love condescended. For that he might bring over to this faith those who were really Jews, he became such himself not really, showing himself such only, but not such in fact nor doing these things from a mind so disposed. Indeed, how could he, zealous as he was to convert others also, and doing these things only in order that he might free others who did them from that degradation?

Ver. 21. "To them that are without law, as without law." These were neither Jews, nor Christians, nor Greeks; but `outside of the Law,' as was Cornelius, and if there were any others like him. For among these also making his appearance, he used to assume many of their ways. But some say that he hints at his discourse with the Athenians from the inscription on the altar, and that so he saith, "to them that are without law, as without law."

Then, lest any should think that the matter was a change of mind, he added, "not being without law to God, but under law to Christ;" i.e., "so far from being without law, I am not simply under the Law, but I have that law which is much more exalted than the older one, viz. that of the Spirit and of grace." Wherefore also he adds, "to Christ." Then again, having made them confident of his judgment, he states also the gain of such condescension, saying, "that I might gain them that are without law." And every where he brings forward the cause of his condescension, and stops not even here, but says,

Ver. 22. "To the weak became I weak, that I might gain the weak:" in this part coming to their case, with a view to which also all these things have been spoken. However, those were much greater things, but this more to the purpose; whence also he hath placed it after them. Indeed he did the same thing likewise in his Epistle to the Romans, when he was finding fault about meats; and so in many other places.

Next, not to waste time by naming all severally, he saith, "I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some."

Seest thou how far it is carried? "I am become all things to all men," not expecting, however, to save all, but that I may save though it be but a few. And so great care and service have I undergone, as one naturally would who was about saving all, far however from hoping to gain all: which was truly magnanimous [110] and a proof of burning zeal. Since likewise the sower sowed every where, and saved not all the seed, notwithstanding he did his part. And having mentioned the fewness of those who are saved, again, adding, "by all means," he consoled those to whom this was a grief. For though it be not possible that all the seed should be saved, nevertheless it cannot be that all should perish. Wherefore he said, "by all means," because one so ardently zealous must certainly have some success.

Ver. 23. "And I do all things for the Gospel's sake, that I may be a joint partaker thereof."

"That is, that I may seem also myself to have added some contribution of mine own, and may partake of the crowns laid up for the faithful. For as he spake of "living of the Gospel," i.e., of the believers; so also here, "that I may be a joint partaker in the Gospel, that I may be able to partake with them that have believed in the Gospel." Do you perceive his humility, how in the recompense of rewards he places himself as one of the many, though he had exceeded all in his labors? whence it is evident that he would in his reward also. Nevertheless, he claims not to enjoy the first prize, but is content if so be he may partake with the others in the crowns laid up for them. But these things he said, not because he did this for any reward, but that hereby at least he might draw them on, and by these hopes might induce them to do all things for their brethren's sake. Seest thou his wisdom! Seest thou the excellency of his perfection? how he wrought beyond the things commanded, not receiving when it was lawful to receive. Seest thou the exceeding greatness of his condescension? how he that was "under law to Christ," and kept that highest law, "to them that were without law," was "as one without law," to the Jews, as a Jew, in either kind showing himself preeminent, and surpassing all.

[6.] This also do thou, and think not being eminent, that thou lowerest thyself, when for thy brother's sake thou submittest to some abasement. For this is not to fall, but to descend. For he who falls, lies prostrate, hardly to be raised up again; but he who descends shall also rise again with much advantage. As also Paul descended indeed alone, but ascended with the whole world: not acting a part, for he would not have sought the gain of them that are saved had he been acting. Since the hypocrite seeks men's perdition, and feigns, that he may receive, not that he may give. But the apostle not so: as a physician rather, as a teacher, as a father, the one to the sick, the other to the disciple, the third to the son, condescends for his correction, not for his hurt; so likewise did he.

To show that the things which have been stated were not pretence; in a case where he is not compelled to do or say any such thing but means to express his affection and his confidence; hear him saying, (Rom. viii. 39.) "neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Seest thou a love more ardent than fire? So let us also love Christ. For indeed it is easy, if we will. For neither was the Apostle such by nature. On this account, you see, his former life was recorded, so contrary to this, that we may learn that the work is one of choice, and that to the willing all things are easy.

Let us not then despair, but even though thou be a reviler, or covetous, or whatsoever thou art, consider that Paul was (1 Tim. 13, 16.) "a blasphemer, and persecutor, and injurious, and the chief of sinners," and suddenly rose to the very summit of virtue, and his former life proved no hindrance to him. And yet none with so great frenzy clings to vice as he did to the war against the Church. For at that time he put his very life into it; and because he had not ten thousand hands that he might stone Stephen with all of them, he was vexed. Notwithstanding, even thus he found how he might stone him with more hands, to wit, those of the false witnesses whose clothes he kept. And again, when he entered into houses like a wild beast and no otherwise did he rush in, haling, tearing men and women, filling all things with tumult and confusion and innumerable conflicts. For instance, so terrible was he that the Apostles, (Acts ix. 26.) even after his most glorious change, did not yet venture to join themselves to him. Nevertheless, after all those things he became such as he was: for I need not say more.

[7.] Where now are they who build up the necessity of fate against the freedom of the will? Let them hear these things, and let their mouths be stopped. For there is nothing to hinder him that willeth to become good, even though before he should be one of the vilest. And in fact we are more aptly disposed that way, inasmuch as virtue is agreeable to our nature, and vice contrary to it, even as sickness and health. For God hath given us eyes, not that we may look wantonly, but that, admiring his handi-work, we may worship the Creator. And that this is the use of our eyes is evident from the things which are seen. For the lustre of the sun and of the sky we see from an immeasurable distance, but a woman's beauty one cannot discern so far off. Seest thou that for this end our eye was chiefly given? Again, he made the ear that we should entertain not blasphemous words, but saving doctrines. Wherefore you see, when it receives any thing dissonant, both our soul shudders and our very body also. "For," saith one, (Ecclus. xxvii. 5.) "the talk of him that sweareth much maketh the hair stand upright." And if we hear any thing cruel or merciless, again our flesh creeps; but if any thing decorous and kind, we even exult and rejoice. Again, if our mouth utter base words, it causes us to be ashamed and hide ourselves, but if grave words, it utters them with ease and all freedom. Now for those things which are according to nature no one would blush, but for those which are against nature. And the hands when they steal hide themselves, and seek excuses; but if they give alms, they even glory. So that if we will, we have from every side a great inclination towards virtue. But if thou talk to me of the pleasure which arises from vice, consider that this also is a thing which we reap more of from virtue. For to have a good conscience and to be looked up to by all and to entertain good hopes, is of all things most pleasant to him that hath seen into the nature of pleasure, even as the reverse is of all things the most grievous to him that knows the nature of pain; such as to be reproached by all, to be accused by our own conscience, to tremble and fear both at the future and the present.

And that what I say may become more evident, let us suppose for argument's sake one man having a wife, yet defiling the marriage-bed of his neighbor and taking pleasure in this wicked robbery, enjoying his paramour. Then let us again oppose to him another who loves his own spouse. And that the victory may be greater and more evident, let the man who enjoys his own wife only, have a fancy also for the other, the adulteress, but restrain his passion and do nothing evil: (although neither is this pure chastity.) However, granting more than is necessary, that you may convince yourself how great is the pleasure of virtue, for this cause have we so framed our story.

Now then, having brought them together, let us ask them accordingly, whose is the pleasanter life: and you will hear the one glorying and exulting in the conquest over his lust: but the other--or rather, there is no need to wait to be informed of any thing by him. For thou shalt see him, though he deny it times without number, more wretched than men in a prison. For he fears and suspects all, both his own wife and the husband of the adulteress and the adulteress herself, and domestics, and friends, and kinsmen, and walls, and shadows, and himself, and what is worst of all, he hath his conscience crying out against him, barking aloud every day. But if he should also bring to mind the judgment-seat of God, he will not be able even to stand. And the pleasure is short: but the pain from it unceasing. For both at even, and in the night, in the desert and the city and every where, the accuser haunts him, pointing to a sharpened sword and the intolerable punishment, and with that terror consuming and wasting him. But the other, the chaste person, is free from all these things, and is at liberty, and with comfort looks upon his wife, his children, his friends, and meets all with unembarrassed eyes. Now if he that is enamored but is master of himself enjoy so great pleasure, he that indulges no such passion but is truly chaste, what harbor, what calm will be so sweet and serene as the mind which he will attain? And on this account you may see few adulterers but many chaste persons. But if the former were the pleasanter, it would be preferred by the greater number. And tell me not of the terror of the laws. For this is not that which restrains them, but the excessive unreasonableness, and the fact that the pains of it are more than the pleasures, and the sentence of conscience.

[8.] Such then is the adulterer. Now, if you please, let us bring before you the covetous, laying bare again another lawless passion. For him too we shall see afraid of the same things and unable to enjoy real pleasure: in that calling to mind both those whom he hath wronged, and those who sympathize with them, and the public sentence of all concerning himself, he hath ten thousand agitations.

And this is not his only vexation, but not even his beloved object can he enjoy. For such is the way of the covetous; not that they may enjoy do they possess, but that they may not enjoy. But if this seem to thee a riddle, hear next what is yet worse than this and more perplexing; that not in this way only are they deprived of the pleasure of their goods, by their not venturing to use them as they would, but also by their never being filled with them but living in a continual thirst: than which what can be more grievous? But the just man is not so, but is delivered both from trembling and hatred and fear and this incurable thirst: and as all men curse the one, even so do all men conspire to bless the other: and as the one hath no friend, so hath the other no enemy.

What now, these things being so acknowledged, can be more unpleasing than vice or more pleasant than virtue? Nay, rather, though we should speak for ever, no one shall be able to represent in discourse either the pain of this, or the pleasure of the other, until we shall experience it. For then shall we find vice more bitter than gall, when we shall have fully tasted the honey of virtue. Not but vice is even now unpleasant, and disgusting, and burdensome, and this not even her very votaries gainsay; but when we withdraw from her, then do we more clearly discern the bitterness of her commands. But if the multitude run to her, it is no marvel; since children also oftentimes, choosing things less pleasant, despise those which are more delightful and the sick for a momentary gratification lose the perpetual and more certain joy. But this comes of the weakness and folly of those who are possessed with any fondness, not of the nature of the things. For it is the virtuous man who lives in pleasure; he who is rich indeed and free indeed.

But if any one would grant the rest to virtue,--liberty, security, freedom from cares, the fearing no man, the suspecting no man,--but would not grant it pleasure; to laugh, and that heartily, occurs to me, I confess, as the only course to be taken. For what else is pleasure, but freedom from care and fear and despondency, and the not being under the power of any? And who is in pleasure, tell me, the man in frenzy and convulsion, who is goaded by divers lusts, and is not even himself; or he who is freed from all these waves, and is settled in the love of wisdom, as it were in a harbor? Is it not evident, the latter? But this would seem to be a thing peculiar to virtue. So that vice hath merely the name of pleasure, but of the substance it is destitute. And before the enjoyment, it is madness, not pleasure: but after the enjoyment, straightway this also is extinguished. Now then if neither at the beginning nor afterwards can one discern the pleasure of it, when will it appear, and where?

And that thou mayest more clearly understand what I say, let us try the force of the argument in an example. Now consider. One is enamored of a fair and lovely woman: this man as long as he cannot obtain his desire is like unto men beside themselves and frantic; but after that he hath obtained it, he hath quenched his appetite. If therefore neither at the beginning doth he feel pleasure, (for the affair is madness,) nor in the end, (for by the indulgence of his lust he cools down his wild fancy,) where after all are we to find it? But our doings are not such, but both at the beginning they are freed from all disturbance, and to the end the pleasure remains in its bloom: nay rather there is no end of our pleasure, nor have our good things a limit, nor is this pleasure ever done away.

Upon all these considerations, then, if we love pleasure, let us lay hold on virtue that we may win good things both now and hereafter: unto which may we all attain, through the grace and mercy, &c.

Footnotes

[108] [Better, "None of these preogatives," such as freedom from restrictions as to food, freedom to marry, and authority to claim maintenance from the churches. Edwards in lo. C.] [109] [Chrysostom's view of this difficult passage appears to be: "If my preaching the Gospel is an optional thing, I have a reward; if on the other hand it is not optional but obligatory, then reward is out of the question (Luke xvii. 10). But it is obligatory in my case, and yet I have a reward, viz. the privilege of preaching gratuitously." This is one of Paul's felicitous paradoxes. "The consciousness of preaching freely a free Gospel was his pay for declining to be paid." C.] [110] polu mega.


Homily XXIII.

1 Cor. ix. 24

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?

Having pointed out the manifold usefulness of condescension and that this is the highest perfectness, and that he himself having risen higher than all towards perfection, or rather having gone beyond it by declining to receive, descended lower than all again; and having made known to us the times for each of these, both for the perfectness and for the condescension; he touches them more sharply in what follows, covertly intimating that this which was done by them and which was counted a mark of perfectness, is a kind of superfluous and useless labor. And he saith it not thus out clearly, lest they should become insolent; but the methods of proof employed by him makes this evident.

And having said that they sin against Christ and destroy the brethren, and are nothing profited by this perfect knowledge, except charity be added; he again proceeds to a common example, and saith,

"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?" Now this he saith, not as though here also one only out of many would be saved; far from it; but to set forth the exceeding diligence which it is our duty to use. For as there, though many descend into the course not many are crowned, but this befalls one only; and it is not enough to descend into the contest, nor to anoint one's self and wrestle: so likewise here it is not sufficient to believe, and to contend in any way; but unless we have so run as unto the end to show ourselves unblameable, and to come near the prize, it will profit us nothing. For even though thou consider thyself to be perfect according to knowledge, thou hast not yet attained the whole; which hinting at, he said, "so run, that ye may obtain." They had not then yet, as it seems, attained. And having said thus, he teaches them also the manner.

Ver. 25. "And every man that striveth in the games is temperate in all things."

What is, "all things?" He doth not abstain from one and err in another, but he masters entirely gluttony and lasciviousness and drunkenness and all his passions. "For this," saith he, "takes place even in the heathen games. For neither is excess of wine permitted to those who contend at the time of the contest, nor wantonness, lest they should weaken their vigor, nor yet so much as to be busied about any thing else, but separating themselves altogether from all things they apply themselves to their exercise only." Now if there these things be so where the crown falls to one, much more here, where the incitement in emulation is more abundant. For here neither is one to be crowned alone, and the rewards also far surpass the labors. Wherefore also he puts it so as to shame them, saying, "Now they do it receive to a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible."

[2.] Ver. 26. "I therefore so run, as not uncertainly."

Thus having shamed them from those that are without, he next brings forward himself also, which kind of thing is a most excellent method of teaching: and accordingly we find him every where doing so.

But what is, "not uncertainly?" "Looking to some mark," saith he, "not at random and in vain, as ye do. For what profit have ye of entering into idol-temples, and exhibiting for-sooth that perfectness? None. But not such am I, but all things whatsoever I do, I do for the salvation of my neighbor. Whether I show forth perfectness, it is for their sake; or condescension, for their sake again: whether I surpass Peter in declining to receive [compensation], it is that they may not be offended; or descend lower than all, being circumcised and shaving my head, it is that they may not be subverted. This is, "not uncertainly." But thou, why dost thou eat in idol-temples, tell me? Nay, thou canst not assign any reasonable cause. For "meat commendeth thee not to God; neither if thou eat art thou the better, nor if thou eat not art thou the worse." (1 Cor. viii. 8.) Plainly then thou runnest at random: for this is, "uncertainly."

"So fight I, as not beating the air." This he saith, again intimating that he acted not at random nor in vain. "For I have one at whom I may strike, i.e., the devil. But thou dost not strike him, but simply throwest away thy strength."

Now so far then, altogether bearing with them, he thus speaks. For since he had dealt somewhat vehemently with them in the preceding part, he now on the contrary keeps back his rebuke, reserving for the end of the discourse the deep wound of all. Since here he says that they act at random and in vain; but afterwards signifies that it is at the risk of no less than utter ruin to their own soul, and that even apart from all injury to their brethren, neither are they themselves guiltless in daring so to act.

Ver. 27. "But I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected."

Here he implies that they are subject to the lust of the belly and give up the reins to it, and under a pretence of perfection fulfil their own greediness; a thought which before also he was travailing to express, when he said, "meats for the belly, and the belly for meats." (1 Cor. vi. 13.) For since both fornication is caused by luxury, and it also brought forth idolatry, he naturally oftentimes inveighs against this disease; and pointing out how great things he suffered for the Gospel, he sets this also down among them. "As I went," saith he, "beyond the commands, and this when it was no light matter for me:" ("for we endure all things," it is said,) "so also here I submit to much labor in order to live soberly. Stubborn as appetite is and the tyranny of the belly, nevertheless I bridle it and give not myself up to the passion, but endure all labor not to be drawn aside by it."

"For do not, I pray you, suppose that by taking things easily I arrive at this desirable result. For it is a race and a manifold struggle, [111] and a tyrannical nature continually rising up against me and seeking to free itself. But I bear not with it but keep it down, and bring it into subjection with many struggles." Now this he saith that none may despairingly withdraw from the conflicts in behalf of virtue because the undertaking is laborious. Wherefore he saith, "I buffet and bring into bondage." He said not, "I kill:" nor, "I punish" for the flesh is not to be hated, but, "I buffet and bring into bondage;" which is the part of a master not of an enemy, of a teacher not of a foe, of a gymnastic master not of an adversary.

"Lest by any means, having preached to others, I myself should be a rejected."

Now if Paul feared this who had taught so many, and feared it after his preaching and becoming an angel and undertaking the leadership of the whole world; what can we say?

For, "think not," saith he, "because ye have believed, that this is sufficient for your salvation: since if to me neither preaching nor teaching nor bringing over innumerable persons, is enough for salvation unless I exhibit my own conduct also unblameable, much less to you."

[3.] Then he comes to other illustrations again. And as above he alleged the examples of the Apostles and those of common custom and those of the priests, and his own, so also here having set forth those of the Olympic games and those of his own course, he again proceeds to the histories of the Old Testament. And because what he has to say will be somewhat unpleasing he makes his exhortation general, and discourses not only concerning the subject before him, but also generally concerning all the evils among the Corinthians. And in the case of the heathen games, "Know ye not?" saith he: but here,

Chap. x. ver. 1. "For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant."

Now this he said, implying that they were not very well instructed in these things. And what is this which thou wouldest not have us ignorant of?

Ver. 1-5. "That our fathers," saith he, "were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of a spiritual Rock that followed them: and the Rock was Christ. Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased."

And wherefore saith he these things? To point out that as they were nothing profited by the enjoyment of so great a gift, so neither these by obtaining Baptism and partaking of spiritual Mysteries, except they go on and show forth a life worthy of this grace. Wherefore also he introduces the types both of Baptism and of the Mysteries.

But what is, "They were baptized into Moses?" Like as we, on our belief in Christ and His resurrection, are baptized, as being destined in our own persons to partake in the same mysteries; for, "we are baptized," saith he, "for the dead," i.e., for our own bodies; even so they putting confidence in Moses, i.e., having seen him cross first, ventured also themselves into the waters. But because he wishes to bring the Type near the Truth; he speaks it not thus, but uses the terms of the Truth even concerning the Type.

Further: this was a symbol of the Font, and that which follows, of the Holy Table. For as thou eatest the Lord's Body, so they the manna: and as thou drinkest the Blood, so they water from a rock. For though they were things of sense which were produced, yet were they spiritually exhibited, not according to the order of nature, but according to the gracious intention of the gift, and together with the body nourished also the soul, leading it unto faith. On this account, you see, touching the food he made no remark, for it was entirely different, not in mode only but in nature also; (for it was manna;) but respecting the drink, since the manner only of the supply was extraordinary and required proof, therefore having said that "they drank the same spiritual drink," he added, "for they drank of a spiritual Rock that followed them," and he subjoined, "and the Rock was Christ." For it was not the nature of the rock which sent forth the water, (such is his meaning,) else would it as well have gushed out before this time: but another sort of Rock, a spiritual One, performed the whole, even Christ who was every where with them and wrought all the wonders. For on this account he said, "that followed them."

Perceivest thou the wisdom of Paul, how in both cases he points cut Him as the Giver, and thereby brings the Type nigh to the Truth? "For He who set those things before them," saith he, "the same also hath prepared this our Table: and the same Person both brought them through the sea and thee through Baptism; and before them set manna, but before thee His Body and Blood."

[4.] As touching His gift then, such is the case: now let us observe also what follows, and consider, whether when they showed themselves unworthy of the gift, He spared them. Nay, this thou canst not say. Wherefore also he added, "Howbeit with most of them God was not well-pleased;" although He had honored them with so great honor. Yea, it profited them nothing, but most of them perished. The truth is, they all perished, but that he might not seem to prophesy total destruction to these also, therefore he said, "most of them." And yet they were innumerable, but their number profited them nothing: and these were all so many tokens of love; but not even did this profit them, inasmuch as they did not themselves show forth the fruits of love.

Thus, since most men disbelieve the things said of hell, as not being present nor in sight; he alleges the things heretofore done as a proof that God doth punish all who sin, even though He have bestowed innumerable benefits upon them: "for if ye disbelieve the things to come," so he speaks, "yet surely the things that are past ye will not disbelieve." Consider, for example, how great benefits He bestowed on them: from Egypt and the slavery there He set them free, the sea He made their path, from heaven he brought down manna, from beneath He sent forth strange and marvellous fountains of waters; He was with them every where, doing wonders and fencing them in on every side: nevertheless since they showed forth nothing worthy of this gift, He spared them not, but destroyed them all.

Ver. 5. "For they were overthrown," saith he, "in the wilderness." Declaring by this word both the sweeping destruction, and the punishments and the vengeance inflicted by God, and that they did not so much as attain to the rewards proposed to them. Neither were they in the land of promise when He did these things unto them, but without and afar somewhere, and wide of that country; He thus visiting them with a double vengeance, both by not permitting them to see the land, and this too though promised unto them, and also by actual severe punishment.

And what are these things to us? say you. To thee surely they belong. Wherefore also he adds,

Ver. 6. "Now these things were figures of us [112] ."

For as the gifts are figures, even so are the punishments figures: and as Baptism and the Table were sketched out prophetically, so also by what ensued, the certainty of punishment coming on those who are unworthy of this gift was proclaimed beforehand for our sake that we by these examples might learn soberness. Wherefore also he adds,

"To the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted." For as in the benefits the types went before and the substance followed, such shall be the order also in the punishments. Seest thou how he signifies not only the fact that these shall be punished, but also the degree, more severely than those ancients? For if the one be type, and the other substance, it must needs be that the punishments should as far exceed as the gifts.

And see whom he handles first: those who eat in the idol-temples. For having said, "that we should not lust after evil things," which was general, he subjoins that which is particular, implying that each of their sins arose from evil lusting. And first he said this,

Ver. 7. "Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, `the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.'"

Do you hear how he even calls them "idolaters?" here indeed making the declaration, but afterwards bringing the proof. And he assigned the cause too wherefore they ran to those tables; and this was gluttony. Wherefore having said, "to the intent that we should not lust after evil things," and having added, nor "be idolaters," he names the cause of such transgression; and this was gluttony. "For the people sat down," saith he, "to eat and to drink," and he adds the end thereof, "they rose up to play." "For even as they," saith he, "from sensuality passed into idolatry; so there is a fear lest ye also may fall from the one into the other." Do you see how he signifies that these, perfect men forsooth, were more imperfect than the others whom they censured? Not in this respect only, their not bearing with their brethren throughout, but also in that the one sin from ignorance, but the others from gluttony. And from the ruin of the former he reckons the punishment to these, but allows not these to lay upon another the cause of their own sin but pronounces them responsible both for their injury, and for their own.

"Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed." Wherefore doth he here make mention of fornication again, having so largely discoursed concerning it before? It is ever Paul's custom when he brings a charge of many sins, both to set them forth in order and separately to proceed with his proposed topics, and again in his discourses concerning other things to make mention also of the former: which thing God also used to do in the Old Testament, in reference to each several transgression, reminding the Jews of the calf and bringing that sin before them. This then Paul also does here, at the same time both reminding them of that sin, and teaching that the parent of this evil also was luxury and gluttony. Wherefore also he adds, "Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand."

And wherefore names he not likewise the punishment for their idolatry? Either because it was clear and more notorious, or because the plague was not so great at that time, as in the matter of Balaam, when they joined themselves to Baalpeor, the Midianitish women appearing in the camp and alluring them to wantonness according to the counsel of Balaam. For that this evil counsel was Balaam's Moses sheweth after this, in the following statement at the end of the Book of Numbers. (Numb. xxxi. 8, 11, 15, 16. in our translation.) "Balaam also the son of Beor they slew in the war of Midian with the sword and they brought the spoils.... And Moses was wroth, and said, Wherefore have ye saved all the women alive? For these were to the children of Israel for a stumbling-block, according to the word of Balaam, to cause them to depart from and despise the word of the Lord for Peor's sake."

Ver. 9. "Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and perished by serpents."

By this he again hints at another charge which he likewise states at the end, blaming them because they contended about signs. And indeed they were destroyed on account of trials, saying, "when will the good things come? when the rewards?" Wherefore also he adds, on this account correcting and alarming them,

Ver. 10. "Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer."

For what is required is not only to suffer for Christ, but also nobly to bear the things that come on us, and with all gladness: since this is the nature of every crown. Yea, and unless this be so, punishment rather will attend men who take calamity with a bad grace. Wherefore, both the Apostles when they were beaten rejoiced, and Paul gloried in his sufferings.

[5.] Ver. 11. "Now all these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come."

Again he terrifies them speaking of the "ends," and prepares them to expect things greater than had already taken place. "For that we shall suffer punishment is manifest," saith he, "from what hath been said, even to those who disbelieve the statements concerning hell-fire; but that the punishment also will be most severe, is evident, from the more numerous blessings which we have enjoyed, and from the things of which those were but figures. Since, if in the gifts one go beyond the other, it is most evident that so it will be in the punishment likewise." For this cause he both called them types, and said that they were "written for us" and made mention of an "end" that he might remind them of the consummation of all things. For not such will be the penalties then as to admit of a termination and be done away, but the punishment will be eternal; for even as the punishments in this world are ended with the present life, so those in the next continually remain. But when he said, "the ends of the ages," he means nothing else than that the fearful judgment is henceforth nigh at hand.

Ver. 12. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

Again, he casts down their pride who thought highly of their knowledge. For if they who had so great privileges suffered such things; and some for murmuring alone were visited with such punishment, and others for tempting, and neither their multitude moved God to repent [113] , nor their having attained to such things; much more shall it be so in our case, except we be sober. And well said he, "he that thinketh he standeth:" for this is not even standing as one ought to stand, to rely on yourself: for quickly will such an one fall: since they too, had they not been high-minded and self-confident, but of a subdued frame of mind, would not have suffered these things. Whence it is evident, that chiefly pride, and carelessness from which comes gluttony also, are the sources of these evils. Wherefore even though thou stand, yet take heed lest thou fall. For our standing here is not secure standing, no not until we be delivered out of the waves of this present life and have sailed into the tranquil haven. Be not therefore high-minded at thy standing, but guard against thy falling; for if Paul feared who was firmer than all, much more ought we to fear.

[6.] Now the Apostle's word, as we have seen, was, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall;" but we cannot say even this; all of us, so to speak, having fallen, and lying prostrate on the ground. For to whom am I to say this? To him that committeth extortion every day? Nay, he lies prostrate with a mighty fall. To the fornicator? He too is cast down to the ground. To the drunkard? He also is fallen, and knoweth not even that he is fallen. So that it is not the season for this word, but for that saying of the prophet which he spake even to the Jews, (Jer. viii. 4.)--"He that falleth, doth he not rise again?" For all are fallen, and to rise again they have no mind. So that our exhortation is not concerning the not falling, but concerning the ability of them that are fallen to arise. Let us rise again then, late though it be, beloved, let us rise again, and let us stand nobly. How long do we lie prostrate? How long are we drunken, besotted with the excessive desire of the things of this life? It is a meet opportunity now to say, (Jer. vi. 10.) "To whom shall I speak and testify?" So deaf are all men become even to the very instruction of virtue, and thence filled with abundance of evils. And were it possible to discern their souls naked; as in armies when the battle is ended one may behold some dead, and some wounded, so also in the Church we might see. Wherefore I beseech and implore you, let us stretch out a hand to each other and thoroughly raise ourselves up. For I myself am of them that are smitten, and require one to apply some remedies.

Do not however despair on this account. For what if the wounds be severe? yet are they not incurable; such is our physician: only let us feel our wounds. Although we be arrived at the very extreme of wickedness, many are the ways of safety which He strikes out for us. Thus, if thou forbear to be angry with thy neighbor, thine own sins shall be forgiven. "For if ye forgive men," saith He, "your heavenly Father will also forgive you." (Matt. vi. 14.) And if thou give alms, He will remit thee thy sins; for, "break off thy sins," saith He, "by alms." (Dan. iv. 24.) And if thou pray earnestly, thou shalt enjoy forgiveness: and this the widow signifieth who prevailed upon that cruel judge by the importunity of her prayer. And if thou accuse thine own sins, thou hast relief: for "declare thou thine iniquities first, that thou mayest be justified:" (Is. xlvii. 26.) and if thou art sorrowful on account of these things, this too will be to thee a powerful remedy: "for I saw," saith He, "that he was grieved and went sorrowful, and I healed his ways." (Is. lvii. 17.) And if, when thou sufferest any evil, thou bear it nobly, thou hast put away the whole. For this also did Abraham say to the rich man, that "Lazarus received his evil things, and here he is comforted." And if thou hast pity on the widow, thy sins are washed away. For, "Judge," saith He, "the orphan, and plead for the widow, and come and let us reason together, saith the Lord. And if your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow; and if they be as crimson, I will make them white as wool." (Is. i. 17.) For not even a single scar of the wounds doth He suffer to appear. Yea, and though we be come to that depth of misery into which he fell, who devoured his father's substance and fed upon husks, and should repent, we are undoubtedly saved. And though we owe ten thousand talents, if we fall down before God and bear no malice, all things are forgiven us. Although we have wandered away to that place whither the sheep strayed from his keeper, even thence He recovers us again: only let us be willing, beloved. For God is merciful. Wherefore both in the case of him that owed ten thousand talents, He was content with His falling down before Him; and in the case of him who had devoured his father's goods, with his return only; and in the case of the sheep, with its willingness to be borne.

[7.] Considering therefore the greatness of His mercy, let us here make Him propitious unto us, and "let us come before His face by a full confession," (Ps. xcv. 2. LXX.) that we may not depart hence without excuse, and have to endure the extreme punishment. For if in the present life we exhibit even an ordinary diligence, we shall gain the greatest rewards: but if we depart having become nothing better here, even though we repent ever so earnestly there it will do us no good. For it was our duty to strive while yet remaining within the lists, not after the assembly was broken up idly to lament and weep: as that rich man did, bewailing and deploring himself, but to no purpose and in vain, since he overlooked the time in which he ought to have done these things. And not he alone, but many others there are like him now among the rich; not willing to despise wealth, but despising their own souls for wealth's sake: at whom I cannot but wonder, when I see men continually interceding with God for mercy, whilst they are doing themselves incurable harm, and unsparing of their very soul as if it were an enemy. Let us not then trifle, beloved, let us not trifle nor delude ourselves, beseeching God to have mercy upon us, whilst we ourselves prefer both money and luxury, and, in fact, all things to this mercy. For neither, if any one brought before thee a case and said in accusation of such an one, that being to suffer ten thousand deaths and having it in his power to rid himself of the sentence by a little money, he chose rather to die than to give up any of his property, would you say that he was worthy of any mercy or compassion. Now in this same way do thou also reason touching thyself. For we too act in this way, and making light of our own salvation, we are sparing of our money. How then dost thou beseech God to spare thee, when thou thyself art so unsparing of thyself, and honorest money above thy soul?

Wherefore also I am greatly astonished to see, how great witchery lies hid in wealth, or rather not in wealth, but in the souls of those that are beguiled. For there are, there are those that utterly derided this sorcery [114] . For which among the things therein is really capable of bewitching us? Is it not inanimate matter? is it not transitory? is not the possession thereof unworthy of trust? is it not full of fears and? dangers? nay, of murders and conspiracy? of enmity and hatred? of carelessness and much vice? is it not dust and ashes? what madness have we here? what disease?

"But," say you, "we ought not merely to bring such accusations against those that are so diseased, but also to destroy the passion." And in what other way shall we destroy it, except by pointing out its baseness and how full it is of innumerable evils?

But of this it is not easy to persuade a lover concerning the objects of his love. Well then, we must set before him another sort of beauty. But incorporeal beauty he sees not, being yet in his disease. Well then, let us show him some beauty of a corporeal kind, and say to him, Consider the meadows and the flowers therein, which are more sparkling than any gold, and more elegant and transparent than all kinds of precious stones. Consider the limpid streams from their fountains, the rivers which like oil flow noiselessly out of the earth. Ascend to heaven and behold the lustre of the sun, the beauty of the moon, the stars that cluster like flowers [115] . "Why, what is this," say you, "since we do not, I suppose, make use of them as of wealth?" Nay, we use them more than wealth, inasmuch as the use thereof is more needful, the enjoyment more secure. For thou hast no fear, lest, like money, any one should take them and go off: but you may be ever confident of having them, and that without anxiety or care. But if thou grieve because thou enjoyest them in common with others, and dost not possess them alone like money; it is not money, but mere covetousness, which thou seemest to me to be in love with: nor would even the money be an object of thy desire, if it had been placed within reach of all in common.

[8.] Therefore, since we have found the beloved object, I mean Covetousness, come let me show thee how she hates and abhors thee, how many swords she sharpens against thee, how many pits she digs, how many nooses she ties, how many precipices she prepares; that thus at any rate thou mayest do away with the charm. Whence then are we to obtain this knowledge? From the highways, from the wars, from the sea, from the courts of justice. For she hath both filled the sea with blood, and the swords of the judges she often reddens contrary to law, and arms those who on the highway lie in wait day and night, and persuades men to forget nature, and makes parricides and matricides, and introduces all sorts of evils into man's life. Which is the reason why Paul entitles her "a root of these things." (1 Tim. vi. 10.) She suffers not her lovers to be in any better condition than those who work in the mines. For as they, perpetually shut up in darkness and in chains, labor unprofitably; so also these buried in the caves of avarice, no one using any force with them, voluntarily draw on their punishment, binding on themselves fetters that cannot be broken. And those condemned to the mines at least when even comes on, are released from their toils; but these both by day and night are digging in these wretched mines. And to those there is a definite limit of that hard labor, but these know no limit, but the more they dig so much the greater hardship do they desire. And what if those do it unwillingly, but these of their own will? in that thou tellest me of the grievous part of the disease, that it is even impossible for them to be rid of it, since they do not so much as hate their wretchedness. But as a swine in mud, so also do these delight to wallow in the noisome mire of avarice, suffering worse things than those condemned ones. As to the fact that they are in a worse condition, hear the circumstances of the one, and then thou wilt know the state of the other.

Now it is said that that soil which is impregnated with gold has certain clefts and recesses in those gloomy caverns. The malefactor then condemned to labor in that place, taking for that purpose a lamp and a mattock, so, we are told, enters within, and carries with him a cruse to drop oil from thence into the lamp, because there is darkness even by day, without a ray of light, as I said before. Then when the time of day calls him to his wretched meal, himself, they say, is ignorant of the time, but his jailor from above striking violently on the cave, by that clattering sound declares to those who are at work below the end of the day.

Do ye not shudder when ye hear all this? Let us see now, whether there be not things more grievous than these in the case of the covetous. For these too, in the first place, have a severer jailor, viz. avarice, and so much severer, as that besides their body he chains also their soul. And this darkness also is more awful than that. For it is not subject to sense, but they producing it within, whithersoever they go, carry it about with themselves. For the eye of their soul is put out: which is the reason why more than all Christ calls them wretched, saying, "But if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness." (S. Matt.vi. 23.) And they for their part have at least a lamp shining, but these are deprived even of this beam of light; and therefore every day they fall into countless pitfalls. And the condemned when night overtakes them have a respite, sailing into that calm port which is common to all the unfortunate, I mean the night: but against the covetous even this harbor is blocked up by their own avarice: such grievous thoughts have they even at night, since then, without disturbance from any one, at full leisure they cut themselves to pieces.

Such are their circumstances in this world; but those in the next, what discourse shall exhibit? the intolerable furnaces, the rivers burning with fire, the gnashing of teeth, the chains never to be loosed, the envenomed worm, the rayless gloom, the never-ending miseries. Let us fear them, beloved, let us fear the fountain of so great punishments, the insatiate madness, the destroyer of our salvation. For it is impossible at the same time to love both money and your soul. Let us be convinced that wealth is dust and ashes, that it leaves us when we depart hence, or rather that even before our departure it oftentimes darts away from us, and injures us both in regard of the future and in respect of the present life. For before hell fire, and before that punishment, even here it surrounds us with innumerable wars, and stirs up strifes and contests. For nothing is so apt to cause war as avarice: nothing so apt to produce beggary, whether it show itself in wealth or in poverty. For in the souls of poor men also this grievous disease ariseth, and aggravates their poverty the more. And if there be found a poor covetous man, such an one suffers not punishment in money, but in hunger. For he allows not himself to enjoy his moderate means with comfort, but both racks his belly with hunger and punishes his whole body with nakedness and cold, and every where appears more squalid and filthy than any prisoners; and is always wailing and lamenting as though he were more wretched than all, though there be ten thousand poorer than he. This man, whether he go into the market-place, goes away with many a stripe; or into the bath, or into the theatre, he will still be receiving more wounds, not only from the spectators, but also from those upon the stage, where he beholds not a few of the unchaste women glittering in gold. This man again, whether he sail upon the sea, regarding the merchants and their richly-freighted ships and their enormous profits, will not even count himself to live: or whether he travel by land, reckoning up the fields, the suburban farms, the inns, the baths, the revenues arising out of them, will count his own life thenceforth not worth living; or whether thou shut him up at home, he will but rub and fret the wounds received in the market, and so do greater despite to his own soul: and he knows only one consolation for the evils which oppress him; death and deliverance from this life.

And these things not the poor man only, but the rich also, will suffer, who falls into this disease, and so much more than the poor, inasmuch as the tyranny presses more vehemently on him, and the intoxication is greater. Wherefore also he will account himself poorer than all; or rather, he is poorer. For riches and poverty are determined not by the measure of the substance, but by the disposition of the mind: and he rather is the poorest of all, who is always hangering after more and is never able to stay this wicked lust.

On all these accounts then let us flee covetousness, the maker of beggars, the destroyer of souls, the friend of hell, the enemy of the kingdom of heaven, the mother of all evils together; and let us despise wealth that we may enjoy wealth, and with wealth may enjoy also the good things laid up for us; unto which may we all attain, &c.

Footnotes

[111] pankration. [112] tupoi hemon, rec. vers. our examples. [113] edusopese. [114] manganeias. [115] ton astron a anthe.


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