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 XXIV.

1 Cor. x. 13

There hath no temptation taken you, but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.

Thus, because he terrified them greatly, relating the ancient examples, and threw them into an agony, saying, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall; "though they had borne many temptations, and had exercised themselves many times therein; for "I was with you," saith he, "in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling:" (1 Cor. ii. 3.) lest they should say, "Why terrify and alarm us? we are not unexercised in these troubles, for we have been both driven and persecuted, and many and continual dangers have we endured:" repressing again their pride, he says, "there hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear," i.e., small, brief, moderate. For he uses the expression "man can bear [116] ," in respect of what is small; as when he says, "I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh." (Rom. vi. 19.) "Think not then great things," saith he, "as though ye had overcome the storm. For never have ye seen a danger threatening death nor a temptation intending slaughter:" which also he said to the Hebrews, "ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." (Heb. xii. 4.)

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Then, because he terrified them, see how again he raises them up, at the same time recommending moderation; in the words, "God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." There are therefore temptations which we are not able to bear. And what are these? All, so to speak. For the ability lies in God's gracious influence; a power which we draw down by our own will. Wherefore that thou mayest know and see that not only those which exceed our power, but not even these which are "common to man" is it possible without assistance from God easily to bear, he added,

"But will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it."

For, saith he, not even those moderate temptations, as I was remarking, may we bear by our own power: but even in them we require aid from Him in our warfare that we may pass through them, and until we have passed, bear them. For He gives patience and brings on a speedy release; so that in this way also the temptation becomes bearable. This he covertly intimates, saying, "will also make the way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it:" and all things he refers to Him.

[2.] Ver. 14. "Wherefore, my brethren [117] , flee from idolatry."

Again he courts them by the name of kindred, and urges them to be rid of this sin with all speed. For he did not say, simply, depart, but "flee;" and he calls the matter "idolatry," and no longer bids them quit it merely on account of the injury to their neighbor, but signifies that the very thing of itself is sufficient to bring a great destruction.

Ver. 15. "I speak as to wise men: judge ye what I say."

Because he hath cried out aloud and heightened the accusation, calling it idolatry; that he might not seem to exasperate them and to make his speech disgusting, in what follows he refers the decision to them, and sets his judges down on their tribunal with an encomium. "For I speak as to wise men," saith he: which is the mark of one very confident of his own rights, that he should make the accused himself the judge of his allegations.

Thus also he more elevates the hearer, when he discourses not as commanding nor as laying down the law, but as advising with them and as actually pleading before them. For with the Jews, as more foolishly and childishly disposed, God did not so discourse, nor did He in every instance acquaint them with the reasons of the commands, but merely enjoined them; but here, because we have the privilege of great liberty, we are even admitted to be counsellors. And he discourses as with friends, and says, "I need no other judges, do ye yourselves pass this sentence upon me, I take you for arbiters."

[3.] Ver. 16. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the Blood of Christ?"

What sayest thou, O blessed Paul? When thou wouldest appeal to the hearer's reverence, when thou art making mention of awful mysteries, dost thou give the title of "cup of blessing" to that fearful and most tremendous cup? "Yea," saith he; "and no mean title is that which was spoken. For when I call it `blessing,' I mean thanksgiving, and when I call it thanksgiving I unfold all the treasure of God's goodness, and call to mind those mighty gifts." Since we too, recounting over the cup the unspeakable mercies of God and all that we have been made partakers of, so draw near to Him, and communicate; giving Him thanks that He hath delivered from error the whole race of mankind [118] ; that being afar off, He made them nigh; that when they had no hope and were without God in the world, He constituted them His own brethren and fellow-heirs. For these and all such things, giving thanks, thus we approach. "How then are not your doings inconsistent," saith he, "O ye Corinthians; blessing God for delivering you from idols, yet running again to their tables?"

"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the Blood of Christ?" Very persuasively spake he, and awfully. For what he says is this: "This which is in the cup is that which flowed from His side, and of that do we partake." But he called it a cup of blessing, because holding it in our hands, we so exalt Him in our hymn, wondering, astonished at His unspeakable gift, blessing Him, among other things, for the pouring out of this self-same draught that we might not abide in error: and not only for the pouring it out, but also for the imparting thereof to us all. "Wherefore if thou desire blood," saith He, "redden not the altar of idols with the slaughter of brute beasts, but My altar with My blood." Tell me, What can be more tremendous than this? What more tenderly kind? This also lovers do. When they see those whom they love desiring what belongs to strangers and despising their own, they give what belongs to themselves, and so persuade them to withdraw themselves from the gifts of those others. Lovers, however, display this liberality in goods and money and garments, but in blood none ever did so. Whereas Christ even herein exhibited His care and fervent love for us. And in the old covenant, because they were in an imperfect state, the blood which they used to offer to idols He Himself submitted to receive, that He might separate them from those idols; which very thing again was a proof of His unspeakable affection: but here He transferred the service to that which is far more awful and glorious, changing the very sacrifice itself, and instead of the slaughter of irrational creatures, commanding to offer up Himself.

[4.] "The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the Body of Christ?" Wherefore said he not, the participation? Because he intended to express something more and to point out how close was the union: in that we communicate not only by participating and partaking, but also by being united. For as that body is united to Christ, so also are we united to him by this bread.

But why adds he also, "which we break?" For although in the Eucharist one may see this done, yet on the cross not so, but the very contrary. For, "A bone of Him," saith one, "shall not be broken." But that which He suffered not on the cross, this He suffers in the oblation for thy sake, and submits to be broken, that he may fill all men.

Further, because he said, "a communion of the Body," and that which communicates is another thing from that whereof it communicates; even this which seemeth to be but a small difference, he took away. For having said, "a communion of the Body," he sought again to express something nearer. Wherefore also he added,

Ver. 17. "For we, who are many, are one bread, one body." "For why speak I of communion?" saith he, "we are that self-same body." For what is the bread? The Body of Christ. And what do they become who partake of it? The Body of Christ: not many bodies, but one body. For as the bread consisting of many grains is made one, so that the grains no where appear; they exist indeed, but their difference is not seen by reason of their conjunction; so are we conjoined both with each other and with Christ: there not being one body for thee, and another for thy neighbor to be nourished by, but the very same for all. Wherefore also he adds,

"For we all partake of the one bread." Now if we are all nourished of the same and all become the same, why do we not also show forth the same love, and become also in this respect one? For this was the old way too in the time of our forefathers: "for the multitude of them that believed," saith the text, "were of one heart and soul." (Acts iv. 32.) Not so, however, now, but altogether the reverse. Many and various are the contests betwixt all, and worse than wild beasts are we affected towards each other's members. And Christ indeed made thee so far remote, one with himself: but thou dost not deign to be united even to thy brother with due exactness, but separatest thyself, having had the privilege of so great love and life from the Lord. For he gave not simply even His own body; but because the former nature of the flesh which was framed out of earth, had first become deadened by sin and destitute of life; He brought in, as one may say, another sort of dough and leaven, His own flesh, by nature indeed the same, but free from sin and full of life; and gave to all to partake thereof, that being nourished by this and laying aside the old dead material, we might be blended together unto that which is living and eternal, by means of this table.

[5.] Ver. 18. "Behold Israel after the flesh: have not they which eat the sacrifices communion with the altar?"

Again, from the old covenant he leads them unto this point also. For because they were far beneath the greatness of the things which had been spoken, he persuades them both from former things and from those to which they were accustomed. And he says well, "according to the flesh," as though they themselves were according to the Spirit. And what he says is of this nature: "even from persons of the grosser sort ye may be instructed that they who eat the sacrifices, have communion with the altar." Dost thou see how he intimates that they who seemed to be perfect have not perfect knowledge, if they know not even this, that the result of these sacrifices to many oftentimes is a certain communion and friendship with devils, the practice drawing them on by degrees? For if among men the fellowship of salt [119] and the table becomes an occasion and token of friendship, it is possible that this may happen also in the case of devils.

But do thou, I pray, consider, how with regard to the Jews he said not, "they are par-takers with God," but, "they have communion with the altar;" for what was placed thereon was burnt: but in respect to the Body of Christ, not so. But how? It is "a Communion of the Lord's Body." For not with the altar, but with Christ Himself, do we have communion.

But having said that they have "communion with the altar," afterwards fearing lest he should seem to discourse as if the idols had any power and could do some injury, see again how he overthrows them, saying,

Ver. 19. "What say I then? That an idol is any thing? or that a thing sacrificed to idols is any thing?"

As if he had said, "Now these things I affirm, and try to withdraw you from the idols, not as though they could do any injury or had any power: for an idol is nothing; but I wish you to despise them." "And if thou wilt have us despise them," saith one, "wherefore dost thou carefully withdraw us from them?" Because they are not offered to thy Lord.

Ver. 20. [120]"For that which the Gentiles sacrifice," saith he, "they sacrifice to demons, and not to God."

Do not then run to the contrary things. For neither if thou wert a king's son, and having the privilege of thy father's table, shouldest leave it and choose to partake of the table of the condemned and the prisoners in the dungeon, would thy father permit it, but with great vehemence he would withdraw thee; not as though the table could harm thee, but because it disgraces thy nobility and the royal table. For verily these too are servants who have offended; dishonored, condemned, prisoners reserved for intolerable punishment, accountable for ten thousand crimes. How then art thou not ashamed to imitate the gluttonous and vulgar crew, in that when these condemned persons set out a table, thou runnest thither and partakest of the viands? Here is the cause why I seek to withdraw thee. For the intention of the sacrificers, and the person of the receivers, maketh the things set before thee unclean.

"And I would not that ye should have communion with demon." Perceivest thou the kindness of a careful father? Perceivest thou also the very word, what force it hath to express his feeling? "For it is my wish," saith he, "that you have nothing in common with them."

[6.] Next, because he brought in the saying by way of exhortation, lest any of the grosser sort should make light of it as having license, because he said, "I would not," and, "judge ye;" he positively affirms in what follows and lays down the law, saying,

Ver. 21. "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons: ye cannot partake of the Lord's table, and of the table of demons."

And he contents himself with the mere terms, for the purpose of keeping them away. Then, speaking also to their sense of shame,

Ver. 22. "Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? [121] are we stronger than He?" i.e., "Are we tempting Him, whether He is able to punish us, and irritating Him by going over to the adversaries and taking our stand with His enemies?" And this he said, reminding them of an ancient history and of their fathers' transgression. Wherefore also he makes use of this expression, which Moses likewise of old used against the Jews, accusing them of idolatry in the person of God. "For they," saith He, "moved Me to jealousy [122] with that which is not God; they provoked Me to anger with their idols." (Deut. xxxii. 21.)

"Are we stronger than He?" Dost thou see how terribly, how awfully he rebukes them, thoroughly shaking their very nerves, and by his way of reducing them to an absurdity, touching them to the quick and bringing down their pride? "Well, but why," some one will say, "did he not set down these things at first, which would be most effectual to withdraw them?" Because it is his custom to prove his point by many particulars, and to place the strongest last, and to prevail by proving more than was necessary. On this account then, he began from the lesser topics, and so made his way to that which is the sum of all evils: since thus that last point also became more easily admitted, their mind having been smoothed down by the things said before.

Ver. 23, 24. "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but each his neighbor's good."

Seest thou his exact wisdom? Because it was likely that they might say, "I am perfect and master of myself, and it does me no harm to partake of what is set before me;" "Even so," saith he, "perfect thou art and master of thyself; do not however look to this, but whether the result involve not injury, nay subversion." For both these he mentioned, saying, "All things are not expedient, all things edify not;" and using the former with reference to one's self, the latter, to one's brother: since the clause, "are not expedient," is a covert intimation of the ruin of the person to whom he speaks; but the clause, "edify not," of the stumbling block to the brother.

Wherefore also he adds, "Let no man seek his own;" which he every where through the whole Epistle insists upon and in that to the Romans; when he says, "For even Christ pleased not Himself:" (Rom. xv. 3.) and again, "Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit." (1 Cor. x. 33.) And again in this place; he does not, however, fully work it out here. That is, since in what had gone before he had established it at length, and shown that he no where "seeks his own," but both "to the Jews became as a Jew and to them that are without law as without law," and used not his own "liberty" and "right" at random, but to the profit of all, serving all; he here broke off, content with a few words, by these few guiding them to the remembrance of all which had been said.

[7.] These things therefore knowing, let us also, beloved, consult for the good of the brethren and preserve unity with them. For to this that fearful and tremendous sacrifice leads us, warning us above all things to approach it with one mind and fervent love, and thereby becoming eagles, so to mount up to the very heaven, nay, even beyond the heaven. "For wheresoever the carcase is," saith He, "there also will be the eagles," (St. Matt. xxiv. 28.) calling His body a carcase by reason of His death. For unless He had fallen, we should not have risen again. But He calls us eagles, implying that he who draws nigh to this Body must be on high and have nothing common with the earth, nor wind himself downwards and creep along; but must ever be soaring heavenwards, and look on the Sun of Righteousness, and have the eye of his mind quick-sighted. For eagles, not daws, have a right to this table. [123]Those also shall then meet Him descending from heaven, who now worthily have this privilege, even as they who do so unworthily, shall suffer the extremest torments.

For if one would not inconsiderately receive a king--(why say I a king? nay were it but a royal robe, one would not inconsiderately touch it with unclean hands;)--though he should be in solitude, though alone, though no man were at hand: and yet the robe is nought but certain threads spun by worms: and if thou admirest the dye, this too is the blood of a dead fish; nevertheless, one would not choose to venture on it with polluted hands: I say now, if even a man's garment be what one would not venture inconsiderately to touch, what shall we say of the Body of Him Who is God over all, spotless, pure, associate with the Divine Nature, the Body whereby we are, and live; whereby the gates of hell were broken down and the sanctuaries [124] of heaven opened? how shall we receive this with so great insolence? Let us not, I pray you, let us not slay ourselves by our irreverence, but with all awfulness and purity draw nigh to It; and when thou seest It set before thee, say thou to thyself, "Because of this Body am I no longer earth and ashes, no longer a prisoner, but free: because of this I hope for heaven, and to receive the good things therein, immortal life, the portion of angels, converse with Christ; this Body, nailed and scourged, was more than death could stand against; this Body the very sun saw sacrificed, and turned aside his beams; for this both the veil was rent in that moment, and rocks were burst asunder, and all the earth was shaken. This is even that Body, the blood-stained, the pierced, and that out of which gushed the saving fountains, the one of blood, the other of water, for all the world."

Wouldest thou from another source also learn its power? Ask of her diseased with an issue of blood, who laid hold not of Itself, but of the garment with which It was clad; nay not of the whole of this, but of the hem: ask of the sea, which bare It on its back: ask even of the Devil himself, and say, "Whence hast thou that incurable stroke? whence hast thou no longer any power? Whence art thou captive? By whom hast thou been seized in thy flight?" And he will give no other answer than this, "The Body that was crucified." By this were his goads broken in pieces; by this was his head crushed; by this were the powers and the principalities made a show of. "For," saith he, "having put off from himself principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." (Col. ii. 15.)

Ask also Death, and say, "whence is it that thy sting hath been taken away? thy victory abolished? thy sinews cut out? and thou become the laughing-stock of girls and children, who wast before a terror even to kings and to all righteous men?" And he will ascribe it to this Body. For when this was crucified, then were the dead raised up, then was that prison burst, and the gates of brass were broken, and the dead were loosed, [125] and the keepers of hell-gate all cowered in fear. And yet, had He been one of the many, death on the contrary should have become more mighty; but it was not so. For He was not one of the many. Therefore was death dissolved. And as they who take food which they are unable to retain, on account of that vomit up also what was before lodged in them; so also it happened unto death. That Body, which he could not digest, he received: and therefore had to cast forth that which he had within him. Yea, he travailed in pain, whilst he held Him, and was straitened until He vomited Him up. Wherefore saith the Apostle, "Having loosed the pains of death." (Acts xi. 24.) For never woman labouring of child was so full of anguish as he was torn and racked in sunder, while he held the Body of the Lord. And that which happened to the Babylonian dragon, when, having taken the food it burst asunder in the midst, [126] this also happened unto him. For Christ came not forth again by the mouth of death, but having burst asunder and ripped up in the very midst, the belly of the dragon, thus from His secret chambers (Ps. xix. 5.) right gloriously He issued forth and flung abroad His beams not to this heaven alone, but to the very throne most high. For even thither did He carry it up.

This Body hath He given to us both to hold and to eat; a thing appropriate to intense love. For those whom we kiss vehemently, we oft-times even bite with our teeth. Wherefore also Job, indicating the love of his servants towards him, said, that they ofttimes, out of their great affection towards him, said, "Oh! that we were filled with his flesh!" (Job xxxi. 31.) Even so Christ hath given to us to be filled with His flesh, drawing us on to greater love.

[8.] Let us draw nigh to Him then with fervency and with inflamed love, that we may not have to endure punishment. For in proportion to the greatness of the benefits bestowed on us, so much the more exceedingly are we chastised when we show ourselves unworthy of the bountifulness. This Body, even lying in a manger, Magi reverenced. Yea, men profane and barbarous, leaving their country and their home, both set out on a long journey, and when they came, with fear and great trembling worshipped Him. Let us, then, at least imitate those Barbarians, we who are citizens of heaven. For they indeed when they saw Him but in a manger, and in a hut, and no such thing was in sight as thou beholdest now, drew nigh with great awe; but thou beholdest Him not in the manger but on the altar, not a woman holding Him in her arms, but the priest standing by, and the Spirit with exceeding bounty hovering over the gifts set before us. Thou dost not see merely this Body itself as they did, but thou knowest also Its power, and the whole economy, and art ignorant of none of the holy things which are brought to pass by It, having been exactly initiated into all.

Let us therefore rouse ourselves up and be filled with horror, and let us show forth a reverence far beyond that of those Barbarians; that we may not by random and careless approaches heap fire upon our own heads. But these things I say, not to keep us from approaching, but to keep us from approaching without consideration. For as the approaching at random is dangerous, so the not communicating in those mystical suppers is famine and death. For this Table is the sinews of our soul, the bond of our mind, the foundation of our confidence, our hope, our salvation, our light, our life. When with this sacrifice we depart into the outer world, with much confidence we shall tread the sacred threshold, fenced round on every side as with a kind of golden armor.

And why speak I of the world to come? Since here this mystery makes earth become to thee a heaven. Open only for once the gates of heaven and look in; nay, rather not of heaven, but of the heaven of heavens; and then thou wilt behold what I have been speaking of. For what is there most precious of all, this will I show thee lying upon the earth. For as in royal palaces, what is most glorious of all is not walls, nor golden roofs, but the person of the king sitting on the throne; so likewise in heaven the Body of the King. But this, thou art now permitted to see upon earth. For it is not angels, nor archangels, nor heavens and heavens of heavens, that I show thee, but the very Lord and Owner of these. Perceivest thou how that which is more precious than all things is seen by thee on earth; and not seen only, but also touched; and not only touched, but likewise eaten; and after receiving It thou goest home?

Make thy soul clean then, prepare thy mind for the reception of these mysteries. For if thou wert entrusted to carry a king's child with the robes, the purple, and the diadem, thou wouldest cast away all things which are upon the earth. But now that it is no child of man how royal soever, but the only-begotten Son of God Himself, Whom thou receivedst; dost thou not thrill with awe, tell me, and cast away all the love of all worldly things, and have no bravery but that wherewith to adorn thyself? or dost thou still look towards earth, and love money, and pant after gold? What pardon then canst thou have? what excuse? Knowest thou not that all this worldly luxury is loathsome to thy Lord? Was it not for this that on His birth He was laid in a manger, and took to Himself a mother of low estate? Did He not for this say to him that was looking after gain, "But the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head?" (St. Matt. viii. 20.)

And what did the disciples? Did they not observe the same law, being taken to houses of the poor and lodged, one with a tanner, another with a tent-maker, and with the seller of purple? For they inquired not after the splendor of the house, but for the virtues of men's souls.

These therefore let us also emulate, hastening by the beauty of pillars and of marbles, and seeking the mansions which are above; and let us tread under foot all the pride here below with all love of money, and acquire a lofty mind. For if we be sober-minded, not even this whole world is worthy of us, much less porticoes and arcades. Wherefore, I beseech you, let us adorn our souls, let us fit up this house which we are also to have with us when we depart; that we may attain even to the eternal blessings, through the grace and mercy, &c.

Footnotes

[116] anthropinon. [117] adelphoi, rec. text agapetoi, [which is well sustained. C.] [118] "When we had fallen away, Thou didst raise us again, and didst not cease doing all things, until Thou hadst brought us up to Heaven, and given unto us freely Thy future Kingdom." Liturgy of St. Chrysostom. Ed. Savile. vi. 996. "When we had fallen from our eternal life and were exiles from the Paradise of delight: Thou didst not cast us off to the end, but did, visit us continually," &c. Lit. of St. Basil, t. ii. 677: and so in all the old Liturgies, vid. Brett's Collection. [119] Cf. Lev. ii. 13; Numbers xviii. 19; 2 Chron. xiii. 5. Theodoret on the latter place says, "By a covenant of salt for ever, he expresses the stability of the Kingdom, since even Barbarians oftentimes upon eating with their enemies keep the peace entire, remembering the salt thereof." [120] ho gar thuei. rec. text all hoti ha thuei. [which is correct. C.] [121] parazeloumen. [122] parezelosan. [123] "This Table is not, saith Chrysostom, for chattering jays, but for eagles, who fly thither where the dead body lieth." Hom. Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament, &c. This interpretation seems to be generally recognised by the Fathers, See S. Iren. iv. 14; Orig. on S. Matt. . 47; S. Ambr. on S. Luke xvii. 7. "The souls of the righteous are compared unto eagles, because they seek what is on high, leave the low places, are accounted to lead a long life. Wherefore also David saith to his own soul, Thy youth shall be renewed as of an eagle. [Ps. ciii. 5.] If then we have come to know what the eagles are, we can no longer doubt about the Body; especially if we recollect that Body which Joseph once received from Pilate. Seem they not unto thee as eagles around a Body, I mean Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdelene and Mary the Mother of the Lord, and the gathering of the Apostles around the Lord's entombing? Doth it not seem to thee as eagles around a body, when the Son of Man shall come with the mystical clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him? "There is also the Body concerning which it was said, My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed. Around this Body are certain eagles, which hover over It with spiritual wings. They are also eagles round the Body, which believe the Jesus is come in the Flesh: since every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God. Wheresoever then faith is, there is the Sacrament, there the resting place of holiness. Again, this Body is the Church, wherein by the grace of Baptism we are renovated in spirit, and whatever tends to decay through old age is refreshed, for ages of new life." Comp. also Theodoret on Providence Orat. 5. t. iv. 550. Ed. Schultze; S. Jerome, Ep. xlvi. 11; S. Aug. Quæst. Evangel. 1. 42. [124] hapsides; originally "arches," afterwards "the vaults of the sanctuary or choir in a church." [125] apheithesan, ms. Reg. Bened. anistesan. [126] Bel and the Dragon, v. 27.


Homily XXV.

1 Cor. x. 25

Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.

Having said that "they could not drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of the devils," and having once for all led them away from those tables, by Jewish examples, by human reasonings, by the tremendous Mysteries, by the rites solemnized among the idols [127] ; and having filled them with great fear; that he might not by this fear drive again to another extreme, and they be forced, exercising a greater scrupulosity than was necessary, to feel alarm, lest possibly even without their knowledge there might come in some such thing either from the market or from some other quarter; to release them from this strait, he saith, "Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, eat, asking no question." "For," saith he, "if thou eat in ignorance and not knowingly, thou art not subject to the punishment: it being thenceforth a matter not of greediness, but of ignorance."

Nor doth he free the man only from this anxiety, but also from another, establishing them in thorough security and liberty. For he doth not even suffer them to "question;" i.e., to search and enquire, whether it be an idol-sacrifice or no such thing; but simply to eat every thing which comes from the market, not even acquainting one's self with so much as this, what it is that is set before us. So that even he that eateth, if in ignorance, may be rid of anxiety. For such is the nature of those things which are not in their essence evil, but through the man's intention make him unclean. Wherefore he saith, "asking no question."

Ver. 26. "For to the Lord belongeth the earth and the fulness thereof." Not to the devils. Now if the earth and the fruits and the beasts be all His, nothing is unclean: but it becomes unclean otherwise, from our intention and our disobedience. Wherefore he not only gave permission, but also,

Ver. 27. "If one of them that believe not biddeth you," saith he, "to a feast, and you are disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake."

See again his moderation. For he did not command and make a law that they should withdraw themselves, yet neither did he forbid it. And again, should they depart, he frees them from all suspicion. Now what may be the account of this? That so great curiousness might not seem to arise from any fear and cowardice. For he who makes scrupulous enquiry doth so as being in dread: but he who, on hearing the fact, abstains, abstains as out of contempt and hatred and aversion. Wherefore Paul, purposing to establish both points, saith, "Whatsoever is set before you, eat."

Ver. 28. "But if any man say unto you, This hath been offered in sacrifice unto idols; eat not, for his sake that showed it."

Thus it is not at all for any power that they have but as accursed, that he bids abstain from them. Neither then, as though they could injure you, fly from them, (for they have no strength;) nor yet, because they have no strength, indifferently partake: for it is the table of beings hostile and degraded. Wherefore he said, "eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake. For the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." [128]

Seest thou how both when he bids them eat and when they must abstain, he brings forward the same testimony? "For I do not forbid," saith he, "for this cause as though they belonged to others: ("for the earth is the Lord's:") but for the reason I mentioned, for conscience sake; i.e., that it may not be injured." Ought one therefore to inquire scrupulously? "Nay" saith he "for I said not thy conscience, but his. For I have already said, `for his sake that showed it.'" And again, v. 29, "Conscience, I say, not thine own, but the other's."

[2.] But perhaps some one may say, "The brethren indeed, as is natural, thou sparest, and dost not suffer us to taste for their sakes, lest their conscience being weak might be emboldened to eat the idol sacrifices. But if it be some heathen, what is this man to thee? Was it not thine own word, `What have I to do with judging them that are without?' (1 Cor. v. 12.)Wherefore then dost thou on the contrary care for them?" "Not for him is my care," he replies, "but in this case also for thee." To which effect also he adds,

"For why is my liberty judged by another conscience?" meaning by "liberty," that which is left without caution or prohibition. For this is liberty, freed from Jewish bondage. And what he means is this: "God hath made me free and above all reach of injury, but the Gentile knoweth not how to judge of my rule of life, nor to see into the liberality of my Master, but will condemn and say to himself, `Christianity is a fable; they abstain from the idols, they shun demons, and yet cleave to the things offered to them: great is their gluttony.'" "And what then?" it may be said. "What harm is it to us, should he judge us unfairly?" But how much better to give him no room to judge at all! For if thou abstain, he will not even say this. "How," say you, "will he not say it? For when he seeth me not making these inquiries, either in the shambles or in the banquet; what should hinder him from using this language and condemning me, as one who partakes without discrimination?" It is not so at all. For thou partakest, not as of idol-sacrifices, but as of things clean. And if thou makest no nice enquiry, it is that thou mayest signify that thou fearest not the things set before thee; this being the reason why, whether thou enterest a house of Gentiles or goest into the market, I suffer thee not to ask questions; viz. lest thou become timid [129] and perplexed, [130] and occasion thyself needless trouble.

Ver. 30. "If I by grace partake, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?" "Of what dost thou `by grace partake?' tell me." Of the gifts of God. For His grace is so great, as to render my soul unstained and above all pollution. For as the sun sending down his beams upon many spots of pollution, withdraws them again pure; so likewise and much more, we, living in the midst of the world remain pure, if we will, by how much the power we have is even greater than his. "Why then abstain?" say you. Not as though I should become unclean, far from it; but for my brother's sake, and that I may not become a partaker with devils, and that I may not be judged by the unbeliever. For in this case it is no longer now the nature of the thing, but the disobedience and the friendship with devils which maketh me unclean, and the purpose of heart worketh the pollution.

But what is, "why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? "I, for my part," saith he, "give thanks to God that He hath thus set me on high, and above the low estate of the Jews, so that from no quarter am I injured. But the Gentiles not knowing my high rule of life will suspect the contrary, and will say, `Here are Christians indulging a taste for our customs; they are a kind of hypocrites, abusing the demons and loathing them, yet running to their tables; than which what can be more senseless? We conclude that not for truth's sake, but through ambition and love of power they have betaken themselves to this doctrine.' What folly then would it be that in respect of those things whereby I have been so benefited as even to give solemn thanks, in respect of these I should become the cause of evil-speaking?" "But these things, even as it is," say you, "will the Gentile allege, when he seeth me not making enquiry." In no wise. For all things are not full of idol-sacrifices so that he should suspect this: nor dost thou thyself taste of them as idol-sacrifices. But not then scrupulous overmuch, nor again, on the other hand, when any say that it is an idol-sacrifice, do thou partake. For Christ gave thee grace and set thee on high and above all injury from that quarter, not that thou mightest be evil spoken of, nor that the circumstance which hath been such a gain to thee as to be matter of special thanksgiving, should so injure others as to make them even blaspheme. "Nay, why," saith he, "do I not say to the Gentile, `I eat, I am no wise injured, and I do not this as one in friendship with the demons'?" Because thou canst not persuade him, even though thou shouldst say it ten thousand times: weak as he is and hostile. For if thy brother hath not yet been persuaded by thee, much less the enemy and the Gentile. If he is possessed by his consciousness of the idol-sacrifice, much more the unbeliever. And besides, what occasion have we for so great trouble?

"What then? whereas we have known Christ and give thanks, while they blaspheme, shall we therefore abandon this custom also?" Far from it. For the thing is not the same. For in the one case, great is our gain from bearing the reproach; but in the other, there will be no advantage. Wherefore also he said before, "for neither if we eat, are we the better; nor if we eat not, are we the worse." (c. viii. 8.) And besides this too he showed that the thing was to be avoided, so that even on another ground ought they to be abstained from, not on this account only but also for the other reasons which he assigned.

[3.] Ver. 31. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Perceivest thou how from the subject before him, he carried out the exhortation to what was general, giving us one, the most excellent of all aims, that God in all things should be glorified?

Ver. 32. "Give no occasion of stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the Church of God:" i.e., give no handle to anyone: since in the case supposed, both thy brother is offended, and the Jew will the more hate and condemn thee, and the Gentile in like manner deride thee even as a gluttonous man and a hypocrite.

Not only, however, should the brethren receive no hurt from us, but to the utmost of our power not even those that are without. For if we are "light," and "leaven," and "luminaries," and "salt," we ought to enlighten, not to darken; to bind, not to loosen; to draw to ourselves the unbelievers, not to drive them away. Why then puttest thou to flight those whom thou oughtest to draw to thee? Since even Gentiles are hurt, when they see us reverting to such things: for they know not our mind nor that our soul hath come to be above all pollution of sense. And the Jews too, and the weaker brethren, will suffer the same.

Seest thou how many reasons he hath assigned for which we ought to abstain from the idol-sacrifices? Because of their unprofitableness, because of their needlessness, because of the injury to our brother, because of the evil-speaking of the Jew, because of the reviling of the Gentile, because we ought not to be partakers with demons, because the thing is a kind of idolatry.

Further, because he had said, "give no occasion of stumbling," and he made them responsible for the injury done, both to the Gentiles and to the Jews; and the saying was grievous; see how he renders it acceptable and light, putting himself forward, and saying,

Ver. 33. "Even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved."

Chap. xi. ver. 1. "Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ."

This is a rule of the most perfect Christianity, this is a landmark exactly laid down, this is the point that stands highest of all; viz. the seeking those things which are for the common profit: which also Paul himself declared, by adding, "even as I also am of Christ." For nothing can so make a man an imitator of Christ as caring for his neighbors. Nay, though thou shouldest fast, though thou shouldest lie upon the ground, and even strangle thyself, but take no thought for thy neighbor; thou hast wrought nothing great, but still standest far from this Image, while so doing. However, in the case before us, even the very thing itself is naturally useful, viz; the abstaining from idol-sacrifices. But "I," saith he, "have done many of those things which were unprofitable also: e.g., when I used circumcision, when I offered sacrifice; for these, were any one to examine them in themselves, rather destroy those that follow after them and cause them to fall from salvation: nevertheless, I submitted even to these on account of the advantage therefrom: but here is no such thing. For in that case, except there accrue a certain benefit and except they be done for others' sake, then the thing becomes injurious: but in this, though there be none made to stumble, even so ought one to abstain from the things forbidden.

But not only to things hurtful have I submitted, but also to things toilsome. For, "I robbed other Churches," saith he, "taking wages of them; (2 Cor. xi. 8.) and when it was lawful to eat and not to work, I sought not this, but chose to perish of hunger rather than offend another." This is why he says, "I please all men in all things." "Though it be against the law, though it be laborious and hazardous, which is to be done, I endure all for the profit of others. So then, being above all in perfection, he became beneath all in condescension."

[4.] For no virtuous action can be very exalted, when it doth not distribute its benefit to others also: as is shown by him who brought the one talent safe, and was cut in sunder because he had not made more of it. And thou then, brother, though thou shouldest remain without food, though thou shouldest sleep upon the ground, though thou shouldest eat ashes and be ever wailing, and do good to no other; thou wilt do no great work. For so also those great and noble persons who were in the beginning made this their chiefest care: examine accurately their life, and thou wilt see clearly that none of them ever looked to his own things, but each one to the things of his neighbor, whence also they shone the brighter. For so Moses (to mention him first) wrought many and great wonders and signs; but nothing made him so great as that blessed voice which he uttered unto God, saying, "If Thou wilt forgive their sin," forgive; "but if not, blot me also out." (Exod. xxxii. 32.) Such too was David: wherefore also he said, "I the shepherd have sinned, and I have done wickedly, but these, the flock, what have they done? Let Thine hand be upon me and upon my father's house." (2 Sam. xxiv. 17.) So likewise Abraham sought not his own profit, but the profit of many. Wherefore he both exposed himself to dangers and besought God for those who in no wise belonged to him.

Well: these indeed so became glorious. But as for those who sought their own, consider what harm too they received. The nephew, for instance, of the last mentioned, because he listened to the saying, "If thou wilt go to the right, I will go to the left;" (Gen. xiii. 9.) and accepting the choice, sought his own profit, did not even find his own: but this region was burned up, while that remained untouched. Jonah again, not seeking the profit of many, but his own, was in danger even of perishing: and while the city stood fast, he himself was tossed about and overwhelmed in the sea. But when he sought the profit of many, then he also found his own. So likewise Jacob among the flocks, not seeking his own gain, had exceeding riches for his portion. And Joseph also, seeking the profit of his brethren, found his own. At least, being sent by his father, (Gen. xxxvii. 14.) he said not, "What is this? Hast thou not heard that for a vision and certain dreams they even attempted to tear me in pieces, and I was held responsible for my dreams, and suffer punishment for being beloved of thee? What then will they not do when they get me in the midst of them?" He said none of these things, he thought not of them, but prefers the care of his brethren above all. Therefore he enjoyed also all the good things which followed, which both made him very brilliant and declared him glorious. Thus also Moses,--for nothing hinders that we should a second time make mention of him, and behold how he overlooked his own things and sought the things of others:--I say this Moses, being conversant in a king's court, because he "counted the reproach of Christ (Heb. xi. 26.) greater riches than the treasures of Egypt;" and having cast them even all out of his hands, became a partaker of the afflictions of the Hebrews;--so far from being himself enslaved, he liberated them also from bondage.

Well: these surely are great things and worthy of an angelical life. But the conduct of Paul far exceeds this. For all the rest leaving their own blessings chose to be partakers in the afflictions of others: but Paul did a thing much greater. For it was not that he consented to be a partaker in others' misfortunes, but he chose himself to be at all extremities that other men might enjoy blessings. Now it is not the same for one who lives in luxury to cast away his luxury and suffer adversity, as for one himself alone suffering adversity, to cause others to be in security and honor. For in the former case, though it be a great thing to exchange prosperity for affliction for your neighbor's sake, nevertheless it brings some consolation to have partakers in the misfortune. But consenting to be himself alone in the distress that others may enjoy their good things,--this belongs to a much more energetic soul, and to Paul's own spirit.

And not by this only, but by another and greater excellency doth he surpass all those before mentioned. That is, Abraham and all the rest exposed themselves to dangers in the present life, and all these were but asking for this kind of death once for all: but Paul prayed (Rom. ix. 3.) that he might fall from the glory of the world to come for the sake of others' salvation. [131]

I may mention also a third point of superiority. And what is this? That some of those, though they interceded for the persons who conspired against them, nevertheless it was for those with whose guidance they had been entrusted: and the same thing happened as if one should stand up for a wild and lawless son, but still a son: whereas Paul wished to be accursed in the stead of those with whose guardianship he was not entrusted. For to the Gentiles was he sent. Dost thou perceive the greatness of his soul and the loftiness of his spirit, transcending the very heaven? This man do thou emulate: but if thou canst not, at least follow those who shone in the old covenant. For thus shalt thou find thine own profit, if thou seekest that of thy neighbor. Wherefore when thou feelest backward to care for thy brother, considering that no otherwise canst thou be saved, at least for thine own sake stand thou up for him and his interests.

[5.] And although what hath been said is sufficient to convince thee that no otherwise is it possible to secure our own benefit: yet if thou wouldst also assure thyself of it by the examples of common life, conceive a fire happening any where to be kindled in a house, and then some of the neighbors with a view to their own interest refusing to confront the danger but shutting themselves up and remaining at home, in fear lest some one find his way in and purloin some part of the household goods; how great punishment will they endure? Since the fire will come on and burn down likewise all that is theirs; and because they looked not to the profit of their neighbor, they lose even their own besides. For so God, willing to bind us all to each other, hath imposed upon things such a necessity, that in the profit of one neighbor that of the other is bound up; and the whole world is thus constituted. And therefore in a vessel too, if a storm come on, and the steersman, leaving the profit of the many, should seek his own only, he will quickly sink both himself and them. And of each several art too we may say that should it look to its own profit only, life could never stand, nor even the art itself which so seeketh its own. Therefore the husbandman sows not so much corn only as is sufficient for himself, since he would long ago have famished both himself and others; but seeks the profit of the many: and the soldier takes the field against dangers, not that he may save himself, but that he may also place his cities in security: and the merchant brings not home so much as may be sufficient for himself alone, but for many others also.

Now if any say, "each man doeth this, not looking to my interest, but his own, for he engages in all these things to obtain for himself money and glory and security, so that in seeking my profit he seeks his own:" this also do I say and long since wished to hear from you, and for this have I framed all my discourse; viz. to signify that thy neighbor then seeks his own profit, when he looks to thine. For since men would no otherwise make up their mind to seek the things of their neighbor, except they were reduced to this necessity; therefore God hath thus joined things together, and suffers them not to arrive at their own profit except they first travel through the profit of others.

Well then, this is natural to man, thus to follow after his neighbors' advantage; but one ought to be persuaded not from this reason, but from what pleases God. For it is not possible to be saved, wanting this; but though thou shouldest exercise the highest perfection of the work and neglect others who are perishing, thou wilt gain no confidence towards God. Whence is this evident? From what the blessed Paul declared. "For if I bestow my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing," (1 Cor. xiii. 3.) saith he. Seeth thou how much Paul requireth of us? And yet he that bestowed his goods to feed the poor, sought not his own good, but that of his neighbor. But this alone is not enough, he saith. For he would have it done with sincerity and much sympathy. For therefore also God made it a law that he might bring us into the bond of love. When therefore He demands so large a measure, and we do not render even that which is less, of what indulgence shall we be worthy? [132]

"And how," saith one, "did God say to Lot by the Angels, `Escape for thy life?'" (Gen. xix. 17.) Say, when, and why. When the punishment was brought near, not when there was an opportunity of correction but when they were condemned and incurably diseased, and old and young had rushed into the same passions, and henceforth they must needs be burned up, and in that day when the thunderbolts were about to be launched. And besides, this was not spoken of vice and virtue but of the chastisement inflicted by God. For what was he to do, tell me? Sit still and await the punishment, and without at all profiting them, be burned up? Nay, this were the extremest folly.

For I do not affirm this, that one ought to bring chastisement on one's self without discrimination and at random, apart from the will of God. But when a man tarries long in sin, then I bid thee push thyself forward and correct him: if thou wilt, for thy neighbor's sake: but if not, at least for thine own profit. It is true, the first is the better course: but if thou reachest not yet unto that height, do it even for this. And let no man seek his own that he may find his own; and bearing in mind that neither voluntary poverty nor martyrdom, nor any other thing, can testify in our favor, unless we have the crowning virtue of love; let us preserve this beyond the rest, that through it we may also obtain all other, both present and promised blessings; at which may we all arrive through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ; Whom be the glory world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[127] Savile conj. eidoleiois, "in the idol Temples:" but eidolois is the actual reading. [128] [The latest editions omit this clause as unsustained by ms. authority and needless to the argument. C.] [129] psophodees. [130] linoplex. [131] [But the Apostle did not say absolutely "I wish," but "I could wish" or pray. The difference is great. C.] [132] [This passage and others like it show, as Neander says, that while Chrysostom was enthusiastically alive to the ideal of holy temper and holy living in Monachism, yet he was too deeply penetrated by the essence of the Gospel not to be aware that this indeed should pervade all the relations of life. C.]


Homily XXVI.

1 Cor. xi. 2

Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you.

Having completed the discourse concerning the idol-sacrifices as became him, and having rendered it most perfect in all respects, he proceeds to another thing, which also itself was a complaint, but not so great a one. For that which I said before, this do I also now say, that he doth not set down all the heavy accusations continuously, but after disposing them in due order, he inserts among them the lighter matters, mitigating what the readers would else feel offensive in his discourse on account of his continually reproving.

Wherefore also he set the most serious of all last, that relating to the resurrection. But for the present he goes to another, a lighter thing, saying, "Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things." Thus when the offence is admitted, he both accuses vehemently and threatens: but when it is questioned, he first proves it and then rebukes. And what was admitted, he aggravates: but what was likely to be disputed, he shows to be admitted. Their fornication, for instance, was a thing admitted. Wherefore there was no need to show that there was an offence; but in that case he proved the magnitude of the transgression, and conducted his discourse by way of comparison. Again, their going to law before aliens was an offence, but not so great a one. Wherefore he considered by the way, and proved it. The matter of the idol-sacrifices again was questioned. It was however, a most serious evil. Wherefore he both shows it to be an offence, and amplifies it by his discourse. But when he doeth this, he not only withdraws them from the several crimes, but invites them also to their contraries. Thus he said not only that one must not commit fornication, but likewise that one ought to exhibit great holiness. Wherefore he added, "Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit." (c. vi. 20.) And having said again that one ought not to be wise with the wisdom that is without, he is not content with this, but bids him also to "become a fool." (c. iii. 18.) And where he advises them not to go to law before them that are without, and to do no wrong; he goeth further, and takes away even the very going to law, and counsels them not only to do no wrong, but even to suffer wrong. (c. vi. 7, 8.)

And discoursing concerning the idol-sacrifices, he said not that one ought to abstain from things forbidden only, but also from things permitted when offence is given: and not only not to hurt the brethren, but not even Greeks, nor Jews. Thus, "give no occasion of stumbling," saith he, "either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the Church of God." (c. x. 32.)

[2.] Having finished therefore all the discourses concerning all these things, he next proceeds also to another accusation. And what was this? Their women used both to pray and prophesy unveiled and with their head bare, (for then women also used to prophesy;) but the men went so far as to wear long hair as having spent their time in philosophy [133] , and covered their heads when praying and prophesying, each of which was a Grecian custom. Since then he had already admonished them concerning these things when present, and some perhaps listened to him and others disobeyed; therefore in his letter also again, he foments the place, like a physician, by his mode of addressing them, and so corrects the offence. For that he had heretofore admonished them in person is evident from what he begins with. Why else, having said nothing of this matter any where in the Epistle before, but passing on from other accusations, doth he straightway say, "Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you?"

Thou seest that some obeyed, whom he praises; and others disobeyed, whom he corrects by what comes afterwards, saying, "Now if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom." (ver. 16.) For if after some had done well but others disobeyed, he had included all in his accusation, he would both have made the one sort bolder, and have caused the others to become more remiss; whereas now by praising and approving the one, and rebuking the other, he both refreshes the one more effectually, and causes the other to shrink before him. For the accusation even by itself was such as might well wound them; but now that it takes place in contrast with others who have done well and are praised, it comes with a sharper sting. However, for the present he begins not with accusation, but with encomiums and great encomiums, saying, "Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things." For such is the character of Paul; though it be but for small matters he weaves a web of high praise; nor is it for flattery that he doth so: far from it; how could he so act to whom neither money was desirable, nor glory, nor any other such thing? but for their salvation he orders all his proceedings. And this is why he amplifies the encomium, saying, "Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things."

All what things? For hitherto his discourse was only concerning their not wearing long hair and not covering their heads; but, as I said, he is very bountiful in his praises, rendering them more forward. Wherefore he saith,

"That ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you." It appears then that he used at that time to deliver many things also not in writing, which he shows too in many other places. But at that time he only delivered them, whereas now he adds an explanation of their reason: thus both rendering the one sort, the obedient, more steadfast, and pulling down the others' pride, who oppose themselves. Further, he doth not say, "ye have obeyed, whilst others disobeyed," but without exciting suspicion, intimates it by his mode of teaching in what follows, where he saith,

Ver. 3. "But I would have ye know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of every woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."

This is his account of the reason of the thing, and he states it to make the weaker more attentive. He indeed that is faithful, as he ought to be, and steadfast, doth not require any reason or cause of those things which are commanded him, but is content with the ordinance [134] alone. But he that is weaker, when he also learns the cause, then both retains what is said with more care and obeys with much readiness.

Wherefore neither did he state the cause until he saw the commandment transgressed. What then is the cause? "The head of every man is Christ." Is He then Head of the Gentile also? In no wise. For if "we are the Body of Christ, and severally members thereof," (c. xii. 27.) and in this way He is our head, He cannot be the head of them who are not in the Body and rank not among the members. So that when he says, "of every man," one must understand it of the believer. Perceivest thou how every where he appeals to the hearer's shame by arguing from on high? Thus both when he was discoursing on love, and when on humility, and when on alms-giving, it was from thence that he drew his examples.

[3.] "But the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." Here the heretics rush upon us with a certain declaration of inferiority, which out of these words they contrive against the Son. But they stumble against themselves. For if "the man be the head of the woman," and the head be of the same substance with the body, and "the head of Christ is God," the Son is of the same substance with the Father. "Nay," say they, "it is not His being of another substance which we intend to show from hence, but that He is under subjection." What then are we to say to this? In the first place, when any thing lowly is said of him conjoined as He is with the Flesh, there is no disparagement of the Godhead in what is said, the Economy admitting the expression. However, tell me how thou intendest to prove this from the passage? "Why, as the man governs the wife, saith he, "so also the Father, Christ." Therefore also as Christ governs the man, so likewise the Father, the Son. "For the head of every man," we read, "is Christ." And who could ever admit this? For if the superiority of the Son compared with us, be the measure of the Father's compared with the Son, consider to what meanness thou wilt bring Him. So that we must not try [135] all things by like measure in respect of ourselves and of God, though the language used concerning them be similar; but we must assign to God a certain appropriate excellency, and so great as belongs to God. For should they not grant this, many absurdities will follow. As thus; "the head of Christ is God:" and, "Christ is the head of the man, and he of the woman." Therefore if we choose to take the term, "head," in the like sense in all the clauses, the Son will be as far removed from the Father as we are from Him. Nay, and the woman will be as far removed from us as we are from the Word of God. And what the Son is to the Father, this both we are to the Son and the woman again to the man. And who will endure this?

But dost thou understand the term "head" differently in the case of the man and the woman, from what thou dost in the case of Christ? Therefore in the case of the Father and the Son, must we understand it differently also. "How understand it differently?" saith the objector. According to the occasion [136] . For had Paul meant to speak of rule and subjection, as thou sayest, he would not have brought forward the instance of a wife, but rather of a slave and a master. For what if the wife be under subjection to us? it is as a wife, as free, as equal in honor. And the Son also, though He did become obedient to the Father, it was as the Son of God, it was as God. For as the obedience of the Son to the Father is greater than we find in men towards the authors of their being, so also His liberty is greater. Since it will not of course be said that the circumstances of the Son's relation to the Father are greater and more intimate than among men, and of the Father's to the Son, less. For if we admire the Son that He was obedient so as to come even unto death, and the death of the cross, and reckon this the great wonder concerning Him; we ought to admire the Father also, that He begat such a son, not as a slave under command, but as free, yielding obedience and giving counsel. For the counsellor is no slave. But again, when thou hearest of a counsellor, do not understand it as though the Father were in need, but that the Son hath the same honor with Him that begat Him. Do not therefore strain the example of the man and the woman to all particulars.

For with us indeed the woman is reasonably subjected to the man: since equality of honor causeth contention. And not for this cause only, but by reason also of the deceit (1 Tim. ii. 14.) which happened in the beginning. Wherefore you see, she was not subjected as soon as she was made; nor, when He brought her to the man, did either she hear any such thing from God, nor did the man say any such word to her: he said indeed that she was "bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh:" (Gen. ii. 23.) but of rule or subjection he no where made mention unto her. But when she made an ill use of her privilege and she who had been made a helper was found to be an ensnarer and ruined all, then she is justly told for the future, "thy turning shall be to thy husband." (Gen. iii. 16.)

To account for which; it was likely that this sin would have thrown our race into a state of warfare; (for her having been made out of him would not have contributed any thing to peace, when this had happened, nay, rather this very thing would have made the man even the harsher, that she made as she was out of him should not have spared even him who was a member of herself:) wherefore God, considering the malice of the Devil, raised up the bulwark of this word and what enmity was likely to arise from his evil device, He took away by means of this sentence and by the desire implanted in us: thus pulling down the partition-wall, i.e., the resentment caused by that sin of hers. But in God and in that undefiled Essence, one must not suppose any such thing.

Do not therefore apply the examples to all, since elsewhere also from this source many grievous errors will occur. For so in the beginning of this very Epistle, he said, (1 Cor. iii. 22, 23.) "All are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." What then? Are all in like manner ours, as "we are Christ's, and Christ is God's?" In no wise, but even to the very simple the difference is evident, although the same expression is used of God, and Christ, and us. And elsewhere also having called the husband "head of the wife," he added, (Ephes. v. 23.) "Even as Christ is Head and Saviour and Defender of the Church, so also ought the man to be of his own wife." Are we then to understand in like manner the saying in the text, both this, and all that after this is written to the Ephesians concerning this subject? Far from it. It is impossible. For although the same words are spoken of God and of men, they do not have the same force in respect to God and to men, but in one way those must be understood, and in another these. Not however on the other hand all things diversely: since contrariwise they will seem to have been introduced at random and in vain, we reaping no benefit from them. But as we must not receive all things alike, so neither must we absolutely reject all.

Now that what I say may become clearer, I will endeavor to make it manifest in an example. Christ is called "the Head of the Church." If I am to take nothing from what is human in the idea, why, I would know, is the expression used at all? On the other hand, if I understand all in that way, extreme absurdity will result. For the head is of like passions with the body and liable to the same things. What then ought we to let go, and what to accept? We should let go these particulars which I have mentioned, but accept the notion of a perfect union, and the first principle; and not even these ideas absolutely, but here also we must form a notion, as we may by ourselves, of that which is too high for us and suitable to the Godhead: for both the union is surer and the beginning more honorable.

Again, thou hearest the word "Son;" do not thou in this case admit all particulars; yet neither oughtest thou to reject all: but admitting whatever is meet for God, e.g. that He is of the same essence, that He is of God; the things which are incongruous and belong to human weakness, leave thou upon the earth.

Again, God is called "Light." Shall we then admit all circumstances which belong to natural light? In no wise. For this light yields to darkness, and is circumscribed by space, and is moved by another power, and is overshadowed; none of which it is lawful even to imagine of That Essence. We will not however reject all things on this account, but will reap something useful from the example. The illumination which cometh to us from God, the deliverance from darkness, this will be what we gather from it.

[4.] Thus much in answer to the heretics: but we must also orderly go over the whole passage. For perhaps some one might here have doubt also, questioning with himself, what sort of a crime it was for the woman to be uncovered, or the man covered? What sort of crime it is, learn now from hence.

Symbols many and diverse have been given both to man and woman; to him of rule, to her of subjection: and among them this also, that she should be covered, while he hath his head bare. If now these be symbols you see that both err when they disturb the proper order, and transgress the disposition of God, and their own proper limits, both the man falling into the woman's inferiority, and the woman rising up against the man by her outward habiliments.

For if exchange of garments be not lawful, so that neither she should be clad with a cloak, nor he with a mantle or a veil: ("for the woman," saith He, "shall not wear that which pertaineth to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garments:") much more is it unseemly for these (Deut. xxii. 5.) things to be interchanged. For the former indeed were ordained by men, even although God afterwards ratified them: but this by nature, I mean the being covered or uncovered. But when I say Nature, I mean God. For He it is Who created Nature. When therefore thou overturnest these boundaries, see how great injuries ensue.

And tell me not this, that the error is but small. For first, it is great even of itself: being as it is disobedience. Next, though it were small, it became great because of the greatness of the things whereof it is a sign. However, that it is a great matter, is evident from its ministering so effectually to good order among mankind, the governor and the governed being regularly kept in their several places by it.

So that he who transgresseth disturbs all things, and betrays the gifts of God, and casts to the ground the honor bestowed on him from above; not however the man only, but also the woman. For to her also it is the greatest of honors to preserve her own rank; as indeed of disgraces, the behavior of a rebel. Wherefore he laid it down concerning both, thus saying,

Ver. 4. "Every man praying or prophesying having his head covered, dishonoreth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonoreth her head."

For there were, as I said, both men who prophesied and women who had this gift at that time, as the daughters of Philip, (Acts xxi. 9.) as others before them and after them: concerning whom also the prophet spake of old: "your sons shall prophesy, and your daughters shall see visions." (Joel ii. 28. Acts ii. 17.)

Well then: the man he compelleth not to be always uncovered, but only when he prays. "For every man," saith he, "praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head." But the woman he commands to be at all times covered. Wherefore also having said, "Every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head unveiled, dishonoreth her head," he stayed not at this point only, but also proceeded to say, "for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven." But if to be shaven is always dishonorable, it is plain too that being uncovered is always a reproach. And not even with this only was he content, but added again, saying, "The woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels." He signifies that not at the time of prayer only but also continually, she ought to be covered. But with regard to the man, it is no longer about covering but about wearing long hair, that he so forms his discourse. To be covered he then only forbids, when a man is praying; but the wearing long hair he discourages at all times. Wherefore, as touching the woman, he said, "But if she be not veiled, let her also be shorn;" so likewise touching the man, "If he have long hair, it is a dishonor unto him." He said not, "if he be covered" but, "if he have long hair." Wherefore also he said at the beginning, "Every man praying or prophesying, having any thing on his head, dishonoreth his head." He said not, "covered," but "having any thing on his head;" signifying that even though he pray with the head bare, yet if he have long hair, he is like to one covered. "For the hair," saith he, "is given for a covering."

Ver. 6. "But if a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled."

Thus, in the beginning he simply requires that the head be not bare: but as he proceeds he intimates both the continuance of the rule, saying, "for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven," and the keeping of it with all care and diligence. For he said not merely covered, but "covered over [137] ," meaning that she be carefully wrapped up on every side. And by reducing it to an absurdity, he appeals to their shame, saying by way of severe reprimand, "but if she be not covered, let her also be shorn." As if he had said, "If thou cast away the covering appointed by the law of God, cast away likewise that appointed by nature."

But if any say, "Nay, how can this be a shame to the woman, if she mount up to the glory of the man?" we might make this answer; "She doth not mount up, but rather falls from her own proper honor." Since not to abide within our own limits and the laws ordained of God, but to go beyond, is not an addition but a diminuation. For as he that desireth other men's goods and seizeth what is not his own, hath not gained any thing more, but is diminished, having lost even that which he had, (which kind of thing also happened in paradise:) so likewise the woman acquireth not the man's dignity, but loseth even the woman's decency which she had. And not from hence only is her shame and reproach, but also on account of her covetousness.

Having taken then what was confessedly shameful, and having said, "but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven," he states in what follows his own conclusion, saying, "let her be covered." And he said not, "let her have long hair," but, "let her be covered," ordaining both these to be one, and establishing them both ways, from what was customary and from their contraries: in that he both affirms the covering and the hair to be one, and also that she again who is shaven is the same with her whose head is bare. "For it is one and the same thing," saith he, "as if she were shaven." But if any say, "And how is it one, if this woman have the covering of nature, but the other who is shaven have not even this?" we answer, that as far as her will goes, she threw that off likewise by having the head bare. And if it be not bare of tresses, that is nature's doing, not her own. So that as she who is shaven hath her head bare, so this woman in like manner. For this cause He left it to nature to provide her with a covering, that even of it she might learn this lesson and veil herself.

Then he states also a cause, as one discoursing with those who are free: a thing which in many places I have remarked. What then is the cause?

Ver. 7. "For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God."

This is again another cause. "Not only," so he speaks, "because he hath Christ to be His Head ought he not to cover the head, but because also he rules over the woman." For the ruler when he comes before the king ought to have the symbol of his rule. As therefore no ruler without military girdle and cloak, would venture to appear before him that hath the diadem: so neither do thou without the symbols of thy rule, (one of which is the not being covered,) pray before God, lest thou insult both thyself and Him that hath honored thee.

And the same thing likewise one may say regarding the woman. For to her also is it a reproach, the not having the symbols of her subjection. "But the woman is the glory of the man." Therefore the rule of the man is natural.

[5.] Then, having affirmed his point, he states again other reasons and causes also, leading thee to the first creation, and saying thus:

Ver. 8. "For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man."

But if to be of any one, is a glory to him of whom one is, much more the being an image of him.

Ver. 9. "For neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man."

This is again a second superiority, nay, rather also a third, and a fourth, the first being, that Christ is the head of us, and we of the woman; a second, that we are the glory of God, but the woman of us; a third, that we are not of the woman, but she of us; a fourth, that we are not for her, but she for us.

Ver. 10. "For this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head."

"For this cause:" what cause, tell me? "For all these which have been mentioned," saith he; or rather not for these only, but also "because of the angels." "For although thou despise thine husband," saith he, "yet reverence the angels."

It follows that being covered is a mark of subjection and authority. For it induces her to look down and be ashamed and preserve entire her proper virtue. For the virtue and honor of the governed is to abide in his obedience.

Again: the man is not compelled to do this; for he is the image of his Lord: but the woman is; and that reasonably. Consider then the excess of the transgression when being honored with so high a prerogative, thou puttest thyself to shame, seizing the woman's dress. And thou doest the same as if having received a diadem, thou shouldest cast the diadem from thy head, and instead of it take a slave's garment.

Ver. 11. "Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord."

Thus, because he had given great superiority to the man, having said that the woman is of him and for him and under him; that he might neither lift up the men more than was due nor depress the women, see how he brings in the correction, saying, "Howbeit neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord." "Examine not, I pray," saith he, "the first things only, and that creation. Since if thou enquire into what comes after, each one of the two is the cause of the other; or rather not even thus each of the other, but God of all." Wherefore he saith, "neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord."

Ver. 12. "For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman."

He said not, "of the woman," but he repeats the expression, (from v. 7.) "of the man." For still this particular prerogative remains entire with the man. Yet are not these excellencies the property of the man, but of God. Wherefore also he adds, "but all things of God." If therefore all things belong to God, and he commands these things, do thou obey and gainsay not.

Ver. 13. "Judge ye in yourselves: is it seemly that a woman pray unto God veiled?" Again he places them as judges of the things said, which also he did respecting the idol-sacrifices. For as there he saith, "judge ye what I say:" (c. x. 15.) so here, "judge in yourselves:" and he hints something more awful here. For he says that the affront here passes on unto God: although thus indeed he doth not express himself, but in something of a milder and more enigmatical form of speech: "is it seemly that a woman pray unto God unveiled?"

Ver. 14. "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is a dishonor unto him?"

Ver. 15. "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given her for a covering."

His constant practice of stating commonly received reasons he adopts also in this place, betaking himself to the common custom, and greatly abashing those who waited to be taught these things from him, which even from men's ordinary practice they might have learned. For such things are not unknown even to Barbarians: and see how he every where deals in piercing expressions: "every man praying having his head covered dishonoreth his head;" and again, "but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled:" and here again, "if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him; but if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her, for her hair is given her for a covering."

"And if it be given her for a covering," say you, "wherefore need she add another covering?" That not nature only, but also her own will may have part in her acknowledgment of subjection. For that thou oughtest to be covered nature herself by anticipation enacted a law. Add now, I pray, thine own part also, that thou mayest not seem to subvert the very laws of nature; a proof of most insolent rashness [138] , to buffet not only with us, but with nature also. This is why God accusing the Jews said, (Ezek. xvi. 21, 22.) "Thou hast slain thy sons and thy daughters: this is beyond all thy abominations." [139]

And again, Paul rebuking the unclean among the Romans thus aggravates the accusation, saying, that their usage was not only against the law of God, but even against nature. "For they changed the natural use into that which is against nature." (Rom. i. 26.) For this cause then here also he employs this argument signifying this very thing, both that he is not enacting any strange law and that among Gentiles their inventions would all be reckoned as a kind of novelty against nature. [140]So also Christ, implying the same, said, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye also so them;" showing that He is not introducing any thing new.

Ver. 16. "But if any man seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the Churches of God."

It is then contentiousness to oppose these things, and not any exercise of reason. Notwithstanding, even thus it is a measured sort of rebuke which he adopts, to fill them the more with self-reproach; which in truth rendered his saying the more severe. "For we," saith he, "have no such custom," so as to contend and to strive and to oppose ourselves. And he stopped not even here, but also added, "neither the Churches of God;" signifying that they resist and oppose themselves to the whole world by not yielding. However, even if the Corinthians were then contentious, yet now the whole world hath both received and kept this law. So great is the power of the Crucified.

[6.] But I fear lest having assumed the dress, yet in their deeds some of our women should be found immodest and in other ways uncovered. For therefore also writing to Timothy Paul was not content with these things, but added others, saying, "that they adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold." (1 Tim. ii. 9.) For if one ought not to have the head bare, but everywhere to carry about the token of authority, much more is it becoming to exhibit the same in our deeds. Thus at any rate the former women also used both to call their husbands lords, (1 Pet. iii. 6.) and to yield the precedence to them. "Because they for their part," you say, "used to love their own wives." I know that as well as you: I am not ignorant of it. But when we are exhorting thee concerning thine own duties, let not theirs take all thine attention. For so, when we exhort children to be obedient to parents, saying, that it is written, "honor thy father and thy mother," they reply to us, "mention also what follows, `and ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath,'" (Eph. vi. 1-4.) And servants when we tell them that it is written that they should "obey their masters, and not serve with eye-service," they also again demand of us what follows, bidding us also give the same advice to masters. For Paul bade them also, they saw, "to forbear threatening." But let us not do thus nor enquire into the things enjoined on others, when we are charged with regard to our own: for neither will thy obtaining a partner in the charges free thee from the blame: but look to one thing only, how thou mayest rid thyself of those charges which lie against thyself. Since Adam also laid the blame on the woman, and she again on the serpent, but this did in no wise deliver them. Do not thou, therefore, for thy part, say this to me now, but be careful with all consideration to render what thou owest to thy husband: since also when I am discoursing with thy husband, advising him to love and cherish thee, I suffer him not to bring forward the law that is appointed for the woman, but I require of him that which is written for himself. And do thou therefore busy thyself with those things only which belong to thee, and show thyself tractable to thy consort. And accordingly if it be really for God's sake that thou obeyest thy husband, tell me not of the things which ought to be done by him, but for what things thou hast been made responsible by the lawgiver, those perform with exactness. For this is especially to obey God, not to transgress the law even when suffering things contrary to it. And by the same rule, he that being beloved loves, is not reckoned to do any great thing. But he that waits upon a person who hateth him, this above all is the man to receive a crown. In the same manner then do thou also reckon that if thy husband give thee disgust, and thou endure it, thou shalt receive a glorious crown: but if he be gentle and mild, what will there be for God to reward in thee? And these things I say, not bidding the husbands be harsh; but persuading the wives to bear even with harshness in their husbands. Since when each is careful to fulfil his own duty, his neighbor's part also will quickly follow: as when the wife is prepared to bear even with rough behavior in the husband, and the husband refrains from abusing her in her angry mood; then all is a calm and a harbor free from waves.

[7.] So also was it with those of old time. Each was employed in fulfilling his own duty, not in exacting that of his neighbor. Thus, if you mark it, Abraham took his brother's son: his wife found no fault with him. He commanded her to travel a long journey; she spake not even against this but followed. Again, after those many miseries and labors and toils having become lord of all, he yielded the precedency to Lot. And so far from Sarah being offended at this, she did not even open her mouth, nor uttered any such thing as many of the women of these days utter, when they see their own husbands coming off inferior in such allotments, and especially in dealing with inferiors; reproaching them, and calling them fools and senseless and unmanly and traitors and stupid. But no such thing did she say or think, but was pleased with all things that were done by him.

And another thing, and that a greater: after that Lot had the choice put in his power, and had thrown the inferior part upon his uncle, a great danger fell upon him.

Whereof the patriarch hearing, armed all his people, and set himself against the whole army of the Persians with his own domestics only, and not even then did she detain him, nor say, as was likely, "O man, whither goest thou, thrusting thyself down precipices, and exposing thyself to so great hazards; for one who wronged thee and seized on all that was thine, shedding thy blood? Yea, and even if thou make light of thyself, yet have pity on me which have left house and country and friends and kindred, and have followed thee in so long a pilgrimage; and involve me not in widowhood, and in the miseries of widowhood." None of these things she said: she thought not of them but bore all in silence.

After this, her womb continuing barren, she herself suffers not the grief of women nor laments: but he complains, though not to his wife, but to God. And see how each preserves his own appropriate part: for he neither despised Sarah as childless, nor reproached her with any such thing: and she again was anxious to devise some consolation to him for her childlessness by means of the handmaid. For these things had not yet been forbidden then as now. For now neither is it lawful for women to indulge their husbands in such things, nor for the men, with or without the wife's knowledge, to form such connexions, even though the grief of their childlessness should infinitely harass them: since they also shall hear the sentence, "their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched." For now it is not permitted, but then it had not been forbidden. Wherefore both his wife commanded this, and he obeyed, yet not even thus for pleasure's sake. But "behold," it will be said, "how he cast Hagar out again at her bidding." Well, this is what I want to point out, that both he obeyed her in all things, and she him. But do not thou give heed to these things only, but examine, thou who urgest this plea, into what had gone before also, Hagar's insulting her, her boasting herself against her mistress; than which what can be more vexatious to a free and honorable woman?

[8.] Let not then the wife tarry for the virtue of the husband and then show her own, for this is nothing great; nor, on the other hand, the husband, for the obedience of the wife and then exercise self-command; for neither would this any more be his own well-doing; but let each, as I said, furnish his own share first. For if to the Gentiles smiting us on the right, we must turn the other cheek; much more ought one to bear with harsh behavior in a husband.

And I say not this for a wife to be beaten; far from it: for this is the extremest affront, not to her that is beaten, but to him who beateth. But even if by some misfortune thou have such a yokefellow allotted thee, take it not ill, O woman, considering the reward which is laid up for such things and their praise too in this present life. And to you husbands also this I say: make it a rule that there can be no such offence as to bring you under the necessity of striking a wife. And why say I a wife? since not even upon his handmaiden could a free man endure to inflict blows and lay violent hands. But if the shame be great for a man to beat a maidservant, much more to stretch forth the right hand against her that is free. And this one might see even from heathen legislatures who no longer compel her that hath been so treated to live with him that beat her, as being unworthy of her fellowship. For surely it comes of extreme lawlessness when thy partner of life, she who in the most intimate relations and in the highest degree, is united with thee; when she, like a base slave, is dishonored by thee. Wherefore also such a man, if indeed one must call him a man and not rather a wild beast, I should say, was like a parricide and a murderer of his mother. For if for a wife's sake we were commanded to leave even father and mother, not wronging them but fulfilling a divine law; and a law so grateful to our parents themselves that even they, the very persons whom we are leaving, are thankful, and bring it about with great eagerness; what but extreme frenzy can it be to insult her for whose sake God bade us leave even our parents?

But we may well ask, Is it only madness? There is the shame too: I would fain know who can endure it. And what description can set it before us; when shrieks and wailings are borne along the alleys, and there is a running to the house of him that is so disgracing himself, both of the neighbors and the passers by, as though some wild beast were ravaging within? Better were it that the earth should gape asunder for one so frantic, than that he should be seen at all in the forum after it.

"But the woman is insolent," saith he. Consider nevertheless that she is a woman, the weaker vessel, whereas thou art a man. For therefore wert thou ordained [141] to be ruler; and wert assigned to her in place of a head, that thou mightest bear with the weakness of her that is set under thee. Make then thy rule glorious. And glorious it will be when the subject of it meets with no dishonor from thee. And as the monarch will appear so much the more dignified, as he manifests more dignity in the officer under him; but if he dishonor and depreciate the greatness of that rank, he is indirectly cutting off no small portion of his own glory likewise: so also thou dishonor her who governs next to thyself, wilt in no common degree mar the honor of thy governance.

Considering therefore all these things, command thyself: and withal think also of that evening on which the father having called thee, delivered thee his daughter as a kind of deposit, and having separated her from all, from her mother, from himself, from the family, intrusted her entire guardianship to thy right hand. Consider that (under God) through her thou hast children and hast become a father, and be thou also on that account gentle towards her.

Seest thou not the husbandmen, how the earth which hath once received the seed, they tend with all various methods of culture, though it have ten thousand disadvantages; e.g., though it be an unkindly soil or bear ill weeds, or though it be vexed with excessive rain through the nature of its situation? This also do thou. For thus shalt thou be first to enjoy both the fruit and the calm. Since thy wife is to thee both a harbor, and a potent healing charm to rejoice thy heart. Well then: if thou shalt free thy harbor from winds and waves, thou shalt enjoy much tranquility on thy return from the market-place: but if thou fill it with clamor and tumult, thou dost but prepare for thyself a more grievous shipwreck. In order then to prevent this, let what I advise be done: When any thing uncomfortable happens in the household, if she be in the wrong console her and do not aggravate the discomfort. For even if thou shouldest lose all, nothing is more grievous than to have a wife without good-will sharing thine abode. And whatever offence thou canst mention, thou wilt tell me of nothing so very painful as being at strife with her. So that if it were only for such reasons as these, let her love be more precious than all things. For if one another's burdens are to be borne, much more our own wife's.

Though she be poor do not upbraid her: though she be foolish, do not trample on her, but train her rather: because she is a member of thee, and ye are become one flesh. "But she is trifling and drunken and passionate." Thou oughtest then to grieve over these things, not to be angry; and to beseech God, and exhort her and give her advice, and do every thing to remove the evil. But if thou strike her thou dost aggravate the disease: for fierceness is removed by moderation, not by rival fierceness. With these things bear in mind also the reward from God: that when it is permitted thee to cut her off, and thou doest not so for the fear of God, but bearest with so great defects, fearing the law appointed in such matters which forbids to put away a wife whatsoever disease she may have: thou shalt receive an unspeakable reward. Yea, and before the reward thou shalt be a very great gainer, both rendering her more obedient and becoming thyself more gentle thereby. It is said, for instance, that one of the heathen philosophers [142] , who had a bad wife, a trifler and a brawler, when asked, "Why, having such an one, he endured her;" made reply, "That he might have in his house a school and training-place of philosophy. For I shall be to all the rest meeker," saith he, "being here disciplined every day." Did you utter a great shout? Why, I at this moment am greatly mourning, when heathens prove better lovers of wisdom than we; we who are commanded to imitate angels, nay rather who are commanded to follow God Himself in respect of gentleness.

But to proceed: it is said that for this reason the philosopher having a bad wife, cast her not out; and some say that this very thing was the reason of his marrying her. But I, because many men have dispositions not exactly reasonable, advise that at first they do all they can, and be careful that they take a suitable partner and one full of all virtue. Should it happen, however, that they miss their end, and she whom they have brought into the house prove no good or tolerable bride, then I would have them at any rate try to be like this philosopher, and train her in every way, and consider nothing more important than this. Since neither will a merchant, until he have made a compact with his partner capable of procuring peace, launch the vessel into the deep, nor apply himself to the rest of the transaction. And let us then use every effort that she who is partner with us in the business of life and in this our vessel, may be kept in all peace within. For thus shall our other affairs too be all in calm, and with tranquility shall we run our course through the ocean of the present life. Compared with this, let house, and slaves, and money, and lands, and the business itself of the state, be less in our account. And let it be more valuable than all in our eyes that she who with us sits at the oars should not be in mutiny and disunion with us. For so shall our other matters proceed with a favoring tide, and in spiritual things also we shall find ourselves much the freer from hindrance, drawing this yoke with one accord; and having done all things well, we shall obtain the blessings laid up in store; unto which may we all attain, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[133] To let the hair and beard grow was a token of devotion to any study; as Poetry, Hor. A. P. 297; Philosophy, as it is told of Julian the Apostate that it was part of his affectation to let his hair and beard grow. [134] te paradosei. [135] exetasteon. [136] to aition. [137] oude gar kaluptesthai, alla katakaluptesthai. [138] itamotetos. [139] bdelugmata. rec. text. porneian. [140] ta tes kainotomias hapanta tes para phusin. Perhaps the text is mutilated. [141] hecheirotonethes. [142] Socrates.


Homily XXVII.

1 Cor. xi. 17

But in giving you this charge, I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

It is necessary in considering the present charge to state also first the occasion of it. For thus again will our discourse be more intelligible. What then is this occasion?

As in the case of the three thousand who believed in the beginning, all had eaten their meals in common and had all things common; such also was the practice at the time when the Apostle wrote this: not such indeed exactly; but as it were a certain outflowing of that communion which abode among them descended also to them that came after. And because of course some were poor, but others rich, they laid not down all their goods in the midst, but made the tables open on stated days, as it should seem; and when the solemn service [143] was completed, after the communion of the Mysteries, they all went to a common entertainment, the rich bringing their provisions with them, and the poor and destitute being invited by them, and all feasting in common. But afterward this custom also became corrupt. And the reason was, their being divided and addicting themselves, some to this party, and others to that, and saying, "I am of such a one," and "I of such a one;" which thing also to correct he said in the beginning of the Epistle, "For it hath been signified unto me concerning you, my brethren, by them which are of the household of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I mean, that each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas." Not that Paul was the person to whom they were attaching themselves; for he would not have borne it: but wishing by concession to tear up this custom from the root, he introduced himself, indicating that if any one had inscribed upon himself even his name when breaking off from the common body, even so the thing done was profane and extreme wickedness. And if in his case it were wickedness, much more in the case of those who were inferior to him.

[2.] Since therefore this custom was broken through, a custom most excellent and most useful; (for it was a foundation of love, and a comfort to poverty, and a corrective of riches, and an occasion of the highest philosophy, and an instruction of humility:) since however he saw so great advantages in a way to be destroyed, he naturally addresses them with severity, thus saying: "But in giving you this charge, I praise you not." For in the former charge, as there were many who kept (the ordinances), he began otherwise, saying thus: "Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things:" but here contrariwise, "But in giving you this charge, I praise you not." And here is the reason why he placed it not after the rebuke of them that eat the idol-sacrifices. But because that was unusually harsh he interposes the discourse about wearing of long hair, that he might not have to pass from one set of vehement reproofs to others again of an invidious kind and so appear too harsh: and then he returns to the more vehement tone, and says, "But in giving you this charge, I praise you not." What is this? That which I am about to tell you of. What is, "giving you this charge, I praise you not?" "I do not approve you," saith he, "because ye have reduced me to the necessity of giving advice: I do not praise you, because ye have required instruction in regard to this, because ye have need of an admonition from me." Dost thou perceive how from his beginning he signifieth that what was done was very profane? For when he that errs ought not to require so much as a hint to prevent his erring, the error would seem to be unpardonable.

And why dost thou not praise? Because "ye come together," saith he, "not for the better but for the worse;" i.e., because ye do not go forward unto virtue. For it were meet that your liberality [144] should increase and become manifold, but ye have taken rather from the custom which already prevailed, and have so taken from it as even to need warning from me, in order that ye may return to the former order.

Further, that he might not seem to say these things on account of the poor only, he doth not at once strike in to the discourse concerning the tables, lest he render his rebuke such as they might easily come to think slightly of, but he searches for an expression most confounding and very fearful. For what saith he?

Ver. 18. "For first of all, when ye come together in the Church, I hear that divisions [145] exist among you."

And he saith not, "For fear that you do not sup together in common;" "for I hear that you feast in private, and not with the poor:" but what was most calculated thoroughly to shake their minds, that he set down, the name of division, which was the cause of this mischief also: and so he reminded them again of that which was said in the beginning of the Epistle, and was "signified by them of the house of Chloe." (c. i. 11.) "And I partly believe it."

Thus, lest they should say, "But what if the accusers speak falsely?" he neither saith, "I believe it," lest he should rather make them reckless; nor again, on the other hand, "I disbelieve it," lest he should seem to reprove without cause, but, "I partly believe it," saith he, i.e., "I believe it in a small part;" making them anxious and inviting them to return to correction.

[3.] Ver. 19. "For there must be also factions among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you."

By "factions," here he means those which concern not the doctrines, but these present divisions. But even if he had spoken of the doctrinal heresies, not even thus did he give them any handle. For Christ Himself said, "it must needs be that occasions of stumbling come," (Matt. xviii. 7.) not destroying the liberty of the will nor appointing any necessity and compulsion over man's life, but foretelling what would certainly ensue from the evil mind of men; which would take place, not because of his prediction, but because the incurably disposed are so minded. For not because he foretold them did these things happen: but because they were certainly about to happen, therefore he foretold them. Since, if the occasions of stumbling were of necessity and not of the mind of them that bring them in, it was superfluous His saying, "Woe to that man by whom the occasion cometh." But these things we discussed more at length when we were upon the passage itself [146] ; now we must proceed to what is before us.

Now that he said these things of these factions relating to the tables, and that contention and division, he made manifest also from what follows. For having said, "I hear that there are divisions among you," he stopped not here, but signifying what divisions he means he goes on to say, "each one taketh before other his own supper;" and again, "What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the Church of God?" However, that of these he was speaking is evident. And if he call them divisions, marvel not. For, as I said, he wishes to touch them by the expression: whereas had they been divisions of doctrine, he would not have discoursed with them thus mildly. Hear him, for instance, when he speaks of any such thing, how vehement he is both in assertion and in reproof: in assertion, as when he says, "If even an angel preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed;" (Gal. i. 8.) but in reproof, as when he says, "Whosoever of you would be justified by the law, ye are fallen away from grace." (Gal. v. 4.) And at one time he calls the corrupters "dogs," saying, "Beware of dogs:" (Philip. iii. 2.) at another, "having their consciences seared with a hot iron." (1 Tim. iv. 2.) And again, "angels of Satan:" (2 Cor. xi. 14-15.) but here he said no such thing, but spoke in a gentle and subdued tone.

But what is, "that they which are approved may be made manifest among you?" That they may shine the more. And what he intends to say is this, that those who are unchangeable and firm are so far from being at all injured hereby, but even shows them the more, and that it makes them more glorious. For the word, "that [147] ," is not every where indicative of cause, but frequently also of the event of things. Thus Christ Himself uses it, when He saith, "For judgement I am come into this world; that they which see not may see, and that they which see may be made blind." (John ix. 39.) So likewise Paul in another place, when discoursing of the law, he writes, "And the Law came in beside, that the trespass might abound." (Rom. v. 20.) But neither was the law given to this end that the trespasses of the Jews might be increased: (though this did ensue:) nor did Christ come for this end that they which see might be made blind, but for the contrary; but the result was such. Thus then also here must one understand the expression, "that they which are approved may be made manifest." For not at all with this view came heresies into being, that "they which are approved may be made manifest," but on these heresies taking place such was the result. Now these things he said to console the poor, those of them who nobly bore that sort of contempt. Wherefore he said not, "that they may become approved," but, "that they which are approved may be made manifest; showing that before this also they were such, but they were mixed up with the multitude, and while enjoying such relief as was afforded them by the rich, they were not very conspicuous: but now this strife and contentiousness made them manifest, even as the storm shows the pilot. And he said not, "that ye may appear approved," but, "that they which are approved may be made manifest, those among you who are such." For neither when he is accusing doth he lay them open, that he may not render them more reckless; nor when praising, that he may not make them more boastful; but he leaves both this expression and that in suspense [148] , allowing each man's own conscience to make the application of what he saith.

Nor doth he here seem to me to be comforting the poor only, but those also who were not violating the custom. For it was likely that there were among them also those that observed it.

And this is why he said, "I partly believe it." Justly then doth he call these "approved," who not only with the rest observed the custom, but even without them kept this good law undisturbed. And he doth this, studying by such praises to render both others and these persons themselves more forward.

[4.] Then at last he adds the very form of offence. And what is it?

Ver. 20. "When ye assemble yourselves together," saith he, "it is not possible to eat the Lord's Supper."

Seest thou how effectually appealing to their shame, even already by way of narrative he contrives to give them his counsel? "For the appearance of your assembly," saith he, "is different. It is one of love and brotherly affection. At least one place receives you all, and ye are together in one flock. But the Banquet, when you come to that, bears no resemblance to the Assembly of worshippers." And he said not, "When ye come together, this is not to eat in common; "this is not to feast with one another;" but otherwise again and much more fearfully he reprimands them, saying, "it is not possible to eat the Lord's Supper," sending them away now from this point to that evening on which Christ delivered the awful Mysteries. Therefore also he called the early meal "a supper." For that supper too had them all reclining at meat together: yet surely not so great was the distance between the rich and the poor as between the Teacher and the disciples. For that is infinite. And why say I the Teacher and the disciples? Think of the interval between the Teacher and the traitor: nevertheless, the Lord Himself both sat at meat with them and did not even cast him out, but both gave him his portion of salt and made him partaker of the Mysteries.

Next he explains how "it is not possible to eat the Lord's Supper."

Ver. 21. "For in your eating, [149] each one taketh before other his own supper," saith he, "and one is hungry, and another is drunken."

Perceivest thou how he intimates that they were disgracing themselves rather? For that which is the Lord's, they make a private matter: so that themselves are the first to suffer indignity, depriving their own table of its greatest prerogative. How and in what manner? Because the Lord's Supper, i.e. the Master's, ought to be common. For the property of the master belongs not to this servant without belonging to that, but in common to all. So that by "the Lord's" Supper he expresses this, the "community" of the feast. As if he had said, "If it be thy master's, as assuredly it is, thou oughtest not to withdraw it as private, but as belonging to thy Lord and Master to set it in common before all. For this is the meaning of, `the Lord's.' But now thou dost not suffer it to be the Lord's, not suffering it to be common but feasting by thyself." Wherefore also he goes on to say,

"For each one taketh before other his own supper." And he said not, "cutteth off," but "taketh before," tacitly censuring them both for greediness and for precipitancy. This at least the sequel also shows. For having said this, he added again, "and one is hungry, and another is drunken," each of which showed a want of moderation, both the craving and the excess. See also a second fault again whereby those same persons are injured: the first, that they dishonor their supper: the second, that they are greedy and drunken; and what is yet worse, even when the poor are hungry. For what was intended to be set before all in common, that these men fed on alone, and proceeded both to surfeiting and to drunkenness. Wherefore neither did he say, "one is hungry, and another is filled:" but, "is drunken." Now each of these, even by itself, is worthy of censure: for it is a fault to be drunken even without despising the poor; and to despise the poor without being drunken, is an accusation. When both then are joined together at the same time, consider how exceeding great is the transgression.

Next, having pointed out their profaneness, he adds his reprimand in what follows, with much anger, saying,

Ver. 22. "What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the Church of God, and put them to shame that have not?"

Seest thou how he transferred the charge from the indignity offered to the poor to the Church, that his words might make a deeper impression of disgust? Here now you see is yet a fourth accusation, when not the poor only, but the Church likewise is insulted. For even as thou makest the Lord's Supper a private meal, so also the place again, using the Church as a house. For it was made a Church, not that we who come together might be divided, but that they who are divided might be joined: and this act of assembling shows.

"And put them to shame that have not." He said not, "and kill with hunger them that have not," but so as much more to put them to the blush, "shame them;" to point out that it is not food which he cares for so much as the wrong done unto them. Behold again a fifth accusation, not only to overlook the poor but even to shame them. Now this he said, partly as treating with reverence the concerns of the poor, and intimating that they grieve not so for the belly as for the shame; and partly also drawing the hearer to compassion.

Having therefore pointed out so great impieties, indignity to the Supper, indignity to the Church, the contempt practised towards the poor; he relaxes again the tones of his reproof, saying, all of a sudden [150] , "Shall I praise you? In this I praise you not." Wherein one might especially marvel at him that when there was need to strike and chide more vehemently after the proof of so great offences, he doeth the contrary rather, gives way, and permits them to recover breath. What then may the cause be? He had touched more painfully than usual in aggravating the charge, and being a most excellent physician, he adapts the incision to the wounds, neither cutting superficially those parts which require a deep stroke; (for thou hast heard him how he cut off among those very persons him that had committed fornication;) nor delivering over to the knife those things which require the milder sort of remedies. For this cause then here also he conducts his address more mildly, and in another point of view likewise, he sought especially to render them gentle to the poor: and this is why he discourses with them rather in a subdued tone.

[5.] Next, wishing also from another topic to shame them yet more, he takes again the points which were most essential and of them weaves his discourse.

Ver. 23. "For I received of the Lord," saith he, "that which also I delivered unto you: how that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread:"

Ver. 24. "And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My Body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me."

Wherefore doth he here make mention of the Mysteries? Because that argument was very necessary to his present purpose. As thus: "Thy Master," saith he, "counted all worthy of the same Table, though it be very awful and far exceeding the dignity of all: but thou considerest them to be unworthy even of thine own, small and mean as we see it is; and while they have no advantage over thee in spiritual things, thou robbest them in the temporal things. For neither are these thine own."

However, he doth not express himself thus, to prevent his discourse becoming harsh: but he frames it in a gentler form, saying, that "the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread."

And wherefore doth he remind us of the time, and of that evening, and of the betrayal? Not indifferently nor without some reason, but that he might exceedingly fill them with compunction, were it but from consideration of the time. For even if one be a very stone, yet when he considers that night, how He was with His disciples, "very heavy," how He was betrayed, how He was bound, how He was led away, how He was judged, how He suffered all the rest in order, he becometh softer than wax, and is withdrawn from earth and all the pomp of this world. Therefore he leads us to the remembrance of all those things, by His time, and His table, and His betrayal, putting us to shame and saying, "Thy Master gave up even Himself for thee: and thou dost not even share a little meat with thy brother for thine own sake."

But how saith he, that "he received it from the Lord?" since certainly he was not present then but was one of the persecutors. That thou mayest know that the first table had no advantage above that which cometh after it. For even to-day also it is He who doeth all, and delivereth it even as then.

And not on this account only doth he remind us of that night, but that he may also in another way bring us to compunction. For as we particularly remember those words which we hear last from those who are departing; and to their heirs if they should venture to transgress their commands, when we would put them to shame we say, "Consider that this was the last word that your father uttered to you, and until the evening when he was just about to breathe his last he kept repeating these injunctions:" just so Paul, purposing hence also to make his argument full of awfulness; "Remember," saith he, "that this was the last mysterious rite [151] He gave unto you, and in that night on which He was about to be slain for us, He commanded these things, and having delivered to us that Supper after that He added nothing further."

Next also he proceeds to recount the very things that were done, saying, "He took bread, and, when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My Body, which is broken for you." If therefore thou comest for a sacrifice of thanksgiving, [152] do thou on thy part nothing unworthy of that sacrifice: by no means either dishonor thy brother, or neglect him in his hunger; be not drunken, insult not the Church. As thou comest giving thanks for what thou hast enjoyed: so do thou thyself accordingly make return, and not cut thyself off from thy neighbor. Since Christ for His part gave equally to all, saying, "Take, eat." He gave His Body equally, but dost not thou give so much as the common bread equally? Yea, it was indeed broken for all alike, and became the Body equally for all.

Ver. 25. "In like manner also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Covenant in My Blood: this do, as oft as ye drink of it, in remembrance of Me."

What sayest thou? Art thou making a remembrance of Christ, and despisest thou the poor and tremblest not? Why, if a son or brother had died and thou wert making a remembrance of him, thou wouldst have been smitten by thy conscience, hadst thou not fulfilled the custom and invited the poor: and when thou art making remembrance of thy Master, dost thou not so much as simply give a portion of the Table?

But what is it which He saith, "This cup is the New Covenant?" Because there was also a cup of the Old Covenant; the libations and the blood of the brute creatures. For after sacrificing, they used to receive the blood in a chalice and bowl and so pour it out. Since then instead of the blood of beasts He brought in His own Blood; lest any should be troubled on hearing this, He reminds them of that ancient sacrifice.

[6.] Next, having spoken concerning that Supper, he connects the things present with the things of that time, that even as on that very evening and reclining on that very couch and receiving from Christ himself this sacrifice, so also now might men be affected; and he saith,

Ver. 26. "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till He come."

For as Christ in regard to the bread and the cup said, "Do this in remembrance of Me," revealing to us the cause of the giving of the Mystery, and besides what else He said, declaring this to be a sufficient cause to ground our religious fear upon:--(for when thou considerest what thy Master hath suffered for thee, thou wilt the better deny thyself:)--so also Paul saith here: "as often as ye eat ye do proclaim His death." And this is that Supper. Then intimating that it abides unto the end, he saith, "till He come."

Ver. 27. "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and the Blood of the Lord."

Why so? Because he poured it out, and makes the thing appear a slaughter and no longer a sacrifice. Much therefore as they who then pierced Him, pierced Him not that they might drink but that they might shed His blood: so likewise doth he that cometh for it unworthily and reaps no profit thereby. Seest thou how fearful he makes his discourse, and inveighs against them very exceedingly, signifying that if they are thus to drink, they partake unworthily of the elements [153] ? For how can it be other than unworthily when it is he who neglects the hungry? who besides overlooking him puts him to shame? Since if not giving to the poor casteth one out of the kingdom, even though one should be a virgin; or rather, not giving liberally: (for even those virgins too had oil, only they had it not abundantly:) consider how great the evil will prove, to have wrought so many impieties?

"What impieties?" say you. Why sayest thou, what impieties? Thou hast partaken of such a Table and when thou oughtest to be more gentle than any and like the angels, none so cruel as thou art become. Thou hast tasted the Blood of the Lord, and not even thereupon dost thou acknowledge thy brother. Of what indulgence then art thou worthy? Whereas if even before this thou hadst not known him, thou oughtest to have come to the knowledge of him from the Table; but now thou dishonorest the Table itself; he having been deemed worthy to partake of it and thou not judging him worthy of thy meat. Hast thou not heard how much he suffered who demanded the hundred pence? how he made void the gift vouchsafed to him [154] ? Doth it not come into thy mind what thou wert and what thou hast become? Dost thou not put thyself in remembrance that if this man be poor in possessions, thou wast much more beggarly in good works, being full of ten thousand sins? Notwithstanding, God delivered thee from all those and counted thee worthy of such a Table: but thou art not even thus become more merciful: therefore of course nothing else remaineth but that thou shouldest be "delivered to the tormentors."

[7.] These words let us also listen to, all of us, as many as in this place approach with the poor to this holy Table, but when we go out, do not seem even to have seen them, but are both drunken and pass heedlessly by the hungry; the very things whereof the Corinthians were accused. And when is this done? say you. At all times indeed, but especially at the festivals, where above all times it ought not so to be. Is it not so, that at such times, immediately after Communion, drunkenness succeeds and contempt of the poor? And having partaken of the Blood, when it were a time for thee to fast and watch, thou givest thyself up to wine and revelling. And yet if thou hast by chance made thy morning meal on any thing good, thou keepest thyself lest by any other unsavory viand thou spoil the taste of the former: and now that thou hast been feasting on the Spirit thou bringest in a satanical luxury. Consider, when the Apostles partook of that holy Supper, what they did: did they not betake themselves to prayers and singing of hymns? to sacred vigils? to that long work of teaching, so full of all self-denial? For then He related and delivered to them those great and wonderful things, when Judas had gone out to call them who were about to crucify Him. Hast thou not heard how the three thousand also who partook of the Communion continued even in prayer and teaching, not in drunken feasts and revellings? But thou before thou hast partaken fastest, that in a certain way thou mayest appear worthy of the Communion: but when thou hast partaken, and thou oughtest to increase thy temperance, thou undoest all. And yet surely it is not the same to fast before this and after it. Since although it is our duty to be temperate at both times, yet most particularly after we have received the Bridegroom. Before, that thou mayest become worthy of receiving: after, that thou mayest not be found unworthy of what thou hast received.

"What then? ought we to fast after receiving?" I say not this, neither do I use any compulsion. This indeed were well: however, I do not enforce this, but I exhort you not to feast to excess. For if one never ought to live luxuriously, and Paul showed this when he said, "she that giveth herself to pleasure is dead while she liveth" (1 Tim. v. 6.); much more will she then be dead. And if luxury be death to a woman, much more to a man: and if this done at another time is fatal, much more after the communion of the Mysteries. And dost thou having taken the bread of life, do an action of death and not shudder? Knowest thou not how great evils are brought in by luxury? Unseasonable laughter, disorderly expressions, buffoonery fraught with perdition, unprofitable trifling, all the other things, which it is not seemly even to name. And these things thou doest when thou hast enjoyed the Table of Christ, on that day on which thou hast been counted worthy to touch His flesh with thy tongue. What then is to be done to prevent these things? Purify thy right hand, thy tongue, thy lips, which have become a threshold for Christ to tread upon. Consider the time in which thou didst draw near and set forth a material table, raise thy mind to that Table, to the Supper of the Lord, to the vigil of the disciples, in that night, that holy night. Nay, rather should one accurately examine, this very present state is night. Let us watch then with the Lord, let us be pricked in our hearts with the disciples. It is the season of prayers, not of drunkenness; ever indeed, but especially during a festival. For a festival is therefore appointed, not that we may behave ourselves unseemly, not that we may accumulate sins, but rather that we may blot out those which exist.

I know, indeed, that I say these things in vain, yet will I not cease to say them. For if ye do not all obey, yet surely ye will not all disobey; or rather, even though ye should all be disobedient, my reward will be greater, though yours will be more condemnation. However, that it may not be more, to this end I will not cease to speak. For perchance, perchance, by my perseverance I shall be able to reach you.

Wherefore I beseech you that we do not this to condemnation; let us nourish Christ, let us give Him drink, let us clothe Him. These things are worthy of that Table. Hast thou heard holy hymns? Hast thou seen a spiritual marriage? Hast thou enjoyed a royal Table? Hast thou been filled with the Holy Ghost? Hast thou joined in the choir of the Seraphim? Hast thou become partaker of the powers above? Cast not away so great a joy, waste not the treasure, bring not in drunkenness, the mother of dejection, the joy of the devil, the parent of ten thousand evils. For hence is a sleep like unto death, and heaviness of head, and disease, and obliviousness, and an image of dead men's condition. Further, if thou wouldst not choose to meet with a friend when intoxicated, when thou hast Christ within, durst thou, tell me, to thrust in upon Him so great an excess?

But dost thou love enjoyment? Then, on this very account cease being drunken. For I, too, would have thee enjoy thyself, but with the real enjoyment, that which never fadeth. What then is the real enjoyment, ever blooming? Invite Christ to sup [155] (Rev. ii. 20.) with thee; give Him to partake of thine, or rather of His own. This bringeth pleasure without limit, and in its prime everlastingly. But the things of sense are not such; rather as soon as they appear they vanish away; and he that hath enjoyed them will be in no better condition than he who hath not, or rather in a worse. For the one is settled as it were in a harbor, but the other exposes himself to a kind of torrent, a besieging army of distempers, and hath not even any power to endure the first swell of the sea. [156]

That these things be therefore not so, let us follow after moderation. For thus we shall both be in a good state of body, and we shall possess our souls in security, and shall be delivered from evils both present and future: from which may we all be delivered, and attain unto the kingdom, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[143] tes sunaxeos. [144] philotimian. [145] schismata. [146] vid. S. Chrys. on S. Matth. Hom. 59. [147] hina. [148] eis meteoron aphiesi, "sends it out into the air." [149] en to phagein. [150] chala ton tonon, athroon legon. [151] mustagogian. [152] eucharistia. [153] ton prokeimenon. [154] exenechtheisan, perhaps "officially declared." [155] ep ariston. [156] ten zalen tauten.


Homily XXVIII.

1 Cor. xi. 28

But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup.

What mean these words, when another object is proposed to us? This is Paul's custom, as also I said before, not only to treat of those things which he had proposed to himself, but also if an argument incidental to his purpose occur, to proceed upon this also with great diligence, and especially when it relates to very necessary and urgent matters. Thus, when he was discoursing with married persons, and the question about the servants fell in his way, he handled it very strenuously and at great length. Again, when he was speaking of the duty of not going to law before those courts, then also having fallen upon the admonition respecting covetousness, he discoursed at length concerning this subject likewise. Now the same thing he hath also done here: in that having once found occasion to remind them of the Mysteries, he judged it necessary to proceed with that subject. For indeed it was no ordinary one. Wherefore also he discoursed very awfully concerning it, providing for that which is the sum of all good things, viz. their approaching those Mysteries with a pure conscience. Whence neither was he content with the things said before alone, but adds these also, saying,

"But let a man prove himself:" which also he saith in the second Epistle: "try your own selves, prove your own selves:" (2 Cor. xiii. 5.) not as we do now, approaching because of the season rather than from any earnestness of mind. For we do not consider how we may approach prepared, with the ills that were within us purged out, and full of compunction, but how we may come at festivals and whenever all do so. But not thus did Paul bid us come: he knoweth only one season of access and communion, the purity of a man's conscience. Since if even that kind of banquet which the senses take cognizance of cannot be partaken of by us when feverish and full of bad humors, without risk of perishing: much more is it unlawful for us to touch this Table with profane lusts, which are more grievous than fevers. Now when I say profane lusts, I mean both those of the body, and of money, and of anger, and of malice, and, in a word, all that are profane. And it becomes him that approacheth, first to empty himself of all these things and so to touch that pure sacrifice. And neither if indolently disposed and reluctantly ought he to be compelled to approach by reason of the festival; nor, on the other hand, if penitent and prepared, should any one prevent him because it is not a festival. For a festival is a showing forth of good works, and a reverence of soul, and exactness of deportment. And if thou hast these things, thou mayest at all times keep festival and at all times approach. Wherefore he saith, "But let each man prove himself, and then let him approach." And he bids not one examine another, but each himself, making the tribunal not a public one and the conviction without a witness.

[2.] Ver. 29. "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself."

What sayest thou, tell me? Is this Table which is the cause of so many blessings and teeming with life, become judgment? Not from its own nature, saith he, but from the will of him that approaches. For as His presence, which conveyed to us those great and unutterable blessings, condemned the more them that received it not: so also the Mysteries become provisions [157] of greater punishment to such as partake unworthily.

But why doth he eat judgment to himself? "Not discerning the Lord's body:" i.e., not searching, not bearing in mind, as he ought, the greatness of the things set before him; not estimating the weight of the gift. For if thou shouldest come to know accurately Who it is that lies before thee, and Who He is that gives Himself, and to whom, thou wilt need no other argument, but this is enough for thee to use all vigilance; unless thou shouldest be altogether fallen.

Ver. 30. "For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep."

Here he no longer brings his examples from others as he did in the case of the idol-sacrifices, relating the ancient histories and the chastisements in the wilderness, but from the Corinthians themselves; which also made the discourse apt to strike them more keenly. For whereas he was saying, "he eateth judgment to himself," and, "he is guilty;" that he might not seem to speak mere words, he points to deeds also and calls themselves to witness; a kind of thing which comes home to men more than threatening, by showing that the threat has issued in some real fact. He was not however content with these things alone, but from these he also introduced and confirmed the argument concerning hell-fire, terrifying them in both ways; and solving an inquiry which is handled everywhere. I mean, since many question one with another, "whence arise the untimely deaths, whence the long diseases of men;" he tells them that these unexpected events are many of them conditional upon certain sins. "What then? They who are in continual health," say you, "and come to a green old age, do they not sin?" Nay, who durst say this? "How then," say you, "do they not suffer punishment?" Because there they shall suffer a severer one. But we, if we would, neither here nor there need suffer it.

Ver. 31. "For if we discerned ourselves," saith he, "we should not be judged."

And he said not, "if we punished ourselves, if we were revenged on ourselves," but if we were only willing to acknowledge our offence, to pass sentence on ourselves, to condemn the things done amiss, we should be rid of the punishment both in this world and the next. For he that condemns himself propitiates God in two ways, both by acknowledging his sins, and by being more on his guard for the future. But since we are not willing to do even this light thing, as we ought to do it, not even thus doth He endure to punish us with the world, but even thus spareth us, exacting punishment in this world, where the penalty is for a season and the consolation great; for the result is both deliverance from sins, and a good hope of things to come, alleviating the present evils. And these things he saith, at the same time comforting the sick and rendering the rest more serious. Wherefore he saith,

Ver. 32. "But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord."

He said not, we are punished, he said not, we have vengeance taken on us, but, "we are chastened." For what is done belongs rather to admonition than condemnation, to healing than vengeance, to correction than punishment. And not so only but by the threat of a greater evil he makes the present light, saying, "that we may not be condemned with the world." Seest thou how he brings in hell also and that tremendous judgment-seat, and signifies that that trial and punishment is necessary and by all means must be? for if the faithful, and such as God especially cares for, escape not without punishment in whatsoever things they offend, (and this is evident from things present,) much more the unbelieving and they who commit the unpardonable and incurable sins.

[3.] Ver. 33. "Wherefore when ye come together to eat, wait one for another."

Thus, while their fear was yet at its height and the terror of hell remained, he chooses again to bring in also the exhortation in behalf of the poor, on account of which he said all these things; implying that if they do not this they must partake unworthily. But if the not imparting of our goods excludes from that Table, much more the violently taking away. And he said not, "wherefore, when ye come together, impart to them that need," but, which has a more reverential sound, "wait one for another." For this also prepared the way for and intimated that, and in a becoming form introduced the exhortation. Then further to shame them,

Ver. 34. "And if any man is hungry, let him eat at home."

By permitting, he hinders it, and more strongly than by an absolute prohibition. For he brings him out of the church and sends him to his house, hereby severely reprimanding and ridiculing them, as slaves to the belly and unable to contain themselves. For he said not, "if any despise the poor," but, "if any hunger," discoursing as with impatient children; as with brute beasts which are slaves to appetite. Since it would be indeed very ridiculous, if, because they were hungry they were to eat at home.

Yet he was not content with this, but added also another more fearful thing, saying, "that your coming together be not unto judgment:" that ye come not unto chastisement, unto punishment, insulting the Church, dishonoring your brother. "For for this cause ye come together," saith he, "that ye may love one another, that ye may profit and be profited. But if the contrary happen, it were better for you to feed yourselves at home."

This, however, he said, that he might attract them to him the more. Yea, this was the very purpose both of his pointing out the injury that would arise from hence, and of his saying that condemnation was no trifling one, and terrifying them in every way, by the Mysteries, by the sick, by those that had died, by the other things before mentioned.

Then also he alarms them again in another way, saying, "and the rest will I set in order whensoever I come:" with reference either to some other things, or to this very matter. For since it was likely that they would yet have some reasons to allege, and it was not possible to set all to rights by letter, "the things which I have charged you, let them be observed for the present," saith he; "but if ye have any thing else to mention, let it be kept for my coming;" speaking either of this matter, as I said, or of some other things not very urgent. And this he doth that hence too he may render them more serious. For being anxious about his coming, they would correct the error. For the sojourning of Paul in any place was no ordinary thing: and to signify this he said, "some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you;" (1 Cor. iv. 18.) and elsewhere again, "not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philip. ii. 12.) And therefore neither did he merely promise that he would come, lest they should disbelieve him and become more negligent; but he also states a necessary cause for his sojourning with them, saying, "the rest I will set in order when I come; which implies, that the correction of the things that remained, even had he not in any case been desirous, would have drawn him thither.

[4.] Hearing therefore all these things, let us both take great care of the poor, and restrain our appetite, and rid ourselves of drunkenness, and be careful worthily to partake of the Mysteries; and whatsoever we suffer, let us not take it bitterly, neither for ourselves nor for others; as when untimely death happen or long diseases. For this is deliverance from punishment, this is correction, this is most excellent admonition. Who saith this? He that hath Christ speaking in him.

But nevertheless even after this many of our women are so foolishly disposed as even to go beyond the unbelievers in the excess of their grief [158] . And some do this blinded by their passion, but others for ostentation, and to avoid the censures of them that are without: who most of all are deprived of excuse, to my mind. For, "lest such a one accuse me," saith she, "let God be my accuser: lest men more senseless than the brute beasts condemn me, let the law of the King of all be trampled under foot." Why, how many thunderbolts do not these sayings deserve?

Again; If any one invite you to a funeral supper [159] after your affliction there is no one to say any thing against it, because there is a law of men which enjoins such things: but when God by His law forbids your mourning, all thus contradict it. Doth not Job come into thy mind, O woman? Rememberest thou not his words at the misfortune of his children, which adorned that holy head more than ten thousand crowns, and made proclamation louder than many trumpets? Dost thou make no account of the greatness of his misfortunes, of that unprecedented shipwreck, and that strange and portentous tragedy? For thou possibly hast lost one, or a second, or third: but he so many sons and daughters: and he that had many children suddenly became childless. And not even by degrees were his bowels wasted away: but at one sweep all the fruit of his body was snatched from him. Nor was it by the common law of nature, when they had come to old age, but by a death both untimely and violent: and all together, and when he was not present nor sitting by them, that at least by hearing their last words he might have some consolation for so bitter an end of theirs: but contrary to all expectation and without his knowing any thing of what took place, they were all at once overwhelmed, and their house became their grave and their snare.

And not only their untimely death, but many things besides there were to grieve him; such as their being all in the flower of their age, all virtuous and loving, all together, that not one of either sex was left, that it befel them not by the common law of nature, that it came after so great a loss, that when he was unconscious of any sin on his own part or on theirs, he suffered these things. For each of these circumstances is enough even by itself to disturb the mind: but when we find them even concurring together, imagine the height of those waves, how great the excess of that storm. And what in particular is greater and worse than his bereavement, he did not even know wherefore all these things happened. On this account then, having no cause to assign for the misfortune, he ascends to the good pleasure of God, and saith, "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away:" as it pleased the Lord, even so it happened; "blessed be the name of the Lord for ever." (Job ii. 21.) And these things he said, when he saw himself who had followed after all virtue in the last extremity; but evil men and impostors, prospering, luxurious, revelling on all sides. And he uttered no such word as it is likely that some of the weaker sort would have uttered, "Was it for this that I brought up my children and trained them with all exactness? For this did I open my house to all that passed by, that after those many courses run in behalf of the needy, the naked, the orphans, I might receive this recompense?" But instead of these, he offered up those words better than all sacrifice, saying, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither." If however he rent his clothes and shaved his head, marvel not. For he was a father and a loving father: and it was meet that both the compassion of his nature should be shown, and also the self-command of his spirit. Whereas, had he not done this, perhaps one would have thought this self-command to be of mere insensibility. Therefore he indicates both his natural affection and the exactness of his piety, and in his grief he was not overthrown.

[5.] Yea, and when his trial proceeded further, he is again adorned with other crowns on account of his reply to his wife, saying, "If we have received good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not endure evil?" (Job ii. 10.) For in fact his wife was by this time the only one left, all his having been clean destroyed, both his children and his possessions and his very body, and she reserved to tempt and to ensnare him. And this indeed was the reason why the devil did not destroy her with the children, nor asked her death, because he expected that she would contribute much towards the ensnaring of that holy man. Therefore he left her as a kind of implement, and a formidable one, for himself. "For if even out of paradise," saith he, "I cast mankind by her means, much more shall I be able to trip him up on the dunghill."

And observe his craft. He did not apply this stratagem when the oxen or the asses or the camels were lost, nor even when the house fell and the children were buried under it, but so long looking on the combatant, he suffers her to be silent and quiet. But when the fountain of worms gushed forth, when the skin began to putrify and drop off, and the flesh wasting away to emit most offensive discharge, and the hand of the devil was wearing him out with sharper pain than gridirons and furnaces and any flame, consuming on every side and eating away his body more grievously than any wild beast, and when a long time had been spent in this misery [160] ; then he brings her to him, seasoned and worn down. Whereas if she had approached him at the beginning of his misfortune, neither would she have found him so unnerved, nor would she have had it in her power so to swell out and exaggerate the misfortune by her words. But now when she saw him through the length of time thirsting for release, and desiring the termination of what pressed on him vehemently then doth she come upon him. For to show that he was quite worn down, and by this time had become unable even to draw breath, yea, and desired even to die, hear what he saith; "For I would I could lay hands on myself, or could request another and he should do it for me;" And observe, I pray, the wickedness of his wife, from what topic she at once begins: namely, from the length of time, saying, "How long wilt thou hold out [161] ?"

Now, if often even when there were no realities words alone have prevailed to unman a person, consider what it was likely he then should feel, when, besides these words, the things themselves also were galling him; and what, as it should seem, was worst of all, it was a wife also who spake thus, and a wife who had sunk down utterly and was giving herself up, and on this account was seeking to cast him also into desperation. However, that we may see more clearly the engine which was brought against that adamantine wall, let us listen to the very words. What then are these? "How long wilt thou hold out? saying, Lo! I wait a short time longer, expecting the hope of my salvation." "Nay," saith she, "the time hath exposed the folly of thy words, while it is protracted, yet shows no mode of escape." And these things she said, not only thrusting him into desperation, but also reproaching and jesting upon him.

For he, ever consoling her as she pressed upon him, and putting her off, would speak as follows: "Wait a little longer, and there will soon be an end of these things." Reproaching him therefore, she speaks: "Wilt thou now again say the same thing? For a long time hath now run by, and no end of these things hath appeared." And observe her malice, that she makes no mention of the oxen, the sheep or the camels, as knowing that he was not very much vexed about these; but she goes at once to nature, and reminds him of his children. For on their death she saw him both rending his clothes and shaving off his hair. And she said not, "thy children are dead," but very pathetically, "thy memorial is perished from the earth," "the thing for which thy children were desirable." For if, even now after that the resurrection hath been made known children are longed for because they preserve the memory of the departed; much more then. Wherefore also her curse becomes from that consideration more bitter. For in that case, he that cursed, said not, "Let his children be utterly rooted out," but, "his memorial from the earth." "Thy sons and thy daughters." Thus whereas she said, "the memorial," she again accurately makes mention of either sex. "But if thou," saith she, "carest not for these, at least consider what is mine." "The pains of my womb, and labors which I have endured in vain with sorrow." Now what she means is this: "I, who endured the more, am wronged for thy sake, and having undergone the toils I am deprived of the fruits."

And see how she neither makes express mention of his loss of property, nor is silent about it and hurries by; but in that point of view in which it also might be most pathetically narrated, in that she covertly refers to it. For when she says, "I too am a vagabond and a slave, going about from place to place, from house to house," she both hints at the loss and indicates her great distress: these expressions being such as even to enhance that misfortune. "For I come to the doors of others," saith she; "nor do I beg only, but am a wanderer also and serve a strange and unusual servitude, going round everywhere and carrying about the tokens of my calamity, and teaching all men of my woes;" which is most piteous of all, to change house after house. And she stayed not even at these lamentations, but proceeded to say, "Waiting for the sun when it will set, and I shall rest from my miseries and the pains that encompass me, by which I am now straitened." "Thus, that which is sweet to others," saith she, "to behold the light, this to me is grievous: but the night and the darkness is a desirable thing. For this only gives me rest from my toils, this becometh a comfort to my miseries. But speak somewhat against the Lord, and die." Perceivest thou here too her crafty wickedness? how she did not even in the act of advising at once introduce the deadly counsel, but having first pitifully related her misfortunes and having drawn out the tragedy at length, she couches in a few words what she would recommend, and doth not even declare it plainly, but throwing a shade over that, she holds out to him the deliverance which he greatly longed for, and promises death, the thing which he then most of all desired.

And mark from this also the malice of the devil: that because he knew the longing of Job towards God, he suffers not his wife to accuse God, lest he should at once turn away from her as an enemy. For this cause she no where mentions Him, but the actual calamities she is continually harping on.

And do thou, besides what has been said, add the circumstance that it was a woman who gave this counsel, a wonderful orator to beguile the heedless. Many at least even without external accidents have been cast down by the counsel of woman alone.

[6.] What then did the blessed saint, and firmer than adamant? Looking bitterly upon her, by his aspect even before he spake, he repelled her devices: since she no doubt expected to excite fountains of tears; but he became fiercer than a lion, full of wrath and indignation, not on account of his sufferings, but on account of her diabolical suggestions; and having signified his anger by his looks in a subdued tone he gives his rebuke; for even in misfortune he kept his self-command. And what saith he? "Why speakest thou as one of the foolish women?" "I have not so taught thee," saith he, "I did not so nurture thee; and this is why I do not now recognize even mine own consort. For these words are the counsel of a `foolish woman,' and of one beside herself." Seest thou not here an instance of wounding in moderation, and inflicting a blow just sufficient to cure the disease?

Then, after the infliction, he brings in advice sufficient on the other hand to console her, and very rational, thus speaking: "if we have received our good things at the hand of the Lord, shall we not endure our evils?" "For remember," saith he, "those former things and make account of the Author of them, and thou wilt bear even these nobly." Seest thou the modesty of the man? that he doth not at all impute his patience to his own courage, but saith it was part of the natural result of what happened. "For in return for what did God give us these former things? What recompense did he repay? None, but from mere goodness. For they were a gift, not a recompense; a grace, not a reward. Well then, let us bear these also nobly."

This discourse let us, both men and women, have recorded, and let us engrave the words in our minds, both these and those before them: and by sketching upon our minds as in picture the history of their sufferings, [162] I mean the loss of wealth, the bereavement of children, the disease of body, the reproaches, the mockings, the devices of his wife, the snare of the devil, in a word, all the calamities of that righteous man, and that with exactness, let us provide ourselves with a most ample port of refuge: that, enduring all things nobly and thankfully, we may both in the present life cast off all despondency, and receive the rewards that belong to this good way of taking things; [163] by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, and honor, now and forever, world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[157] ephodia, viatica. [158] For the sentiments of Christian antiquity about mourning at funerals, see S. Cyprian, De Mortalitate, c. 15, 16. [159] perideipnon. [160] The LXX begin Job ii. 9. with, "After a long time had passed." [161] Job ii. 9. where, according to the LXX, the speech of Job's wife stands as follows: "How long wilt thou be patient, saying, Lo, let me endure yet a little while, awaiting the hope of my salvation? For behold, thy memorial is vanished from the earth, even sons and daughters, the throes and labors of my womb, for whom I have wearied myself in vain with toils: and thou thyself in corruption of worms sittest all night in the open air, while I am a wanderer and a servant, from place to place, and from house to house, awaiting the sun when it will set, that I may rest from my labors and the pains which now straiten me: but say some word against the Lord, and die." [162] pathematon Savile: matheton Bened. [163] tes euphemias tautes, "this way of using well-omened words."


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