Writings of John Chrysostom. On the Epistle to the Galatians and Ephesians.

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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 Galatians and Ephesians

The Oxford Translation, revised with additional notes by Rev. Gross Alexander, D.D.,
Professor of New Testament Greek in Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

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

Homily VII.

Chapter III. Verses 8-11

"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from all ages hath been hid in God, who created all things: [248] to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose, which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

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They who go to the physician's have not merely to go there and nothing further; they have to learn how to treat themselves, and to apply remedies. And so with us then who come here, we must not do this and nothing else, we must learn our lesson, the surpassing lowliness of Paul. What? when he was about to speak of the vastness of the grace of God, hear what he saith, "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given." Lowliness indeed it was even to bewail his former sins, although blotted out, and to make mention of them, and to hold himself within his true measure as where he calls himself "a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious;" (1 Tim. i. 13.) yet nothing was equal to this: for "formerly," saith he, such was I; and again he calls himself, "one born out of due time." (1 Cor. xv. 8.) But that after so many great and good deeds and at that time he should thus humble himself, and call himself "less than the least of all," this is indeed great and surpassing moderation. "To one who am less than the least of all saints;" he saith not, "than the Apostles." So that that expression is less strong than this before us. There his words are, "I am not meet to be called an Apostle." (1 Cor. xv. 9.) Here he says that he is even "less than the least of all saints;" "to me," saith he, "who am less than the least of all saints was this grace given." What grace? "To preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from all ages hath been hid in God, who created all things, to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places, might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God." True, to man it was not revealed; and art thou enlightening Angels and Archangels and Principalities and Powers? I am, saith he. For it was "hid in God," even "in God who created all things." And dost thou venture to utter this? I do, saith he. But whence hath this been made manifest to the Angels? By the Church. Again he saith, not merely the manifold (poikilos) but the much-manifold (polupoikilos) wisdom, that is, "the multiplied and varied." What then is this? Did not Angels know it? No, nothing of it; for if Principalities knew it not, much less could Angels ever have known it. What then? Did not even Archangels know it? No, nor even they. But whence were they going to know it? Who was to reveal it? When we were taught it, then were they also by us. [249] For hear what the Angel saith to Joseph; "Thou shalt call His Name Jesus, for it is He that shall save His people from their sins." (Matt. i. 21.)

Paul himself was sent to the Gentiles, the other Apostles to the Circumcision. So that the more marvellous and astonishing commission was given, saith he, "to me, who am less than the least." And this too was of grace, that he that was least should have the greatest things entrusted to him; that he should be made the herald of these tidings. For he that is made a herald of the greater tidings, is in this way great.

"To preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches [250] of Christ."

If His "riches are unsearchable," and that too after his appearing, much more is His essence. If it is still a mystery, much more was it before it was made known; for a mystery he calls it on this account, because neither did the Angels know it, nor was it manifest to any one else.

"And to make all men see," saith he, "what is the dispensation of the mystery which from all ages hath been hid in God, who created all things."

Angels knew only this, that "The Lord's portion was His people." (Deut. xxxii. 8, 9.) And again it is said, "The Prince of Persia withstood me." (Dan. x. 13.) So that it is nothing to be wondered at that they were ignorant of this; for if they were ignorant of the circumstances of the return from the Captivity, much more would they be of these things. For this is the gospel. "It is He that shall save," it saith, "His people." (Matt. i. 21.) Not a word about the Gentiles. But what concerns the Gentiles the Spirit revealeth. That they were called indeed, the Angels knew, but that it was to the same privileges as Israel, yea, even to sit upon the throne of God, this, who would ever have expected? who would ever have believed?

"Which hath been hid," saith he, "in God."

This "dispensation," however, he more clearly unfolds in the Epistle to the Romans. "In God," he continues, "who created all things by Jesus Christ." [251] And he does well to say "by Jesus Christ;" forasmuch as He who created all things by Him, revealeth also this by Him; for He hath made nothing without Him; for "without Him," it is said, "was not any thing made." (John i. 30.)

In speaking of "principalities" and "powers," he speaks both of those above and those beneath.

"According to the eternal purpose." It hath been now, he means, brought to pass, but not now decreed, it had been planned beforehand from the very first. "According to the eternal purpose which He purposed [252] in Christ Jesus our Lord." That is, according to the eternal foreknowledge; foreknowing the things to come, i.e., he means the ages to come; for He knew what was to be, and thus decreed it. According to the purpose of the ages, of those, perhaps, which He hath made by Christ Jesus, because it was by Christ that every thing was made.

Ver. 12. "In whom we have," saith he, "boldness, and access in confidence through our faith in him."

"Have access," not as prisoners, he says, nor yet, as persons candidates for pardon, nor as sinners; for, saith he, we have even "boldness with confidence," that is, accompanied with cheerful trust; arising from what source? "through our faith in Him."

Ver. 13. "Wherefore [253] I ask that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which are your glory."

How is it "for them?" How is it "their glory?" It is because God so loved them, as to give even the Son for them, and to afflict His servants for them: for it was in order that they might attain so many blessings, that Paul was in prison. Surely this was from God's exceeding love towards them: it is what God also saith concerning the Prophets, "I have slain them by the words of my mouth." (Hos. vi. 5.) But how was it that they fainted, when another was afflicted? He means, they were troubled, were distressed. This also he says when writing to the Thessalonians, "that no man be moved by these afflictions." (1 Thes. iii. 3.) For not only ought we not to grieve, but we ought even to rejoice. If ye find consolation in the forewarning, we tell you beforehand that here we have tribulation. And why pray? Because thus hath the Lord ordered.

Ver. 14, 15. "For this cause [254] I bow my knees unto the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named."

He here shows the spirit of his prayer for them. He does not say simply, "I pray," but manifests the supplication to be heartfelt, by the "bowing of the knees."

"From whom every family."

That is, no longer, he means, reckoned, according to the number of Angels, but according to Him who hath created the tribes both in heaven above and in earth beneath, not as the Jewish.

Ver. 16, 17. "That He would grant you according to the riches of His glory that ye may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."

Mark with what insatiable earnestness he invokes these blessings upon them, that they may not be tossed about. But how shall this be effected? By the "Holy Spirit in your inward man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." How again shall this be?

Ver. 18, 19. "To the end that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth, [255] and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge."

Thus is his prayer now again, the very same as when he began. For what were his words in the beginning? "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory may give unto you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints; and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe." And now again he says the same. "That ye may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth;" i.e., to know perfectly the mystery which hath been providentially ordered in our behalf: [256] "and the breadth, and length, and height, and depth;" that is, too, the immensity of the love of God, and how it extends every where. And he outlines it by the visible dimensions of solid bodies, pointing as it were to a man. He comprehends the upper and under and sides. I have thus spoken indeed, he would say, yet is it not for any words of mine to teach you these things; that must be the work of the Holy Spirit. "By His might," saith he, is it that ye must be "strengthened" against the trials that await you, and in order to remain unshaken; so that there is no other way to be strengthened but by the Holy Ghost, both on account of trials and carnal reasonings.

But how doth Christ dwell in the hearts? Hear what Christ Himself saith, "I and my Father will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (John xiv. 23.) He dwelleth in those hearts that are faithful, in those that are "rooted" in His love, those that remain firm and unshaken.

"That ye may be" thoroughly "strong," saith he; so that there is great strength needed.

[257] "That ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God."

What he means is this. Although the love of Christ lies above the reach of all human knowledge, yet shall ye know it, if ye shall have Christ dwelling in you, yea, not only shall know from Him this, but shall even "be filled unto all the fulness of God;" meaning by the "fulness of God," either the knowledge how God is worshipped in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, or else urging them thus to use every effort, in order to be filled with all virtue, of which God is full.

Ver. 20. "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us."

That God hath done "abundantly above all that we ask or think," is evident from what the Apostle himself hath written. For I indeed, saith he, pray, but He of Himself, even without any prayer of mine, will do works greater than all we ask, not simply "greater," nor "abundantly greater," but "exceeding abundantly." And this is evident from "the power, that worketh in us:" for neither did we ever ask these things, nor did we expect them.

Ver. 21. "Unto Him be the glory," he concludes, "in the Church and in Christ Jesus, unto all generations forever and ever. Amen."

Well does he close the discourse with prayer and doxology; for right were it that He, who hath bestowed upon us such vast gifts, should be glorified and blessed, so that this is even a proper part of our amazement at His mercies, to give glory for the things advanced to us at God's hands through Jesus Christ.

"The glory in the Church." Well might he say this, forasmuch as the Church alone can last on to eternity.

It seems necessary to state what are meant by "families." (patriai) Here on earth, indeed there are "families" that is races sprung from one parent stock; but in heaven how can this be, where none is born of another? Surely then, by "families," [258] he means either the assemblies and orders of heavenly beings; as also we find it written in Scripture, "the family of Amattari:" (1 Sam. x. 21. See Septuagint.) or else that it is from Him from whom earthly fathers have their name of father.

However, he does not ask the whole of God, but demands of them also faith and love, and not simply love, but love "rooted and grounded," so that neither any blasts can shake it, nor any thing else overturn it. He had said, that "tribulations" are "glory," and if mine are so to you, he would say, much more will your own be: so that to be afflicted is no token of men being forsaken, for He who hath wrought so great things for us, never would do this.

Again, if in order to understand the love of God, it was necessary for Paul to pray, and there was need of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who by following mere reasonings shall understand the nature of Christ? And why is it a difficult thing to learn that God loveth us? Beloved, it is extremely difficult. For some know not even this; wherefore, they even say, numberless evils come to be in the world; and others know not the extent of this love. Nor, indeed, is Paul seeking to know its extent, nor with any view to measure it; for how could he? but only to understand this, that it is transcendent, and great. And this very thing, he says, he is able to show, even from the knowledge which hath been vouchsafed to us.

However, what is higher than the being "strengthened with might," in order to have Christ within? Vast are the things we ask, saith he, yet is He able to do above even them, so that not only doth He love us, but doth so intensely. Be it our care therefore, beloved, to understand the love of God. A great thing indeed is this; nothing is so beneficial to us, nothing so deeply touches us: more availing this to convince our souls than the fear of hell itself. Whence then shall we understand it? Both from the sources now mentioned, and from the things which happen every day. For from what motive have these things been done for us? from what necessity on His part? None whatever. Over and over again he lays down love as the cause. But the highest degree of love is that where men receive a benefit, without any prior service on their part to call for it.

Moral. And let us then be followers of Him; let us do good to our enemies, to them that hate us, let us draw near to those who turn their backs upon us. This renders us like unto God. "For if ye love them that love you," saith Christ, "what reward have ye?" "Do not even the Gentiles the same." (Matt. v. 46.) But what is a sure proof of love? To love him that hates thee. I wish to give you some example, (pardon me,) and since I find it not among them that are spiritual, I shall quote an instance from them that are without. See ye not those lovers? How many insults are wreaked upon them by their mistresses, how many artifices practised, how many punishments inflicted: yet they are enchained to them, they burn for them, and love them better than their own souls, passing whole nights before their thresholds. From them let us take our example, not indeed to love such as those,--women, I mean, that are harlots; no, but thus to love our enemies. For tell me, do not harlots treat their lovers with greater insolence than all the enemies in the world, and squander away their substance, and cast insult in their face, and impose upon them more servile tasks than upon their own menials? And yet still they desist not, though no one hath so great an enemy in any one, as the lover in his mistress. Yea, this beloved one disdains, and reviles, and oftentimes maltreats him, and the more she is loved, the more she scorns him. And what can be more brutal than a spirit like this? Yet notwithstanding he loves her still.

But possibly we shall find love like this in spiritual characters also, not in those of our day, (for it has "waxed cold,") (Matt. xxiv. 12.) but in those great and glorious men of old. Moses, the blessed Moses, surpassed even those that love with human passion. How, and in what way? First, he gave up the court, and the luxury, and the retinue, and the glory attending it, and chose rather to be with the Israelites. Yet is this not only what no one else would ever have done, but would have even been ashamed, were another to have discovered him, of being found to be a kinsman of men, who were slaves and not only slaves, but were looked upon as even execrable. Yet was he not only not ashamed of his kindred, but with all his spirit defended them, and threw himself into dangers for their sake. (Acts. vii. 24.) How? Seeing, it is said, one doing an injury to one of them, he defended him that suffered the injury, and slew him that inflicted it. But this is not as yet for the sake of enemies. Great indeed is this act of itself, but not so great as what comes afterwards. The next day, then, he saw the same thing taking place, and when he saw him whom he had defended [259] doing his neighbor wrong, he admonished him to desist from his wrong-doing. But he said, with great ingratitude, "Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?" (Acts. vii. 27.) Who would not have taken fire at these words? Had then the former act been that of passion and frenzy, then would he have smitten and killed this man also; for surely he on whose behalf it was done, never would have informed against him. But because they were brethren, it is said, he spoke thus. When he [the Hebrew] was being wronged, he uttered no such word "Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?" "Wherefore saidst thou not this yesterday?" Moses would say, "Thy injustice, and thy cruelty, these make me a ruler and a judge."

But now, mark, how that some, in fact, say as much even to God Himself. Whenever they are wronged indeed, they would have Him a God of vengeance, and complain of His long suffering; but when themselves do wrong, not for a moment.

However, what could be more bitter than words like these? And yet notwithstanding, after this, when he was sent to that ungrateful, to that thankless race, he went, and shrunk not back. Yea, and after those miracles, and after the wonders wrought by his hand, oftentimes they sought to stone him to death and he escaped out of their hands. They kept murmuring too incessantly, and yet still, notwithstanding, so passionately did he love them, as to say unto God, when they committed that heinous sin, "Yet now if Thou wilt forgive, forgive their sin; and if not, blot even me also out of the book which Thou hast written." (Ex. xxxii. 32.) Fain would I perish, saith he, with them, rather than without them be saved. Here, verily, is love even to madness, verily, unbounded love. What sayest thou, Moses? Art thou regardless of Heaven? I am, saith he, for I love those who have wronged me. Prayest thou to be blotted out? Yea, saith he, what can I do, for it is love? And what again after these things? Hear what the Scripture saith elsewhere; "And it went ill with Moses for their sakes." (Ps. cvi. 32.) How often did they wax wanton? How often did they reject both himself and his brother? How often did they seek to return back to Egypt? and yet after all these things did he burn, yea, was beside himself with love for them, and was ready to suffer for their sakes.

Thus ought a man to love his enemies; by lamentation, by unwearied endurance, by doing everything, by showing all favor, to aim at their salvation.

And what again, tell me, did Paul? did he not ask even to be accursed in their stead? (Rom. ix. 3.) But the great pattern we must of necessity derive from the Lord, for thus doth He also Himself, where he saith, "For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good," (Matt. v. 45.) adducing the example from His Father; but we from Christ Himself. He came unto them, in His Incarnation, I mean, He became a servant for their sakes, "He humbled Himself, He emptied Himself, He took the form of a servant." (Philip. ii. 7, 8.) And when He came unto them, He went not Himself aside "into any way of the Gentiles," (Matt. x. 5.) and gave the same charge to His disciples, and not only so, but "He went about healing all manner of disease, and all manner of sickness." (Matt. iv. 23.) And what then? All the rest indeed were astonished, and marvelled, and said, "Whence, then, hath this man all these things?" (Matt. xiii. 56.) But these, the objects of His beneficence, these said, "He hath a devil," (John x. 20.) and "blasphemeth," (John x. 36.) and "is mad," and is a "deceiver," (John vii. 12, and Matt. xxvii. 63.) Did he therefore cast them away? No, in no wise, but when He heard these sayings, He even yet more signally bestowed His benefits upon them, and went straightway to them that were about to crucify Him, to the intent that He might but only save them. And after He was crucified, what were His words? "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke xxiii. 34.) Both cruelly treated before this, and cruelly treated after this, even to the very latest breath, for them He did every thing, in their behalf He prayed. Yea, and after the Cross itself, what did He not do for their sakes? Did He not send Apostles? Did He not work miracles? Did He not shake the whole world?

Thus is it we ought to love our enemies, thus to imitate Christ. Thus did Paul. Stoned, suffering unnumbered cruelties, yet did he all things for their good. Hear his own words. "My heart's desire and my supplication to God is for them that they may be saved." (Rom. x. 1, 2.) And again; "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God." And again; "If thou, being a wild olive tree wast grafted in, how much more shall these be grafted into their own olive tree?" (Rom. xi. 24.) How tender, thinkest thou, must be the affection from which these expressions proceed, how vast the benevolence? it is impossible to express it, impossible.

Thus is it we ought to love our enemies. This is to love God, Who hath enjoined it, Who hath given it as His law. To imitate Him is to love our enemy. Consider it is not thine enemy thou art benefiting, but thyself; thou art not loving him, but art obeying God. Knowing therefore these things, let us confirm our love one to another, that we may perform this duty perfectly, and attain those good things that are promised in Christ Jesus our Lord, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, and honor, now, and for ever and ever. Amen.


[248] [The words `through Jesus Christ' (dia 'Iesou Christou) which are here found in Chrysostom's text have gotten into the textus receptus from the few late and mostly cursive mss. which present the Byzantine or Constantinopolitan text and from which the textus receptus was made. Chrysostom is the chief witness of this Byzantine text. Schaff, Companion to Greek Testament, pp. 205-6. The words are omitted by Aleph A B C D, most Versions and Editors.--G.A.] [249] S. Chrysostom says the same, Orat. iv.in Anom. 2. and Hom. i. in Joan. 2. (ed. Ben.) vid. also Theodoret in Ps. 23. 7, 8. S. Greg. Nyss. Hom. 8 in Cant. p. 596. S. Jerome in loc. [Comp. 1 Pet. i. 12, which things angels desire to look into.--G.A.] [250] ["The whole divine fulness of salvation, of which Christ is the possessor and bestower, and which is of such a nature that the human intellect cannot explore it so as to form an adequate conception of it. This does not hinder the proclamation which, on the contrary, is rendered possible by revelation."--Meyer.--G.A.] [251] [See note on these words above.--G.A.] [252] [This verb, epoiesen, has been applied by many to the `forming' of the purpose. (So Rev. Ver.) But it seems best to refer it to the `execution' of it, regarded as an accomplished fact. Riddle in Popular Commentary and in Lange. Braune in Lange. Meyer, Ellicott.--G.A.] [253] [Wherefore, "in view of my position as minister of such a gospel."--Riddle.--G.A.] [254] [This toutou charin is a resumption of the first verse of the chapter which was left unfinished by reason of the digression concerning his office as apostle of the Gentiles, which forms a section by itself. (ver. 2-13.)--G.A.] [255] ["A sensuous illustration of the idea; `how great in every relation.'"--Meyer. G.A.] [256] ["Of what are these dimensions predicated? Not of the work of redemption as Chrysostom (to musterion to huper humon oikonomethen) because after a new portion of the discourse is begun at ver. 14, the musterion is not again mentioned; nor of the love of God to us, as Chrysostom again, for the hen agape preceding does not refer to God's love; but of the love of Christ to men as shown in ver. 19."--Meyer. So Ellicott, Braune, Riddle.--G.A.] [257] [This entire paragraph is omitted from Field's text. But as it is supported by several excellent authorities, as it is in Chrysostom's style and as it contains a very noble thought, we have ventured to retain it. "Field seems to rely on the probability that the shorter text is the original. One of his main authorities seems to be a Catena which would naturally abridge the portions extracted especially in a writer so given to amplifications as Chrysostom." We have in the main followed Field's text in spite of this probability, but in exceptional cases, like the present, we have ventured to demur.--G.A.] [258] This text has various interpretations. S. Athanasius uses it to imply that God, as Father of the Son, is the only true Father, and that all created paternity is a shadow of the true. Orat. in Arian. i. 23. S. Jerome says, "As He who alone is good, (Luke xviii. 19.) makes men good, and who is alone immortal, (1 Tim. vi. 16.) bestows immortality, and who alone is true (Rom. iii. 4.) imparts the name of truth; so too the only Father, in that He is Creator of all, and the cause of substance to all, gives to the rest to be called Father." in loc. He considers that the Angels are said in the text to share His paternity, in a spiritual sense, as Christ says to the sick man, "Son," and to His disciples, "Little children." Theodoret seems to say the same. in loc. v. also Hooker, E. P. V. liv. 2. ["The reference must be to those larger classes and communities into which, as we may also infer from other passages (i. 21; Col. i. 16.) the celestial hosts appear to be divided; and to the races and tribes of men every one of which owes the very title of patria, by which it is defined to the great pater of all the patriai both of angels and men."--Ellicott. "The Apostle seems regarding God as the Father of us His adopted children in Christ, to go forth into the fact that He in this relation to us is the great original and prototype of the paternal relation, wherever found." Alford in Riddle in Pop. Com.--G.A.] [259] [It does not appear from the account in Exodus ii. 11 ff. or from that in Acts vii. 24 ff. that the Hebrew who did his brother wrong was the same that Moses had defended on the preceeding day, as Chrysostom here takes for granted.--G.A.]

Homily VIII.

Chapter IV. Verses 1, 2

"I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness."

It is the virtue of teachers to aim not at praise, nor at esteem from those under their authority, but at their salvation, and to do every thing with this object; since the man who should make the other end his aim, would not be a teacher but a tyrant. Surely it is not for this that God set thee over them, that thou shouldest enjoy greater court and service, but that thine own interests should be disregarded, and every one of theirs built up. This is a teacher's duty: such an one was the blessed Paul, a man who was free from all manner of vanity, and was contented to be one of the many, nay more, to be the very least even of them. Hence he even calls himself their servant, and so generally speaks in a tone of supplication. Observe him then even now writing nothing dictatorial, nothing imperious, but all chastened and subdued.

"I therefore," saith he, "the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called." What is it, tell me, thou art beseeching? Is it that thou mayest gain any end for thyself? No, saith he, in no wise; it is that I may save others. And yet surely they who beseech, do so for things which are of importance to themselves. True; and this, saith he, is of importance to myself, according to what he says also elsewhere in his writings, "Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord;" (1 Thess. iii. 8.) for he ever earnestly desired the salvation of those whom he was instructing.

"I, the prisoner in the Lord." Great and mighty dignity! Greater than that of king or of consul, or of any other. Hence it is the very title he uses in writing to Philemon, "As Paul the aged, and now a prisoner also of Jesus Christ." (Philemon 9.) For nothing is so glorious as a bond for Christ's sake, as the chains that were bound around those holy hands; more glorious is it to be a prisoner for Christ's sake than to be an Apostle, than to be a Teacher, than to be an Evangelist. Is there any that loveth Christ, he will understand what I am saying. Is any transported and fired with devotion for the Lord, he knows the power of these bonds. Such an one would rather choose to be a prisoner for Christ's sake, than to have the Heavens for his dwelling. More glorious than any gold were the hands he was showing to them, yea, than any royal diadem. Yes, no jewelled tiara bound around the head invests it with such glory, as an iron chain for Christ's sake. Then was the prison more glorious than palaces, yea, than heaven itself. Why say I than palaces? Because it contained a prisoner of Christ. Is there any that loveth Christ, he knows the dignity of this title, he knows what a virtue is this, he knows how great a boon he bestowed upon mankind, even this, to be bound for His sake. More glorious this, perhaps to be bound for His sake, than "to sit at His right hand," (Matt. xx. 21.) more august this, than to "sit upon the twelve thrones." (Matt. xix. 28.)

And why speak I of human glories? I am ashamed to compare earthly riches and golden attire to these bonds. But forbearing to speak of those great and heavenly glories, even were the thing attended with no reward at all, this alone were a great reward, this an ample recompense, to suffer these hardships for the sake of the Beloved. They that love, even though it be not God, but man, they know what I am saying, since they are more delighted to suffer for, than to be honored by those they love. But to fully understand these things belongs to the holy company, the Apostles, I mean, and them alone. For hearken to what the blessed Luke saith, (Acts v. 11.) "that they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name." To all others indeed it seems to be foolishness, that to suffer dishonor is to be counted worthy, that to suffer dishonor is to rejoice. But to them that understand the love of Christ, this is esteemed of all things the most blessed. Were any to offer me my choice, the whole Heaven or that chain, that chain I would prefer. Were any to ask whether he should place me on high with the Angels, or with Paul in his bonds, the prison I would choose. Were any about to change me into one of those powers, that are in Heaven, that are round about the throne, or into such a prisoner as this, such a prisoner I would choose to be. Nothing is more blessed than that chain. Would that I could be at this moment in that very spot, (for the bonds are said to be still in existence,) to behold and admire those men, for their love of Christ. Would that I could behold the chains, at which the devils fear and tremble, but which Angels reverence. Nothing is more noble than to suffer any evil for Christ's sake. I count not Paul so happy, because he was "caught up into Paradise," (2 Cor. xii. 4.) as because he was cast into the dungeon; I count him not so happy, because he heard "unspeakable words," as because he endured those bonds. I count him not so happy, because he was "caught up into the third Heaven," (2 Cor. xii. 2.) as I count him happy for those bonds' sake. For that these are greater than those, hear how even he himself knew this; for he saith not, I who "heard unspeakable words," beseech you: but what? "I, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you." Nor yet are we to wonder, though he inscribes not this in all his Epistles, for he was not always in prison, but only at certain times.

I deem it more desirable to suffer evil for Christ's sake, than to receive honor at Christ's hands. This is transcendent honor, this is glory that surpasseth all things. If He Himself who became a servant for my sake, and "emptied" (Philip. ii. 7.) His glory, yet thought not Himself so truly in glory, as when He was crucified for my sake, what ought not I to endure? For hear His own words: "Father, glorify Thou Me." (John xvii. 1.) What is this thou art saying? Thou art being led to the cross with thieves and plunderers of graves, thou endurest the death of the accursed; Thou art about to be spit upon and buffeted; and callest Thou this glory? [260] Yes, He saith, for I suffer these things for My beloved ones, and I count them altogether glory. If He who loved the miserable and wretched calleth this glory, not to be on His Father's throne, nor in His Father's glory, but in dishonor,--if this was His glory, and if this He set before the other: much more ought I to regard these things as glory. Oh! those blessed bonds! Oh! those blessed hands which that chain adorned! Not so worthy were Paul's hands when they lifted up and raised the lame man at Lystra, as when they were bound around with those chains. Had I been living in those times, how eagerly would I have embraced them, and put them to the very apple of mine eyes. Never would I have ceased kissing those hands which were counted worthy to be bound for my Lord. Marvellest thou at Paul, when the viper fastened on his hand, and did him no hurt? Marvel not. It reverenced his chain. Yea, and the whole sea reverenced it; for then too was he bound, when he was saved from shipwreck. Were any one to grant me power to raise the dead at this moment, I would not choose that power, but this chain. Were I free from the cares of the Church, had I my body strong and vigorous, I would not shrink from undertaking so long a journey, only for the sake of beholding those chains, for the sake of seeing the prison where he was bound. The traces indeed of his miracles are numerous in all parts of the world, yet are they not so dear as those of his scars. (Gal. vi. 17.) Nor in the Scriptures does he so delight me when he is working miracles, as when he is suffering evil, being scourged, and dragged about. Insomuch that from his body were carried away handkerchiefs or aprons. Marvellous, truly marvellous, are these things, and yet not so marvellous as those. "When they had laid many stripes upon him, they cast him into prison." (Acts xvi. 23.) And again; being in bonds, "they were singing hymns unto God." (Acts xvi. 25.) And again; "They stoned him, and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead." (Acts xiv. 19.) Would ye know how mighty a thing is an iron chain for Christ's sake, bound about His servant's body? Hearken to what Christ Himself saith, "Blessed are ye." (Mat. v. 11.) Why? When ye shall raise the dead? No. But why? When ye shall heal the blind? Not at all. But why then? "When men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake." (Matt. v. 11.) Now, if to be evil spoken of renders men thus blessed, to be evil entreated, what may not that achieve? Hearken to what this blessed one himself saith elsewhere; "Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness:" (2 Tim. iv. 8.) and yet, more glorious than this crown is the chain: of this, saith he, the Lord will count me worthy, and I am in no wise inquisitive about those things. Enough it is for me for every recompense, to suffer evil for Christ's sake. Let Him but grant me to say, that "I fill up that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ:" (Col. i. 24.) and I ask nothing further.

Peter also was counted worthy of this chain; for he, we read, was bound, and delivered to soldiers, and was sleeping. (Acts xii. 6.) Yet he rejoiced and was not diverted from his right mind and he fell into deep sleep which could not have been, had he been in any great anxiety. However, he was sleeping, being between two soldiers: and an Angel came unto him, and smote him on the side, and raised him up. Now then, were any one to say to me, Which wouldest thou? Wouldest thou be the Angel that struck Peter, or Peter that was delivered? I would rather choose to be Peter, for whose sake even the Angel came, yea, I would that I might enjoy those chains. And how is it, say ye, that, as being released from great evils, he prays? Marvel not: he prays, because he is afraid lest he should die; and of dying he is afraid, because he would fain have his life to be still a subject for further sufferings. For hearken to what the blessed Paul himself also saith. (Philip. i. 23, 24.) "To depart, and to be with Christ, is very far better;" "Yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake." This he calls even a favor where he writes, and says, "To you it hath been granted, (as a favor hecharisthe) in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer in His behalf." (Philip. i. 29.) So that this latter is greater than the other: for He gave it of His free grace; verily, a favor it is, exceeding great, yea greater than any one of those, greater than to make the sun and the moon stand still, than to move the world! greater this than to have power over devils, or to cast out devils. The devils grieve not so much at being cast out by the faith which we exert, as when they behold us suffering any evil, and imprisoned for Christ's sake. For this increases our boldness. Not for this is it a noble thing to be in bonds for Christ's sake that it procures for us a kingdom; it is that it is done for Christ's sake. Not for this do I bless those bonds, for that they conduct on to Heaven; it is because they are worn for the sake of the Lord of Heaven. How great a boast to know that he was bound for Christ's sake! How great a happiness, how high an honor, how illustrious a distinction! Fain would I ever be dwelling on these subjects. Fain would I cling to this chain. Fain would I, though in reality I have not the power, yet still in idea, bind this chain round my soul by a temper like his.

"The foundations of the prison-house," we read, "were shaken" where Paul was bound, "and every one's bands were loosed." (Acts xvi. 26.) Beholdest thou then in bonds a nature that can dissolve bonds themselves? for as the Lord's death put death itself to death, so also did Paul's bonds loose the men in bonds, shake the house of bondage, open the doors. Yet is not this the natural effect of bonds, but the very reverse; it is to keep him that is bound in safety, not to open for him the prison walls. No, of bonds then in general this is not the nature, but of those bonds which are for Christ's sake, it is. "The jailor fell down before Paul and Silas." (Acts xvi. 29.) And yet neither is this again the effect of chains in general, to lay the binders at the feet of the bound: no, but, on the contrary, to put these last under the hands of the former. Whereas here, the man who was free was under the feet of the man who had been bound. The binder was beseeching him whom he had bound to release him from his fear. Tell me, was it not thou that didst bind him? Didst thou not cast him into the inner prison? Didst thou not make his feet fast in the stocks? Why tremblest thou? Why art thou troubled? Why weepest thou? Why hast thou drawn thy sword? Never bound I, saith he, aught like this! I knew not that the prisoners of Christ had power so mighty as this. What sayest thou? They received power to open Heaven, and should they not be able to open a prison? They loosed them that were bound by evil spirits, and was a piece of iron likely to conquer them? Thou knowest not the men. And therefore also wert thou pardoned. That prisoner is Paul, whom all the Angels reverence. He is Paul, whose very handkerchiefs and napkins cast out devils, and chase diseases to flight. And sure the bond which is of the devil is adamantine, and far more indissoluble than iron; for this indeed binds the soul, the other only the body. He therefore that released souls that were bound, shall not he have power to release his own body? He that could burst asunder the bonds of evil spirits, shall he not unloose a rivet of iron? He that by his very garments unloosed those prisoners, and released them from the spell of devils, shall not he of himself set himself at liberty? For this was he first bound himself, and then loosed the prisoners, that thou mightest understand that Christ's servants in bonds possess a power far greater than they that are at liberty. Had one who was at liberty wrought this, then had it not been so marvellous. So then the chain was not a token of weakness, but rather of a greater power, and thus is the saint's might more illustriously displayed, when, even though in bonds, he overpowers them that are at liberty, when he that is in bonds sets not only himself at liberty, but them that are in bonds also. Where is the use of walls? What the advantage of thrusting him into the inner prison, whereas he opened the outer also? and why too was it done in the night? and why with an earthquake?

Oh, bear with me a little, and give me leave while I refrain from the Apostle's words, and revel in the Apostle's deeds, and banquet on Paul's chain; grant me still longer to dwell upon it. I have laid hold on that chain, and no one shall part me from it. More securely at this moment am I bound by affection, than was he then in the stocks. This is a bond which no one can loose, for it is formed of the love of Christ; this neither the Angels, no, nor the kingdom of Heaven, has power to unloose. We may hear Paul's own words; (Rom. viii. 38, 39.) "Neither angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Now then, why did the event take place at midnight? And wherefore too with an earthquake? Hearken, and marvel at the providential orderings of God. Every one's bands were loosed, and the doors were opened. And yet was this done only for the jailor's sake, not with a view to display, but with a view to his salvation: for that the prisoners knew not that they were loosed, is evident from Paul's exclamation; for what said he? "He cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm, for we are all here." (Acts xvi. 28.) But never would they all have been within, had they seen the doors opened, and themselves set at liberty. They who were used to cut through walls, and to scale roofs and parapets, and to venture on all sorts of attempts in chains, never would have endured to remain within, with their bands loosed, and the doors opened, with the jailer himself asleep; no, but the bond of sleep was to them instead of the bonds of iron. So that the thing took place and yet no damage ensued from the miracle to the jailer who was to be saved. And besides this too, they that are bound are bound most securely in the night, not in the day; and so accordingly might we behold them bound again with all care and sleeping: but had these things been done in the day time, there would have been great stir and tumult.

Then again, wherefore was the building shaken? It was to arouse the jailer, to behold what was done, for he alone was worthy of being saved. And do thou too, behold, I pray, the exceeding greatness of the grace of Christ, for well were it in the midst of Paul's bonds to make mention also of the grace of God, nay indeed the very bonds themselves are of the gift and grace of God. Some indeed there are who complain "Why was the jailer saved?" and from those very circumstances, for which they ought to admire the loving-kindness of God they find fault with it. Nor is it anything to be wondered at. Such are those sickly persons, that find fault even with the food that nourishes them, which they ought to prize, and who affirm that honey is bitter: and those dimsighted persons who are darkened by the very thing which ought to enlighten them. Not that these effects arise from the nature of the objects themselves, but from the weakness of the persons who are unable to use them properly. What, however, was I saying? When they ought to be admiring God's loving-kindness, in that He took a man who had fallen into the most desperate wickedness, and was making him better, they find fault: "Why, how was it that he did not take the thing to be the work of witchcraft and of sorcery, and confine them the more closely, and cry out?" Many things conspired to prevent this; first, that he heard them singing praises to God. And sorcerers never would have been singing such hymns as those, for he heard them, it is said, singing praises unto God. Secondly, the fact, that they themselves did not take flight, but even withheld him from killing himself. Now had they done it for their own sake, they never would have remained still within; they would themselves have escaped first of all. Great again was their kindness also; they withheld the man from killing himself, even him who had bound them, thus all but saying unto him, "Truly, thou didst bind us with all safety, and most cruelly, that thou thyself mightest be loosed from the most cruel of all bonds." For every one is shackled with the chains of his own sins; and those bonds are accursed, whereas these for Christ's sake are blessed, and worth many an earnest prayer. For that these bonds can loose those other bonds of sin, he showed to us by things which are matters of sense. Didst thou behold them released, who had been bound with iron? Thou shalt see thyself also delivered from other galling bonds. These bonds, the prisoners' bonds, not those of Paul, I mean, are the effect of those other bonds, the bonds of sins. They who were confined within, were doubly prisoners, and the jailer himself was a prisoner. They indeed were bound both with iron and with sins, he with sins only. Them did Paul loose to assure the faith of him, for the chains which he loosed were visible. And thus too did Christ Himself; but rather in the inverse order. In that instance, there was a double palsy. What was it? There was that of the soul by sins, and also that of the body. What then did the Lord do? "Son," saith He, "be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven." (Matt. ix. 3-6.) He first loosed the bonds of the real and true palsy, and then proceeds to the other: for when "certain of the Scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth; Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven, or to say, Arise, and walk? But, that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, and take up thy bed, and go unto thy house." Having wrought the invisible miracle, He confirmed it by the visible, the spiritual by the bodily cure. And why did He do thus? That it might be fulfilled, which is spoken, (Luke xix. 22.) "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant." For what said they? "None can forgive sins, but God alone." Of course, therefore, no Angel, nor Archangel, nor any other created power. This ye have yourselves confessed. And what then ought to be said? If I shall be shown to have forgiven sins, it is fully evident that I am God. However, He said it not thus, but what said He? "But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins; then saith He to the sick of the palsy, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go unto thy house." (Matt. ix. 6.) When therefore, He would say, I work the more difficult miracle, it is plain that there is no pretext left you, no room for gainsaying about the easier one. [261] Hence it was that He wrought the invisible miracle first, because there were many gainsayers; and then He led them from the invisible to the visible itself.

Surely then the faith of the jailer was no light or hasty faith. He saw the prisoners. And he saw nothing, he heard nothing wrong; he saw that nothing was done by sorcery, for they were singing hymns unto God. He saw that every thing done proceeded from overflowing kindness, for they did not avenge themselves against him, although they had it in their power; for it was in their power to rescue both themselves and the prisoners, and escape; and if not the prisoners, at all events themselves; but they did not do this. Thus did they challenge his reverence, not only by the miracle, but also by their behavior. For how did Paul cry out? "He cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm, for we are all here." Thou seest at once his freedom from vain-glory and arrogance, and his fellow-feeling. He said not, "It is for us these wonders have been wrought," but as though he were merely one of the prisoners, he said, "For we are all here." And yet, even though they had not before this loosed themselves, nor had done so by means of the miracle, still they might have been silent, and have set all that were bound at liberty. For had they held their peace, and had they not with their loud crying stayed his hand, he would have thrust the sword through his throat. Wherefore also Paul cried out, because he had been cast into the inner ward: as though he had said, "To thine own injury hast thou done this, that thou hast thrust in so far those that could deliver thee from the danger." However they imitated not the treatment they had received at his hands; though, had he died, all would have escaped. Thou seest that they chose rather to remain in bonds, than to suffer him to perish. Hence too might he reason within himself, "Had they been sorcerers, doubtless they would have set the others at liberty, and have released themselves from their bonds:" (for it is likely that many such had also been imprisoned.) He was the more amazed, in that having often received sorcerers in charge, he had yet witnessed nothing done like this. A sorcerer never would have shaken the foundations, so as to startle the jailer from sleep, and thus render his own escape more difficult.

Now, however, let us proceed to look at the jailor's faith. "And," saith the Scripture, "he called for lights and sprang in, and trembling for fear fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" He grasped fire and sword, and cried, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house." (Acts xvi. 29-31.) "This is not the act of sorcerers," he would say, "to deliver a doctrine like this. No mention any where here of an evil spirit." Thou seest how worthy he was to be saved: for when he beheld the miracle, and was relieved from his terror, he did not forget what most concerned him, but even in the midst of so great peril, he was solicitous about that salvation which concerned his soul: and came before them in such a manner as it was meet to come before teachers: he fell down at their feet. "And they spake," it continues, "the word of the Lord, unto him with all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, immediately." (Acts xvi. 32, 33.) Observe the fervency of the man! He did not delay; he did not say, "Let day come, let us see, let us look about us;" but with great fervency, he was both himself baptized, and all his house. Yes, not like most men now-a-days, who suffer both servants and wives and children to go unbaptized. [262] Be ye, I beseech you, like the jailor. I say not, in authority, but in purpose; for what is the benefit of authority, where purpose is weak? The savage one, the inhuman one, who lived in the practice of unnumbered wrongs and made this his constant study, has become all at once so humane, so tenderly attentive. "He washed," it is said, "their stripes."

And mark, on the other hand, the fervency of Paul also. Bound, scourged, thus he preached the Gospel. Oh, that blessed chain, with how great travail did it travail that night, what children did it bring forth! Yea of them too may he say, "Whom I have begotten in my bonds." (Philem. x.) Mark thou, how he glories, and will have the children thus begotten, to be on that account the more illustrious! Mark thou, how transcendant is the glory of those bonds, in that they give lustre not only to him that wore them, but also to them who were on that occasion begotten by him. They have some advantage, who were begotten in Paul's bonds, I say not in respect of grace, (for grace is one and the same,) nor in respect of remission, (for remission is one and the same to all,) but in that they are thus from the very outset taught to rejoice and to glory in such things. "The same hour of the night," it is said, "he took them, and washed their stripes, and was baptized."

And now then behold the fruit. He straightway recompensed them with his carnal things. "He brought them up into his house, and set meat before them, and rejoiced greatly with all his house, having believed in God." For what was he not ready to do, now that by the opening of the prison doors, heaven itself was opened to him? He washed his teacher, he set food before him, and rejoiced. Paul's chain entered into the prison, and transformed all things there into a Church; it drew in its train the body of Christ, it prepared the spiritual feast, and travailed with that birth, at which Angels rejoice. And was it without reason then that I said that the prison was more glorious than Heaven? For it became a source of joy there; yes, if "there is joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth," (Luke xv. 7.) if, "where two or three are gathered together in His Name, there is Christ in the midst of them;" (Matt. xviii. 20.) how much more, where Paul and Silas, and the jailor and all his house were, and faith so earnest as theirs! Observe the intense earnestness of their faith.

But this prison has reminded me of another prison. And what then is that? It is that where Peter was. Not, however, that any thing like this took place there. No. He was delivered to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him and he sang not, he watched not, but he slept; neither, again, had he been scourged. And yet was the peril greater, for in the case before us indeed the end was accomplished, and the prisoners Paul and Silas, had undergone their punishment; but in his case it was yet to come. So that though there were no stripes to torture him, yet was there the anticipation of the future to distress him. And mark too the miracle there. "Behold, an angel of the Lord," it is related, "stood by him, and a light shined in the cell; and he smote Peter on the side, and awoke him, saying, Rise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands." (Acts xii. 7.) In order that he might not imagine the transaction to be the work of the light alone, he also struck Peter. Now no one saw the light, save himself only, and he thought it was a vision. So insensible are they that are asleep to the mercies of God. "And the angel," it proceeds, "said unto him, Gird thyself and bind on thy sandals; and he did so. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out and followed, and he wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. And when they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate, that leadeth unto the city, which opened to them of his own accord; and they went out, and passed on through one street; and straightway the angel departed from him." (Acts xii. 8-10.) Why was not the same thing done here as was done in the case of Paul and Silas? Because in that case they were intending to release them. On that account God willed not that they should be released in this manner. Whereas in blessed Peter's case, they were intending to lead him forth to execution. But what then? Would it not have been far more marvellous, some one may say, had he been led forth, and delivered over into the king's hands, and then had been snatched away from the very midst of his imminent peril, and sustained no harm? For thus moreover, neither had the soldiers perished. Great is the question which has been raised upon this matter. What! did God, it is said, save His own servant with the punishment of others, with the destruction of others? Now in the first place, it was not with the destruction of others; for this did not arise from the ordering of providence, but arose from the cruelty of the judge. How so? God had so providentially ordered it, as that not only these men need not perish, but moreover that even he, the judge, should have been saved, just as in this case of the jailor. But he did not use the boon aright. "Now as soon as it was day," it continues, "there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter." And what then? Herod makes strict inquiry into the matter, "and he examined the guards," it is related, "and commanded that they should be put to death." (Acts xii. 18-19.) Now, indeed, had he not examined them, there might have been some excuse for executing them. Whereas, as it is, he had them brought before him, he examined them, he found that Peter had been bound, that the prison had been well secured, that the keepers were before the doors. No wall had been broken through, no door had been opened, nor was there any other evidence whatever of false dealing. He ought upon this to have been awed by the power of God, which had snatched Peter from the very midst of perils, and to have adored Him who was able to do such mighty works. But, on the contrary, he ordered those men off to execution. How then in this case is God the cause? Had He indeed caused the wall to be broken through, and thus had extricated Peter, possibly the deed might have been put to the account of their negligence. But if He so providentially ordered it, as that the matter should be shown to be the work not of the evil agency of man, but of the miraculous agency of God, why did Herod act thus? For had Peter intended to flee, he would have fled as he was, with his chains on. Had he intended to fly, in his confusion he never would have had so great forethought as to take even his sandals, but he would have left them. Whereas, as it is, the object of the Angel's saying unto him, "Bind on thy sandals," was that they might know that he had done the thing not in the act of flight, but with full leisure. For, bound as he was, and fixed between the two soldiers, he never would have found sufficient time to unbind the chains also, and especially as he too, like Paul, was in the inner ward. Thus then was the punishment of the keepers owing to the unrighteousness of the judge. For why did not the Jews [263] act in the same way? For now again I am reminded of yet another prison. The first was that at Rome, next, was this at Cæsarea, now we come to that at Jerusalem. [264] When then the chief Priests and the Pharisees heard from those whom they had sent to the prison to bring Peter out, that "they found no man within," but both doors "closed," and "the keepers standing at the doors," why was it that they not only did not put the keepers to death, but, so far from it, "they were much perplexed concerning them whereunto this would grow." Now if the Jews, murderous as they were in their designs against them, yet entertained not a thought of the kind, much more shouldest not thou, who didst every thing to please those Jews. For this unrighteous sentence vengeance quickly overtook Herod.

But now if any complain of this, then complain too about those who are killed on the highway, and about the ten thousand others who are unjustly put to death, and further, of the infants also that were slaughtered at the time of Christ's birth; for Christ also, according to what thou allegest, was the cause of their deaths. But it was not Christ, but rather the madness and tyranny of Herod's father. Dost thou ask, Why then did He not snatch Him out of Herod's hands? True, He might have done so, but there would have been nothing gained by so doing. How many times, at least, did Christ escape even from the grasp of their hands? And yet what good did this do to that unfeeling people? Whereas here there is even much profit arising to the faithful from what was done. For as there were records made, and the enemies themselves bore testimony to the facts, the testimony was above suspicion. As therefore in that instance the mouths of the enemies were stopped in no other way whatever, but only by the persons who came acknowledging the facts, so was it also here. For why did the jailor here do nothing like what Herod did? Nay, and the things which Herod witnessed were not at all less wonderful than those which this man witnessed. So far as wonder goes, it is no less wonderful to be assured that a prisoner came out when the doors were closed, than it is to behold them set open. Indeed this last might rather have seemed to be perhaps a vision of the imagination, the other never could, when exactly and circumstantially reported. So that, had this man been as wicked as Herod, he would have slain Paul, as Herod did the soldiers; but such he was not.

If any one should ask, `Why was it that God permitted the children also to be murdered?' I should fall, probably, into a longer discourse, than was originally intended to be addressed to you.

At this point, however, let us terminate our discourse, with many thanks to Paul's chain, for that it has been made to us the source of so many blessings, and exhorting you, should ye have to suffer any thing for Christ's sake, not only not to repine, but to rejoice, as the Apostles did, yea, and to glory; as Paul said, "Most gladly, therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities," (2 Cor. xii. 9.) for because of this it was that he heard also those words, "My grace is sufficient for thee." Paul glories in bonds; and dost thou pride thyself in riches? The Apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to be scourged, and dost thou seek for ease and self-indulgence? On what ground then, dost thou wish to attain the same end as they, if here on earth thou art traveling the contrary road from them? "And now," saith Paul, "I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there; save that the Holy Ghost testifieth unto me in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me." (Acts xx. 22.) And why then dost thou set out, if bonds and afflictions abide thee? For this very reason, saith he, that I may be bound for Christ's sake, that I may die for His sake. "For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts xxi. 13.)

Moral. Nothing can be more blessed than that soul. In what does he glory? In bonds, in afflictions, in chains, in scars; "I bear branded on my body," saith he, "the marks of Jesus," (Gal. vi. 17.) as though they were some great trophy. And again, "For because of the hope of Israel," saith he, "I am bound with this chain." (Acts xxviii. 20.) And again, "For which I am an ambassador in chains." (Eph. vi. 20.) What is this? Art thou not ashamed, art thou not afraid going about the world as a prisoner? Dost thou not fear lest any one should charge thy God with weakness? lest any one should on this account refuse to come near thee and to join the fold? No, saith he, not such are my bonds. They can shine brightly even in kings' palaces. "So that my bonds," saith he, "became manifest in Christ, throughout the whole prætorian guard: and most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear." (Philip. i. 13, 14.) Behold ye a force in bonds stronger than the raising of the dead. They beheld me bound, and they are the more courageous. For where bonds are, there of necessity is something great also. Where affliction is, there verily is salvation also, there verily is solace, there verily are great achievements. For when the devil kicks, then is he, doubtless, hit. [265] When he binds God's servants, then most of all does the word gain ground. And mark how this is every where the case. Paul was imprisoned; and in the prison he did these things, yea, saith he, by my very bonds themselves. He was imprisoned at Rome, and brought the more converts to the faith; for not only was he himself emboldened, but many others also because of him. He was imprisoned at Jerusalem, and preaching in his bonds he struck the king with amazement, (Acts xxvi. 28.) and made the governor tremble. (Acts xxiv. 25.) For being afraid, it is related, he let him go, and he that had bound him was not ashamed to receive instruction concerning the things to come at the hands of him whom he had bound. In bonds he sailed, and retrieved the wreck, and bound fast the tempest. It was when he was in bonds that the monster fastened on him, and fell off from his hand, having done him no hurt. He was bound at Rome, and preaching in bonds drew thousands to his cause, holding forward, in the place of every other, this very argument, I mean his chain.

It is not however our lot to be bound now-a-days. And yet there is another chain if we have a mind to wear it. And what is it? It is to restrain our hand, to be not so forward to covetousness. With this chain let us bind ourselves. Let the fear of God be unto us instead of a bond of iron. Let us loose them that are bound by poverty, by affliction. There is no comparison between opening the doors of a prison, and releasing an enthralled soul. There is no comparison between loosing the bonds of prisoners and "setting at liberty them that are bruised;" (Luke iv. 18.) this last is far greater than the other; for the other there is no reward in store, for this last there are ten thousand rewards.

Paul's chain has proved a long one, and has detained us a length of time. Yea, long indeed it is, and more beautiful than any cord of gold. A chain this, which draws them that are bound by it, as it were by a kind of invisible machinery, to Heaven, and, like a golden cord let down, [266] draws them up to the Heaven of heavens. And the wonderful thing is this, that, bound, as it is, below, it draws its captives upwards: and indeed this is not the nature of the things themselves. But where God orders and disposes, look not for the nature of things, nor for natural sentence, but for things above nature and natural sequence.

Let us learn not to sink under affliction, nor to repine; for look at this blessed saint. He had been scourged, and sorely scourged, for it is said, "When they had laid many stripes upon them." He had been bound too, and that again sorely, for the jailor cast him into the inner ward, and with extraordinary security. And though he was in so many perils, at midnight, when even the most wakeful are asleep with sleep, another and a stronger bond upon them, they chanted and sang praise unto the Lord. What can be more adamantine than these souls? They bethought them how that the holy Children sang even in fire and furnace. (Dan. iii. 1-30.) Perhaps they thus reasoned with themselves, "we have as yet suffered nothing like that."

But our discourse has done well, in that it has thus brought us out again to other bonds, and into another prison. What am I to do? I would fain be silent, but am not able. I have discovered another prison, far more wonderful and more astonishing than the former. But, come now, rouse yourselves, as though I were just commencing my discourse, and attend to me with your minds fresh. I would fain break off the discourse, but it will not suffer me; for just as a man in the midst of drinking cannot bear to break off his draught, whatever any one may promise him; so I too, now I have laid hold of this glorious cup of the prison of them that were bound for Christ's sake, I cannot leave off, I cannot hold my peace. For if Paul in the prison, and in the night, kept not silence, no, nor under the scourge; shall I, who am sitting [267] here by daylight, and speaking so much at my ease, shall I hold my peace, when men in bonds, and under the scourge, and at midnight could not endure to do so? The holy Children were not silent, no, not in the furnace and in the fire, and are not we ashamed to hold our peace? Let us look then at this prison also. Here too, they were bound, but at once and from the very outset it was evident that they were not about to be burned, but only to enter as into a prison. For why do ye bind men who are about to be committed to the flames? They were bound, as Paul was, hand and foot. They were bound with as great violence as he was. For the jailor thrust him into the inner prison; and the king commanded the furnace to be intensely heated. And now let us see the issue. When Paul and Silas sang, the prison was shaken, and the doors were opened. When the three Children sang, the bonds both of their feet and hands were loosed. The prison was opened, and the doors of the furnace were opened: for a dewy breeze whistled through it.

But many thoughts crowd around me. I know not which to utter first, and which second. Wherefore, let no one, I entreat, require order of me, for the subjects are closely allied.

They who were bound together with Paul and Silas were loosed, and yet nevertheless they slept. In the case of the three Children, instead of that, something else took place. The men who had cast them in, were themselves burned to death. And then, as I was fain to tell you, the king beheld them loose, and fell down before them: he heard them singing their song of praise, and beheld four walking, and he called them. As Paul, though able to do so, came not forth, until he who had cast him in, called him, and brought him forth: so neither did the three Children come forth, until he who had cast them in commanded them to come forth. What lesson are we taught from this? Not to be over hasty in courting persecution, nor when in tribulation to be over eager for deliverance, and on the other hand when they release us not to continue in it. Further, the jailor, inasmuch as he was able to enter in where the saints were, fell down at their feet. The king came but to the door and fell down. He dared not approach into the prison which he had prepared for them in the fire. And now mark their words. The one cried, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts xvi. 30.) The other, though not indeed with so great humility, yet uttered a voice no less sweet, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither." (Dan. iii. 26.) Mighty dignity! "Ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither." How are they to come forth, O king? Thou didst cast them into the fire bound; they have continued this long time in the fire. Why, had they been made of adamant, had they been blocks of metal, in singing that entire hymn, must they not have perished? On this account then they were saved, because they sang praises to God. The fire reverenced their readiness to suffer and afterwards it reverenced that wonderful song, and their hymns of praise. By what title dost thou call them? I said before, "Ye servants of the most high God." Yes, to the servants of God, all things are possible; for if some, who are the servants of men, have, nevertheless, power, and authority, and the disposal of their concerns, much more have the servants of God. He called them by the name most delightful to them, he knew that by this means he flattered them most: for indeed, if it was in order to continue servants of God, that they entered into the fire, there could be no sound more delightful to them than this. Had he called them kings, had he called them lords of the world, yet would he not so truly have rejoiced them as when he said, "Ye servants of the most high God." And why marvel at this? when, in writing to the mighty city, to her who was mistress of the world, and prided herself upon her high dignities, Paul set down as equivalent in dignity, nay, as far greater, yea incomparably greater than consulship, or kingly name, or than the empire of the world, this title, "Paul, a servant [268] of Jesus Christ." (Rom. i. 1.) "Ye servants of the most high God." "Yes," he would say, "if they show so great zeal as to be bond-servants, doubtless this is the title by which we shall conciliate them."

Again, observe also the piety of the Children: they showed no indignation, no anger, no gain-saying, but they came forth. Had they regarded it as an act of vengeance that they had been thrown into the furnace, they would have been grieved against the man who had cast them in; as it is, there is nothing of the kind; but, as though they were going forth from Heaven itself, so went they forth. And what the Prophet says of the Sun, that "He is as a bridegroom coming forth out of his chamber," (Ps. xix. 5.) one would not go amiss in saying also of them. But though he goes forth thus, yet came they forth there more gloriously than he, for he indeed comes forth to enlighten the world with natural light, they to enlighten the world in a different way, I mean, spiritually. For because of them the king straightway issued a decree, containing these words, "It hath seemed good unto me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God hath wrought toward me. How great are His signs! And how mighty are His wonders!" (Dan. iv. 2, 3.) So that they went forth, shedding a yet more glorious radiance, beaming indeed in that region itself, but, what is more than all, capable, by means of the king's writings, of being diffused over the world and thus of dispelling the darkness which every where prevails. "Come forth," said he, "and come hither." He gave no commandment [269] to extinguish the flame, but hereby most especially honored them, by believing that they were able not only to walk within it, but even to come out of it while it was still burning.

But let us look again, if it seem good to you, at the words of the jailor, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" What language sweeter than this? This makes the very Angels leap for joy. To hear this language, even the Only-begotten Son of God Himself became a servant. This language they who believed at the beginning addressed to Peter. (Acts ii. 37.) "What shall we do?" And what said he in answer? "Repent and be baptized." To have heard this language from the Jews, gladly would Paul have been cast even in to hell, in his eagerness for their salvation and obedience. But observe, he commits the whole matter to them, he wastes no unnecessary pains. Let us however look at the next point. The king here does not say, What must I do to be saved? but the teaching is plainer in his case than any language whatever; for he straightway becomes a preacher, he needs not to be instructed like the jailor. He proclaims God, and makes confession of His power. "Of a truth your God is the God of Gods and the Lord of Kings, because He hath sent His Angel, and hath delivered you." (Dan. ii. 47; iii. 28.) And what was the sequel? Not one single jailor, but numbers are instructed by the king's writings, by the sight of the facts. For that the king would not have told a falsehood is evident enough to every one, because he never would have chosen to bear such testimony to captives, nor to overthrow his own acts; he never would have chosen to incur the imputation of such utter madness: so that had not the truth been abundantly manifest, he would not have written in such terms, and with so many persons present.

Perceive ye how great is the power of bonds? How great the force of those praises that are sung in tribulation? Their heart failed not, they were not cast down, but were then yet more vigorous, and their courage then yet greater and justly so.

While we are considering these things one question yet remains for us: Why was it that in the prison on the one hand, the prisoners were loosed, whilst in the furnace the executioners were burnt to death: for that indeed should have been the king's fate, because neither were they who bound them, nor they who cast them into the furnace, guilty of so great sin as the man who commanded this should be done. Why then did they perish? On this point there is not any very great need of minute examination; for they were wicked men. And therefore this was providentially ordered, that the power of the fire might be shown, and the miracle might be made more signal; for if it thus devoured them that were without, how did it show them unscathed that were within it? it was that the power of God might be made manifest. And let no one wonder that I have put the king on a level with the jailor, for he did the same thing; the one was in no wise more noble than the other, and they both had their reward.

But, as I said, the righteous, when they are in tribulations, are then especially more energetic, and when they are in bonds: for to suffer any thing for Christ's sake is the sweetest of all consolation.

Will ye that I remind you of yet another prison? It seems necessary to go on from this chain to another prison still. And which will ye? Shall it be that of Jeremiah, or of Joseph, or of John? Thanks to Paul's chain; how many prisons has it opened to our discourse? Will ye have that of John? He also was once bound for Christ's sake, and for the law of God. What then? Was he idle when he was in prison? Was it not from thence he sent, by his disciples, and said, "Art Thou He that cometh, or look we for another?" (Matt. xi. 2, 3.) Even when there, then, it seems he taught, for surely he did not disregard his duty. But again, did not Jeremiah prophesy concerning the king of Babylon, and fulfil his work even there in prison? And what of Joseph? Was he not in prison thirteen years? What then? Not even there did he forget his virtue. I have yet to mention the bonds of one and therewith will close my discourse. Our Master Himself was bound, He who loosed the world from sins. Those hands were bound, those hands that wrought ten thousand good deeds. For, "they bound Him," it saith, "and led Him away to Caiaphas;" (Matt. xxvii. 2; John xviii. 24.) yes, He was bound who had wrought so many marvellous works.

Reflecting on these things, let us never repine; but whether we be in bonds, let us rejoice; or whether we be not in bonds, let us be as though we were bound together with Him. See how great a blessing are bonds! Knowing all these things, let us send up our thanksgiving for all things to God, through Christ Jesus our Lord with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, and honor, now and forever and ever. Amen.


[260] [Christ referred to the glorification with His Father which was to follow his humiliation. Cf. John xvii. 5. Philip. ii. 9.--G.A.] [261] ["The one requires no less power than the other, the same divine exousia enables both to be done. But that ye may know that I was entitled to say the one, I will prove to you that I have the power to say the other."--Meyer. Since neither is easier but each alike requires divine power, if I can prove to you that I have this divine power to do one, that will prove to you that I have power to do the other.--G.A.] [262] amuetous. [263] [The Jews, when they imprisoned the Apostles as recorded in Acts v. 19.--G.A.] [264] [The prison which suggested this discourse (Eph. iv. 1.) was that of Paul in Rome, but the next one mentioned and discoursed of by St. Chrysostom was the one in which Paul was at Philippi, Acts xvi., the next one was the prison where Peter was at Jerusalem, and this last one (Acts v. 19.) at Jerusalem also. No mention has been made of any imprisonment at Cæsarea.--G.A.] [265] [This reminds one of the saying of an eccentric evangelist in America who refering to those that abused and persecuted him for the severity of his preaching said, "It's always the hit dog that yelps."--G.A.] [266] [This passage reminds one of the famous golden chain of Homer, seiren chruseien, (Iliad viii. 19-27) to which several allegorical meanings have been given.--G.A.] [267] [The ancient custom was the reverse of ours, for the preacher commonly delivered his sermon sitting, and the people heard it standing.--Bingham Antiquities Bk. xiv. Ch. iv. Sec. 24.--G.A.] [268] [The word in the Greek doulos which means a bond-slave, though softened in the Auth. Ver. to "servant" and in the Rev. Ver. to "bond-servant."--G.A.] [269] [Field's text has here etolmese, `he did not venture;' but that gives a sense less satisfactory than the text of Savile and the Oxford translator, ekeleuse, which is well attested.--G.A.]

Homily IX.

Chapter IV. Verses 1-3

"I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you, to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Great has the power of Paul's chain been shown to be, and more glorious than miracles. It is not in vain then, as it should seem, nor without an object, that he here holds it forward, but as the means of all others most likely to touch them. And what saith he? "I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you, to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called." And how is that? "with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love."

It is not the being merely a prisoner that is honorable, but the being so for Christ's sake. Hence he saith, "in the Lord," i.e., the prisoner for Christ's sake. Nothing is equal to this. But now the chain is dragging me away still more from my subject, and pulling me back again, and I cannot bear to resist it, but am drawn along willingly,--yea, rather, with all my heart; and would that it were always my lot to be descanting on Paul's chain.

But now do not become drowsy: for I am yet desirous to solve that other question, which many raise, when they say, Why, if tribulation be a glory, how came Paul himself to say in his defence [270] to Agrippa, "I would to God that whether with little or with much not thou only, but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am, except these bonds?" (Acts xxvi. 29.) He said not this, God forbid! as deeming the thing a matter to be deprecated; no; for had it been such, he would not have gloried in bonds, in imprisonments, in those other tribulations; and when writing elsewhere he saith, "Most gladly will I rather glory in my weaknesses." (2 Cor. xii. 9.) But what is the case? This was itself a proof how great a thing he considered those bonds; for as in writing to the Corinthians he said, "I fed you with milk, not with meat, for ye were not yet able to bear it;" (1 Cor. iii. 2.) so also here. They before whom he spoke were not able to hear of the beauty, nor the comeliness, nor the blessing of those bonds. Hence [271] it was he added, "except these bonds." To the Hebrews however he spoke not thus, but exhorted them to "be bound with" (Heb. xiii. 3.) them that were in bonds. And hence too did he himself rejoice in his bonds, and was bound, and was led with the prisoners into the inner prison. Mighty is the power of Paul's chain! A spectacle this, which may suffice for every other, to behold Paul bound, and led forth from his prison; to behold him bound, and sitting within it, what pleasure can come up to this? What would I not give for such a sight? Do ye see the emperors, the consuls, borne along in their chariots and arrayed in gold, and their body-guard with every thing about them of gold? Their halberds of gold, their shields of gold, their raiment of gold, their horses with trappings of gold? How much more delightful than such a spectacle is his! I would rather see Paul once, going forth with the prisoners from his prison, than behold these ten thousand times over, parading along with all that retinue. When he was thus led forth, how many Angels, suppose ye, led the way before him? And to show that I speak no fiction, I will make the fact manifest to you from a certain ancient narrative.

Elisha the prophet, (perhaps ye know the man,) at the time (2 Kings vi. 8-12.) when the king of Syria was at war with the king of Israel, sitting at his own home, brought to light all the counsels which the king of Syria was taking in his chamber with them that were privy to his designs, and rendered the king's counsels of none effect, by telling beforehand his secrets, and not suffering the king of Israel to fall into the snares which he was laying. This sorely troubled the king; he was disheartened, and was reduced to greater perplexity, not knowing how to discover him who was disclosing all that passed, and plotting against him, and disappointing his schemes. Whilst therefore he was in this perplexity, and enquiring into the cause, one of his armor-bearers told him, that there was a certain prophet, one Elisha, dwelling in Samaria, who suffered not the king's designs to stand, but disclosed all that passed. The king imagined that he had discovered the whole matter. Sure, never was any one more miserably misled than he. When he ought to have honored the man, to have reverenced him, to have been awed that he really possessed so great power, as that, seated, as he was, so many furlongs off, he should know all that passed in the king's chamber, without any one at all to tell him; this indeed he did not, but being exasperated, and wholly carried away by his passion, he equips horsemen, and soldiers, and dispatches them to bring the prophet before him.

Now Elisha had a disciple as yet only on the threshold of prophecy, (2 Kings vi. 13ff.) as yet far from being judged worthy of revelations of this kind. The king's soldiers arrived at the spot, as intending to bind the man, or rather the prophet.--Again I am falling upon bonds, so entirely is this discourse interwoven with them.--And when the disciple saw the host of soldiers, he was affrighted, and ran full of trembling to his master, and told him the calamity, as he thought, and informed him of the inevitable peril. The prophet smiled at him for fearing things not worthy to be feared, and bade him be of good cheer. The disciple, however, being as yet imperfect, did not listen to him, but being still amazed at the sight, remained in fear. Upon this, what did the prophet do? "Lord," said he, "open the eyes of this young man, and let him see that they which are with us, are more than they which are with them;" (2 Kings vi. 16, 17.) and immediately he beheld the whole mountain, where the prophet then dwelt, filled with so great a multitude of horses and chariots of fire. Now these were nothing else than ranks of Angels. But if only for an occasion like this so great a band of Angels attended Elisha what must Paul have had? This is what the prophet David tells us. "The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him." (Ps. xxxiv. 7.) And again; "They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." (Ps. xci. 2.) And why do I speak of Angels? The Lord Himself was with him then as he went forth; for surely it cannot be that He was seen by Abraham, and yet was not with Paul. No, it was His own promise, "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (Matt. xxviii. 20.) And again, when He appeared to him, He said, "Be not afraid, but speak, for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to harm thee." (Acts xviii. 9, 10.) Again, He stood by him in a dream, and said, "Be of good cheer, for as thou hast testified concerning me at Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." (Acts xxiii. 11.)

The saints, though they are at all times a glorious sight, and are full of abundant grace, yet are so, most of all, when they are in perils for Christ's sake, when they are prisoners; for as a brave soldier is at all times and of himself a pleasing spectacle to them that behold him, but most of all when he is standing, and in ranks at the king's side; thus also imagine to yourselves Paul, how great a thing it was to see him teaching in his bonds.

Shall I mention, in passing, a thought, which just at this moment occurs to me? The blessed martyr Babylas [272] was bound, and he too for the very same cause as John also was, because he reproved a king in his transgression. This man when he was dying gave charge that his bonds should be laid with his body, and that the body should be buried bound; and to this day the fetters lie mingled with his ashes, so devoted was his affection for the bonds he had worn for Christ's sake. "He was laid in chains of iron" as the Prophet saith of Joseph. (Ps. cv. 18.) And even women have before now had trial of these bonds.

We however are not in bonds, nor am I recommending this, since now is not the time for them. But thou, bind not thine hands, but bind thy heart and mind. There are yet other bonds, and they that wear not the one, shall have to wear the other. Hear what Christ saith, "Bind him hand and foot." (Matt. xxii. 13.) But God forbid we should have trial of those bonds! but of these may He grant us even to take our fill!

On these accounts he saith, "I, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called." But what is this calling? Ye were called as His body, it is said. Ye have Christ as your head; and though you were "enemies," and had committed misdeeds out of number, yet "hath He raised you up with Him and made you to sit with Him." (Eph. ii. 6.) A high calling this, and to high privileges, not only in that we have been called from that former state, but in that we are called both to such privileges, and by such a method.

But how is it possible to "walk worthily" of it? "With all lowliness." Such an one walks worthily. This is the basis of all virtue. If thou be lowly, and bethink thee what thou art, and how thou wast saved, thou wilt take this recollection as a motive to all virtue. Thou wilt neither be elated with bonds, nor with those very privileges which I mentioned, but as knowing that all is of grace, thou wilt humble thyself. The lowly-minded man is able to be at once a generous and a grateful servant. "For what hast thou," saith he, "that thou didst not receive?" (1 Cor. iv. 7.) And again, hear his words, "I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Cor. xv. 10.)

"With all lowliness," saith he; not that which is in words, nor that which is in actions only, but even in one's very bearing and tone of voice: not lowly towards one, and rude towards another; be lowly towards all men, be he friend or foe, be he great or small. This is lowliness. Even in thy good deeds be lowly; for hear what Christ saith, "Blessed are the poor in spirit;" (Matt. v. 3.) and He places this first in order. Wherefore also the Apostle himself saith, "With all lowliness, and meekness, and long-suffering." For it is possible for a man to be lowly, and yet quick and irritable, and thus all is to no purpose; for oftentimes he will be possessed by his anger, and ruin all.

"Forbearing," he proceeds, "one another in love." [273]

How is it possible to forbear, if a man be passionate or censorious? He hath told us therefore the manner: "in love," saith he. If thou, he would say, art not forbearing to thy neighbor, how shall God be forbearing to thee? If thou bearest not with thy fellow-servant, how shall the Master bear with thee? Wherever there is love, all things are to be borne.

"Giving diligence [274] ," saith he, "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Bind therefore thy hands with moderation. Again that goodly name of "bond." We had dismissed it, and it has of itself come back on us again. A goodly bond was that, and goodly is this one also, and that other is the fruit of this. Bind thyself to thy brother. They bear all things lightly who are bound together in love. Bind thyself to him and him to thee; thou art lord of both, for whomsoever I may be desirous to make my friend, I can by means of kindliness accomplish it.

"Giving diligence," he says; a thing not to be done easily, and not in every one's power.

"Giving diligence," he proceeds, "to keep the unity of the Spirit." What is this "unity of Spirit?" In the human body there is a spirit which holds all together, though in different members. So is it also here; for to this end was the Spirit given, that He might unite those who are separated by race and by different manners; for old and young, rich and poor, child and youth, woman and man, and every soul become in a manner one, and more entirely so than if there were one body. For this spiritual relation is far higher than the other natural one, and the perfectness of the union more entire; because the conjunction of the soul is more perfect, inasmuch as it is both simple and uniform. And how then is this unity preserved? "In the bond of peace [275] ." It is not possible for this to exist in enmity and discord. "For whereas there is," saith he, "among you jealousy and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk after the manner of men?" (1 Cor. iii. 3.) For as fire when it finds dry pieces of wood works up all together into one blazing pile, but when wet does not act at all nor unite them; so also it is here. Nothing that is of a cold nature can bring about this union, whereas any warm one for the most part can. Hence at least it is that the glow of charity is produced; by the "bond of peace," he is desirous to bind us all together. For just in the same way, he would say, as if thou wouldest attach thyself to another, thou canst do it in no other way except by attaching him to thyself; and if thou shouldest wish to make the tie double, he must needs in turn attach himself to thee; so also here he would have us tied one to another; not simply that we be at peace, not simply that we love one another, but that all should be only even one soul. A glorious bond is this; with this bond let us bind ourselves together with one another and unto God. This is a bond that bruises not, nor cramps the hands it binds, but it leaves them free, and gives them ample play, and greater courage than those which are at liberty. The strong if he be bound to the weak, will support him, and not suffer him to perish: and if again he be tied to the indolent, him he will rather rouse and animate. "Brother helped by brother," it is said, "is as a strong city [276] ." This chain no distance of place can interrupt, neither heaven, nor earth, nor death, nor any thing else, but it is more powerful and strong than all things. This, though it issue from but one soul, is able to embrace numbers at once; for hear what Paul saith, "Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own affections; be ye also enlarged." (2 Cor. vi. 12.)

Now then, what impairs this bond? Love of money, passion for power, for glory, and the like, loosens them, and severs them asunder. How then are we to see that they be not cut asunder? If these tempers be got rid of, and none of those things which destroy charity come in by the way to trouble us. For hear what Christ saith, (Matt. xxiv. 12.) "Because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold." Nothing is so opposed to love as sin, and I mean not love towards God, but that towards our neighbor also. But how then, it may be said, are even robbers at peace? When are they, tell me? Not when they are acting in a spirit which is that of robbers; for if they fail to observe the rules of justice amongst those with whom they divide the spoil, and to render to every one his right, you will find them too in wars and broils. So that neither amongst the wicked is it possible to find peace: but where men are living in righteousness and virtue, you may find it every where. But again, are rivals ever at peace? Never. And whom then would ye have me mention? The covetous man can never possibly be at peace with the covetous. So that were there not just and good persons, even though wronged by them, to stand between them, the whole race of them would be torn to pieces. When two wild beasts are famished, if there be not something put between them to consume, they will devour one another. The same would be the case with the covetous and the vicious. So that it is not possible there should be peace where virtue is not already put in practice beforehand. Let us form, if you please, a city entirely of covetous men, give them equal privileges, and let no one bear to be wronged, but let all wrong one another. Can that city possibly hold together? It is impossible. Again, is there peace amongst adulterers? No, not any two will you find of the same mind.

So then, to return, there is no other reason for this, than that "love hath waxed cold;" and the cause again why love hath waxed cold, is that "iniquity abounds." For this leads to selfishness, and divides and severs the body, and relaxes it and rends it to pieces. But where virtue is, it does the reverse. Because the man that is virtuous is also above money; so that were there ten thousand such in poverty they would still be peaceable; whilst the covetous, where there are but two, can never be at peace. Thus then if we are virtuous, love will not perish, for virtue springs from love, and love from virtue. And how this is, I will tell you. The virtuous man does not value money above friendship, nor does he remember injuries, nor does wrong to his neighbor; he is not insolent, he endures all things nobly. Of these things love consists. Again, he who loves submits to all these things, and thus do they reciprocally produce one another. And this indeed, that love springs from virtue, appears from hence, because our Lord when He saith, "because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold," plainly tells us this. And that virtue springs from love, Paul tells us, saying, "He that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law." (Rom. xiii. 10.) So then a man must be one of the two, either very affectionate and much beloved, or else very virtuous; for he who has the one, of necessity possesses the other; and, on the contrary, he who knows not how to love, will therefore commit many evil actions; and he who commits evil actions, knows not what it is to love.

Moral. Let us therefore follow after charity; it is a safeguard which will not allow us to suffer any evil. Let us bind ourselves together. Let there be no deceit amongst us, no hollowness. For where friendship is, there nothing of the sort is found. This too another certain wise man tells us. "Though thou drewest a sword at thy friend, yet despair not: for there may be a returning again to favor. If thou hast opened thy mouth against thy friend, fear not; for there may be a reconciliation: except for upbraiding, or disclosing of secrets, or a treacherous wound: for for these things a friend will depart." (Ecclus. xxii. 21, 22.) For "disclosing," saith he, "of secrets." Now if we be all friends, there is no need of secrets; for as no man has any secret with himself and cannot conceal anything from himself, so neither will he from his friends. Where then no secrets exist, separation arising from this is impossible. For no other reason have we secrets, than because we have not confidence in all men. So then it is the waxing cold of love, which has produced secrets. For what secret hast thou? Dost thou desire to wrong thy neighbor? Or, art thou hindering him from sharing some benefit, and on this account concealest it? But, no, perhaps it is none of these things. What then, is it that thou art ashamed? If so, then this is a token of want of confidence. Now then if there be love, there will be no "revealing of secrets," neither any "upbraiding." For who, tell me, would ever upbraid his own soul? And suppose even such a thing were done, it would be for some good; for we upbraid children, we know, when we desire to make them feel. And so Christ too on that occasion began to upbraid the cities, saying, "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida!" (Luke x. 13.) in order that He might deliver them from upbraidings. For nothing has such power to lay hold of the mind, or can more strongly arouse it, or brace it up when relaxed. Let us then never use upbraiding to one another merely for the sake of upbraiding. For what? Wilt thou upbraid thy friend on the score of money? Surely not, if at least thou possessest what thou hast in common. Wilt thou then for his faults? No nor this, but thou wilt rather in that case correct him. Or, as it goes on, "for a treacherous wound;" who in the world will kill himself, or who wound himself? No one.

Let us then "follow after love;" he saith not simply let us love; but let us "follow after love." (1 Cor. xiv. 1.) There is need of much eagerness: she is soon out of sight, she is most rapid in her flight; so many things are there in life which injure her. If we follow her, she will not outstrip us and get away, but we shall speedily recover her. The love of God is that which united earth to Heaven. It was the love of God that seated man upon the kingly throne. It was the love of God that manifested God upon earth. It was the love of God that made the Lord a servant. It was the love of God that caused the Beloved to be delivered up for His enemies, the Son for them that hated Him, the Lord for His servants, God for men, the free for slaves. Nor did it stop here, but called us to yet greater things. Yes, not only did it release us from our former evils, but promised, moreover, to bestow upon us other much greater blessings. For these things then let us give thanks to God, and follow after every virtue; and before all things, let us with all strictness practice love, that we may be counted worthy to attain the promised blessings; through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, and honor, now and for ever and ever. Amen.


[270] [Field's text has here a much shorter reading as follows: For a question now suggests itself to me; for since Paul in his defence, etc. This reading leaves the sense incomplete. The reading of the Oxford translator, as given above, is internally more satisfactory and is attested by several excellent authorities.--G.A.] [271] [It is very doubtful that this was Paul's design in saying "except these bonds." It is more probable he wished that others might enjoy the blessings of Christianity without sharing in those sufferings which he himself was glad to endure.--G.A.] [272] S. Babylas, whom Chrysostom has commemorated in a Homily on his feast day and elsewhere, (Hom. de Bab. t. 2. p. 531. Ed. Ben. Hom. in Jul. et Gent. t. 2. p. 536.) was Bishop of Antioch about 237-250, when he was martyred in the Decian persecution, being put into prison, and dying there. The circumstance mentioned in the text is also to be found in Gent. p. 554.--[See Homily on Babylas, Vol. ix. p. 141, of this Series.--G.A.] [273] ["The reciprocal forbearance in love (ethical habit) (Rom. xv. 1; Gal. vi. 2.) is the practical expression of the `longsuffering.'"--Meyer.--G.A.] [274] ["Giving diligence," participial clause parallel to "forbearing one another" which is characterized by the effort by which it must be upheld."--Meyer.--G.A.] [275] ["While peace one towards another must be the bond which is to envelope them."--Meyer.--G.A.] [276] [This is the rendering of the Septuagint in Prov. xviii. 19, which Chrysostom follows exactly: adelphos hupo adelphou boethoumenos hos polis ochura. The Rev. Ver. following the Hebrew, has "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city."--G.A.]

Homily X.

Ephesians iv. 4

"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling."

When the blessed Paul exhorts us to anything of special importance, so truly wise and spiritual as he is, he grounds his exhortation upon things in Heaven: this itself being a lesson he had learned from the Lord. Thus he saith also elsewhere, "Walk in love, even as Christ also hath loved us." (ch. v. 2.) And again, "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God." (Philip. ii. 5, 6.) This is what he is doing here also, for whenever the examples he is setting before us are great, he is intense in his zeal and feeling. What then does he say, now he is inciting us to unity? "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling:"

Ver. 5. "One Lord, one faith, one baptism."

Now what is this one body? The faithful throughout the whole world, both which are, and which have been, and which shall be. And again, they that before Christ's coming pleased God, are "one body." How so? Because they also knew Christ. Whence does this appear? "Your father Abraham," saith He, "rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad." (John viii. 56.) And again, "If ye had believed Moses," He saith, "ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me." (John v. 46.) And the prophets too would not have written of One, of whom they knew not what they said; whereas they both knew Him, and worshiped Him. Thus then were they also "one body."

The body is not disjoined from the spirit, for then would it not be a body. Thus it is customary also with us, touching things which are united, and which have any great consistency or coherence, to say, they are one body. And thus again, touching union, we take that to be a body which is under one head. If there be one head, then is there one body. The body is composed of members both honorable and dishonorable. Only the greater is not to rise up even against the meanest, nor this latter to envy the other. They do not all indeed contribute the same share, but severally according to the proportion of need. And forasmuch as all are formed for necessary and for different purposes, all are of equal honor. Some indeed there are, which are more especially principal members, others less so: for example, the head is more a principal member than all the rest of the body, as containing within itself all the senses, and the governing principle of the soul. And to live without the head is impossible; whereas many persons have lived for a long time with their feet cut off. So that it is better than they, not only by its position, but also by its very vital energy and its function.

Now why am I saying this? There are great numbers in the Church; there are those who, like the head, are raised up to a height; who, like the eyes that are in the head, survey heavenly things, who stand far aloof from the earth, and have nothing in common with it, whilst others occupy the rank of feet, and tread upon the earth; of healthy feet indeed, for to tread upon the earth is no crime in feet, but to run to evil. "Their feet," saith the Prophet, "run to evil." (Isa. lix. 7.) Neither then let these, the head, saith he, be high-minded against the feet, nor the feet look with evil eye at them. For thus the peculiar beauty of each is destroyed, and the perfectness of its function impeded. And naturally enough; inasmuch as he who lays snares for his neighbor will be laying snares first of all for himself. And should the feet therefore not choose to convey the head anywhere upon its necessary journey, they will at the same time be injuring themselves by their inactivity and sloth. Or again, should the head not choose to take any care of the feet, itself will be the first to sustain the damage. However, those members do not rise up one against the other; it is not likely, for it has been so ordered by nature that they should not. But with man, how is it possible for him not to rise up against man? No one, we know, ever rises up against Angels; since neither do they rise against the Archangels. Nor, on the other hand, can the irrational creatures proudly exalt themselves over us; but where the nature is equal in dignity, and the gift one, and where one has no more than another, how shall this be prevented?

And yet surely these are the very reasons why thou oughtest not to rise up against thy neighbors. For if all things are common, and one has nothing more than another, whence this mad folly? We partake of the same nature, partake alike of soul and body, we breathe the same air, we use the same food. Whence this rebellious rising of one against another? And yet truly the being able by one's virtue to overcome the incorporeal powers, that were enough to lead to arrogance; or rather arrogance it would not be, for with good reason am I high-minded, and exceedingly high-minded against the evil spirit. And behold even Paul, how high-minded he was against that evil spirit. For when the evil spirit was speaking great and marvelous things concerning him, he made him hold his peace, and endured him not even in his flattery. For when that damsel, "who had the spirit of divination," cried, saying, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation" (Acts xvi. 16, 17.), he rebuked him severely, and silenced his forward tongue. And again he elsewhere writes, and says, "God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." (Rom. xvi. 20.) Will the difference of nature have any effect? Perceivest thou not that the difference between natures has no effect whatever, but only the difference of purpose? Because of their principle therefore they are far worse than all. Well, a man may say, but I am not rising up against an Angel, because there is so vast a distance between my nature and his. And yet surely thou oughtest no more to rise up against a man than against an Angel, for the Angel indeed differs from thee in nature, a matter which can be neither an honor to him, nor a disgrace to thee: whereas man differs from man not at all in nature, but in principle; and there is such a thing as an Angel too even amongst men. So that if thou rise not up against Angels, much more shouldest thou not against men, against those who have become angels in this our nature; for should any one among men become as virtuous as an Angel, that man is in a far higher degree superior to thee, than an Angel is. And why so? Because what the one possesses by nature, the other has achieved of his own purpose. And again, because the Angel has his home far from thee in distance also, and dwelleth in Heaven; whereas this man is living with thee, and giving an impulse to thy emulation. And indeed he lives farther apart from thee than the Angel. For "our citizenship," saith the Apostle, "is in Heaven." (Philip. iii. 20.) And to show thee that this man hath his home still farther distant, hear where his Head is seated; upon the throne, saith he, the royal throne! And the farther distant that throne is from us, the farther is he also.

Well, but I see him, thou wilt say, in the enjoyment of honor, and I am led to jealousy. Why, this is the very thing which has turned all things upside down, which has filled not the world only, but the Church also, with countless troubles. And just as fierce blasts setting in across a calm harbor, render it more dangerous than any rock, or than any strait whatever; so the lust of glory entering in, overturns and confounds everything.

Ye have oftentimes been present at the burning of large houses. Ye have seen how the smoke keeps rising up to Heaven; and if no one comes near to put a stop to the mischief, but every one keeps looking to himself, the flame spreads freely on, and devours everything. And oftentimes the whole city will stand around; they will stand round indeed as spectators of the evil, not to aid nor assist. And there you may see them one and all standing round, and doing nothing but each individual stretching out his hand, and pointing out to some one who may be just come to the spot, either a flaming brand that moment flying through a window, or beams hurled down, or the whole circuit of the walls forced out, and tumbling violently to the ground. Many too there are of the more daring and venturesome, who will have the hardihood even to come close to the very buildings themselves whilst they are burning, not in order to stretch forth a hand towards them, and to put a stop to the mischief, but that they may the more fully enjoy the sight, being able from the nearer place to observe closely all that which often escapes those at a distance. Then if the house happen to be large and magnificent, it appears to them a pitiable spectacle, and deserving of many tears. And truly there is a pitiable spectacle for us to behold; capitals of columns crumbled to dust, and many columns themselves shattered to pieces, some consumed by the fire, others thrown down often by the very hands which erected them, that they may not add fuel to the flame. Statues again, which stood with so much gracefulness, with the ceiling resting on them, these you may see all exposed, with the roof torn off, and themselves standing hideously disfigured in the open air. And why should one go on to describe the wealth stored up within? the tissues of gold, and the vessels of silver? And where the lord of the house and his consort scarcely entered, where was the treasurehouse of tissues and perfumes, and the caskets of the costly jewels,--all has become one blazing fire, and within now, are bath-men and street-cleaners, and runaway slaves, and everybody; and everything within is one mass of fire and water, of mud, and dust, and half-burnt beams!

Now why have I drawn out so full a picture as this? Not simply because I wish to represent to you the conflagration of a house, (for what concern is that of mine?) but because I wish to set before your eyes, as vividly as I can, the calamities of the Church. For like a conflagration indeed, or like a thunderbolt hurled from on high, have they lighted upon the roof of the Church, and yet they rouse up no one; but whilst our Father's house is burning, we are sleeping, as it were, a deep and stupid sleep. And yet who is there whom this fire does not touch? Which of the statues that stand in the Church? for the Church is nothing else than a house built of the souls of us men. Now this house is not of equal honor throughout, but of the stones which contribute to it, some are bright and shining, whilst others are smaller and more dull than they, and yet superior again to others. [277] There we may see many who are in the place of gold also, the gold which adorns the ceiling. Others again we may see, who give the beauty and gracefulness produced by statues. Many [278] we may see, standing like pillars. For he is accustomed to call men also "pillars" (Gal. ii. 9.), not only on account of their strength but also on account of their beauty, adding as they do, much grace, and having their heads overlaid with gold. We may see a multitude, forming generally the wide middle space and the whole extent of the circumference; for the body at large occupies the place of those stones of which the outer walls are built. Or rather we must go on to a more splendid picture yet. This Church, of which I speak, is not built of these stones, such as we see around us, but of gold and silver, and of precious stones, and there is abundance of gold dispersed everywhere throughout it. But, oh the bitter tears this calls forth! For all these things hath the lawless rule of vainglory consumed; that all-devouring flame, which no one has yet got under. And we stand gazing in amazement at the flames, but no longer able to quench the evil: or if we do quench it for a short time, yet after two or three days as a spark blown up from a heap of ashes overturns all, and consumes no less than it did before, so it is here also: for this is just what is wont to happen in such a conflagration. And as to the cause, it has devoured the supports of the very pillars of the Church; those of us who supported the roof, and who formerly held the whole building together it has enveloped in the flame. Hence too was a ready communication to the rest of the outer walls: for so also in the case of buildings, when the fire lays hold of the timbers, it is better armed for its attack upon the stones; but when it has brought down the pillars and leveled them with the ground, nothing more is wanted to consume all the rest in the flames. For when the props and supports of the upper parts fall down, those parts also themselves will speedily enough follow them. Thus is it also at this moment with the Church: the fire has laid hold on every part. We seek the honors that come from man, we burn for glory, and we hearken not to Job when he saith,

"If like Adam (or after the manner of men) I covered my transgressions

By hiding mine iniquity in my bosom,

Because I feared the great multitude." [279]

Behold ye a virtuous spirit? I was not ashamed, he saith, to own before the whole multitude my involuntary sins: And if he was not ashamed to confess, much more were it our duty to do so. For saith the prophet, "Set thou forth thy cause, that thou mayest be justified." (Isa. xliii. 26.) Great is the violence of this evil, everything is overturned by it and annihilated. We have forsaken the Lord, and are become slaves of honor. We are no longer able to rebuke those who are under our rule, because we ourselves also are possessed with the same fever as they. We who are appointed by God to heal others, need the physician ourselves. What further hope of recovery is there left, when even the very physicians themselves need the healing hand of others?

I have not said these things without an object, nor am I making lamentations to no purpose, but with the view that one and all, with our women and children, having sprinkled ourselves with ashes, and girded ourselves about with sackcloth, may keep a long fast, may beseech God Himself to stretch forth His hand to us, and to stay the peril. For need is there indeed of His hand, that mighty, that marvelous hand. Greater things are required of us than of the Ninevites. "Yet three days," said the prophet, "and Nineveh shall be overthrown." [280] (Jonah iii. 4.) A fearful message, and burdened with tremendous threat. And how should it be otherwise? to expect that within three days, the city should become their tomb, and that all should perish in one common judgment. For if, when it happens that two children die at the same time in one house, the hardship becomes intolerable, and if to Job this of all things seemed the most intolerable, that the roof fell in upon all his children, and they were thus killed; what must it be to behold not one house, nor two children, but a nation of a hundred and twenty thousand buried beneath the ruins!

Ye know how terrible a disaster is this, for lately has this very warning happened to us, not that any prophet uttered a voice, for we are not worthy to hear such a voice, but the warning crying aloud from on high more distinctly than any trumpet. [281] However, as I was saying, "Yet three days," said the prophet, "and Nineveh shall be overthrown." A terrible warning indeed, but now we have nothing even like that; no, there are no longer "three days," [282] nor is there a Nineveh to be overthrown, but many days are already past since the Church throughout all the world has been overthrown, and leveled with the ground, and all alike are overwhelmed in the evil; nay more, of those that are in high places the stress is so much the greater. Wonder not therefore if I should exhort you to do greater things than the Ninevites; and why? nay more, I do not now proclaim a fast only, but I suggest to you the remedy which raised up that city also when falling. And what was that? "God saw their works," saith the prophet, "that they turned from their evil way, and God repented of the evil which He said He would do unto them." (Jonah iii. 10.) This let us do, both we and you. Let us renounce the passion for riches, the lust for glory, beseeching God to stretch forth His hand, and to raise up our fallen members. And well may we, for our fear is not for the same objects as theirs; for then indeed it was only stones and timbers that were to fall, and bodies that were to perish; but now it is none of these; no, but souls are about to be delivered over to hell fire. Let us implore, let us confess unto Him, let us give thanks unto Him for what is past, let us entreat Him for what is to come, that we may be counted worthy to be delivered from this fierce and most terrible monster, and to lift up our thanksgivings to the loving God and Father with whom, to the Son, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, and honor, now, henceforth, and for ever and ever. Amen.


[277] [Field's text has here pollo de ekeinon beltious instead of pollo de allon beltious, which is clearly better than Field's, because it gives a better sense and is well attested. Indeed, Field, while giving ekeinon in his text, says it is used "durius pro heteron," and mentions Chrysostom's negligent use of pronouns.--G.A.] [278] [In Field's text the word "many," pollous, is put in the preceding sentence; but it is better where it stands here, to complete the sentence and to make it correspond with the two preceding sentences.--G.A.] [279] Job xxxi. 33, 34. The verses in the Sept. stand thus: Ei de kai hamarton akousios ekrupsa ten hamartian mou. Ou gar dietrapen poluochlian plethous, tou me exagoreusai enopion auton [but Chrysostom quotes only these words: ei kai hamarton akousios dietrapen poluochlian. The Hebrew is quite different, as shown in rendering of Rev. Ver. (above).--G.A.] [280] [The Septuagint has yet three days, &c., eti treis hemerai k.t.l. So Chrysostom quotes it. The Hebrew text and the Rev. Ver., following it, have forty days.--G.A.] [281] Antioch was exposed to earthquakes. One happened A.D. 395, which might be about the date of these Homilies. In A.D. 458 it was almost overthrown from this cause. [282] [See note on preceding page.--G.A.]

Homily XI.

Ephesians iv. 4-7

"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all. But unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ."

The love Paul requires of us is no common love, but that which cements us together, and makes us cleave inseparably to one another, and effects as great and as perfect a union as though it were between limb and limb. For this is that love which produces great and glorious fruits. Hence he saith, there is "one body"; one, both by sympathy, and by not opposing the good of others, and by sharing their joy, having expressed all at once by this figure. He then beautifully adds, "and one Spirit," showing [283] that from the one body there will be one Spirit: or, that it is possible that there may be indeed one body, and yet not one Spirit; as, for instance, if any member of it should be a friend of heretics: or else he is, by this expression, shaming them into unanimity, saying, as it were, "Ye who have received one Spirit, and have been made to drink at one fountain, ought not to be divided in mind"; or else by spirit here he means their zeal. Then he adds, "Even as ye were called in one hope of your calling," that is, God hath called you all on the same terms. He hath bestowed nothing upon one more than upon another. To all He hath freely given immortality, to all eternal life, to all immortal glory, to all brotherhood, to all inheritance. He is the common Head of all; "He hath raised all" up, "and made them sit with Him." (Eph. ii. 6.) Ye then who in the spiritual world have so great equality of privileges, whence is it that ye are high-minded? Is it that one is wealthy and another strong? How ridiculous must this be? For tell me, if the emperor some day were to take ten persons, and to array them all in purple, and seat them on the royal throne, and to bestow upon all the same honor, would any one of these, think ye, venture to reproach another, as being more wealthy or more illustrious than he? Surely never. And I have not yet said all; for the difference is not so great in heaven as here below we differ. There is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." [284] Behold "the hope of your calling. One God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all." For can it be, that thou art called by the name of a greater God, another, of a lesser God? That thou art saved by faith, and another by works? That thou hast received remission in baptism, whilst another has not? "There is one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all." "Who is over all," that is, the Lord and above all; and "through all," that is, providing for, ordering all; and "in you all," that is, who dwelleth in you all. Now this they own to be an attribute of the Son; so that were it an argument of inferiority, it never would have been said of the Father.

"But [285] unto each one of us was the grace given."

What then? he saith, whence are those diverse spiritual gifts? For this subject was continually carrying away both the Ephesians themselves, and the Corinthians, and many others, some into vain arrogance, and others into despondency or envy. Hence he everywhere takes along with him this illustration of the body. Hence it is that now also he has proposed it, inasmuch as he was about to make mention of diverse gifts. He enters indeed into the subject more fully in the Epistle to the Corinthians, because it was among them that this malady most especially reigned: here however he has only alluded to it. And mark what he says: he does not say, "according to the faith of each," lest he should throw those who have no large attainments into despondency. But what saith he? "According to the measure of the gift of Christ." The chief and principal points of all, he saith,--Baptism, the being saved by faith, the having God for our Father, our all partaking of the same Spirit,--these are common to all. If then this or that man possesses any superiority in any spiritual gift, grieve not at it; since his labor also is greater. He that had received the five talents, had five required of him; whilst he that had received the two, brought only two, and yet received no less a reward than the other. And therefore the Apostle here also encourages the hearer on the same ground, showing that gifts are bestowed not for the honor of one above another, but for the work of the church, even as he says further on:

"For the perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministering unto the building up of the body of Christ."

Hence it is that even he himself saith, "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel." (1 Cor. ix. 16.) For example: he received the grace of Apostleship, but for this very reason, "woe unto him," because he received it: whereas thou art free from the danger.

"According to the measure."

What is meant by, "according to the measure"? It means, "not according to our merit," for then would no one have received what he has received: but of the free gift we have all received. And why then one more, and another less? There is nothing to cause this, he would say, but the matter itself is indifferent; for every one contributes towards "the building." And by this too he shows, that it is not of his own intrinsic merit that one has received more and another less, but that it is for the sake of others, as God Himself hath measured it; since he saith also elsewhere, "But now hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased Him." (1 Cor. xii. 18.) And he mentions not the reason, lest he should deject or dispirit the hearers.

Ver. 8. "Wherefore he saith, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men."

As though he had said, Why art thou high-minded? The whole is of God. The Prophet saith in the Psalm, "Thou hast received gifts among men" (Ps. lxviii. 18.), whereas the Apostle saith, "He gave gifts unto men." The one is the same as the other. [286]

Ver. 9, 10. "Now this, He ascended, what is it, but that He also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended, is the same also that ascended far above all the Heavens, that He might fill all things."

When thou hearest these words, think not of a mere removal from one place to another; for what Paul establishes in the Epistle to the Philippians (Philip. ii. 5-8.), that very argument [287] is he also insisting upon here. In the same way as there, when exhorting them concerning lowliness, he brings forward Christ as an example, so does he here also, saying, "He descended into the lower parts of the earth." For were not this so, this expression which he uses, "He became obedient even unto death" (Philip. ii. 8, 9.), were superfluous; whereas from His ascending, he implies His descent, and by "the lower parts of the earth," he means "death," according to the notions of men; as Jacob also said, "Then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave." (Gen. xxxii. 48.) And again as it is in the Psalm, "Lest I become like them that go down into the pit" (Ps. cxliii. 7.), that is like the dead. Why does he descant upon this region here? And of what captivity does he speak? Of that of the devil; for He took the tyrant captive, the devil, I mean, and death, and the curse, and sin. Behold His spoils and His trophies.

"Now this, He ascended, what is it but that He also descended?"

This strikes at Paul of Samosata and his school. [288]

"He that descended, is the same also that ascended far above all the Heavens, that He might fill all things."

He descended, saith he, into the lower parts of the earth, beyond which there are none other: and He ascended up far above all things, to that place, beyond which there is none other. This is to show His divine energy, and supreme dominion. For indeed even of old had all things been filled.

Ver. 11, 12. "And He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ."

What he said elsewhere, "Wherefore also God hath highly exalted Him" (Philip. ii. 9.), that saith he also here. "He that descended, is the same also that ascended." It did Him no injury that He came down into the lower parts of the earth, nor was it any hindrance to His becoming far higher than the Heavens. So that the more a man is humbled, so much the more is he exalted. For as in the case of water, the more a man presses it downwards, the more he forces it up; and the further a man retires to hurl a javelin, the surer his aim; so is it also with humility. However, when we speak of ascents with reference to God, we must needs conceive a descent first; but when with reference to man, not at all so. Then he goes on to show further His providential care, and His wisdom, for He who hath wrought such things as these, who had such might, and who refused not to go down even to those lower parts for our sakes, never would He have made these distributions of spiritual gifts without a purpose. Now elsewhere he tells us that this was the work of the Spirit, in the words, "In the which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops to feed the Church of God." [289] And here he saith that it is the Son; and elsewhere that it is God. "And He gave to the Church some apostles, and some prophets." But in the Epistle to the Corinthians, he saith, "I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." And again, "Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor." (1 Cor. iii. 6-8.) So is it also here; for what if thou bring in but little? Thou hast received so much. First, he says, "apostles"; [290] for these had all gifts; secondarily, "prophets," for there were some who were not indeed apostles, but prophets, as Agabus; thirdly, "evangelists," who did not go about everywhere, but only preached the Gospel, as Priscilla and Aquila; "pastors and teachers," those who were entrusted with the charge of a whole nation. What then? are the pastors and the teachers inferior? Yes, surely; those who were settled and employed about one spot, as Timothy and Titus, were inferior to those who went about the world and preached the Gospel. However, it is not possible from this passage to frame the subordination and precedence, but from another Epistle. "He gave," saith he; thou must not say a word to gainsay it. Or perhaps by "evangelists" he means those who wrote the Gospel.

"For the perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ." [291]

Perceive ye the dignity of the office? Each one edifies, each one perfects, each one ministers.

Ver. 13. "Till we all attain," he proceeds, "unto the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

By "stature" here he means perfect "knowledge"; for as a man will stand firmly, whereas children are carried about and waver in mind, so is it also with believers.

"To the unity," saith he, "of the faith."

That is, until we shall be shown to have all one faith: for this is unity of faith, when we all are one, when we shall all alike acknowledge the common bond. Till then thou must labor to this end. If for this thou hast received a gift, that thou mightest edify others, look well that thou overturn not thyself, by envying another. God hath honored thee, and ordained thee, that thou shouldest build up another. Yea, for about this was the Apostle also engaged; and for this was the prophet prophesying and persuading, and the Evangelist preaching the Gospel, and for this was the pastor and teacher; all had undertaken one common work. For tell me not of the difference of the spiritual gifts; but that all had one work. Now when we shall all believe alike then shall there be unity; for that this is what he calls "a perfect man," is plain. And yet he elsewhere calls us "babes" (1 Cor. xiii. 11.), even when we are of mature age; but he is there looking to another comparison, for there it is in comparison with our future knowledge that he there calls us babes. For having said, "We know in part" (1 Cor. xiii. 9, 12.), he adds also the word "darkly," and the like: whereas here he speaks with reference to another thing, with reference to changeableness, as he saith also elsewhere, "But solid food is for full-grown men." (Heb. v. 14.) Do you see then also in what sense he there calls them full-grown? Observe also in what sense he calls men "perfect" here, by the words next added, where he says, "that we may be no longer children." That we keep, he means to say, that little measure, which we may have received, with all diligence, with firmness and steadfastness.

Ver. 14. "That we may be no longer."--The word, "no longer," shows that they had of old been in this case, and he reckons himself moreover as a subject for correction, and corrects himself. For this cause, he would say, are there so many workmen, that the building may not be shaken, may not be "carried about," that the stones may be firmly fixed. [292] For this is the character of children, to be tossed to and fro, to be carried about and shaken. "That we may be no longer," saith he, "children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error." "And carried about," saith he, "with every wind." He comes to this figure of speech, to point out in how great peril doubting souls are. "With every wind," saith he, "by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error." The word "sleight" [293] means the art of gamesters. Such are the "crafty," whenever they lay hold on the simpler sort. For they also change and shift about everything. He here glances also at human life.

Ver. 15, 16. "But speaking truth," [294] saith he, "in love, may grow up in all things into Him, which is the Head, even Christ, from whom," (that is, from Christ,) "all the body fitly framed and knit together, through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love."

He expresses himself with great obscurity, from his desire to utter everything at once. What he means, however, is this. In the same way as the spirit, or vital principle, which descends from the brain, communicates the sensitive faculty which is conveyed through the nerves, not simply to all the members, but according to the proportion of each member, to that which is capable of receiving more, more, to that which is capable of less, less, (for the spirit is the root or source;) so also is Christ. For the souls of men being dependent upon Him as members, His provident care, and supply of the spiritual gifts according to a due proportion in the measure of every single member, effects their increase. But what is the meaning of this, "by the touch of the supply"? [295] that is to say, by the sensitive faculty. [296] For that spirit which is supplied to the members from the head, "touches," [297] each single member, and thus actuates it. As though one should say, "the body receiving the supply according to the proportion of its several members, thus maketh the increase"; or, in other words, "the members receiving the supply according to the proportion of their proper measure, thus make increase"; or otherwise again thus, "the spirit flowing plenteously from above, and touching [298] all the members, and supplying them as each is capable of "receiving it, thus maketh increase." But wherefore doth he add, "in love"? Because in no other way is it possible for that Spirit to descend. For as, in case a hand should happen to be torn from the body, the spirit which proceeds from the brain seeks the limb, and if it finds it not, does not leap forth from the body, and fly about and go to the hand, but if it finds it not in its place, does not touch it; so also will it be here, if we be not bound together in love. All these expressions he uses as tending to humility. For what, he seems to say, if this or that man receives more than another? He has received the same Spirit, sent forth from the same Head, effectually working in all alike, communicating itself to all alike.

"Fitly framed and knit together."

That is, having great care bestowed upon it; for the body must not be put together anyhow, but with exceeding art and nicety, since if it gets out of place, it is no longer. So that each must not only be united to the body, but also occupy his proper place, since if thou shalt go beyond this, thou art not united to it, neither dost thou receive the Spirit. Dost thou not see, that in those dislocations of the bones which take place in any accident, when a bone gets out of its proper place and occupies that of another, how it injures the whole body, and oftentimes will produce death? So that sometimes it will be found to be no longer worth preserving. For many in many cases will cut it off, and leave a void in its place; because everywhere what is in excess is an evil. And so again with the elements, if they lose their proper proportion and be in excess, they impair the whole system. This is the meaning of the being "fitly framed and knit together." Consider then of how vast importance it is, that each should remain in his own proper place, and not encroach on another which in nowise appertains to him. Thou puttest the members together, He supplieth them from above. For as there are in the body such recipient organs, as we have seen, so is it also with the Spirit, the whole root or source being from above. For example, the heart is the recipient of the breath, the liver of the blood, the spleen of the bile, and the other organs, some of one thing, others of another, but all these have their source from the brain. So also hath God done, highly honoring man, and being unwilling to be far from him, He hath made Himself indeed the source of his dependence, and hath constituted them fellow-workers with Himself; and some He hath appointed to one office, and others to another. For example, the Apostle is the most vital vessel of the whole body, receiving everything from Him; so that He maketh eternal life to run through them to all, as through veins and arteries, I mean through their discourse. The Prophet foretells things to come, whilst He alone ordereth the same; Thou puttest the members together, [299] but He supplies them with life, "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry." Love builds up, and makes men cleave one to another, and be fastened and fitted together.

Moral. If therefore we desire to have the benefit of that Spirit which is from the Head, let us cleave one to another. For there are two kinds of separation from the body of the Church; the one, when we wax cold in love, the other, when we dare commit things unworthy of our belonging to that body; for in either way we cut ourselves off from the "fullness of Christ." But if we are appointed to build up others also, what shall not be done to them who are first to make division? Nothing will so avail to divide the Church as love of power. Nothing so provokes God's anger as the division of the Church. Yea, though we have achieved ten thousand glorious acts, yet shall we, if we cut to pieces the fullness of the Church, suffer punishment no less sore than they who mangled His body. For that indeed was brought to pass for the benefit of the world, even though it was done with no such intention; whereas this produces no advantage in any case, but the injury is excessive. These remarks I am addressing not to the governors only, but also to the governed. Now a certain holy man said what might seem to be a bold thing; yet, nevertheless, he spoke it out. What then is this? He said, that not even the blood of martyrdom can wash out this sin. [300] For tell me for what dost thou suffer as a martyr? Is it not for the glory of Christ? Thou then that yieldest up thy life for Christ's sake, how dost thou lay waste the Church, for whose sake Christ yielded up His life? Hear what Paul saith, "I am not meet to be called an Apostle (1 Cor. xv. 9.), because I persecuted the Church of God and made havoc of it." (Gal. i. 13.) This injury is not less than that received at the hands of enemies, nay, it is far greater. For that indeed renders her even more glorious, whereas this, when she is warred upon by her own children, disgraces her even before her enemies. Because it seems to them a great mark of hypocrisy, that those who have been born in her, and nurtured in her bosom, and have learned perfectly her secrets, that these should of a sudden change, and do her enemies' work.

I mean these remarks for those who give themselves up indiscriminately to the men who are dividing the Church. For if on the one hand those men have doctrines also contrary to ours, then on that account further it is not right to mix with them: if, on the other hand, they hold the same opinions, the reason for not mixing with them is greater still. And why so? Because then the disease is from lust of authority. Know ye not what was the fate of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram? (Num. xvi. 1-35.) Of them only did I say? Was it not also of them that were with them? What wilt thou say? Shall it be said, "Their faith is the same, they are orthodox as well as we"? If so, why then are they not with us? There is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." If their cause is right, then is ours wrong; if ours is right, then is theirs wrong. "Children," saith he, "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind." Tell me, dost thou think this is enough, to say that they are orthodox? Is then the ordination [301] of clergy [302] past and done away? And what is the advantage of other things, [303] if this be not strictly observed? For as we must needs contend for the faith; so must we for this also. For if it is lawful for any one, according to the phrase of them of old, "to fill his hands," [304] and to become a priest, let all approach to minister. In vain has this altar been raised, in vain the fullness of the Church, in vain the number of the priests. Let us take them away and destroy them. "God forbid!" ye will say. You are doing these things, and do ye say, "God forbid"? How say ye, "God forbid," when the very things are taking place? I speak and testify, not looking to my own interest, but to your salvation. But if any one be indifferent, he must see to it himself: if these things are a care to no one else, yet are they a care to me. "I planted," saith he, "Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." (1 Cor. iii. 6.) How shall we bear the ridicule of the Greeks? For if they reproach us on account of our heresies, what will they not say of these things? "If they have the same doctrines, if the same mysteries, wherefore does a ruler in one Church invade another? See ye," say they, "how all things amongst the Christians are full of vainglory? And there is an ambition among them, and hypocrisy. Strip them," say they, "of their numbers, and they are nothing. Cut out the disease, the corrupt multitude." Would ye have me tell what they say of our city, how they accuse us on the score of our easy compliances? Any one, say they, that chooses may find followers, and would never be at a loss for them. Oh, what a sneer is that, what a disgrace are these things! And yet the sneer is one thing, the disgrace is another. If any amongst us are convicted of deeds the most disgraceful, and are about to meet with some penalty, great is the alarm, great is the fear on all sides, lest he should start away, people say, and join the other side. Yea, let such an one start away ten thousand times, and let him join them. And I speak not only of those who have sinned, but if there be any one free from offense, and he has a mind to depart, let him depart. I am grieved indeed at it, and bewail and lament it, and am cut to the very heart, as though I were being deprived of one of my own limbs; and yet I am not so grieved, as to be compelled to do anything wrong through such fear as this. We have "not lordship over your faith" (2 Cor. i. 24.), beloved, nor command we these things as your lords and masters. We are appointed for the teaching of the word, not for power, nor for absolute authority. We hold the place of counselors to advise you. The counselor speaks his own sentiments, not forcing the hearer, but leaving him full master of his choice upon what is said; in this case alone is he blameable, if he fail to utter the things which present themselves. For this cause do we also say these things, these things do we assert, that it may not be in your power in that day to say, "No one told us, no one gave us commandment, we were ignorant, we thought it was no sin at all." Therefore I assert and protest, that to make a schism in the Church is no less an evil than to fall into heresy. Tell me, suppose a subject of some king, though he did not join himself to another king, nor give himself to any other, yet should take and keep hold of his king's royal purple, and should tear it all from its clasp, and rend it into many shreds; would he suffer less punishment than those who join themselves to the service of another? And what, if withal he were to seize the king himself by the throat and slay him, and tear his body limb from limb, what punishment could he undergo, that should be equal to his deserts? Now if in doing this toward a king, his fellow-servant, he would be committing an act too great for any punishment to reach; of what hell shall not he be worthy who slays Christ, and plucks Him limb from limb? of that one which is threatened? No, I think not, but of another far more dreadful.

Speak, ye women, that are present,--for this generally is a failing of women, [305] --relate to them that are absent this similitude which I have made; startle them. If any think to grieve me and thus to have their revenge, let them be well aware that they do these things in vain. For if thou wishest to revenge thyself on me, I will give thee a method by which thou mayest take vengeance without injury to thyself; or rather without injury it is not possible to revenge thyself, but at all events with less injury. Buffet me, woman, spit upon me, when thou meetest me in the public way, and aim blows at me. Dost thou shudder at hearing this? When I bid thee buffet me, dost thou shudder, and dost thou tear thy Lord and Master and not shudder? Dost thou pluck asunder the limbs of thy Lord and Master, and not tremble? The Church is our Father's house. "There is one body, and one Spirit." But dost thou wish to revenge thyself on me? Yet stop at me. Why dost thou revenge thyself on Christ in my stead? nay, rather, why kick against the nails? In no case indeed is revenge good and right, but to assault one when another has done the wrong is far worse. Is it I that wronged you? Why then inflict pain on Him who hath not wronged you? This is the very extreme of madness. I speak not in irony what I am about to say, nor without purpose, but as I really think and as I feel. I would that every one of those who with you are exasperated against me, and who by this exasperation are injuring themselves, and departing elsewhere, would direct his blows at me in my very face, would strip me and scourge me, be his charge against me just or unjust, and let loose his wrath upon me, rather than that they should dare to commit what they now dare. If this were done, it were nothing; nothing, that a man who is a mere nothing and of no account whatever, should be so treated. And besides, I, the wronged and injured person, might call upon God, and He might forgive you your sins. Not because I have so great confidence; but because when he who has been wronged, entreats for him who has done the wrong, he gains great confidence. "If one man sin against another," it is said, "then shall they pray for him" [306] (1 Sam. ii. 25.); and if I were unable, I might seek for other holy men, and entreat them, and they might do it. But now whom shall we even entreat, when God is outraged by us?

Mark the consistency; for of those who belong to this Church, some never approach to communicate at all, or but once in the year, and then without purpose, and just as it may happen; others more regularly indeed, yet they too carelessly and without purpose, and while engaged in conversation, and trifling about nothing: whilst those who, forsooth, seem to be in earnest, these are the very persons who work this mischief. Yet surely, if it is for these things ye are in earnest, it were better that ye also were in the ranks of the indifferent; or rather it were better still, that neither they should be indifferent, nor you such as ye are. I speak not of you that are present, but of those who are deserting from us. The act is adultery. And if ye bear not to hear these things of them, neither should ye of us. There must be breach of the law either on the one side or the other. If then thou hast these suspicions concerning me, I am ready to retire from my office, and resign it to whomsoever ye may choose. Only let the Church be one. But if I have been lawfully made and consecrated, entreat those who have contrary to the law mounted the episcopal throne to resign it.

These things I have said, not as dictating to you, but only to secure and protect you. Since every one of you is come to age, and will have to give account of the things which he has done, I entreat you not to cast the whole matter on us, and consider yourselves to be irresponsible, that ye may not go on fruitlessly deceiving yourselves, and at last bewail it. An account indeed we shall have to give of your souls; but it will be when we have been wanting on our part, when we fail to exhort, when we fail to admonish, when we fail to protest. But after these words, allow even me to say that "I am pure from the blood of all men" (Acts xx. 26.); and that "God will deliver my soul." (Ezek. iii. 19, 21.) Say what ye will, give a just cause why ye depart, and I will answer you. But no, ye will not state it. Wherefore I entreat you, endeavor henceforward both to resist nobly and to bring back those who have seceded, that we may with one accord lift up thanksgiving to God; for to Him belongs the glory for ever and ever. Amen.


[283] ["The hen soma means the totality of Christians as the corpus (Christi) mysticum; comp. Eph. ii. 16; Rom. xii. 5; 1 Cor. x. 17. The hen pneuma is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of the corpus mysticum; comp. Eph. ii. 18; 1 Cor. xii. 13. The explanation, `one body and one soul,' is excluded, as at variance with the context by the specifically Christian character of the other elements, and rendered impossible by the correct supplying of esti (and not `ye ought to be')."--Meyer.--G.A.] [284] [Note the triad of trinities:-- - one body. 1. The Church: - one spirit. - one hope. - one Lord. 2. Christ: - one faith. - one baptism. - over all. 3. God: - through all. - in all. --Meyer, substantially.--G.A.] [285] ["But (de) forms the transition from the summary `all,' `all,' `all' to `each individual' among the Christians."--Meyer.--G.A.] [286] ["He quotes Ps. lxviii. 18, with the freedom of a Messianic interpretation of the words, and his exposition of the Hebrew words yielded essentially the sense expressed by him. So he took T+ouX+°Q+aL+o in the sense: `Thou didst take away gifts to distribute them among men,' and then translated this in an explanatory way, edoke, &c."--Meyer.--G.A.] [287] [This view of Chrysostom is quite at variance with the context. Ellicott says: To evince still more clearly the correctness of the Messianic application of the words just cited, St. Paul urges the antithesis implied by anebe, namely, katebe, a predication applicable to Christ only, the tacit assumption being that He who is the subject of the citation is one whose seat was heaven. Compare John iii. 13.--G.A.] [288] Paul was Bishop of Antioch A.D. 260-269, when he was deposed for heresy. Very different accounts are given of his particular doctrines: St. Athanasius may be securely followed, however, who says that he denied the doctrine of our Lord's preëxistence, asserted that He was a mere man, and that the Word of God was in Him. vid. Orat. i. 25, 38; ii. 13; iii. 51. De decret. 24, &c., &c. [See Schaff's History of Christian Ch., Vol. II., pp. 575, 576.--G.A.] [289] [Both here and in Hom. xliv. on Acts (xx. 28) Chrysostom reads kuriou instead of theou. The latter is, however, the reading of # B., and is adopted by W. & H. and the Rev. Ver. (as well as the textus receptus).--G.A.] [290] ["The Apostles had an immediate call from Christ, a destination for all lands and a special power of miracles. Prophets: not only in the special sense, but also those who spoke under the immediate impulse of the Holy Spirit; Evangelists were subordinates of the Apostles who traveled about. Pastors and teachers, constituting one and the same class, were stationary, and probably included presbyters.--Ellicott.--G.A.] [291] [The proper relation of these prepositional phrases is brought out in Meyer's translation: He has, with a view to the full furnishing of the saints, given those teachers for the work of ministering, for the edification of the body of Christ. So Ellicott.--G.A.] [292] ["It is not the figure of a building which Paul employs here, but of a ship abandoned to the breakers, on which figurative expression of restless passive subjection to influences, compare Jas. i. 6."--Meyer.--G.A.] [293] kubeia kubeutai. [294] ["aletheuontes: The common meaning, `To speak truth,' is clearly unsatisfactory here. It means `holding the truth.'"--Ellicott. "Professing the truth," Thayer, Lexicon. Rev. Ver. has in margin "dealing truly." Meyer says it means here, as always, "speaking the truth," and correctly.--G.A.] [295] haphes, "joint," Eng. Tr. Theodoret, too, in loc. interprets touch, and considers that it stands for all the senses. S. Austin translates tactus in Psalm x. 7, de Civ. D. xxii. 18, but in the received meaning. [See Meyer.--G.A.] [296] ["Meyer still retains the interpretation of Chrysostom and Theodoret that haphe=aisthesis, "feeling," "perception," and connects the clause with auxesin poieitai: but the parallel passage, Col. ii. 19, leaves it scarcely doubtful that the meaning usually assigned is correct, and that the clause is to be connected with the participles."--Ellicott. So Thayer, Lex., Rev. Ver.--G.A.] [297] haptomenon. [298] haptomenon. [299] [The text fluctuates here. We have given that of Field, though neither it nor any of the other readings yields a satisfactory sense. Field's text is, suntitheis ta mele, autos autois zoen choregei. Another text, attested by three mss., has suntitheis ta mesa, autos autois zoen choregei. Savile's text, supported by three mss., has kai ekeinos men suntithei ta osta, autos de zoen choregei. It will be noticed that this same expression occurs a little above, followed by a clause like that which follows here.--G.A.] [300] "What sacrifice do they believe they celebrate who are rivals of the Priests?" "If such men were even killed for confession of the Christian name, not even by their blood is this stain washed out....He cannot be a Martyr, who is not in the Church."--St. Cyprian, Treat. v. 12, p. 141. [301] [See Bingham, Ant. Bk. iv. ch. vi. sec. 11.--G.A.] [302] cheirotonias. At this time there were two orthodox successions in Antioch, that of Paulinus and Evagrius, who were successively representatives of the old line which the Arians had dispossessed, and which Western Christendom supported; and that of Meletius and Flavian, to which St. Chrysostom adhered, and the Eastern Church generally, being the Arian succession conformed to orthodoxy. The schism was terminated A.D. 392, on the death of Evagrius, though his party continued for twenty years longer. [303] [ton allon, wanting in the text of Field, is attested by four good authorities, and yields the only sense that suits the context.--G.A.] [304] Exodus xxix. 9. Our translation has, "Thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons"; the margin gives the literal rendering, "Thou shalt fill the hands of Aaron." [305] St. Chrysostom was eventually banished and brought to his end by the Empress Eudoxia. Women had taken a strong part with the Arians from the first, to which perhaps he alludes. When Arius began his heresy, he was joined by seven hundred single women. Epiphan. Hær. 69, 3; vid. also Socr. ii. 2, of the Court, Greg. Naz. Or. 48, of Constantinople, &c., &c. [306] [This is the reading of the Septuagint, as follows: an eis anthropon tis hamarte, proseuxontai peri autou. The Hebrew, however, is different, and reads, "If one man sin against another, God shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?" So the Rev. Ver.--G.A.]

Homily XII.

Ephesians iv. 17

"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding."

It is the duty of the teacher to build up and restore the souls of his disciples, not only by counseling and instructing them, but also by alarming them, and delivering them up to God. For when the words spoken by men as coming from fellow-servants are not sufficient to kindle the soul, it then becomes necessary to make over the case to God. This accordingly Paul does also; for having discoursed [307] concerning lowliness, and concerning unity, and concerning our duty not to rise up one against another, hear what he says. "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk." He does not say, "That ye henceforth walk not as ye are now walking," for that expression would have struck too hard. But he plainly indicates the same thing, only he brings his example from others. And so in writing to the Thessalonians, he does this very same thing, where he says, "Not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles which know not God." (1 Thess. iv. 5.) Ye differ from them, he means to say, in doctrine, but that is wholly God's work: what I require on your path is the life and the course of behavior that is after God. This is your own. And I call the Lord to witness what I have said, that I have not shrunk, but have told you how ye ought to walk.

"In the vanity," saith he, "of their mind."

What is vanity of mind? It is the being busied about vain things. And what are those vain things, but all things in the present life? Of which the Preacher saith, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." (Eccles. i. 2.) But a man will say, If they be vain and vanity, wherefore were they made? If they are God's works, how are they vain? And great is the dispute concerning these things. But hearken, beloved: it is not the works of God which he calls vain; God forbid! The Heaven is not vain, the earth is not vain,--God forbid!--nor the sun, nor the moon and stars, nor our own body. No, all these are "very good." (Gen. i. 31.) But what is vain? Let us hear the Preacher himself, what he saith; "I planted me vineyards, I gat me men singers and women singers, I made me pools of water, I had great possession of herds and flocks, I gathered me also silver and gold, and I saw that these are vanity." (Eccles. ii. 4-8.) And again, "Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity." (Eccles. xii. 8.) Hear also what the Prophet saith, "He heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them." (Ps. xxxix. 6.) Such is "vanity of vanities," your splendid buildings, your vast and overflowing riches, the herds of slaves that bustle along the public square, your pomp and vainglory, your high thoughts, and your ostentation. [308] For all these are vain; they came not from the hand of God, but are of our own creating. But why then are they vain? Because they have no useful end. Riches are vain when they are spent upon luxury; but they cease to be vain when they are "dispersed and given to the needy." (Ps. cxii. 9.) But when thou hast spent them upon luxury, let us look at the end of them, what it is;--grossness of body, flatulence, pantings, fullness of belly, heaviness of head, softness of flesh, feverishness, enervation; for as a man who shall draw into a leaking vessel labors in vain, so also does the one who lives in luxury and self-indulgence draw into a leaking vessel. But again, that is called "vain," which is expected indeed to contain something, but contains it not;--that which men call empty, as when they speak of "empty hopes." And generally that is called "vain," which is bare and purposeless, which is of no use. Let us see then whether all human things are not of this sort. "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." (1 Cor. xv. 32.) What then, tell me, is the end? Corruption. Let us put on clothing and raiment. And what is the result? Nothing. Such are the lives of the Greeks. They philosophized, but in vain. They made a show of a life of hardship, but of mere hardship, not looking to any beneficial end, but to vainglory, and to honor from the many. But what is the honor of the many? It is nothing, for if they themselves which render the honor perish, much more does the honor. He that renders honor to another, ought first to render it to himself; for if he gain not honor for himself, how can he ever render it to another? Whereas now we seek even honors from vile and despicable characters, themselves dishonorable, and objects of reproach. What kind of honor then is this? Perceive ye, how that all things are "vanity of vanities"? Therefore, saith he, "in the vanity of their mind."

But further, is not their religion of this sort, wood and stone? He hath made the sun to shine for a lamp to light us. Who will worship his own lamp? The sun supplies us with light, but where he cannot, a lamp can do it. Then why not worship thy lamp? "Nay," one will say, "I worship the fire." Oh, how ridiculous! So great is the absurdity, and yet look again at another absurdity. Why extinguish the object of thy worship? Why destroy, why annihilate thy god? Wherefore dost thou not suffer thy house to be filled with him? For if the fire be god, let him feed upon thy body. Put not thy god under the bottom of thy kettle, or thy cauldron. [309] Bring him into thy inner chambers, bring him within thy silken draperies. Whereas not only dost thou not bring him in, but if by any accident he has found entrance, thou drivest him out from every place, thou callest everybody together, and, as though some wild beast had entered, thou weepest and wailest, and callest the presence of thy god an overwhelming calamity. I have a God, and I do all I can to enshrine Him in my bosom, and I deem it my true bliss, not when He visits my dwelling, but when I can draw Him even to my heart. Do thou too draw the fire to thine heart. This is folly and vanity. Fire is good for use, not for adoration; good for ministration and for service, to be my slave, not to be my master. It was made for me, not I for it. If thou art a worshiper of fire, why recline upon thy couch thyself, and order thy cook to stand before thy god? Take up the art of cookery thyself, become a baker if thou wilt, or a coppersmith, for nothing can be more honorable than these arts, since these are they that thy god visits. Why deem that art a disgrace, where thy god is all in all? Why commit it to thy slaves, and not be ambitious of it thyself? Fire is good, inasmuch as it is the work of a good Creator, but it is not God. It is the work of God, it was not called God. Seest thou not how ungovernable is its nature;--how when it lays hold on a building it stops nowhere? But if it seizes anything continuous, it destroys all; and, except the hands of workmen or others quench its fury, it knows not friends nor foes, but deals with all alike. Is this then your god, and are ye not ashamed? Well indeed does he say, "in the vanity of their mind."

But the sun, they say, is God. Tell me, how and wherefore. Is it that he sheds abundance of light? Yet dost thou not see him overcome by clouds, and in bondage to the necessity of nature, and eclipsed, and hidden by the moon? And yet the cloud is weaker than the sun; but still it often gains the mastery of him. And this indeed is the work of God's wisdom. God must needs be all sufficient: but the sun needs many things; and this is not like a god. For he requires air to shine in, and that, too, thin air; since the air, when it is greatly condensed, suffers not the rays to pass through it. He requires also water, and other restraining power, to prevent him from consuming. For were it not that fountains, and lakes, and rivers, and seas, formed some moisture by the emission of their vapors, there would be nothing to prevent an universal conflagration. Dost thou see then, say ye, that he is a god? What folly, what madness! A god, say ye, because he has power to do harm. Nay, rather, for this very reason is he no god, because where he does harm he needs nothing; whereas, where he does good, he requires many things besides. Now to do harm, is foreign to God's nature; to do good, is His property. Where then the reverse is the case, how can he be God? Seest thou not that poisonous drugs injure, and need nothing; but when they are to do good, need many things? For thy sake then is he such as he is, both good, and powerless; good, that thou mayest acknowledge his Lord; and powerless, that thou mayest not say that he is lord. "But," say they, "he nourishes the plants and the seeds." What then, at that rate is not the very dung a god? for even that also nourishes. And why not at that rate the scythe as well, and the hands of the husbandman? Prove to me that the sun alone does the work of nourishing without needing the help of either earth, or water, or tillage; but let the seeds be sown, and let him shed forth his rays, and produce the ears of corn. But now if this work be not his alone, but that of the rains also, wherefore is not the water a god also? But of this I speak not yet. Why is not the earth too a god, and why not the dung, and the hoe? Shall we then, tell me, worship all? Alas, what trifling! And indeed rather might the ear of corn be produced without sun, than without earth and water; and so with plants and all other things. Were there no earth, none of these things could ever appear. And if any one, as children and women do, were to put some earth into a pot, and to fill up the pot with a quantity of dung, and to place it under the roof, plants, though they may be weak ones, will be produced from it. So that the contribution of the earth and of the dung is greater, and these therefore we ought to worship rather than the sun. He requires the sky, he requires the air, he requires these waters, to prevent his doing harm, to be as bridles to curb the fierceness of his power, and to restrain him from letting loose his rays over the world, like some furious horse. And now tell me, where is he at night? Whither has your god taken his departure? For this is not like a god, to be circumscribed and limited. This is in fact the property of bodies only. But, say they, there is some sort of power residing in him, and he has motion. Is this power then, I pray you, itself God? Why then is it insufficient in itself, and why does it not restrain the fire? For again, I come to the same argument. But what is that power? Is it productive of light, or does it by the sun give light, though of itself possessing none of these qualities? If so, then is the sun superior to it. How far shall we unwind this maze?

Again, what is water? is not that too, they say, a god? This again is a matter of truly absurd disputation. Is that not a god, they say, which we make use of for so many purposes? And so again, in like manner, of the earth. Truly "they walk in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding."

But these words he is now using concerning life and conduct. The Greeks are fornicators and adulterers. Of course. They who paint to themselves such gods as these, [310] will naturally do all these things; and if they can but escape the eyes of men, there is no one to restrain them. For what will avail the argument of a resurrection, if it appear to them a mere fable? Yea, and what that of the torments of hell?--they too are but a fable. And mark the Satanic notion. When they are told of gods who are fornicators, they deny that these are fables, but believe them. Yet whenever any shall discourse to them of punishment, "these," they say, "are poets, men who turn everything into fable, that man's happy condition may be on all sides overturned."

But the philosophers, it is said, discovered something truly grand, and far better than these. How? They who introduced fate, and who tell us that nothing is providential, and that there is no one to care for anything, but that all things consist of atoms? [311] Or, others again who say that God is a body? Or who, tell me, are they? Are they those who would turn the souls of men into the souls of dogs, and would pervade mankind that one was once a dog, and a lion, and a fish? How long will ye go on and never cease trifling, "being darkened in the understanding"? for they say and do all things as though they were indeed in the dark, both in those things which concern doctrine, and those which concern life and conduct; for the man who is in darkness sees none of the things which lie before him, but oftentimes when he sees a rope, he will take it for a live serpent; [312] or again, if he is caught by a hedge, he will think that a man or an evil spirit has hold of him, and great is the alarm, and great the perturbation. Such as these are the things they fear. "There were they in great fear," it saith, "where no fear was" (Ps. liii. 5.); but the things which they ought to fear, these they fear not. But just as children in their nurses' arms thrust their hands incautiously into the fire, and boldly into the candle also, and yet are scared at a man clothed in sackcloth; just so these Greeks, as if they were really always children, (as some one also amongst themselves has said, [313] the Greeks are always children,) fear those things that are no sins, such as filthiness of the body, the pollution of a funeral, [314] a bed, or the keeping of days, and the like: whereas those which are really sins, unnatural lust, adultery, fornication, of these they make no account at all. No, you may see a man washing himself from the pollution of a dead body, but from dead works, never; and, again, spending much zeal in the pursuit of riches, and yet supposing the whole is undone by the crowing of a single cock. "So darkened are they in their understanding." Their soul is filled with all sorts of terrors. For instance: "Such a person," one will say, "was the first who met me, as I was going out of the house"; of course ten thousand evils must certainly ensue. At another time, "the wretch of a servant in giving me my shoes, [315] held out the left shoe first,"--terrible mishaps and mischiefs! "I myself in coming out set forth with the left foot foremost"; and this too is a token of misfortune. And these are the evils that occur about the house. Then, as I go out, my right eye shoots up from beneath. This is a sure sign of tears. Again the women, when the reeds strike against the standards, and ring, or when they themselves are scratched by the shuttle, turn this also into a sign. And again, when they strike the web with the shuttle, and do it with some vehemence, and then the reeds on the top from the intensity of the blow strike against the standards and ring, this again they make a sign, and ten thousand things besides, deserving of ridicule. And so if an ass should bray, or a cock should crow, or a man should sneeze, or whatever else may happen, like men bound with ten thousand chains, or, as I was saying, like men confined in the dark, they suspect everything, and are more slavish than all the slaves in the world. [316]

But let it not be so with us. But scorning all these things, as men living in the light, and having our citizenship in Heaven, and having nothing in common with earth, let us regard but one thing as terrible, that is, sin, and offending against God. And if there be not this, let us scorn all the rest, and him that brought them in, the Devil. For these things let us give thanks to God. Let us be diligent, not only that we ourselves be never caught by this slavery, but if any of those who are dear to us have been caught, let us break his bonds asunder, let us release him from this most bitter and contemptible captivity, let us make him free and unshackled for his course toward Heaven, let us raise up his flagging wings, and teach him to be wise for life and doctrine's sake. Let us give thanks to God for all things. Let us beseech Him that He will not declare us unworthy of the gifts offered to us, and let us ourselves withal endeavor to contribute our own part, that we may teach not only by speaking, but by acting also. For thus shall we be able to attain His unnumbered blessings, of which God grant we may all be counted worthy, in Christ Jesus our Lord with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost together, be glory, might, and honor, now, henceforth, and for ever and ever. Amen.


[307] [Modern exegesis has made more logical analysis, and indicated more carefully and correctly the transitions from one thought or branch of the subject to another, than the ancient. Comp. Meyer, Lightfoot, Schaff, and especially the paragraphing of the Rev. Ver. On this passage Meyer says: The exhortation begun at vv. 1-3, and interrupted by the digression vv. 4-16, is here resumed by the oun, and the "walking worthily" of v. 1 is now followed up in the form, "that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk," &c.--G.A.] [308] ["`Vanity' here is rather the subjective sphere in which the walk of the other Gentiles takes place, namely, in nothingness of their thinking and willing (nous), and is to be understood of the whole intellectual and moral character of heathenism."--Meyer.--G.A.] [309] [Compare 1 Kings xviii. 27, the locus classicus where Elijah uses his scathing irony against the priests of Baal.--G.A.] [310] [See Schaff's History of the Christian Church, Vol. I., pp. 72-74, with Literature there noted.--G.A.] [311] [On Democritus and Leucippus, founders of the Atomistic philosophy, see Ueberweg's Hist. of Philosophy (Amer. ed.), Vol. I., pp. 67-71; on Epicurus, Vol. I., pp. 205-207.--G.A.] [312] This was the instance in the Schools. Vid. Sextus Empiricus, Pyrrh. Hypot. I. 33. [313] The Egyptian priest to Solon. Plat. Tim. p. 22, B. [314] Vid. Theophr. Charact. xvi. peri deisidaimonias; Guther de Jure Manium in Græv. Thes. 12, 1175; Hes. Opp. et D. 765, sqq. [315] Vid. Plin. N. H. 2, 7; Juv. Sat. 6, 579. These and like superstitions are condemned also by Clem. Alex. Strom. vii. 4, pp. 842-844; St. Cyril of Jerus. iv. 37, and St. Aust. de Doctr. Christ. ii. 20, 21. This series, Vol. II., p. 545. See also St. Chrys. ad Illum Catech. ii. 5. This series, Vol. IX., p. 170.--G.A. [316] [Compare Chrysostom's Commentary on Gal. i. 7.--G.A.]

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