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 XX.

Ephesians v. 22-24

"Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the Church: being Himself the Saviour of the body. But as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything.

A certain wise man, setting down a number of things in the rank of blessings, set down this also in the rank of a blessing, "A wife agreeing with her husband." (Ecclus. xxv. 1.) And elsewhere again he sets it down among blessings, that a woman should dwell in harmony with her husband. (Ecclus. xl. 23.) And indeed from the beginning, God appears to have made special provision for this union; and discoursing of the twain as one, He said thus, "Male and female created He them" (Gen. i. 27.); and again, "There is neither male nor female." (Gal. iii. 28.) For there is no relationship between man and man so close as that between man and wife, if they be joined together as they should be. And therefore a certain blessed man too, when he would express surpassing love, and was mourning for one that was dear to him, and of one soul with him, did not mention father, nor mother, nor child, nor brother, nor friend, but what? "Thy love to me was wonderful," saith he, "passing the love of women." (2 Sam. i. 26.) For indeed, in very deed, this love is more despotic than any despotism: for others indeed may be strong, but this passion is not only strong, but unfading. For there is a certain love deeply seated in our nature, which imperceptibly to ourselves knits together these bodies of ours. Thus even from the very beginning woman sprang from man, and afterwards from man and woman sprang both man and woman. [415] Perceivest thou the close bond and connection? And how that God suffered not a different kind of nature to enter in from without? And mark, how many providential arrangements He made. He permitted the man to marry his own sister; or rather not his sister, but his daughter; nay, nor yet his daughter, but something more than his daughter, even his own flesh. [416] And thus the whole He framed from one beginning, gathering all together, like stones in a building, into one. For neither on the one hand did He form her from without, and this was that the man might not feel towards her as towards an alien; nor again did He confine marriage to her, [417] that she might not, by contracting herself, [418] and making all center in herself, be cut off from the rest. Thus as in the case of plants, they are of all others the best, which have but a single stem, and spread out into a number of branches; (since were all confined to the root alone, all would be to no purpose, whereas again had it a number of roots, the tree would be no longer worthy of admiration;) so, I say, is the case here also. From one, namely Adam, He made the whole race to spring, preventing them by the strongest necessity from being ever torn asunder, or separated; and afterwards, making it more restricted, He no longer allowed sisters and daughters to be wives, lest we should on the other hand contract our love to one point, and thus in another manner be cut off from one another. Hence Christ said, "He which made them from the beginning, made them male and female." (Matt. xix. 4.)

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For great evils are hence produced, and great benefits, both to families and to states. For there is nothing which so welds our life together as the love of man and wife. For this many will lay aside even their arms, [419] for this they will give up life itself. And Paul would never without a reason and without an object have spent so much pains on this subject, as when he says here, "Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." And why so? Because when they are in harmony, the children are well brought up, and the domestics are in good order, and neighbors, and friends, and relations enjoy the fragrance. But if it be otherwise, all is turned upside down, and thrown into confusion. And just as when the generals of an army are at peace one with another, all things are in due subordination, whereas on the other hand, if they are at variance, everything is turned upside down; so, I say, is it also here. Wherefore, saith he, "Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord."

Yet how strange! for how then is it, that it is said elsewhere, "If one bid not farewell both to wife and to husband, he cannot follow me"? (Luke xiv. 26.) For if it is their duty to be in subjection "as unto the Lord," how saith He that they must depart from them for the Lord's sake? Yet their duty indeed it is, their bounden duty. But the word "as" is not necessarily and universally expressive of exact equality. He either means this, "`as' knowing that ye are servants to the Lord"; (which, by the way, is what he says elsewhere, that, even though they do it not for the husband's sake, yet must they primarily for the Lord's sake;) or else he means, "when thou obeyest thy husband, do so as serving the Lord." [420] For if he who resisteth these external authorities, those of governments, I mean, "withstandeth the ordinance of God" (Rom. xiii. 2.), much more does she who submits not herself to her husband. Such was God's will from the beginning.

Let us take as our fundamental position then that the husband occupies the place of the "head," and the wife the place of the "body."

Ver. 23, 24. Then, he proceeds with arguments and says that "the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the Church, being Himself the Saviour of the body. But [421] as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their husbands in everything."

Then after saying, "The husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is of the Church," he further adds, "and He is the Saviour of the body." For indeed the head is the saving health of the body. He had already laid down beforehand for man and wife, the ground and provision of their love, assigning to each their proper place, to the one that of authority and forethought, to the other that of submission. As then "the Church," that is, both husbands and wives, "is subject unto Christ, so also ye wives submit yourselves to your husbands, as unto God."

Ver. 25. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church."

Thou hast heard how great the submission; thou hast extolled and marvelled at Paul, how, like an admirable and spiritual man, he welds together our whole life. Thou didst well. But now hear what he also requires at thy hands; for again he employs the same example.

"Husbands," saith he, "love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church."

Thou hast seen the measure of obedience, hear also the measure of love. [422] Wouldest thou have thy wife obedient unto thee, as the Church is to Christ? Take then thyself the same provident care for her, as Christ takes for the Church. Yea, even if it shall be needful for thee to give thy life for her, yea, and to be cut into pieces ten thousand times, yea, and to endure and undergo any suffering whatever,--refuse it not. Though thou shouldest undergo all this, yet wilt thou not, no, not even then, have done anything like Christ. For thou indeed art doing it for one to whom thou art already knit; but He for one who turned her back on Him and hated Him. In the same way then as He laid at His feet her who turned her back on Him, who hated, and spurned, and disdained Him, not by menaces, nor by violence, nor by terror, nor by anything else of the kind, but by his unwearied affection; so also do thou behave thyself toward thy wife. Yea, though thou see her looking down upon thee, and disdaining, and scorning thee, yet by thy great thoughtfulness for her, by affection, by kindness, thou wilt be able to lay her at thy feet. For there is nothing more powerful to sway than these bonds, and especially for husband and wife. A servant, indeed, one will be able, perhaps, to bind down by fear; nay not even him, for he will soon start away and be gone. But the partner of one's life, the mother of one's children, the foundation of one's every joy, one ought never to chain down by fear and menaces, but with love and good temper. For what sort of union is that, where the wife trembles at her husband? And what sort of pleasure will the husband himself enjoy, if he dwells with his wife as with a slave, and not as with a free-woman? Yea, though thou shouldest suffer anything on her account, do not upbraid her; for neither did Christ do this.

Ver. 26. "And gave Himself up," he says, "for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it."

So then she was unclean! So then she had blemishes, so then she was unsightly, so then she was worthless! Whatsoever kind of wife thou shalt take, yet shalt thou never take such a bride as the Church, when Christ took her, nor one so far removed from thee as the Church was from Christ. And yet for all that, He did not abhor her, nor loathe her for her surpassing deformity. Wouldest thou hear her deformity described? Hear what Paul saith, "For ye were once darkness." (Eph. v. 8.) Didst thou see the blackness of her hue? What blacker than darkness? But look again at her boldness, "living," saith he, "in malice and envy." (Tit. iii. 3.) Look again at her impurity; "disobedient, foolish." But what am I saying? She was both foolish, and of an evil tongue; and yet notwithstanding, though so many were her blemishes, yet did He give Himself up for her in her deformity, as for one in the bloom of youth, as for one dearly beloved, as for one of wonderful beauty. And it was in admiration of this that Paul said, "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die (Rom. v. 7.); and again, "in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. v. 8.) And though such as this, He took her, He arrayed her in beauty, and washed her, and refused not even this, to give Himself for her.

Ver. 26, 27. "That He might sanctify it having cleansed it," he proceeds, "by the washing of water with the word; that He might present the Church to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish."

"By the washing or laver" He washeth her uncleanness. "By the word," saith he. What word? "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." [423] (Matt. xxviii. 19.) And not simply hath He adorned her, but hath made her "glorious, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." Let us then also seek after this beauty ourselves, and we shall be able to create it. Seek not thou at thy wife's hand, things which she is not able to possess. Seest thou that the Church had all things at her Lord's hands? By Him was made glorious, by Him was made pure, by Him made without blemish? Turn not thy back on thy wife because of her deformity. Hear the Scripture that saith, "The bee is little among such as fly, but her fruit is the chief of sweet things." [424] (Ecclus. xi. 3.) She is of God's fashioning. Thou reproachest not her, but Him that made her; what can the woman do? Praise her not for her beauty. Praise and hatred and love based on personal beauty belong to unchastened souls. Seek thou for beauty of soul. Imitate the Bridegroom of the Church. Outward beauty is full of conceit and great license, and throws men into jealousy, and the thing often makes thee suspect monstrous things. But has it any pleasure? For the first or second month, perhaps, or at most for the year: but then no longer; the admiration by familiarity wastes away. Meanwhile the evils which arose from the beauty still abide, the pride, the folly, the contemptuousness. Whereas in one who is not such, there is nothing of this kind. But the love having begun on just grounds, still continues ardent, since its object is beauty of soul, and not of body. What better, tell me, than heaven? What better than the stars? Tell me of what body you will, yet is there none so fair. Tell me of what eyes you will, yet are there none so sparkling. When these were created, the very Angels gazed with wonder, and we gaze with wonder now; yet not in the same degree as at first. Such is familiarity; things do not strike us in the same degree. How much more in the case of a wife! And if moreover disease come too, all is at once fled. Let us seek in a wife affectionateness, modest-mindedness, gentleness; these are the characteristics of beauty. But loveliness of person let us not seek, nor upbraid her upon these points, over which she has no power, nay, rather, let us not upbraid at all, (it were rudeness,) nor let us be impatient, nor sullen. Do ye not see how many, after living with beautiful wives, have ended their lives pitiably, and how many, who have lived with those of no great beauty, have run on to extreme old age with great enjoyment. Let us wipe off the "spot" that is within, let us smooth the "wrinkles" that are within, let us do away the "blemishes" that are on the soul. Such is the beauty God requires. Let us make her fair in God's sight, not in our own. Let us not look for wealth, nor for that high-birth which is outward, but for that true nobility which is in the soul. Let no one endure to get rich by a wife; for such riches are base and disgraceful; no, by no means let any one seek to get rich from this source. "For they that desire to be rich, fall into a temptation and a snare, and many foolish and hurtful lusts, and into destruction and perdition." (1 Tim. vi. 9.) Seek not therefore in thy wife abundance of wealth, and thou shalt find everything else go well. Who, tell me, would overlook the most important things, to attend to those which are less so? And yet, alas! this is in every case our feeling. Yes, if we have a son, we concern ourselves not how he may be made virtuous, but how we may get him a rich wife; not how he may be well-mannered, but well-monied: [425] if we follow a business, we enquire not how it may be clear of sin, but how it may bring us in most profit. And everything has become money; and thus is everything corrupted and ruined, because that passion possesses us.

Ver. 28. "Even so ought husbands to love their own wives," saith he, "as their own bodies."

What, again, means this? To how much greater a similitude, and stronger example has he come; and not only so, but also to one how much nearer and clearer, and to a fresh obligation. For that other one was of no very constraining force, for He was Christ, and was God, and gave Himself. He now manages his argument on a different ground, saying, "so ought men"; because the thing is not a favor, but a debt. Then, "as their own bodies." And why?

Ver. 29. "For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it."

That is, tends it with exceeding care. And how is she his flesh? Hearken; "This now is bone of my bones," saith Adam, "and flesh of my flesh." (Gen. ii. 23.) For she is made of matter taken from us. And not only so, but also, "they shall be," saith God, "one flesh." (Gen. ii. 24.)

"Even as Christ also the Church." Here he returns to the former example.

Ver. 30. "Because we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones." [426]

Ver. 31. "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the twain shall become one flesh." [427]

Behold again a third ground of obligation; for he shows that a man leaving them that begat him, and from whom he was born, is knit to his wife; and that then the one flesh is, father, and mother, and the child, from the substance of the two commingled. For indeed by the commingling of their seeds is the child produced, so that the three are one flesh. Thus then are we in relation to Christ; we become one flesh by participation, and we much more than the child. And why and how so? Because so it has been from the beginning.

Tell me not that such and such things are so. Seest thou not that we have in our own flesh itself many defects? For one man, for instance, is lame, another has his feet distorted, another his hands withered, another some other member weak; and yet nevertheless he does not grieve at it, nor cut it off, but oftentimes prefers it even to the other. Naturally enough; for it is part of himself. As great love as each entertains towards himself, so great he would have us entertain towards a wife. Not because we partake of the same nature; no, this ground of duty towards a wife is far greater than that; it is that there are not two bodies but one; he the head, she the body. And how saith he elsewhere "and the Head of Christ is God"? (1 Cor. xi. 3.) This I too say, that as we are one body, so also are Christ and the Father One. And thus then is the Father also found to be our Head. He sets down two examples, that of the natural body and that of Christ's body. And hence he further adds,

Ver. 32. "This is great mystery: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the Church." [428]

Why does he call it a great mystery? That it was something great and wonderful, the blessed Moses, or rather God, intimated. For the present, however, saith he, I speak regarding Christ, that having left the Father, He came down, and came to the Bride, and became one Spirit. "For he that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit." (1 Cor. vi. 17.) And well saith he, "it is a great mystery." And then as though he were saying, "But still nevertheless the allegory does not destroy affection," he adds,

Ver. 33. "Nevertheless [429] do ye also severally love each one his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she fear her husband."

For indeed, in very deed, a mystery it is, yea, a great mystery, that a man should leave him that gave him being, him that begat him, and that brought him up, and her that travailed with him and had sorrow, those that have bestowed upon him so many and great benefits, those with whom he has been in familiar intercourse, and be joined to one who was never even seen by him and who has nothing in common with him, and should honor her before all others. A mystery it is indeed. And yet are parents not distressed when these events take place, but rather, when they do not take place; and are delighted when their wealth is spent and lavished upon it.--A great mystery indeed! and one that contains some hidden wisdom. Such Moses prophetically showed it to be from the very first; such now also Paul proclaims it, where he saith, "concerning Christ and the Church."

However not for the husband's sake alone it is thus said, but for the wife's sake also, that "he cherish her as his own flesh, as Christ also the Church," and, "that the wife fear her husband." He is no longer setting down the duties of love only, but what? "That she fear her husband." The wife is a second authority; let not her then demand equality, for she is under the head; nor let him despise her as being in subjection, for she is the body; and if the head despise the body, it will itself also perish. But let him bring in love on his part as a counterpoise to obedience on her part. For example, let the hands and the feet, and all the rest of the members be given up for service to the head, but let the head provide for the body, seeing it contains every sense in itself. Nothing can be better than this union.

And yet how can there ever be love, one may say, where there is fear? It will exist there, I say, preëminently. For she that fears and reverences, loves also; and she that loves, fears and reverences him as being the head, and loves him as being a member, since the head itself is a member of the body at large. Hence he places the one in subjection, and the other in authority, that there may be peace; for where there is equal authority there can never be peace; neither where a house is a democracy, nor where all are rulers; but the ruling power must of necessity be one. And this is universally the case with matters referring to the body, inasmuch as when men are spiritual, there will be peace. There were "five thousand souls," and not one of them said, "that aught of the things which he possessed was his own" (Acts iv. 32.), but they were subject one to another; an indication this of wisdom, and of the fear of God. The principle of love, however, he explains; that of fear he does not. And mark, how on that of love he enlarges, stating the arguments relating to Christ and those relating to one's own flesh, the words, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother." (Ver. 31.) Whereas upon those drawn from fear he forbears to enlarge. And why so? Because he would rather that this principle prevail, this, namely, of love; for where this exists, everything else follows of course, but where the other exists, not necessarily. For the man who loves his wife, even though she be not a very obedient one, still will bear with everything. So difficult and impracticable is unanimity, where persons are not bound together by that love which is founded in supreme authority; at all events, fear will not necessarily effect this. Accordingly, he dwells the more upon this, which is the strong tie. And the wife though seeming to be the loser in that she was charged to fear, is the gainer, because the principal duty, love, is charged upon the husband. "But what," one may say, "if a wife reverence me not?" Never mind, thou art to love, fulfill thine own duty. For though that which is due from others may not follow, we ought of course to do our duty. This is an example of what I mean. He says, "submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ." And what then if another submit not himself? Still obey thou the law of God. Just so, I say, is it also here. Let the wife at least, though she be not loved, still reverence notwithstanding, that nothing may lie at her door; and let the husband, though his wife reverence him not, still show her love notwithstanding, that he himself be not wanting in any point. For each has received his own.

This then is marriage when it takes place according to Christ, spiritual marriage, and spiritual birth, not of blood, nor of travail, nor of the will of the flesh. Such was the birth of Christ, not of blood, nor of travail. Such also was that of Isaac. Hear how the Scripture saith, "And it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women." (Gen. xviii. 11.) Yea, a marriage it is, not of passion, nor of the flesh, but wholly spiritual, the soul being united to God by a union unspeakable, and which He alone knoweth. Therefore he saith, "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." (1 Cor. vi. 17.) Mark how earnestly he endeavors to unite both flesh with flesh, and spirit with spirit. And where are the heretics? [430] Never surely, if marriage were a thing to be condemned, would he have called Christ and the Church a bride and bridegroom; never would he have brought forward by way of exhortation the words, "A man shall leave his father and his mother"; and again have added, that it was "spoken in regard of Christ and of the Church." For of her it is that the Psalmist also saith, "Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house. So shall the king desire thy beauty." (Ps. xlv. 10, 11.) Therefore also Christ saith, "I came out from the Father, and am come." (John xvi. 28.) But when I say, that He left the Father, imagine not such a thing as happens among men, a change of place; for just in the same way as the word "go forth" is used, not because He literally came forth, but because of His incarnation, so also is the expression, "He left the Father."

Now why did he not say of the wife also, She shall be joined unto her husband? Why, I say, is this? Because he was discoursing concerning love, and was discoursing to the husband. For to her indeed he discourses concerning reverence, and says, "the husband is the head of the wife" (ver. 23.), and again, "Christ is the Head of the Church." Whereas to him he discourses concerning love, and commits to him this province of love, and declares to him that which pertains to love, thus binding him and cementing him to her. For the man that leaves his father for the sake of his wife, and then again, leaves this very wife herself and abandons her, what forbearance can he deserve?

Seest thou not how great a share of honor God would have her enjoy, in that he hath taken thee away from thy father, and hath linked thee to her? What then, a man may say, if our duty is done, and yet she does not follow the example? "Yet if the unbelieving departeth, let him depart; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases." (1 Cor. vii. 15.)

However, when thou hearest of "fear," demand that fear which becomes a free woman, not as though thou wert exacting it of a slave. For she is thine own body; and if thou do this, thou reproachest thyself in dishonoring thine own body. And of what nature is this "fear"? It is the not contradicting, the not rebelling, the not being fond of the preëminence. It is enough that fear be kept within these bounds. But if thou love, as thou art commanded, thou wilt make it yet greater. Or rather it will not be any longer by fear that thou wilt be doing this, but love itself will have its effect. The sex is somehow weaker, and needs much support, much condescension.

But what will they say, who are knit together in second marriages? [431] I speak not at all in condemnation of them, God forbid; for the Apostle himself permits them, though indeed by way of condescension.

Supply her with everything. Do everything and endure trouble for her sake. Necessity is laid upon thee.

Here he does not think it right to introduce his counsel, as he in many cases does, with examples from them that are without. That of Christ, so great and forcible, were alone enough; and more especially as regards the argument of subjection. "A man shall leave," he saith, "his father and mother." Behold, this then is from without. But he does not say, and "shall dwell with," but "shall cleave unto," thus showing the closeness of the union, and the fervent love. Nay, he is not content with this, but further by what he adds, he explains the subjection in such a way as that the twain appear no longer twain. He does not say, "one spirit," he does not say, "one soul" (for that is manifest, and is possible to any one), but so as to be "one flesh." She is a second authority, possessing indeed an authority, and a considerable equality of dignity; but at the same time the husband has somewhat of superiority. In this consists most chiefly the well-being of the house. For he took that former argument, the example of Christ, to show that we ought not only to love, but also to govern; "that she may be," saith he, "holy and without blemish." But the word "flesh" has reference to love--and the word "shall cleave" has in like manner reference to love. For if thou shalt make her "holy and without blemish," everything else will follow. Seek the things which are of God, and those which are of man will follow readily enough. Govern thy wife, and thus will the whole house be in harmony. Hear what Paul saith. "And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home." (1 Cor. xiv. 35.) If we thus regulate our own houses, we shall be also fit for the management of the Church. For indeed a house is a little Church. Thus it is possible for us by becoming good husbands and wives, to surpass all others.

Consider Abraham, and Sarah, and Isaac, and the three hundred and eighteen born in his house. (Gen. xiv. 14.) How the whole house was harmoniously knit together, how the whole was full of piety and fulfilled the Apostolic injunction. She also "reverenced her husband"; for hear her own words, "It hath not yet happened unto me even until now, and my lord is old also." (Gen. xviii. 12.) [432] And he again so loved her, that in all things he obeyed her commands. And the young child was virtuous, and the servants born in the house, they too were so excellent that they refused not even to hazard their lives with their master; they delayed not, nor asked the reason. Nay, one of them, the chief, was so admirable, that he was even entrusted with the marriage of the only-begotten child, and with a journey into a foreign country. (Gen. xxiv. 1-67.) For just as with a general, when his soldiery also is well organized, the enemy has no quarter to attack; so, I say, is it also here: when husband and wife and children and servants are all interested in the same things, great is the harmony of the house. Since where this is not the case, the whole is oftentimes overthrown and broken up by one bad servant; and that single one will often mar and utterly destroy the whole.

Moral. Let us then be very thoughtful both for our wives, and children, and servants; knowing that we shall thus be establishing for ourselves an easy government, and shall have our accounts with them gentle and lenient, and say, "Behold I, and the children which God hath given me." (Isa. viii. 18.) If the husband command respect, and the head be honorable, then will the rest of the body sustain no violence. Now what is the wife's fitting behavior, and what the husband's, he states accurately, charging her to reverence him as the head, and him to love her as a wife; but how, it may be said, can these things be? That they ought indeed so to be, he has proved. But how they can be so, I will tell you. They will be so, if we will despise money, if we will look but to one thing only, excellence of soul, if we will keep the fear of God before our eyes. For what he says in his discourse to servants, "whatsoever any man doeth, whether it be good or evil, the same shall he receive of the Lord" (Eph. vi. 8.); this is also the case here. Love her therefore not for her sake so much as for Christ's sake. This, at least, he as much as intimates, in saying, "as unto the Lord." So then do everything, as in obedience to the Lord, and as doing everything for His sake. This were enough to induce and to persuade us, and not to suffer that there should be any teasing and dissension. Let none be believed when slandering the husband to his wife; no, nor let the husband believe anything at random against the wife, nor let the wife be without reason inquisitive about his goings out and his comings in. No, nor on any account let the husband ever render himself worthy of any suspicion whatever. For what, tell me, what if thou shalt devote thyself all the day to thy friends, and give the evening to thy wife, and not even thus be able to content her, and place her out of reach of suspicion? Though thy wife complain, yet be not annoyed--it is her love, not her folly--they are the complaints of fervent attachment, and burning affection, and fear. Yes, she is afraid lest any one have stolen her marriage bed, lest any one have injured her in that which is the summit of her blessings, lest any one have taken away from her him who is her head, lest any one have broken through her marriage chamber.

There is also another ground of petty jealousy. Let neither claim too much service of the servants, neither the husband from the maid-servant, nor the wife from the man-servant. For these things also are enough to beget suspicion. For consider, I say, that righteous household I spoke of. Sarah herself bade the patriarch take Hagar. She herself directed it, no one compelled her, nor did the husband [433] attempt it; no, although he had dragged on so long a period childless, yet he chose never to become a father, rather than to grieve his wife. And yet even after all this, what said Sarah? "The Lord judge between me and thee." (Gen. xvi. 5.) Now, I say, had he been any one else would he not have been moved to anger? Would he not also have stretched forth his hand, saying as it were, "What meanest thou? I had no desire to have anything to do with the woman; it was all thine own doing; and dost thou turn again and accuse me?"--But no, he says nothing of the sort;--but what? "Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her that which is good in thine eyes." (Gen. xvi. 6.) He delivered up the partner of his bed, that he might not grieve Sarah. And yet surely is there nothing greater than this for producing affection. For if partaking of the same table produces unanimity even in robbers towards their foes, (and the Psalmist [434] saith, "Who didst eat sweet food at the same table with me"); much more will the becoming one flesh--for such is the being the partner of the bed--be effectual to draw us together. Yet did none of these things avail to overcome him; but he delivered Hagar up to his wife, to show that nothing had been done by his own fault. Nay, and what is more, he sent her forth when with child. Who would not have pitied one that had conceived a child by himself? Yet was the just man unmoved, for he set before everything else the love he owed his wife.

Let us then imitate him ourselves. Let no one reproach his neighbor with his poverty; let no one be in love with money; and then all difficulties will be at an end.

Neither let a wife say to her husband, "Unmanly coward that thou art, full of sluggishness and dullness, and fast asleep! here is such a one, a low man, and of low parentage, who runs his risks, and makes his voyages, and has made a good fortune; and his wife wears her jewels, and goes out with her pair of milk-white mules; [435] she rides about everywhere, she has troops of slaves, and a swarm of eunuchs, but thou hast cowered down and livest to no purpose." Let not a wife say these things, nor anything like them. For she is the body, not to dictate to the head, but to submit herself and obey. "But how," some one will say, "is she to endure poverty? Where is she to look for consolation?" Let her select and put beside her those who are poorer still. Let her again consider how many noble and high-born maidens have not only received nothing of their husbands, but have even given dowries to them, and have spent their all upon them. Let her reflect on the perils which arise from such riches, and she will cling to this quiet life. In short, if she is affectionately disposed towards her husband, she will utter nothing of the sort. No, she will rather choose to have him near her, though gaining nothing, than gaining ten thousand talents of gold, accompanied with that care and anxiety which always arise to wives from those distant voyages.

Neither, however, let the husband, when he hears these things, on the score of his having the supreme authority, betake himself to revilings and to blows; but let him exhort, let him admonish her, as being less perfect, let him persuade her with arguments. Let him never once lift his hand,--far be this from a noble spirit,--no, nor give expression to insults, or taunts, or revilings; but let him regulate and direct her as being wanting in wisdom. Yet how shall this be done? If she be instructed in the true riches, in the heavenly philosophy, she will make no complaints like these. Let him teach her then, that poverty is no evil. Let him teach her, not by what he says only, but also by what he does. Let him teach her to despise glory; and then his wife will speak of nothing, and will desire nothing of the kind. Let him, as if he had an image given into his hands to mould, let him, from that very evening on which he first receives her into the bridal chamber, teach her temperance, gentleness, and how to live, casting down the love of money at once from the outset, and from the very threshold. Let him discipline her in wisdom, and advise her never to have bits of gold hanging at her ears, and down her cheeks, and laid round about her neck, nor laid up about the chamber, nor golden and costly garments stored up. But let her chamber be handsome, still let not what is handsome degenerate into finery. No, leave these things to the people of the stage. Adorn thine house thyself with all possible neatness, so as rather to breathe an air of soberness than much perfume. For hence will arise two or three good results. First then, the bride will not be grieved, when the apartments are opened, and the tissues, and the golden ornaments, and silver vessels, are sent back to their several owners. Next, the bridegroom will have no anxiety about the loss, nor for the security of the accumulated treasures. Thirdly again, in addition to this, which is the crown of all these benefits, by these very points he will be showing his own judgment, that indeed he has no pleasure in any of these things, and that he will moreover put an end to everything else in keeping with them, and will never so much as allow the existence either of dances, or of immodest songs. I am aware that I shall appear perhaps ridiculous to many persons, in giving such admonitions. Still nevertheless, if ye will but listen to me, as time goes on, and the benefit of the practice accrues to you, then ye will understand the advantage of it. And the laughter will pass off, and ye will laugh at the present fashion, and will see that the present practice is really that of silly children and of drunken men. Whereas what I recommend is the part of soberness, and wisdom, and of the sublimest way of life. What then do I say is our duty? Take away from marriage all those shameful, those Satanic, those immodest songs, those companies of profligate young people, and this will avail to chasten the spirit of thy bride. [436] For she will at once thus reason with herself; "Wonderful! What a philosopher this man is! he regards the present life as nothing, he has brought me here into his house, to be a mother, to bring up his children, to manage his household affairs." "Yes, but these things are distasteful to a bride?" Just for the first or second day;--but not afterwards; nay, she will even reap from them the greatest delight, and relieve herself of all suspicion. For a man who can endure neither flute-players, nor dancers, nor broken songs, [437] and that too at the very time of his wedding, that man will scarcely endure ever to do or say anything shameful. And then after this, when thou hast stripped the marriage of all these things, then take her, and form and mould her carefully, encouraging her bashfulness to a considerable length of time, and not destroying it suddenly. For even if the damsel be very bold, yet for a time she will keep silence out of reverence for her husband, and feeling herself a novice in the circumstances. Thou then break not off this reserve too hastily, as unchaste husbands do, but encourage it for a long time. For this will be a great advantage to thee. Meanwhile she will not complain, she will not find fault with any laws thou mayest frame for her. During that time therefore, during which shame, like a sort of bridle laid upon the soul, suffers her not to make any murmur, nor to complain of what is done, lay down all thy laws. For as soon as ever she acquires boldness, she will overturn and confound everything without any sense of fear. When is there then another time so advantageous for moulding a wife, as that during which she reverences her husband, and is still timid, and still shy? Then lay down all thy laws for her, and willing or unwilling, she will certainly obey them. But how shalt thou help spoiling her modesty? By showing her that thou thyself art no less modest than she is, addressing to her but few words, and those too with great gravity and collectedness. Then entrust her with the discourses of wisdom, for her soul will receive them. And establish her in that loveliest habit, I mean modesty. If you wish me, I will also tell you by way of specimen, what sort of language should be addressed to her. For if Paul shrank not from saying, "Defraud ye not one the other" (2 Cor. vii. 5.), and spoke the language of a bridesmaid, or rather not of a bridesmaid, but of a spiritual soul, much more will not we shrink from speaking. What then is the language we ought to address to her? With great delicacy then we may say to her, "I have taken thee, my child, to be partner of my life, and have brought thee in to share with me in the closest and most honorable ties, in my children, and the superintendence of my house. And what advice then shall I now recommend thee?" But rather, first talk with her of your love for her; for there is nothing that so contributes to persuade a hearer to admit sincerely the things that are said, as to be assured that they are said with hearty affection. How then art thou to show that affection? By saying, "when it was in my power to take many to wife, both with better fortunes, and of noble family, I did not so choose, but I was enamoured of thee, and thy beautiful life, thy modesty, thy gentleness, and soberness of mind." Then immediately from these beginnings open the way to your discourse on true wisdom, and with some circumlocution make a protest against riches. For if you direct your argument at once against riches, you will bear too heavily upon her; but if you do it by taking an occasion, you will succeed entirely. For you will appear to be doing it in the way of an apology, not as a morose sort of person, and ungracious, and over-nice about trifles. But when you take occasion from what relates to herself, she will be even pleased. You will say then, (for I must now take up the discourse again,) that "whereas I might have married a rich woman, and with good fortune, I could not endure it. And why so? Not capriciously, and without reason; but I was taught well and truly, that money is no real possession, but a most despicable thing, a thing which moreover belongs as well to thieves, and to harlots, and to grave-robbers. So I gave up these things, and went on till I fell in with the excellence of thy soul, which I value above all gold. For a young damsel who is discreet and ingenuous, and whose heart is set on piety, is worth the whole world. For these reasons then, I courted thee, and I love thee, and prefer thee to my own soul. For the present life is nothing. And I pray, and beseech, and do all I can, that we may be counted worthy so to live this present life, as that we may be able also there in the world to come to be united to one another in perfect security. For our time here is brief and fleeting. But if we shall be counted worthy by having pleased God to so exchange this life for that one, then shall we ever be both with Christ and with each other, with more abundant pleasure. I value thy affection above all things, and nothing is so bitter or so painful to me, as ever to be at variance with thee. Yes, though it should be my lot to lose my all, and to become poorer than Irus, [438] and undergo the extremest hazards, and suffer any pain whatsoever, all will be tolerable and endurable, so long as thy feelings are true towards me. And then will my children be most dear to me, whilst thou art affectionately disposed towards me. But thou must do these duties too." Then mingle also with your discourse the Apostle's words, that "thus God would have our affections blended together; for listen to the Scripture, which saith, `For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife.' Let us have no pretext for narrow-minded jealousy. [439] Perish riches, and retinue of slaves, and all your outward pomps. To me this is more valuable than all." What weight of gold, what amount of treasures, are so dear to a wife as these words? Never fear that because she is beloved she will ever rave against thee, but confess that thou lovest her. For courtezans indeed, who now attach themselves to one and now to another, would naturally enough feel contempt towards their lovers, should they hear such expressions as these; but a free-born wife or a noble damsel would never be so affected with such words; no, she will be so much the more subdued. Show her too, that you set a high value on her company, and that you are more desirous to be at home for her sake, than in the market-place. And esteem her before all your friends, and above the children that are born of her, and let these very children be beloved by thee for her sake. If she does any good act, praise and admire it; if any foolish one, and such as girls may chance to do, advise her and remind her. Condemn out and out all riches and extravagance, and gently point out the ornament that there is in neatness and in modesty; and be continually teaching her the things that are profitable.

Let your prayers be common. [440] Let each go to Church; and let the husband ask his wife at home, and she again ask her husband, the account of the things which were said and read there. If any poverty should overtake you, cite the case of those holy men, Paul and Peter, who were more honored than any kings or rich men; and yet how they spent their lives, in hunger and in thirst. Teach her that there is nothing in life that is to be feared, save only offending against God. If any marry thus, with these views, he will be but little inferior to monks; the married but little below the unmarried.

If thou hast a mind to give dinners, and to make entertainments, let there be nothing immodest, nothing disorderly. If thou shouldest find any poor saint able to bless your house, able only just by setting his foot in it to bring in the whole blessing of God, invite him. And shalt I say moreover another thing? Let no one of you make it his endeavor to marry a rich woman, but much rather a poor one. When she comes in, she will not bring so great a source of pleasure from her riches, as she will annoyance from her taunts, from her demanding more than she brought, from her insolence, her extravagance, her vexatious language. For she will say perhaps, "I have not yet spent anything of thine, I am still wearing my own apparel, bought with what my parents settled upon me." What sayest thou, O woman? Still wearing thine own! And what can be more miserable than this language? Why, thou hast no longer a body of thine own, and hast thou money of thine own? After marriage ye are no longer twain, but are become one flesh, and are then your possessions twain, and not one? Oh! this love of money! Ye both are become one man, one living creature; and dost thou still say "mine own"? Cursed and abominable word that it is, it was brought in by the devil. Things far nearer and dearer to us than these hath God made all common to us, and are these then not common? We cannot say, "my own light, my own sun, my own water": all our greater blessings are common, and are riches not common? Perish the riches ten thousand times over! Or rather not the riches, but those tempers of mind which know not how to make use of riches, but esteem them above all things.

Teach her these lessons also with the rest, but with much graciousness. For since the recommendation of virtue has in itself much that is stern, and especially to a young and tender damsel, whenever discourses on true wisdom are to be made, contrive that your manner be full of grace and kindness. And above all banish this notion from her soul, of "mine and thine." If she say the word "mine," say unto her, "What things dost thou call thine? For in truth I know not; I for my part have nothing of mine own. How then speakest thou of `mine,' when all things are thine?" Freely grant her the word. Dost thou not perceive that such is our practice with children? When, whilst we are holding anything, a child snatches it, and wishes again to get hold of some other thing, we allow it, and say, "Yes, and this is thine, and that is thine." The same also let us do with a wife; for her temper is more or less like a child's; and if she says "mine," say, "why, everything is thine, and I am thine." Nor is the expression one of flattery, but of exceeding wisdom. Thus wilt thou be able to abate her wrath, and put an end to her disappointment. For it is flattery when a man does an unworthy act with an evil object: whereas this is the highest philosophy. Say then, "Even I am thine, my child; this advice Paul gives me where he says, `The husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife.' (1 Cor. vii. 4.) If I have no power over my body, but thou hast, much more hast thou over my possessions." By saying these things thou wilt have quieted her, thou wilt have quenched the fire, thou wilt have shamed the devil, thou wilt have made her more thy slave than one bought with money, with this language thou wilt have bound her fast. Thus then, by thine own language, teach her never to speak of "mine and thine." And again, never call her simply by her name, but with terms of endearment, with honor, with much love. Honor her, and she will not need honor from others; she will not want the glory that comes from others, if she enjoys that which comes from thee. Prefer her before all, on every account, both for her beauty and her discernment, and praise her. Thou wilt thus persuade her to give heed to none that are without, but to scorn all the world except thyself. Teach her the fear of God, and all good things will flow from this as from a fountain, and the house will be full of ten thousand blessings. If we seek the things that are incorruptible, these corruptible things will follow. "For," saith He, "seek first His kingdom, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. vi. 33.) What sort of persons, think you, must the children of such parents be? What the servants of such masters? What all others who come near them? Will not they too eventually be loaded with blessings out of number? For generally the servants also have their characters formed after their master's, and are fashioned after their humors, love the same objects, which they have been taught to love, speak the same language, and engage with them in the same pursuits. If thus we regulate ourselves, and attentively study the Scriptures, in most things we shall derive instruction from them. And thus shall be able to please God, and to pass through the whole of the present life virtuously, and to attain those blessings which are promised to those that love Him, of which God grant that we may all be counted worthy, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, together with the Holy Ghost, be unto the Father, glory, power, and honor, now, and ever, through all ages. Amen.

Footnotes

[415] [Compare what Paul says in 1 Cor. xi. 8 and 12.--G.A.] [416] [He refers to Adam's marrying Eve.--G.A.] [417] [That is, he did not confine marriage to woman with woman.--G.A.] [418] [There is another reading which applies these words to the man, as follows: sustellon heauton kai sunagon, "that he might not, by contracting himself and making all center in himself, be cut off from the rest," instead of sustellousa, etc.--G.A.] [419] hopla. [420] ["hos expresses the mode of view in which the wives are to regard their obedience towards their husbands, namely, `as rendered to the Lord.'"--Meyer. In Luke xiv. 26 the absolute is put for the relative, as elsewhere often, and this explains our author's difficulty.--G.A.] [421] [This "but" is by no means easy of explanation, but probably is to be understood thus: He is the saviour of the body that man certainly is not, "but, nevertheless," as the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their husbands, etc.--Ellicott, Meyer, Bengel, Calvin, and Alford.--G.A.] [422] ["If you put all the arguments of orators together, you will not persuade husband and wife to mutual affection as Paul does in this place."--Bugenhagen, quoted by Meyer.--G.A.] [423] ["`The word' (rhema) does not mean here the `baptismal formula,' as Chrysostom holds, but `the gospel,' and here stands without the article, because, denoting `the word' kat' exochen, it could be treated as a proper noun, as nomos, &c. All special interpretations, except that of `gospel,' are purely invented."--Meyer.--G.A.] [424] [Note that Chrysostom here quotes the Old Testament Apocrypha as Scripture: akoue tes graphes legouses. Dr. Schaff says: "He accepts the Syrian Canon of the Peshito, which includes the Old Test. with the Apocrypha," &c. Prolegomena, p. 19.--G.A.] [425] ouch hopos eutropos all' hopos euporos. [426] [The words, "of his flesh and of his bones," are omitted by #* A B, by Memphitic version, by Lach. Tish. Treg. (text) W. & H., and by the Rev. Ver. without any marginal notice whatever.--G.A.] [427] [Meyer: "`For this reason,' namely, because we are members of Christ's body. Paul then applies what is spoken in Gen. of the union of husband and wife, by a typical interpretation, to the second coming (future, kataleipsei) of Christ, and his union with the Church, which shall take place at the Parousia." Ellicott says that Chrysostom's view is more probable, namely, that it refers to Christ's coming in the flesh. (See a little below, on ver. 32.)--G.A.] [428] [This seems a distinct statement on the part of the Apostle, that the preceding words refer not to actual marriage of man and woman, but to the nuptial union of Christ and the Church. So Meyer. But Dr. Riddle, in the Popular Commentary, says this "mystical interpretation is unsafe."--G.A.] [429] [Nevertheless, i.e., not to press the mystical bearings of the subject any further.--Ellicott. So substantially Meyer and Riddle.--G.A.] [430] The Gnostics, Encratites (Schaff, Church Hist. II. p. 495), and other sects forebade marriage; vid. 1 Tim. iv. 3. Here the Marcionites seem to be intended, whom St. Chrysostom often mentions; vid. supr. Hom. xix. [See Schaff's Church Hist., Vol. II., p. 457.--G.A.] [431] [On second marriages in the early Church, see Schaff's History of the Christian Church, Vol. II., p. 366.--G.A.] [432] [This, according to the Septuagint, which has oupo men moi gegonen heos tou nun. & 233; de kurios mou presbuteros. The Rev. Ver., following the Hebrew, has, "After I am waxed old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?"--G.A.] [433] [The punctuation of Field: oude epelthen; ho aner, &c., is clearly not so good as that of the Oxford translator: oude epelthen ho aner, &c.--G.A.] [434] [The Septuagint reads, hosepi to auto eglukanas edesmata, and this Chrysostom, not knowing Hebrew, follows. The Rev. Ver. has "We took sweet counsel together."--G.A.] [435] So Demosthenes says of Midias, kai eis musteria ten gunaika agei, kan allose poi bouletai, epi tou leukou zeugous tou ek Sikuonos. Dem. in Mid. p. 565. [436] [In Hom. XII. on 1 Cor. iv. 10, Chrysostom says, "But when marriages are solemnized, dancing and cymbals and flutes and shameful words and songs and drunkenness and revelings and the Devil's great heap of trash are introduced." And much more to the same effect and in great detail.--G.A.] [437] asmaton keklasmenon. [438] [The well-known beggar of Ithaca, the home of Ulysses. He was the messenger of the suitors of Penelope. See Odys. Bk. xviii. 1-125. Later, his name was used as an appellation, "an Irus, a beggar." Liban. i. 568.--Liddell and Scott.--G.A.] [439] mikropsuchia. [440] [For a picture of family life drawn by Clement of Alexandria, and another drawn by Tertullian, see Schaff, Church History, Vol. II., p. 364.--G.A.]


Homily XXI.

Ephesians vi. 1-3

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise), that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth."

As a man in forming a body, places the head first, after that the neck, then the feet, so does the blessed Paul proceed in his discourse. He has spoken of the husband, he has spoken of the wife, who is second in authority, he now goes on by gradual advances to the third rank--which is that of children. For the husband has authority over the wife, and the husband and the wife over the children. Now then mark what he is saying.

"Children, [441] obey your parents in the Lord; for this is the first commandment with promise."

Here he has not a word of discourse concerning Christ, not a word on high subjects, for he is as yet addressing his discourse to tender understandings. And it is for this reason, moreover, that he makes his exhortation short, inasmuch as children cannot follow up a long argument. For this reason also he does not discourse at all about a kingdom, (because it does not belong to the tender age of childhood to understand these subjects,) but what a child's soul most especially longs to hear, that he says, namely, that it shall "live long." For if any one shall enquire why it is that he omitted to discourse concerning a kingdom, but set before them the commandment laid down in the law, he does this because he speaks to them as infantile, and because he is well aware that if the husband and the wife are thus disposed according to the law which he has laid down, there will be but little trouble in securing the submission of the children. For whenever any matter has a good and sound and orderly principle and foundation, everything will thenceforward go on with method and regularity, with much facility: the more difficult thing is to settle the foundation, to lay down a firm basis. "Children," saith he, "obey your parents in the Lord," that is, according to the Lord. This, he means to say, is what God [442] commands you. But what then if they shall command foolish things? Generally a father, however foolish he may be himself, does not command foolish things. However, even in that case, the Apostle has guarded the matter, by saying, "in the Lord"; that is, wherever you will not be offending against God. So that if the father be a gentile or a heretic, we ought no longer to obey, because the command is not then, "in the Lord." But how is it that he says, "Which is the first commandment"? For the first is, "Thou shalt not commit adultery;--Thou shalt not kill." He does not speak of it then as first in rank, [443] but in respect of the promise. For upon those others there is no reward annexed, as being enacted with reference to evil things, and to departure from evil things. Whereas in these others, where there is the practice of good, there is further a promise held out. And observe how admirable a foundation he has laid for the path of virtue, that is, honor and reverence towards parents. When he would lead us away from wicked practices, and is just about to enter upon virtuous ones, this is the first thing he enjoins, honor towards parents; inasmuch as they before all others are, after God, the authors of our being, so that it is reasonable they should be the first to reap the fruits of our right actions; and then all the rest of mankind. For if a man have not this honor for parents he will never be gentle toward those unconnected with him.

However, having given the necessary injunctions to children, he passes to the fathers, and says,

Ver. 4. "And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but nurture them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord."

He does not say, "love them," because to this nature draws them even against their own will, and it were superfluous to lay down a law on such subjects. But what does he say? "Provoke not your children to wrath," as many do by disinheriting them, and disowning them, and treating them overbearingly, not as free, but as slaves. This is why he says, "Provoke not your children to wrath." Then, which is the chief thing of all, he shows how they will be led to obedience, referring the whole source of it to the head and chief authority. And in the same way as he has shown the husband to be the cause of the wife's obedience, (which is the reason also why he addresses the greater part of his arguments to him, advising him to attach her to himself by the power of love,) so, I say, here also, he refers the efficiency to him, by saying, "But bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." Thou seest that where there are spiritual ties, the natural ties will follow. Do you wish your son to be obedient? From the very first "Bring him up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." Never deem it an unnecessary thing that he should be a diligent hearer of the divine Scriptures. For there the first thing he hears will be this, "Honor thy father and thy mother"; so that this makes for thee. Never say, this is the business of monks. Am I making a monk of him? No. There is no need he should become a monk. [444] Why be so afraid of a thing so replete with so much advantage? Make him a Christian. For it is of all things necessary for laymen [445] to be acquainted with the lessons derived from this source; but especially for children. For theirs is an age full of folly; and to this folly are superadded the bad examples derived from the heathen tales, where they are made acquainted with those heroes so admired amongst them, slaves of their passions, and cowards with regard to death; as, for example, Achilles, when he relents, when he dies for his concubine, when another gets drunk, and many other things of the sort. He requires therefore the remedies against these things. How is it not absurd to send children out to trades, and to school, and to do all you can for these objects, and yet, not to "bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord"? And for this reason truly we are the first to reap the fruits, because we bring up our children to be insolent and profligate, disobedient, and mere vulgar fellows. Let us not then do this; no, let us listen to this blessed Apostle's admonition. "Let us bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." Let us give them a pattern. Let us make them from the earliest age apply themselves to the reading of the Scriptures. Alas, that so constantly as I repeat this, I am looked upon as trifling! Still, I shall not cease to do my duty. Why, tell me, do ye not imitate them of old? Ye women, especially, emulate those admirable women. Has a child been born to any one? Imitate Hannah's example (1 Sam. i. 24.); look at what she did. She brought him up at once to the temple. Who amongst you would not rather that his son should become a Samuel than that he should be king of the whole world ten thousand times over? "And how," you will say, "is it possible he should become such a one?" Why is it not possible? It is because thou dost not choose it thyself, nor committest him to the care of those who are able to make him such a one. "And who," it will be said, "is such a one as this?" God. Since she put him into the hands of God. For not even Eli himself was one of those in any great degree qualified to form him; (how could he be, he who was not able to form even his own children?) No, it was the faith of the mother and her earnest zeal that wrought the whole. He was her first child, and her only one, and she knew not whether she should ever have others besides. Yet she did not say, "I will wait till the child is grown up, that he may have a taste of the things of this life, I will allow him to have his pastime in them a little in his childish years." No, all these thoughts the woman repudiated, she was absorbed in one object, how from the very beginning she might dedicate the spiritual image [446] to God. Well may we men be put to the blush at the wisdom of this woman. She offered him up to God, and there she left him. And therefore was her married state more glorious, in that she had made spiritual objects her first care, in that she dedicated the first-fruits to God. Therefore was her womb fruitful, and she obtained other children besides. [447] And therefore she saw him honorable even in the world. For if men when they are honored, render honor in return, will not God much more, He who does this, even without being honored? How long are we to be mere lumps of flesh? How long are we to be stooping to the earth? Let everything be secondary with us to the provident care we should take of our children, and to our "bringing them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." If from the very first he is taught to be a lover of true wisdom, then wealth greater than all wealth has he acquired and a more imposing name. You will effect nothing so great by teaching him an art, and giving him that outward learning by which he will gain riches, as if you teach him the art of despising riches. If you desire to make him rich, do this. For the rich man is not he who desires great riches, and is encircled with great riches; but the man who has need of nothing. [448] Discipline your son in this, teach him this. This is the greatest riches. Seek not how to give him reputation and high character in outward learning, but consider deeply how you shall teach him to despise the glory that belongs to this present life. By this means would he become more distinguished and more truly glorious. This it is possible for the poor man and the rich man alike to accomplish. These are lessons which a man does not learn from a master, nor by art, but by means of the divine oracles. Seek not how he shall enjoy a long life here, but how he shall enjoy a boundless and endless life hereafter. Give him the great things, not the little things. Hear what Paul saith, "Bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord"; study not to make him an orator, but train him up to be a philosopher. In the want of the one there will be no harm whatever; in the absence of the other, all the rhetoric in the world will be of no advantage. Tempers are wanted, not talking; character, not cleverness; deeds, not words. These gain a man the kingdom. These confer what are benefits indeed. Whet not his tongue, but cleanse his soul. I do not say this to prevent your teaching him these things, but to prevent your attending to them exclusively. Do not imagine that the monk alone stands in need of these lessons from Scripture. Of all others, the children just about to enter into the world specially need them. For just in the same way as the man who is always at anchor in harbor, is not the man who requires his ship to be fitted out and who needs a pilot and a crew, but he who is always out at sea; so is it with the man of the world and the monk. The one is entered as it were into a waveless harbor, and lives an untroubled life, and far removed from every storm; whilst the other is ever on the ocean, and lives out at sea in the very midst of the ocean, battling with billows without number.

And though he may not need it himself, still he ought to be so prepared as to stop the mouths of others. [449] Thus the more distinguished he is in the present life, so much the more he stands in need of this education. If he passes his life in courts, there are many Heathens, and philosophers, and persons puffed up with the glory of this life. It is like a place full of dropsical people. Such in some sort is the court. All are, as it were, puffed up, and in a state of inflammation. And they who are not so are studying to become so. Now then reflect how vast a benefit it is, that your son on entering there, should enter like an excellent physician, furnished with instruments which may allay every one's peculiar inflammation, and should go up to every one, and converse with him, and restore the diseased body to health, applying the remedies derived from the Scriptures, and pouring forth discourses of the true philosophy. For with whom is the recluse to converse? with his wall and his ceiling? yea, or again with the wilderness and the woods? or with the birds and the trees? He therefore has not so great need of this sort of discipline. Still, however, he makes it his business to perfect this work, not so much with a view of disciplining others as himself. There is then every need of much discipline of this sort to those that are to mix in the present world, because such an one has a stronger temptation to sin than the other. And if you have a mind to understand it, he will further be a more useful person even in the world itself. For all will have a reverence for him from these words, when they see him in the fire without being burnt, and not desirous of power. But power he will then obtain, when he least desires it, and will be a still higher object of respect to the king; for it is not possible that such a character should be hid. Amongst a number of healthy persons, indeed, a healthy man will not be noticed; but when there is one healthy man amongst a number of sick, the report will quickly spread and reach the king's ears, and he will make him ruler over many nations. Knowing then these things, "bring up your children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord."

"But suppose a man is poor." Still he will be in no wise more insignificant than the man who lives in kings' courts, because he is not in kings' courts; no, he will be held in admiration, and will soon gain that authority which is yielded voluntarily, and not by any compulsion. For if a set of Greeks, men worthless as they are, and dogs, [450] by taking up that worthless philosophy of theirs, (for such the Grecian philosophy is,) or rather not itself but only its mere name, and wearing the threadbare cloak, and letting their hair grow, impress many; how much more will he who is a true philosopher? If a false appearance, if a mere shadow of philosophy at first sight so catches us, what if we should love the true and pure philosophy? Will not all court it, and entrust both houses, and wives, and children, with full confidence to such men? But there is not, no, there is not such a philosopher existing now. And therefore, it is not possible to find an example of the sort. Amongst recluses, indeed, there are such, but amongst people in the world no longer. And that amongst recluses there are such, it would be possible to adduce a number of instances. However, I will mention one out of many. Ye know, doubtless, and have heard of, and some, perhaps, have also seen, the man whom I am now about to mention. I mean, the admirable Julian. This man was a rustic, in humble life, and of humble parentage, and totally uninstructed in all outward accomplishments, but full of unadorned wisdom. [451] When he came into the cities, (and this was but rarely,) never did such a concourse take place, not when orators, or sophists, or any one else rode in. But what am I saying? Is not his very name more glorious than that of any king's, and celebrated even to this day? And if these things were in this world, in the world in which the Lord promised us no one good thing, in which He hath told us we are strangers, let us consider how great will be the blessings laid up for us in the heavens. If, where they were sojourners they enjoyed so great honor, how great glory shall they enjoy where their own city is! If, where He promised tribulation, they meet with such attentive care, then where He promises true honors, how great shall be their rest!

And now would ye have me exhibit examples of secular men? At present, indeed, we have none; still there are perhaps even secular men who are excellent, though not arrived at the highest philosophy. I shall therefore quote you examples from the saints of the ancient times. How many, who had wives to keep and children to bring up, were inferior in no respect, no, in no respect to those who have been mentioned? Now, however, it is no longer so, "by reason of the present distress" (1 Cor. vii. 26.), as this blessed Apostle saith. Now then whom would ye have me mention? Noah, or Abraham? The son of the one or of the other? Or again, Joseph? Or would ye have me go to the Prophets? Moses I mean, or Isaiah? However, if you will, let us carry our discourse to Abraham, whom all are continually bringing forward to us above all others. Had he not a wife? Had he not children? Yes, for I too use the same language to you, as you do to me. He had a wife, but it was not because he had a wife that he was so remarkable. He had riches, but it was not because he had riches that he pleased God. He begat children, but it was not because he begat children that he was pronounced blessed. He had three hundred and eighteen servants born in his house, but it was not on this account that he was accounted wonderful. But would you know why it was? It was for his hospitality, for his contempt of riches, for his chastened conduct. For what, tell me, is the duty of a philosopher? Is it not to despise both riches and glory? Is it not to be above both envy and every other passion? Come now then, let us bring him forward and strip him, and show you what a philosopher he was. First of all, he esteemed his fatherland as nothing. God said, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred" (Gen. xii. 1.), and immediately he went forth. He was not bound to his house, (or surely he would never have gone forth,) nor to his love of familiar friends, nor to anything else whatever. But what? glory and money he despised above all others. For when he had put an end to war by turning the enemy to flight, and was requested to take the spoil, he rejected it. (Gen. xiv. 21-23.)

Again, the son of this great man was reverenced, not because of his riches, but for his hospitality: not because of his children, but for his obedience: not because of his wife, but for the barrenness inflicted on his wife. (Gen. xxv. 21.)

They looked upon the present life as nothing, they followed not after gain, they despised all things. Tell me, which sort of plants are the best? Are not those which have their strength from themselves and are injured neither by rains, nor by hailstorms, nor by gusts of wind, nor by any other vicissitude of the sort, but stand naked in defiance of them all, and needing neither wall nor fence to protect them? Such is the true philosopher, such is that wealth of which we spoke. He has nothing, and has all things: he has all things, and has nothing. For a fence is not within, but only without; a wall is not a thing of nature, but only built round from without. And what again, I ask, what sort of body is a strong one? Is it not that which is in health, and which is overcome neither by hunger nor repletion, nor by cold, nor by heat; or is it that which in view of all these things, needs both caterers, and weavers, and hunters, and physicians, to give it health? He is the rich man, the true philosopher, who needeth none of these things. For this cause it was that this blessed Apostle said, "Bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." Surround them not with outward defenses. For such is wealth, such is glory; for when these fall, and they do fall, the plant stands naked and defenseless, not only having derived no profit from them during the time past, but even injury. For those very shelters that prevented its being inured to the attacks of the winds, will now have prepared it for perishing all at once. And so wealth is injurious rather, because it renders us undisciplined for the vicissitudes of life. Let us therefore train up our children to be such, that they shall be able to bear up against every trial, and not be surprised at what may come upon them; "let us bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." And great will be the reward which will be thus laid up in store for us. For if men for making statues and painting portraits of kings enjoy so great honor, shall not we who adorn the image of the King of kings, (for man is the image of God,) receive ten thousand blessings, if we effect a true likeness? For the likeness is in this, in the virtue of the soul, when we train our children to be good, to be meek, to be forgiving, (because all these are attributes of God,) to be beneficent, to be humane; when we train them to regard the present world as nothing. Let this then be our task, to mold and to direct both ourselves and them according to what is right. Otherwise with what sort of boldness shall we stand before the judgment-seat of Christ? If a man who has unruly children is unworthy to be a Bishop (Tit. i. 6.), much more is he unworthy of the kingdom of Heaven. What sayest thou? If we have an unruly wife, or unruly children, shall we have to render account? Yes, we shall, if we do not with exactness bring in that which is due from ourselves; for our own individual virtue is not enough in order to salvation. If the man who laid aside the one talent gained nothing, but was punished even in such a manner, it is plain that one's own individual virtue is not enough in order to salvation, but there is need of that of another also. Let us therefore entertain great solicitude for our wives, and take great care of our children, and of our servants, and of ourselves. And in our government both of ourselves and of them, let us beseech God that He aid us in the work. If He shall see us interested in this work, and solicitous about it, He will aid us; but if He shall see us paying no regard to it, He will not give us His hand. For He does not vouchsafe us His assistance when we sleep, but when we labor also ourselves. For a helper, (as the name implies,) is not a helper of one that is inactive, but of one who works also himself. But the good God is able of Himself to bring the work to perfection, that we may be all counted worthy to attain to the blessings promised us, through the grace and compassions of His only begotten Son, with Whom together with the Holy Ghost be unto the Father, glory, might, and honor, now and ever, and throughout all ages. Amen.

Footnotes

[441] ["The address to children in a letter to the Church presupposes that the Apostle regards them as belonging to the Church, present at public worship, understanding the word read to and applicable to them."--Braune in Lange.--G.A.] [442] ["en kuri& 251;. Not God, as Chrysostom, and not kata kurion, as Chrysostom, but denoting the sphere to which the action is to be limited."--Ellicott.--G.A.] [443] taxei. ["Paul says prote, having before his mind not only the Decalogue, but also `the entire series of divine precepts,' which begins with the Decalogue."--Meyer.--G.A.] [444] Fathers were very suspicious in St. Chrysostom's day of the influence of Christianity tending to make their children monks. In consequence of this prejudice against the monastic life, he wrote his Adv. Oppugn. Mon. Vit. [445] tois kosmikois. [446] agalma. [447] [On the authority of three mss., Savile and other editors concurring, we have departed here from the text of Field, which reverses the order of this and the following sentence, and leaves the sense less clear. v. 1 Sam. ii. 21.--G.A.] [448] [This reminds one of the saying of Socrates: To want nothing belongs to the gods, and to want as little as possible is to make the nearest approach to them.--G.A.] [449] [The following part of the paragraph explains this sentence.--G.A.] [450] triobolimaioi tines kai kunes. [451] St. Julian was a native of Cilicia, perhaps of Tarsus, and was martyred at Ægæ in the Dioclesian persecution. One of St. Chrysostom's orations is in his praise.


Homily XXII.

Ephesians vi. 5-8

"Servants, be obedient unto them that, according to the flesh, are your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers: but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good-will doing service, as unto the Lord, and not unto men: knowing that whatsoever good thing each one doeth, the same shall he receive again from the Lord, whether he be bond or free."

Thus then it is not husband only, nor wife, nor children, but virtuous servants also that contribute to the organization and protection of a house. Therefore the blessed Paul has not overlooked this department even. He comes to it, however, in the last place, because it is last in dignity and rank. Still he addresses much discourse also to them, no longer in the same tone as to children, but in a far more advanced way, inasmuch as he does not hold out to these the promise in this world, but in that which is to come. "Knowing," saith he, "that whatsoever good or evil [452] thing each one doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord," and thus at once instructs them to love wisdom. For though they be inferior to the children in dignity, still in mind they are superior to them.

"Servants," saith he, "be obedient to them that, according to the flesh, are your masters."

Thus at once he raises up, at once soothes the wounded soul. Be not grieved, he seems to say, that you are inferior to the wife and the children. Slavery is nothing but a name. The mastership is "according to the flesh," brief and temporary; [453] for whatever is of the flesh, is transitory.

"With fear," he adds, "and trembling." [454]

Thou seest that he does not require the same fear from slaves as from wives: for in that case he simply said, "and let the wife see that she fear her husband"; whereas in this case he heightens the expression, "with fear," he saith, "and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ." This is what he constantly says. What meanest thou, blessed Paul? He is a brother, or rather he has become a brother, he enjoys the same privileges, he belongs to the same body. Yea, more, he is the brother, not of his own master only, but also of the Son of God, he is partaker of all the same privileges; yet sayest thou, "obey your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling"? Yes, for this very reason, he would say, I say it. For if I charge free men to submit themselves one to another in the fear of God,--as he said above, "submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ";--if I charge moreover the wife to fear and reverence her husband, although she is his equal; much more must I so speak to the servant. It is no sign of low birth, rather it is the truest nobility, to understand how to lower ourselves, to be modest and unassuming, and to give way to our neighbor. And the free have served the free with much fear and trembling.

"In singleness of heart," he says.

And it is well said, since it is possible to serve with fear and trembling, and yet not of good will, but in just any way that may be possible. Many servants in many instances secretly cheat their masters. And this cheating accordingly he does away, by saying, "in singleness of your heart as unto Christ, not in the way of eye-service as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good-will doing service, as unto the Lord, and not unto men." Seest thou how many words he requires, in order to implant this good principle, "with goodwill," I mean, and "from the heart"? That other service, "with fear and trembling" I mean, we see many rendering to their masters, and the master's threat goes far to secure that. But show, saith he, that thou servest as "the servant of Christ," not of man. Make the right action your own, not one of compulsion. Just as in the words which follow, he persuades and instructs the man who is ill-treated by another to make the right action his own, and the work of his own free choice. Because inasmuch as the man that smites the cheek, is not supposed to come to that act in consequence of any intention in the person struck, but only of his own individual malice, what saith He? "Turn to him the other also" (Matt. v. 39.); to show him that in submitting to the first thou wert not unwilling. For he that is lavish in suffering wrong, makes that his own which is not his own act, by suffering himself to be smitten on the other cheek also, and not merely by enduring the first blow. For this latter will have perhaps the appearance even of cowardice; but that of a high philosophy.--Thus thou wilt show that it was for the sake of wisdom that thou didst bear the first blow also. And so in the present case, show here too, that thou bearest this slavery also willingly. The man-pleaser then is no servant of Christ. The servant of Christ is not a man-pleaser. (Gal. i. 10.) For who that is the servant of God, makes it his object to please men? And who that pleases men, can be a servant of God?

"From the heart," [455] saith he, "with good-will doing service." For since it is possible to do service even with singleness of heart and not wrongfully, and yet not with all one's might, but only so far as fulfilling one's bounden duty, therefore he says, do it with alacrity, not of necessity, upon principle, not upon constraint. If thus thou do service, thou art no slave; if thou do it upon principle, if with good-will, if from the heart, and if for Christ's sake. For this is the servitude that even Paul, the free man, serves, and exclaims, "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus, as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake." (2 Cor. iv. 5.) Look how he divests thy slavery of its meanness. For just in the same way as the man who has been robbed, if he gives still more to him who has taken, is not ranked among those robbed, but rather amongst liberal givers; not amongst those who suffer evil, but amongst those who do good; and rather clothes the other with disgrace by his liberality, than is clothed with disgrace by being robbed,--so, I say, in this case, by his generosity he will appear at once more high-minded, and by showing that he does not feel the wrong, [456] will put the other to shame.

Let us then do service to our masters for Christ's sake, "knowing," he continues, "that whatsoever good thing each one doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free." For inasmuch as it was probable that many masters, as being unbelievers, would have no sense of shame, and would make no return to their slaves for their obedience, observe how he has given them encouragement, so that they may have no misgiving about the remuneration, but may have full confidence respecting the recompense. For as they who receive a benefit, when they make no return, make God a debtor to their benefactors; so, I say, do masters also, if, when well-treated by thee, they fail to requite thee, requite thee the more, by rendering God thy debtor.

Ver. 9. "And ye masters," he continues, "do the same things unto them."

The same things. What are these? "With good-will do service." However he does not actually say, "do service," though by saying, "the same things," he plainly shows this to be his meaning. For the master himself is a servant. "Not as men-pleasers," he means, "and with fear and trembling": that is, toward God, fearing lest He one day accuse you for your negligence toward your slaves.

"And forbear threatening;" be not irritating, he means, nor oppressive.

"Knowing that both their Master and [457] yours is in Heaven." [458]

Ah! How mighty a Master does he hint at here! How startling the suggestion! It is this. "With what measure thou metest, it shall be measured unto thee again" (Matt. vii. 2.); lest thou hear the sentence, "Thou wicked servant. I forgave thee all that debt." (Matt. xviii. 32.)

"And there is no respect of persons," he saith, "with Him."

Think not, he would say, that what is done towards a servant, He will therefore forgive, because done to a servant. Heathen laws indeed as being the laws of men, recognize a difference between these kinds of offenses. But the law of the common Lord and Master of all, as doing good to all alike, and dispensing the same rights to all, knows no such difference.

But should any one ask, whence is slavery, and why it has found entrance into human life, (and many I know are both glad to ask such questions, and desirous to be informed of them,) I will tell you. Slavery is the fruit of covetousness, of degradation, of savagery; since Noah, we know, had no servant, nor had Abel, nor Seth, no, nor they who came after them. The thing was the fruit of sin, of rebellion against parents. Let children hearken to this, that whenever they are undutiful to their parents, they deserve to be servants. Such a child strips himself of his nobility of birth; for he who rebels against his father is no longer a son; and if he who rebels against his father is not a son, how shall he be a son who rebels against our true Father? He has departed from his nobility of birth, he has done outrage to nature. Then come also wars, and battles, and take their prisoners. [459] Well, but Abraham, you will say, had servants. Yes, but he used them not as servants.

Observe how everything depends upon the head; the wife, by telling him "to love her"; the children, by telling him "to bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord"; the servants, by the words, "knowing that both their Master and yours is in Heaven." So, saith he, ye also in like manner, as being yourselves servants, shall be kind and indulgent. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might."

But if, before considering this next, ye have a mind to hearken, I shall make the same remarks concerning servants, as I have also made before concerning children. Teach them to be religious, and everything else will follow of necessity. But now, when any one is going to the theater, or going off to the bath, he drags all his servants after him; but when he goes to church, not for a moment; nor does he compel them to attend and hear. Now how shall thy servant listen, when thou his master art attending to other things? Hast thou purchased, hast thou bought thy slave? Before all things enjoin him what God would have him do, to be gentle towards his fellow-servants, and to make much account of virtue.

Every one's house is a city; and every man is a prince in his own house. That the house of the rich is of this character, is plain enough, where there are both lands, and stewards, and rulers over rulers. But I say that the house of the poor also is a city. Because here too there are offices of authority; for instance, the husband has authority over the wife, the wife over the servants, the servants again over their own wives; again the wives and the husbands over the children. Does he not seem to you to be, as it were, a sort of king, having so many authorities under his own authority? and that it were meet that he should be more skilled both in domestic and general government than all the rest? For he who knows how to manage these in their several relations, will know how to select the fittest men for offices, yes, and will choose excellent ones. And thus the wife will be a second king in the house, lacking only the diadem; and he who knows how to choose this king, will excellently regulate all the rest.

Ver. 10. "Finally," saith he, "be strong in the Lord."

Whenever the discourse is about to conclude, he always employs this turn. Said I not well from the first, that every man's house is a camp in itself? For look, having disposed of the several offices, he proceeds to arm them, and to lead them out to war. [460] If no one usurps the other's office, but every one remains at his post, all will be well ordered.

"Be strong," saith he, "in the Lord, and in the strength of His might."

That is, in the hope which we have in Him, by means of His aid. For as he had enjoined many duties, which were necessary to be done, fear not, he seems to say, cast your hope upon the Lord, and He will make all easy.

Ver. 11. "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

He saith not, against the fightings, nor against the hostilities, but against the "wiles." For this enemy is at war with us, not simply, nor openly, but by "wiles." What is meant by wiles? To use "wiles," is to deceive and to take by artifice or contrivance; a thing which takes place both in the case of the arts, and by words, and actions, and stratagems, in the case of those who seduce us. I mean something like this. The Devil never proposes to us sins in their proper colors; he does not speak of idolatry, but he sets it off in another dress, using "wiles," [461] that is, making his discourse plausible, employing disguises. Now therefore the Apostle is by this means both rousing the soldiers, and making them vigilant, by persuading and instructing them, that our conflict is with one skilled in the arts of war, and with one who wars not simply, nor directly, but with much wiliness. And first then he arouses the disciples from the consideration of the Devil's skill; but in the second place, from his nature, and the number of his forces. It is not from any desire to dispirit the soldiers that stand under him, but to arouse, and to awaken them, that he mentions these stratagems, and prepares them to be vigilant; for had he merely detailed their power, and there stopped his discourse, he must have dispirited them. But now, whereas both before and after this, he shows that it is possible to overcome such an enemy, he rather raises their courage; for the more clearly the strength of our adversaries is stated on our part to our own people, so much the more earnest will it render our soldiers.

Ver. 12. "For our wrestling is not," saith he, "against flesh and blood, [462] but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness, in the heavenly places."

Having stimulated them by the character of the conflict, he next goes on to arouse them also by the prizes set before them. For what is his argument? Having said that the enemies are fierce, he adds further, that they despoil us of vast blessings. What are these? The conflict lies "in the heavenlies"; [463] the struggle is not about riches, not about glory, but about our being enslaved. And thus is the enmity irreconcilable. The strife and the conflict are fiercer when for vast interests at stake; for the expression "in the heavenlies" [464] is equivalent to, "for the heavenly things." It is not that they may gain anything by the conquest, but that they may despoil us. As if one were to say, "In what does the contract lie?" In gold. The word "in," means, "in behalf of"; the word "in," also means, "on account [465] of." [466] Observe how the power of the enemy startles us; how it makes us all circumspection, to know that the hazard is on behalf of vast interests, and the victory for the sake of great rewards. For he is doing his best to cast us out of Heaven.

He speaks of certain "principalities, and powers, and world-rulers of this darkness." What darkness? Is it that of night? No, but of wickedness. "For ye were," saith he, "once darkness" (Eph. v. 8.); so naming that wickedness which is in this present life; for beyond it, it will have no place, not in Heaven, nor in the world to come.

"World-rulers" [467] he calls them, not as having the mastery over the world, but the Scripture is wont to call wicked practices "the world," as, for example, where Christ saith, "They are not of this world, even as I am not of the world." (John xvii. 16.) What then, were they not of the world? Were they not clothed with flesh? Were they not of those who are in the world? And again; "The world hateth Me, but you it cannot hate." (John vii. 7.) Where again He calls wicked practices by this name. Thus the Apostle here by the world means wicked men, and the evil spirits have more especial power over them. "Against the spiritual hosts of wickedness," saith he, "in the heavenly places." "Principalities, and powers," he speaks of; just as in the heavenly places there are "thrones and dominions, principalities and powers." (Col. i. 16.)

Ver. 13. "Wherefore," saith he, "take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand."

By "evil day" he means the present life, [468] and calls it too "this present evil world" (Gal. i. 4.), from the evils which are done in it. It is as much as to say, Always be armed. And again, "having done all," saith he; that is, both passions, and vile lusts, and all things else that trouble us. He speaks not merely of doing the deed, but of completing it, [469] so as not only to slay, but to stand also after we have slain. For many who have gained this victory, have fallen again. "Having done," saith he, "all"; not having done one, but not the other. For even after the victory, we must stand. An enemy may be struck, but things that are struck revive again if we do not stand. But if after having fallen they rise up again, so long as we stand, they are fallen. So long as we waver not, the adversary rises not again.

"Let us put on the whole armor of God." Seest thou how he banishes all fear? For if it be possible "to do all, and to stand," his describing in detail the power of the enemy does not create cowardice and fear, but it shakes off indolence. "That ye may be able," he saith, "to withstand in the evil day." And he further gives them encouragement too from the time; the time, he seems to say, is short; [470] so that ye must needs stand; faint not when the slaughter is achieved.

Moral. If then it is a warfare, if such are the forces arrayed against us, if "the principalities" are incorporeal, if they are "rulers of the world," if they are "the spiritual hosts of wickedness," how, tell me, canst thou live in self-indulgence? How canst thou be dissolute? How if we are unarmed, shall we be able to overcome? These words let every one repeat to himself every day, whenever he is under the influence of anger, or of lust, whenever he is aiming, and all to no profit, after this languid life. Let him hearken to the blessed Paul, saying to him, "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers." A harder warfare this than that which is matter of sense, a fiercer conflict. Think how long time this enemy is wrestling, for what it is that he is fighting, and be more guarded than ever. "Nay," a man will say, "but as he is the devil, he ought to have been removed out of the way, and then all had been saved." [471] These are the pretenses to which some of your indolent ones in self-defense give utterance. When thou oughtest to be thankful, O man, that, if thou hast a mind, thou hast the victory over such a foe, thou art on the contrary even discontented, and givest utterance to the words of some sluggish and sleepy soldier. Thou knowest the points of attack, [472] if thou choosest. Reconnoiter on all sides, fortify thyself. Not against the devil alone is the conflict, but also against his powers. How then, you may say, are we to wrestle with the darkness? By becoming light. How with the "spiritual hosts of wickedness"? By becoming good. For wickedness is contrary to good, and light drives away darkness. But if we ourselves too be darkness, we shall inevitably be taken captive. How then shall we overcome them? If, what they are by nature, that we become by choice, free from flesh and blood, thus shall we vanquish them. For once it was probable that the disciples would have many persecutors, "imagine not," he would say, "that it is they who war with you. They that really war with you, are the spirits that work in them. Against them is our conflict." Two things he provides for by these considerations; he renders them in themselves more courageous and he lets loose their wrath against those who war against them. And wherefore is our conflict against these? Since we have also an invincible ally, the grace of the Spirit. We have been taught an art, such as shall enable us to wrestle not against men, but against spirits. Nay, if we have a mind, neither shall we wrestle at all; for it is because we choose it, that there is a struggle, since so great is the power of Him that dwelleth in us, as that He said, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy." (Luke x. 19.) All power hath He given us, both of wrestling and of not wrestling. It is because we are slothful, that we have to wrestle with them; for that Paul wrestled not, hear what he saith himself, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (Rom. viii. 35.) And again hear his words, "God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." (Rom. xvi. 20.) For he had him under his subjection; whence also he said, "I charge thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." (Acts xvi. 18.) And this is not the language of one wrestling; for he that wrestles has not yet conquered, and he that has conquered no longer wrestles; he has subdued, has taken his captive. And so Peter again wrestled not with the devil, but he did that which was better than wrestling. In the case of the faithful, the obedient, the catechumens, they prevailed over him to vast advantage and over his powers. Hence too was it that the blessed Paul said, "For we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. ii. 11.), which was the way moreover in which he especially overcame him; and again hear his words, "And no marvel--if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness." (2 Cor. xi. 14, 15.) So well knew he every part of the conflict, and nothing escaped him. Again, "For the mystery of lawlessness," saith he, "doth already work." (2 Thess. ii. 7.)

But against us is the struggle; for hearken again to him, saying, "I am persuaded, that neither angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of Christ." (Rom. viii. 38.) He saith not simply, "from Christ," but, "from the love of Christ." [473] For many there are who are united forsooth to Christ, and who yet love Him not. Not only, saith he, shalt thou not persuade me to deny Him, but, not even to love Him less. And if the powers above had not strength to do this, who else should move him? Not, however, that he saith this, as though they were actually attempting it, but upon the supposition; wherefore also he said, "I am persuaded." So then he did not wrestle, yet nevertheless he fears his artifices; for hear what he saith, "I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is toward Christ." (2 Cor. xi. 3.) True, you will say, but he uses this word touching himself also, where he saith, "For I fear [474] lest, by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected." How then art thou "persuaded that no one shall separate thee"? Perceivest thou that the expression is that of lowliness and of humility? For he already dwelt in Heaven. And hence also it was that he said, "For I know nothing against myself" (1 Cor. iv. 4.); and again, "I have finished the course." (2 Tim. iv. 7.) So that it was not with regard to these matters that the devil placed obstacles in his way, but with reference to the interests of the disciples. And why forsooth? Because in these points he was not himself sole master, but also their own will. There the devil prevailed in some cases; nay, neither there was it over him that he prevailed, but over the indolence of persons who took no heed. If indeed, whether from slothfulness, or anything else of the sort, he had failed to fulfill his own duty, then had the devil prevailed over him; but if he himself on his part did all he could, and they obeyed not it was not over him he prevailed, but over their disobedience; and the disease prevailed not over the physician, but over the unruliness of the patient; for, when the physician takes every precaution, and the patient undoes all, the patient is defeated, not the physician. Thus then in no instance did he prevail over Paul. But in our own case, it is matter for contentment that we should be so much as able to wrestle. For the Romans indeed this is not what he asks, but what? "He shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." (Rom. xvi. 20.) And for these Ephesians he invokes, "Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." (Eph. iii. 20.) He that wrestles is still held fast, but it is enough for him that he has not fallen. When we depart hence, then, and not till then, will the glorious victory be achieved. For instance, take the case of some evil lust. The extraordinary thing would be, not even to entertain it, but to stifle it. If, however, this be not possible, then though we may have to wrestle with it, and retain it to the last, yet if we depart still wrestling, we are conquerors. For the case is not the same here as it is with wrestlers; for there if thou throw not thy antagonist, thou hast not conquered; but here if thou be not thrown, thou hast conquered; if thou art not thrown, thou hast thrown him; and with reason, because there both strive for the victory, and when the one is thrown, the other is crowned; here, however, it is not thus, but the devil is striving for our defeat; when then I strip him of that upon which he is bent, I am conqueror. For it is not to overthrow us, but to make us share his overthrow that he is eager. Already then am I conqueror, for he is already cast down, and in a state of ruin; and his victory consists not in being himself crowned, but in effecting my ruin; so that though I overthrow him not, yet if I be not overthrown, I have conquered. What then is a glorious victory? It is, over and above, to trample him underfoot, as Paul did, by regarding the things of this present world as nothing. Let us too imitate him, and strive to become above them, and nowhere to give him a hold upon us. Wealth, possessions, vain-glory, give him a hold. And oftentimes indeed this has roused him, and oftentimes exasperated him. But what need is there of wrestling? What need of engaging with him? He who is engaged in the act of wrestling has the issue in uncertainty, whether he may not be himself defeated and captured. Whereas he that tramples him under foot, has the victory certain.

Oh then, let us trample under foot the power of the devil; let us trample under foot our sins, I mean everything that pertains to this life, wrath, lust, vain-glory, every passion; that when we depart to that world, we may not be convicted of betraying that power which God hath given us; for thus shall we attain also the blessings that are to come. But if in this we are unfaithful, who will entrust us with those things which are greater? If we were not able to trample down one who had fallen, who had been disgraced, who had been despised, who was lying beneath our feet, how shall the Father give us a Father's rewards? If we subdue not one so placed in subjection to us, what confidence shall we have to enter into our Father's house? For, tell me, suppose thou hadst a son, and, that he, disregarding the well-disposed part of thy household, should associate with them that have distressed thee, with them that have been expelled his father's house, with them that spend their time at the gaming table, and that he should go on so doing to the very last; will he not be disinherited? It is plain enough he will. And so too shall we; if, disregarding the Angels who have well pleased our Father and whom He hath set over us, we have our conversation with the devil, inevitably we shall be disinherited, which God forbid; but let us engage in the war we have to wage with him.

If any one hath an enemy, if any one hath been wronged by him, if any one is exasperated, let him collect together all that wrath, all that fierceness, and pour it out upon the head of the devil. Here wrath is a good thing, here anger is profitable, here revenge is praiseworthy, for just as amongst the heathen, revenge is a vice, so truly here is revenge a virtue. So then if thou hast any failings, rid thyself of them here. And if thou art not able thyself to put them away, do it, though with thy members also. [475] Hath any one struck thee? Bear malice against the devil, and never relinquish thy hatred towards him. Or again, hath no one struck thee? Yet bear him malice still, because he insulted, because he offended thy Lord and Master, because he injures and wars against thy brethren. With him be ever at enmity, ever implacable, ever merciless. Thus shall he be humbled, thus despicable, thus shall he be an easy prey. If we are fierce towards him, he shall never be fierce towards us. If we are compliant, then he will be fierce; it is not with him as it is with our brethren. He is the foe and enemy, both of life and salvation, both ours and his own. If he loves not himself, how shall he be able to love us? Let us then put ourselves in array and wound him, having for our mighty confederate the Lord Jesus Christ, who can both render us impregnable to his snares, and worthy of the good things to come; which God grant that we may all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, together with the Holy Ghost, be unto the Father, glory, might, and honor, now and ever, and throughout all ages. Amen.

Footnotes

[452] [The words, "or evil," ekakon, are not in the text of this passage at all, though Chrysostom has them. Chrysostom and the Patristic writers in general often quote the New Testament without exactness. They quote often from memory, and are seldom critical. Cf. Schaff, Companion to Greek Testament, p. 164.--G.A.] [453] ["Wrong. It means those who are `your human masters,' in distinction from Christ, the `divine' master."--Meyer.--G.A.] [454] ["With fear and trembling, i.e. with that zeal which is ever keenly apprehensive of not doing enough."--Meyer.--G.A.] [455] ["From the heart" (ek psuches) is joined by Chrysostom with what follows. (So Westcott and Hort.) But as met' eunoias expresses the well-meaning disposition, it already includes the sense of ek psuches. So that ek psuches belongs to what precedes. So Meyer, Ellicott, and Rev. Ver.--G.A.] [456] arpages. [457] [The second kai (kai auton kai humon) is omitted in Chrysostom's text of this passage, and in the textus receptus, so that it does not appear in the Authorized English Version. The Revised Version has it, however, and correctly so.--G.A.] [458] [Meyer quotes Seneca, Thyest. 607:-- Quicquid a vobis minor extimescit Major hoc vobis dominus minatur. Omne sub regno graviore regnum est.--G.A.] [459] [He seems to refer slavery to three causes: 1. covetousness; 2. rebellion against parents; 3. war, where prisoners are taken and made slaves.--G.A.] [460] [This is very beautiful, but hardly correct exegesis. "The word `finally' introduces a general, final exhortation, winding up the whole parenetic portion of the epistle (iv. i-vi. 9.)."--Meyer.--G.A.] [461] methodeuon. [462] ["Flesh and blood, i.e. `feeble men,' just as in Gal. i. 16, and Matt. xvi. 17. The word pale, which means nothing else than a `wrestling,' is specially chosen by the Apostle (who elsewhere uses agon or mache), in order to bring out the more strongly in connection with pros haima kai sarka the contrast between this less perilous form of contest and that which follows."--Meyer.--G.A.] [463] en tois epouraniois. [464] en tois epouraniois. [465] ["The word en does not mean `for' or `on account of,' and the phrase is here local (i. 3.)."--Meyer.--G.A.] [466] to en huper esti, kai to en, dia estin. [467] kosmokratoras. [468] ["The use of hemera, rather than ai& 242;ni (Gal. i. 4.) is opposed to the interpretation of Chrysostom. Still more untenable is the view of Meyer, that Paul is here specifying the day when the last great Satanic outbreak was to take place. Paul has at heart what he knew was much more present and more constantly impending, namely, the day of violent temptation."--Ellicott.--G.A.] [469] Not ergasamenoi, but katergasamenoi. [470] i.e. "but a `day.'" [471] [This entire sentence and the preceding one, though attested by three mss. and read by Savile, are wanting in the text of Field, who has, in their stead, Nun oun elthe, phesin, emoi palaisai, "Now then," says some one, "he has come to wrestle with me," which seems to leave the sense incomplete, and does not suit the following sentence. See note on page 82.--G.A.] [472] labas. [473] [This text in Rom. has, "from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."--G.A.] [474] [The words, "I fear," phoboumai gar, are not in the text of 1 Cor. ix. 27. See note 1 on page 157.--G.A.] [475] [We have here followed the text of Savile (supported by three mss.), as follows: ei de me dunasai autos apothesthai, kan meta ton melon ton son, in preference to the text of Field, which has ei me dunasai auta apthoesthai, e meta ton melon ton son.--G.A.]


Homily XXIII.

Ephesians vi. 14

"Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth."

Having drawn up this army, and roused their zeal,--for both these things were requisite, both that they should be drawn up in array and subject to each other, and that their spirit should be aroused,--and having inspired them with courage, for this was requisite also, he next proceeds also to arm them. For arms had been of no use, had they not been first posted each in his own place, and had not the spirit of the soldier's soul been roused; for we must first arm him within, and then without.

Now if this is the case with soldiers, much more is it with spiritual soldiers. Or rather in their case, there is no such thing as arming them without, but everything is within. He hath roused their ardor, and set it on fire, he hath added confidence. He hath set them in due array. Observe how he also puts on the armor. "Stand therefore," [476] saith he. The very first feature in tactics is, to know how to stand well, and many things will depend upon that. Hence he discourses much concerning standing, saying also elsewhere, "Watch ye, stand fast." (1 Cor. xvi. 13.) And again, "So stand fast in the Lord." (Philip. iv. 1.) And again, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." (1 Cor. x. 12.) And again, "That ye may be able, having done all, to stand." (Eph. vi. 13.) Doubtless then he does not mean merely any way of standing, but a correct way, and as many as have had experience in wars know how great a point it is to know how to stand. For if in the case of boxers and wrestlers, the trainer recommends this before anything else, namely, to stand firm, much more will it be the first thing in warfare, and military matters.

The man who, in a true sense, stands, is upright; he stands not in a lazy attitude, not leaning upon anything. Exact uprightness discovers itself by the way of standing, so that they who are perfectly upright, they stand. But they who do not stand, cannot be upright, but are unstrung and disjointed. The luxurious man does not stand upright, but is bent; so is the lewd man, and the lover of money. He who knows how to stand will from his very standing, as from a sort of foundation, find every part of the conflict easy to him.

"Stand therefore," saith he, "having girded your loins with truth." [477]

He is not speaking of a literal, physical girdle, for all the language in this passage he employs in a spiritual sense. [478] And observe how methodically he proceeds. First he girds up his soldier. [479] What then is the meaning of this? The man that is loose in his life, and is dissolved in his lusts, and that has his thoughts trailing on the ground, him he braces up by means of this girdle, not suffering him to be impeded by the garments entangling his legs, but leaving him to run with his feet well at liberty. "Stand therefore, having girded your loins," saith he. By the "loins" here he means this; just what the keel is in ships, the same are the loins with us, the basis or groundwork of the whole body: for they are, as it were, a foundation, and upon them as the schools of the physicians tell you, the whole frame is built. So then in "girding up the loins" he compacts the foundation of our soul; for he is not of course speaking of these loins of our body, but is discoursing spiritually: and as the loins are the foundation alike of the parts both above and below, so is it also in the case of these spiritual loins. Oftentimes, we know, when persons are fatigued, they put their hands there as if upon a sort of foundation, and in that manner support themselves; and for this reason it is that the girdle is used in war, that it may bind and hold together this foundation, as it were, in our frame; for this reason too it is that when we run we gird ourselves. It is this which guards our strength. Let this then, saith he, be done also with respect to the soul, and then in doing anything whatsoever we shall be strong; and it is a thing most especially becoming to soldiers.

True, you may say, but these our natural loins we gird with a leathern band; but we, spiritual soldiers, with what? I answer, with that which is the head and crown of all our thoughts, I mean, "with truth." "Having girded your loins," saith he, "with truth." [480] What then is the meaning of "with truth"? Let us love nothing like falsehood, all our duties let us pursue "with truth," let us not lie one to another. Whether it be an opinion, let us seek the truth, or whether it be a line of life, let us seek the true one. If we fortify ourselves with this, if we "gird ourselves with truth," then shall no one overcome us. He who seeks the doctrine of truth, shall never fall down to the earth; for that the things which are not true are of the earth, is evident from this, that all they that are without are enslaved to the passions, following their own reasonings; and therefore if we are sober, we shall need no instruction in the tales of the Greeks. Seest thou how weak and frivolous they are? incapable of entertaining about God one severe thought or anything above human reasoning? Why? Because they are not "girded about with truth"; because their loins, the receptacle of the seed of life, and the main strength of their reasonings, are ungirt; nothing then can be weaker than these. And the Manicheans [481] again, seest thou, how all the things they have the boldness to utter, are from their own reasonings? "It was impossible," say they, "for God to create the world without matter." Whence is this so evident? These things they say, groveling, and from the earth, and from what happens amongst ourselves; because man, they say, cannot create otherwise. Marcion again, look what he says. "God, if He took upon Him flesh, could not remain pure." Whence is this evident? "Because," says he, "neither can men." But men are able to do this. Valentinus again, with his reasonings all trailing along the ground, speaks the things of the earth; and in like manner Paul of Samosata. And Arius, what does he say? "It was impossible for God when He begat, to beget without passion." [482] Whence, Arius, hast thou the boldness to allege this; merely from the things which take place amongst ourselves? Seest thou how the reasonings of all these trail along on the ground? All are, as it were, let loose and unconfined, and savoring of the earth? And so much then for doctrines. With regard to life and conduct, again, whoremongers, lovers of money, and of glory, and of everything else, trail on the ground. They have not their loins themselves standing firm, so that when they are weary they may rest upon them; but when they are weary, they do not put their hands upon them and stand upright, but flag. He, however, who "is girt about with the truth," first, never is weary; and secondly, if he should be weary, he will rest himself upon the truth itself. What? Will poverty, tell me, render him weary? No, in nowise; for he will repose on the true riches, and by this poverty will understand what is true poverty. Or again, will slavery make him weary? No, in nowise, for he will know what is the true slavery. Or shall disease? No, nor even that. "Let your loins," saith Christ, "be girded about, and your lamps burning" (Luke xii. 35.), with that light which shall never be put out. This is what the Israelites also, when they were departing out of Egypt (Ex. xii. 11.), were charged to do. For why did they eat the passover with their loins girded? Art thou desirous to hear the ground of it? According to the historical fact, or according to its mystical sense, [483] shall I state it? But I will state them both, and do ye retain it in mind, for I am not doing it without an object, merely that I may tell you the solution, but also that my words may become in you reality. They had, we read, their loins girded, and their staff in their hands, and their shoes on their feet, and thus they ate the Passover. Awful and terrible mysteries, and of vast depth; and if so terrible in the type, how much more in the reality? They come forth out of Egypt, they eat the Passover. Attend. "Our Passover hath been sacrificed, even Christ," it is said. Wherefore did they have their loins girded? Their guise is that of wayfarers; for their having shoes, and staves in their hands, and their eating standing, declares nothing else than this. Will ye hear the history first, or the mystery? [484] Better the history first. What then is the design of the history? The Jews were continually forgetting God's benefits to them. Accordingly then, God tied the sense of these, His benefits, not only to the time, but also to the very habit of them that were to eat. For this is why they were to eat girded and sandalled, that when they were asked the reason, they might say, "we were ready for our journey, we were just about to go forth out of Egypt to the land of promise and we were ready for our exodus." This then is the historical type. But the reality is this; we too eat a Passover, even Christ; "for," saith he, "our Passover hath been sacrificed, even Christ." (1 Cor. v. 7.) What then? We too ought to eat it, both sandalled and girded. And why? That we too may be ready for our Exodus, for our departure hence.

Moral. Let not any one of them that eat this Passover look towards Egypt, but towards Heaven, towards "Jerusalem that is above." (Gal. iv. 26.) On this account thou eatest with thy loins girded, on this account thou eatest with shoes on thy feet, that thou mayest know, that from the moment thou first beginnest to eat the Passover, thou oughtest to set out, and to be upon thy journey. And this implies two things, both that we must depart out of Egypt, and that, whilst we stay, we must stay henceforth as in a strange country; "for our citizenship," saith he, "is in Heaven" (Philip. iii. 20.); and that all our life long we should ever be prepared, so that when we are called we may not put it off, but say, "My heart is fixed." (Ps. cviii. 1.) "Yes, but this Paul indeed could say, who knew nothing against himself; but I, who require a long time for repentance, I cannot say it." Yet that to be girded is the part of a waking soul, hearken to what God says to that righteous man, "Gird up now thy loins like a man, for I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto Me." (Job xxxviii. 3.) This He says also to all the prophets, and this He says again to Moses, to be girded. And He Himself also appears to Ezekiel (Ezek. ix. 11, Sept.) girded. Nay more, and the Angels, too, appear to us girded (Rev. xv. 6.), as being soldiers. From our being girded about, it comes that we also stand bravely as from our standing our being girded comes.

For we also are going to depart, and many are the difficulties that intervene. When we have crossed this plain, straightway the devil is upon us, doing everything, contriving every artifice, to the end that those who have been saved out of Egypt, those who have passed the Red Sea, those who are delivered at once from the evil demons, and from unnumbered plagues, may be taken and destroyed by him. But, if we be vigilant, we too have a pillar of fire, the grace of the Spirit. The same both enlightens and overshadows us. We have manna; yea rather not manna, but far more than manna. Spiritual drink we have, not water, that springs forth from the Rock. So have we too our encampment (Rev. xx. 9.), and we dwell in the desert even now; for a desert indeed without virtue, is the earth even now, even more desolate than that wilderness. Why was that desert so terrible? Was it not because it had scorpions in it, and adders? (Deut. viii. 15.) "A land," it is said, "which none passed through." (Jer. ii. 6.). Yet is not that wilderness, no, it is not so barren of fruits, as is this human nature. At this instant, how many scorpions, how many asps are in this wilderness, how many serpents, how many "offsprings of vipers" (Matt. iii. 7.) are these through whom we at this instant pass! Yet let us not be afraid; for the leader of this our Exodus is not Moses, but Jesus.

How then is it that we shall not suffer the same things? Let us not commit the same acts, and then shall we not suffer the same punishment. They murmured, they were ungrateful; let us therefore not cherish these passions. How was it that they fell all of them? "They despised the pleasant land." (Ps. cvi. 24.) "How `despised' it? Surely they prized it highly." By becoming indolent and cowardly, and not choosing to undergo any labors to obtain it. Let not us then "despise" Heaven! This is what is meant by "despising." Again, among us also has fruit been brought, fruit from Heaven, not the cluster of grapes borne upon the staff (Num. xiii. 23.), but the "earnest of the Spirit" (2 Cor. i. 22.), "the citizenship which is in Heaven" (Philip. iii. 20.), which Paul and the whole company of the Apostles, those marvelous husbandmen, have taught us. It is not Caleb the son of Jephunneh, nor Jesus the son of Nun, that hath brought these fruits; but Jesus the Son of "the Father of mercies" (2 Cor. i. 3.), the Son of the Very God, hath brought every virtue, hath brought down from Heaven all the fruits that are from thence, the songs of heaven hath He brought. For the words which the Cherubim above say, these hath He charged us to say also, "Holy, Holy, Holy." [485] He hath brought to us the virtue of the Angels. "The Angels marry not, neither are given in marriage" (Matt. xxii. 30.); this fair plant hath He planted here also. They love not money, nor anything like it; and this too hath He sown amongst us. They never die; and this hath He freely given us also, for death is no longer death, but sleep. For hearken to what He saith, "Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep." (John xi. 11.)

Seest thou then the fruits of "Jerusalem that is above"? (Gal. iv. 26.) And what is indeed more stupendous than all is this, that our warfare is not decided, but all these things are given us before the attainment of the promise! For they indeed toiled even after they had entered into the land of promise;--rather, they toiled not, for had they chosen to obey God, they might have taken all the cities, without either arms or array. Jericho, we know, they overturned, more after the fashion of dancers than of warriors. We however have no warfare after we have entered into the land of promise, that is, into Heaven, but only so long as we are in the wilderness, that is, in the present life. "For he that is entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his works as God did from His." (Heb. iv. 10.) "Let us not then be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Gal. vi. 9.) Seest thou how that just as He led them, so also He leads us? In their case, touching the manna and the wilderness, it is said, "He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack." (Ex. xvi. 18.) And we have this charge given us, "not to lay up treasure upon the earth." (Matt. vi. 19.) But if we do lay up treasure, it is no longer the earthly worm that corrupts it, as was the case with the manna, but that which dwelleth eternally with fire. [486] Let us then "subdue all things," that we furnish not food to this worm. For "he," it is said, "who gathered much had nothing over." For this too happens with ourselves also every day. We all of us have but the same capacity of hunger to satisfy. And that which is more than this, is but an addition of cares. For what He intended in after-times to deliver, saying, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matt. vi. 34), this had He thus been teaching even from the very beginning, [487] and not even thus did they receive it. But as to us, let us not be insatiable, let us not be discontented, let us not be seeking out for splendid houses; for we are on our pilgrimage, not at home; so that if there be any that knows that the present life is a sort of journey, and expedition, and, as one might say, it is what they call an entrenched camp, [488] he will not be seeking for splendid buildings. For who, tell me, be he ever so rich, would choose to build a splendid house in an encampment? No one; he would be a laughing stock, he would be building for his enemies, and would the more effectually invite them on; and so then, if we be in our senses, neither shall we. The present life is nothing else than a march and an encampment.

Wherefore, I beseech you, let us do all we can, so as to lay up no treasure here; for if the thief should come, we must in a moment arise and depart. "Watch," saith He, "for ye know not at what hour the thief cometh" (Matt. xxiv. 42, 43.), thus naming death. O then, before he cometh, let us send away everything before us to our native country; but here let us be "well girded," that we may be enabled to overcome our enemies, whom God grant that we may overcome, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom together with the Holy Ghost, be unto the Father glory, strength, honor forever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[476] ["`Stand,' here, is not, like the preceding stenai (in verse 13), the standing of the victor, but the `standing forth of the man ready for the combat."--Meyer.--G.A.] [477] Compare Isa. xi. 5. [478] noetos. [479] ["As for the actual warrior, the whole aptus habitus (prepared state) for the combat would be wanting in the absence of the girdle; so also for the spiritual warrior, if he is not furnished with truth."--Meyer.--G.A.] [480] ["It is clear that truth does not mean `objectively the gospel,' for that is designated later, ver. 17, by rhema theou (`the word of God'), but `subjectively,' truth as an inward property, i.e. the `harmony of knowledge with the objective truth given in the gospel.'"--Meyer.--G.A.] [481] The Manichees considered matter to be uncreate; vid. Note on St. Augustine's Confessions, i. b. The Marcionites considered matter intrinsically evil; vid. Theod. Hær. i. 24. Valentinus denied that our Lord was born of the substance of Mary; vid. St. Cyril, Lect. iv. 9. Paul of Samosata and Arius both denied His Godhead. [482] apathos. [483] The word anagoge, when used of Scripture exposition, has various senses, but always implies an interpretation not literal, grammatical, or historical. Sometimes it stands for a "moral" interpretation, i.e. one conveying a moral lesson; e.g. Chrys. in Psalm cxix. (120) init.; Basil. in Esai. v. § 152. Sometimes for an interpretation with reference simply to heavenly persons and things; vid. Mosheim, de Reb. ante Const. p. 644; Dionys. Hierarch Cæl. i. 2. Origen enumerates three senses of Scripture, literal, moral, and mystical, the last being either allegorical or anagogical; Clement four, literal, moral, mystical, and prophetical; but the more common division has been into literal, tropological, allegorical, and anagogical. [Cassian, a pupil of Chrysostom, defines anagoge: Anagoge vero de spiritalibus mysteriis ad sublimiora quaedam et sacratiora coelorum secreta conscendens, "leading up from spiritual mysteries to higher and more sacred secrets of heaven." See also Sophocles' Greek Lex. sub "voce."--G.A.] [484] anagogen. [485] [For the use of these words in the church service, see Bingham, Antiquities, xv. 3, 10, and Hom. III. on Ephesians.--G.A.] [486] [The text in this passage is very corrupt. Three mss. have ouketi skolex ho aisthetos lumainetai...alla ho tes dikaiosunes. But as Field says, hoskolex tes dikaiosunes ("the worm of righteousness") seems "absurdissimum." Three other mss. give the reading which we have adopted: "No longer the earthly worm," &c., "but that which dwelleth eternally with fire," all' ho to puri sundiaionizon hemas lumainetai. Field, in his text, follows a single ms., and emends even that.--G.A.] [487] anothen. [488] phossaton, fossatum.


Homily XXIV.

Ephesians vi. 14-17

"Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

"Having girded your loins," saith he, "with truth." What can be the meaning of this? I have stated in the preceding discourse, that he ought to be lightly accoutered, in order that there should be no impediment whatever to his running.

"And having on," he continues, "the breastplate of righteousness." As the breastplate is impenetrable, so also is righteousness, and by righteousness here he means a life of universal virtue. [489] Such a life no one shall ever be able to overthrow; it is true, many wound him, but no one cuts through him, no, not the devil himself. It is as though one were to say, "having righteous deeds fixed in the breast"; of these it is that Christ saith, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled." (Matt. v. 6.) Thus is he firm and strong like a breastplate. Such a man will never be put out of temper.

"And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace." It is more uncertain in what sense this was said. What then is its meaning? They are noble greaves, doubtless, with which he invests us. Either then he means this, that we should be prepared for the gospel, and should make use of our feet for this, and should prepare and make ready its way before it; [490] or if not this, at least that we ourselves should be prepared for our departure. "The preparation," then, "of the gospel of peace," is nothing else than a most virtuous life; according to what the Prophet saith. "Thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear." (Ps. x. 17.) "Of the gospel," he says, "of peace," and with reason; for inasmuch as he had made mention of warfare and fighting, he shows us that this conflict with the evil spirits we must needs have: for the gospel is "the gospel of peace"; this war which we have against them, puts an end to another war, that, namely, which is between us and God; if we are at war with the devil, we are at peace with God. Fear not therefore, beloved; it is a "gospel," that is, a word of good news; already is the victory won.

"Withal taking up the shield of faith."

By "faith" in this place, he means, not knowledge, (for that he never would have ranged last,) but that gift by which miracles are wrought. [491] And with reason does he term this "`faith' a shield"; for as the shield is put before the whole body, as if it were a sort of rampart, just so is this faith; for all things yield to it.

"Wherewith ye shall be able," saith he, "to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one."

For this shield nothing shall be able to resist; for hearken to what Christ saith to His disciples, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove." (Matt. xvii. 20.) But how are we to have this faith? When we have rightly performed all those duties.

"By the darts of the evil one," he means, both temptations, and vile desires; and "fiery," he says, for such is the character of these desires. Yet if faith can command the evil spirits, much more can it also the passions of the soul.

"And take the helmet," he continues, "of salvation," that is, of your salvation. For he is casing them in armor.

"And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." He either means the Spirit, or else, "the spiritual sword": for by this [492] all things are severed, by this all things are cleft asunder, by this we cut off even the serpent's head.

Ver. 18, 19, 20. "With all prayer and supplication," saith he, "praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints; and on my behalf that utterance may be given unto me, in opening my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."

As the word of God has power to do all things, so also has he who has the spiritual gift. "For the word of God," saith he, "is living, and active and sharper than any two-edged sword." (Heb. iv. 12.) Now mark the wisdom of this blessed Apostle. He hath armed them with all security. What then is necessary after that? To call upon the King, that He may stretch forth His hand. "With all prayer, and supplication, praying at all seasons in the Spirit"; for it is possible "to pray" not "in the Spirit," when one "uses vain repetitions" (Matt. vi. 7.); "and watching thereunto," he adds, that is, keeping sober; for such ought the armed warrior, he that stands at the King's side, to be; wakeful and temperate:--"in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints; and on my behalf that utterance may be given unto me in opening my mouth." What sayest thou, blessed Paul? Hast thou, then, need of thy disciples? And well does he say, "in opening my mouth." He did not then study what he used to say, but according to what Christ said, "When they deliver you up, be not anxious how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak" (Matt. x. 19.): so truly did he do everything by faith, everything by grace. "With boldness," he proceeds, "to make known the mystery of the Gospel"; that is, that I may answer for myself in its defense, as I ought. And art thou bound in thy chain, and still needest the aid of others? Yea, saith he, for so was Peter also bound in his chain, and yet nevertheless "was prayer made earnestly for him." (Acts xii. 5.) "For which I am an ambassador in chains, that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak"; that is, that I may answer with confidence, with courage, with great prudence.

Ver. 21. "But that ye also [493] may know my affairs, how I do, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things."

As soon as he had mentioned his chains, he leaves something for Tychicus also to relate to them of his own accord. For whatever topics there were of doctrine and of exhortation, all these he explained by his letter: but what were matters of bare recital, these he entrusted to the bearer of the letter. "That ye may know my affairs," that is, may be informed of them. This manifests both the love which he entertained towards them, and their love towards him.

Ver. 22. "Whom I have sent unto you," saith he, "for this very purpose, that ye may know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts."

This language he employs, not without a purpose, but in consequence of what he had been saying previously; "having girded your loins, having on the breastplate," &c., which are a token of a constant and unceasing advance; for hear what the Prophet saith, "Let it be unto him as the raiment wherewith he covereth himself, and for the girdle wherewith he is girded continually" (Ps. cix. 19.); and the Prophet Isaiah again saith, that God hath "put on righteousness as a breastplate" (Isa. lix. 17.); by these expressions instructing us that these are things which we must have, not for a short time only, but continually, inasmuch as there is continual need of warfare. "For it is said the righteous are bold as a lion." (Prov. xxviii. 1.) For he that is armed with such a breastplate, it cannot be that he should fear the array that is against him, but he will leap into the midst of the enemy. And again Isaiah saith, "How beautiful are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings." (Isa. lii. 7.) Who would not run, who would not serve in such a cause; to publish the good tidings of peace, peace between God and man, peace, where men have toiled not, but where God hath wrought all?

But what is the "preparation of the Gospel"? [494] Let us hearken to what John saith, "Make ye ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." (Matt. iii. 3.) But again there is need also of another "preparation" after baptism, so that we may do nothing unworthy of "peace." And then, since the feet are usually a token of the way of life, hence he is constantly exhorting in this language, "Look, therefore, carefully how ye walk." (Eph. v. 15.) On this account, he would say, let us exhibit a practice and example worthy of the Gospel; that is, make our life and conduct pure. The good tidings of peace have been proclaimed to you, give to these good tidings a ready way; since if ye again become enemies, there is no more "preparation of peace." Be ready, be not backward to embrace this peace. As ye were ready and disposed for peace and faith, so also continue. The shield is that which first receives the assaults of the adversary, and preserves the armor uninjured. So long then as faith be right and the life be right, the armor remains uninjured.

He discourses, however, much concerning faith, but most especially in writing to the Hebrews, as he does also concerning hope. Believe, saith he, in the good things to come, and none of this armor shall be injured. In dangers, in toils, by holding out thy hope and thy faith to protect thee, thou wilt preserve thy armor uninjured. "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek after Him." (Heb. xi. 6.) Faith is a shield; but wherever there are quibbles, and reasonings, and scrutinizings, then is it no longer a shield, but it impedes us. Let this our faith be such as shall cover and screen the whole frame. Let it not then be scanty, so as to leave the feet or any other part exposed, but let the shield be commensurate with the whole body.

"Fiery [495] darts." For many doubtful reasonings there are, which set the soul, as it were, on fire, many difficulties, many perplexities, but all of them faith sets entirely at rest; many things does the devil dart in, to inflame our soul and bring us into uncertainty; as, for example, when some persons say, "Is there then a resurrection?" "Is there a judgment?" "Is there a retribution?" "But is there faith?" the apostle would say, "thou shalt with it quench the darts of the devil. Has any base lust assaulted thee? Hold before thee thy faith in the good things to come, and it will not even show itself, yea, it will perish." "All the darts"; not some quenched, and others not. Hearken to what Paul saith, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed to us-ward." (Rom. viii. 18.) Seest thou how many darts the righteous quenched in those days? Seemeth it not to thee to be "fiery darts," when the patriarch burned with inward fire, as he was offering up his son? Yea, and other righteous men also have quenched "all his darts." Whether then they be reasonings that assault us, let us hold out this; or whether they be base desires, let us use this; or whether again labors and distresses, upon this let us repose. Of all the other armor, this is the safeguard; if we have not this, they will be quickly pierced through. "Withal," saith he, "taking up the shield of faith." What is the meaning of "withal"? It means both "in truth," and "in righteousness," and "in the preparation of the gospel"; that is to say, all these have need of the aid of faith.

And therefore he adds further, "and take the helmet of salvation"; that is to say, finally by this shall ye be able to be in security. To receive the helmet of salvation is to escape the peril. For as the helmet covers the head perfectly in every part, and suffers it not to sustain any injury, but preserves it, so also does faith supply alike the place of a shield, and of a helmet [496] to preserve us. For if we quench his darts, quickly shall we receive also those saving thoughts that suffer not our governing principle [497] to sustain any harm; for if these, the thoughts that are adverse to our salvation, are quenched, those which are not so, but which contribute to our salvation, and inspire us with good hopes, will be generated within us, and will rest upon our governing principle, as a helmet does upon the head.

And not only this, but we shall take also "the sword of the Spirit," and thus not only ward off his missiles, but smite the devil himself. For a soul that does not despair of herself, and is proof against those fiery darts, will stand with all intrepidity to face the enemy, and will cleave open his breastplate with this very sword with which Paul also burst through it, and "brought into captivity his devices" (2 Cor. x. 5.); he will cut off and behead the serpent.

"Which is the word of God."

By the "word of God" in this place, he means on the one hand the ordinance of God, or the word of command; or on the other that it is in the Name of Christ. For if we keep his commandments, by these we shall kill and slay the dragon himself, "the crooked serpent." (Isa. xxvii. 1.) And as he said, "Ye shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the evil one"; that he might not puff them up, he shows them, that above all things they stand in need of God; for what does he say?

"With all prayer and supplication," he says, these things shall be done, and ye shall accomplish all by praying. But when thou drawest near, never ask for thyself only: thus shalt thou have God favorable to thee.

"With all prayer and supplication, praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance for all the saints." Limit it not, I say, to certain times of the day, for hear what he is saying; approach at all times; "pray," saith he, "without ceasing." (1 Thess. v. 17.) Hast thou never heard of that widow, how by her importunity she prevailed? (Luke xviii. 1-7.) Hast thou never heard of that friend, who at midnight shamed his friend into yielding by his perseverance? (Luke xi. 5-8.) Hast thou not heard of the Syrophoenician woman (Mark vii. 25-30.), how by the constancy of her entreaty she called forth the Lord's compassion? These all of them gained their object by their importunity.

"Praying at all seasons," saith he, "in the Spirit."

That is to say, let us seek for the things which are according to God, nothing of this world, nothing pertaining to this life.

Therefore, is there need not only that we "pray without ceasing," but also, that we should do so "watching;--and watching," saith he, "thereunto." Whether he is here speaking of vigils; [498] or of the wakefulness of the soul, I admit both meanings. Seest thou how that Canaanitish woman watched unto prayer? and though the Lord gave her no answer, nay, even shook her off, and called her a dog, she said, "Yea, Lord: for even the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table" (Matt. xv. 27.), and desisted not until she obtained her request. How, too, did that widow cry, and persist so long, until she was able to shame into yielding that ruler, that neither feared God, nor regarded man (Luke xviii. 1-7.)? And how, again, did the friend persist, remaining before the door in the dead of night, till he shamed the other into yielding by his importunity, and made him arise. (Luke xi. 5-8.) This is to be watchful.

Wouldest thou understand what watchfulness in prayer is? Go to Hannah, hearken to her very words, "Adonai Eloi Sabaoth." (1 Sam. i. 11.) Nay, rather, hear what preceded those words; "they all rose up," says the history, "from the table" (1 Sam. i. 9.), and she, forthwith, did not betake herself to sleep, nor to repose. Whence she appears to me even when she was sitting at the table to have partaken lightly, and not to have been made heavy with viands. Otherwise never could she have shed so many tears; for if we, when we are fasting and foodless, hardly pray thus, or rather never pray thus, much more would not she ever have prayed thus after a meal, unless even at the meal she had been as they that eat not. Let us be ashamed, us that are men, at the example of this woman; let us be ashamed, that are suing and gasping for a kingdom, at her, praying and weeping for a little child. "And she stood," it says, "before the Lord" (1 Sam. i. 10.); and what are her words? "Adonai, Lord, Eloi Sabaoth!" and this is, being interpreted, "O Lord, the God of Hosts." Her tears went before her tongue; by these she hoped to prevail with God to bend to her request. Where tears are, there is always affliction also: where affliction is, there is great wisdom and heedfulness. "If thou wilt indeed," she continues, "look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then will I give him unto the Lord all the days of his life." (1 Sam. i. 11.) She said not, "for one year," or, "for two," as we do;--nor said she, "if thou wilt give me a child, I will give thee money"; but, "I give back to Thee the very gift itself entire, my first-born, the son of my prayer." Truly here was a daughter of Abraham. He gave when it was demanded of him. She offers even before it is demanded.

But observe even after this her deep reverence. "Only her lips moved, but her voice," it saith, "was not heard." (1 Sam. i. 13.) And thus does he who would gain his request draw nigh unto God; not consulting his ease, nor gaping, nor lounging, nor scratching his head, nor with utter listlessness. What, was not God able to grant, even without any prayer at all? What, did He not know the woman's desire even before she asked? And yet had He granted it before she asked, then the woman's earnestness would not have been shown, her virtue would not have been made manifest, she would not have gained so great a reward. So that the delay is not the result of envy or of witchcraft, but of providential kindness. When therefore ye hear the Scripture saying, that "the Lord had shut up her womb" (ver. 5, 6.), and that, "her rival provoked her sore"; consider that it is His intention to prove the woman's seriousness. [499] For, mark, she had a husband devoted to her, for he said (ver. 8.), "Am I not better to thee than ten sons?" "And her rival," it saith, "provoked her sore," that is, reproached her, insulted over her. And yet did she never once retaliate, nor utter imprecation against her, nor say, "Avenge me, for my rival reviles me." The other had children, but this woman had her husband's love to make amends. With this at least he even consoled her, saying, "Am not I better to thee than ten sons?"

But let us look, again, at the deep wisdom of this woman. "And Eli," it says, "thought she had been drunken." (Ver. 13.) Yet observe what she says to him also, "Nay, count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial, for out of the abundance of my complaint and my provocation have I spoken hitherto." (Ver. 16.) Here is truly the proof of a contrite heart, when we are not angry with those that revile us, when we are not indignant against them, when we reply but in self-defense. Nothing renders the heart so wise as affliction; nothing is there so sweet as "godly mourning." (2 Cor. vii. 10.) "Out of the abundance," saith she, "of my complaint and my provocation have I spoken hitherto." Her let us imitate, one and all. Hearken, ye that are barren, hearken, ye that desire children, hearken, both husbands and wives; yes, for husbands, too, used oftentimes to contribute their part; for hear what the Scripture saith, "And Isaac intreated the Lord for Rebekah his wife, because she was barren." (Gen. xxv. 21.) For prayer is able to accomplish great things.

"With all prayer and supplication," saith he, "for all the saints, and for me," placing himself last. What doest thou, O blessed Paul, in thus placing thyself last? Yea, saith he, "that utterance may be given unto me, in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains." And where art thou an ambassador? "To mankind," saith he. Oh! amazing lovingkindness of God! He sent from Heaven in His own Name ambassadors for peace, and lo, men took them, and bound them, and reverenced not so much as the law of nations, that an ambassador never suffers any hurt. "But, however, I am an ambassador in bonds. The chain lies like a bridle upon me, restraining my boldness, but your prayer shall open my mouth" in order that I may speak all things I was sent to speak.

"But that ye also may know my affairs, how I do, Tychicus, the beloved brother, and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things." If "faithful," he will tell no falsehood, he will in everything speak the truth:--"whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that ye might know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts." Amazing, transcendent affection! "that it may not be in the power," he means, "of them that would, to affright you." For it is probable that they were in tribulation; for the expression, "may comfort your hearts," intimates as much; that is, "may not suffer you to sink under it."

Ver. 23. "Peace be to the brethren and love with faith from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."

He invokes upon them, "peace and love with faith." He saith well: for he would not that they should have regard to love by itself, and mingle themselves with those of a different faith. Either he means this, or that above described, namely, that they should have faith also, so as to have a cheerful confidence of the good things to come. The "peace" which is towards God, and the "love." And if there be peace, there will also be love; if love, there will be peace also. "With faith," because without faith, love amounts to nothing; or rather love could not exist at all without it.

Ver. 24. "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in uncorruptness."

Why does he separate the two here, placing "peace" by itself, and "grace" by itself?

"In uncorruptness," he concludes.

What is this, "in uncorruptness"? It either means, "in purity"; or else, "for the sake of those things which are incorruptible," as, for example, not in riches, nor in glory, but in those treasures which are incorruptible. The "in" means, "through." "Through uncorruptness," that is, "through virtue." [500] Because all sin is corruption. And in the same way as we say a virgin is corrupted, so also do we speak of the soul. Hence Paul says, "Lest by any means your minds should be corrupted." (2 Cor. xi. 3.) And again elsewhere, he says, "In doctrine, showing uncorruptness." [501] For what, tell me, is corruption of the body? Is it not the dissolution of the whole frame, and of its union? This then is what takes place also in the soul when sin enters. The beauty of the soul is temperance, and righteousness; the health of the soul is courage, and prudence; for the base man is hideous in our eyes, so is the covetous, so is the man who gives himself up to evil practices, and so the coward and unmanly man is sick, and the foolish man is out of health. Now that sins work corruption, is evident from this, that they render men base, and weak, and cause them to be sick and diseased. Nay, and when we say that a virgin is corrupted, we say so, strictly speaking, on this account also, not only because the body is defiled, but because of the transgression. For the mere act is natural; and if in that consisted the "corruption," then were marriage corruption. Hence is it not the act that is corruption, but the sin, for it dishonors and puts her to shame. And again, what would be corruption in the case of a house? Its dissolution. And so, universally, corruption is a change which takes place for the worse, a change into another state, to the utter extinction of the former one. For hear what the Scripture saith, "All flesh had corrupted his way" (Gen. vi. 12.); and again, "In intolerable corruption" [502] (Ex. xviii. 18.); and again, "Men corrupted in mind." (2 Tim. iii. 8.) Our body is corruptible, but our soul is incorruptible. Oh then, let us not make that corruptible also. This, the corruption of the body, was the work of former sin; [503] but sin which is after the Laver, has the power also to render the soul corruptible, and to make it an easy prey to "the worm that dieth not." For never had that worm touched it, had it not found the soul corruptible. The worm touches not adamant, and even if he touches it, he can do it no harm. Oh then, corrupt not the soul; for that which is corrupted is full of foul stench; for hearken to the Prophet who saith, "My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness." (Ps. xxxviii. 5.)

However, "this corruption" of the body "shall put on incorruption" (1 Cor. xv. 53.), but the other of the soul, never; for where incorruption is, there is no [504] corruption. Thus is it a corruption which is incorruptible, which hath no end, a deathless death; which would have been, had the body remained deathless. Now if we shall depart into the next world having not corruption, we have that corruption incorruptible and endless; for to be ever burning, and not burnt up, ever wasted by the worm, is corruption incorruptible; like as was the case with the blessed Job. He was corrupted, and died not, and that through a lengthened period, and "wasted continually, scraping the clods of dust from his sore." [505] Some such torment as this shall it undergo, when the worms surround and devour it, not for two years nor for three, nor for ten, nor for ten thousand, but for years without end; for "their worm," saith He, "dieth not."

Moral. Let us take the alarm then, I entreat you, let us dread the words, that we meet not with the realities. Covetousness is corruption, corruption more dangerous than any other, and leading on to idolatry. Let us shun the corruption, let us choose the incorruption. Hast thou in covetousness overreached and defrauded some one? The fruits of thy covetousness perish, but the covetousness remains; a corruption which is the foundation of incorruptible corruption. The enjoyment indeed passes away, but the sin remains imperishable. A fearful evil is it for us not to strip ourselves of everything in this present world; a great calamity to depart into the next with loads of sins about us. "For in Sheol," it is said "who shall give Thee thanks?" (Ps. vi. 5.) There is the place of judgment; then is there no longer season for repentance. How many things did the rich man bewail then? (Luke xvi. 23.) And yet it availed him nothing. How many things did they say who had neglected to feed Christ? (Matt. xxv. 41.) Yet were they led away notwithstanding into the everlasting fire. How many things had they then to say: "that had wrought iniquity"; "Lord, did we not prophesy by Thy Name, and by Thy Name cast out devils?" And yet notwithstanding, they were not owned. All these things therefore will take place then; but it will be of no avail, if they be not done now. Let us fear then, lest ever we should have to say then, "Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered, and fed Thee not?" (Matt. xxv. 44.) Let us feed Him now, not one day, nor two, nor three days. "For let not mercy and truth," saith the Wise Man, "forsake thee." (Prov. iii. 3.) He saith not "do it once, nor twice." The Virgins, we know, had oil, but not enough to last out. (Matt. xxv. 3, 8.) And thus we need much oil, and thus should we be "like a green olive tree in the house of God." (Ps. lii. 8.) Let us reflect then how many burdens of sins each of us has about him, and let us make our acts of mercy counterbalance them; nay rather, far exceed them, that not only the sins may be quenched, but that the acts of righteousness may be also accounted unto us for righteousness. For if the good deeds be not so many in number as to put aside the crimes laid against us, and out of the remainder to be counted unto us for righteousness, [506] then shall no one rescue us from that punishment, from which God grant that we may be all delivered, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father, &c.

Footnotes

[489] ["`Righteousness' here is Christian moral rectitude (Rom. vi. 13.), inasmuch as, justified by faith, we are dead to sin and live in newness of life (Rom. vi. 4.). As previously the `intellectual' rectitude of the Christian was denoted by aletheia, so here his `moral' rectitude by dikaiosune."--Meyer.--G.A.] [490] ["This means `readiness,' the ready mind; not, however, for the proclamation of the gospel, as Chrysostom and others,--since in fact Paul is addressing fellow-Christians, and not fellow-teachers,--but the readiness for the conflict in question which the gospel bestows. And it is the gospel of peace, for the gospel proclaims peace (Rom. v. 1; Philip. i. 20.), and thereby produces consecration of courageous `readiness' for the conflict (Rom. viii. 31, 38, 39.)."--Meyer.--G.A.] [491] [This interpretation does not suit the context. "Faith is here saving faith, bringing assurance of forgiveness and future blessedness."--Meyer.--G.A.] [492] [It simply means the sword which "is furnished by the Holy Spirit," and this sword, as the apostle himself declares, is the word of God, the gospel, which the Holy Spirit brings vividly to the consciousness of the Christian.--Meyer and Ellicott.--G.A.] [493] ["Ye also," as well as the Colossians (Col. iv. 8, 9.). Meyer's Introd. sec. 2. The kai, on supposition of priority of Colossians, admits of an easy and natural explanation.--Ellicott.--G.A.] [494] [After having treated this part of the chapter, our author now returns to it, and supplements what he has already said.--G.A.] [495] ["The aim of this predicate is to present in strong colors the hostile and destructive character of the Satanic assaults; but more special explanations of its import are inappropriate."--Meyer.--G.A.] [496] [Faith is not the helmet. Chrysostom's exegesis of the parts of the armor is not clear. Salvation is the helmet; for tou soteriou is a genitive of apposition. Receive the helmet, which is salvation. "This salvation," says Ellicott, "is not any ideal possession, as Meyer holds. Salvation in Christ forms the subject of faith; in faith it is apprehended, and becomes in a certain sense a present possession."--G.A.] [497] to hegemonikon. [498] pannuchidas. St. Chrysostom often speaks of vigils, which were Church Services extending past midnight into the morning; vid. Hom. in Esai. i. 1, iv. 1, etc.; vid. Bingham, Antiqu. xiii. 9, § 4. [499] philosophian. [500] ["en here expresses the manner, and the expression means those `who love our Lord in imperishableness,' i.e. `so that their love does not pass away.' Comp. Tit. iii. 15."--Meyer.--G.A.] [501] [Tit. ii. 7, where aphthoria is used, which, according to Meyer, does mean uncorruptedness, while aphtharsia in our passage means imperishableness.--G.A.] [502] [phthora kataphtharese anupomoneto for Hebrew L+B+uT+ui L+B+¹N+o, Rev. Ver., "Thou wilt surely wear away."--G.A.] [503] [Comp. Rom. v. 12: "As through one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed unto all men."--G.A.] [504] [Field's text has entha gar aphtharsia, phthora estin, which seems a contradiction, whereas Savile's text, with four mss., has ouk estin.--G.A.] [505] [Job vii. 5, Sept.: phuretai de mou to soma en sapria skolekon, teko de bolakas ges apo ichoros xuon: "My flesh is mingled with the filth of worms, and I pine away, scraping clods (or crusts) of earth from my sore" (discharge, matter, pus). The Rev. Ver. has: "My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust." So nearly Zöckler in Lange: "My flesh is clothed with worms and crusts of earth."--G.A.] [506] [Such passages as this in the Fathers are used by Romanists and Tractarians for establishing their views, and it is no wonder the Tractarians were zealous in giving the Fathers to the English in English. But, as Jacob says (Eccl. Polity of N.T., pp. 28 and 29), "Our appeal is from the Nicene Fathers to the Apostles of Christ; from patristic literature to the New Testament; for it is not being near to the truth that makes men good and wise," but having the truth itself.--G.A.]


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