Writings of John Chrysostom. On the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

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St. Chrysostom:

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

On the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

The Oxford Translation, revised with additional notes by
Rev. Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D.

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


Homily XI.

1 Timothy iii. 8-10

"Likewise must the Deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given much to wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved: then let them use the office of a Deacon, being found blameless."

Discoursing of Bishops, and having described their character, and the qualities which they ought to possess, and having passed over the order of Presbyters, he proceeds to that of Deacons. The reason of this omission was, that between Presbyters and Bishops there was no great difference. Both had undertaken the office of Teachers and Presidents in the Church, and what he has said concerning Bishops is applicable to Presbyters. For they are only superior in having the power of ordination, and seem to have no other advantage over Presbyters.

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"Likewise the Deacons." That is, they should have the same qualities as Bishops. And what are these same? To be blameless, sober, hospitable, patient, not brawlers, not covetous. And that he means this when he says "likewise," is evident from what he says in addition, "grave, not doubletongued"; that is, not hollow or deceitful. For nothing so debases a man as deceit, nothing is so pernicious in the Church as insincerity. "Not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." Thus he explains what he means by "blameless." And here he requires, though in other words, that he be "not a novice," where he says, "Let these also first be proved," where the conjunction "also" is added, as connecting this with what had been said before of Bishops, for nothing intervenes between. And there is the same reason [1202] for the "not a novice" in that case. For would it not be absurd, that when a newly purchased slave is not entrusted with anything in a house, till he has by long trial given proofs of his character, yet that one should enter into the Church of God from a state of heathenism, and be at once placed in a station of preeminence?

Ver. 11. "Even so must the women [1203] be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things."

Some have thought that this is said of women generally, but it is not so, for why should he introduce anything about women to interfere with his subject? He is speaking of those who hold the rank of Deaconesses.

Ver. 12. "Let the Deacons be husbands of one wife."

This [1204] must be understood therefore to relate to Deaconesses. For that order is necessary and useful and honorable in the Church. Observe how he requires the same virtue from the Deacons, as from the Bishops, for though they were not of equal rank, they must equally be blameless; equally pure.

"Ruling their children and their own houses well."

Ver. 13. "For they that have used the office of a Deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and much boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."

Everywhere they are required to rule their children well, that others may not be scandalized by their misconduct.

"They that use the office of a Deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree," that is, advancement, "and much boldness in the faith of Jesus Christ"; as if he would say, that those who have been found vigilant in the lower degree [1205] will soon ascend to the higher.

Ver. 14, 15. "These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly. But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

That he may not plunge Timothy into dejection by giving him orders about such matters, he says, I write thus not as though I were not coming, but I will indeed come, still in case I should be delayed, that thou mayest not be distressed. And this he writes to him to prevent his being dejected, but to others in order to rouse them to greater earnestness. For his presence, though only promised, would have great effect. Nor let it seem strange that, though foreseeing everything through the Spirit, he was yet ignorant of this, and only says, I hope to come, but if I tarry, which implies uncertainty. For since he was led by the Spirit, and did not act from his own inclination, he was naturally uncertain about this matter.

"That thou mayest know," he says, "how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Not like that Jewish house. For it is this that maintains the faith and the preaching of the Word. For the truth is the pillar and the ground of the Church. [1206]

Ver. 16. "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God [He who] [1207] was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit."

Here he speaks of the Dispensation in our behalf. Tell me not of the bells, nor of the holy of holies, nor of the high priest. The Church is the pillar of the world. Consider this mystery, and thou mayest be struck with awe: for it is indeed "a great mystery," and "a mystery of godliness," and that "without controversy" or question, for it is beyond all doubt. Since in his directions to the Priests he had required nothing like what is found in Leviticus he refers the whole matter to Another, saying, "God was manifest in the flesh." The Creator was seen incarnate. "He was justified in the Spirit." As it is said, "Wisdom is justified of her children," or because He practiced no guile, as the Prophet says, "Because he had done no violence, neither was guile found in his mouth." (Isa. liii. 9; 1 Pet. ii. 22.) "Seen of Angels." So that Angels together with us saw the Son of God, not having before seen Him. Great, truly great, was this mystery! "Preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world." He was heard of and believed in through all parts of the world, as the Prophet foreshowed, saying, "Their sound is gone out into all the world." (Ps. xix. 4.) Think not that these things are mere words, for they are not, but full of hidden realities. "Received up into glory." He ascended upon clouds. "This Jesus," it is said, "Who is taken up from you, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." (Acts i. 11.)

The discretion of the blessed Paul is observable. When he would exhort the Deacons to avoid excess in wine, he does not say, "Be not drunken," but "not" even "given to much wine." A proper caution; for if those who served in the Temple did not taste wine at all, much more should not these. For wine produces disorder of mind, and where it does not cause drunkenness, it destroys the energies and relaxes the firmness of the soul.

The dispensation in our behalf he calls a "mystery," and well may it be so called, since it is not manifest to all, nay, it was not manifest to the Angels, for how could it, when it was "made known by the Church"? (Eph. iii. 10.) Therefore he says, "without controversy great is the mystery." Great indeed was it. For God became Man, and Man became God. A Man was seen without sin! A Man was received up, was preached in the world! Together with us the Angels saw Him. This is indeed a mystery! Let us not then expose [1208] this mystery. Let us not lay it forth everywhere, but let us live in a manner worthy of the mystery. They to whom a mystery is intrusted are great persons. We account it a mark of favor, if a king intrusts a secret to us. But God has committed His mystery to us, yet are we ungrateful to our Benefactor, as if we had not received the greatest benefits. Our insensibility to such a kindness should strike us with horror. And how is that a mystery which all know? In the first place all do not know it, and before then too they knew it not, but now it is made manifest. [1209]

Moral. In keeping this mystery, then, let us be faithful to our trust. So great a mystery has He intrusted to us, and we do not trust Him even with our money, though He has bid us lay up our wealth with Him, where none can take it away, neither can moth nor thief waste it. And He promises to pay us a hundred-fold, yet we obey Him not. Yet here if we intrust any with a deposit, we receive nothing back in addition, but are thankful if that is restored which we deposited. If a thief steals it there, He saith, set that to My account; I say not to thee, a thief has taken it, or moth devoured it. He repays a hundred-fold here, and eternal life is superadded hereafter, yet do we not lay up our treasure there! "But," you say, "He repays slowly." Well this too is a proof of the greatness of His gift, that He does not repay here in this mortal life; or rather He does repay even here a hundred-fold. For did not Paul leave here his tools, [1210] Peter his rod and hook, and Matthew his seat of custom? and was not the whole world opened to them more than to kings? Were not all things laid at their feet? Were they not appointed rulers, [1211] and lords? Did not men commit their lives into their hands? suspend themselves wholly upon their counsel, and enlist in their service? And do we not see many similar occurrences even now? Many men of poor and humble means, who did but handle the spade, and had hardly a sufficiency of necessary food, having but the character of monks, have been celebrated above all men, and honored of kings.

Are these things inconsiderable? Well, consider that these are but additions, the principal sum is stored up for the life to come. Despise riches, if thou wouldest have riches. If thou wouldest be truly rich, become poor. For such are the paradoxes of God. He would not have thee rich from thy own care, but from His grace. Leave these things to Me, He says; make spiritual things thy concern, that thou mayest know My power. Flee from that yoke of slavery, which riches impose. As long as thou cleavest to them, thou art poor. When thou despisest them, thou art doubly rich, in that such things shall flow in upon thee from every side, and in that thou shalt want none of those things, which the multitude want. For not to possess much, but to need little, is to be rich indeed. The king, so long as he wants aught, differs not from the poor man. For this is poverty, to stand in need of others; and by this argument the king is poor, in so far as he stands in need of his subjects. But he that is crucified, to the world is not so; he wants for nothing; for his hands are sufficient for his subsistence, as Paul said, "These hands have ministered to my necessities, and to them that were with me." (Acts xx. 34.) These are his words who says, "As having nothing, yet possessing all things." (2 Cor. vi. 20.) This is he who was thought a God by the inhabitants of Lystra. If thou wouldest obtain worldly things, seek Heaven; if you wouldest enjoy things here, despise them. For, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," He saith, "and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. vi. 33.)

Why dost thou admire these trifles? Why long for things of no real worth? How long is one poor? [1212] how long a beggar? Raise thine eyes to heaven, think of the riches there, and smile at gold; think of how little use it is; that the enjoyment of it lasts but for the present life, and that compared with eternity, the present life is as a grain of sand, or as a drop of water to the boundless ocean. This wealth is not a possession, it is not property, it is a loan for use. For when thou diest, willingly or unwillingly, all that thou hast goes to others, and they again give it up to others, and they again to others. For we are all sojourners; and the tenant of the house is more truly perchance the owner of it, for the owner dies, and the tenant lives, and still enjoys the house. And if the latter hires it, the other might be said to hire it too: for he built it, and was at pains with it, and fitted it up. Property, in fact, is but a word: we are all owners in fact but of other men's possessions. Those things only are our own, which we have sent before us to the other world. Our goods here are not our own; we have only a life interest in them; or rather they fail us during our lives. Only the virtues of the soul are properly our own, as alms-giving and charity. Worldly goods, even by those without, were called external things, because they are without us. But let us make them internal. For we cannot take our wealth with us, when we depart hence, but we can take our charities. But let us rather send them before us, that they may prepare for us an abode in the eternal mansions. (Luke xvi. 9.)

Goods [1213] are named from use, [1214] not from lordship, and are not our own, and possessions are not a property but a loan. For how many masters has every estate had, and how many will it have! There is a sensible proverb, (and popular proverbs, when they contain any wisdom, are not to be despised,) "O field, how many men's hast thou been, and how many men's wilt thou be?" This we should say to our houses and all our goods. Virtue alone is able to depart with us, and to accompany us to the world above. Let us then give up and extinguish that love of wealth, that we may kindle in us an affection for heavenly things. These two affections cannot possess one soul. For it is said, "Either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." (Matt. vi. 24.) Seest thou a man with a long train of attendants, clearing a way [1215] along the streets, clothed in silken garments, riding aloft, and stiffening his neck? Be not overawed, but smile. As we laugh when we see children playing at kings, so laugh at his state, for it is no better than theirs, nor indeed so pleasant, for there is not the same innocence and simplicity as with children. With them it is laughter and pleasure, here is a man made ridiculous and contemptible.

Glorify God, Who has kept thee free from this theatrical ostentation. For, if thou wilt, humble as thy station is, thou mayest be higher than he who is exalted in his chariot. And why? because, though his body is a little raised from the earth, his soul is fixed upon it, for "My strength," he saith, "cleaveth to my flesh" (Ps. cii. 6.), but thou in thy spirit walkest in heaven. What though he has many attendants clearing his way? is he more honored by this than his horse? and what an absurdity is it, to drive men before one to clear the way for a beast to pass! Then what sort of honor is it to bestride a horse? an honor shared by his slaves. Yet some are so vain of this, that they have it led after them even though they do not want it. What greater folly can there be? To wish to be distinguished by their horses, by the costliness of their garments, by their retinue! What can be more contemptible than glory which consists in horses, and servants? Art thou virtuous? use not such distinctions. Have ornaments in thyself. Be not indebted for thy glory to the presence of others. To such honor the most wicked, corrupt, and base of men may attain; all indeed who are rich. Actors and dancers may ride on horseback with a servant running before them, yet are they but actors and dancers still. Their horses and attendants procure them no respect. For when the graces of the soul are wanting to such persons, the addition of these external things is superfluous and vain. And as when a wall is weak, or a body disordered, whatever you put upon it, it still remains unsound and decayed; so in this case; the soul continues the same, and receives no advantage from things without, not though the man wear a thousand ornaments of gold. Let us not therefore be anxious for such things. Let us withdraw ourselves from temporal things, and pursue greater, even spiritual distinctions, which will render us truly objects of veneration, that we also may obtain the blessings of futurity, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.

Footnotes

[1202] He had not noticed this reason on the passage, probably because he considered that St. Paul purposely deferred it to this place. [1203] E.V.: "Their wives." The other is literal. [R.V.: "Women."] [1204] i.e. the verse before. [1205] Or, "in things below." He may refer to the Deacon's temporal ministry. [1206] i.e. the truth in itself supports the Church, the Church through it supports the world. [1207] [os is better attested than theos, and has been adopted in the R.V.--P.S.] [1208] The word ekpompeuomen seems to be used in a bad sense, as of disgracing, or irreverently handling, the sacred doctrine. [1209] So B. Sav. mar. and Old Lat. The printed text is, "It is a mystery which all know, yea, rather, which all knew not before, but which is now made manifest to all." [1210] smilen. [1211] dioiketas. [1212] See on Philip. i. 19, Hom. ii. [1213] chremata. [1214] kechresthai. [1215] sobounta.


Homily XII.

1 Timothy iv. 1-3

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."

As those who adhere to the faith are fixed on a safe anchor, so those who fall from the faith can nowhere rest; but after many wanderings to and fro, they are borne at last into the very gulf of perdition. And this he had shown before, saying, that some had "already made shipwreck concerning the faith," and now he says, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits." This is said of the Manichæans, the Encratites, [1216] and the Marcionites, and the whole of their tribe, [1217] that they should hereafter depart from the faith. Seest thou that this departure from the faith is the cause of all the evils that follow!

But what is "expressly"? Plainly, clearly, and beyond doubt. Marvel not, he says, if some having departed from the faith still adhere to Judaism. There will be a time, when even those who have partaken of the faith will fall into a worse error, not only with respect to meats, but to marriages, and other such things, introducing the most pernicious notions. This refers not to the Jews, (for "the latter times," and a "departure from the faith," is not applicable to them;) but to the Manichees, and the founders of these sects. And he calls them very justly, "seducing spirits," since it was by these they were actuated in speaking such things. "Speaking lies in hypocrisy." This implies that they utter not these falsehoods through ignorance and unknowingly, but as acting a part, knowing the truth, but "having their conscience seared," that is, being men of evil lives.

But why does he speak only of these heretics? Christ had before said, "Offenses must need come" (Matt. xviii. 7.), and he had predicted the same in his parable of the sower, and of the springing up of the tares. But here admire with me the prophetic gift of Paul, who, before the times in which they were to appear, specifies the time itself. As if he had said, Do not wonder, if, at the commencement of the faith, some endeavor to bring in these pernicious doctrines; since, after it has been established for a length of time, many shall depart from the faith. "Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats." Why then has he mentioned no other heresies? Though not particularized, they are implied by the expressions of "seducing spirits and doctrines of demons." But he did not wish to instill these things into the minds of men before the time; but that which had already commenced, the case of meats, he specifies. "Which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." Why did he not say, by the unbelievers too? How by the unbelievers, when they exclude themselves from them by their own rules? But is not luxury forbidden? Certainly it is. But why? if good things are created to be received. Because He created bread, and yet too much is forbidden; and wine also, and yet excess is forbidden; and we are not commanded to avoid dainties as if they were unclean in themselves, but as they corrupt the soul by excess.

Ver. 4. "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving."

If it be the creature of God, it is good. For "all things," it is said, "were very good." (Gen. i. 31.) By speaking thus of things eatable, he by anticipation impugns the heresy of those who introduce an uncreated matter, and assert that these things proceed from it. But if it is good, why is it "sanctified by the word of God and prayers"? For it must be unclean, if it is to be sanctified? Not so, here he is speaking to those who thought that some of these things were common; therefore he lays down two positions: first, that no creature of God is unclean: secondly, that if it were become so, you have a remedy, seal it, [1218] give thanks, and glorify God, and all the uncleanness passes away. Can we then so cleanse that which is offered to an idol? If you know not that it was so offered. But if, knowing this, you partake of it, you will be unclean; not because it was offered to an idol, but because contrary to an express command, you thereby communicate with devils. So that it is not unclean by nature, but becomes so through your wilful disobedience. What then, is not swine's flesh unclean? By no means, when it is received with thanksgiving, and with the seal; nor is anything else. It is your unthankful disposition to God that is unclean.

Ver. 6. "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained."

What are the things here meant? The same which he had before mentioned, that "great is the mystery"; that to abstain from meats is the doctrine of devils, that they are "cleansed by the word of God and prayer."

Ver. 7. "But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness."

"Putting them in remembrance," he says; here you observe no authority; but all is condescension: he does not say "commanding" or "enjoining," but reminding them: that is, suggest these things as matter of advice, and so enter into discourses with them concerning the faith, "being nourished up," he says, meaning to imply constancy in application to these things.

For as we set before us day by day this bodily nourishment, so he means, let us be continually receiving discourses concerning the faith, and ever be nourished with them. What is this, "being nourished up"? Ruminating upon them; attending ever to the same things, and practicing ever the same, for it is no common nourishment that they supply.

"But refuse profane and old wives' fables." By these are meant Jewish traditions, and he calls them "fables," either because of their falsehood or their unseasonableness. For what is seasonable is useful, but what is unseasonable is not only useless but injurious. Suppose a man of adult age to be suckled by a nurse, would he not be ridiculous, because it is unseasonable? "Profane and old wives' fables," he calls them, partly because of their obsoleteness, and partly because they are impediments to faith. For to bring souls under fear, that are raised above these things, is an impious commandment. "Exercise thyself unto godliness." That is, unto a pure faith and a moral life; for this is godliness. So then we need "exercise."

Ver. 8. "For bodily exercise [1219] profiteth little." This has by some been referred to fasting; but away with such a notion! for that is not a bodily but a spiritual exercise. If it were bodily it would nourish the body, whereas it wastes and makes it lean, so that it is not bodily. Hence he is not speaking of the discipline [1220] of the body. What we need, therefore, is the exercise [1221] of the soul. For the exercise of the body hath no profit, but may benefit the body a little, but the exercise [1222] of godliness yields fruit and advantage both here and hereafter.

"This is a faithful saying," that is, it is true that godliness is profitable both here and hereafter. Observe how everywhere he brings in this, he needs no demonstration, but simply declares it, for he was addressing Timothy.

So then even here, we have good hopes? For he who is conscious to himself of no evil, and who has been fruitful in good, rejoices even here: as the wicked man on the other hand is punished here as well as hereafter. He lives in perpetual fear, he can look no one in the face with confidence, he is pale, trembling, and full of anxiety. Is it not so with the fraudulent, and with thieves, who have no satisfaction even in what they possess? Is not the life of murderers and adulterers most wretched, who look upon the sun itself with suspicion? Is this to be called life? No; rather a horrid death!

Ver. 10. "For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe."

This in effect is to say, wherefore do we mortify ourselves, unless we expect future blessings? Have we endured so many evils, submitted to so many reproaches, suffered such insults and calumnies, and such numerous calamities in vain? For if we did not trust in the living God, on what account did we submit to these things? But if God is here the Saviour [1223] of the unbelieving, much more is He of the faithful hereafter. What salvation does he speak of? That to come? [1224] "Who is the Saviour," he says, "of all men, specially of them that believe." At present he is speaking of that which is here. But how is He the Saviour of the faithful? Had he not been so, they must long since have been destroyed, for all men have made war upon them. He calls him here to endure perils, that having God for his Saviour he may not faint nor need any aid from others, but willingly and with fortitude endure all things. Even those who eagerly grasp at worldly advantages, supported by the hope of gain, cheerfully undertake laborious enterprises.

It is then the last time. For "in the latter times," he says, "some shall depart from the faith." "Forbidding to marry." And do not we forbid to marry? God forbid. We do not forbid those who wish to marry, but those who do not wish to marry, we exhort to virginity. It is one thing to forbid, and another to leave one to his own free choice. He that forbids, does it once for all, but he who recommends virginity as a higher state, does not forbid marriage, because he prefers virginity.

"Forbidding to marry," he says, "and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." It is well said, "who know the truth." The former things then were a type. For nothing is unclean by nature, but it becomes so through the conscience of him that partakes of it. And what was the object of the prohibition of so many meats? To restrain excessive luxury. But had it been said, "eat not for the sake of luxury," it would not have been borne. They were therefore shut up under the necessity of the law, that they might abstain from the stronger principle of fear. The fish was not forbidden, though it was manifestly more unclean than the swine. But they might have learned how pernicious luxury was from that saying of Moses, "Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked." (Deut. xxxii. 15.) Another cause of these prohibitions might be, that being straitened for other food, they might be reduced to slaughter sheep and oxen; he therefore restrained them from other things, on account of Apis and the calf, which was an abomination, ungrateful, polluted, and profane. [1225]

"Put them in remembrance of these things, meditate upon [1226] these things," for by the expression, "nourished up in the words of faith and sound doctrine," is implied that he should not only recommend these things to others, but himself practice them. For he says, "Nourished up in the words of faith, and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables." Why does he not say, abstain from them, but "refuse"? He thus intimates that they should be utterly rejected. His meaning is, that he should not enter into any disputation with the teachers of them, but recommend to his own people the things prescribed above. For nothing is to be gained by contending with perverse men, unless where it might have an injurious effect, if we were supposed from weakness to decline arguing with them.

"But exercise thyself unto godliness," that is, unto a pure life, and the most virtuous conversation. He that exerciseth himself, even when it is not the season of contest, acts always as if he were contending, practices abstinence, endures all toils, is always anxious, endures much labor. "Exercise thyself," he saith, "unto godliness; for bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." And why, says one, does he mention this bodily exercise? To show by comparison the superiority of the other, in that the former is of no solid advantage, though it is attended with many toils, whilst the latter has a lasting and abundant good. As when he bids women "adorn themselves, not with broidered hair, or gold, or costly array: but which becometh women possessing godliness; with good works." (1 Tim. ii. 9, 10)

Moral. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach." Did Paul then suffer reproach, and art thou impatient? Did Paul labor, and wouldest thou live luxuriously? But had he lived luxuriously, he would never have attained such great blessings. For if worldly goods, which are uncertain and perishable, are never gained by men without labor and pains, much less are spiritual. Well, saith one, but some inherit them. Yet even when inherited they are not guarded and preserved without labor, and care, and trouble, no less than those have that have gained them. And I need not say that many who have toiled and endured hardships have been disappointed at the very entrance of the harbor, and an adverse wind has caused the wreck of their hopes, when they were upon the point of possession. But with us there is nothing like this. For it is God who promised, and that "hope maketh not ashamed." (Rom. v. 5.) Ye who are conversant with worldly affairs, know ye not how many men, after infinite toils, have not enjoyed the fruit of their labors, either being previously cut off by death, or overtaken by misfortune, or assailed by disease, or ruined by false accusers, or some other cause, which amidst the variety of human casualties, has forced them to go with empty hands?

But do you not see the lucky men, says one, who with little labor acquire the good things of life? What good things? Money, houses, so many acres of land, trains of servants, heaps of gold and silver? Can you call these good things, and not hide your head for shame? A man called to the pursuit of heavenly wisdom, and gaping after worldly things, and calling them "goods," which are of no value! If these things are good, then the possessors of them must be called good. For is not he good, who is the possessor of what is good? But when the possessors of these things are guilty of fraud and rapine, shall we call them good? For if wealth is a good, but is increased by grasping, the more it is increased, the more will its possessor be considered to be good. Is the grasping man then good? But if wealth is good, and increases by grasping, the more a man grasps, the better he must be. Is not this plainly a contradiction? But suppose the wealth is not gained wrongfully. And how is this possible? So destructive a passion is avarice, that to grow rich without injustice is impossible. This Christ declared, saying, "Make to yourselves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness." (Luke xvi. 19.) But what if he succeeded to his father's inheritance? Then he received what had been gathered by injustice. For it was not from Adam that his ancestor inherited riches, but, of the many that were before him, some one must probably have unjustly taken and enjoyed the goods of others. What then? he says, did Abraham hold unrighteous wealth; and Job, that blameless, righteous, and faithful man, who "feared God and eschewed evil"? Theirs was a wealth that consisted not in gold and silver, nor in houses, but in cattle. Besides this, he was enriched by God. [1227] And the author of that book, relating what happened to that blessed man, mentions the loss of his camels, his mares and asses, but does not speak of treasures of gold or silver being taken away. The riches of Abraham too were his domestics. What then? Did he not buy them? No, for to this very point the Scripture says, that the three hundred and eighteen were born in his house. (Gen. xix. 14.) He had also sheep and oxen. Whence then did he send gold to Rebekah? (Gen. xxiv. 22; xii. 16.) From the gifts which he received from Egypt without violence or wrong.

Tell me, then, whence art thou rich? From whom didst thou receive it, and from whom he who transmitted it to thee? From his father and his grandfather. But canst thou, ascending through many generations, show the acquisition just? It cannot be. The root and origin of it must have been injustice. Why? Because God in the beginning made not one man rich, and another poor. Nor did He afterwards take and show to one treasures of gold, and deny to the other the right of searching for it: but He left the earth free to all alike. Why then, if it is common, have you so many acres of land, while your neighbor has not a portion of it? It was transmitted to me by my father. And by whom to him? By his forefathers. But you must go back and find the original owner. Jacob had wealth, but it was earned as the hire of his labors.

But I will not urge this argument too closely. Let your riches be justly gained, and without rapine. For you are not responsible for the covetous acts of your father. Your wealth may be derived from rapine; but you were not the plunderer. Or granting that he did not obtain it by robbery, that his gold was cast up somewhere out of the earth. What then? Is wealth therefore good? By no means. At the same time it is not bad, he says, if its possessor be not covetous; it is not bad, if it be distributed to the poor, otherwise it is bad, it is ensnaring. "But if he does not evil, though he does no good, it is not bad," he argues. True. But is not this an evil, that you alone should have the Lord's property, that you alone should enjoy what is common? Is not "the earth God's, and the fullness thereof"? If then our possessions belong to one common Lord, they belong also to our fellow-servants. The possessions of one Lord are all common. Do we not see this the settled rule in great houses? To all is given an equal portion of provisions, for it proceeds from the treasures of their Lord. And the house of the master is opened to all. The king's possessions are all common, as cities, market-places, and public walks. We all share them equally.

Mark the wise dispensation of God. That He might put mankind to shame, He hath made certain things common, as the sun, air, earth, and water, the heaven, the sea, the light, the stars; whose benefits are dispensed equally to all as brethren. We are all formed with the same eyes, the same body, the same soul, the same structure in all respects, [1228] all things from the earth, all men from one man, and all in the same habitation. But these are not enough to shame us. Other things then (as we have said) He hath made common, as baths, cities, market-places, walks. And observe, that concerning things that are common there is no contention, but all is peaceable. But when one attempts to possess himself of anything, to make it his own, then contention is introduced, as if nature herself were indignant, that when God brings us together in every way, we are eager to divide and separate ourselves by appropriating things, and by using those cold words "mine and thine." Then there is contention and uneasiness. But where this is not, no strife or contention is bred. This state therefore is rather our inheritance, and more agreeable to nature. Why is it, that there is never a dispute about a market-place? Is it not because it is common to all? But about a house, and about property, men are always disputing. Things necessary are set before us in common; but even in the least things we do not observe a community. Yet those greater things He hath opened freely to all, that we might thence be instructed to have these inferior things in common. Yet for all this, we are not instructed.

But as I said, how can he, who is rich, be a good man? When he distributes his riches, he is good, so that he is good when he has ceased to have it, when he gives it to others; but whilst he keeps it himself, he is not good. How then is that a good which being retained renders men evil, being parted with makes them good? Not therefore to have wealth, but to have it not, makes one appear to be good. Wealth therefore is not a good. But if, when you can receive it, you receive it not, again you are good.

If then we are good, when having it, we distribute it to others; or when offered to us we refuse it, and if we are not good, when we receive or gain it, how can it be a good thing in itself? Call it not therefore a good. You possess it not, because you think it a good, because you are anxious to possess it. Cleanse thy mind, and rectify thy judgment, and then thou wilt be good. Learn what are really goods. What are they? Virtue and benevolence. These and not that, are truly good. According to this rule, the more charitable thou art, the more good thou wilt be considered. But if thou art rich, thou art no longer good. Let us therefore become thus good, that we may be really good, and may obtain the good things to come in Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.

Footnotes

[1216] St. Chrys. often speaks of the Manichees and Marcionites, but rarely of the Encratites. They are mentioned more than once by Clem. Al., who says (Strom. 7) that they are named from "Temperance" (enkrateia). Origen (cont. Cel. v. 65, p. 628) says they did not acknowledge St. Paul's Epistles. Eusebius, iv. 28, 29, that Tatian was the author of this heresy, and so Epiphanius, who treats of its several points at length. Her. 26 (Montf.). [1217] Literally, "shop." [1218] i.e. with the sign of the cross, sphragison. [1219] gumnasia. [1220] askeseos. [1221] gumnasia. [1222] askesis, the proper word for spiritual exercise. St. Paul uses the other, because bodily exercise for bodily purposes was familiar to all Greeks. [1223] Or Preserver. [1224] The Editor ventures to mark this as a question, though not so printed, or so taken in the old Translation. B. once had eu, which gives this sense with or without a question. [1225] This is scarcely intelligible. B. has, "for he is unclean, who is unthankful, wicked, and profane." [1226] Or practice, v. 15. [1227] theoploutos. [1228] "Hath not a Jew the same organs, the same dimensions?"--Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice.


Homily XIII.

1 Timothy iv. 11-14

"These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery."

In some cases it is necessary to command, in others to teach; if therefore you command in those cases where teaching is required, you will become ridiculous. Again, if you teach where you ought to command, you are exposed to the same reproach. For instance, it is not proper to teach a man not to be wicked, but to command; to forbid it with all authority. Not to profess Judaism, should be a command, but teaching is required, when you would lead men to part with their possessions, to profess virginity, or when you would discourse of faith. Therefore Paul mentions both: "Command and teach." When a man uses amulets, or does anything of that kind, knowing it to be wrong, he requires only a command; but he who does it ignorantly, is to be taught his error. "Let no one despise thy youth."

Observe that it becomes a priest to command and to speak authoritatively, and not always to teach. But because, from a common prejudice, youth is apt to be despised, therefore he says, "Let no man despise thy youth." For a teacher ought not to be exposed to contempt. But if he is not to be despised, what room is there for meekness and moderation? Indeed the contempt that he fails into personally he ought to bear; for teaching is commended by longsuffering. But not so, where others are concerned; for this is not meekness, but coldness. If a man revenge insults, and ill language, and injuries offered to himself, you justly blame him. But where the salvation of others is concerned, command, and interpose with authority. This is not a case for moderation, but for authority, lest the public good suffer. He enjoins one or the other as the case may require. Let no one despise thee on account of thy youth. For as long as thy life is a counterpoise, thou wilt not be despised for thy youth, but even the more admired: therefore he proceeds to say,

"But be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in purity." In all things showing thyself an example of good works: that is, be thyself a pattern of a Christian life, as a model set before others, as a living law, as a rule and standard of good living, for such ought a teacher to be. "In word," that he may speak with facility, "in conversation, in charity, in faith, in" true "purity, in temperance."

"Till I come give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine."

Even Timothy is commanded to apply to reading. Let us then be instructed not to neglect the study of the sacred writings. Again, observe, he says, "Till I come." Mark how he consoles him, for being as it were an orphan, when separated from him, it was natural that he should require such comfort. "Till I come," he says, give attendance to reading the divine writings, to exhortation of one another, to teaching of all.

"Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy."

Here he calls teaching prophecy. [1229]

"With the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." He speaks not here of Presbyters, but of Bishops. For Presbyters cannot be supposed to have ordained a Bishop.

Ver. 15. "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them."

Observe how often he gives him counsel concerning the same things, thus showing that a teacher ought above all things to be attentive to these points.

Ver. 16. "Take heed," he says, "unto thyself, and unto the doctrine: continue in them." That is, take heed to thyself, and teach others also.

"For in so doing thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee."

It is well said, "Thou shalt save thyself." For he that is "nourished up in the words of sound doctrine," first receives the benefit of it himself. From admonishing others, he is touched with compunction himself. For these things are not said to Timothy only, but to all. And if such advice is addressed to him, who raised the dead, what shall be said to us? Christ also shows the duty of teachers, when He says, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto an householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." (Matt. xiii. 52.) And the blessed Paul gives the same advice, that "we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." (Rom. xv. 4.) This he practiced above all men, being brought up in the law of his fathers, at the feet of Gamaliel, whence he would afterwards naturally apply to reading: for he who exhorted others would himself first follow the advice he gave. Hence we find him continually appealing to the testimony of the prophets, and searching into their writings. Paul then applies to reading, for it is no slight advantage that is to be reaped from the Scriptures. But we are indolent, and we hear with carelessness and indifference. What punishment do we not deserve!

"That thy profiting may appear," he says, "to all."

Thus he would have him appear great and admirable in this respect also, showing that this was still necessary for him, for he wished that his "profiting should appear" not only in his life, but in the word of doctrine.

Chap. v. ver. 1. "Rebuke not an elder."

Is he now speaking of the order? I think not, but of any elderly man. What then if he should need correction? Do not rebuke him, but address him as you would a father offending.

Ver. 1. "The elder women as mothers, the younger men as brethren; the younger women as sisters, with all purity."

Rebuke is in its own nature offensive, particularly when it is addressed to an old man, and when it proceeds from a young man too, there is a threefold show of forwardness. By the manner and the mildness of it, therefore, he would soften it. For it is possible to reprove without offense, if one will only make a point of this: it requires great discretion, but it may be done.

"The younger men as brethren." Why does he recommend this too here? With a view to the high spirit natural to young men, whence it is proper to soften reproof to them also with moderation.

"The younger women as sisters"; he adds, "with all purity." Tell me not, he means, of merely avoiding sinful intercourse with them. There should not be even a suspicion. For since intimacy with young women is always suspicious, and yet a Bishop cannot always avoid it, he shows by adding these words, that "all purity" is required in such intimacy. But does Paul give this advice to Timothy? Yes, he says, for I am speaking to the world through him. But if Timothy was thus advised, let others consider what sort of conduct is required of them, that they should give no ground for suspicion, no shadow of pretext, to those who wish to calumniate.

Ver. 3. "Honor widows, that are widows indeed."

Why does he say nothing of virginity, nor command us to honor virgins? Perhaps there were not yet any professing that state, or they might have fallen from it. "For some," he says, "are already turned aside after Satan." (1 Tim. v. 15.) For a woman may have lost her husband, and yet not be truly a widow. As in order to be a virgin, it is not enough to be a stranger to marriage, but many other things are necessary, as blamelessness and perseverance; so the loss of a husband does not constitute a widow, but patience, with chastity and separation from all men. Such widows he justly bids us honor, or rather support. For they need support, being left desolate, and having no husband to stand up for them. Their state appears to the multitude despicable and inauspicious. Therefore he wishes them to receive the greater honor from the Priest, and the more so, because they are worthy of it.

Ver. 4. "But if any widow have children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents."

Observe the discretion of Paul; how often he urges men from human considerations. For he does not here lay down any great and lofty motive, but one that is easy to be understood: "to requite their parents." How? For bringing them up and educating them. As if he should say, Thou hast received from them great care. They are departed. Thou canst not requite them. For thou didst not bring them forth, nor nourish them. Requite them [1230] in their descendants, repay the debt through the children. "Let them learn first to show piety at home." Here he more simply exhorts them to acts of kindness; then to excite them the more, he adds,

"For that is good and acceptable before God." And as he had spoken of those "who are widows indeed," he declares who is indeed a widow.

Ver. 5. "Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth."

She who being a widow has not made choice of a worldly life, is a widow indeed; she who trusts in God as she ought, and continues instant in prayer night and day, is a widow indeed. Not that she, who has children, is not a widow indeed. For he commends her who brings up children as she ought. But if any one has not children, he means, she is desolate, and her he consoles, saying, that she is most truly a widow, who has lost not only the consolation of a husband, but that arising from children, yet she has God in the place of all. She is not the worse for not having children, but He fills up her need with consolation, in that she is without children. What he says amounts to this. Grieve not, when it is said that a widow ought to bring up children, as if, because thou hast no children thy worth were on that account inferior. Thou art a widow indeed, whereas she who liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

But since many who have children choose [1231] the state of widowhood, not to cut off the occasions of a worldly life, but rather to enhance them, that they may do what they will with the greater license, and indulge the more freely in worldly lusts: therefore he says, "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." Ought not a widow then to live in pleasure? Surely not. If then when nature and age is weak, a life of pleasure is not allowable, but leads to death, eternal death; what have men to say, who live a life of pleasure? But he says with reason, "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." But that thou mayest see this, let us now see what is the state of the dead, and what of the living, and in which shall we place such an one? The living perform the works of life, of that future life, which is truly life. And Christ has declared what are the works of that future life, with which we ought always to be occupied. "Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink." (Matt. xxv. 34, 35.) The living differ from the dead, not only in that they behold the sun, and breathe the air, but in that they are doing some good. For if this be wanting, the living are not better than the dead. That you may learn this, hear how it is possible that even the dead should live. For it is said, "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matt. xxii. 32.) But this again you say is a riddle. Let us therefore solve them both. A man who liveth in pleasure, is dead whilst he liveth. For he liveth only to his belly. In his other senses he lives not. He sees not what he ought to see, he hears not what he ought to hear, he speaks not what he ought to speak. Nor does he perform the actions of the living. But as he who is stretched upon a bed, with his eyes closed, and his eyelids fast, perceives nothing that is passing; so it is with this man, or rather not so, but worse. For the one is equally insensible to things good and evil, but the latter is sensible to things evil only, but as insensible as the former to things good. Thus he is dead. For nothing relating to the life to come moves or affects him. For intemperance, taking him into her own bosom, as into some dark and dismal cavern, full of all uncleanness, causes him to dwell altogether in darkness, like the dead. For when all his time is spent between feasting and drunkenness, is he not dead, and buried in darkness? Even in the morning when he seems to be sober, he is not sober in reality, since he has not yet rid and cleansed himself of yesterday's excess and is still longing for a repetition, and in that his evening and noon he passes in revels, and all the night, and most of the morning in deep sleep.

Is he then to be numbered with the living? Who can describe that storm that comes of luxury, that assails his soul and body? For as a sky continually clouded admits not the sunbeams to shine through it, so the fumes of luxury and wine enveloping his brain, as if it were some rock, and casting over it a thick mist, suffer not reason to exert itself, but overspread the drunken man with profound darkness. With him who is thus affected, how great must be the storm within, how violent the tumult. As when a flood of water has risen, and has surmounted the entrances of the workshops, [1232] we see all the inmates in confusion, and using tubs and pitchers and sponges, and many other contrivances to bale it out, that it may not both undermine the building, and spoil all that is contained in it: so it is when luxury overwhelms the soul; its reasonings within are disturbed. What is already collected, cannot be discharged, and by the introduction of more, a violent storm is raised. For look not at the cheerful and merry countenance, but examine the interior, and you will see it full of deep dejection. If it were possible to bring the soul into view, and to behold it with our bodily eyes, that of the luxurious would seem depressed, mournful, miserable, and wasted with leanness; for the more the body grows sleek and gross, the more lean and weakly is the soul; and the more one is pampered, [1233] the more is the other hampered. [1234] As, when the pupil of the eye has the external coats over it too thick, it cannot put forth the power of vision, [1235] and look out, because the light is excluded by the thick covering, and darkness often ensues; so when the body is constantly full fed, the soul must be invested with grossness. But the dead rot, and are corrupted, you say; and an unwholesome moisture distills from them. So in her "that liveth in pleasure," may be seen rheums, and phlegm, catarrh, hiccough, vomitings, eructations, and the like, which, as too unseemly, I forbear to name. For such is the dominion of luxury, that it makes one endure things, which we do not even think proper to mention.

But you still ask, how is the body dissolved whilst it yet eats and drinks? Surely this is no sign of human life, since creatures without reason too eat and drink. Where the soul lies dead, what do eating and drinking avail? The dead body, that is invested with a flowery garment, is not benefited by it, and when a blooming body invests a dead soul, the soul is not benefited. For when its whole discourse is of cooks, and caterers, and confectioners, and it utters nothing pious, [1236] is it not dead? For let us consider what is man? The Heathens say that he is a rational animal, mortal, capable of intelligence and knowledge. But let us not take our definition from them, but whence? From the sacred writings. Where then has the Scripture given a definition of man? Hear its words. "There was a man perfect and upright, one that feared God, and eschewed evil." (Job i. 2.) This was indeed a man! Again, another says, "Man is great, and the merciful man is precious." (Prov. xx. 6, Sept.) Those who answer not to this description, though they partake of mind, and are never so capable of knowledge, the Scripture refuses to acknowledge them as men, but calls them dogs, and horses, and serpents, and foxes, and wolves, and if there be any animals more contemptible. If such then is man, he that liveth in pleasure is not a man; for how can he be, who never thinks of anything that he ought? Luxury and sobriety cannot exist together: they are destructive of one another. Even the Heathens say,

"A heavy paunch bears not a subtle mind." [1237]

Such as these the Scripture calls men without souls. "My Spirit (it is said) shall not always abide in these men, because they are flesh." (Gen. vi. 3, Sept.) Yet they had a soul, but because it was dead in them, He calls them flesh. For as in the case of the virtuous, though they have a body, we say, "he is all soul, he is all spirit," so the reverse is said of those who are otherwise. So Paul also said of those, who did not fulfill the works of the flesh, "Ye are not in the flesh." (Rom. viii. 9.) Thus those who live in luxury are not in the soul or in the spirit.

Moral. "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." Hear this, ye women, that pass your time in revels and intemperance, and who neglect the poor, pining and perishing with hunger, whilst you are destroying yourself with continual luxury. Thus you are the causes of two deaths, of those who are dying of want, and of your own, both through ill measure. But if out of your fullness you tempered their want, you would save two lives. Why do you thus gorge your own body with excess, and waste that of the poor with want; why pamper this above measure, and stint that too beyond measure? Consider what comes of food, into what it is changed. Are you not disgusted at its being named? Why then be eager for such accumulations? The increase of luxury is but the multiplication of dung! For nature has her limits, and what is beyond these is not nourishment, but injury, and the increase of ordure. Nourish the body, but do not destroy it. Food is called nourishment, to show that its design is not to injure the body, but to nourish it. For this reason perhaps food passes into excrement, that we may not be lovers of luxury. For if it were not so, if it were not useless and injurious to the body, we should not cease from devouring one another. If the belly received as much as it pleased, digested it, and conveyed it to the body, we should see wars and battles innumerable. Even now when part of our food passes into ordure, part into blood, part into spurious and useless phlegm, we are nevertheless so addicted to luxury, that we spend perhaps whole estates on a meal. What should we not do, if this were not the end of luxury? The more luxuriously we live, the more noisome are the odors with which we are filled. The body is like a swollen bottle, running out every way. The eructations are such as to pain the head of a bystander. From the heat of fermentation within, vapors are sent forth, as from a furnace, if bystanders are pained, what, think you, is the brain within continually suffering, assailed by these fumes? to say nothing of the channels of the heated and obstructed blood, of those reservoirs, the liver and the spleen, and of the canals by which the fæces are discharged. The drains in our streets we take care to keep unobstructed. We cleanse our sewers with poles and drags, that they may not be stopped, or overflow, but the canals of our bodies we do not keep clear, but obstruct and choke them up, and when the filth rises to the very throne of the king, I mean the brain, we do not regard it, treating it not like a worthy king, but like an unclean brute. God hath purposely removed to a distance those unclean members, that we might not receive offense from them. But we suffer it not to be so, and spoil all by our excess. And other evils might be mentioned. To obstruct the sewers is to breed a pestilence; but if a stench from without is pestilential, that which is pent up within the body, and cannot find a vent, what disorders must it not produce both to body and soul? Some have strangely complained, wondering why God has ordained that we should bear a load of ordure with us. But they themselves increase the load. God designed thus to detach us from luxury, and to persuade us not to attach ourselves to worldly things. But thou art not thus to be persuaded to cease from gluttony, but though it is but as far as the throat, and as long as the hour of eating, nay not even so long, that the pleasure abides, thou continuest in thine indulgence. Is it not true that as soon as it has passed the palate and the throat, the pleasure ceases? For the sense of it is in the taste, and after that is gratified, a nausea succeeds, the stomach not digesting the food, or not without much difficulty. Justly then is it said, that "she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." For the luxurious soul is unable to hear or to see anything. It becomes weak, ignoble, unmanly, illiberal, cowardly, full of impudence, servility, ignorance, rage, violence, and all kinds of evil, and destitute of the opposite virtues. Therefore he says,

Ver. 7. "These things give in charge, that they may be blameless."

He does not leave it to their choice. Command them, he says, not to be luxurious, assuming it to be confessedly an evil, as not holding it lawful or admissible for the luxurious to partake of the Holy Mysteries. "These things command," he says, "that they may be blameless." Thus you see it is reckoned among sins. For if it were a matter of choice, though it were left undone, we might still be blameless. Therefore in obedience to Paul, let us command the luxurious widow not to have place in the list of widows. [1238] For if a soldier, who frequents the bath, the theater, the busy scenes of life, is judged to desert his duty, much more the widows. Let us then not seek our rest here, that we may find it hereafter. Let us not live in pleasure here, that we may hereafter enjoy true pleasure, true delight, which brings no evil with it, but infinite good. Of which God grant that we may all be partakers, in Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.

Footnotes

[1229] He means that it was a gift of Prophecy, which the Greek dia may bear. [1230] autou seems unintelligible, read autous. B. has ekeinou, which would be, "in his (her husband's) grandchildren." It is not easy to see why St. Chrys. takes this as a direction to the widow herself, except it be from a grateful remembrance of his own mother's devoting herself to him as she did. Theodoret follows him, but says more of the corresponding duty of the children. [1231] 2 mss. "renounce." [1232] ergasterion, probably cellars. [1233] thalpetai. [1234] thaptetai, buried. [1235] It was commonly thought that a certain effluence from the eye was required to meet the light. [1236] meden eusebes, perhaps an euphemism for loose and profane talking. [1237] The English proverb is, "Fat paunches make lean pates." [1238] Of the "list of widows" relieved by the Church, see St. Chrys. on the Priesthood, book iii. c. 16, Ben. p. 396, A.


Homily XIV.

1 Timothy v. 8

"But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

Many consider that their own virtue is sufficient for their salvation, and if they duly regulate their own life, that nothing further is wanting to save them. But in this they greatly err, which is proved by the example of him who buried his one talent, for he brought it back not diminished but entire, and just as it had been delivered to him. It is shown also by the blessed Paul, who says here, "If any one provide not for his own." The provision of which he speaks is universal, and relates to the soul as well as the body, since both are to be provided for.

"If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house," that is, those who are nearly related to him, "he is worse than an infidel." And so says Isaiah, the chief of the Prophets, "Thou shalt not overlook thy kinsmen of thy own seed." (Isa. lviii. 7, Sept.) For if a man deserts those who are united by ties of kindred and affinity, how shall he be affectionate towards others? Will it not have the appearance of vainglory, when benefiting others he slights his own relations, and does not provide for them? And what will be said, if instructing others, he neglects his own, though he has greater facilities; and a higher obligation to benefit them? Will it not be said, These Christians are affectionate indeed, who neglect their own relatives? [1239] "He is worse than an infidel." Wherefore? Because the latter, if he benefits not aliens, does not neglect his near kindred. What is meant is this: The law of God and of nature is violated by him who provides not for his own family. But if he who provides not for them has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel, where shall he be ranked who has injured his relatives? With whom shall he be placed? But how has he denied the faith? Even as it is said, "They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him." (Tit. i. 16.) What has God, in whom they believe, commanded? "Hide not thyself from thine own flesh." (Isa. lviii. 7.) How does he then believe who thus denies God? Let those consider this, who to spare their wealth neglect their kindred. It was the design of God, in uniting us by the ties of kindred, to afford us many opportunities of doing good to one another. When therefore thou neglectest a duty which infidels perform, hast thou not denied the faith? For it is not faith merely to profess belief, but to do works worthy of faith. And it is possible in each particular to believe and not to believe. [1240] For since he had spoken of luxury and self-indulgence, he says that it is not for this only that such a woman is punished, because she is luxurious, but because her luxury compels her to neglect her household. This he says with reason; for she that liveth to the belly, perishes hereby also, as "having denied the faith." But how is she worse than an infidel? Because it is not the same thing to neglect our kindred, as to neglect a stranger. How should it be? But the fault is greater here, to desert one known than one who is unknown to us, a friend than one who is not a friend.

Ver. 9, 10. "Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man. Well reported of for good works."

He had said, "Let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents." He had also said, "She that liveth in pleasure is dead whilst she liveth." He had said, "If she [1241] provides not for her own she is worse than an infidel." Having mentioned the qualities which not to have would render a woman unworthy to be reckoned among the widows, he now mentions what she ought to have besides. What then? are we to receive her for her years? What merit is there in that? It is not her own doing that she is threescore years old. Therefore he does not speak of her age merely, as, if she has even reached those years, she may not yet, he says, without good works, be reckoned among the number. But why then is he particular about the age? He afterwards assigns a cause not originating with himself, but with the widows themselves. Meanwhile let us hear what follows. "Well reported of for good works, if she have brought up children." Truly, it is no unimportant work to bring up children; but bringing them up is not merely taking care of them; they must be brought up well; as he said before, "If they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness." (1 Tim. ii. 15.) Observe how constantly he sets kindnesses to our own relatives before those to strangers. First he says, "If she have brought up children," then, "If she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the Saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work." But what if she be poor? Not even in that case is she debarred from bringing up children, lodging strangers, relieving the afflicted. She is not more destitute than the widow who gave the two mites. Poor though she be, she has an house, she does not lodge in the open air. "If," he says, "she have washed the Saints' feet." This is not a costly work. "If she have diligently followed every good work." What precept does he give here? He exhorts them to contribute bodily service, for women are peculiarly fitted for such attendance, for making the bed of the sick, and composing them to rest.

Strange! what strictness does he require of widows; almost as much as of the Bishop himself. For he says, "If she have diligently followed every good work." This is as though he meant that, if she could not of herself perform it, she shared and cooperated in it. When he cuts off luxury, he would have her provident, a good economist, and at the same time continually persevering in prayer. Such was Anna. Such strictness does he require of widows. Greater even than of virgins, from whom he yet requires much strictness, and eminent virtue. For when he speaks of "that which is comely," and "that she may attend upon the Lord without distraction" (1 Cor. vii. 35.), he gives, in a manner, a summary of all virtue. You see that it is not merely the not contracting a second marriage that is enough to make a widow, many other things are necessary. But why does he discourage second marriages? Is the thing condemned? By no means. That is heretical. Only he would have her henceforth occupied in spiritual things, transferring all her care to virtue. For marriage is not an impure state, but one of much occupation. He speaks of their having leisure, not of their being more pure by remaining unmarried. For marriage certainly implies much secular engagement. If you abstain from marriage that you may have leisure for the service of God, and yet do not so employ that leisure, it is of no advantage to you, (if you do not use your leisure,) to perform all services to strangers, and to the Saints. [1242] If you do not thus, you abstain from marriage not for any good end, but as though you condemned the state. So the virgin, who is not truly crucified to the world, by declining marriage, appears to condemn it as accursed and impure.

Observe, the hospitality here spoken of is not merely a friendly reception, but one given with zeal and alacrity, with readiness, and going about it as if one were receiving Christ Himself. The widows should perform these services themselves, not commit them to their handmaids. For Christ said, "If I your Master and Lord have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet." (John xiii. 14.) And though a woman may be very rich, and of the highest rank, vain of her birth and noble family, there is not the same distance between her and others, as between God and the disciples. If thou receivest the stranger as Christ, be not ashamed, but rather glory: but if you receive him not as Christ, receive him not at all. "He that receiveth you," He said, "receiveth Me." (Matt. x. 40.) If you do not so receive him, you have no reward. Abraham was receiving men that passed as travelers, as he thought, and he did not leave to his servants to make the preparations for their entertainment, but took the greater part of the service upon himself, and commanded his wife to mix the flour, though he had three hundred and eighteen servants born in his house, of whom there must have been many [1243] maidservants; but he wished that himself and his wife should have the reward, not of the cost only, but of the service. Thus ought we ever to exercise hospitality by our own personal exertions, that we may be sanctified, and our hands be blessed. And if thou givest to the poor, disdain not thyself to give it, for it is not to the poor that it is given, but to Christ; and who is so wretched, as to disdain to stretch out his own hand to Christ?

This is hospitality, this is truly to do it for God's sake. But if you give orders with pride, though you bid him take the first place, it is not hospitality, it is not done for God's sake. The stranger requires much attendance, much encouragement, and with all this it is difficult for him not to feel abashed; for so delicate is his position, that whilst he receives the favor, he is ashamed. That shame we ought to remove by the most attentive service, and to show by words and actions, that we do not think we are conferring a favor, but receiving one, that we are obliging less than we are obliged. So much does good will multiply the kindness. For as he who considers himself a loser, and thinks that he is doing a favor, destroys all the merit of it; so he who looks upon himself as receiving a kindness, increases the reward. "For God loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. ix. 7.) So that you are rather indebted to the poor man for receiving your kindness. For if there were no poor, the greater part of your sins would not be removed. They are the healers of your wounds, their hands are medicinal to you. The physician, extending his hand to apply a remedy, does not exercise the healing art more than the poor man, who stretches out his hand to receive your alms, and thus becomes a cure [1244] for your ills. You give your money, and with it your sins pass away. Such were the Priests of old, of whom it was said, "They eat up the sin of My people." (Hosea iv. 8.) Thus thou receivest more than thou givest, thou art benefited more than thou benefitest. Thou lendest to God, not to men. Thou increasest thy wealth, rather than diminishest it. But if thou dost not lessen it by giving, then it is indeed diminished!

"If she have received strangers, if she have washed the Saints' feet." But who are these? The distressed saints, not any saints whatever. For there may be saints, who are much waited on by every one. Do not visit these, who are in the enjoyment of plenty, but those who are in tribulation, who are unknown, or known to few. He who hath "done it unto the least of these," He saith, "hath done it unto Me." (Matt. xxv. 40.)

Moral. Give not thy alms to those who preside in the Church to distribute. Bestow it thyself, that thou mayest have the reward not of giving merely, but of kind service. Give with thine own hands. Cast into the furrow thyself. Here it is not required to handle the plow, to yoke the ox, to wait the season, nor to break up the earth, or to contend with the frost. No such trouble is required here, where thou sowest for heaven, where there is no frost nor winter nor any such thing. Thou sowest in souls, where no one taketh away what is sown, but it is firmly retained with all care and diligence. Cast the seed thyself, why deprive thyself of thy reward. There is great reward in dispensing [1245] even what belongs to others. There is a reward not only for giving, but for dispensing well the things that are given. Why wilt thou not have this reward? For that there is a reward for this, hear how we read that the Apostles appointed Stephen to the ministry of the widows. (Acts vi. 5-7.)

Be thou the dispenser of thine own gifts. Thine own benevolence and the fear of God appoint thee to that ministry. Thus vainglory is excluded. This refreshes the soul, this sanctifies the hands, this pulls down pride. This teaches thee philosophy, this inflames thy zeal, this makes thee to receive blessings. Thy head, as thou departest, receives all the blessings of the widows.

Be more earnest in thy prayers. Inquire diligently for holy men, men that are truly such, who, in the retirement of the desert, cannot beg, but are wholly devoted to God. Take a long journey to visit them, and give with thine own hand. For thou mayest profit much in thine own person, if thou givest. Dost thou see their tents, their lodging? dost thou see the desert? dost thou see the solitude? Often when thou hast gone to bestow money, thou givest thine whole soul. Thou art detained, and hast become his fellow-captive, and hast been alike estranged from the world.

It is of great benefit even to see the poor. "It is better," he saith, "to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting." (Eccles. vii. 2.) By the latter the soul is inflamed. For if thou canst imitate the luxury, then thou art encouraged to self-indulgence, and if thou canst not, thou art grieved. In the house of mourning there is nothing of this kind. If thou canst not afford to be luxurious, thou art not pained; and if thou canst, thou art restrained. Monasteries are indeed houses of mourning. There is sackcloth and ashes, there is solitude, there is no laughter, no pressure of worldly business. There is fasting, and lying upon the ground; there is no impure savor of rich food, no blood shed, [1246] no tumult, no disturbance, or crowding. There is a serene harbor. They are as lights shining from a lofty place to mariners afar off. They are stationed at the port, drawing all men to their own calm, and preserving from shipwreck those who gaze on them, and not letting those walk in darkness who look thither. Go to them, and make friends with them, embrace their holy feet, more honorable to touch than the heads of others. If some clasp the feet of statues, because they bear but a likeness of the king, wilt thou not clasp his feet who has Christ within him, and be saved? The Saints' feet are holy, though they are poor men, but not even the head of the profane is honorable. Such efficacy is there in the feet of the Saints, that when they shake off the dust of their feet, they inflict punishment. When a saint is among us, let us not be ashamed of anything that belongs to him. [1247] And all are saints, who unite a holy life with a right faith and though they do not work miracles nor cast out devils, still they are saints.

Go then to their tabernacles. To go to the monastery of a holy man [1248] is to pass, as it were, from earth to heaven. Thou seest not there what is seen in a private house. That company is free from all impurity. There is silence and profound quiet. The words "mine and thine" are not in use among them. And if thou remainest there a whole day or even two, the more pleasure thou wilt enjoy. There, as soon as it is day, or rather before day, the cock crows, and you see it not as you may see it [1249] in a house, the servants snoring, the doors shut, all sleeping like the dead, whilst the muleteer without is ringing his bells. There is nothing of all this. All, immediately shaking off sleep, reverently rise when their President calls them, and forming themselves into a holy choir, they stand, and lifting up their hands all at once sing the sacred hymns. For they are not like us, who require many hours to shake off sleep from our heavy heads. We indeed, as soon as we are waked, sit some time stretching our limbs, go as nature calls, then proceed to wash our face and our hands; afterwards we take our shoes and clothes, and a deal of time is spent.

It is not so there. No one calls for his servant, for each waits upon himself: neither does he require many clothes, nor need to shake off sleep. For as soon as he opens his eyes, he is like one who has been long awake in collectedness. [1250] For when the heart is not stifled within by excess of food, it soon recovers itself, and is immediately wakeful. The hands are always pure; for his sleep is composed and regular. No one among them is found snoring or breathing hard, or tossing about in sleep, or with his body exposed; but they lie in sleep as decently as those who are awake, and all this is the effect of the orderly state of their souls. These are truly saints and angels among men. And marvel not when you hear these things. For their great fear of God suffers them not to go down into the depths of sleep, and to drown their minds, but it falls lightly upon them, merely affording them rest. And as their sleep is, such are their dreams, not full of wild fancies and monstrous visions.

But, as I said, at the crowing of the cock their President comes, and gently touching the [1251] sleeper with his foot, rouses them all. For there are none sleeping naked. Then as soon as they have arisen they stand up, and sing the prophetic hymns with much harmony, and well composed tunes. And neither harp nor pipe nor other musical instrument utters such sweet melodies, as you hear from the singing of these saints in their deep and quiet solitudes. And the songs themselves too are suitable, and full of the love of God. "In the night," they say, "lift up your hands unto God. With my soul have I desired Thee in the night, yea with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early," (Isa. xxvi. 9.) And the Psalms of David, that cause fountains of tears to flow. For when he sings, "I am weary with my groaning, all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears" (Ps. vi. 6.): and, again, "I have eaten ashes like bread." (Ps. cii. 9.) "What is man that thou art mindful of him?" (Ps. viii. 4.) "Man is like to vanity, his days are as a shadow that passeth away." (Ps. cxliv. 4.) "Be not afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased" (Ps. xlix. 16.); and, "Who maketh men to be of one mind in a house" (Ps. lxviii. 6.): and, "Seven times a day do I praise Thee, because of Thy righteous judgments" (Ps. cxix. 164.): and, "At midnight will I rise to give thanks unto Thee, because of Thy righteous judgments" (Ps. cxix. 62.): and, "God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave" (Ps. xlix. 15.): and, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me" (Ps. xxiii. 4.): and, "I will not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day, nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday" (Ps. xci. 5, 6.): and, "We are counted as sheep for the slaughter" (Ps. xliv. 22.): he expresses their ardent love to God. And again, when they sing with the Angels, (for Angels too are singing then,) "Praise ye the Lord from the Heavens." (Ps. cxlviii. 1.) And we meanwhile are snoring, or scratching our heads, or lying supine meditating endless deceits. [1252] Think what it was for them to spend the whole night in this employment.

And when the day is coming on, they take rest again; for when we begin our works, they have a season of rest. [1253] But each of us, when it is day, calls upon his neighbor, takes account of his outgoings, then [1254] goes into the forum; trembling he appears before the magistrate, and dreads a reckoning. Another visits the stage, another goes about his own business. But these holy men, having performed their morning prayers and hymns, proceed to the reading of the Scriptures. There are some too that have learned to write out books, each having his own apartment assigned to him, where he lives in perpetual quiet; no one is trifling, not one speaks a word. Then at the third, sixth, and ninth hours, and in the evening, they perform their devotions, having divided the day into four parts, and at the conclusion of each they honor God with psalms and hymns, and whilst others are dining, laughing, and sporting, and bursting with gluttony, they are occupied with their hymns. For they have no time for the table nor for these things of sense. After their meal [1255] they again pursue the same course, having previously given themselves a while to sleep. The men of the world sleep during the day: but these watch during the night. Truly children of light are they! And while the former, having slept away the greater part of the day, go forth oppressed with heaviness, these are still collected, [1256] remaining without food [1257] till the evening, and occupied in hymns. Other men, when evening overtakes them, hasten to the baths, and different recreations, but these, being relieved from their labors, then betake themselves to their table, not calling up a multitude of servants, nor throwing the house into bustle and confusion, nor setting before them high-seasoned dishes, and rich-steaming viands, but some only partaking of bread and salt, to which others add oil, whilst the weakly have also herbs and pulse. Then after sitting a short time, or rather after concluding all with hymns, they each go to rest upon a bed made for repose only and not for luxury. There is no dread of magistrates, no lordly arrogance, no terror of slaves, no disturbance of women or children, no multitudes of chests, or superfluous laying by of garments, no gold or silver, no guards and sentinels, no storehouse. Nothing of all these, but all there is full of prayer, of hymns, and of a spiritual savor. Nothing carnal is there. They fear no attacks of robbers, having nothing of which they can be deprived, no wealth, but a soul and body, of which if they are robbed, it is not a loss but a gain. For it is said, "To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philip. i. 21.) They have freed themselves from all bonds. Truly, "The voice of gladness is in the tabernacles of the righteous." (Ps. cxviii. 15.)

There is no such thing to be heard there as wailing and lamentation. Their roof is free from that melancholy and those cries. Deaths happen there indeed, for their bodies are not immortal, but they know not death, as death. The departed are accompanied to the grave with hymns. This they call a procession, [1258] not a burial; [1259] and when it is reported that any one is dead, great is their cheerfulness, great their pleasure; or rather not one of them can bear to say that one is dead, but that he is perfected. Then there is thanksgiving, and great glory, and joy, every one praying that such may be his own end, that so his own combat may terminate, and he may rest from his labor and struggles, and may see Christ. And if any is sick, instead of tears and lamentations they have recourse to prayers. Often not the care of physicians, but faith alone relieves the sick. And if a physician be necessary, then too there is the greatest firmness and philosophy. There is no wife tearing her hair, nor children bewailing their orphan state before the time, nor slaves entreating the dying man to give them an assurance that they shall be committed to good hands. Escaping from all these, the soul looks but to one thing at its last breath, that it may depart in favor with God. And if disease occurs, the causes of it are matter of glory rather than of reproach, as in other cases. For it proceeds not from gluttony nor fullness of the head, but from intense watchfulness and fasting, or the like causes; and hence it is easily removed, for it is sufficient for its removal to abate the severity of these exercises.

Tell me then, you will say, whether any one could wash the Saints' feet in the Church? Whether such are to be found among us? Yes: undoubtedly they are such. Let us not, however, when the life of these saints is described despise those that are in the Churches. There are many such often among us, though they are in secret. Nor let us despise them, because they go from house to house, or go into the forum, or stand forth in public. [1260] God hath even commanded such services, saying, "Judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." (Isa. i. 17.) Many are the ways of being virtuous, as there are many varieties of jewels, [1261] though all are called jewels; one is bright and round on all sides, another has some different beauty. And how is this? As coral has, by a kind of art, its line extended, and its angles shaped off, and another color more delicious than white, and the prasius above every green, another has the rich color of blood, another an azure surpassing the sea, another is more brilliant than the purple, and thus rivaling in their varieties all the colors of flowers or of the sun. Yet all are called jewels. So it is with the Saints. Some discipline [1262] themselves, some the Churches. Paul therefore has well said, "If she have washed the Saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted." For he speaks thus, that he may excite us all to imitation. Let us hasten then to perform such actions, that we may be able hereafter to boast that we have washed the Saints' feet. For if we ought to wash their feet, much more ought we to give them our money with our own hands, and at the same time study to be concealed. "Let not thy left hand know," He says, "what thy right hand doeth." (Matt. vi. 3.)

Why takest thou so many witnesses? Let not thy servant know it, nor, if possible, thy wife. Many are the impediments of the deceitful one. Often she who never before interfered, will impede such works, either from vainglory, or some other motive. Even Abraham, who had an admirable wife, when he was about to offer up his son, concealed it from her, though he knew not what was to happen, but was fully persuaded that he must slaughter his son. What then, would any one that was but an ordinary man have said? Would it not be, "Who is this that perpetrates such acts?" Would he not have accused him of cruelty and brutality? His wife was not even allowed to see her son, to receive his last words, to witness his dying struggles. But he led him away like a captive. That just man though not of any such thing, inebriated as he was with zeal, [1263] so that he looked only how to fulfill that which was commanded. No servant, no wife was present, nay, he himself knew not what would be the issue. But intent upon offering up a pure victim, he would not defile it with tears, or with any opposition. Mark too with what gentleness Isaac asks, "Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?": and what was the father's answer? "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering." (Gen. xxii. 7, 8.) In this he uttered a prophecy that God would provide Himself a burnt offering in His Son, and it also came true at the time. But why did he conceal it from him who was to be sacrificed? Because he feared lest he should be astounded, [1264] lest he should prove unworthy. With such care and prudence did he act throughout this affair! Well then hath the Scripture said, "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." If we have one dear to us as one of our own members, let us not be anxious to show to him our charitable works, unless it be necessary. For many evils may arise from it. A man is excited to vainglory, and impediments are often raised. For this reason let us conceal it, if possible, from our own selves, that we may attain the blessings promised, through the grace and lovingkindness of Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, &c.

Footnotes

[1239] Colb., "For the heathen will presently say, Well! these Christians are affectionate indeed, to neglect their own relatives! And he well said," &c. [1240] Colb. omits this sentence. [1241] The feminine is not marked, but implied by his comment; see p. 450. [1242] The sense is clear, but the Greek admits of no grammatical construction. Downes, as usual, alters it boldly. This translation supposes an abrupt construction, reading epideiknu& 219;. [1243] Old Lat., "Many wives that were." "Of whom" may also be taken collectively of the household. [1244] ekmageion, as if wiping a sore clean. [1245] Gr. "being able to dispense." [1246] They commonly abstained from all animal food; see p. 457. [1247] Sav. mar. ton autou. The other reading is scarcely intelligible. [1248] monasterion. The monasteries of that date were formed by those who gathered round some holy man. For instances, see Theodoret, Hist. Relig. [1249] Some words added from Colb. [1250] tes nepseos heneken. [1251] al. each. [1252] He means not self-deceits, but actual frauds, for he is now as it were on a sally, among the enemy's works. [1253] Not their principal rest, but an interval. [1254] So Old Lat. (prob. from eita eis) Ed. ei eis, "if he goes." Colb. om ei. [1255] ariston. See on Stat. Hom. ix. 1, note e, and x. 1, note a. [1256] nephousin. [1257] This seems to contradict what was said just before, but it need not be taken quite strictly, as the former meal was not at table, and extremely light. [1258] propompen. [1259] ekphoran. [1260] proistantai. "Stand forth in behalf of another." [1261] margariton, pearls. [1262] askousin. [1263] potho. Love of God, or desire to do His will. [1264] narkese.


Homily XV.

1 Timothy v. 11-15

"But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having condemnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger widows marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan."

Paul having discoursed much concerning widows, and having settled the age at which they were to be admitted, saying, "Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old," and having described the qualifications of a widow, "If she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the Saints' feet," proceeds now to say, "But the younger widows refuse." But concerning virgins, though the case of their falling is a much more gross one, he has said nothing of this kind, and rightly. For they had enrolled themselves on higher views, and the work with them proceeded from a greater elevation of mind. Therefore the receiving of strangers, and the washing of the Saints' feet, he has represented by "attending upon the Lord without distraction" [1265] (1 Cor. vii. 34, 35.), and by saying, "The unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord." (1 Cor. vii. 34, 35.) And if he has not limited a particular age for them, it is most likely because that point is settled by what he has said in this case. But indeed, as I said, the choice of virginity proceeded from a higher purpose. Besides, in this case there had been falls, and thus they had given occasion for his rule, but nothing of that kind had occurred among the virgins. For that some had already fallen away is plain, in that he says, "When they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will [1266] marry"; and again, "For some have already turned aside after Satan."

"The younger widows refuse, for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry"; that is, when they have become scornful [1267] and luxurious. For as in the case of a just man, we might say, "Let her depart, for she has become another's." [1268] He shows therefore that though they chose widowhood, it was not the choice of their judgment. So then a widow, by the state of widowhood, is espoused to Christ. For He has said, "I am the defender of the widows and the father of the orphans." (Ps. lxviii. 5.) He shows that they do not choose widowhood as they ought, but wax wanton: however he bears with them. Elsewhere indeed he says, "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Cor. xi. 2.) After having given their names to Him, [1269] "they will marry," he says, "having condemnation, because they have cast off their first faith." By faith he means, fidelity to their covenant. As if he had said, They have been false to Christ, they have dishonored Him, and transgressed His covenant. "And withal they learn to be idle."

Thus he commands not only men, but women also, to work. For idleness is the teacher of every sin. And not only are they exposed to this condemnation, but to other sins. If therefore it is unbecoming for a married woman "to go from house to house," much more is it for a virgin. "And not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger widows marry, bear children, guide the house."

What then happens, when the care for the husband is withdrawn, and the care to please God does not constrain them? They naturally become idlers, tattlers, and busybodies. For he who does not attend to his own concerns will be meddling with those of others, even as he who minds his own business will take no account of and have no care about the affairs of another. And nothing is so unbecoming to a woman, as to busy herself in the concerns of others, and it is no less unbecoming to a man. This is a great sign of impudence and forwardness.

"I will therefore," he says, (since they themselves wish it,) "that the younger widows marry, bear children, guide the house."

This course is at least preferable to the other. They ought indeed to be concerned for the things of God, they ought to preserve their faith. But since they do not this, it is better to avoid a worse course. God is not dishonored by their marrying again, and they do not fall into those practices, which have been censured. From such a widowhood, no good could arise, but good may come out of this marriage. Hence the women will be able to correct that indolence and vanity of mind.

But why, since some have fallen away, does he not say that much care is to be taken of them, that they may not fall into the error he has mentioned? Why has he commanded them to marry? Because marriage is not forbidden, and it is a safeguard to them. Wherefore he adds, that they "give none occasion," or handle, "to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan." Such widows as these then he would have refused, not meaning that there should be no younger widows, but that there should be no adulteresses, that none should be idle, busy-bodies, speaking things that they ought not, that no occasion should be given to the adversary. Had nothing of this kind taken place, he would not have forbidden them.

Ver. 16. "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the Church be charged, that it may relieve them that are widows indeed."

Observe how again he speaks of those as "widows indeed," who are left destitute, and have no resource from any other quarter. It was better to have it so. For thus two great objects were attained. Those [1270] had an opportunity of doing good, whilst these were honorably maintained, and the Church not burdened. And he has well said, "If any believer." For it is not fit that believing women should be maintained by unbelievers, lest they should seem to stand in need of them. And observe how persuasively he speaks; he has not said, "let them maintain them expensively," but "let them relieve them." "That the Church," he says, "may relieve them that are widows indeed." She therefore has the reward of this help also, for she that helps the Church, helps not her only, but those widows too whom the Church is thus enabled to maintain more bountifully. "I will therefore that the younger widows"--do what? live in luxury and pleasure? By no means; but--"marry, bear children, guide the house." That he may not be supposed to encourage them to live luxuriously, he adds, that they give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. They ought indeed to have been superior to the things of this world, but since they are not, let them abide in them at least upright.

Ver. 17, 18. "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward."

The "honor" of which he here speaks is attention to them, and the supply of their necessities, as is shown by his adding, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn" (Deut. xxv. 4.); and, "The laborer is worthy of his reward." (Luke x. 7.) So when he says, "Honor widows," he means, "support" them in all that is necessary. Thus he says, "That it may relieve those that are widows indeed"; and again, "Honor widows that are widows indeed," that is, who are in poverty, for the greater their poverty, the more truly are they widows. He alleges the Law, he alleges the words of Christ, both agreeing herein. For the Law says, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn." See how he would have the teacher labor! For there is not, indeed there is not, any other labor such as his. But this is from the Law. But how does he quote from Christ? "The laborer is worthy of his reward." Let us not then look only to the reward, but to the terms of the commandment. "The laborer," he says, "is worthy of his reward." So that if any one lives in sloth and luxury, he is unworthy of it. Unless he is as the ox treading out the corn, and bearing the yoke, in spite of heat and thorns, and ceases not till he has carried the corn into the granary, he is not worthy. Therefore to teachers should be granted a supply of their necessities without grudging, that they may not faint nor be discouraged, nor by attention to inferior things deprive themselves of greater; that they may labor for spiritual things, paying no regard to worldly things. It was thus with the Levites; they had no worldly concerns, because the laity took care to provide for them, and their revenues were appointed by the law, as tythes, offerings of gold, [1271] first-fruits, vows, and many other things. And the law properly assigned these things to them, as seeking things present. But I shall say no more than that those who preside ought to have food and raiment, that they may not be distracted by care for these things. But what is double support? Double that of the widows, or of the deacons, or simply, liberal support. Let us not then think only of the double maintenance granted them, but of what is added, "Those who rule well." And what is it to rule well? Let us hear Christ, Who says, "The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep." (John x. 11.) Thus to rule well is, from our concern for them, never to spare ourselves.

"Especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." Where then are those who say that there is no occasion for the word and doctrine? Whereas he says to Timothy, "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them"; and, "Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself, and them that hear thee." (1 Tim. iv. 15, 16.) These are the men whom he wishes to be honored most of all, and he adds the reason, for they sustain great labor. For when one is neither watchful, nor diligent, but merely sits in his stall easy and unconcerned, [1272] whilst another wears himself out with anxiety and exertion, [1273] especially if he is ignorant of profane literature, ought not the latter to be honored above all others, who more than others gives himself up to such labors? For he is exposed to numberless tongues. One censures him, another praises him, a third mocks him, another finds fault with his memory and his composition, and it requires great strength of mind to endure all this. It is an important point, and contributes much to the edification of the Church, that the rulers of it should be apt to teach. If this be wanting, many things in the Church go to ruin. Therefore in addition to the qualifications of hospitality, moderation, and a blameless life, he enumerates this also, saying, "Apt to teach." For why else indeed is he called a teacher? Some say that he may teach philosophy by the example of his life, so that all else is superfluous, and there is no need of verbal instruction in order to proficiency. But why then does Paul say, "especially they who labor in the word and doctrine"? For when doctrines are concerned, what life will answer the purpose? And of what word is he speaking? Not of pompous language, nor of discourse set off with external [1274] decorations, but that which possesses the mighty power of the Spirit, and abounds with wisdom and understanding. It needs not set phrases, but thoughts to give it utterance, not skill in composition, but power of mind.

Ver. 19. "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses."

May we then receive an accusation against a younger man, or against any one at all without witnesses? Ought we not in all cases to come to our judgments with the greatest exactness? What then does he mean? Do not so, he means, with any, but especially in the case of an elder. For he speaks of an elder not with respect to office, but to age, since the young more easily fall into sin than their elders. And it is manifest from hence that the Church, and even the whole people of Asia, had been now intrusted to Timothy, which is the reason why he discourses with him concerning elders.

Ver. 20. "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."

Do not, he says, hastily cut them off, but carefully enquire into all the circumstances, and when thou hast thoroughly informed thyself, then proceed against the offender with rigor, that others may take warning. For as it is wrong to condemn hastily and rashly, so not to punish manifest offenses is to open the way to others, and embolden them to offend.

"Rebuke," he says, to show that it is not to be done lightly, but with severity. For thus others will be deterred. How is it then that Christ says, "Go and tell him his fault between him and thee alone, if one sin against thee." (Matt. xviii. 15.) But Christ Himself permits him to be censured in the Church. What then? is it not a greater scandal, that one should be rebuked before all? How so? For it is a much greater scandal, that the offense should be known, and not the punishment. For as when sinners go unpunished, many commit crimes; so when they are punished, many are made better. God Himself acted in this manner. He brought forth Pharaoh, and punished him openly. And Nebuchadnezzar too, and many others, both cities and individuals, we see visited with punishment. Paul therefore would have all stand in awe of their Bishop, and sets him over all.

And because many judgments are formed upon suspicion, there ought, he says, to be witnesses, and men to convict the offender according to the ancient law. "At the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every matter be established. Against an elder receive not an accusation." (Deut. xix. 15.) He does not say, "do not condemn," but "receive not an accusation," bring him not to judgment at all. But what if the two witnesses are false? This rarely happens, and it may be discovered upon examination on the trial. For since offenses are committed in secret, we ought to be satisfied with two witnesses, and this is sufficient proof of investigation.

But what if the offenses be notorious, and yet there are no witnesses, only a strong suspicion? It has been said above that he ought "to have a good report of them which are without." (1 Tim. iii. 7.)

Let us therefore love God with fear. The law indeed is not made for a righteous man; but since the greater part are virtuous from constraint rather than from choice, the principle of fear is of great advantage to them in eradicating their desires. Let us therefore listen to the threatenings of hell fire, that we may be benefited by the wholesome fear of it. For if God, intending to cast sinners into it, had not previously threatened them with it, many would have plunged into it. For, if with this terror agitating our souls, some sin as readily as if there were no such thing in existence, what enormities should we not have committed, if it had not been declared and threatened? So that, as I have ever said, the threatenings of hell show the care of God for us no less than the promises of heaven. For the threat co-operates with the promise, and drives men into the kingdom by means of terror. Let us not think it a matter of cruelty, but of pity and mercy; of God's concern and love for us. If in the days of Jonah the destruction of Nineveh had not been threatened, that destruction had not been averted. Nineveh would not have stood but for the threat, "Nineveh shall be overthrown." (Jonah iii. 4.) And if hell had not been threatened, we should all have fallen into hell. If the fire had not been denounced, no one would have escaped the fire. God declares that He will do that which He desires not to do, that He may do that which He desires to do. He willeth not the death of a sinner, and therefore He threatens the sinner with death, that He may not have to inflict death. And not only has He spoken the word, but He has exhibited the thing itself, that we may escape it. And lest it should be supposed to be a mere threat, He has manifested the reality of it by what He has already done on earth. Dost thou not see in the flood a symbol of hell, in that rain of all-destroying water an image of the all-devouring fire? [1275] "For as it was in the days of Noah," He says, "they were marrying and giving in marriage" (Matt. xxiv. 38.), so is it even now. It was then predicted [1276] long before it took place, and it is now predicted four hundred years or more beforehand: [1277] but no one heeds it. It is looked upon as a mere fable, as a matter of derision; no one fears it, no one weeps or beats his breast at the thought of it. The stream of fire is boiling up, the flame is kindled, and we are laughing, taking our pleasure, and sinning without fear. No one even bears in mind That Day. No one considers that present things are passing away, and that they are but temporal, though events are every day crying out and uttering a fearful voice. The untimely deaths, the changes that take place in our lives, our own infirmities and diseases, fail to instruct us. And not only in our own bodies are these changes visible, but in the elements themselves. Every day in our different ages we experience a kind of death, and in every case instability is the characteristic of things we see. Neither winter, nor summer, nor spring, nor autumn, is permanent; all are running, flying, and flowing past. Why should I speak of fading flowers, of dignities, of kings that are to-day, and to-morrow cease to be, of rich men, of magnificent houses, of night and day, of the sun and the moon? for the moon wanes, and the sun is sometimes eclipsed, and often darkened with clouds? Of things visible, in short, is there anything that endures for ever? Nothing! No, nor anything in us but the soul, and that we neglect. Of things subject to change we take abundant care, as if they were permanent: but that which is to endure for ever we neglect, as if it were soon to pass away. Some one is enabled to perform mighty actions, but they shall last till to-morrow, and then he perishes, as we see in the instances of those who have had yet greater power, and are now to be seen no more. Life is a dream, and a scene; and as on the stage when the scene is shifted the various pageants disappear, and as dreams flit away when the sunbeams rise, so here when the end comes, whether the universal or that of each one, all is dissolved and vanishes away. The tree that you have planted remains, and the house that you have built, it too stands on. But the planter and the builder go away, and perish. Yet these things happen without our regarding it, and we live on in luxury and pleasure, and are ever furnishing ourselves with such things, as if we were immortal.

Hear what Solomon says, who knew the present world by actual experience. "I builded me houses, I planted me vineyards, I made me gardens, and orchards and pools of water. I gathered me also silver and gold. I gat myself men-singers, and women-singers, and flocks, and herds." (Eccles. ii. 4, 5.) There was no one who lived in greater luxury, or higher glory. There was no one so wise or so powerful, no one who saw all things so succeeding to his heart's desire. What then? He had no enjoyment from all these things. What after all does he say of it himself? "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." (Eccles. xii. 8.) Vanity not simply but superlatively. Let us believe him, and lay hold on that in which there is no vanity, in which there is truth; and what is based upon a solid rock, where there is no old age, nor decline, but all things bloom and flourish, without decay, or waxing old, or approaching dissolution. Let us, I beseech you, love God with genuine affection, not from fear of hell, but from desire of the kingdom. For what is comparable to seeing Christ? Surely nothing! What to the enjoyment of those good things? Surely nothing! Well may there be nothing; for "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." (1 Cor. ii. 9.) Let us be anxious to obtain those things, and let us despise all these. Are we not continually complaining that human life is nothing? Why art thou solicitous for what is nothing? Why dost thou sustain such toils, for what is nothing? Thou seest splendid houses, does the sight of them delude thee? Look up to heaven. Raise thy view from pillars of stone to that beautiful fabric, compared with which the others are as the works of ants and pismires. Learn philosophy from that spectacle, ascend to heavenly things, and look thence upon our splendid buildings, and see that they are nothing, the mere toys of little children. Seest thou not how much finer, how much lighter, how much purer, how much more translucent, is the air the higher thou ascendest? There have they that do alms their mansions and their tabernacles. These that are here are dissolved at the resurrection, or rather before the resurrection destroyed by the stroke of time. Nay often in their most flourishing state and period an earthquake overthrows, or fire entirely ruins them. For not only the bodies of men, but their very buildings are liable to untimely deaths. Nay, sometimes things decayed by time stand firm under the shock of an earthquake, whilst glittering edifices, firmly fixed, and newly constructed, are struck but by lightning and perish. And this, I believe, is the interposition of God, that we may not take pride in our buildings.

Would you again have another ground for cheerfulness? Go to the public buildings, in which you share equally with others. For the most magnificent private houses, after all, are less splendid than the public edifices. There you may remain, as long as you please. They belong to you as much as to others, since they are common to you with others; they are common, and not private. But those, you say, delight you not. They delight you not, partly because you are familiar with them, and partly from your covetousness. So the pleasantness is not in the beauty, but in the appropriating! So the pleasure is in greediness, and in the wish to make every man's goods your own! How long are we to be nailed to these things? How long are we to be fastened to the earth, and grovel, like worms, in the dirt? God hath given us a body of earth, that we might carry it with us up to heaven, not that we should draw our soul down with it to earth. Earthy it is, but if we please, it may be heavenly. See how highly God has honored us, in committing to us so excellent a frame. I made heaven and earth, He says, and to you I give the power of creation. Make your earth heaven. For it is in thy power. "I am He that maketh and transformeth all things" (Amos v. 8, Sept.), saith God of Himself. And He hath given to men a similar power; as a painter, being an affectionate father, teaches his own art to his son. I formed thy body beautiful, he says, but I give thee the power of forming something better. Make thy soul beautiful. I said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, and every fruitful tree." (Gen. i. 11.) Do thou also say, Let this earth [1278] bring forth its proper fruit, and what thou willest to produce will be produced. "I make the summer and the cloud. I create the lightning and the wind." (Amos iv. 13; Ps. lxxiv. 17.) I formed the dragon, that is, the devil, [1279] to make sport with him. (Ps. civ. 26.) Nor have I grudged thee the like power. Thou, if thou wilt, canst sport with him, and bind him as thou wouldest a sparrow. I make the sun to rise upon the evil and the good: do thou imitate Me, by imparting of that is thine to the good and the evil. When mocked I bear with it, and do good to those who mock Me: do thou imitate Me, as thou canst. I do good, not to be requited; do thou imitate Me, and do good, not to be repaid. I have lighted luminaries in the heavens. Do thou light others brighter than these, for thou canst, by enlightening those that are in error. For to know Me is a greater benefit than to behold the sun. Thou canst not create a man, but thou canst make him just and acceptable to God. I formed his substance, do thou beautify his will. See how I love thee, and have given thee the power in the greater things.

Beloved, see how we are honored! yet some are so unreasonable and so ungrateful as to say, "Why are we endowed with free will?" But how in all the particulars which we have mentioned could we have imitated God, if there had been no free will? I rule Angels, He says, and so dost thou, through Him who is the First-fruits. (1 Cor. xv. 23.) I sit on a royal throne, and thou art seated with Me in Him who is the First-fruits. As it is said, "He hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Eph. ii. 6.) Through Him who is the First-fruits, Cherubim and Seraphim adore thee, with all the heavenly host, principalities and powers, thrones and dominions. Disparage not thy body, to which such high honors appertain, that the unbodied Powers tremble at it.

But what shall I say? It is not in this way only that I have shown My love to thee, but by what I have suffered. For thee I was spit upon, I was scourged. I emptied myself of glory, I left My Father and came to thee, who dost hate Me, and turn from Me, and art loath to hear My Name. I pursued thee, I ran after thee, that I might overtake thee. I united and joined thee to myself, "eat Me, drink Me," I said. Above I hold thee, and below I embrace thee. Is it not enough for thee that I have thy First-fruits above? Doth not this satisfy thy affection? I descended below: I not only am mingled with thee, I am entwined in thee. I am masticated, [1280] broken into minute particles, that the interspersion, [1281] and commixture, and union may be more complete. Things united remain yet in their own limits, but I am interwoven with thee. I would have no more any division between us. I will that we both be one.

Therefore knowing these things and remembering His abundant care for us, let us do all things which may prove us not unworthy of His great gift, which God grant that we may all obtain, through the grace and lovingkindness of Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom, &c.

Footnotes

[1265] euprosedron. [1266] thelousi. [1267] akkisthosin. [1268] He seems to mean that a professed widow, giving up her profession, is like woman betrothed to a man, and then disliking him, and giving her affections to another. [1269] i.e. by the profession of a devout widowhood. [1270] Gr. fem. referring to the widows kept by their relations, see Hom. xiii. and xiv., or perhaps to women relieving them. See below, l. 9 of this page. Downes, missing the sense, guesses it should be ekeinoi. [1271] Colb. omits this clause; it is perhaps too bold to guess ta apo ton thusion, for chrusion, making it, "the share of the sacrifices." [1272] sunedreu& 219;. [1273] meleton. He seems to mean in preparing his discourses. [1274] Or perhaps, "heathenish." [1275] The construction is too involved for such a passage; a slight change would refer the whole clause to the Judgment, or to the destruction of the cities of the plain. [1276] i.e. the deluge. [1277] See Hom. xx. on St. Matt. fin., where he says the end of the world might now come at any time. [1278] i.e. the body. [1279] So St. Aug. on Ps. 103. Vulg. taking "formed" of his degradation. [1280] trogomai. [1281] anakrasis.


Homily XVI.

1 Timothy v. 21-23

"I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. Lay hands hastily on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities."

Having spoken of Bishops and Deacons, of men, and women, of widows and elders, and of all others, and having shown how great was the authority of a Bishop, now he was speaking of judgment, he has added, "I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality." Thus fearfully he charges him. For though Timothy was his beloved son, he did not therefore stand in awe of him. For as he was not ashamed to say of himself, "Lest by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away" (1 Cor. ix. 27.); much less would he be afraid or ashamed in the case of Timothy. He called the Father and the Son to witness. But wherefore the elect Angels? From great moderation, as Moses said, "I call heaven and earth to witness" (Deut. iv. 26.); and again, "Hear ye, O mountains, and strong foundations of the earth." (Mic. vi. 2.) He calls the Father and the Son to witness what he has said, making his appeal to Them against that future Day, that if anything should be done that ought not to be done, he was clear from the guilt of it.

"That thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality." That is, that thou deal impartially and equally between those who are upon trial and are to be judged by thee, that no one may pre-occupy thy mind, or gain thee over to his side beforehand.

But who are the elect Angels? It is because there are some not elect. As Jacob calls to witness God and the heap (Gen. xxxi. 45.), so we often take at once superior and inferior persons to witness; so great a thing is testimony. As if he had said, I call to witness God and His Son and His servants, that I have charged thee: so before them I charge thee. He impresses Timothy with fear; after which he adds, what was most vital, [1282] and bears most on the maintenance of the Church, the matter of Ordinations. "Lay hands," he says, "suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins." What is "suddenly"? Not upon a first, nor a second, nor a third trial, but after frequent and strict examination and circumspection. For it is an affair of no common peril. For thou wilt be responsible for the sins committed by him, as well his past as his future sins, because thou hast delegated to him this power. For if thou overlook the past unduly, thou art answerable for the future also, as being the cause of them, by placing him in that station, and of the past too, for not leaving him to mourn over them, and to be in compunction. For as thou art a partaker of his good actions, so art thou of his sins.

"Keep thyself pure." This he says with reference to chastity.

"Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thy often infirmities." If one who had practiced fasting to such an extent, and used only water, so long that he had brought on "infirmities" and "frequent infirmities," is thus commanded to be chaste, and does not refuse the admonition, much less ought we to be offended when we receive an admonition from any one. But why did not Paul restore strength to his stomach? Not because he could not--for he whose garment had raised the dead was clearly able to do this too,--but because he had a design of importance in withholding such aid. What then was his purpose? [1283] That even now, if we see great and virtuous men afflicted with infirmities, we may not be offended, for this was a profitable visitation. If indeed to Paul himself a "messenger of Satan" was sent that he should not be "exalted above measure" (2 Cor. xii. 11.), much more might it be so with Timothy. For the miracles he wrought were enough to have rendered him arrogant. For this reason he is left to be subject to the rules of medicine, that he may be humbled, and others may not be offended, but may learn that they who performed such excellent actions were men of the same nature as themselves. In other respects also Timothy seems to have been subject to disease, which is implied by that expression, "Thy often infirmities," as well of other parts as of the stomach. He does not however allow him to indulge freely in wine, but as much as was for health and not for luxury. [1284]

Ver. 24. "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some they follow after."

In speaking of ordination, he had said, "Be not partaker of other men's sins." But what, he might say, if I be ignorant of them? Why, "some men's sins are open beforehand, going before them to judgment, and some they follow after." Some men's, he means, are manifest, because they, go before, whilst others' are unknown, because they follow after.

Ver. 25. "Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand, and they that are otherwise cannot be hid."

Chap. vi. ver. 1. "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their masters worthy of all honor, that the Name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed."

Let them count them "worthy of all honor," he says; for do not suppose, because thou art a believer, that thou art therefore a free man: since thy freedom is to serve the more faithfully. For if the unbeliever sees slaves conducting themselves insolently on account of their faith, he will blaspheme, as if the Doctrine produced insubordination. But when he sees them obedient, he will be more inclined to believe, and will the rather attend to our words. But God, and the Gospel we preach, will be blasphemed, if they are disobedient. But what if their own master be an unbeliever? Even in that case they ought to submit, for God's Name's sake.

Ver. 2. "And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved partakers of the benefit."

As though he had said, If ye are thought worthy of so great a benefit, as to have your masters for your brethren, on this account ye ought more especially to submit.

"Going before to judgment." This he had said, implying that of evil actions here some are concealed, and some are not; but there neither the good nor the bad can be concealed. And what is that going before to judgment? When one commits offenses that already condemn him, or when he is incorrigible, and when one thinks to set him right and cannot succeed. What then? What is the use of mentioning this? Because if here any escape detection, they will not hereafter. There all things are laid open; and this is the greatest consolation to those who do well.

Then because he had said, "Do nothing by partiality," as if under the necessity of interpreting it, he adds, "As many servants as are under the yoke." But you will say, What has a Bishop to do with this? Much surely, for it is his office to exhort and to teach these too. And here he makes excellent regulations with respect to them. For we see him everywhere commanding the servants rather than their masters, showing them the ways of submission, and treating them with great regard. [1285] He exhorts them therefore to submit with great meekness. But the masters he recommends to forbear the use of terror. "Forbearing threatening" (Eph. vi. 9.), he says. And why does he thus command? In the case of unbelievers, naturally, because it would have been unreasonable to address those who would pay no heed to him; but where believers were concerned, what was his reason? Because masters contribute greater benefits to their servants, than servants to their masters. For the former furnish the money to purchase for them sufficient food and clothing; and bestow much care upon them in other respects, so that the masters pay them the larger service, which is here intimated, when he says, "they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit." [1286] They suffer much toil and trouble for your repose, ought they not in return to receive much honor from their servants?

Moral. But if he exhorts servants to render such implicit obedience, consider what ought to be our disposition towards our Master, who brought us into existence out of nothing, and who feeds and clothes us. If in no other way then, let us render Him service at least as our servants render it to us. Do not they order their whole lives to afford rest to their masters, and is it not their work and their life to take care of their concerns? Are they not all day long engaged in their masters' work, and only a small portion of the evening in their own? But we, on the contrary, are ever engaged in our own affairs, in our Master's hardly at all, and that too, though He needs not our services, as masters need those of their servants, but those very acts redound to our own benefit. In their case the master is benefited by the ministry of the servant, but in ours the ministry of the servant profits not the Master, but is beneficial on the other hand to the servant. As the Psalmist says, "My goods are nothing unto Thee." (Ps. xvi. 2.) For say, what advantage is it to God, that I am just, or what injury, that I am unjust? Is not His nature incorruptible, incapable of injury, superior to all suffering? Servants having nothing of their own, all is their masters', however rich they may be. But we have many things of our own.

And it is not merely so great honor, [1287] that we enjoy from the King of the universe. What master ever gave his own son for his servant? No one, but all would rather choose to give their servants for their sons. Here on the contrary, "He spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all," for His enemies who hated Him. Servants, though very hard service is exacted of them, are not impatient; at least, not the well-disposed. But how many times do we utter discontent? [1288] The master promises to his servants nothing like what God promises to us; but what? Freedom here, which is often worse than bondage; for it is often embittered by famine beyond slavery itself. [1289] Yet this is their greatest boon. But with God there is nothing temporal, nothing mortal; but what? wouldest thou learn? Listen then, He says, "Henceforth I call you not servants. Ye are my friends." (John xv. 13, 14.)

Beloved, let us be ashamed, let us fear. Let us only serve our Master, as our servants serve us. Rather not even [1290] the smallest portion of service do we render! Necessity makes them philosophers. They have only food and lodging; but we, possessing much and expecting more, insult our Benefactor with our luxury. If from nothing else, from them at least let us learn the rules of philosophy. The Scripture is wont to send men not even to servants, but to irrational creatures, as when it bids us imitate the bee and the ant. But I advise you but to imitate servants: only so much as they do from fear of their masters, let us do from the fear of God; for I cannot find that you do even this. They receive many insults from fear of us, and endure them in silence with the patience of philosophers. Justly or unjustly they are exposed to our violence, and they do not resist, but entreat us, though often they have done nothing wrong. They are contented to receive no more and often less than they need; with straw [1291] for their bed, and only bread for their food, they do not complain or murmur at their hard living, but through fear of us are restrained from impatience. When they are intrusted with money, they restore it all. For I am not speaking of the worthless, but of the moderately good. If we threaten them, they are at once awed.

Is not this philosophy? For say not they are under necessity, when thou too art under a necessity in the fear of hell. And yet dost thou not learn wisdom, nor render to God as much honor, as thou receivest from thy servants. Of thy servants each has the apartment assigned to him by thy rules, and he does not invade that of his neighbor, nor do any injury from a desire of more than he has. This forbearance the fear of their master enforces among domestics, and seldom will you see a servant robbing or injuring a fellow-servant. But among free men it is quite the reverse. We bite and devour one another. We fear not our Master: we rob and plunder our fellow-servants, we strike them in His very sight. This the servant will not do; if he strikes, it is not when his master sees him; if he reviles, it is not when his master hears him. But we dare do anything, though God sees and hears it all.

The fear of their master is ever before their eyes, the fear of our Master never before ours. Hence the subversion of all order, hence all is confusion and destruction. And we never take into consideration the offenses we have committed, but if our servants do amiss, we call them to a rigorous account for everything, even to the least misdemeanor. I say not this to make servants remiss, but to chide our supineness, to rouse us from our sloth, that we may serve our God with as much zeal as servants do their master; our Maker, as faithfully as our fellow-creatures [1292] serve us, from whom they have received no such gift. For they too are free by nature. To them also it was said, "Let them have dominion over the fishes." (Gen. i. 26.) For this slavery is not from nature: it is the result of some particular cause, or circumstances. Yet, notwithstanding, they pay us great honor; and we with great strictness exact services from them, whilst to God we hardly render the smallest portion, though the advantage of it would redound to ourselves. For the more zealously we serve God, the greater gainers we shall be. Let us not then deprive ourselves of such important benefits. For God is self-sufficient, and wants nothing; the recompense and the advantage reverts altogether to us. Let us therefore, I beseech you, be so affected, as serving not God but ourselves, and with fear and trembling let us serve Him, that we may obtain the promised blessings, through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, &c.

Footnotes

[1282] Or "seasonable." [1283] A Paris ms. adds, "in not curing him," and is stated to vary much in this passage, but its readings are not given. [1284] This whole passage is treated more at length in the first Homily on the Statues, where most of these remarks are expanded and illustrated. [1285] Or making a great point of them, i.e. of the ways of submission. [1286] The words hoi tes euergesias antilambanomenoi may mean, "such as set themselves to confer benefits." [1287] Or, "and it is not without reason that we enjoy so great honor": and so Old Lat. and Ben. that in the text seems more intelligible. The other might be explained by the sequel. See Rom. viii. 32. [1288] apoduspetoumen. [1289] The slaves, as he had said before, were wholly provided for by their masters, and so suffer less in a scarcity than if they had been independent. [1290] The negative is added in Colb. and B. The sense requires it. [1291] stibados. [1292] homoousioi.


Homily XVII.

1 Timothy vi. 2-7

"These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."

A teacher has need not only of authority, but of gentleness, and not only of gentleness, but of authority. And all these the blessed Paul teaches, at one time saying, "These things command and teach" (1 Tim. iv. 11.); at another, "These things teach and exhort." [1293] For if physicians entreat the sick, not for the benefit of their own health, but that they may relieve their sickness, and restore their prostrate strength, much more ought we to observe this method, of entreating those whom we teach. For the blessed Paul does not refuse to be their servant: "We preach not ourselves," he says; "but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Cor. iv. 5.); and again, "All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos." (1 Cor. iii. 12.) And in this service he serves with alacrity, for it is not slavery, but superior to freedom. For He says, "Whoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." (John viii. 34.)

"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing." Presumption therefore arises not from knowledge, but from "knowing nothing." For he that knows the doctrines of godliness is also the most disposed to moderation. He who knows sound words, is not unsound. For what inflammation is in the body, that pride is in the soul. And as we do not in the first case say that the inflamed part is sound, so neither do we here consider the arrogant. It is possible then to be knowing, and yet to know nothing. For he that knows not what he ought to know, knows nothing. And that pride arises from knowing nothing is manifest from hence. Christ "made Himself of no reputation" (Philip. ii. 7.), he therefore who knows this will not be high-minded. Man hath nothing except from God, therefore he will not be high-minded. "For what hast thou that thou didst not receive?" (1 Cor. iv. 7.) He washed the feet of His disciples, how can he who knows this be setting himself up? Therefore He says, "When ye have done all, say we are unprofitable servants." (Luke xvii. 10.) The publican was accepted only from his humility, the Pharisee perished by his boastfulness. He who is puffed up knoweth none of these things. Again, Christ Himself says, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?" (John xviii. 23.)

"Doting [1294] about questions." To question then is to dote. "And strifes of words"; this is justly said. For when the soul is fevered with reasonings, and stormy, then it questions, but when it is in a sound state, it does not question, but receives the faith. But from questionings and strifes of words nothing can be discovered. For when the things which faith only promises are received by an inquisitive spirit, it neither demonstrates them, nor suffers us to understand them. If one should close his eyes, he would not be able to find anything he sought: or if, again with his eyes open, he should bury himself, and exclude the sun, he would be unable to find anything, thus seeking. So without faith nothing can be discerned, but contentions must needs arise. "Whereof come railings, evil surmisings"; that is, erroneous opinions and doctrines arising froth questionings. For when we begin to question, then we surmise concerning God things that we ought not.

"Perverse disputings," [1295] that is, leisure or conversation, or he may mean intercommunication, and that as infected sheep by contact [1296] communicate disease to the sound, so do these bad men.

"Destitute of the truth, thinking that gain is godliness." Observe what evils are produced by strifes of words. The love of gain, ignorance, and pride; for pride is engendered by ignorance.

"From such withdraw thyself." He does not say, engage and contend with them, but "withdraw thyself," turn away from them; as elsewhere he says, "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject." (Tit. iii. 10.) He shows that they do not so much err from ignorance, as they owe their ignorance to their indolence. Those who are contentious for the sake of money you will never persuade. They are only to be persuaded, so long as you give, and even so you will never satisfy their desires. For it is said, "The covetous man's eye is not satisfied with a portion." (Ecclus. xiv. 9.) From such then, as being incorrigible, it is right to turn away. And if he who had much obligation to fight for the truth, is advised not to engage in contention with such men, much more should we [1297] avoid it, who are in the situation of disciples.

Having said, "They think that godliness is a means of gain," he adds: "But godliness with contentment is great gain," not when it possesses wealth, but when it has it not. For that he may not despond on account of his poverty, he encourages and revives his spirit. They think, he says, that godliness is a means of gain, [1298] and so it is; only not in their way, but in a much higher. Then having demolished theirs he extols the other. For that worldly gain is nothing, is manifest, because it is left behind, and does not attend us, or go along with us at our departure. Whence is this plain? Because we had nothing when we came into this world, therefore we shall have nothing when we depart from it. For nature came naked into the world, and naked she will go out of it. Therefore we want no superfluities; if we brought nothing with us, and shall take nothing away with us.

Ver. 8. "And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content."

Such things, and so much ought we to eat, as will suffice to nourish us, and such things should we put on, as will cover us, and clothe our nakedness, and nothing more; and a common garment will answer this purpose. Then he urges them from the consideration of things here, saying,

Ver. 9. "But they that will be rich"; not those that are rich, but those who wish to be. For a man may have money and make a good use of it, not overvaluing it, but bestowing it upon the poor. Such therefore he does not blame, but the covetous.

"They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition."

He has justly said, "they drown men," since they cannot be raised from that depth. "In destruction and perdition."

Ver. 10. "For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

Two things he mentions, and that which to them might seem the more weighty he places last, their "many sorrows." And to learn how true this is, the only way is to sojourn with the rich, to see how many are their sorrows, how bitter their complaints.

Ver. 11. "But thou, O man of God."

This is a title of great dignity. For we are all men of God, but the righteous peculiarly so, not by right of creation only, but by that of appropriation. [1299] If then thou art a "man of God," seek not superfluous things, which lead thee not to God, but

"Flee these things, and follow after righteousness." Both expressions are emphatic; he does not say turn from one, and approach the other, but "flee these things, pursue righteousness," so as not to be covetous.

"Godliness," that is, soundness in doctrines. [1300]

"Faith," which is opposed to questionings.

"Love," patience, meekness.

Ver. 12. "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life." Lo, there is thy reward, "whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession," in hope of eternal life, "before many witnesses."

That is, do not put that confidence to shame. Why dost thou labor to no profit? But what is the "temptation and snare," which he says, those that would be rich fall into? It causes them to err from the faith, it involves them in dangers, it renders them less intrepid. "Foolish desires," he says. And is it not a foolish desire, when men like to keep idiots and dwarfs, not from benevolent motives, but for their pleasure, when they have receptacles for fishes in their halls, when they bring up wild beasts, when they give their time to dogs, and dress up horses, and are as fond of them as of their children? All these things are foolish and superfluous, nowise necessary, nowise useful.

"Foolish and hurtful lusts!" What are hurtful lusts? When men live unlawfully, when they desire what is their neighbor's, when they do their utmost in [1301] luxury, when they long for drunkenness, when they desire the murder and destruction of others. From these desires many have aimed at tyranny, and perished. Surely to labor with such views is both foolish and hurtful. And well has he said, "They have erred from the faith." Covetousness attracting their eyes to herself, and gradually stealing away their minds, suffers them not to see their way. For as one walking on the straight road, with his mind intent on something else, proceeds on his way indeed, but, often without knowing it, passes by the very city to which he was hastening, his feet plying on at random and to no purpose: such like a thing is covetousness. "They have pierced themselves through with many sorrows." Dost thou see what he means by that word "pierced"? What he means to express by the allusion [1302] is this. Desires are thorns, and as when one touches thorns, he gores his hand, and gets him wounds, so he that falls into these lusts will be wounded by them, and pierce his soul with griefs. And what cares and troubles attend those who are thus pierced, it is not possible to express. Therefore he says, "Flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." For meekness springs from love.

Ver. 12. "Fight the good fight."

Here he commends his boldness and manliness, that before all he confidently "made profession," and he reminds him of his early instruction.

"Lay hold on eternal life."

There is need not only of profession, but of patience also to persevere in that profession, and of vehement contention, and of numberless toils, that you be not overthrown. For many are the stumbling-blocks, and impediments, therefore the way is "strait and narrow." (Matt. vii. 14.) It is necessary therefore to be self-collected, [1303] and well girt on every side. All around appear pleasures attracting the eyes of the soul. Those of beauty, of wealth, of luxury, of indolence, of glory, of revenge, of power, of dominion, and these are all fair and lovely in appearance, and able to captivate those who are unsteady, and who do not love the truth. For truth has but a severe and uninviting countenance. And why? Because the pleasures that she promises are all future, whereas the others hold out present honors and delights, and repose; though all are false and counterfeit. To these therefore adhere gross, effeminate, unmanly minds, indisposed to the toils of virtue. As in the games of the heathens, he who does not earnestly covet the crown, may from the first give himself up to revellings and drunkenness, and so do in fact the cowardly and unmanly combatants, whilst those who look steadfastly to the crown sustain blows without number. For they are supported and roused to action by the hope of future reward.

Moral. Let us then flee from this root of all evils, and we shall escape them all. "The love of money," he says, "is the root;" thus says Paul, or rather Christ by Paul, and let us see how this is. The actual experience of the world testifies it. For what evil is not caused by wealth, or rather not by wealth, but by the wicked will of those who know not how to use it? For it is possible to use wealth in well doing, and even through means of it to inherit the kingdom. But now what was given us for the relief of the poor, to make amends for our past sins, to win a good report, and to please God, this we employ against the poor and wretched, or rather against our own souls, and to the high displeasure of God. For as for the other, a man robs him of his wealth, and reduces him to poverty, but himself to death; and him he causes to pine in penury here, but himself in that eternal punishment. Are they equal sufferers, think you?

What evils then does it not cause! what fraudulent practices, what robberies! what miseries, enmities, contentions, battles! Does it not stretch forth its hand even to the dead, nay, to fathers, and brethren? Do not they who are possessed by this passion violate the laws of nature, and the commandments of God? in short everything? Is it not this that renders our courts of justice necessary? Take away therefore the love of money, and you put an end to war, to battle, to enmity, to strife and contention. Such men ought therefore to be banished from the world, as wolves and pests. For as opposing and violent winds, sweeping over a calm sea, stir it up from its foundations, and mingle the sands of the deep with the waves above, so the lovers of wealth confound and unsettle everything. The covetous man never knows a friend: a friend, did I say? he knows not God Himself, driven mad, as he is, by the passion of avarice. Do ye not see the Titans going forth sword in hand? This is a representation of madness. But the lovers of money do not counterfeit, they are really mad, and beside themselves; and if you could lay bare their souls, you would find them armed in this way not with one or two swords, but with thousands, acknowledging no one, but turning their rage against all; flying and snarling at all, slaughtering not dogs, [1304] but the souls of men, and uttering blasphemies against heaven itself. By these men all things are subverted, and ruined by their madness after wealth.

For whom indeed, whom I should accuse, I know not! It is a plague that so seizes all, some more, some less, but all in a degree. Like a fire catching a wood, that desolates and destroys all around, this passion has laid waste the world. Kings, magistrates, private persons, the poor, women, men, children, are all alike affected by it. As if a gross darkness had overspread the earth, no one is in his sober senses. Yet we hear, both in public and private, many declamations [1305] against covetousness, but no one is mended by them.

What then is to be done? How shall we extinguish this flame? For though it has risen up to heaven itself, it is to be extinguished. We have only to be willing, and we shall be able to master the conflagration. For as by our will it has got head, so it may be brought under by our will. Did not our own choice cause it, and will not the same choice avail to extinguish it? Only let us be willing. But how shall that willingness be engendered? If we consider the vanity and the unprofitableness of wealth, that it cannot depart hence with us, that even here it forsakes us, and that whilst it remains behind, it inflicts upon us wounds that depart along with us. If we see that there are riches There, compared to which the wealth of this world is more despicable than dung. If we consider that it is attended with numberless dangers, with pleasure that is temporary, pleasure mingled with sorrow. If we contemplate aright the true riches of eternal life, we shall be able to despise worldly wealth. If we remember that it profits nothing either to glory, or health, or any other thing; but on the contrary drowns men in destruction and perdition. If thou consider that here thou art rich, and hast many under thee, but that when thou departest hence, thou wilt go naked and solitary. If we often represent [1306] these things to ourselves, and listen to them from others, there will perhaps be a return to a sound mind, and a deliverance from this dreadful punishment.

Is a pearl beautiful? yet consider, it is but sea water, and was once cast away in the bosom of the deep. Are gold and silver beautiful? yet they were and are but dust and ashes. Are silken vestments beautiful? yet they are nothing but the spinning of worms. This beauty is but in opinion, in human prejudice, not in the nature of the things. For that which possesses beauty from nature, need not any to point it out. If you see a coin of brass that is but gilded over, yon admire it at first, fancying that it is gold; but when the cheat is shown to you by one who understands it, your wonder vanishes with the deceit. The beauty therefore was not in the nature of the thing. Neither is it in silver; you may admire tin for silver, as you admired brass for gold, and you need some one to inform you what you should admire. Thus our eyes are not sufficient to discern the difference. It is not so with flowers, which are much more beautiful. If you see a rose, you need no one to inform you, you can of yourself distinguish an anemone, and a violet, or a lily, and every other flower. It is nothing therefore but prejudice. And to show, that this destructive passion is but a prejudice; tell me, if the Emperor were pleased to ordain that silver should be of more value than gold, would you not transfer your love and admiration to the former? Thus we are everywhere under the influence of covetousness and opinion. [1307] And that it is so, and that a thing is valued for its rarity, and not for its nature, appears hence. The fruits that are held cheap among us are in high esteem among the Cappadocians, and among the Serians [1308] even more valuable than the most precious among us, from which country these garments are brought; and many such instances might be given in Arabia and India, where spices are produced, and where precious stones are found. Such preference therefore is nothing but prejudice, and human opinion. We act not from judgment, but at random, and as accident determines. But let us recover from this intoxication, let us fix our view upon that which is truly beautiful, beautiful in its own nature, upon godliness and righteousness; that we may obtain the promised blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, &c.

Footnotes

[1293] Or "entreat." [1294] noson. [1295] diaparatribai, rec. paradiatribai. [1296] paratribomena. [1297] This he would hardly have said at Constantinople, when he was Bishop. [1298] This is undoubtedly the true sense, as the article is attached to "godliness." [1299] oikeioseos. [1300] See on Stat. Hom. iv. 3. [1301] prospalaiosin, lit. wrestle with. [1302] emphaseos, a form of speech implying something not directly expressed. [1303] sunestraphthai. [1304] There was a heathen festival at Argos, called Cynophontis (Athenæus, l. 3, Cas. p. 99), in which dogs met abroad were killed; but whether this was done in the warlike dance called Titanes (which was practiced even by persons of rank, Lucian, de Salt. 21, p. 37 and 79) does not appear. [1305] See Libanius, Or. 7. [1306] epadomen. [1307] pleonexias kai huponoias. The latter is literally suspicion, but in ver. 4he seems to render it opinions, in the sense of imaginations bred by selfishness. [1308] Seres, a people on the borders of China. In Tac. Ann. ii. 33, A.D. 16, we find a law at Rome against men wearing silk, vestris Serica.


Homily XVIII.

1 Timothy vi. 13-16

"I give thee charge in the sight of God, Who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, Who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his times He shall show, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; Whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to Whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen."

Again he calls God to witness, as he had done a little before, at once to increase his disciple's awe, and to secure his safety, and to show that these were not human commandments, that receiving the commandment as from the Lord Himself, and ever bearing in mind the Witness [1309] before Whom he heard it, he may have it more fearfully impressed upon his mind.

"I charge thee," he says, "before God, Who quickeneth all things."

Here is at once consolation in the dangers which awaited him, and a remembrance of the resurrection awakened in him.

"And before Jesus Christ, Who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession."

The exhortation again is derived from the example of his Master, and what he means is this; as He had done, so ought ye to do, for for this cause He "witnessed" (1 Pet. ii. 21.), that we might tread in His steps.

"A good confession." [1310] What he does in his Epistle to the Hebrews,--"Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Heb. xii. 2, 3.),--that he now does to his disciple Timothy. As if he had said, Fear not death, since thou art the servant of God, Who can give life to all things.

But to what "good confession" does he allude? To that which He made when Pilate asked, "Art thou a King?" "To this end," He said, "was I born." And again, "I came, that I might bear witness to the Truth. Behold, these have heard Me." (John xviii. 37.) He may mean this, or that when asked, "Art thou the Son of God?" He answered, "Thou sayest, that I am (the Son of God)." (Luke xxii. 70.) And many other testimonies and confessions did He make.

Ver. 14. "That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ."

That is, till thy end, thy departure hence, though he does not so express it, but that he may the more arouse him, says, "till His appearing." But what is "to keep the commandment without spot"? To contract no defilement, either of doctrine or of life.

Ver. 15. "Which in His times He shall show, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings, and Lord of lords, Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto."

Of whom are these things said? Of the Father, or of the Son? Of the Son, undoubtedly: and it is said for the consolation of Timothy, that he may not fear nor stand in awe of the kings of the earth.

"In His times," that is, the due and fitting times, that he may not be impatient, because it has not yet come. And whence is it manifest, that He will show it? Because He is the Potentate, the "only Potentate." He then will show it, Who is "blessed," nay blessedness itself; and this is said, to show that in that appearing there is nothing painful or uneasy.

But he says, "only," either in contradistinction to men, or because He was unoriginated, [1311] or as we sometimes speak of a man whom we wish to extol.

"Who only hath immortality." What then? hath not the Son immortality? Is He not immortality itself? How should not He, who is of the same substance with the Father, have immortality?

"Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto." Is He then Himself one Light, and is there another in which He dwells? is He then circumscribed by place? Think not of it. By this expression is represented the Incomprehensibleness of the Divine Nature. Thus he speaks of God, in the best way he is able. Observe, how when the tongue would utter something great, it fails in power.

"Whom no man hath seen nor can see." As, indeed, no one hath seen the Son, nor can see Him. [1312]

"To whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen." Thus properly, and much to the purpose, has he spoken of God. For as he had called Him to witness, he speaks much of that Witness, that his disciple may be in the greater awe. In these terms he ascribes glory to Him, and this is all we can do, or say. We must not enquire too curiously, who He is. If power everlasting is His, fear not. Yea though now it take not place, [1313] to Him is honor, to Him is power evermore.

Ver. 17. "Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not high-minded."

He has well said, "rich in this world." For there are others rich in the future world. And this advice he gives, knowing that nothing so generally produces pride and arrogance as wealth. To abate this, therefore, he immediately adds, "Nor trust in uncertain riches"; since that was the source of pride; inasmuch as he who hopes in God, is not elated. Why dost thou place thy hopes upon what is instantly transferable? For such is wealth! and why hopest thou on that of which thou canst not be confident? But you say, how can they avoid being high-minded? By considering the instability and uncertainty of riches, and that hope in God is infinitely more valuable; God being the Author of wealth itself.

Ver. 17. "But in the living God," he says, "who giveth us richly all things to enjoy."

This "all things richly" is justly spoken, in reference to the changes of the year, to air, light, water, and other gifts. For how richly and ungrudgingly are all these bestowed! If thou seekest riches, seek those that are stable and enduring, and which are the fruit of good works. He shows that this is his meaning by what follows.

Ver. 18. "That they do good," he says, "that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate."

The first phrase refers to wealth, the second to charity. For to be willing to communicate, implies that they are sociable and kind.

Ver. 19. "Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come."

There nothing is uncertain, for the foundation being firm, there is no instability, all is firm, fixed, immovable, fast, and enduring.

Ver. 19. "That they may lay hold," he says, "on eternal life."

For the doing of good works can secure the enjoyment of eternal life.

Ver. 20. "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust."

Let it not suffer diminution. It is not thy own. Thou art intrusted with the property of another, do not lessen it.

Ver. 20. "Avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called."

Well did he thus call it. For where there is not faith, there is not knowledge; when anything springs from our reasonings, it is not knowledge. Or perhaps he says this, because some then assumed the name of Gnostics, as knowing more than others.

Ver. 21. "Which some professing have erred concerning the faith."

You see how again he commands Timothy not even to meet them. "Avoiding opposition." There are therefore oppositions to which we ought not to vouchsafe an answer, because they turn men from faith, and do not suffer one to be firmly established or fixed in it. Let us not then pursue this science, but adhere to faith, that unshaken rock. For neither floods nor winds assailing will be able to harm us, since we stand on the rock immovable. Thus even in this life, if we choose Him, Who is truly the foundation, we stand, and no harm assails us. For what can hurt him who hath chosen the riches, the honor, the glory, the pleasure of the life to come? They are all firm, in them there is no variableness; all things here subject to reverse, and are for ever changing. For what wouldest thou have? glory? The Psalmist says, "His glory shall not descend after him." (Ps. xlix. 17.) And often it abides not with him whilst he lives. But it is not so with virtue, all things which pertain to her are permanent. Here, he who obtains glory from his office, upon another succeeding to his office, becomes a private man and inglorious. The rich man is reduced to poverty by the attack of robbers, or the snares of sycophants and knaves. It is not so with Christians. The temperate man, if he take heed to himself, will not be robbed of his virtue. He who rules himself, cannot become a common man and a subject.

And that this rule is superior to any other, will appear upon examination. For of what advantage, tell me, is it to reign over nations of our fellow-men, and to be the slaves of our own passions? Or what are we the worse for having no one under our rule, if we are superior to the tyranny of the passions? That indeed is Freedom, that is Rule, that is Royalty and Sovereignty. The contrary is slavery, though a man be invested with countless diadems. For when a multitude of masters sway him from within, the love of money, the love of pleasure, and anger, and other passions, what avails his diadem? The tyranny of those passions is more severe, when not even his crown has power to deliver him from their subjection. As if one who had been a king should be reduced to slavery by barbarians, and they wishing to show their power the more absolutely, should not strip him of his purple robe and his diadem, but oblige him to work in them, and to perform all menial offices, to draw water, and to cook their food, that his disgrace and their honor might be the more apparent: so do our passions domineer over us more barbarously than any barbarians. For he that despises them can despise the barbarians too; but he that submits to them, will suffer more severely than from barbarians. The barbarian, when his power prevails, may afflict the body, but these passions torture the soul, and lacerate it all over. When the barbarian has prevailed, he delivers one to temporal death, but these to that which is to come. So that he alone is the free man, who has his freedom in himself; and he who submits to these unreasonable passions, is the slave.

No master, however inhuman, imposes such severe and inhuman commands. They say to him, in effect, "Disgrace thy soul without end or object,--offend thy God,--be deaf to the claims of nature; though it be thy father or thy mother, be not ashamed to set thyself against them." Such are the commands of avarice. "Sacrifice to me, she says, not calves, but men." The prophet indeed says, "Sacrifice men, for the calves have failed." (Hosea xiii. 2, Sept.) But avarice says, "Sacrifice men, though there are yet calves. Sacrifice those who have never injured thee, yea slay them, though they have been thy benefactors." Or again, "Be at war, and go about as the common enemy of all, of nature herself, and of God. Heap up gold, not that thou mayest enjoy it, but that thou mayest keep it, and work greater torture to thyself." For it is not possible that the lover of money should be able to enjoy it, since he fears lest his gold should be diminished, lest his hoards should fail. "Be watchful," it says, "be suspicious of every one, even domestics and friends. Have an eye to the goods of other men. Though you see the poor man perishing with hunger, give him nothing; but strip him, if it be possible, even of his skin. Break thine oaths, lie, swear. Be an accuser, a false informer. Refuse not, if it be necessary, to rush into fire, to submit to a thousand deaths, to perish with hunger, to struggle with disease." Does not avarice impose these laws? "Be offensive and impudent, shameless and bold, villainous and wicked, ungrateful, unfeeling, unfriendly, faithless, devoid of affection, a parricide, a beast rather than a man. Surpass the serpent in bitterness, the wolf in rapacity. Exceed in brutality even the beast, nay should it be necessary to proceed even to the malignity of the devil, refuse not. Be a stranger to thy benefactor."

Does not avarice say all this, and is it not listened to? God on the contrary says, Be a friend to all, be gentle, beloved by all, give offense causelessly to no one. "Honor thy father and thy mother." Win an honorable reputation. Be not a man, but an angel. Utter nothing immodest, nothing false, nor even think of it. Relieve the poor. Bring not trouble on thyself, by ravaging others. Be not bold nor insolent. God says this, but no one hearkens. Is not hell then justly threatened, and the fire, and the worm that dieth not? How long are we thus to thrust ourselves down the precipice? How long are we to walk upon thorns, and pierce ourselves with nails, and be grateful for it? We subject ourselves to cruel tyrants, and refuse the gentle Master, who imposes nothing grievous, nor barbarous, nor burdensome, nor unprofitable, but all things such as are useful, and valuable, and beneficial. Let us then arouse ourselves, and be self-collected, and gather our forces. Let us love God as we ought, that we may obtain the blessings promised to those that love Him, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father, &c.

Footnotes

[1309] Edd. aph' hou, "from whom"; but B. has eph' hou, and Old Lat. sub quo, which is much better. [1310] Savile's punctuation. Ben. joins this to the preceding clause, but so it is scarcely grammatical. [1311] anenneton. [1312] That is, in His divine nature, considered apart from the human. See on Philip. ii. 5-11, Hom. vii. p. 78, and note g, and compare John i. 14-18; vi. 46; xiv. 7, 9; Luke xxiv. 39; John iv. 24; 2 Cor. iii. 17; 1 Tim. iii. 16; 1 John iii. 2. [1313] me genetai. He either means that though not yet fully come, His Kingdom, when come, shall be eternal, or puts genesthai, "to take place," in opposition to einai, "to be." The former word refers to events in time, the latter to the real constitution of things. Philip. ii. 10; Heb. ii. 8.


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