The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople,
On the Acts of the ApostlesTranslated, with notes, by Rev. J. Walker, M.A., of Brasenose College;
Rev. J. Sheppard, M.A., of Oriel College, Oxford; and
Rev. H. Browne, M.A., of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
revised, with notes, by Rev. George B. Stevens, Ph.D., D.D., Professor in Yale University.
Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.
Homily XV.Acts VI. 8
"And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people."
See how even among the seven one was preėminent, and won the first prize. For though the ordination was common to him and them, yet he drew upon himself greater grace. And observe, how he wrought no (signs and wonders) before this time, but only when he became publicly known; to show that grace alone is not sufficient, but there must be ordination also; so that there was a further access of the Spirit. For if they were full of the Spirit, it was of that which is from the Laver of Baptism. "Then there arose certain of them of the synagogue." (v. 9.) Again he uses the phrase of "rising up" (anastasin, Hom. xiii. p. 81), to denote their exasperation and wrath. Here we have a great multitude. And observe the difference in the form of accusation: for since Gamaliel had stopped them from finding fault on the former plea, they bring in another charge. "And there rose up, it says, certain of them of the synagogue of those who are called (thon legomenon. Edd. thes legomenes) Libertines, and of the Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God." (v. 9-12.) That they may establish the charge, the phrase is, "he speaks against God, and against Moses." And with this object too they disputed, that they might force him to say somewhat. But he now discoursed more openly, and perhaps spoke of the cessation of the Divine Law: or, spoke it not, but hinted as much: since had he spoken plainly, there had been no need of suborned men, nor yet of false witnesses.  The synagogues were diverse: [to wit, "Of the Libertines"]: "of the Cyrenians, i.e. those in the parts beyond Alexandria ["of the Alexandrians," etc.]. There also they seem to have had synagogues according to their different nations; for many stayed behind there, that they might not be obliged to be continually travelling. The Libertines perhaps were freedmen of the Romans. As there were many foreigners dwelling there, so they had their synagogues, where the Law was to be read. "Disputing with Stephen." Observe him, not taking upon him to teach, but forced to do so. The miracles once more brought him into ill-will; but when he overcame in argument, it was false-witness! For they did not wish to kill intolerable to them. "They could not resist, etc.: then they suborned men." Everywhere out of hand, but by means of a sentence, that they might hurt their reputation also: and leaving those (the Apostles), they attack these (the disciples), thinking in this way to terrify those also. They say not, "he speaketh," but, "he ceaseth not to speak. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, and set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law." (v. 12, 13.) "Ceaseth not," say they, as if he made this his business. "For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us." (v. 14.) "Jesus," they say, "the Nazarene," as a term of reproach, "shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs." This is also what they said about Christ. "Thou that destroyest this Temple." (Matt. xxvii. 40.) For great was their veneration for the Temple (as indeed they had chosen to leave their own country (metoikein) in order to be near it) and for the name of Moses. The charge is twofold. If  He "shall change the customs," He will also introduce others instead: observe how the charge is a bitter one, and fraught with perils. "And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel." (v. 15.) So possible is it even for one in a lower degree to shine. For what, I ask, had this man less than the Apostles? He lacked not miracles, and great was the boldness he exhibited.  --"They saw His face," it is said, "as it had been the face of an angel." (Ex. xxxiv. 30.) For this was his grace, this was the glory of Moses. God made him thus gracious (epicharin) of visage, now that he was about to say somewhat, thus at once by his very look to awe them. For there are, yes, there are faces full-fraught with spiritual grace, lovely to them that love, awful to haters and enemies. It mentions also the reason, why they suffered his oration.--"Then," it proceeds, "said the high-priest, Are these things so?" (ch. vii. 1.) Observe, the question is put with mildness, that he may effect some great mischief. For this reason Stephen too begins his speech in a tone of gentleness, and says, "Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran." (v. 2.) Immediately at the outset he overthrows their conceit, and makes it appear by what he says, that the temple is nothing, that the customs are nothing either, without their suspecting his drift: also that they shall not overcome the preaching; and that from powerless (amechanon) things God evermore contrives Him powerful (eumechana) instruments. Mark then how these threads make the texture of the whole speech: and moreover that having evermore enjoyed exceeding goodness, they still requited their Benefactor with the opposite conduct, and that they are now attempting impossibilities. "The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he came into Charran." Both the temple was not, and sacrifice was not, and yet a vision of God was vouchsafed to Abraham, and yet had he Persians  for his ancestors, and was in a strange land. And he does well at the beginning of his speech to call Him, "the God of glory:" seeing that He hath made them that are without honor to be glorious. "Because" (says he) "it was He that made them glorious, He will make us also." Observe how he leads them away from things of the body, from the place, in the first instance, as the place was in question. "The God of glory," says he: implying again, that He needs not the glory which comes from us, which comes by the Temple: for Himself is the Fountain thereof. Think not, he would say, in this way to glorify Him. "And from thy kindred." How  then saith the Scripture, that Abraham's father was willing to go out? Hence we learn, that it was in consequence of Abraham's vision, that his father was moved to join in the migration. (Gen. xi. 31.) "And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into a land which I shall show thee." (v. 3.) It shows how far these men are from being children of Abraham, how obedient he was. "And  from thy kindred." Uncomfortable (phortika) reflections, both, that he endured the labors, while ye reap the fruits, and that all your ancestors were in evil case. "Then came he out of the land of the Chaldæans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, He removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. And He gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on." (v. 4, 5.) See how he raises their thoughts away from (their possession of) the land.  For if He said (that, He will give: clearly [all came from him], and nothing from themselves. For he came, having left both kindred and country. Wherefore then did He not give it to him? Truly it was a figure of another land. "And He promised to give it to him." Do you perceive, that he does not merely resume the thread of his discourse? "He gave him not," says he; "and He promised; and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child." Again, what God can do: that out of impossibilities, He doeth all. For here is a man in Persia, so far away, and this man God saith He will make lord of Palestine. But let us look back to what was said before.
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These things having seen, let us likewise, whatever God shall promise, receive the same, however contrary may be the events. And yet in our case, they are not contrary, but very suitable. For where the promises are, there, when the contraries turn out, they are really contrary; but in our case it is just the reverse: for He has told us that we should have tribulation here, but our rest there. Why do we confound the times? Why do we turn things upside down? Say, art thou afflicted, and livest in poverty, and in dejection? Be not troubled: for it were worth being troubled at, wert thou destined to be afflicted in that world: as for this present affliction, it is the cause of rest. "This sickness," saith He, "is not unto death." (John xi. 4.) That affliction is punishment: this, schooling and correction. It is a contest, this life present: if so, to fight is our business now: it is war and battle. In war one does not seek to have rest, in war one does not seek to have dainty living, one is not anxious about riches, one's care is not about a wife then: one thing only he looks at, how he may overcome his foes. Be this our care likewise: if we overcome, and return with the victory, God will give us all things. Be this alone our study, how we may overcome the devil: though after all it is not our own study that does it, but God's grace does the whole business. Be it our one study, how we may attract His grace, how we may draw to ourselves that assistance. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. viii. 31.) Let us make one thing our study; that He be not our enemy, that He turn not away from us.
Not the being afflicted is an evil; the evil is, to sin. This is the sore affliction, however we may pass our days in luxury:--not to speak of the life to come, it is so even in this life present. Think how our conscience is stung with remorse, and whether this is not worse than any kind of torture! I should like to put the question searchingly to those who live in evil ways (en kakhois), whether they never come to reflect upon their own sins, whether they do not tremble, and are in fear and anguish, whether they do not think those blessed who live in abstinence, them of the mountains, them of the strict rule? (tous en polle philosophi& 139;.) Dost thou wish to find rest in the life to come? Suffer affliction in this life for Christ's sake: there is nothing equal to this rest. The Apostles rejoiced when scourged. Paul gives this exhortation, saying, "Rejoice in the Lord." (Philip. iv. 4.) And how can there be rejoicing, where there are bonds, where there are tortures; where there are courts of justice? There, most of all, is rejoicing. But  say, how can there be rejoicing, where these are not? For he who is conscious of no evil, will have a sort of exceeding delight, insomuch that in what degree you speak of tribulation, in the same you tell of his delight. The soldier who has received numberless wounds and is come home again, will he not return with exceeding delight, with his wounds  as his title for speaking up boldly, and as evidence of his glory and renown? And thou, if thou be able to exclaim as Paul does, "I bear the marks of Jesus" (Gal. vi. 17), wilt be able to become great and glorious and renowned. "But there is no persecution." Make thy stand against glory: and should any one speak anything against thee, fear not to be evil-spoken of for Christ's sake: make thy stand against the tyranny of pride, against the fighting of anger, against the torment of concupiscence. These also are "marks,"  these also are torments. For, I ask, what is the worst in tortures? Is it not, that the soul is pained, and is on fire? For in the other case, the body too has its share: but in this, the whole belongs to the soul. On the soul alone comes all the smart, when one is angry, when one is envious, whatever else of this kind one does, or rather suffers. For, in fact, it is not action, but passion, not a doing, but a suffering--to be angered, to feel envy: therefore indeed they are called passions (or sufferings) (pathe, perturbationes) of the soul, yea wounds, and bruises. For it is indeed a suffering, and worse than suffering. Bethink you, ye that are angry, that ye do such things in "passion," in a state of suffering. Therefore he who is not angry suffers not. Do you mark that not he who is abused is the sufferer, but he that abuses, as I said above? For that he is a sufferer, is plain in the first place from the very fact, that such a thing is called by this name of passion: and it is also plain from the (effects on the) body: for these are the affections (pathe) for "sufferings," as we call them] engendered by anger, viz. dimness of vision, insanity, and numberless others. "But he insulted my boy," say you; "but [he called him] clown."  Deem it not weakness thy not doing the same thing thyself. For, I ask you, was it well done? You will not say that: then leave that undone which being done were not well done. I know what passions are engendered in such cases. "But," say you, "how if he despise me, how if he say it again?" Show him that he is in the wrong: rebuke him, entreat him: by meekness anger is put down: go and expostulate with him. For though in cases of wrong done to ourselves it is right not to do even this, yet it is quite necessary to do it in behalf of others. Do not look on it as an insult to yourself that your boy has been insulted: annoyed you may be for his sake, yet not as if you were insulted: for it does not follow because your boy has been ill-treated, that you are disgraced, but he is disgraced that did the ill. Quench (thine anger) that sharp sword: let it lie in its scabbard. If we have it unsheathed, we shall be apt to use it even when the time is not proper, being drawn on by it: but if it be hidden, though a necessity should arise, yet, while we seek it in order  to draw it, the anger will be quenched. Christ would not have us be angry on his account: (hear what He saith to Peter: "Put up again thy sword into the sheath:") (Matt. xxvi. 52) and art thou angry on account of a boy? Teach thy boy also to be philosophical: tell him thy own sufferings: imitate (herein) thy Teacher. (Matt. xxvi. 52.) When they too (His disciples) were about to be treated with dishonor, He said not, "I will avenge you:" but, "to Me also," saith He, "they have done the same: bear it nobly, for ye are not better than I." These words too do thou speak to thy son and thy boy: "Thou art not better than thy master." But these words of philosophy are counted as the talk of a widow woman. Alas! that it is not in the power of words to bring it home to people in the way that it is possible to be taught it by actual experience! And that you may learn this; stand between two combatants, take part with the wronged, not with the wrong-doers [that you may learn]  whether you shall not see the victory on your side, whether you shall not get splendid crowns.--See, how God is insulted, and how He answers; how gently, "Where," saith He, "is Abel thy brother?" and what saith the other: "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen. vi. 9.) What could be more contumacious than this? Would any one have heard it (patiently) even from a son? and if from a brother, would he not have thought such conduct an insult? What then? See how again God gently answers, "The voice of thy brother's blood," saith He "crieth unto Me." "But God," it will be said, "is superior to wrath." Yes, but for this reason the Son of God came down, that He might make thee a God as far as human power can go. "But I cannot," says one, "seeing I am man." Well then, let us give you men for instances. And do not suppose I speak of Paul or of Peter: no, but of some of inferior sort, yea, very much lower down. Eli's menial insulted Hannah, saying, "Put away thy wine from thee." (1 Sam. i. 14.) What could be more insulting than this? What then said she? "I am a woman of a hard lot."  Indeed, there is nothing equal to affliction: she is the mother of true philosophy. But this same woman, though she has her rival, insulted her not: but what does she? She takes refuge with God, and in her prayer does not even make mention of her, nor say, "Avenge me, for such an one reproaches me:" so magnanimous was that woman (let us men be ashamed):--and yet ye know, that there is nothing like jealousy. The publican, when insulted by the Pharisee, insulted not in return, though, had he wished it, he might have done so: but he bore it like a philosopher, saying, "Be merciful to me a sinner." (Luke xviii. 13.) Mephibosheth,  having been accused and calumniated by his servant, neither said, nor did, any evil to him, not even in the presence of the king himself. (2 Sam. xix. 26.) Shall I tell you even of a harlot, what philosophic magnanimity she showed? Hear Christ saying, as she was wiping His feet with her hair, "The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom before you." (Matt. xxi. 31.) Do you see her standing, and taking courage, and washing away her own sins? Observe, how she was not angry even with the Pharisee, when reproached by him: "for had He known," says he, "that this woman is a sinner, He would not have suffered her (Luke vii. 39): and how she said not to him, "What then? Say, art thou pure from sins?" but felt more, wept more, and let fall hotter tears. But if women and publicans and harlots play the philosopher, and that before grace (i.e. of Baptism), what pardon can they deserve, who, after so great grace, fight, and worry, and kick one another, worse than beasts? Nothing is more base than passion, nothing more disgraceful, nothing more frightful, nothing more odious, nothing more hurtful. These things I say, not only in order that towards men we may be gentle, but also if a wife be a talker, that thou mayest bear it: let thy wife be to thee a school for training and exercise (palaistra kai gumnasion). For how can it but be absurd, to submit to exercises which yield no profit, where we afflict the body, but not to practise exercises at home, which, even before the contest, present to us a crown? Does thy wife abuse thee? Do not thou become a woman: to be abusive is womanly: it is a disease of the soul, an inferiority. Think not that it is unworthy of thee, when thy wife abuses thee. Unworthy it is, when thou art abusive, but she bears patiently (philosophe): then dost thou act unseemly, then art thou disgraced: but if, having been abused, thou bear it, great is the proof of thy strength. I do not say this, to induce wives to be abusive: God forbid: but only in case it should so happen at the instance of Satan. It is the part of men that are strong, to bear the weak. And if thy servant contradict thee, bear it philosophically: not what he deserves to have said to him, do thou say or do, but that which it behooves thee both to do and to say. Never insult a girl by uttering some foul word against her: never call thy servant, scoundrel (miaron): not he is disgraced, but thou. It is not possible to be master of one's self, being in a passion. Like a sea rolling mountains high, it is all hurly-burly: or even as a pure fountain, when mire is cast into it, becomes muddied, and all is in turmoil. You may beat him, you may rend his coat to rags, but it is you that sustain the greater damage: for to him the blow is on the body and the garment, but to you on the soul. It is your own soul that you have cut open; it is there that you have inflicted a wound: you have flung your own charioteer from his horses, you have got him dragging along the ground upon his back. And it is all one, as if one driver being in a passion with another, should choose to be thus dragged along. You may rebuke, you may chide, you may do whatever if be, only let it be without wrath and passion. For if he who rebukes is physician to him who offends, how can he heal another, when he has first hurt himself, when he does not heal himself? Say, if a physician should go to heal another person, does he first wound his own hand, first blind his own eyes, and so set about healing that other? God forbid. So also, however thou rebuke, however thou chide, let thine eyes see clearly. Do not make thy mind muddy, else how shall the cure be wrought? It is not possible to be in the same tranquillity, being in a passion, and being free from passion. Why dost thou first overturn thy master from his seat, and then discourse with him as he lies sprawling on the ground? Seest thou not the judges, how, when about to hold the assize, they seat themselves upon the bench, in their becoming attire? Thus do thou likewise dress thy soul with the judicial robe (which is gentleness). "But he will not be afraid of me," say you. He will be the more afraid. In the other case, though you speak justly, your servant will impute it to passion: but if you do it with gentleness, he will condemn himself: and, what is of the first importance, God will accept thee, and thus thou wilt be able to attain unto the eternal blessings, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father together with the Holy Spirit be glory, dominion, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve Me in this place."
See, what a number of years the Promise has been given, and the manner of the Promise, and nowhere sacrifice, nowhere circumcision! He here shows, how God Himself suffered them to be afflicted, not  that He had anything to lay to their charge. "And they shall bring them into bondage," etc. But nevertheless, they did not these things with impunity. "And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage I will judge, said God." For,  to show that they are not to go by this, in estimating who are pious (by reason of their saying, "He trusted in God, let Him deliver Him,") (Matt. xxvii. 43).--He, the Same that promised, He that gave the land, first permits the evils. So also now, though He has promised a Kingdom, yet He suffers us to be exercised in temptations. If here the freedom was not to be till after four hundred years, what wonder, with regard to the Kingdom? Yet he performed it, and lapse of time availed not to falsify His word. Moreover, it was no ordinary bondage they underwent.  And the matter does not terminate solely in the punishment of those (their oppressors); but they themselves also, He saith, shall enjoy a mighty salvation. Here he reminds them too of the benefit which they enjoyed. "And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so he begat Isaac." Here he lets himself down to lower matters. "And circumcised him on the eighth day: and Isaac (begat) Jacob, and Jacob the twelve patriarchs." (v. 8).--Here  he seems to hint now at the type. "And the patriarchs moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt." (v. 9.) Here again, the type of Christ.  Though they had no fault to find with him, and though he came on purpose to bring them their food, they thus ill-treated him. Still here again the promise, though it is a long while first, receives its fulfillment. "And God was with him"--this also is for them--"and delivered him out of all his afflictions." (v. 10). He shows that unknowingly they helped to fulfil the prophecy, and that they were themselves the cause, and that the evils recoiled on their own selves. "And gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt, Gave him favor," in the eyes of a barbarian, to him, the slave, the captive: his brethren sold him, this (barbarian) honored him. "Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren." (v. 11-13). They came down to buy, and had to depend upon him for everything. What then did he? ["He made himself known to his brethren:"] not to this point only did he carry his friendliness; he also made them known to Pharaoh, and brought them down into the land. "And Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, and were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem. But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, till another king arose, which knew not Joseph." (v. 13-18). Then again, fresh disappointment (anelpistia): first, famine, but they came through that: secondly, the falling into the hands of their enemy: thirdly, the being destroyed by the king. Then (to show) God's fulness of ways and means (eumechanon), "In which time," it says, "Moses was born, and was exceeding fair." (v. 20.) If the former circumstance was wonderful, that Joseph was sold by his brethren, here again is another circumstance more wonderful still, that the king "nourished" the very person who was to overthrow his dominion, being himself the person that was to perish. Do you observe all along a figurative enacting, so to say, of the resurrection of the dead? But it is not the same thing for God himself to do a thing, and for a thing to come to pass in connection with man's purpose (proairesis). For these things indeed were in connection with man's purpose [  but the Resurrection by itself, independently.]--"And he was mighty," it says, "in word and in deed" (v. 22): he that was to have died. Then again he shows how ungrateful they were to their benefactor. For, just as in the former instance, they were saved by the injured Joseph, so here again they were saved by another injured person, I mean, Moses. "And when he was full forty years old," etc. For  what though they killed him not actually? In intention they did kill, as did the others in the former case. There, they sold out of their own into a strange land: here, they drive from one strange land into another strange land: in the former case, one in the act of bringing them food; in this, one in the act of giving them good counsel; one to whom, under God, the man was indebted for his life! Mark how it shows (the truth of) that saying of Gamaliel's, "If it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it." (ch. v. 39.) See the plotted-against eventually becoming the authors of salvation to those plotting against them:  the people, plotting against itself, and itself plotted against by others; and for all this, saved! A famine, and it did not consume them: nor was this all: but they were saved by means of the very person, whom they had expected to be destroyed (by their means). A royal edict, and it did not consume them: nay then most did their number increase, when he was dead "who knew" them. Their own Saviour they wished to kill, but for all that, they had not power to do it. Do you observe, that by the means whereby the devil tried to bring to naught the promise of God, by those very means it was advanced?
"And God spake on this wise," etc. (Recapitulation, v. 6, 7.) This  is suitable to be said here also: that God is rich in ways and means to bring us up from hence. For this above all showed the riches of God's resources, that in its very reverses (apostrophe) the nation increased, while enslaved, while evil-entreated, and sought to be exterminated. And this is the greatness of the Promise. For had it increased in its own land, it had not been so wonderful. And besides, it was not for a short time, either, that they were in the strange land: but for four hundred years. Hence we learn  a (great lesson) of philosophic endurance (philosophian):--they did not treat them as masters use slaves, but as enemies and tyrants--and he foretold that they should be set in great liberty: for this is the meaning of that expression, "They shall serve (Me): and they shall come up hither again" (enthautha epaneleusontai); and with impunity.  --And observe, how, while he seems to concede something to circumcision, he in fact allows it nothing (v. 8); since the Promise was before it, and it followed after.--"And the patriarchs," he says, "moved with envy." (v. 9.) Where it does no harm, he humors (charizetai) them:  for they prided themselves much on these also.--  And he shows, that the saints were not exempt from tribulation, but that in their very tribulations they obtained help. And that these persons did themselves help to bring about the results, who wished to cut short these same (afflictions): just as these made Joseph the more glorious: just as the king did Moses, by ordering the children to be killed: since had he not ordered, this would not have been: just as also that (Hebrew) drives Moses into exile, that there he may have the Vision, having become worthy. Thus also him who was sold for a slave, makes He to reign as king there, where he was thought to be a slave. Thus also does Christ in His death give proof of His power: thus also does He there reign as king where they sold Him. "And gave him favor and wisdom," etc. (v. 10.) This  was not only by way of honor, but that he should have confidence in his own power. "And he made him governor over Egypt and all his house." "Now there came a dearth," etc. On account of famine--such preparations is he making--"with threescore and fifteen souls," he says, "Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he and our fathers, and were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem."  (v. 11-16). It shows, that they were not masters even to the extent of a burying-place. "But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, till another king arose, which knew not Joseph" (v. 17, 18). Observe, that it is not during the four hundred years that He multiplies them, but (only) when the end was about to draw nigh. And yet already four hundred years were passed, nay more, in Egypt. But this is the wonder of it. "The same dealt subtly with our kindred, and evil-entreated our fathers, that they should cast out their young children, to the end they might not live." (v. 19.) "Dealt subtly:" he hints at their not liking to exterminate them openly: "that they should cast out their young children," it says. "In which time Moses was born and was exceeding fair." (v. 20.) This is the wonder, that he who is to be their champion, is born, neither after nor before, these things, but in the very midst of the storm (thumo). "And was nourished up in his father's house three months." But when man's help was despaired of, and they cast him forth, then did God's benefit shine forth conspicuous. "And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son." (v. 21.) Not a word of Temple, not a word of Sacrifice, while all these Providences are taking place. And he was nourished in a barbarian house. "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds." (v. 22.) "Was trained," both  in discipline and in letters. "And when he was full forty years old." (v. 23.) Forty years he was there, and was not found out from his being circumcised. Observe, how, being in safety, they overlook their own interests, both he and Joseph, in order that they may save others: "And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: for he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not." (v. 23-25.)--See how up to this point he is not yet offensive to them; how they listened to him while he said all this. And "his face," we read, "was as the face of an angel" (ch. vi. 15).--"For he supposed," etc. And yet it was by deeds that his championship was shown; what intelligence was there need of here? but still for all this "they understood not. And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?" (v. 26-28.) Do you mark with what mildness he addresses them? He who had shown his wrath in the case of the other, shows his gentleness  in his own case. "But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou didst the Egyptian yesterday?" Mark; the very words which they said to Christ: "Who made Thee ruler and judge over us?" So habitual a thing was it for Jews to wrong (their benefactors) when in the act of receiving benefits! And again, mark the atrocious baseness: (miarian al. mochtherian, Sav. marg.) "As thou didst the Egyptian yesterday! Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons." (v. 29.) But neither did flight extinguish the plan of Providence, as neither did death (i.e. the death of Christ).
"And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush." (v. 30.) Do you mark that it is not hindered by lapse of time? For when he was an exile, when a stranger, when he had now passed much time in a foreign land, so as to have two sons, when he no longer expected to return, then does the Angel appear to him. The Son of God he calls an Angel, as also he calls Him man. (Appears) in the desert, not in a temple. See how many miracles are taking place, and no word of Temple, no word of Sacrifice. And here also not simply in the desert, but in the bush. "When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him." (v. 31.) Lo! he was deemed worthy of the Voice also. "I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." (v. 32, 33.) Lo!  how He shows that He is none other than "the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"--He, "the Angel of the Great Counsel." (Is. ix. 6. LXX. "Wonderful, Counsellor," E.V.) Here he shows what great loving-kindness God herein exhibits. "Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet; for the place where thou standest is holy ground." Not a word of Temple, and the place is holy through the appearance and operation of Christ. Far more wonderful this than the place which is in the Holy of Holies: for there God is nowhere said to have appeared in this manner, nor Moses to have thus trembled. And then the greatness of His tender care. "I have seen, I have seen the affliction of My people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt." (v. 34.) See, how he shows, that both by kindnesses, and by chastisements, and by miracles, God was drawing them to Him: but they were still the same. That God is everywhere present, they learned.
Hearing these things, let us in our afflictions flee to Him. "And their groaning," saith He, "I have heard:" not  simply, "because of their calamities." But if any should ask, Why then did He suffer them to be evil entreated there? Why, in the first place, to every just man his sufferings are the causes of his rewards. And in the next place, as to why He afflicted them: it was to show His power, that He can (do all), and not only so, but that He may also train them. Observe in fact; when they were in the desert, then they "waxed fat, they grew thick, they spread out in breadth, they kicked" (Deut. xxxii. 15): and ever and always ease was an evil. Therefore also from the beginning He said to Adam: "In the sweat of thy face thou shall eat thy bread." (Gen. iii. 19.) Also  (it was) in order that having come out of much suffering into rest, they might give thanks to God. For affliction is a great good. For hear the Prophet saying, "It is good for me, that Thou hast humbled me." (Ps. cxix. 71.) But if to great and wonderful men affliction be a great (good), much more to us. And, if you will, let us examine into the nature of affliction as it is in itself. Let there be some person rejoicing exceedingly, and gay, and giving a loose to jollity: what more unseemly, what more senseless than this? Let there be one sorrowing and dejected: what more truly philosophic than this? For, "It is better," we read, "to go into the house of mourning, than into the house of laughter." (Eccles. vii. 2.) But, likely enough, you  do not like the saying, and want to evade it. Let us however see, what sort of man Adam was in Paradise, and what he was afterwards: what sort of man Cain was before, and what he was afterwards. The soul does not stand fast in its proper place, but, like as by a running tide, (rheumatos, Edd. pneumatos, "wind") is raised and buoyed up by pleasure, having no steadfastness; facile in making professions, prompt at promising; the thoughts all in restless commotion: laughter ill-timed, causeless hilarity, idle clatter of unmeaning talk. And why speak of others? Let us take in hand some one of the saints, and let us see what he was while in pleasure, what again, when in distress. Shall we look at David himself? When he was in pleasure and rejoicing, from his many trophies, from his victory, from his crowns, from his luxurious living, from his confidence, see what sort of things he said and did: "But I said in my prosperity," says he, "I shall never be moved." (Ps. xxx. 6.) But when he has come to be in affliction, hear what he says: "And if He say to me, I have no mind for thee; lo! here am I, let Him do that which is pleasing in His sight." (2 Sam. xv. 26.) What can be more truly philosophic than these words? "Whatsoever may be pleasing to God," saith he, "so let it be." And again he said to Saul: "If the Lord stirreth thee up against me, may thy sacrifice be acceptable." (1 Sam. xxvi. 19.) And then too, being in affliction, he spared even his enemies: but afterwards, not friends even, nor those who had done him no injury. Again, Jacob when he was in affliction, said: "If the Lord will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on." (Gen. xxviii. 20.) As also the son of Noah did nothing of the kind erewhile; but when he was no longer afraid for his safety, you hear how wanton he became. (ib. ix. 22.) Hezekiah too, when he was in affliction, see what things he did in order to his deliverance; he put on sackcloth, and such like; but when he was in pleasure, he fell through the haughtiness of his heart. (2 Kings ch. xix. 20.) For, saith the Scripture, "When thou hast eaten, and drunk, and art filled, take heed to thyself." (Deut. vi. 11, 12.) For perilous, as on a precipice's brink, is the post of affluence. "Take heed," saith he, "to thyself." When the Israelites were afflicted, they became all the more increased in number: but when He left them to themselves, then they all went to ruin. And why speak of examples from the ancients? In our own times, let us see, if you please, is it not the case, that when the most are in good case, they become puffed up, hostile to everybody, passionate, while the power is with them: but if it be taken away, they are gentle, lowly (and as) human beings, are brought to a consciousness of their own natural condition. Therefore the Scripture saith, "Pride hath holden them unto the end: their iniquity shall go forth as from fatness." (Ps. lxxiii. 6. LXX.)
Now these things I have spoken, that we should not make enjoyment every way our object. How then does Paul say, "Rejoice alway?" He does not say simply, "Rejoice," but he adds, "in the Lord." (Phil. iv. 4.) This is the greatest joy, such as the Apostles rejoiced withal; the joy of which prisons, and scourges, and persecutions, and evil report, and all painful things, are the source, and the root, and the occasion; whence also it comes to a happy issue. But that of the world, on the contrary, begins with sweets and ends in bitters. Neither do I forbid to rejoice in the Lord, nay, I earnestly exhort to this. The Apostles were scourged, and they rejoiced: were bound, and they gave thanks: were stoned, and they preached. This is the joy I also would have: from nothing bodily has it its origin, but from spiritual things. It is not possible for him who joys after the fashion of the world, to rejoice also after a godly sort: for every one who joys after the world's fashion, has his joy in riches, in luxury, in honor, in power, in arrogance: but he who rejoices after the mind of God, has his joy in dishonor for God's sake, in poverty, in want, in fasting, in humbleness of mind. Seest thou, how opposite are the grounds (of joy)? To go without joy here, is to be without grief also: and to be without grief here, is to go without pleasure too. And in truth these are the things which produce real joy, since the others have the name only of joy, but they altogether consist of pain. What misery the arrogant man endures! How is he cut short (diakoptetai) in the midst of his arrogance, bespeaking for himself numberless insults, much hatred, great enmity, exceeding spite, and grieves: or that he cannot make his stand against everybody, he is mortified. Whereas the humble man lives in much enjoyment: expecting honor from none, if he receive honor, he is pleased, but if not, he is not grieved. He takes it contentedly that he is honored; but  above all, none dishonors him. Now not to seek honor, and yet to be honored--great must be the enjoyment of this. But in the other, it is just the reverse: he seeks honor, and is not honored. And the pleasure that the honor gives is not the same to him who seeks it, as it is to him who seeks it not. The one, however much he receives, thinks he has received nothing: the other, though you give him ever so little, takes it as though he had received all. Then again, he who lives in affluence and luxury has numberless affairs of business, and let his revenues flow in to him ever so easily, and, as it were, from full fountains, yet he fears the evils arising from luxurious living, and the uncertainty of the future: but the other is always in a state of security and enjoyment, having accustomed himself to scantiness of diet. For he does not so bemoan himself at not partaking of a sumptuous board, as he luxuriates in not fearing the uncertainty of the future. But the evils arising from luxurious living, how many and great they are, none can be ignorant: it is necessary, however, to mention them now. Twofold the war, in the body, and in the soul: twofold the storm: twofold the diseases; not only in this respect, but because they are both incurable, and bring with them great calamities. Not so, frugality: but here is twofold health, twofold the benefits. "Sleep of health," we read, "is in moderate eating." (Ecclus. xxxi. 20.) For everywhere, that which keeps measure is pleasant, that which is beyond measure, ceases to please. For say now: on a little spark put a great pile of fagots, and you will no longer see the fire shining, but much disagreeable smoke. On a very strong and large man lay a burden which exceeds his strength, and you will see him with his burden lying prostrate on the ground. Embark too large a freight in your vessel, and you have ensured a grievous shipwreck. Just so it is here. For just as in overladen ships, great is the tumult of the sailors, the pilot, the man at the prow, and the passengers, while they cast into the sea the things above deck, and things below; so here too, with their vomitings upwards, and their purgings downwards, they mar their constitutions, and destroy themselves. And what is the most shameful of all, the mouth is made to do the office of the nether parts, and that becomes the more shameful member. But if to the mouth the disgrace be such, think what must it be in the soul! For indeed there it is all mist, all storm, all darkness, great the uproar of the thoughts, at being so thronged and crushed, the soul itself crying out at the abuse done to it: all  (the parts and faculties) complaining of one another, beseeching, entreating, that the filth may be discharged somewhere. And after it is flung out, still the turmoil is not at an end; but then comes fever and diseases. "And how comes it," say you, "that one may see these luxurious livers, in goodly plight, riding on horseback? What idle talk is this," say you, "to tell us of diseases? It is I that am diseased, I that am racked, I that am disgusting, while I have nothing to eat." Ah me! for one may well lament at such words. But the sufferers with the gout, the men that are carried on litters, the men that are swathed with bandages, from what class of people, I ask you, shall we see these? And indeed, were it not that they would deem it an insult, and think my words opprobrious, I would before now have addressed them even by name. "But there are some of them, who are in good health as well." Because they give themselves not merely to luxurious living, but also to labors. Else show me a man, who does nothing whatever but fatten himself, free from pain as he lies there, without an anxious thought. For though a host of physicians without number came together, they would not be able to rescue him from his diseases. It is not in the nature of things. For I will hold you a medical discourse. Of the matters sent down into the belly, not all becomes nourishment; since even in the food itself, not all is nutritive, but part of it in the process of digestion passes into stool, part is turned into nourishment. If then in the process of digestion the operation is perfect, this is the result, and each finds its proper place; the wholesome and useful part betakes itself to its appropriate place, while that which is superfluous and useless, withdraws itself, and passes off. But if it be in too great quantity, then even the nutritive part of it becomes hurtful. And, to speak by way of example, in order that my meaning may be clearer to you: in wheat part is fine flour, part meal, part bran: now if the mill be able to grind (what is put in), it separates all these: but if you put in too much, all becomes mixed up together. Wine again, if it go through its proper process of formation, and under due influence of the seasons, then, whereas at first all is mixed together, anon part settles into lees, part rises into scum, part remains for enjoyment to those that use it, and this is the good part, and will not readily undergo any change. But what they call "nourishment," is neither wine, nor lees, while all are mixed up together.--The same may be seen in the river,  when its waters make a whirling flood. As at such time we see the fishes floating at top, dead, their eyes first blinded by the muddy slime: so is it with us. For when gormandizing, like a flood of rain, has drenched the inward parts, it puts all in a whirl, and makes that the faculties (logismoi), healthy till then and living in a pure element, drift lifeless on the surface. Since then by all these examples we have shown how great the mischief is, let us cease to count these men happy for that, for which we ought to think them wretched, and to bemoan ourselves for that, for which we ought to count ourselves happy, and let us welcome sufficiency with a contented mind. Or do you not hear even what physicians tell you, that "want is the mother of health?" But what I say is, that want is mother, not of bodily health, but also of that of the soul. These things Paul also, that physician indeed, cries aloud; when he says, "Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content." (1 Tim. vi. 8.) Let us therefore do as he bids us, that so, being in sound health, we may perform the work that we ought to do, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
"This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel which appeared to him in the bush."
This is very suitable to the matter in hand. "This Moses," he says. "This," the man who had been in danger of losing his life; the man who had been set at naught by them; "this" the man whom they had declined: "this" same, God having raised up, sent unto them. "Whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler?" just as they themselves (the hearers) said, "We have no king, but Cæsar." (John xix. 15.) He here shows also, that what was then done, was done by Christ. "The same did God send by the hand of the Angel," who said unto him, "I am the God of Abraham." "This" same Moses, he says,--and observe how he points to his renown--"this" same Moses, he says, "brought them out, after that he had showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me" (v. 36, 37): set at naught like me. Him, likewise, Herod wished to kill, and in Egypt He found preservation just as it was with the former, even when He was a babe, He was aimed at for destruction. "This is he, that was in the Church in the wilderness with the Angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us." (v. 38.) Again no mention of temple, none of sacrifice. "With the Angel," it says, "he received the lively oracles to give unto the fathers." It shows, that he not only wrought miracles, but also gave a law, as Christ did. Just as Christ first works miracles, and then legislates: so did Moses. But they did not hear him, keeping their disobedience, even after the miracles: "To whom," he says, "our fathers would not obey:" (v. 39) after the wonders done in those forty years. And not only so, but just the contrary: "but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt. Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us; for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the Prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon." (v. 40, 43.) The expression, "gave them up," means, He suffered. "Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion he had seen." (v. 44.) Even when there was a Tabernacle, yet there were no sacrifices. "Did ye offer unto Me slain beasts and sacrifices?" (Amos v. 25.) There was "the tabernacle of witness," and yet it profited them nothing, but they were consumed. But neither before, nor afterwards, did the miracles profit them aught. "Which also, our fathers that came after brought in." Seest thou, how the holy place is there wherever God may be? For to this end also he says, "in the wilderness," to compare place with place. Then the benefit (conferred upon them): And our fathers that came after brought it in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; who found favor before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. (v. 45, 46.) David "desired to find favor:" and he builded not, he, the wonderful, the great; but the castaway, Solomon. "But Solomon," it says, "built Him an house. Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in (places) made with hands." (v. 47-50.) This was shown indeed already by what had been before said: but it is shown also by the voice of a prophet; "What house will ye build for Me? saith the Lord God. As saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build for me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?" (Is. lxvi. 1, 2.)
Marvel not, he says, if they on whom Christ confers His benefits refuse His kingdom, seeing in the case of Moses it was just the same. (Recapitulation). "He brought them out;" and rescued them not in a general way, but also while they were in the wilderness. "Wonders and signs," etc. (v. 35-50.) Do you mark that they themselves (Stephen's hearers) are concerned in those old miracles also? "This is that Moses:" (v. 37) he, that conversed with God; he, that had been saved out of situations so strange and wonderful; he, that wrought so great works, and had so great power. ["Which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet," etc.] He shows, that the prophecy must by all means be fulfilled, and that Moses is not opposed to Him.  "This is he that was in the Church in the wilderness, and, that said unto the children of Israel." (v. 38.) Do you mark that thence comes the root, and that "salvation is from the Jews?" (John iv. 22.) "With the Angel," it says, "which spake unto him." (Rom. xi. 16.) Lo, again he affirms that it was He (Christ) that gave the Law, seeing Moses was with "Him" in the Church in the wilderness.  And here he puts them in mind of a great marvel, of the things done in the Mount: "Who received living oracles to give unto us." On all occasions Moses is wonderful, and (so) when need was to legislate. What means the expression, "Living oracles" (logia)? Those, whereof the end was shown by words (dia logon): in other words, he means the prophecies.  Then follows the charge, in the first instance, against the patriarchs [after], the "signs and wonders," after the receiving of the "lively oracles: To whom," he says, "our fathers would not obey." (v. 39.) But concerning those, Ezekiel says that they are not "living;" as when he says, "And I gave you statutes that are not good." (Ezek. xx. 25.) It is with reference to those that he says, "Living. But thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back to Egypt"--the place where they groaned, where they cried, whence they called upon God. "And said unto Aaron, Make us gods which shall go before us." (v. 40.) O the folly! "Make," say they; "that they may go before us." Whither? "Into Egypt."  See how hard they were to tear away from the customs of Egypt! What sayest thou? What, not wait for him that brought thee out, but flee the benefit, and deny the Benefactor? And mark how insulting they are: "For as for this Moses," they say:--"which brought us out of the land of Egypt" nowhere the name of God: instead of that, they ascribed all to Moses. Where  they ought to give thanks (to God), they bring Moses forward: where it was, to do as the Law bade them, they no longer make account of Moses. "We know not what is become of him." And yet he told them that he was going up to receive the Law: and they had not patience to wait forty days. "Make us gods"--they  did not say, "a God."--And yet one may well wonder at this, that they do not even know.--"And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifices unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands" (v. 41): for which they ought to have hid their faces. What wonder that ye know not Christ, seeing ye knew not Moses, and God Who was manifested by such wonders? But they not only knew Him not: they also insulted in another way, by their idol making. "Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven" (v. 42.) Hence these same "customs" date their origin, hence the sacrifices: they were themselves the first that made sacrifices to their idols! For that is why it is marked,  "They made a calf in Horeb, and offered sacrifices to the idol:" seeing that, before this the name of sacrifice is nowhere mentioned, but only lively ordinances, and "lively oracles. And rejoiced"--that is the reason for the feasts. (Exod. xxxii. 5, 6.) "As it is written in the Book of the Prophets"--and observe, he does not cite the text without a purpose, but shows by it that there is no need of sacrifices; saying: "Did ye offer slain beasts and sacrifice to Me?"--He lays an emphasis on this word (to Me?). "Ye cannot say that it was from sacrificing to Me, that ye proceeded to sacrifice to them:--"by the space of forty years:" and this too, "in the wilderness," where He had most signally shown Himself their Protector. "Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan: images which ye made to worship them."  The cause of sacrifices! "And I will carry you away beyond Babylon." (v. 43.) Even the captivity, an impeachment of their wickedness! "But a Tabernacle," say you, "there was (the Tabernacle) `of Witness.'" (v. 44.) (Yes,) this is why it was: that they should have God for Witness: this was all. "According to the fashion," it says, "that was shown thee on the mount:" so  that on the mount was the Original. And this Tabernacle, moreover, "in the wilderness," was carried about, and not locally fixed. And he calls it, "Tabernacle of witness:" i.e. (for witness) of the miracles, of the statutes.  This is the reason why both it and those (the fathers) had no Temple. "As He had appointed, that spake unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen." Again, it was none other than He (Christ) that gave the fashion itself. "Until the days of David" (v. 45): and there was no temple! And yet the Gentiles also had been driven out: for that is why he mentions this: "Whom God drave out," he says, "before the face of our fathers. Whom He drave out," he says: and even then, no Temple! And so many wonders, and no mention of a Temple! So that, although first there is a Tabernacle, yet nowhere a Temple. "Until the days of David," he says: even David, and no Temple! "And he sought to find favor before God" (v. 46): and built not:--so far was the Temple from being a great matter! "But Solomon built Him an house." (v. 47.) They thought Solomon was great: but that he was not better than his father, nay not even equal to him, is manifest. "Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool." (v. 48, 49.) Nay, not even these are worthy of God, forasmuch as they are made, seeing they are creatures, the works of His hand. See how he leads them on by little and little (showing) that not even these are to be mentioned. And again the prophecy says openly, "What house will ye build Me?" etc. (v. 50.)
What is the reason that at this point he speaks in the tone of invective (kataphorikhos)? Great was his boldness of speech, when at the point to die: for in fact I think he knew that this was the case. "Ye stiffnecked," he says, "and uncircumcised in heart and ears." This also is from the prophets: nothing is of himself. "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." (v. 51.) When it was not His will that sacrifices should be, ye sacrifice: when it is His will, then again ye do not sacrifice: when He would not give you commandments, ye drew them to you: when ye got them, ye neglected them. Again, when the Temple stood, ye worshipped idols: when it is His will to be worshipped without a Temple, ye do the opposite. Observe, he says not, "Ye resist God," but, "the Spirit:" so far was he from knowing any difference between Them. And, what is greater: "As your fathers did," he says, "so do ye." Thus also did Christ (reproach them), forasmuch as they were always boasting much of their fathers. "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One:" he still says, "the Just One," wishing to check them: "of Whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers"--two charges he lays against them  --"who have received the Law by the disposition of Angels, and have not kept it." (v. 52.) How, "By the disposition of Angels?" Some say (The Law), disposed by Angels; or, put into his hand by the Angel Who appeared to him in the bush; for was He man? No wonder that He  who wrought those works, should also have wrought these.  "Ye slew them who preached of Him," much more Himself. He shows them disobedient both to God, and to Angels, and the Prophets, and the Spirit, and to all: as also Scripture saith elsewhere: "Lord, they have slain Thy Prophets, and thrown down Thine altars." (1 Kings xix. 10.) They, then, stand up for the Law, and say, "He blasphemeth against Moses:" he shows, therefore, that it is they who blaspheme, and that (their blasphemy is not only against Moses, but) against God; shows that "they" from the very beginning have been doing this: that "they" have themselves destroyed their "customs," that there is no need of these: that while accusing him, and saying that he opposed Moses, they themselves were opposing the Spirit: and not merely opposing, but with murder added to it: and that they had their enmity all along from the very beginning. Seest thou, that he shows them to be acting in opposition both to Moses and to all others, and not keeping the Law? And yet Moses had said, "A Prophet shall the Lord raise up unto you: and the rest also told of this (Christ) that He would come: and the prophet again said, "What house will ye build Me?" and again, "Did ye offer to Me slain beasts and sacrifices" those "forty years?" (Deut. xviii. 18.)
Such is the boldness of speech of a man bearing the Cross. Let us then also imitate this: though it be not a time of war, yet it is always the time for boldness of speech. For, "I spake," says one, "in Thy testimonies before kings, and was not ashamed." (Ps. cxix. 46.) If we chance to be among heathens, let us thus stop their mouths. without wrath, without harshness. (Comp. Hom. in 1 Cor. iv. §6; xxxiii. §4, 5; Col. xi. §2.) For if we do it with wrath, it no longer seems to be the boldness (of one who is confident of his cause,) but passion: but if with gentleness, this is boldness indeed. For  in one and the same thing success and failure cannot possibly go together. The boldness is a success: the anger is a failure. Therefore, if we are to have boldness, we must be clean from wrath that none may impute our words to that. No matter how just your words may be, when you speak with anger, you ruin all: no matter how boldly you speak, how fairly reprove, or what not. See this man, how free from passion as he discourses to them! For he did not abuse them: he did but remind them of the words of the Prophets. For, to show you that it was not anger, at the very moment he was suffering evil at their hands, he prayed, saying, "Lay not to their charge this sin." So far was he from speaking these words in anger; no, he spake in grief and sorrow for their sakes. As indeed this is why it speaks of his appearance, that "they saw his face as it had been the face of an angel," on purpose that they might believe. Let us then be clean from wrath. The Holy Spirit dwelleth not where wrath is: cursed is the wrathful. It cannot be that aught wholesome should approach, where wrath goes forth. For as in a storm at sea, great is the tumult, loud the clamor, and then would be no time for lessons of wisdom (philosophhein): so neither in wrath. If the soul is to be in a condition either to say, or to be disciplined to, aught of philosophy, it must first be in the haven. Seest thou not how, when we wish to converse on matters of serious import, we look out for places free from noise, where all is stillness, all calm, that we may not be put out and discomposed? But if noise from without discomposes, much more disturbance from within. Whether one pray, to no purpose does he pray "with wrath and disputings:" (1 Tim. ii. 8) whether he speak, he will only make himself ridiculous: whether he hold his peace, so again it will be even then: whether he eat, he is hurt even then: whether he drink, or whether he drink not; whether he sit, or stand, or walk; whether he sleep: for even in their dreams such fancies haunt them. For what is there in such men that is not disagreeable? Eyes unsightly, mouth distorted, limbs agitated and swollen, tongue foul and sparing no man, mind distraught, gestures uncomely: much to disgust. Mark the eyes of demoniacs, and those of drunkards and madmen; in what do they differ from each other? Is not the whole madness? For what though it be but for the moment? The madman too is possessed for the moment: but what is worse than this? And they are not ashamed at that excuse; "I knew not (saith one) what I said." And how came it that thou didst not know this, thou the rational man, thou that hast the gift of reason, on purpose that thou mayest not act the part of the creatures without reason, just like a wild horse, hurried away by rage and passion? In truth, the very excuse is criminal. For thou oughtest to have known what thou saidst. "It was the passion," say you, "that spoke the words, not I." How should it be that? For passion has no power, except it get it from you. You might as well say, "It was my hand that inflicted the wounds, not I." What occasion, think you, most needs wrath? would you not say, war and battle? But even then, if anything is done with wrath, the whole is spoiled and undone. For of all men, those who fight had best not be enraged: of all men, those had best not be enraged, who want to hurt (tous hubrizontas). And how is it possible to fight then? you will ask. With reason, with self-command (epieikei& 139;): since fighting is, to stand in opposition. Seest thou not that even these (common) wars are regulated by definite law, and order, and times? For wrath is nothing but an irrational impulse: and an irrational creature cannot possibly perform aught rational. For instance, the man here spoke such words, and did it without passion. And Elias said," How long will ye halt on both your knees?" (1 Kings xviii. 21) and spake it not in passion. And Phinees slew, and did it without passion. For passion suffers not a man to see, but, just as in a night-battle, it leads him, with eyes blindfolded and ears stopped up, where it will. Then let us rid ourselves of this demon, at its first beginning let us quell it, let us put the sign of the Cross on our breast, as it were a curb. Wrath is a shameless dog: but let it learn to hear the law. If there be in a sheep-fold a dog so savage as not to obey the command of the shepherd, nor to know his voice, all is lost and ruined. He is kept along with the sheep: but if he makes a meal on the sheep, he is useless, and is put to death. If he has learnt to obey thee, feed thy dog: he is useful when it is against the wolves, against robbers, and against the captain of the robbers that he barks, not against the sheep, not against friends. If he does not obey he ruins all: if he learns not to mind thee, he destroys all. The mildness in thee let not wrath consume, but let it guard it, and feed it up. And it will guard it, that it may feed in much security, if it destroy wicked and evil thoughts, if it chase away the devil from every side. So is gentleness preserved, when evil works are nowhere admitted: so we become worthy of respect, when we learn not to be shameless. For nothing renders a man so shameless, as an evil conscience. Why are harlots without shame? Why are virgins shamefaced? Is it not from their sin that the former, from their chastity that the latter, are such? For nothing makes a person so shameless, as sin. "And yet on the contrary," say you, "it puts to shame." Yes; him who condemns himself: but him that is past blushing, it renders even more reckless: for desperation makes daring. For "the wicked," saith the Scripture, "when he is come into the depths of evils, despiseth." (Prov. xviii. 3.) But he that is shameless, will also be reckless, and he that is reckless, will be daring.
See in what way gentleness is destroyed, when evil thoughts gnaw at it. This is why there is such a dog, barking mightily: we have also sling and stone (ye know what I mean): we have also spear and enclosure and cattle-fold: let us guard our thoughts unhurt. If the dog be gentle (saine) with the sheep, but savage against those without, and keep vigilant watch, this is the excellence of a dog: and, be he ever so famished, not to devour the sheep; be he ever so full, not to spare the wolves. Such too is anger meant to be: however provoked, not to forsake gentleness; however at quiet, to be on the alert against evil thoughts: to acknowledge the friend, and not for any beating forsake him, and for all his caressing, to fly at the intruder. The devil uses caressing full oft: let  the dog know at sight that he is an intruder. So also let us caress (sainomen) Virtue, though she put us to pain, and show our aversion to Vice, though she give us pleasure. Let us not be worse than the dogs, which, even when whipped and throttled, do not desert their master: but if  the stranger also feed them, even so they do hurt. There are times when anger is useful; but this is when it barks against strangers. What means it, "Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause?" (Matt. v. 22.) It means, Stand not up in thine own quarrel, neither avenge thyself: if thou see another suffering deadly wrong, stretch out thy hand to help him. This is no longer passion, when thou art clear of all feeling for thyself alone. David had gotten Saul into his power, and was not moved by passion, did not thrust the spear into him, the enemy he had in his power; but took his revenge upon the Devil. (1 Sam. xxvi. 7.) Moses, when he saw a stranger doing an injury, even slew him (Exod. ii. 22): but when one of his own people, he did not so: them that were brethren he would have reconciled; the others not so. That "most meek" (Num. xii. 3) Moses, as Scripture witnesseth of him, see how he was roused! But not so, we: on the contrary, where we ought to show meekness, no wild beast so fierce as we: but where we ought to be roused, none so dull and sluggish. (Hom. vi. de laud. Pauli, ad fin.) On no occasion do we use our faculties to the purpose they were meant for: and therefore it is that our life is spent to no purpose. For even in the case of implements; if one use them, one instead of other, all is spoilt: if one take his sword, and then, where he should use it and cut with it, uses only his hand, he does no good: again, where he should use his hand, by taking the sword in hand he spoils all. In like manner also the physician, if where he ought to cut, he cuts not, and where he ought not, he does cut, mars all. Wherefore, I beseech you, let us use the thing (tho pragmati) at its proper time. The proper time for anger is never, where we move in our own quarrel: but if it is our duty to correct others, then is the time to use it, that we may by force deliver others. (Hom. in Matt. xvi. §7.) So shall we both be like unto God, always keeping a spirit free from wrath, and shall attain unto the good things that are to come, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost together, be glory, dominion, and honor, now and evermore, world without end. Amen.
"When they heard these things, they were cut to "the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth."
See,  once more, the wrong-doers in trouble. Just as the Jews are perplexed, saying, "What are we to do with these men?" so these also are "cut to the heart." (ch. iv. 16.) And yet it was he that had good right to be incensed, who, having done no wrong, was treated like a criminal, and was spitefully calumniated. But the calumniators had the worst of it in the end. So true is that saying, which I am ever repeating, "Ill to do, is ill to fare." And yet he (in his charges against them) resorted to no calumny, but proved (what he said). So sure are we, when we are shamefully borne down in a matter wherein we have a clear conscience, to be none the worse for it.--"If  they desired," say you, "to kill him, how was it that they did not take occasion, out of what he said, that they might kill him?" They would fain have a fair-seeming plea to put upon their outrage. "Well then, was not the insulting them a fair plea?" It was not his doing, if they were insulted: it was the Prophet's accusation of them. And besides, they did not wish it to look as if they killed him because of what he had said against them--just as they acted in the case of Christ; no, but for impiety: now  this word of his was the expression of piety. Wherefore, as they attempted, besides killing him, to hurt his reputation also, "they were cut to the heart." For they were afraid lest he should on the contrary become an object of even greater reverence. Therefore, just what they did in Christ's case, the same they do here also. For as He said, "Ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of God" (Matt. xxvi. 64), and they, calling it blasphemy, "ran upon Him;" just so was it here. There, they "rent their garments;" here, they "stopped their ears. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him." (v. 55-58.) And yet, if he lied, they ought to have thought him beside himself, and to have let him go.--But he wished to bring them over, "and said, Behold," etc., for, since he had spoken of Christ's death, and had said nothing of His resurrection, he would fain add this doctrine also. "Standing at the right hand of God." And in this manner He appeared to him:  that, were it but so, the Jews might receive Him: for since the (idea of His) sitting (at the right hand of God) was offensive to them, for the present he brings forward only what relates to His Resurrection. This is the reason also why his face was glorified. For God, being merciful, desired to make their machinations the means of recalling them unto Himself. And see, how many signs are wrought! "And cast him out of the city, and stoned him." Here again, "without the city," and even in death, Confession and Preaching. (Heb. xiii. 21.) "And the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling  upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (v. 59.) This is meant to show them that he is not perishing, and to teach them. "And he knelt down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." (v. 60.) To clear himself, and show that neither were his former words prompted by passion, he says, "Lord" "lay not this sin to their charge": wishing also even in this way to win them over. For to show that he forgave their wrath and rage in murdering him, and that his own soul was free from all passion, was the way to make his saying to be favorably received.
"And Saul was consenting unto his death." Hereupon arises a persecution, and it becomes a great one. "And at that time there was a great persecution against the Church which was at Jerusalem. And they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles." (ch. viii. 1.) Mark how once more God permits temptations to arise; mark, and well observe, how the events are ordered by Divine Providence. They were admired because of the signs: being scourged, they were none the worse for it: (some) were ordained in the matter of the widows  : the word increased: once more, God permits a great hindrance to arise. And a persecution of no ordinary kind ["and they were all scattered," etc.]; for they feared their enemies, now become more daring: and at the same time it is shown that they were but men, these that were afraid, that fled. For, that thou mayest not say after these things that  by grace alone they effected (what they did), they were also persecuted, and themselves became more timorous, while their adversaries were more daring. "And were all scattered abroad," it says, "except the Apostles." But this was divinely ordered, so that they should no longer all sit there in Jerusalem. "And devout men," it says, "carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him." (v. 2.) If they were "devout," why did they "make great lamentation over him?" They were not yet perfect. The man was gracious and amiable: this also shows that they were men--not their fear alone, but their grief and lamentation. Who would not have wept to see that mild, that lamb-like person stoned, and lying dead?  Fit eulogy to be spoken over his grave has the Evangelist recorded, in this one speech, "Lay not this sin to their charge."--"And made," he says, "great lamentation over him."--But let us look over again what has been said.
He  mentions the cause of his (angelic) appearance (Recapitulation, vii. 54; viii. 2.); "But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God." And when he said, "I see the heavens opened, they stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord." (v. 56, 57.) And yet in what respect are these things deserving of accusation? "Upon him," the man who has wrought such miracles, the man who has prevailed over all in speech, the man who can hold such discourse! As if they had got the very thing they wanted, they straightway give full scope to their rage. "And the witnesses," he says, "laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul." (v. 58.) Observe how particularly he relates what concerns Paul, to show thee that the Power which wrought in him was of God. But after all these things, not only did he not believe, but also aimed at Him with a thousand hands: for this is why it says, "And Saul was consenting unto his death."--And this blessed man does not simply pray, but does it with earnestness: "having kneeled down." Mark his divine death! So long  only the Lord permitted the soul to remain in him. "And having said this, he fell asleep." (v. 60.)--"And they were all scattered abroad throughout the region of Judea and Samaria. (ch. viii. 1.) And now without scruple they had intercourse with Samaria, whereas it had been said to them, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles" "and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not." (Matt. x. 5.) "Except the Apostles," it says: they, in this way also, wishing to win the Jews,--but not to leave the city,--and to be the means of inspiring others with boldness.
"As for Saul, he made havoc of the Church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison." (v. 3.) Great was his frenzy: that he was alone, that he even entered into houses: for indeed he was ready to give his life for the Law. "Haling," it says, "men and women:" mark both the confidence, and the violence, and the frenzy. All that fell into his hands, he put to all manner of ill-treatment: for in consequence of the recent murder, he was become more daring. "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which before time in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria." (v. 4-9.) Observe  another trial, this affair of Simon. "Giving out," it says, "that he was himself some great one. To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the Apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost." (v. 10-15.) And (yet) great signs had been done: how then had they not received the Spirit? They had received the Spirit, namely, of remission of sins: but the Spirit of miracles they had not received. "For as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost." (v. 16, 17.) For, to show that this was the case, and that it was the Spirit of miracles they had not received, observe how, having seen the result, Simon came and asked for this. "And when Simon saw that through laying on of the Apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost." (v. 18, 19.)
"The  persecution," say you, "gained strength." True, but at that very time to men possessed before (by a hostile power) it brought deliverance. For it planted the miracles like a stronghold, in the heart of the enemy's country.--Not even the death of Stephen quenched their rage, nay, increased it rather: it scattered wide the teachers, so that the greater became the discipleship.--"And there was joy." And yet there had been "great lamentation:" true; but mark again the good--"Of a long time" was the malady, but this man brought them deliverance.--And how came he to baptize Simon also? Just as Christ chose Judas.--And "beholding the signs" which he did, forasmuch as the others did not receive the (power of working) signs, he durst not ask for it.--How was it then that they did not strike him dead, as they did Ananias and Sapphira? Because even in the old times, he that gathered sticks (on the sabbath-day) was put to death as a warning to others (Num. xv. 32) and in no other instance did any suffer the same fate. So too on the present occasion, "Peter said to him, Thy money perish, because thou hast imagined that the gift of God is to be purchased with money."--(v. 20.) Why had not these received the Holy Ghost, when baptized? Either because Philip kept this honor for the Apostles; or, because he had not this gift (to impart); or, he was one of the Seven: which is rather to be said. Whence, I take it, this Philip was one of the Apostles.  But observe; those went not forth: it was Providentially ordered that these should go forth and those be lacking, because of the Holy Ghost: for they had received power to work miracles, but not also to impart the Spirit to others: this was the prerogative of the Apostles. And observe (how they sent) the chief ones: not any others, but Peter [and John  ]. "And when Simon," it says, "saw that through laying on of the Apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given." He would not have said, "And having seen,"  unless there had been some sensible manifestation.  "Then laid they their hands on them," etc. Just as Paul also did, when they spake with tongues. (ch. xix. 6.) Observe the execrable conduct of Simon. "He offered money," with what object? And yet he did not see Peter doing this for money. And it was not of ignorance that he acted thus; it was because he would tempt them, because he wished to get matter of accusation against them. And therefore also Peter says, "Thou hast no part nor lot in this matter, for thine heart is not right before God "because thou hast thought," etc. (v. 21.) Once more he brings to light what was in the thoughts, because Simon thought to escape detection. "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive the bond of inquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me." (v. 22-24.) Even this  he did only formally, as words of course, when he ought to have wept and mourned as a penitent. "If perchance it may be forgiven thee." Not as though it would not have been pardoned, had he wept, but this is the manner of the Prophet also, to denounce absolutely, (apagoreuein) and not to say, "Howbeit, if thou do this, thy sin shall be forgiven," but that in any wise the punishment shall take effect.
(a) "Therefore they that were scattered abroad, went everywhere, preaching the word." But  I would have thee admire how even in a season of calamity they neglected not the preaching. "Hearing and seeing the miracles which he did." (Recapitulation, v. 4-6.) Just as in the case of Moses by contrast (with the magicians) the miracles were evident miracles, so here also. There was magic, and so these signs were manifest. (b) "For unclean spirits came out of many that were possessed with them" (v. 7); for this was a manifest miracle:--not as the magicians did: for the other (Simon), it is likely, bound (men with spells);--"and many," it says, "that were palsied and lame were healed." There was no deceit here: for it needed but that they should walk and work. "And to him they all gave heed, saying, This (man) is the Power of God." (v. 10.) And that was fulfilled which was spoken by Christ, "There shall come false Christs and false Prophets in My name."--(Matt. xxiv. 24.) "And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries." (v. 11.) (a) And yet there ought to have been not one demoniac there, seeing that of a long time he had been bewitching them with sorceries: but if there were many demoniacs, many palsied, these pretences were not truth. But Philip here by his word also won them over, discoursing concerning the kingdom of Christ. (v. 12.) "And Simon," it says, "being baptized, continued with Philip (v. 13): not for faith's sake, but in order that he might become such (as he). (b) But why did they not correct him instantly? They were content with his condemning himself. For this too belonged to their work of teaching (thes didaskalias). But  when he had not power to resist, he plays the hypocrite, just as did the magicians, who said, "This is the finger of God." And indeed that he might not be driven away again, therefore he "continued with Philip," and did not part from him. "And when the Apostles which were at Jerusalem," etc. (v. 13, 14.) See how many things are brought about by God's Providence through the death of Stephen! (a) "But they," it says, "having come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost: for as yet He was fallen upon none of them. Then laid they their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost." (v. 15-17.) Seest thou that it was not to be done in any ordinary manner, but it needed great power to give the Holy Ghost? For it is not all one, to obtain remission of sins, and to receive such a power. (b) By degrees it is, that those receive the gift. It was a twofold sign: both the giving to those, and the not giving to this man.  Whereas then this man ought, on the contrary, to have asked to receive the Holy Ghost, he, because he cared not for this, asks power to give It to others. And yet those received not this power to give: but this man wished to be more illustrious than Philip, he being among the disciples! (a) "He offered them money." (v. 18, 19.) What? had he seen the others doing this? had he seen Philip? Did he imagine they did not know with what mind he came to them? (b) "Thy money with thee to perdition" (v. 20): since thou hast not used it as it ought to be used. These are not words of imprecation, but of chastisement. "To thee," he says, be it (to thee): being such. As if one should say, Let it perish along with thy purpose. Hast thou so mean conceptions of the gift of God, that thou hast imagined it to be altogether a thing of man? It is not this. (a) Wherefore also Peter well calls the affair a gift: "Thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money." Dost thou observe how on all occasions they are clean from money? "For thine heart is not right in the sight of God." (v. 21.) Dost thou see how he does all of malice? To be simple, however, was the thing needed. (b) For had it been done with simplicity,  he would have even welcomed his willing mind. Seest thou that to have mean conceptions of great things is to sin doubly? Accordingly, two things he bids him: "Repent and pray, if haply the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee." (v. 22.) Seest thou it was a wicked thought he had entertained? Therefore he says, "If haply it may be forgiven thee:" because he knew him to be incorrigible. (a) "For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." (v. 23.) Words of exceeding wrath! But otherwise he did not punish him: that faith may not thereafter be of compulsion; that the matter may not seem to be carried ruthlessly; that he may introduce the subject of repentance: or also, because it suffices for correction to have convicted him, to have told him what was in his heart, to have brought him to confess himself overcome (hoti e& 128;lo). For that he says, "Pray ye for me," is a confession that he has done wrong. Observe him,  what a miscreant he is; when he was convicted, then he believed: when again he was convicted, then he became humble.  "Seeing  his miracles," ["he was amazed," and came over.] He thought to be able to escape detection: he thought the thing was an art: but when he had not power to defeat (helhein) the Apostles, * * *. (b) Again, he fears the multitude, and is afraid to deny it; and yet he might have said, "I did not know: I did it in simplicity: but he was struck with dismay first by the former circumstance, that he was overcome (hoti e& 128;lo), by the miracles and secondly by this, that his thoughts are made manifest. Therefore he now takes himself a long wayoff, to Rome, thinking the Apostle would not soon come there.
"And they, when they had testified, and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem. (v. 25.) "Testified," probably because of him (Simon), that they may not be deceived; that thenceforth they may be safe. "Having preached," it says, "the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem." Why do they go thither again where was the tyranny of the bad, where were those most bent upon killing them? Just as generals do in wars, they occupy that part of the scene of war which is most distressed. "And preached the Gospel in many villages of the Samaritans." Observe them again, how they do not (proegoumenos) of set purpose come to Samaria, but driven by stress of persecution, just as it was in the case of Christ; and how when the Apostles go thither, it is to men now believers, no longer Samaritans. "But when the Apostles," it says, "which were at Jerusalem heard this, they sent unto them Peter and John. Sent" them, again, to rid them of magic. And  besides, (the Lord) had given them a pattern at the time when the Samaritans believed. "And in many villages," it says, "of the Samaritans, they preached the Gospel." (John iv. 39.) Observe how actively employed even their journeys were, how they do nothing without a purpose. 
Such travels should we also make. And why do I speak of travels? Many possess villages and lands, and give themselves no concern, nor make any account of this. That baths may be provided, their revenues increased, courts and buildings erected, for this they take plenty of pains: but for the husbandry of souls, not so. When you see thorns--answer me--you cut them up, you burn, you utterly destroy them, to rid your land of the hurt thence arising. And seest thou the laborers themselves overrun with thorns, and dost not cut them up, and art thou not afraid of the Owner Who shall call thee to account? For ought not each individual believer to build a Church, to get a Teacher, to cooperate (sunai; resthai) (with him), to make this above all his object, that all may be Christians? Say, how is it likely thy laborer should be a Christian, when he sees thee so regardless of his salvation? Thou canst not work miracles, and so convert (peisai) him. By the means which are in thy power, convert him; by kindness, by good offices, by gentleness, by courting (kolakei& 139;) him, by all other means. Market-places, indeed, and baths, the most do provide; but no Churches: nay, sooner everything than this! Wherefore I beseech and implore, as a favor I entreat, yea as a law I lay it down, that there be no estate to be seen destitute of a Church.  Tell not me, There is one hard by; there is one in the neighboring properties; the expense is great, the income not great. If thou have anything to expend upon the poor, expend it there: better there than here. Maintain a Teacher, maintain a Deacon, and a sacerdotal body complete. As by a bride, whether a wife whom thou takest, or a daughter whom thou givest in marriage,  so act by the Church: give her a dowry. So shall thy estate be filled with blessing. For what shall not be there of all that is good? Is it a small thing, tell me, that thy wine-press should be blessed;  a small thing, tell me, that of thy fruits God is the first to taste, and that the first fruits are there (with Him)? And then even for the peace of the laboring people this is profitable. Then as one whom they must respect, there will be the presbyter among them and this will contribute to the security of the estate. There will be constant prayers there through thee  (infra, note 1, p. 119) hymns and Communions through thee; the Oblation on each Lord's Day. For only consider what a praise it will be, that, whereas others have built splendid tombs, to have it said hereafter: "Such a one built this," thou hast reared Churches! Bethink thee that even until the coming of Christ thou shalt have thy reward, who hast reared up the altars of God.
Suppose an Emperor had ordered thee to build an house that he might lodge there, wouldest thou not have done everything to please him? And here now it is palace of Christ, the Church, the Church which thou buildest. Look not at the cost, but calculate the profit. Thy people yonder cultivate thy field: cultivate thou their souls: they bring to thee thy fruits, raise thou them to heaven. He that makes the beginning is the cause of all the rest: and thou wilt be the cause that the people are brought under Christian teaching (katechoumenon) both there, and in the neighboring estates. Your baths do but make the peasants less hardy, your taverns give them a taste for luxury, and yet you provide these for credit's sake. Your markets and fairs, (panegureis) on the other hand, promote  covetousness. But think now what a thing it would be to see a presbyter, the moving picture of Abraham, gray-headed, girded up, digging and working with his own hands? What more pleasant than such a field! Their virtue thrives. No intemperance there, nay, it is driven away: no drunkenness and wantonness, nay, it is cast out: no vanity, nay, it is extinguished. All benevolent tempers shine out the brighter through the simplicity of manners. How pleasant to go forth and enter into the House of God, and to know that one built it himself: to fling himself on his back in his litter, and  after the bodily benefit of his pleasant airing, be present both at the evening and the morning hymns, have the priest as a guest at his table, in associating with him enjoy his benediction, see others also coming thither! This is a wall for his field, this its security. This is the field of which it is said, "The smell of a full field which the Lord hath blessed." (Gen. xxvii. 27.) If, even without this, the country is pleasant, because it is so quiet, so free from distraction of business, what will it not be when this is added to it? The country with a Church is like the Paradise of God. No clamor there, no turmoil, no enemies at variance, no heresies: there you shall see all friends, holding the same doctrines in common. The very quiet shall lead thee to higher views, and receiving thee thus prepared by philosophy, the presbyter shall give thee an excellent cure. For here, whatever we may speak, the noise of the market drives it all out: but there, what thou shalt hear, thou wilt keep fixed in thy mind. Thou wilt be quite another man in the country through him: and moreover to the people there he will be director, he will watch over them both by his presence and by his influence in forming their manners. And what, I ask, would be the cost? Make for a beginning a small house (en taxei nahou) to serve as temple. Thy successor will build a porch, his successor will make other additions, and the whole shall be put to thy account. Thou givest little, and receivest the reward for the whole. At any rate, make a beginning: lay a foundation. Exhort one another, vie one with another in this matter. But now, where there is straw and grain and such like to be stored, you make no difficulty of building: but for a place where the fruits of souls may be gathered in, we bestow not a thought; and the people are forced to go miles and miles, and to make long journeys, that they may get to Church! Think, how good it is, when with all quietness the priest presents himself in the Church, that he may draw near unto God, and say prayers for the village, day by day, and for its owner! Say, is it a small matter, that even in the Holy Oblations evermore thy name is included in the prayers, and that for the village day by day prayers are made unto God?--How greatly this profits thee for all else! It chances  that certain (great) persons dwell in the neighborhood, and have overseers: now to thee, being poor, one of them will not deign even to pay a visit: but the presbyter, it is likely, he will invite, and make him sit at his table. How much good results from this! The village will in the first place be free from all evil suspicion. None will charge it with murder, with theft: none will suspect anything of the kind.--They have also another comfort, if sickness befall, if death.--Then again the friendships formed there by people as they go side by side (to and from the Church) are not struck up at random and promiscuously: and the meetings there are far more pleasant than those which take place in marts and fairs. The people themselves also will be more respectable, because of their presbyter. How is it you hear that Jerusalem was had in honor in the old times above all other cities? Why was this? Because of the then prevailing religion. Therefore it is that where God is honored, there is nothing evil: as, on the contrary, where He is not honored, there is nothing good. It will be great security both with God and with men. Only, I beseech you, that ye be not remiss: only may you put your hand to this work. For if he who brings out "the precious from the vile," shall be "as the mouth of God" (Jer. xv. 19); he who benefits and recovers so many souls, both that now are and that shall be even until the coming of Christ, what favor shall not that person reap from God! Raise thou a garrison against the devil: for that is what the Church is. Thence as from headquarters let the hands go forth to work: first let the people hold them up for prayers, and then go their way to work. So shall there be vigor of body; so shall the tillage be abundant; so shall all evil be kept aloof. It is not possible to represent in words the pleasure thence arising, until it be realized. Look not to this, that it brings in no revenue: if  thou do it at all in this spirit, then do it not at all; if thou account not the revenue thou gettest thence greater than from the whole estate beside; if thou be not thus affected, then let it alone; if thou do not account this work to stand thee more in stead than any work beside. What can be greater than this revenue, the gathering in of souls into the threshing-floor which is in heaven! Alas, that ye know not how much it is, to gain souls! Hear what Christ says to Peter, "Feed My sheep." (John xxi. 15-17.) If, seeing the emperor's sheep, or herd of horses, by reason of having no fold or stable, exposed to depredation, thou wert to take them in hand, and build a fold or stables, or also provide a shepherd or herdsman to take charge of them, what would not the emperor do for thee in return? Now, thou gatherest the flock of Christ, and puttest a shepherd over them, and thinkest thou it is no great gain thou art earning? But, if for offending even one, a man shall incur so great a punishment, how can he that saves so many, ever be punished? What sin will he have thenceforth? for, though he have it, does not this blot it out? From the punishment threatened to him that offends, learn the reward of him that saves. Were not the salvation of even one soul a matter of great importance, to offend would not move God to so great anger. Knowing these things, let us apply ourselves forthwith to this spiritual work. And let each invite me, and we will together help to the best of our ability. If there be three joint-owners, let them do it by each bearing his part: if but one, he will induce the others also that are near. Only be earnest to effect this, I beseech you, that in every way being well-pleasing unto God, we may attain unto the eternal blessings, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, and honor, now and ever world without end. Amen.
"And the Angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, arise and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went."
It seems to me, this  (Philip) was one of the seven; for from Jerusalem he would not have gone southwards, but to the north; but from Samaria it was "towards the south. The same is desert:" so that there is no fear of an attack from the Jews. And he did not ask, Wherefore? but "arose and went. And, behold," it says, "a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet." (v. 27, 28.) High encomiums for the man, that he, residing in Ethiopia and beset with so much business, and when there was no festival going on, and living in that superstitious city, came "to Jerusalem for to worship." Great also is his studiousness, that even "sitting in his chariot he read.  And," it says, "the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him reading the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?" (v. 29-31.) Observe again his piety; that though he did not understand, he read, and then after reading, examines. "And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the Scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened He not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus." (v. 32-35.) Observe how it is Providentially ordered. First he reads and does not understand; then he reads the very text in which was the Passion and the Resurrection and the Gift. "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" (v. 36.) Mark the eager desire, mark  the exact knowledge. "And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing." (v. 38, 39.) But why did the Spirit of the Lord bear him away? (Hereby) the occurrence was shown to be more wonderful. Even then, the eunuch did not know him. Consequently this was done, that Philip might afterwards be a subject of wonder to him.  "For," it says, "he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Cæsarea." (v. 40.) This (Philip, therefore) was one of the seven; for there in fact he is afterwards found at Cæsarea. It was well and expedient therefore that the Spirit caught Philip away; else the eunuch would have desired to go with him,  and Philip would have grieved him by declining to comply with his request, the time being not yet come. (a) But  at the same time here was an encouraging assurance for them that they shall also prevail over the heathen: for  indeed the high character (to axiopiston) of the (first) believers was enough to move them. If however the eunuch had stayed there, what fault could have been found? [But he knew him not]: for this is why it says, "he went on his way rejoicing:" so that had he known him, he would not have been (so) delighted.
"And the Angel of the Lord," etc. (Recapitulation, v. 26.) (b) See Angels assisting the preaching, and not themselves preaching, but calling these (to the work). But the wonderful nature of the occurrence is shown also by this: that what of old was rare, and hardly done, here takes place with ease,  and see with what frequency! (c) "An eunuch," it says, "a man of great authority, under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians."  (v. 27.) For there women bore rule of old, and this was the law among them. Philip did not yet know for whose sake he had come into the desert: (d) but  what was there to hinder his learning all (these particulars) accurately, while in the chariot? "Was reading the prophet Esaias." (v. 28.) For the road was desert, and there was no display in the matter. Observe also at what time: in the most violent heat (of the day). (e) "And the Spirit said unto him." (v. 29.) Not now the Angel  but the Spirit urges him. Why is this? "Then," the vision took place, in grosser form, through the Angel, for this is for them that are more of the body, but the Spirit is for the more spiritual. And how did He speak to him? Of course, suggested it to him. Why does not the Angel appear to the other, and bring him to Philip? Because it is likely he would not have been persuaded, but rather terrified. Observe the wisdom of Philip: he did not accuse him, not say, "I know these things exactly:" did not pay court to him, and say, "Blessed art thou that readest." But mark his speech, how far it is from harshness alike and from adulation; the speech rather of a kind and friendly man. "Understandest thou what thou readest?" (v. 30.) For it was needful that he should himself ask, himself have a longing desire. He plainly intimates, that he knows that the other knew nothing: and says, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" at the same time he shows him that great was the treasure that lay therein. It tells well also, that the eunuch looked not to the outward appearance (schhema) (of the man), said not, "Who art thou?" did not chide, not give himself airs, not say that he did know. On the contrary, he confesses his ignorance: wherefore also he learns. He shows his hurt to the physician: sees at a glance, that he both knows the matter, and is willing to teach. Look  how free he is from haughtiness; the outward appearance announced nothing splendid. So desirous was he of learning, and gave heed to his words; and that saying, "He that seeketh, findeth," (Matt. vii. 8.) was fulfilled in him. "And," it says, "he besought Philip, that he would come up and sit with him." (v. 31.) Do you mark the eagerness, the longing desire? But should any say he ought to have waited for Philip (to speak), (the answer is), he does not know what is the matter: he could not in the least tell what the other was going to say to him, but supposed merely that he was about to receive some (lesson of) prophecy. And moreover, this was more respectful, that he did not draw him into his chariot, but besought him. "And Philip," we have read, "ran to him, and heard him reading;" even the fact of his running, showed  that he wished to say (something). "And the place," it says, "of the Scripture which he read was this: As a sheep He was led to the slaughter."  (v. 32.) And this circumstance, also, is a token of his elevated mind, (philosophias) that he had in hand this prophet, who is more sublime than all others. Philip does not relate matters to him just as it might happen, but quietly: nay, does not say anything until he is questioned. Both in the former instance he prayed him, and so he does now, saying, "I pray thee of whom speaketh the prophet this?" That  he should at all know either that the Prophets speak in different ways about different persons, or that they speak of themselves in another person--the question betokens a very thoughtful mind.  Let us be put to shame, both poor and rich, by this eunuch. Then, it says, "they came to a certain water, and he said, Lo, here is water." (v. 36.) Again, of his own accord he requests, saying, "What doth hinder me to be baptized?" And see again his modesty: he does not say, Baptize me, neither does he hold his peace; but he utters somewhat midway betwixt strong desire and reverent fear, saying, "What doth hinder me?" Do you observe that he has the doctrines (of faith) perfect? For indeed the Prophet had the whole, Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, Ascension, Judgment to come. And if he shows exceeding earnestness of desire, do not marvel. Be ashamed, all ye as many as are unbaptized. "And," it says, "he commanded the chariot to stand still." (v. 38.) He spoke, and gave the order at the same moment, before hearing (Philip's answer). "And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip;" (v. 39) in order that the occurrence might be shown to be of God; that he might not consider it to be merely man. "And he went," it says, "on his way rejoicing." (P. 121, note 2.) This hints, that he would have been grieved had he known: for the greatness of his joy, having had the Spirit also vouchsafed to him, he did not even see things present--"But Philip was found at Azotus." (v. 40.) Great was the gain to Philip also:--that which he heard concerning the Prophets, concerning Habakkuk, concerning Ezekiel, and the rest, he saw done in his own person. (Bel. & Dr. v. 36; Ez. iii. 12.) Thence it appears that he went a long distance, seeing he "was found at Azotus." (The Spirit) set him there, where he was thenceforth to preach: "And passing through, he preached in all the cities, until he came to Cæsarea."
"And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem." (ch. ix. 1, 2.) He fitly mentions Paul's zeal, and shows that in the very midst of his zeal he is drawn. "Yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter," and not yet sated with the murder of Stephen, he was not yet glutted with the persecution of the Church, and the dispersion. Lo, this was fulfilled which was spoken by Christ, that "they which kill you shall think they offer worship to God." (John xvi. 2.) He then in this wise did it, not as the Jews: God forbid! For that he did it through zeal, is manifest from his going abroad even to strange cities: whereas they would not have cared even for those in Jerusalem; they were for one thing only, to enjoy honor. But why went he to Damascus? It was a great city, a royal city: he was afraid lest that should be preoccupied. And observe his strong desire and ardor (and), how strictly according to the Law he went to work: he goes not to the governor, but "to the priest. That if he found any of this way:" for so the believers were called, probably because of their taking the direct way that leads to heaven. And why did he not receive authority to have them punished there, but brings them to Jerusalem! He did these things here with more authority. And mark on what a peril he casts himself. He  was not afraid lest he should take any harm, but (yet) he took others also with him, "that if," it says, "he found any of this way, whether they were men or women"--Oh, the ruthlessness!--"he might bring them bound." By this journey of his, he wished to show them all (how he would act): so far were they from being earnest in this matter. Observe him also casting (people) into prison before this. The others therefore did not prevail: but this man did prevail, by reason of his ardent mind. "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" (v. 3, 4.) Why not in Jerusalem? why not in Damascus? That there might be no opening for different persons to relate the occurrence in different ways, but that he alone should be the authentic narrator (axiopistos), he that  went for this purpose. In fact, he says this [both in his oration on the stairs], and when pleading before Agrippa. "Fell to the earth": (ch. xxii, 6: xxvi. 12) for excess of light is wont to shock, because the eyes have their measure: it is said also that excess of sound makes people deaf and stunned (as in a fit) (apoplhegas). But  him it only blinded, and extinguished his passion by fear, so that he should hear what was spoken. "Saul, Saul," saith He, "why persecutest thou me?" And He tells him nothing: does not say, Believe, nor anything whatever of the kind: but expostulates with him, all but saying, What wrong, great or small, hast thou suffered from Me, that thou doest these things? "And he said, Who art Thou Lord?" (v. 5) thus in the first place confessing himself His servant. "And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest:" think not thy warring is with men.  And they which were with him heard the voice of Paul, but saw no person to whom he answered--for (the Lord) suffered them to be hearers of what was less important. Had they heard the other Voice, they would not have believed; but perceiving Paul answering (some person), they marvelled. "But arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." (v. 6.) Observe, how He does not immediately add all, but first softens his mind. In the same way He called the disciples also a second time.  "It shall be told thee," etc.: He gives him good hopes, and (intimates) that he shall recover his sight also. "And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus" (v. 7, 8):--the spoils of the devil (ta skeue authou), "his goods" (Matt. xiii. 29), as from some city, yea, some metropolis which has been taken. And the wonder of it is, the enemies and foes themselves brought him in, in the sight of all! "And for three days he neither did eat nor drink, being blinded." (v. 9.) What could equal this? To compensate the discouragement in the matter of Stephen, here is encouragement, in the bringing in of Paul: though that sadness had its consolation in the fact of Stephen's making such an end, yet it also received this further consolation: moreover, the bringing in of the villages of the Samaritans afforded very great comfort.--But why did this take place not at the very first, but after these things? That it might be shown that Christ was indeed risen. This furious assailant of Christ, the man who would not believe in His death and resurrection, the persecutor of His disciples, how should this man have become a believer, had not the power of His resurrection been great indeed? Be it so, that the other Apostles favored (His pretensions  ): what say you to this man? Why then not immediately after His resurrection? That his hostility might be more clearly shown as open war. The man who is so frantic as even to shed blood and cast men into prisons, all at once believes! It was not enough that he had never been in Christ's company: the believers must be warred upon by him with vehement hostility: he left to none the possibility of going beyond him in fury: none of them all could be so violent. But when he was blinded,  then he saw the proofs of His sovereignty and loving kindness: then he answers, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" that none may say that he played the hypocrite, he that was even eager for blood, and went to the priests, and flung himself upon such dangers, in persecuting and bringing to punishment even them that were in foreign parts--under these circumstances he now acknowledges His sovereignty. And why was he shone upon by that light not within the city, but before it? The many would not have believed, since even there (at Jerusalem when the people heard the voice which came from above, they said that "it thundered" (John xii. 29, supra, note 2, p. 123); but this man was authority enough in reporting what was his own affair. And bound he was brought in, though not with bonds upon him: and they drew him, who had expected to draw the others. "And he eat not, neither drank:" he condemned himself for the past, he confessed, prayed, besought God. But should any say, This was the effect of compulsion: (we answer) The same thing happened to Elymas: then how came it that he was not changed? (ch. xiii. de Laud. Pauli Hom. iv. §1, t. ii. p. 491.) What (evidence) could be more compulsory than the earthquake at the Resurrection, the report of the soldiers, the other miracles, the seeing Himself risen? But these things do not compel (belief) they are calculated to teach (it) (ouk anankastika alla didaktika). Why did not the Jews believe when they were told of these things? That he spoke truth was manifest: for he would not have been changed, had this not happened; so that all were bound to believe. He was not inferior to them that preached the Resurrection, and was more credible, by being all at once converted. He had no intercourse with any of the believers; it was at Damascus that he was converted, or rather before he came to Damascus that this happened to him. I ask the Jew: Say, by what was Paul converted? He saw so many signs, and was not converted: his teacher (Gamaliel, supra, p. 87, note 1) was converted, and he remained unconverted. Who convinced him--and not only convinced, but all at once inspired him with such ardent zeal? Wherefore was it, that he wished even to go into hell itself  for Christ's sake? The truth of the facts is manifest.
But, as I said, for the present let us take shame to ourselves (when we think of) the eunuch, both in his baptism and his reading. Do ye mark how he was in a station of great authority, how he was in possession of wealth, and even on his journey allowed himself no rest? What must he have been at home, in his leisure hours, this man who rested not even on his travels? What must he have been at night? Ye that are in stations of dignity, hear: imitate his freedom from pride,  (de Lazaro, Conc. iii. §3, t. i. p. 748. c) his piety. Though about to return home, he did not say to himself: "I am going back to my country, there let me receive baptism;" those cold words which most men use! No need had he of signs, no need of miracles: from the Prophet merely, he believed. (b) But  why is it (so ordered) that he sees (Philip) not before he goes to Jerusalem, but after he has been there? It was not meet that he should see the Apostles under persecution. Because  he was yet weak, the Prophet was not easy; (but yet the Prophet) catechized him. For even now, if any of you would apply himself to the study of the Prophets, he would need no miracles. And, if you please, let us take in hand the prophecy itself. "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened He not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth.  (v. 22, 23.) It is likely he had heard that He was crucified, [and now he learns], that "His life is taken away from the earth," and the rest that "He did no sin, nor deceit in His mouth:" that He prevailed to save others also: [and] who He is, Whose generation is unutterable. It is likely he had seen the riven rocks there (on the spot), and (had heard) how the veil was rent, and how there was darkness, and so forth: and all these things Philip mentioned, merely taking his text from the Prophet. It is a great thing, this reading of the Scriptures! That was fulfilled which was spoken by Moses, "Sitting, lying down, rising up, and walking, remember the Lord thy God." (Deut. vi. 7.) For the roads, especially when they are lonely, give us opportunity for reflection, there being none to disturb us. Both this man is on the road and Paul on the road: howbeit the latter no man draws, but Christ alone. This was too great a work for the Apostles: and, greater still, in that, the Apostles being at Jerusalem, and no person of authority at Damascus, he nevertheless returned thence converted: yet those at Damascus knew that he did not come from Jerusalem converted, for he brought letters, that he might put the believers in bonds. Like a consummate Physician, when the fever was at its height, Christ brought help to him: for it was needful that he should be quelled in the midst of his frenzy. For then most of all would he be brought down, and condemn himself as one guilty of dreadful audacity. (a) For these things Paul deplores himself, saying, "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all His long suffering." (1 Tim. i. 13-16.) Verily one has reason to admire this eunuch. He did not see Christ, he saw no miracle: he beheld Jerusalem standing yet entire (sunesthota): he believed Philip. How came he to behave thus? His soul was earnest (memerimnemene). Yet the thief (on the cross) had seen miracles: the wise men had seen a star; but this man, nothing of the kind. So great a thing is the careful reading of the Scriptures! What of Paul then! did he not study the law? But he, it seems to me, was specially reserved, for the purpose which I have already mentioned by anticipation, because Christ would fain draw to Himself the Jews by inducements from every quarter. For had they been in their right mind, nothing was so likely to do them good as this; for this, more than miracles and all else, was calculated to attract them: as,  on the other hand, nothing is so apt to prove a stumbling block to men of duller minds. See then how, after the Apostle, we have God also doing miracles. They accused the Apostles after these [miracles of theirs]; they cast them into prison: see thereupon God doing the miracles. For instance, the bringing them out of prison, was His miracle: the bringing Philip, His miracle: the bringing Paul over, was His.--Observe in what way Paul is honored, in what way the eunuch. There, Christ appears, probably because of his hardness, and because Ananias  would not (else) have been persuaded. Conversant with these wonders, let us show ourselves worthy. But many in these times, even when they come to church, do not know what is read; whereas the eunuch, even in public (ep' agorhas) and riding in his chariot, applied himself to the reading of the Scriptures. Not so you: none takes the Bible in hand: nay, everything rather than the Bible.
Say, what are the Scriptures for? For as much as in you lies, it is all undone. What is the Church for? Tie up  the Bibles: perhaps the judgment would not be such, not such the punishment: if one were to bury them in dung, that he might not hear them, he would not so insult them as you do now. For say, what is the insult there? That the man has buried them. And what here? That we do not hear them. Say, when is a person most insulted--when he is silent, and one makes no answer, or, when he does speak (and is unheeded)? So that the insult is greater in the present case, when He does speak and thou wilt not hear: greater the contempt. "Speak not to us" (Is. xxx. 10), we read, they said of old to the Prophets: but ye do worse, saying, Speak:  we will not do. For there they turned them away that they should not even speak, as feeling that from the voice itself they got some sort of awe and obligation; whereas you, in the excess of your contempt, do not even this. Believe me, if you stopped our  mouths by putting your hands over them, the insult would not be so great as it is now. For say, whether shows greater contempt, he that hears, even when hindering by this action, or, he that will not even hear? Say--if we shall look at it as a case of an insult offered--suppose one person to check the party insulting him, and to stop his mouth, as being hurt by the insults, and another person to show no concern, but pretend not even to hear them: whether will show most contempt? Would you not say the latter? For the former shows that he feels himself hit: the latter all but stops the mouth of God. Did ye shudder at what was said? Why, the mouth by which God speaks, is the mouth of God. Just as our mouth is the mouth of our soul, though the soul has no mouth, so the mouth of the Prophets is the mouth of God. Hear, and shudder. There, common (to the whole congregation) stands the deacon crying aloud, and saying, "Let us attend to the reading." It is the common voice of the whole Church, the voice which he utters, and yet none does attend. After him begins the Reader, "The Prophecy of Esaias," and still none attends, although Prophecy has nothing of man in it. Then after this, he says, "Thus saith the Lord,"  and still none attends. Then after this punishments and vengeances, and still even then none attends. But what is the common excuse? "It is always the same things over again." This it is most of all, that ruins you. Suppose you knew the things, even so you certainly ought not to turn away: since in the theatres also, is it not always the same things acted over again, and still you take no disgust? How dare you talk about "the same things," you who know not so much as the names of the Prophets? Are you not ashamed to say, that this is why you do not listen, because it is "the same things over again," while you do not know the names of those who are read, and this, though always hearing the same things? You have yourself confessed that the same things are said. Were I to say this as a reason for finding fault with you, you would need to have recourse to quite a different excuse, instead of this which is the very thing you find fault with.--Do not you exhort your son? Now if he should say, "Always the same things!" would not you count it an insult? It would be time enough to talk of "the same things," when we both knew the things, and exhibited them in our practice. Or rather, even then, the reading of them would not be superfluous. What equal to Timothy? tell me that: and yet to him says Paul, "Give attention to reading, to exhortation. (1 Tim. iv. 13.) For it is not possible, I say not possible, ever to exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well which has no bottom. "I said," saith the Preacher, "I am become wise:  and then it departed from me."--(Eccles. vii. 24.) Shall I show you that the things are not "the same?" How many persons, do you suppose, have spoken upon the Gospels? And yet all have spoken in a way which was new and fresh. For the more one dwells on them, the more insight does he get, the more does he behold the pure light. Look, what a number of things I am going to speak of:--say, what is narrative? what is prophecy? what is parable? what is type? what is allegory? what is symbol? what are Gospels? Answer me only to this one point, which is plain: why are they called Gospels, "good tidings?" And yet ye have often heard that good news ought to have nothing sad in it: yet this "good news" has abundance of sadness in it. "Their fire," it saith, "shall never be quenched: their worm shall not die:" (Mark ix. 44.) "Shall appoint his portion," it saith, "with the hypocrites," with them that are "cut asunder: then shall He say, I know you not: Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt. xxiv. 51; vii. 23.) Surely,  we do not deceive ourselves, when we imagine that we tell you in your own mother-tongue (;;Ellenisti) these good tidings? You look downcast; you are stunned; you are struck all of a heap, unable to hold up your heads. "Good news" should have nothing in it of a duty to be done, but rather should counsel what is good: whereas these "Gospels" have endless duties to be done. And again, to mention other things, as for instance, Except a man hate father and mother, he is not worthy of Me" (Luke xiv. 26): and "I am not come to bring peace upon earth, but a sword" (Matt. x. 34; Luke xii. 51): and "In the world ye shall have tribulation--(John xvi. 33.) excellent  good tidings these, are they not! For good news is such as this--"You shall have this and that good thing:" as in common life men say one to another, "What shall I have for my good news? Your father is coming, or, your mother:" he does not say, "You must do this or that."--Again, tell me, how do the Gospels differ from the Prophets? Why are not the Prophecies also called Gospels, good tidings? For they tell the same things: for instance, "The lame shall leap as an hart." (Is. xxxv. 6.) "The Lord shall give the word to them that preach the Gospel" (Ps. lxviii. 11): and, "A new heaven and a new earth." (Is. lxv. 17.) Why are not those also called Gospels? But if, while you do not so much as know what "Gospels" mean, you so despise the reading of the Scriptures, what shall I say to you?--Let me speak of something else. Why four Gospels? why not, ten? why not twenty? If "many have taken in hand to set forth a narrative" (Luke i. 1), why not one person? Why they that were disciples (i.e. Apostles)? why they that were not disciples? But why any Scriptures at all? And yet, on the contrary, the Old Testament says, "I will give you a New Testament." (Jer. xxxi. 31.) Where are they that say, "Always the same things?" If ye knew these, that, though a man should live thousands of years, they are not "the same things," ye would not say this. Believe me, I will not tell you the answers to any of these questions; not in private, not in public: only, if any find them out, I will nod assent. For this is the way we have made you good-for-nothing, by always telling you the things ready to your hands, and not refusing when we ought. Look, you have questions enough: consider them, tell me the reasons. Why Gospels? Why not Prophecies? Why duties, to be done, in the Gospels? If one is at a loss, let another seek the answer, and contribute each to the others from what he has: but now we will hold our peace. For if what has been spoken has done you no good, much less would it, should we add more. We only pour water into a vessel full of holes. And the punishment too is all the greater for you. Therefore, we will hold our peace. Which that we may not have to do, it rests with yourselves. For if we shall see your diligence, perhaps we will again speak, that both ye may be more approved, and we may rejoice over you, in all things giving glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: to Him be glory and dominion now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
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