ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
COMMENTARY ON THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES HOMILIES 31-42
[Translated 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 by George B. Stevens, Ph.D., D.D., Professor in Yale University.]
HOMILY XXXI: ACTS XIV. 14, 15.
"Which when the Apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein."
MARK the vehemence with which all this is done by the Apostles: "rent their clothes, ran in, cried out," all from strong affection of the soul, revolted by the things that were done. For it was a grief, indeed a grief inconsolable, that they should needs be thought gods, and introduce idolatry, the very thing which they came to destroy! This also was a contrivance of the devil--but he did not prevail. But what say they? "We also are men of like passions with you." At the very outset they overthrew the evil. They said not simply, "Men," but "As ye." Then, that they may not seem to honor the gods, hear what they add: "Preaching unto you, that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, Who made heaven, the sea, and all things that are therein." Observe how they nowhere mention things invisible (b) For they had learnt that one should study not so much to say somewhat worthy of God, as to say what is profitable for the hearers. (a) What then? if He be Maker of all things, why does He not also attend to these things by His Providence?--"Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways" (v. 16)-but wherefore He suffered them, this he does not say, for at present he keeps to the matter of immediate importance, nowhere bringing in the name of Christ. Observe, he does not wish to swell the accusation against them, but rather that they themselves should refer all to God. "Nevertheless, He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, giving you rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness." (v. 17.) (c) See how covertly he puts the accusation "in that He did good," etc. And yet if God did this, He could not have "let them alone;" on the contrary, they ought to be punished, for that, enjoying so great benefits, they had not acknowledged Him, not even as their feeder.[*] "From heaven," he says, "giving you rain." Thus also David said, "From the fruit of their corn and wine and oil were they made to abound" (Ps. iv. 7), and in many places speaking of Creation, he brings forward these benefits: and Jeremiah mentions first Creation, then Providence (shown) by the rains, so that the Apostle here discourses as taught from those Scriptures. "Filling," he says, "with food and gladness." (Jer. v. 24.) With large liberality (philotimi'as) the food is given, not merely for a frugal sufficiency, nor stinted by the need. "And saying these things, they scarcely stopped the multitudes" (v. 18)--indeed by this very thing they gained most admiration--"from sacrificing to them." Do you observe that this was the point with them to put an end to that madness? "But there came," it says, "certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium" (v. 19).--Indeed children of the devil, that not in their own cities only, but also beyond them, they did these things, and as much made it their study to make an end of the preaching, as the Apostles were in earnest to establish it!--"and having persuaded the multitude and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city." (e) So then, the Gentiles regarded them as gods, but these "dragged" him, "out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Having persuaded the multitude"--for it is not likely that all thus reverenced them. In the very city in which they received this reverence, in the same were they thus terribly ill treated. And this also profited the beholders. "Lest any man," he says, "should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth aught from me." (v. 20.)--"Howbeit as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up and came into the city." (d) Here is fulfilled that saying, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. xii. 9.) Greater this than the raising of the lame man! (f) "Came into the city." Do you mark the zeal, do you mark how fervent he is, how set on fire! He came into the city itself again: for proof that if on any occasion he did retire, it was because he had sown the word, and because it was not right to inflame their wrath. (h) Then they went over all the cities in which they had been in danger. "And on the morrow," it says, "he went forth with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the Gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." (v. 21, 22.) This they said, this they showed. But it is purposely so done, not only by the Apostles, but by the disciples also, that they may learn from the very outset both the might of the preaching, and that they must themselves also suffer such things, that they may stand nobly, not idly gaping for the miracles, but much more (ready) for the trials. Therefore also the Apostle himself said, "Having the same conflict which ye saw in me and heard." (Phil. i. 30.) Persecutions succeeded to persecutions: wars, fightings, stonings. (g) These things, not less than the miracles, both made them more illustrious, and prepared for them a greater rejoicing. The Scripture nowhere says that they returned rejoicing because they had done miracles, but (it does say that they rejoiced), that "they were counted worthy for that Name to suffer shame." (ch. v. 41.) And this they were taught of Christ, saying, "Rejoice not that the devils obey you." (Luke x. 20.) For the joy indeed and without alloy is this, to suffer aught for Christ's sake. (i) "And that through much tribulation:" what sort of cheering (protroph') is this? how did they persuade them, by telling them at the outset of tribulations? Then also another consolation. "And when they had appointed for them elders in every Church,[*] and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (v. 23.) Do you mark Paul's ardor?--Then other consolation: "Commended them," it says, "to the Lord. And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia (v. 24, 25): (l) and thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled." (v. 26.) Why do they come back to Antioch? To report what had taken place yonder. And besides, there is a great purpose of Providence concerned: for it was needful that they should thenceforth preach with boldness to the Gentiles. They come therefore, reporting these things, that they may be able to know them: and it is providentially ordered, that just then came those who forbade to keep company with the Gentiles in order that from Jerusalem they might obtain great encouragement, and so go their ways with boldness. And besides, it shows that in their temper there was nothing of self-will: for they come, at the same time showing their boldness, in that without the authority of those (at Jerusalem) they had preached to the Gentiles, and their obedience, in that they refer the matter to them: for they were not made arrogant, as (apenoh'thhsan) having achieved so great successes. "Whence," it says, "they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled." And yet moreover the Spirit had said, "Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." (ch. xiii. 2.) "And when they were come, and had gathered the Church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how He had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples." (v. 27, 28.) For the city being great had need of teachers.--But let us look over again what has been said.
(Recapitulation.) "Which when the Apostles," etc. (v. 14). First by the sight they checked them, by rending their garments. This did Joshua the son of Nun upon the occasion of the defeat of the people. Then think not that this action was unworthy of them: for such was the eagerness, they would not otherwise have restrained it would not otherwise have quenched the conflagration (pu'ran). Therefore when need is to do something that is fit to be done, let us not decline it. For if even after all this they hardly persuaded them, if they had not acted thus, what might have been the consequence? For if they had not done thus, they would have been thought to make a show of humility (tapeinophronei^n), and to be all the more desirous of the honor. And observe their language, how in rebuking it is moderated, alike full of wonder and of rebuke. This above all it was that hindered them, the saying, "Preaching unto you to turn from these vanities unto God." (v. 15.) We are men indeed, they say, but greater than these: for these are dead things, Mark how they not only subvert (the false), but teach (the true), saying nothing about things invisible--"Who made," say they, "heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein. Who in times past," etc. (v. 16, 17.) He names as witnesses even the years (in their courses). "And there came thither certain Jews," etc. (v. 19.) O that Jewish madness! Among a people [that had so honored the Apostles, they bad the hardihood to come, and to stone Paul. "And they dragged him out of the city," being afraid of those (others),--"Supposing he had been dead." (k) "Howbeit," etc. "and came into the city." (v. 20.) For that the spirits of the disciples might not be downcast because they who were accounted gods suffered such treatment, they came in unto them and discoursed. "Then on the morrow," etc. And observe, first he goes forth to Derbe, and then comes back to Lystra and Iconium and Antioch, (v. 21) giving way to them while their passions are roused, but when they have ceased, then attacking them again. Do you mark, that it was not by (supernatural) grace that they managed all that they did, but by their own diligence? "Confirming," it says "the souls of the disciples:" episthri'zontes, "further establishing;" so that they were established, but they added more thereto. "And that we must," etc. (v. 22): they foretold (this), that they might not be offended. "And when they had appointed for them," etc. Again the ordinations accompanied with fastings: and again fasting, that purifying of our souls. (m) "And having prayed," it says, "with fastings, they commended them unto the Lord" (v. 23): they taught them to fast also in their trials. (o) Why did they not make elders in Cyprus nor in Samaria? Because the latter was near to Jerusalem, the former to Antioch, and the word was strong there; whereas in those parts they needed much consolation, especially they of the Gentiles, who behooved to have much instruction. "And when they were come," etc. (v. 27.) They came, teaching them that with good reason had they been ordained by the Spirit. (n) They said not what they themselves, but "what God had done with them." It seems to me, that they mean their trials. It was not for nothing that they, come here, nor to rest, but providentially guided by the Spirit, to the end that the preaching to the Gentiles might be firmly established. (p) And mark Paul's ardor. He does not ask whether it be right to speak to Gentiles, but he straightway speaks: therefore it is that he says, "I did not refer myself to flesh and blood." (Gal. i. 16.)
For it is indeed a great thing, a great, a generous soul (like this)! How many have since believed, and none of them all has shone like him! What we want is earnestness, exceeding ardor, a soul ready to encounter death. Else is it not possible to attain unto the Kingdom, not being crucified. Let us not deceive ourselves. For if in war it is impossible to come off safe while living daintily, and trafficking, and huckstering and idling, much more in this war. Or think ye not that it is a war worse than all others? (Infra, p. 204, note.) "For we wrestle not," he says, "against flesh and blood." (Eph. vi. 12.) Since even while taking our meals and walking, and bathing, the enemy is present with us, and knows no time of truce, except that of sleep only: nay, often even then he carries on the war, injecting into us unclean thoughts, and making us lewd by means of dreams. We watch not, we do not rouse ourselves up, do not look to the multitude of the forces opposed to us, do not reflect, that this very thing constitutes the greatest misfortune--that though surrounded by so great wars, we live daintily as in time of peace. Believe me, worse than Paul suffered may have to be suffered now. Those enemies wounded him with stones: there is a wounding with words, even worse than stones. What then must we do? The same that he did: he did not hate those who cast stones at him, but after they had dragged him out, he entered again into their city, to be a benefactor to those who had done him such wrongs. If thou also endurest him who harshly insults thee, and has done thee wrongs, then hast thou too been stoned. Say not, "I have done him no injury." For what injury had Paul done, that he should be stoned? He was announcing a Kingdom, he was bringing men away from error, and bringing them to God: benefits these, worthy of crowns, worthy of proclamation by voice of herald, worthy of a thousand good things--not of stones. And yet (far from resenting) he did just the contrary. For this is the splendid victory. "And they dragged him," (v. 19) it says, These too they often drag: but be not thou angry; on the contrary, preach thou the word with gentleness. Hath one insulted thee? Hold thy peace, and bless if thou canst, and thou also hast preached the word, hast given a lesson of gentleness, a lesson of meekness. I know that many do not so smart under wounds, as they do under the blow which is inflicted by words: as indeed the one wound the body receives the other the soul. But let us not smart, or rather feeling the smart let us endure. Do you not see the pugilists, how, with their heads sorely battered, they bite their teeth into their lips, and so bear their smarts kindly? No need to grind the teeth, no need to bite (the lips). Remember thy Master, and by the remembrance thou hast at once applied the remedy. Remember Paul: reflect that thou, the beaten hast conquered, and he the beater, is defeated; and by this hast thou cured the whole. It s is the turning of the scale a moment and thou hast achieved the whole: be not hurried away, do not even move, thou hast extinguished the whole (fire). Great eloquence of persuasion there is in suffering aught for Christ: thou preachest not the word of faith, but thou preachest the word of patience (philosophi'as). But, you will say, the more he sees my gentleness, the more he sets upon me. Is it for this then that thou art pained, that he increases thy rewards the more? "But this is the way," you say, "to make him unbearable." This is mere pretext of thine own littleness of mind: on the contrary, the other is the way to make him unbearable, namely, that thou avenge thyself. If God had known, that through forbearance of revenge, the unjust became unbearable, He would not have done this Himself: on the contrary, He would have said, Avenge thyself: but He knew, that other than this is the more likely way to do good. Make not thou a law contary to God: do as He bids thee. Thou art not kinder than He that made us. He hath said, "Bear to be wronged:" thou sayest, "I requite wrong for wrong, that he may not become unbearable." Hast thou then more care for him than God has? Such talk is mere passion and ill temper, arrogance and setting up laws against God's laws. For even if the man were hurt (by our forbearance), would it not be our duty to obey? When God orders anything, let us not make a contrary law. "A submissive answer," we read, turneth away wrath" (Prov. xvi. 1): not an answer of opposition. If it profits thee, it profits him also: but if it hurts thee who art to set him right, how much more will it hurt him? "Physician, heal thyself." Hath one spoken ill of thee? Commend him thou. Hath he reviled thee? Praise him thou. Hath he plotted against thee? Do him a kindness. Requite him with the contrary things, if at least thou at all carest for his salvation and wish not thou to revenge thine own suffering. And yet, you will say, though he has often met with long-suffering from me he has become worse. This is not thine affair, but his. Wilt thou learn what wrongs God suffered? They threw down His altars, and slew His prophets (1 Kings xix. 10), vet He endured it all. Could He not have launched a thunderbolt from above? Nay, when He had sent His prophets, and they killed them, then He sent His Son (Matt. xxi. 37), when they wrought greater impieties, then He sent them greater benefits. And thou too, if thou seest one exasperated, then yield the more: since this madness has greater need of soothing (paramthi'as). The more grievous his abuse of thee, the more meekness does he need from thee: and even as a gale when it blows strong, then it requires yielding to, so also he who is in a passion. When the wild beast is most savage, then we all flee: so also should we flee from him that is angry. Think not that this is an honor to him: for is it an honor we show to the wild beast, and to madmen, when we turn aside out of their way? By no means it is a dishonor and a scorn: or rather not dishonor and scorn, but compassion and humanity. Seest thou not how the sailors, when the wind blows violently, take down their sails, that the vessel may not sink? how, when the horses have run away with the driver, he only leads them into the (open) plain, and does not pull against them that he may not voluntarily exhaust his strength? This do thou also. Wrath is a fire, it is a quick flame needing fuel: do not supply food to the fire, and thou hast soon extinguished the evil. Anger has no power of itself; there must be another to feed it. For thee there is no excuse. He is possessed with madness, and knows not what he does; but when thou, seeing what he is, fallest into the same evils, and art not brought to thy right senses by the sight, what excuse can there be for thee? If coming to a feast thou see at the very outset of the feast some one drunken and acting unseemly, would not he, who after seeing him makes himself drunk, be much more inexcusable? Just so it is here. Do we think it any excuse to say, I was not the first to begin? This is against us, that even the sight of the other in that condition did not bring us to our fight senses. It is just as if one should say, "I did not murder him first." For this very thing makes thee deserving of punishment, that even upon the warning of such a spectacle thou didst not restrain thyself. If thou shouldest see the drunken man in the act of vomiting, retching, bursting, his eyes strained, filling the table with his filthiness, everybody hurrying out of his way, and then shouldest fall into the same state thyself, wouldest thou not be more hateful? Like him is he that is in a passion: more than he who vomits, he has his veins distended, his eyes inflamed, his bowels racked; he vomits forth words far more filthy than that food; all crude what he utters, nothing duly digested, for his passion will not let it be. But as in that case excess of fumes (chumwn), making an uproar in the stomach, often rejects all its contents; so here, excess of heat, making a tumult in the soul suffers him not to conceal what it were right to leave unsaid, but things fit and unfit to be spoken, he says all alike, not putting the hearers but himself to shame. As then we get out of the way of those that vomit, so let us from those who are angry. Let us cast dust upon their vomit: By doing what? By holding our peace: let us call the dogs to eat up the vomit. I know that ye are disgusted at hearing this: but I wish you to feel this same disgust when ye see these things take place, and not to be pleased at the thing. The abusive man is filthier than the dog that returneth to its own vomit. For if indeed having vomited once he were done with it, he would not be like that dog: but if he vomits the same things again, it is plain that he does so from having eaten the same again. What then is more abominable than such an one? What filthier than that mouth which chews such food? And yet this is a work of nature, but the other not or rather both the one and the other are contrary to nature. How? Since it is not according to nature to be causelessly abusive, but against nature: he speaks nothing then like a man, but part as beast, part as madman. As then the disease of the body is contrary to nature, so also is this. And to show that it is contrary to nature, if he shall continue in it, he will perish by little and little: but if he continue in that which is natural, he will not perish. I had rather sit at table with a man who eats dirt, than with one who speaks such words. See ye not the swine devouring dung? So also do these. For what is more stinking than the words which abusive men utter? It is their study to speak nothing wholesome, nothing pure, but whatever is base, whatever is unseemly, that they study both to do and say: and what is worse, they think to disgrace others, while they in fact are disgracing themselves. For that it is themselves they disgrace is plain. For, leaving out of the question those who speak lies (in their railings), say it be some notorious harlot, or even from the stage some other (abandoned creature), and let that person be having a fight with some other person: then let the latter cast this up to the former (what she or he is), and the former retort upon the latter the same reproach: which of them is most damaged by the words? For the former is but called what in fact he or she is, which is not the case with the other: so that the first gets nothing more in the way of shame (than there was before), while to the other there accrues a great accession of disgrace. But again, let there be some hidden actions (mod. text eirgasmena "which have been done"), and let only the person abusing know of them: then, holding his peace until now, let him openly parade (ekpompeue'tw) the reproach: even so, he himself is more disgraced than the other. How? by making himself the herald of the wickedness, so getting for himself either the imputation of not being privy to any such thing, or the character of one not fit to be trusted. And you shall see all men forthwith accuse him: "If indeed he had been privy to a murder being done, he ought to have revealed it all:" and so they regard him with aversion as not human even, they hate him, they say he is a wild beast, fierce and cruel: while the other they pardon much rather than him. For we do not so much hate those that have wounds, as those that compel one to uncover and show them. Thus that man has not only disgraced the other, but himself as well and his hearers, and the common nature of men: he has wounded the hearer, done no good. For this reason Paul says: "If there be any word that is good for edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." (Eph. iv. 29.) Let us get a tongue speaking only good things, that we may be lovely and amiable. But indeed, everything is come to that pitch of wickedness, that many boast of the very things, for which they should hide their faces. For the threats of the many are of this kind: "thou canst not bear my tongue," say they. Words, these, worthy only of a woman, of an abandoned drunken old hag, one of those that are dragged (to punishment) in the forum, a procuress. Nothing more shameful than these words, nothing more unmanly, more womanlike, than to have your strength in the tongue, and to think great things of yourself because you can rail, just like the fellows in processions, like the buffoons, parasites, and flatterers. Swine they are rather than men, who pride themselves upon this. Whereas you should (sooner) have buried yourself, and if another gave you this character, should recoil from the charge as odious and unmanly, instead of that you have made yourself the herald of (your own) disgrace (hu`brewn). But you will not be able to hurt him you speak ill of. Wherefore I beseech you, considering how the wickedness is come to such a height, that many boast of it, let us return to our senses, let us recover those who are thus mad, let us take away these councils out of the city, let us make our tongue gracious, let us rid it of all evil speaking, that being clean from sins, we may be able to draw down upon us the good-will from above, and to have mercy vouchsafed unto us from God, through the grace and compassion of His only-begotten Son, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XXXII: ACTS XV. 1.
"And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved."
Mark how at every step of the right progress in respect of the Gentiles, the beginning is brought in as matter of necessity. Before this (Peter) being found fault with, justified himself, and said all that he said in the' tone of apology, which was what made his words acceptable: then, the Jews having turned away, upon this (Paul) came to the Gentiles. Here again, seeing another extravagance coming in, upon this (the apostle) enacts the law. For as it is likely that they, as being taught of God, discoursed to all indifferently, this moved to jealousy them of the Jews (who had believed). And they did not merely speak of circumcision, but they said, Ye cannot even be saved. Whereas the very opposite to this was the case, that receiving circumcision they could not be saved. Do you mark how closely the trials succeed each other, from within, from without? It is well ordered too, that this happens when Paul is present, that he may answer them. "When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question." (v. 2.) And Paul does not say, What? Have I not a right to be believed after so many signs? but he complied for their sakes. "And being brought on their way by the Church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren." (v. 3.) And observe, the consequence is that all the Samaritans also, learn what has come to the Gentiles: and they rejoiced. "And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the Church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them." (v. 4.) See what a providence is here! "But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that of old days God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel, and believe." (v. 5-7.) Observe Peter from the first standing aloof (kechwrisme'non) from the affair, and even to this time judaizing. And yet (says he)" ye know." (ch. x. 45; xi, 2.) Perhaps those were present who of old found fault with him in the matter of Cornelius, and went in with him (on that occasion): for this reason he brings them forward as witnesses. "From old days," he says, "did choose among you." What means, "Among you?" Either, in Palestine, or, you being present. "By my mouth." Observe how he shows that it was God speaking by him, and no human utterance. "And God, that knoweth the hearts, gave testimony unto them:" he refers them to the spiritual testimony: "by giving them the Holy Ghost even as unto us." (v. 8.) Everywhere he puts the Gentiles upon a thorough equality. "And put no difference between us and them, having purified their hearts by faith." (v. 9.) From faith alone, he says, they obtained the same gifts. This is also meant as a lesson to those (objectors); this is able to teach even them that faith only is needed, not works nor circumcision. For indeed they do not say all this only by way of apology for the Gentiles, but to teach (the Jewish believers) also to abandon the Law. However, at present this is not said. "Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples?" (v. 10.) What means, "Tempt ye God?" As if He had not power to save by faith. Consequently, it proceeds from a want of faith, this bringing in the Law. Then he shows that they themselves were nothing benefited by it, and he turns the whole (stress of his speech) against the Law, not against them, and (so) cuts short the accusation of them: "which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we shall be saved, even as they." (v. 11.) How full of power these words! The same that Paul says at large in the Epistle to the Romans, the same says Peter here. "For if Abraham," says (Paul), "was justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God." (Rom. iv. 2.) Do you perceive that all this is more a lesson for them than apology for the Gentiles? However, if he had spoken this without a plea for speaking, he would have been suspected: an occasion having offered, he lays hold of it, and speaks out fearlessly. See on all occasions how the designs of their foes are made to work with them. If those had not stirred the question, these things would not have been spoken, nor what follows.[*] (Recapitulation.) (b) But let us look more closely at what has been said. "And certain men," etc. In Jerusalem, then, there were not any believers from among the Gentiles: but in Antioch of course there were. Therefore there came down certain yet laboring under this disease of the love of rule, and wishing to have those of the Gentiles attached to them. And yet Paul, though he too was learned in the Law, was not thus affected. "When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small disputation with them," etc. (v. 2.) But when he returned from thence, the doctrine also became more exact. For if they at Jerusalem enjoin no such thing, much more these (have no right to do so). "And being brought on their way," etc, "they caused no small joy to the brethren." (v. 3.) Do you mark, as many as are not enamoured of rule, rejoiced in their believing? It was no ambitious feeling that prompted their recitals, neither was it for display, but in justification of the preaching to the Gentiles. (v. 4.) Thus they say nothing of what had happened in the matter of the Jews. "But there arose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed," etc. (v. 5.) (a) But even if they would needs bring over the Gentiles to their side, they learn that neither must the Apostles overlook it. "And the Apostles and eiders," etc. (v. 6.) "Among us," he says, "God chose:" and "from old days:" long ago, he says, not now. And this too is no small point--at a time when Jews believed, not turned away (from the Gospel). "Among us;" an argument from the place: "of old days," from the time. And that expression, "Chose:" just as in their own case he says not, (so) willed it, but, "Chose that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel and believe." Whence is this proved? From the Spirit. Then he shows that the testimony given them is not of grace merely, but of their virtue. "And God which knoweth the hearts bare them witness" (v. 8); having afforded to them nothing less (than to us), for, he says," Put no difference between us and them." (v. 9.) Why then, hearts are what one must everywhere look to. And it is very appositely said, "God that knoweth the hearts bare them witness:" as in the former instance, "Thou, Lord, that knowest the hearts of all men." (ch. i. 24.) For to show that this is the meaning, observe what he adds, "Put no difference between us and them." When he has mentioned the testimony borne to them, then he utters that great word, the same which Paul speaks, "Neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision." (1 Cor. vii, 19.) "That he may make the twain one in Himself." (Eph. ii. 5.) Of all these the seeds lie in Peter's discourse. And he does not say (between) them of the circumcision, but "Between us," that is the Apostles, "and them." Then, that the expression, "no difference" may not seem an outrage, After faith, he says-- "Having purified their hearts by faith" (v. 10)-He thoroughly cleansed them first. Then he shows, not that the Law was evil, but themselves weak.-- "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we shall be saved even as they." (v. 11.) Mark how he ends with a fearful consideration. He does not discourse to them from the Prophets, but from things present, of which themselves were witnesses. Of course (the Prophets) also themselves anon add their testimony (infra v. 15), and make the reason stronger by what has now come to pass. And observe, he first permits the question to be moved in the Church, and then speaks. "And put no difference between"--he said not, them of the circumcision, but "us and them," i.e. the Gentiles: for this (gradual advance) little by little is stronger. "Why therefore tempt ye God?" who is become (the) God of the Gentiles: far this was tempting: * * * whether He is able to save even after the Law. See what he does. He shows that they are in danger. For if, what the Law could not do, faith had power to do, "we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we shall be saved even as they" (comp. Gal. ii. 16): but faith falling off, behold, themselves (are) in destruction. And he did not say, Why do ye disbelieve? which was more harsh, but, "Tempt God," and that when the fact is demonstrated.
(c) Great effrontery this, of the Pharisees, that even after faith they set up the Law, and will not obey the Apostles. But see these, how mildly they speak, and not in the tone of authority: such words are amiable, and more apt to fix themselves in the mind. Observe, it is nowhere a display of words, but demonstration by facts, by the Spirit. And yet, though they have such proofs, they still speak gently. And observe they do not come accusing those at Antioch, but "declaring all things that God had done with them:" (v. 4) but thence again these men lay hold upon the occasion (to compass their own objects), "but there rose up," etc. (v. 1.) Such were the pains they took in their love of power: and it was not with the knowledge of the Apostles that they Paul and Barnabas were blamed. But still they brought forward none of these charges: but when they have proved the matter, then (the Apostles) write in stronger terms. For gentleness is everywhere a great good: gentleness, I say, not stupid indifference; gentleness, not adulation: for between these there is a vast difference. Nothing ruffled Paul, nothing discomposed Peter. When thou hast convincing proofs, why lose thy temper, to render these of none effect? It is impossible for one who is out of temper ever to persuade. Yesterday also we discoursed about anger; but there is no reason why we should not to-day also; perchance a second exhortation coming directly after the first will effect somewhat. For indeed a medicine though of virtue to heal a wound, unless it be constantly renewed, mars all. And think not that our continual discoursing about the same things is a condemning of you: for if we condemned you, we should not discourse; but now, hoping that you will gain much, we speak these things. Would indeed that we did speak constantly of the same things: would that there were no other subject of our discourses, than how we might overcome our passions. For is it not contrary to all reason, that while emperors, living in luxury and so great honor, have no subject of discourse either while sitting at table, or at any other time, save only how to overcome their enemies--and therefore it is that they hold their assemblies each day, and appoint generals and soldiers, and demand taxes and tributes; and that of all state affairs, the moving causes are these two, the overcoming of those who make war upon them, and the establishing of their subjects in peace--we have no mind for such themes as this, nor ever even dream of conversing upon them: but how we may buy land, or purchase slaves, and make our property greater, these are subjects we can talk about every day, and never be tired of them: while concerning things in ourselves and really our own, we neither wish to speak ourselves, nor so much as dream of tolerating advice, nor of enduring to hear others speaking about them? But answer me, what do you talk about? About dinner? Why that is a subject for cooks. Of money? Nay, that is a theme for hucksters and merchants. Of buildings? That belongs to carpenters and builders. Of land? That talk is for husbandmen. But for us, there is no other proper business, save this, how we may make wealth for the soul. Then let not the discourse be wearisome to you. Why is it that none finds fault with the physician for always discoursing of the healing art, nor with people of other crafts for talking about their peculiar arts? If indeed the mastery over our passions were really achieved, so that there were no need of putting us in mind, we might reasonably be taxed with ambition and display: or rather, not then either. For even if it were gained, for all that, there would be need of discoursing, that one might not relapse and remain uncorrected: as in fact physicians discourse not only to the sick, but also to the whole, and they have books on this subject, on the one part how to free from disease, on the other how to preserve health. So that even if we are well, still we must not give over, but must do all in order to the preserving of our health. And when we are sick there is a twofold necessity for advice: first, that we may be freed from the disease; secondly, that having been freed, we may not fall into it again. Well then, we are discoursing now by the method of treating the sick, not by the rules for the treatment of the healthy.
How then may one root out this evil passion? how subdue (huposkeli'seie) this violent fever? Let us see whence it had its birth, and let us remove the cause. Whence is it wont to arise? From arrogance and much haughtiness. This cause then let us remove, and the disease is removed together with it. But what is arrogance? whence does it arise? for perhaps we are likely to have to go back to a still higher origin. But whatever course the reason of the thing may point out, that let us take, that we may go to the bottom of the mischief, and pluck it up by the roots. Whence then comes arrogance? From our not looking into our own concerns, but instead of that, busying ourselves about the nature of land, though we are not husbandmen, and the nature of gold, though we are not merchants, and concerning clothing, and everything else: while to ourselves and our own nature we never look at all. And who, you will say, is ignorant of his own nature? Many: perhaps all, save a few: and if ye will, I will show the proof of it. For, tell me, what is man? If one were asked, will he be able to answer outright to the questions, In what he differs from the brutes, in what he is akin to the heavenly inhabitants, what can be made of man? For as in the case of any other material, so also in this case: man is the subject-matter, but of this can be made either an angel or a beast. Does not this seem a strange saying? And yet ye have often heard it in the Scriptures. For of certain human beings it was said, "he is the angel of the Lord" (Mal. ii. 7): and "from his lips," saith it, "they shall seek judgment" (Mal. iii. 1): and again, "I send My angel before Thy face:" but of some, "Serpents, generation of vipers." (Matt. xii. 34.) So then, it all depends upon the use. Why do I say, an angel? the man can become God, and a child of God. For we read, "I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High." (Ps. lxxxii. 6.) And what is greater, the power to become both God and angel and child of God is put into his own hands. Yea, so it is, man can be the maker of an angel. Perchance this saying has startled you? Hear however Christ saying: "In the Resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like unto the angels." (Matt. xxii. 30.) And again, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." (Matt. xix. 12.) In a word, it is virtue which makes angels: but this is in our power: therefore we are able to make angels, though not in nature, certainly in will. For indeed if virtue be absent, it is no advantage to be an angel by nature; and the Devil is a proof of this, who was an angel once: but if virtue be present, it is no loss to be a man by nature; and John is a proof of this, who was a man, and Elias who went up into heaven, and all those who are about to depart thither. For these indeed, though with bodies, were not prevented from dwelling in heaven: while those others, though without bodies, could not remain in heaven. Let no one then grieve or be vexed with his nature as if it were a hindrance to him, but with his will. He (the Devil) from being incorporeal became a lion: for lo! it saith, "Our adversary, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. v. 8): we from being corporeal, become angels. For just as if a person, having found some precious material, should despise it, as not being an artificer, it will be a great loss to him, whether it be pearls, or a pearl shell, or any other such thing that he has seen; so we likewise, if we are ignorant of our own nature, shall despise it much: but if we know what it is, we shall exhibit much zeal, and reap the greatest profits. For from this nature is wrought a king's robe, from this a king's house, from this nature are fashioned a king's members: all are kingly. Let us not then misuse our own nature to our hurt. He has made us "a little lower than the angels," (Ps. viii. 5), I mean, by reason of death: but even that little we have now recovered. There is nothing therefore to hinder us from becoming nigh to the angels, if we will. Let us then will it, let us will it, and having exercised ourselves thoroughly, let us return honor to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, world without end, Amen.
HOMILY XXXIII: ACTS XV. 13, 15.
"And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Symeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets."
This (James) was bishop, as they say, and therefore he speaks last, and herein is fulfilled that saying, "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." (Deut. xvii. 6; Matt. xviii. 16.) But observe the discretion shown by him also, in making his argument good from the prophets, both new and old. For he had no acts of his own to declare, as Peter had and Paul. And indeed it is wisely ordered that this (the active) part is assigned to those, as not intended. to be locally fixed in Jerusalem, whereas (James) here, who performs the part of teacher, is no way responsible for what has been done, while however he is not divided from them in opinion.[*] (b) "Men and brethren," he says, "hearken unto me." Great is the moderation of the man. His also is a more complete oration, as indeed it puts the completion to the matter under discussion. (a) "Symeon," he says, "declared:" (namely,) in Luke, in that he prophesied, "Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all nations, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel." (c) "How God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His Name." (Luke ii. 25.) Then, since that (witness), though from the time indeed he was manifest, yet had not authority by reason of his not being ancient, therefore he produces ancient prophecy also, saying, "And to this agree the words of the Prophets, as it is written: After this I wilt return, and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up." (v. 16.) What? was Jerusalem raised up? Was it not rather thrown down? What sort of raising up does he call that which took place after the return from Babylon? "That the residue of men," he says, "may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles upon whom My Name is called." (v. 17.) Then, what makes his word authoritative--"Saith the Lord, which doeth all these things:" and, for that this is no new thing, but all was planned from the beginning, "Known unto God are all His works from everlasting."[*] (v. 18.) And then again his authority (kai` to` axi'wma pa'lin) (as Bishop): "Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollution of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day." (v. 19-21.) Since then they had heard of the Law, with good reason he enjoins these things from the Law, that he may not seem to make it of no authority. And (yet) observe how he does not let them be told these things from the Law, but from himself, saying, It is not that I heard these things from the Law, but how? "We have judged." Then the decree is made in common. "Then pleased it the Apostles and elders, together with the whole Church, to choose men of their own company"--do you observe they do not merely enact these matters, and nothing more?--"and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: and they wrote letters by them after this manner." (v. 22.) And observe, the more to authenticate the decree, they send men of their own, that there may be no room for regarding Paul and his company with suspicion. "The Apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia." (v. 23.) And mark with what forbearance of all harsh vituperation of those (brethren) they indite their epistle. "Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the Law: to whom we gave no such commandment." (v. 24.) Sufficient was this charge against the temerity of those men, and worthy of the Apostles' moderation, that they said nothing beyond this. Then to show that they do not act despotically, that all are agreed in this, that with deliberation they write this--"It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send men of ours whom we have chosen" (v. 25)--then, that it may not look like disparagement of Paul and Barnabas, that those men are sent, observe the encomium passed upon them-- "together with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas; who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us"--it is not man's doing, it says--"to lay upon you no greater burden"--again it calls the Law a burden: then apologizing even for these injunctions--"save these necessary things" (v. 26-28): "That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. (v. 29.) For these things the New Testament did not enjoin: we nowhere find that Christ discoursed about these matters; but these things they take from the Law. "From things strangled," it says, "and from blood." here it prohibits murder. (Comp. Gen. ix. 5.) "So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation." (v. 30-31.) Then those (brethren) also exhorted them: and having established them, for towards Paul they were contentiously disposed, so departed from them in peace. "And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the Apostles." (v. 32-33.) No more factions and fightings, but thenceforth Paul taught.
(Recapitulation.) "Then all the multitude kept silence," etc. (v. 12.) There was no arrogance in the Church. After Peter Paul speaks, and none silences him: James waits patiently, not starts up (for the next word). Great the orderliness (of the proceedings). No word speaks John here, no word the other Apostles, but held their peace, for James was invested with the chief rule, and think it no hardship. So clean was their soul from love of glory. "And after that they had held their peace, James answered," etc. (v. 13.) (b) Peter indeed spoke more strongly, but James here more mildly: for thus it behooves one in high authority, to leave what is unpleasant for others to say, while he himself appears in the milder part. (a) But what means it, "How God first (prw^ton) did visit?" (v. 14.) (It means) from the beginning (ex archh^s). (c) Moreover he well says," Symeon expounded" (exhgh'sato) (or, interpreted), implying that he too spake the mind of others. "And to this agree," etc. Observe how he shows that this is a doctrine of old time. "To take out of the Gentiles," he says, "a people for His Name." (v. 15.) Not simply, Chose, but, "for His Name," that is for His glory. His Name is not shamed by the taking (prolh'psei) the Gentiles first, but it is even a greater glory.--Here some even great thing is hinted at: that these are chosen before all. "After this I will return, and rebuild the tabernacle of David which is fallen down." (v. 16.) But if one would look into the matter closely, the kingdom of David does in fact now stand, his Offspring reigning everywhere. For what is the good of the buildings and the city, with none obeying there? And what is the harm arising from the destruction of the city, when all are willing to give their very souls? There is that come which is more illustrious than David: in all parts of the world is he now sung. This has come to pass: if so, then must this also come to pass, "And I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:" to what end? "that the residue of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My Name is called." (v. 17.) If then it was to this end that the city rose again (namely) because of Him (that was to come) of them, it shows that of the building of the city the cause is, the calling of the Gentiles. Who are "the residue?" those who are then left. "And all the Gentiles, upon whom My Name is called:" but observe, how he keeps the due order, and brings them in second. "Saith the Lord, which doeth these things." Not "saith" (only), but "doeth." Why then, it was God's work.--"But the question is other than this (namely), what Peter spoke more plainly, whether they must be circumcised. Then why dost thou harangue about these matters?" For what the objectors asserted, was not that they must not be received upon believing, but that it must be with the Law. And upon this Peter well pleaded: but then, as this very thing above all others troubled the hearers, therefore he sets this to rights again (therapeu'ei). And observe, that which was needful to be enacted as a rule, that it is not necessary to keep the Law, this Peter introduced: but the milder part, the truth which was received of old, this James saith, and dwells upon that concerning which nothing is written, in order that having soothed their minds by that which is acknowledged, he may opportunely introduce this likewise. "Wherefore," saith he, "my sentence is, not to trouble them which from among the Gentiles do turn unto God" '(v. 19), that is, not to subvert: for, if God called them, and these observances subvert, we fight against God. And again, "them which from the Gentiles," he saith, "do turn." And he says well, with authority, the "my sentence is. But that we write unto them that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication"--(b) and yet they often insisted upon these points in discoursing to them--but, that he may seem also to honor the Law (he mentions), these also, speaking (however) not as from Moses but from the Apostles, and to make the commandments many, he has divided the one into two (saying), "and from things strangled, and from blood." (v. 20.) For these, although relating to the body, were necessary to be observed, because (these things) caused great evils, "For Moses hath of old times in every city," etc. (v. 21.) This above all quieted them. (ane'pausen) (a) For this cause I affirm that it is good (so "to write to them.") Then why do we not write the same injunctions to Jews also? Moses discourses unto them. See what condescension (to their weakness)! Where it did no harm, he set him up as teacher, and indulged them with a gratification which hindered nothing, by permitting Jews to hear him in regard of these matters, even while leading away from him them of the Gentiles. See what wisdom! He seems to honor him, and to set him up as the authority for his own people, and by this very thing he leads away the Gentiles from him![*] "Being read in the synagogues every sabbath day." Then why do they not learn (what is to be learnt) out of him, for instance * * ? Through the perversity of these men. He shows that even these (the Jews) need observe no more (than these necessary thing's). And if we do not write to them, it is not that they are bound to observe anything more, but only that they have one to tell them. And he does not say, Not to offend, nor to turn them back, which is what Paul said to the Galatians, but, "not to trouble them:" he shows that the point (kato'rthwma) if carried is nothing but a mere troubling. Thus he made an end of the whole matter; and while he seems to preserve the Law by adopting these rules from it, he unbinds it by taking only these. (c) There was a design of Providence in the disputation also, that after the disputation the doctrine might be more firm. "Then pleased it the Apostles to send chosen men of their own company," etc., no ordinary persons, but the "leading men; having written" (letters) "by them after this manner. To those in Antioch," it says, "and Syria and Cilicia." (v. 22, 23) where the disease had its birth. Observe how they say nothing harsher (phortikw'teron) against those men, but look to one thing only, namely, to undo (the mischief) which has been done. For this would make even the movers of the faction there to confess (that they were wrong). They do not say, The seducers, the pestilent fellows, or suchlike: though where need is, Paul does this, as when he says, "O full of all guile" (ch. xiii. 10): but here, the point being carried, there was no need. And observe, they do not put it, That certain from us ordered you to keep the Law, but, "Troubled you with words, subverting your souls,"--nothing could be more proper (kuriw'teron) than that word: none (of the other speakers) has so spoken of the things done by those men. "The souls," he says, already strongly established, these persons are anascheua'zontes as in speaking of a building, "taking them down again:" displacing them (metatithe'ntes) from the foundation). "To whom," he says, "we gave no such commandment. It seemed good therefore to us being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you together with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (v. 25, 26.) If "beloved," they will not despise them, if they "have hazarded their lives," they have themselves a right to be believed. "We have sent," it saith, "Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by word of mouth." (v. 27.) For it was necessary that there should be not merely the Epistle there by itself, lest they should say that Paul and Barnabas had suppressed a (the real purport), that they said one thing instead of another. The encomium passed upon Paul stopped their mouths. For this is the reason why neither Paul comes alone nor Barnabas (with him), but others also from the Church; that he may not be suspected, seeing it was he that advocated that doctrine: nor yet those from Jerusalem alone. It shows that they have a right to be believed. "For it seemed good," say they, "to the Holy Ghost and to us" (v. 28): not making themselves equal (to Him)--they are not so mad. But why does it put this (so)? Why did they add, "And to us," and yet it had sufficed to say, "To the Holy Ghost?" The one, "To the Holy Ghost," that they may not deem it to be of man; the other, "To us," that they may be taught that they also themselves admit (the Gentiles), although themselves being in circumcision. They have to speak to men who are still weak and afraid of them: this is the reason why this also is added. And it shows that it is not by way of condescension that they speak, neither because they spared them, nor as considering them weak, but the contrary; for great was the reverence of the teachers also? "To lay upon you no greater burden "-- they are ever calling it a burden--and again, "save these necessary things:" for that was a superfluous burden. See here a brief Epistle, with nothing more in it (than was needed), neither arts of persuasion (kataskeua`s) nor reasonings, but simply a command: for it was the Spirit's legislating. "So when they were dismissed they came to Antioch, and having gathered the multitude together, they delivered to them the epistle." (v. 30.) After the epistle, then (Judas and Silas) also themselves exhort them by word (v. 31): for this also was needful, that (Paul and Barnabas) might be quit of all suspicion. "Being prophets also themselves," it says, exhorted the brethren "with many words." It shows here the right that Paul and Barnabas have to be believed. For Paul also might have done this, but it behooved to be done by these. "And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace. (v. 33.)
No more faction. On this occasion, I suppose, it was that they received the right hand, as he says himself, "They gave to me and Barnabas right hands of fellowship." (Gal. ii. 9.) There he says, "They added nothing to me."[*] (ib. 6.) For they confirmed his view: they praised and admired it.--It shows that even from human reasonings it is possible to see this, not to say from the Holy Ghost only, that they sinned a sin not easy to be corrected. For such things need not the Spirit.--It shows that the rest are not necessary, but superfluous. seeing these things are necessary. "From which if ye keep yourselves," it saith, "ye shall do well." It shows that nothing is lacking to them, but this is sufficient. For it might have been done also without letters, but that there may be a law in writing (they send this Epistle): again, that they may obey the law (the Apostles), also told those men (the same things), and they did this, "and confirmed them, and having tarried a space were let go in peace."
Let us not then be offended on account of the heretics. For look, here at the very outset of the preaching, how many offences there were: I speak not of those which arose from them that were without; for these were nothing: but of the offences which were within. For instance, first Ananias, then the "murmuring," then Simon the sorcerer; afterwards they that accused Peter on account of Cornelius, next the famine, lastly this very thing, the chief of the evils. For indeed it is impossible when any good thing has taken place, that some evil should not also subsist along with it. Let us not then be disturbed, if certain are offended, but let us thank God even for this, because it makes us more approved. For not tribulations only, but even temptations also render us more illustrious. A man is no such great lover of the truth, only for holding to it when there is none to lead him astray from it: to hold fast to the truth when many are drawing him away, this makes the proved man. What then? Is this why offences come? I am not speaking as if God were the author of them: God forbid! but I mean, that even out of their wickedness He works good to us: it was never His wish that they should arise: "Grant to them," He saith, "that they may be one" (John xvii. 21): but since offences do come, they are no hurt, to these, but even a benefit: just as the persecutors unwillingly benefit the Martyrs by dragging them to martyrdom, and yet they are not driven to this by God; just so is it here. Let us not look (only at this), that men are offended: this very thing is itself a proof of the excellence of the doctrine--that many stimulate and counterfeit it: for it would not be so, if it were not good. And this I will now show, and make on all hands plain to you. Of perfumes, the fragrant spices are they which people adulterate and counterfeit; as, for instance, the amomum leaf. For because these are rare and of necessary use, therefore there come to be spurious imitations likewise. Nobody would care to counterfeit any common article. The pure life gets many a false pretender to it: no man would care to counterfeit the man of vicious life; no, but the man of monastic life.-- What then shall we say to the heathen? There comes a heathen and says, "I wish to become a Christian, but I know not whom to join: there is much fighting and faction among you, much confusion: which doctrine am I to choose?" How shall we answer him? "Each of you" (says he) "asserts, 'I speak the truth.'" (b) No doubt: this is in our favor. For if we told you to be persuaded by arguments, you might well be perplexed: but if we bid you believe the Scriptures, and these are simple and true, the decision is easy for you. If any agree with the Scriptures, he is the Christian; if any fight against them, he is far from this rule. (a) "But which am I to believe, knowing as I do nothing at all of the Scriptures? The others also allege the same thing for themselves. What then (c)if the other come, and say that the Scripture has this, and you that it has something different, and ye interpret the Scriptures diversely, dragging their sense (each his own way)?" And you then, I ask, have you no understanding, no judgment? "And how should I be able (to decide)," says he, "I who do not even know how to judge of your doctrines? I wish to become a learner, and you are making me forthwith a teacher." If he say this, what, say you, are we to answer him? How shall we persuade him? Let us ask whether all this be not mere pretence and subterfuge. Let us ask whether he has decided (kate'gnwke) against the heathen (that they are wrong). The fact he will assuredly affirm, for of course, if he had not so decided, he would not have come to (enquire about) our matters let us ask the grounds on which he has decided, for to be sure he has not settled the matter out of hand. Clearly he will say, "Because (their gods) are creatures, and are not the uncreated God." Good. If then he find this in the other parties (haire'seis), but among us the contrary, what argument need we? We all confess that Christ is God. But let us see who fight (against this truth), and who not. Now we, affirming Him to be God speak of Him things worthy of God, that He hath power, that He is not a slave, that He is free, that He doeth of Himself: whereas the other says the reverse. Again I ask: if you would learn (to be) a physician, * * *? And yet among them are many (different) doctrines. For if you accept without more ado just what you are told, this is not acting like a man: but if you have judgment and sense, you shall assuredly know what is good. We affirm the Son to be God, we verify (epalhtheu'omen) what we affirm: but they affirm indeed, but (in fact) confess not.--But to mention (something) even plainer: those have certain persons from whom they are called, openly showing the name of the heresiarch himself, and each heresy in like manner: with us, no man has given us a name, but the faith itself. However, this (talk of yours) is mere pretence and subterfuge. For answer me: how is it that if you would buy a cloak, though ignorant of the art of weaving, you do not speak such words as these--"I do not know how to buy; they cheat me"--but do all you can to learn, and so whatever else it be that you would buy: but here you speak these words? For at this rate, you will accept nothing at all. For let there be one that has no (religious) doctrine whatever: if he should say what you say about the Christians--"There is inch a multitude of men, and they have different doctrines; this a heathen, that a Jew, the other a Christian: no need to accept any doctrine whatever, for they are at variance one with another; but I am a learner, and do not wish to be a judge"--but if you have yielded (so far as) to pronounce against (kataginw'skein) one doctrine, this pretext no longer has place for you. For just as you were able to reject the spurious, so here also, having come, you shall be able to prove what is profitable. For he that has not pronounced against any doctrine at all, may easily say this: but he that has pronounced against any, though he have chosen none, by going on in the same way, will be able to see what he ought to do. Then let us not make pretexts and excuses, and all will be easy. For, to show you that all this is mere excuse, answer me this: Do you know what you ought to do, and what to leave undone? Then why do you not what you ought? Do that, and by right reason seek of God, and He will assuredly reveal it to thee. "God," it saith, "is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him." (ch. x. 34, 35.) It cannot be that he who hears without prejudice should not be persuaded. For just as, if there were a rule, by which everything behooved to be put straight, it would not need much consideration, but it would be easy to detect the person who measures falsely (to`n parametrou^nta labei^n), SO is it here. "Then how is it they do not see it at a glance?" Many things are the cause of this: both preconceived opinion, and human causes: (aiti'ai). The others, say you, say the same thing about us. How? For are we separated from the Church? have we our heresiarchs? Are we called after men--as one of them has Marcion, another Manichaeeus, a third Arius, for the author and leader (of his sect)? Whereas if we likewise do receive an appellation from any man, we do not take them that have been the authors of some heresy, but men that presided over us, and governed the Church. We have no "masters upon the earth"--God forbid--we have "One Master that is in heaven." (Matt. xxiii. 9, 10.) "And those also," says he, "say the same." But there stands the name set over them, accusing them, and stopping their mouths.--How" is it, there have been many heathen, and none of them asked these questions: and among the philosophers there were these (differences), and yet none of those holding the right party (hai'resin) was hindered (thereby)?--Why did not (those believers) say, when (the others) raised these questions, "Both these and those are Jews: which must we believe?" But they believed as they ought. Then let us also obey the laws of God, and do all things according to His good pleasure, that having virtuously passed this life present, we may be enabled to attain unto the good things promised to them that love Him, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together, be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XXXIV: ACTS XV. 35.
"Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also."
Observe again their humility, how they let others also take part in the preaching. "And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good (hhxi'ou see note, p. 213) to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention (or exasperation) was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other." (v. 36- 39.) And already indeed Luke has described to us the character of the Apostles, that the one was more tender and indulgent, but this one more strict and austere. For the gifts are diverse--(the gifts, I say), for that this is a gift is manifest--but the one befitting one, the other another set of characters, and if they change places, harm results instead of good. (b) In the Prophets too we find this: diverse minds, diverse characters: for instance, Elias austere, Moses meek. So here Paul is more vehement. And observe for all this, how gentle he is. "Thought not good," it says, "to take him with them that had departed from them from Pamphylia." (a) And there seems indeed to be exasperation (paroxusmo's), but in fact the whole matter is a plan of the Divine Providence, that each should receive his proper place: and it behooved that they should not be upon a par, but the one should lead, and the other be led. "And so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the Churches." (v. 39-41.) And this also is a work of Providence. For the Cyprians had exhibited nothing of the like sort as they at Antioch and the rest: and those needed the softer character, but these needed such a character as Paul's. "Which then," say you, "did well? he that took, or he that left?" * * * (c)For just as a general would not choose to have a low person always to his baggage-bearer, so neither did the Apostle. This corrected the other's, and instructed (Mark) himself. "Then did Barnabas ill?" say you. "And how is it not amiss (a'topon), that upon so small a matter there should arise so great an evil?" In the first place then, no evil did come of it, if, sufficing each for whole nations, they were divided the one from the other, but a great good. And besides, they would not readily have chosen to leave each other. But admire, I pray you, the writer, how he does not conceal this either. "But at any rate," say you, "if they must needs part, let it be without exasperation." Nay, but if nothing more, observe this, that in this too is shown what was of man (in the preaching of the Gospel). For if the like behooved to be shown (even) in what Christ did, much more here. And besides, the contention cannot be said to be evil, when each disputes for such objects (as here) and with just reason. I grant you, if the exasperation were in seeking his own, and contending for his own honor, this might well be (reproved): but if wishing, both the one and the other, to instruct and teach, the one took this way and the other that, what is there to find fault with? For in many things they acted upon their human judgment; for they were not stocks or stones. And observe how Paul impeaches (Mark), and gives the reason. For of his exceeding humility, he reverenced Barnabas, as having been partner with him in so great works, and being with him: but still he did not so reverence him, as to overlook (what was necessary). Now which of them advised best, it is not for us to pronounce: but thus far (we may affirm), that it was a great arrangement of Providence, if these were to be vouchsafed a second visitation, but those were not to be visited even once.[*]
(a) "Teaching and preaching the word of the Lord." (v. 35.) They did not simply tarry in Antioch, but taught. What did they "teach," and what "preach" (evangelize)? They both (taught) those that were already believers, and (evangelized) those that were not yet such. "And some days after," etc. (v. 36.) For because there were offences without number, their presence was needed. (d) "How they do," he says. And this he did not know: naturally. See him ever alert, solicitous, not bearing to sit idle, though he underwent dangers without end. Do you mark, it was not of cowardice that he came to Antioch? He acts just as a physician does in the case of the sick. And the need of visiting them he showed by saying, "In which we preached the word. And Barnabas determined," etc. (v. 37-40.) (So) Barnabas "departed, and went not With (him)." (b) The point to be considered, is not that they differed in their opinions, but that they accommodated themselves the one to the other (seeing), that thus it was a greater good their being parted: and the matter took a pretext from this What then? did they withdraw in enmity? God forbid! In fact you see after this Barnabas receiving many encomiums from Paul in the Epistles. There was "sharp contention," it says, not enmity nor quarrelling. The contention availed so far as to part them. "And Barnabas took Mark," etc. And with reason: for what each supposed to be profitable, he did not forego thereafter, because of the fellowship with the other. Nay, it seems to me that the parting took place advisedly (kata` su'nesin), and that they said one to another "As I wish not, and thou wishest, therefore that we may not fight, let us distribute the places." So that in fact they did this, altogether yielding each to the other: for Barnabas wished Paul's plan to stand, therefore withdrew; on the other hand, Paul wished the other's plan to stand, therefore he withdrew. Would to God we too made such separations, as to go forth for preaching. A wonderful man this is; and exceedingly great! To Mark this contest was exceedingly beneficial. For the awe inspired by Paul converted him, while the kindness of Barnabas caused that he was not left behind: so that they contend indeed, but the gain comes to one and the same end. For indeed, seeing Paul choosing to leave him, he would be exceedingly awed, and would condemn himself, and seeing Barnabas so taking his part, he would love him exceedingly: and so the disciple was corrected by the contention of the teachers: so far was he from being offended thereby. For if indeed they did this with a view to their own honor, he might well be offended: but if for his salvation, and they contend for one and the same object, to show that he who honored him * * * had well determined, what is there amiss (a'topon) in it?
(e) "But Paul," it says, "departed, having chosen Silas, and being commended to the grace of God." What is this? They prayed it says: they besought God. See on all occasions how the prayer of the brethren can do great things. And now he journeyed by land, wishing even by his journeying to benefit those who saw (tou`s horw^ntas) him. For when indeed they were in haste they sailed, but now not so. (c) "And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the Churches. Then came he to Derbe and Lystra." (v. 41.) Mark the wisdom of Paul: he does not go to other cities before he has visited them which had received the Word. For it is folly to run at random. This let us also do: let us teach the first in the first place, that these may not become an hindrance to them that are to come after.
"And, behold a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters; for they knew all that his father was a Greek." (ch. xvi. 1-3.) It is indeed amazing, the wisdom of Paul! He that has had so many battles about circumcision, he that moved all things to this end, and did not give over until he had carried his point, now that the decree is made sure, circumcises the disciple. He not only does not forbid others, but himself does this thing. (b) "Him," it says, "he would have to go forth with him." And the wonder is this, that he even took him unto him. "Because of the Jews," it says, "which were in those parts:" for they would not endure to hear the word from one uncircumcised. (a) Nothing could be wiser. So that in all things he looked to what was profitable: he did nothing upon his own preference (prolh'psei). (c) And what (then)? Mark the success: he circumcised, that he might take away circumcision: for he preached the decrees of the Apostles. "And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the Apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the Churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily." (v. 4, 5.) Dost thou mark fighting, and by fighting, edification? Not warred upon by others, but themselves doing contrary things, so they edified the Church! They introduced a decree not to circumcise, and he circumcises! "And so were the Churches," it says, "established in the faith," and in multitude: "increased," it says, "in number daily." Then he does not continue to tarry with these, as having come to visit them: but how? he goes further. "Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy, Ghost to preach the word in Asia," (v. 6.) having left Phrygia and Galatia, they hastened into the interior. For, it says, "After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not." (v. 7.) Wherefore they were forbidden, he does not say, but that they were "forbidden," he does say, teaching us to obey and not ask questions, and showing that they did many things as men. "And the Spirit," it says, "suffered them not: but having passed by Mysia they came down to Troas." (v. 8.) "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us." (v. 9.) Why a vision, and not the Holy Ghost? because He forbade the other) He would even in this way draw them over: since to the saints also He appeared in a dream, and in the beginning (Paul) himself saw a vision, "a man coming in and laying his hands upon him." (ch. ix. 12.) In this manner also Christ appears to him, saying, "Thou must stand before Caesar." Then for this reason also He draws him thither, that the preaching may be extended. This is why he was forbidden to tarry long in the other cities, Christ urging him on. For these were to enjoy the benefit of John for a long time, and perhaps did not extremely need him (Paul), but thither he behooved to go. And now he crosses over and goes forth. "And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them." (v. 10.) Then the writer mentions also the places, as relating a history, and showing where he made a stay (namely), in the greater cities, but passed by the rest. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; and from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony." (v. 11, 12.) It is a high distinction for a city, the being a colony. "And in this city we were tarrying certain days." But let us look over again what has been said. (Recapitulation.) "And after some days, Paul said," etc. (ch. xv. 36.) He put to Barnabas a necessity for their going abroad, saying "Let us visit the cities m which we preached the word." "But Paul begged," etc. (v. 38.) And yet no need for him to beg, who had to make an accusation presently. This happens even in the case where God and men are the parties: the man requests, God is wroth. For instance, when He saith, "If her father had spit in her face" (Num. xii. 14): and again, "Let me alone, and in Mine anger I will blot out this people." (Ex. xxxii. 32.) And Samuel when he mourns for Saul. (1 Sam. xv. 35.) For by both, great good is done. Thus also here: the one is wroth, the other not so. The same happens also in matters where we are concerned. And the sharp contention with good reason, that Mark may receive a lesson, and the affair may not seem mere stage-playing. For it is not to be thought that he who bids, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath," (Eph. iv. 26) would have been wroth because of such a matter as this: nor that he who on all occasions gave way would not have given way here, he who so greatly loved Paul that before this he sought him in Tarsus, and brought him to the Apostles, and undertook the alms in common with him, and in common the business relating to the decree. But they take themselves so as to instruct and make perfect by their separation them that need the teaching which was to come from them. And he rebukes others indeed, but bids do good to all men. As in fact he does elsewhere, saying, "But ye, be not weary in well- doing." (2 Thess. iii. 13.) This we also do in our common practice. Here it seems to me that others also were alike displeased with Paul. And thereupon taking them also apart, he does all, and exhorts and admonishes. Much can concord do, much can charity. Though it be for a great matter thou askest; though thou be unworthy, thou shall be heard for thy purpose of heart: fear not.
"He went," it says, "through" the cities "And, behold, there was a disciple, by name Timothy, who had a good report of the brethren which were in Lystra and Iconium." (v. 41; xvi. 1.) Great was the grace of Timothy. When Barnabas departed (ape'sth), he finds another, equivalent to him. Of him he saith, "Remembering thy tears and thy unfeigned faith, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice." (2 Tim. i, 5.) His father continued to be a Gentile, and therefore it was that (Timothy) was not circumcised. (a) Observe the Law already broken. Or if not so, I suppose he was born after the preaching of the Gospel but this is perhaps not so. (c) He was about to make him a bishop, and it was not meet that he should be uncircumcised. (e) And this was not a small matter, seeing it offended after so long a time: (b) "for from a child," he says, "thou hast known the Holy Scriptures." (ib. iii. 15.) (d) "And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep." (v. 4.) For until then, there was no need for the Gentiles to keep any such. The beginning of the abrogation was the Gentiles' not keeping these things, and being none the worse for it: nor having any inferiority in respect of faith: anon, of their own will they abandoned the Law. (f) Since therefore he was about to preach, that he might not smite the Jews a double blow, he circumcised Timothy. And yet he was but half (a Jew by birth), his father being a Greek: but yet, because that was a great point carried in the cause of the Gentiles, he did not care for this: for the Word must needs be disseminated: therefore also he with his own hands circumcised him.[*] "And so were the churches established in the faith." Do you mark here also how from going counter (to his own object) a great good results? "And increased in number daily." (v. 5.) Do you observe, that the circumcising not only did no harm, but was even of the greatest service? "And a vision appeared unto Paul in the night." (v. 9.) Not now by Angels, as to Philip, as to Cornelius, but how? By a vision it is now shown to him: in more human sort, not now as before (i.e., v. 6, 7) in more divine manner. For where the compliance is more easy, it is done in more human sort; but where great force was needed, there in more divine. For since he was but urged to preach, to this end it is shown him in a dream: but to forbear preaching, he could not readily endure: to this end the Holy Ghost reveals it to him. Thus also it was then with Peter, "Arise, go down." (ch. x. 20.) For of course the Holy Spirit did not work what was otherwise easy: but (here) even a dream sufficed him. And to Joseph also, as being readily moved to compliance, the appearance is in a dream, but to the rest in waking vision. (Matt. i. 20; ii. 13, 19.) Thus to Cornelius, and to Paul himself. "And lo, a man of Macedonia," etc. and not simply enjoining, but "beseeching," and from the very persons in need of (spiritual) cure. (ch. x. 3; ix. 3.) "Assuredly gathering," it says, "that the Lord had called us." (v. 10), that is, inferring, both from the circumstance that Paul saw it and none other, and from the having been "forbidden by the Spirit," and from their being on the borders; from all these they gathered. "Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course," etc. (v, 11.) That is, even the voyage made this manifest: for there was no tardiness. It became the very root of Macedonia. It was not always in the way of "sharp contention" that the Holy Spirit wrought: but this so rapid progress (of the Word) was a token that the thing was more than human. And yet it is not said that Barnabas was exasperated, but, "Between them there arose a sharp contention." (v. 39.) If the one was not exasperated neither was the other.
Knowing this, let us not merely pick out (ekle'gwmen) these things, but let us learn and be taught by them: for they were not written without a purpose. It is a great evil to be ignorant of the Scriptures: from the things we ought to get good from, we get evil. Thus also medicines of healing virtue, often, from the ignorance of those who use them, ruin and destroy: and arms which are meant to protect, are themselves the cause of death unless one know how to put them on. But the reason is, that we seek everything rather than what is good for ourselves. And in the case of a house, we seek what is good for it, and we would not endure to see it decaying with age, or tottering, or hurt by storms: but for our soul we make no account: nay, even should we see its foundations rotting, or the fabric and the roof, we make no account of it. Again, if we possess brute creatures, we seek what is good for them: we call in both horse-feeders and horse-doctors, and all besides: we attend to their housing, and charge those who are entrusted with them, that they may not drive them at random or carelessly, nor take them out by night at unseasonable hours nor sell away their provender; and there are many laws laid down by us for the good of the brute creatures: but for that of our soul there is no account taken. But why speak I of brute creatures which are useful to us? There are many who keep small birds (or "sparrows ") "which are useful for nothing except that they simply amuse, and there are many laws even about them, and nothing is neglected or without order, and we take care for everything rather than for our own selves. Thus we make our selves more worthless than all. And if indeed a person abusively call us "dog," we are annoyed: but while we are opprobrious to ourselves, not in word, but in deed, and do not even bestow as much care on our soul as on dogs, we think it no great harm. Do you see how all is full of darkness? How many are careful about their dogs, that they may not be filled with more than the proper food, that so they may be keen and fit for hunting, being set on by famine and hunger: but for themselves they have no care to avoid luxury: and the brute creatures indeed they teach to exercise philosophy, while they let themselves sink down into the savageness of the brutes. The thing is a riddle. "And where are your philosophic brutes ?" There are such; or, say, do you not take it to be philosophy, when a dog gnawed with hunger, after having hunted and caught his prey, abstains from the food; and though he sees his meal ready before him, and with hunger urging him on, yet waits for his master? Be ashamed of yourselves: teach your bellies to be as philosophic. You have no excuse. When you have been able to implant such philosophic self-command in an irrational nature, which neither speaks nor hears reason, shall you not much more be able to implant it in yourself? For that it is the effect of man's care, not of nature is plain: since otherwise all dogs ought to have this habit. Do you then become as dogs. For it is you that compel me to fetch my examples thence: for indeed they should be drawn from heavenly things; but since if I speak of those, you say, "Those are (too) great," therefore I speak nothing of heavenly things: again, if I speak of Paul, you say, "He was an Apostle :" therefore neither do I mention Paul: if again I speak of a man, you say, "That person could do it:" therefore I do not mention a man even, but a brute creature; a creature too, that has not this habit by nature, lest you should say that it effected this by nature, and not (which is the fact) from choice: and what is wonderful, choice not self-acquired, but (the result of) your care. The creature does not give a thought to the fatigue, the wear and tear it has undergone in running down the prey, not a thought to this, that by its own proper toil it has made the capture: but casting away all these regards, it observes the command of its master, and shows itself superior to the cravings of appetite. "True; because it looks to be praised, it looks to get a greater meal." Say then to yourself, that the dog through hope of future pleasure, despises that which is present: while you do not choose for hope of future good things to despise those which are present; but he indeed knows, that, if he tastes of that food at the wrong time and against his master's will, he will both be deprived of that, and not get even that which was apportioned to him, but receive blows instead of food: whereas you cannot even perceive this, and that which he has learnt by dint of custom, you do not succeed in acquiring even from reason. Let us imitate the dogs. The same thing hawks also and eagles are said to do: what the dogs do with regard to hares and deer, the same do those with regard to birds; and these too act from a philosophy learnt from men. These facts are enough to condemn us, these enough to convict us. To mention another thing :--they that are skilled in breaking horses, shall take them, wild, fierce, kicking, biting, and in a short time so discipline them, that though the teacher be not there, it is a luxury to ride them, their paces are so thoroughly well-ordered: but the paces of the soul may be all disordered, and none cares for it: it bounds, and kicks, and its rider is dragged along the ground like a child, and makes a most disgraceful figure, and yet no one puts curbs on her, and leg-ties, and bits, nor mounts upon her the skilful rider--Christ, I mean. And therefore it is that all is turned upside down. For when you both teach dogs to master the craving of the belly, and tame the fury in a lion, and the unruliness of horses, and teach the birds to speak plainly, how inconsistent must it not be--to implant achievements of reason in natures that are without reason, and to import the passions of creatures without reason into natures endowed with reason? There is no excuse for us, none. All who have succeeded (in mastering their passions) will accuse us, both believers and unbelievers: for even unbelievers have so succeeded; yea, and wild beasts, and dogs, not men only: and we shall accuse our own selves, since we succeed, when we will, but when we are slothful, we are dragged away. For indeed many even of those who live a very wicked life, have oftentimes changed themselves when they wished. But the cause is, as I said, that we go about seeking for what is good for other things, not what is good for ourselves. If you build a splendid house, you know what is good for the house, not what is good for yourself: if you take a beautiful garment, you know what is good for the body, not for yourself: and if you get a good horse, it is so likewise. None makes it his mark how his soul shall be beautiful; and yet, when that is beautiful, there is no need of any of those things: as, if that be not beautiful, there is no good of them. For like as in the case of a bride, though there be chambers hung with tapestry wrought with gold, though there be choirs of the fairest and most beautiful women, though there be roses and garlands, though there be a comely bridegroom, and the maidservants and female friends, and everybody about them be handsome, yet, if the bride herself be full of deformity, there is no good of all those; as on the other hand if she were beautiful, neither would there be any loss arising from (the want of) those, nay just the contrary; for in the case of an ugly bride, those would make her look all the uglier, while in the other case, the beautiful would look all the more beautiful: just so, the soul, when she is beautiful, not only needs none of those adjuncts, but they even cast a shade over her beauty. For we shall see the philosopher shine, not so much when in wealth, as in poverty. For in the former case many will impute it to his riches, that he is not superior to riches: but when he lives with poverty for his mate, and shines through all, and will not let himself be compelled to do anything base, then none claims shares with him in the crown of philosophy. Let us then make our soul beauteous, if at least we would fain be rich. What profit is it, when your mules indeed are white and plump and in good condition, but you who are drawn by them are lean and scurvy and ill-favored? What is the gain, when your carpets indeed are soft and beautiful, full of rich embroidery and art, and your soul goes clad in rags, or even naked and foul? What the gain, when the horse indeed has his paces beautifully ordered, more like dancing than stepping, while the rider, together with his choral train and adorned with more than bridal ornaments, is more crooked than the lame, and has no more command over hands and feet than drunkards and madmen? Tell me now, if some one were to give you a beautiful horse, and to distort your body, what would be the profit? Now you have your soul distorted, and care you not for it? Let us at length, I beseech you, have a care for our own selves. Do not let us make our own selves more worthless than all beside. If anyone insult us with words, we are annoyed and vexed: but insulting ourselves as we do by our deeds, we do not give a thought to it. Let us, though late, come at last to our senses, that we may be enabled by having much care for our soul, and laying hold upon virtue, to obtain eternal good things, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and evermore, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XXXV: ACTS XVI. 13, 14.
"And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont (Chrys. "was thought likely") to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."
SEE again Paul judaizing. "Where it was thought," it says, both from the time and from the place, "that prayer would be.--Out of the city, by a river side:" for it is not to be supposed that they prayed only where there was a synagogue; they also prayed out of synagogue, but then for this purpose they set apart, as it were, a certain place, because as Jews they were more corporeal--and, "on the sabbath-day," when it was likely that a multitude would come together.[*] "And we sat down, and spake to the women which resorted thither." Mark again the freedom from all pride. "And a certain woman :" a woman and she of low condition, from her trade too: but mark (in her) a woman of elevated mind (philo'sophon). In the first place, the fact of God's calling her bears testimony to her: "And when she was baptized," it says, "she and her household "--mark how he persuaded all of them--"she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us" (v. 15): then look at her wisdom, how she importunes (duswpei^), the Apostles how full of humility her words are, how full of wisdom. "If ye have judged me faithful," she says. Nothing could be more persuasive. Who would not have been softened by these words? She did not request (or, "claim") did not entreat simply: but she left them to decide, and (yet) exceedingly forced them: "And she constrained. us," it says, by those words. And again m a different way: for see how she straightway bears fruit, and accounts it a great gain. "If ye have judged me," that is, That ye did judge me is manifest, by your delivering to me such (holy) mysteries (i.e. sacraments, see p. 225, note ): and she did not dare to invite them before this. But why was there any unwillingness on the part of Paul and those with them, that they should need to be constrained? It was either by way of calling her to greater earnestness of desire, or because Christ had said, "Enquire who is worthy, and there abide." (Luke x. 8.) (It was not that they were unwilling), but they did it for a purpose.--"And it came to pass," it says, "as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation." (v. 16, 17.) What may be the reason that both the demon spoke these words, and Paul forbade him? Both the one acted maliciously, and the other wisely: the demon wished in fact to make himself credible. For if Paul had admitted his testimony, he would have deceived many of the believers, as being received by him: therefore he endures to speak what made against himself, that he may establish what made for himself: and so the demon himself uses accommodation (sugkataba'sei) in order to destruction. At first then, Paul would not admit it, but scorned it, not wishing to cast himself all at once upon miracles; but when it continued to do this, and pointed to their work (kai` to` e'rgon edei'knu) "who preach unto us the way of salvation," then he commanded it to come out. For it says, "Paul being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. (a) And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas." (v. 18, 19.) (d) So then Paul did all, both miracles and teaching, but of the dangers Silas also is partaker. And why says it, "But Paul being grieved?" It means, he saw through the malice of the demon, as he saith, "For we are not ignorant of his devices." (2 Cor. ii. 11.) (b) "And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone." Everywhere money the cause of evils. O that heathen cruelty! they wished the girl to be still a demoniac, that they might make money by her. "They caught Paul and Silas," it says, "and dragged them into the marketplace unto the rulers, and brought them unto the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city!" (v. 20): by doing what? Then why did you not drag them (hither) before this? "Being Jews:" the name was in bad odor. "And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans." (v. 21.) They made a charge of treason of it (eis` kathosi'wsin h'gagon). (e) Why did they not say, Because they cast out the demon, they were guilty of impiety against God? For this was a defeat to them: but instead of that, they have recourse to a charge of treason (epi` kathosi'wsin): like the Jews when they said, "We have no king but Caesar: whoso maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar." (John xix. 14, 12.) (c) "And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them." (v. 22.) O the irrational conduct! They did not examine, did not allow them to speak. And yet, such a miracle having taken place, ye ought to have worshipped them, ought to have held them as saviors and benefactors. For if money was what ye wished, why, having found so great wealth, did ye not run to it? This makes you more famous, the having power to cast out demons than the obeying them. Lo, even miracles, and yet love of money was mightier. (f) "And when they had laid man)' stripes upon them, they cast them into prison."--great was their wrath--" charging the jailer to keep them safely" (v. 23): "who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks." (v. 24.) Observe, he also again thrust them into the "inner" prison: and this too was done providentially, because there was to be a great miracle.[*]
(Recapitulation.) "Out of the city." (v. 13.) The place was convenient for hearing the word, aloof from troubles and dangers. (b) "On the sabbath." As there was no work going on, they were more attentive to what was spoken. (a) "And a certain woman, named Lydia, a seller of purple" (v. 14): observe how the writer of the history is not ashamed of the occupations (of the converts): (c) moreover neither was this city of the Philippians a great one. Having learnt these things, let us also be ashamed of no man. Peter abides with a tanner (ch. ix. 43): (Paul) with a woman who was a seller of purple, and a foreigner. Where is pride? "Whose heart the Lord opened." Therefore we need God, to open the heart: but God opens the hearts that are willing: for there are hardened hearts to be seen. "So that she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul." The opening, then, was God's work, the attending was hers: so that it was both God's doing and man's. And she was baptized (v. 15), and receives the Apostles with such earnestness of entreaty; with more than that used by Abraham. And she speaks of no other token than that whereby she was saved (Gen. xviii. 3): she says not, "If ye have judged me" a great, a devout woman; but what? "faithful to the Lord:" if to the Lord, much more to you. "If ye have judged me:" if ye do not doubt it. And she says not, Abide with me, but, "Come into my house and abide:" with great earnestness (she says it). Indeed a faithful woman l--"A certain damsel possessed with a spirit of Python." (v. 16.) Say, what is this demon? The god, as they call him, Python: from the place he is so called. Do you mark that Apollo also is a demon? And (the demon) wished to bring them into temptation: (therefore) to provoke them, "the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation." (v. 17.) O thou accursed, thou execrable one! if then thou knowest that it is "His way of salvation" that "they show," why dost thou not come out freely? But just what Simon wished, when he said, "Give me, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost" (ch. viii. 19), the same did this demon: since he saw them becoming famous, here also he plays the hypocrite: by this means he thought to be allowed to remain in the body, if he should preach the same things. But if Christ "receive not testimony from man," (John v. 34), meaning John, much less from a demon. "Praise is not comely in the mouth of a sinner" (Ecclus. xv. 9), much less from a demon. For that they preach is not of men, but of the Holy Ghost. Because they did not act in a spirit of boasting. "And Paul being grieved," etc. By their clamor and shouting they thought to alarm them (the magistrates): saying, "These men do exceedingly trouble our city." (v. 18-20.) What sayest thou? Dost thou believe the demon? Why not here also? He saith, They are "servants of the most high God;" thou sayest, "They exceedingly trouble our city:" he saith, "They show us the way of salvation;" thou sayest, "They teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive." (v. 21.) Observe, how they do not attend even to the demon, but look only to one thing, their covetousness. But observe them (Paul and Silas), how they do not answer, nor plead for themselves; (b) "For when," saith he, "I am weak, then am I strong. My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. xii. 9): so that by reason of their gentleness also they should be admired. (a) "And the magistrates," etc., "charging the jailer to keep them safely" (v. 22): that they may be the means of a greater miracle. (c) The stricter the custody, the greater the miracle. It was probably from the wish to cut short the disturbance, that the magistrates did these things; because they saw the crowd urgent, and wished to stay their passion at the instant, therefore they inflicted the stripes: at the same time it was their wish to hear the matter, and that was why they cast them into prison and gave charge "to keep them safely." And, it says, "he made them fast in the stocks" (v. 24), (to xu'lon) as we should say, the nervum (ne'rbon).
What tears do not these things call for! (Think) what they suffer, while we (live) in luxury, we in theatres, we perishing and drowning (in dissolute living), seeking always idle amusement, not enduring to suffer pain for Christ, not even as far as words, not even as far as talk. These things I beseech you let us ever call to mind, what things they suffered, what things they endured, how undismayed they were, how unoffended. They were doing God's work, and suffered these things! They did not say, Why do we preach this, and God does not take our part? But even this was a benefit to them, even apart  from the truth, in the thing itself; it made them more vigorous, stronger, intrepid. "Tribulation worketh endurance." (Rom. v. 4.) Then let us not seek loose and dissolute living. For as in the one case the good is twofold, that the sufferers are made strong, and that the rewards are great; so in the other the evil is twofold, that such are rendered more enervated, and that it is to no good, but only evil. For nothing can be more worthless than a man who passes all his time in idleness and luxury. For the man untried, as the saying is, is also unapproved; unapproved not only in the contests, but also in everything else. Idleness is a useless thing, and in luxury itself nothing is so unsuited to the end proposed as the leading a luxurious life: for it palls with satiety, so that neither the enjoyment of the viands is so great, nor the enjoyment of relaxation, but all becomes vapid, and runs to waste.
Then let us not seek after this. For if we will consider which has the pleasanter life, he that is toiled and hardworked, or he that lives in luxury, we shall find it to be the former. For in the first place, the bodily senses are neither clear nor sound, but dull (chau^nai) and languid; and when those are not right, even of health there is plainly no enjoyment. Which is the useful horse, the pampered or the exercised? which the serviceable ship, that which sails, or that which lies idle? which the best water, the running or the stagnant? which the best iron, that which is much used, or that which does no work? does not the one shine bright as silver, while the other becomes all over rusty, useless, and even losing some of its own substance? The like happens also to the soul as the consequence of idleness: a kind of rust spreads over it, and corrodes both its brightness and everything else. How then shall one rub off this rust? With the whetstone of tribulations: so shall one make the soul useful and fit for all things. Else, how, I ask, will she be able to cut off the passions, with her edge turned (anaklw'shs) and bending like lead? How shall she wound the devil?--And then to whom can such an one be other than a disgusting spectacle--a man cultivating obesity, dragging himself along like a seal? I speak not this of those who are naturally of this habit, but of those who by luxurious living have brought their bodies into such a condition, of those who are naturally of a spare habit. The sun has risen, has shot forth his bright beams on all sides, and roused up each person to his work: the husbandman goes forth with his spade, the smith with his hammer, and each artisan with his several instruments, and you will find each handling his proper tools; the woman also takes either her distaff or her webs: while he, like the swine, immediately at the first dawn goes forth to feed his belly, seeking how he may provide sumptuous fare. And yet it is only for brute beasts to be feeding from morning to night; and for them, because their only use is to be slaughtered. Nay, even of the beasts, those which carry burdens and admit of being worked, go forth to their work while it is yet night. But this man, rising from his bed, when the (noon- tide) sun has filled the market-place, and people are tired of their several works, then this man gets up, stretching himself out just as if he were indeed a hog in fattening, having wasted the fairest part of the day in darkness. Then he sits there for a long time on his bed, often unable even to lift himself up from the last evening's debauch, and having wasted (still) more time in this (listlessness), proceeds to adorn himself, and issues forth, a spectacle of unseemliness, with nothing human about him, but with all the appearance of a beast with a human shape: his eyes rheumy from the effect of wine, * * * while the miserable soul, just like the lame, is unable to rise, bearing about its bulk of flesh, like an elephant. Then he comes and sits in (various) places, and says and does such things, that it were better for him to be still sleeping than to be awake. If it chance that evil tidings be announced, he shows himself weaker than any girl; if good, more silly than any child; on his face there is a perpetual yawn. He is a mark for all that would do harm, if not for all men, at least for all evil passions; and wrath easily excites such a man, and lust, and envy, and all other passions. All flatter him, all pay court to him, rendering his soul weaker than it is already: and each day he goes on and on, adding to his disease. If he chance to fall into any difficulty of business, he becomes dust and ashes, and his silken garments are of no help to him. We have not said all this without a purpose, but to teach you, that none of you should live idly and at random. For idleness and luxury are not conducive to work, to good reputation, to enjoyment. For who will not condemn such a man? Family, friends, kinsfolk (will say), He is indeed a very encumbrance of the ground. Such a man as this has come into the world to no purpose: or rather, not to no purpose, but to ill purpose against his own person, to his own ruin, and to the hurt of others. But that this is more pleasant--let us look to this; for this is the question. Well then, what can be less pleasant than (the condition of) a man who has nothing to do; what more wretched and miserable? Is it not worse than all the fetters in the world, to be always gaping and yawning, as one sits in the market-place, looking at the passers by? For the soul, as its nature is to be always on the move, cannot endure to be at rest. God has made it a creature of action: to work is of its very nature; to be idle is against its nature. For let us not judge of these things from those who are diseased, but let us put the thing itself to the proof of fact. Nothing is more hurtful than leisure, and having nothing to do: indeed therefore hath God laid on us a necessity of working: for idleness hurts everything. Even to the members of the body, inaction is a mischief. Both eye, if it perform not its work, and mouth, and belly, and every member that one could mention, falls into the worst state of disease: but none so much as the soul. But as inaction is an evil, so is activity in things that ought to be let alone. For just as it is with the teeth, if one eats not, one receives hurt to them, and if one eats things unfitting, it jars them, and sets them on edge: so it is here; both if the soul be inactive, and if inactive in wrong things, it loses its proper force. Then let us eschew both alike; both inaction, and the activity which is worse than inaction. And what may that be? Covetousness, anger, envyings, and the other passions. As regards these, let us make it our object to be inactive, in order that we may obtain the good things promised to us, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ', with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XXXVI: ACTS XVI. 25, 26.
"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed."
What could equal these souls? These men had been scourged, had received many, stripes, they had been misused, were in peril of their lives, were thrust into the inner prison, and set fast in the stocks: and for all this they did not suffer themselves to sleep, but kept vigil all the night. Do you mark what a blessing tribulation is? But we, in our soft beds, with none to be afraid of, pass the whole night in sleep. But belike this is why they kept vigil, because they were in this condition. Not the tyranny of sleep could overpower them, not the smart of pain could bow them, not the fear of evil east them into helpless dejection: no, these were the very things that made them wakeful: and they were even filled with exceeding delight. "At midnight," it says, "and the prisoners listened to them :" it was so strange and surprising! "And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately, all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled." (v. 27.) There was an earthquake, that the keeper should be roused from sleep, and the doors flew open, that he should wonder at what had happened: but these things the prisoners saw not: otherwise they would all have fled:* but the keeper of the prison was about to slay himself, thinking the prisoners were escaped. "But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here" (v. 28.) (b) "Then he called for lights, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas; and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (v. 29-30.) Do you mark how the wonder overpowered him? (a) He wondered more at Paul's kindness; he was amazed at his manly boldness, that he had not escaped when he had it in his power, that he hindered him from killing himself. (c) "And they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house." (v. 31, 35) and (so) immediately gave proof of their kindness towards him. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway." (v. 33.) He washed them, and was himself baptized, he and his house. "And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. And when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, Let those men go." (v. 34, 35.) It is likely the magistrates had learnt what had happened, and did not dare of themselves to dismiss them. "And the keeper of the prison told these words to Paul, saying, the magistrates have sent to let you go now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, they have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust as out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the sergeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had Seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed." (v. 36-40.) Even upon the declaration of the magistrates Paul does not go out, but for the sake both of Lydia and the rest he puts them in fear: that they may not be supposed to have come out upon their own request, that they may set the rest in a posture of boldness. The impeachment was twofold: that "being Romans," and "uncondemned," they had openly cast them into prison. You see that in many things they took their measures as men.
(Recapitulation) "And at midnight," etc. (v. 25.) Let us compare, beloved, with that night these nights of ours, with their revellings, their drunkenness, and wanton excesses, with their sleep which might as well be death, their watchings which are worse than sleep. For while some sleep without sense or feeling, others lie awake to pitiable and wretched purpose, plotting deceits, anxiously thinking about money, studying how they may be revenged upon those who do them wrong, meditating enmity, reckoning up the abusive words spoken during the day: thus do they rake up the smouldering embers of wrath, doing things intolerable. Mark how Peter slept. (ch. xii. 6.) Both there, it was wisely ordered (that he should be asleep); for the Angel came to him, and it behooved that none should see what happened; and on the other hand it was well ordered here (that Paul should be awake), in order that the keeper of the prison might be prevented from killing himself. "And suddenly there was a great earthquake." (v. 26.) And why did no other miracle take place? Because this was, of all others, the thing sufficient for his conversion, seeing he was personally in danger: for it is not so much miracles that overpower us, as the things which issue in our own deliverance. That the earthquake should not seem to have come of itself, there was this concurrent circumstance, bearing witness to it: "the doors were opened, and all their bonds were loosed." And it appears in the night-time; for the Apostles did not work for display, but for men's salvation "And the keeper of the prison," etc. (v. 27.) The keeper was not an evil-disposed man that he "thrust them into the inner prison," (v. 24) was because of his "having received such a command," not of himself. The man was all in a tumult of perturbation. "What shall I do to be saved?" he asks. Why not before this? Paul shouted, until he saw, and is beforehand with him saying, "We are all here. And having called for lights," it says, "he sprang in, and fell down at the feet" of the prisoner; he, the prison keeper, saying, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (v. 28-30.) Why, what had they said? Observe, he does not, on finding himself safe, think all is well; he is overcome with awe at the miraculous power.
Do you mark what happened in the former case, and what here? There a girl was released from a spirit, and they cast them into prison, because they had liberated her from the spirit. Here, they did but show the doors standing open, and it opened the doors of his heart, it loosed two sorts of chains; that (prisoner) kindled the (true) light; for the light in his heart was shining. "And he sprang in, and fell before them;" and he does not ask, How is this? What is this? but straightway he says, "What must I do to be saved?" What then answers Paul? "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thine house." (v. 31.) For this above all, wins men: that one's house also should be saved. "And they spake the word to him, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes," etc. (v. 32, 33), washed them and was washed: those he washed from their stripes, himself was washed from his sins: he fed and was fed. "And rejoiced," it says: although there was nothing but words only and good hopes: "having believed in God with all his house (v. 34): this was the token of his having believed--that he was released of all. What worse than a jailer, what more ruthless, more savage? He entertained them with great honor. Not, because he was safe, he made merry, but, having believed God. (a) "Believe on the Lord," said the Apostle: therefore it is that the writer here says, "Having believed,-- (d) Now therefore," it says, "depart, and go in peace" (v. 36):that is, in safety, fearing no man. (b) "But Paul said unto them" (v. 37): that he may not seem to be receiving his liberty as one condemned, and as one that has done wrong: therefore it is that he says, "Having openly beaten us uncondemned," etc.--that it may not be matter of grace on their part. (e) And besides, they wish the jailer himself to be out of danger, that he may not be called to account for this afterwards. And they do not say, "Having beaten us," who have wrought miracles: for they (the magistrates) did not even heed these: but, that which was most effectual to shake their minds, "uncondemned, and being Romans." (c) Observe how diversely grace manages things: how Peter went out, how Paul, though both were Apostles. "They feared," (v. 38) it says: because the men were Romans, not because they bad unjustly cast them into prison,[*] "And besought them to depart out of the city" (v. 39): begged them as a favor. And they went to the house of Lydia, and having confirmed her, so departed. For it was not right to leave their hostess in distress and anxiety. But they went out, not in compliance with the request of those rulers, but hasting to the preaching: the city having been sufficiently benefited by the miracle: for it was fit they should not be there any longer. For in the absence of them that wrought it, the miracle appeared greater, itself crying out more loudly: the faith of the jailer was a voice in itself. What equal to this? He is put in bonds, and looses, being bound: looses a twofold bond: him that bound him, he looses by being bound. These are indeed works of (supernatural) grace.(f) Let us constantly bear in mind this jailer, not the miracle: how, prisoner as he was (the Apostle), persuaded his jailer. What say the heathen? "And of what things," say they, "was such a man as this to be persuaded--a vile, wretched creature, of no understanding, full of all that is bad and nothing else, and easily brought over to anything? For these, say they, are the things, a tanner, a purple-seller, an eunuch, slaves, and women believed." This is what they say. What then will they be able to say, when we produce the men of rank and station, the centurion, the proconsul, those from that time to the present, the rulers themselves, the emperors? But for my part, I speak of something else, greater than this: let us look to these very persons of no consideration. "And where is the wonder?" say you. Why, this, I say, is a wonder. For, if a person be persuaded about any common things, it is no wonder: but if resurrection, a kingdom of heaven, a life of philosophic self-command, be the subjects, and, discoursing of these to persons of mean consideration, one persuades them, it will be more wonderful than if one persuaded wise men. For when there is no danger attending the things of which one persuades people, then (the objector) might with some plausibility allege want of sense on their part: but when (the preacher) says--to the slave, as you will have it--" If thou be persuaded by me, it is at thy peril, thou wilt have all men for thine enemies, thou must die, thou must suffer evils without number," and yet for all this, convinces that man's soul, there can be no more talk here of want of sense. Since, if indeed the doctrines contained what was pleasant, one might fairly enough say this: but if, what the philosohers would never have chosen to learn, this the slave does learn, then is the wonder greater. And, if you will, let us bring before us the tanner himself, and see what were the subjects on which Peter conversed with him: or if you will, this same jailer. What then said Paul to him? "That Christ rose again," say you; "that there is a resurrection of the dead, and a kingdom: and he had no difficulty in persuading him, a man easily led to anything." How? Said he nothing about the mode of life; that he must be temperate, that he must be superior to money, that he must not be unmerciful, that he must impart of his good things to others? For it cannot be said, that the being persuaded to these things also was from the want of power of mind; no, to be brought to all this required a great soul. For be it so, that as far as the doctrines went, they were rendered more apt to receive these by their want of intelligence: but to accept such a virtuous, self-denying rule of life, how could that be owing to any defect of understanding? So that the less understanding the person may have, if nevertheless he is persuaded to things, to which even philosophers were unable to persuade their fellow- philosophers, the greater the wonder--when women and slaves are persuaded of these truths, and prove it by their actions, of which same truths the Platos and all the rest of them were never able to persuade any man. And why say I, "any man?" Say rather, not themselves even: on the contrary, that money is not to be despised, Plato persuaded (his disciples) by getting, as he did, such an abundance of property, and golden rings, and goblets; and that the honor to be had from the many is not to be despised, this Socrates himself shows, for all that he may philosophize without end on this point: for in everything he did, he had an eye to fame. And if you were conversant with his discourses, I might go at great length into this subject, and show what a deal of insincerity (eirwnei'an) there was in them,--if at least we may believe what his disciple says of him,--and how that all his writings have their ground-work in vainglory. But, leaving them, let us direct the discourse to our own selves. For besides the things that have been said, there is this also to be added, that men were persuaded of these things to their own peril. Be not thou therefore shameless, but let us think over that night, the stocks, and the hymns of praise. This let us also do, and we shall open for ourselves--not a prison, but--heaven. If we pray, we shall be able even to open heaven. Elias both shut and opened heaven by prayer. (James v. 17.) There is a prison in heaven also. "Whatsoever," He saith, "ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven." (Matt. xvi. 19.) Let us pray by night, and we shall loose these bonds. For that prayers loose sins, let that widow convince us, let that friend convince us, who at that untimely hour of the night persists and knocks (Luke xi. 5): let Cornelius convince us, for, "thy prayers," it says, "and thine alms are come up before God." (ch. x. 4.) Let Paul convince us, who says, "Now she that is a widow indeed and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications night and day." (1 Tim. v. 5.) If he speaks thus of a widow, a weak woman, much more would he of men. I have both before discoursed to you on this, and now repeat it: let us arouse ourselves during the night: though thou make not many prayers, make one with watchfulness, and it is enough, I ask no more: and if not at midnight, at any rate at the first dawn. Show that the night is not only for the body, but also for the soul: do not suffer it to pass idly, but make this return to thy Master: nay rather (the benefit) itself returns to thee. Say, if we fall into any difficult strait, to whom do we not make request? and if we soon obtain our request, we breathe freely again. What a boon were it for thee, to have a friend to go to with thy request, who shall be ready to take it as a kindness, and to be obliged to thee for thy asking? What a boon, not to have to go about and seek one to ask of, but to find one ready? to have no need of others through whom thou mayest solicit? What could be greater than this? Since here is One who then does most, when we make not our requests of others than Himself: just as a sincere friend then most complains of us for not trusting in his friendship, when we ask of others to make request to him. Thus also let us act. "But what," you will ask, "if I should have offended Him?" Cease to give offence, and weep, and so draw near to Him, and thou wilt quickly render Him propitious as to thy former sins. Say only, I have offended: say it from thy soul and with a sincere mind, and all things are remitted to thee. Thou dost not so much desire thy sins to be forgiven, as He desires to forgive thee thy sins. In proof that thou dost not so desire it, consider that thou hast no mind either to practice vigils, or to give thy money freely: but He, that He might forgive our sins, spared not His Only-begotten and True Son, the partner of His throne. Seest thou how He more desires to forgive thee thy sins (than thou to be forgiven )? Then let us not be slothful, nor put off this any longer. He is merciful and good: only let us give Him an opportunity. And (even) this (He seeks), only that we may not become unprofitable, since even without this He could have freed us from them: but like as we (with the same view) devise and arrange many things for our servants to do, so does He in the matter of our salvation. "Let us anticipate His face with thanksgiving." (Ps. xcv. 2. "Let us come before His presence." E.V.), since He is good and kind. But if thou call not upon Him, what will He do? Thou dost not choose to say, Forgive; thou wilt not say it from thy heart, but with thy mouth only. What is it, to call in truth? (To call) with purpose of heart, with earnestness, with a sincere mind; just as men say of perfumes, "This is genuine, and has nothing spurious," so here. He who truly calls on Him, he who truly prays to Him, continually attends to it, and desists not, until he obtain (his request): but he who does it in a merely formal manner (aphosiou'menos), and even this only by way of fulfilling a law, does not call in truth. Whosoever thou art, say not only, "I am a sinner," but be earnest also to rid thyself of this character; say not this only, but also grieve. If thou grievest, thou art in earnest: if thou art not in earnest, thou grievest not: if thou grievest not, thou triflest. What sort of man is he who shall say, "I am sick," and not to do all to be freed from his sickness? A mighty weapon is Prayer. "If ye," saith the Lord, "know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more your Father?" (Luke xi. 13.) Then wherefore art thou unwilling to approach Him? He loves thee, He is of more power than all besides. Both willing is He and able, what is there to hinder? Nothing. But then, on our part, let us draw near with faith, draw near, offering the gifts that He desires, forgetfulness of wrongs, kindness, meekness. Though thou be a sinner, with boldness shalt thou ask of Him forgiveness of thy sins, if thou canst show that this has been done by thyself: but though thou be righteous, and possess not this virtue of forgetfulness of injuries, thou art none the better for it. It cannot be that a man who has forgiven his neighbor should not obtain perfect forgiveness: for God is beyond comparison more merciful than we. What sayest thou? If thou sayest, "I have been wronged, I have subdued my anger, I have endured the onset of wrath because of Thy command, and dost Thou not forgive? Full surely He will forgive: and this is plain to all. Therefore let us purge our soul from all resentment. This is sufficient for us, in order that we may be heard; and let us pray with watching and much perseverance, that having enjoyed His bountiful mercy, we may be found worthy of the good things promised, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XXXVII: ACTS XVII. 1, 2, 3.
"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ."
Again they haste past the small cities, and press on to the greater ones, since from those. the word was to flow as from a fountain into the neighboring cities. "And Paul, as his manner was, went into the synagogue of the Jews." Although he had said, "We turn to the Gentiles" (ch. xiii. 46), he did not leave these alone: such was the longing affection he had towards them. For hear him saying, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved" (Rom. x. I): and, "I wished myself accursed from Christ for my brethren." (ib. ix. 3.) But he did this because of God's promise and the glory: and this, that it might not be a cause of offence to the Gentiles. "Opening," it says, "from the Scriptures, he reasoned with them for three sabbaths, putting before them that the Christ must suffer." Do thou mark how before all other things he preaches the Passion: so little were they ashamed of it, knowing it to be the cause of salvation. "And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few." (v. 4.) The writer mentions only the sum and substance of the discoursing: he is not given to redundancy, and does not on every occasion report the sermons. "But the Jews which believed not (the best texts omit "which believed not"), moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus." (v. 5-7.) Oh! what an accusation! again they get up a charge of treason against them, "saying, there is another king (one) Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go." (v. 8, 9.) A man worthy to be admired, that he put himself into danger, and sent them away from it. "And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble," it says, "than they of Thessalonica: more noble," i. e. more gentle (epieike'steroi) (in their behavior): "in that they received the word with all readiness," and this not inconsiderately, but with a strictness wherein was no passion, "searching the Scriptures whether these things were so." (v. 10, 11.) "Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still." (v. 12-14.) See how he at one time gives way, at another presses on, and in many things takes his measures upon human considerations. "And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with speed, they departed." (v. 15.) But let us look again at what has been said.
(Recapitulation.) "Three sabbath-days," it says, being the time when they had leisure from work, "he reasoned with them, opening out of the Scriptures" (v. 2): for so used Christ also to do: as on many occasions we find Him reasoning from the Scriptures, and not on all occasions (urging men) by miracles. Because to this indeed they stood in a posture of hostility, calling them deceivers and jugglers; but he that persuades l men by reasons from the Scriptures, is not liable to this imputation. And on many occasions we find (Paul) to have convinced men simply by force of teaching: and in Antioch "the whole city was gathered together" (ch. xiii. 44): so great a thing is this also, for indeed this itself is no small miracle, nay, it is even a very great one. And that they might not think that they did it all by their own strength, but rather that God permitted it, two things resulted, namely, "Some of them were persuaded," etc. (c) "And of devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few :" * but those others did the contrary: "the Jews moved with envy," etc. (v. 4, 5) (b) and, from the fact that the being called was itself a matter of God's fore-ordering, (a) they neither thought great things of themselves as if the triumph were their own, nor were terrified as being responsible (for all). But how comes it that he said, "That we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision" (Gal. ii. 9), and yet discoursed to the Jews? (a) He did this as a thing over and above. (b) For he did other things also more than he was obliged. For instance, Christ ordained that they should "live by the Gospel" (I Cor. ix. 14; i. 17), but our Apostle did it not: Christ sent him not to baptize, yet he did baptize. Mark how he was equal to all. Peter to the circumcision, he to the Gentiles, to the greater part. (a) Since if it was necessary for him to discourse to Jews, how said he again: "For He that wrought effectually in him toward the circumcision, the same was mighty also in me toward the Gentiles" (Gal. ii. 8)? In the same way as those Apostles also had intercourse with the Gentiles, though they had been set apart for the circumcision, so likewise did our Apostle. The more part of his work indeed was with the Gentiles: still he did not neglect the Jews either, that they might not seem to be severed from them. And how was it, you will ask, that he entered in the first place into the synagogues, as if this were his leading object? True;but he persuaded the Gentiles through the Jews, and from the things which he discoursed of to the Jews. And he knew, that this was most suitable for the Gentiles, and most conducive to belief. Therefore he says: "Inasmuch as I am the "Apostle of the Gentiles." (Rom. xi. 13.) And his Epistles too all fight against the Jews.That the Christ," he says, "must needs have suffered." (v. 3.) If there was a necessity for His suffering, there was assuredly. a necessity for His rising again: for the former was far more wonderful than the latter. For if He gave Him up to death Who had done no wrong, much rather did He raise Him up again. "But the Jews which believed not took unto them certain of the baser sort, and set all the city on an uproar (v. 5): so that the Gentiles were more in number. The Jews thought not themselves enough to raise the disturbance:for because they had no reasonable pretext, they ever effect such purposes by means of uproar, and by taking to themselves base men. "And when they found them not," it says, "they haled Jason and certain brethren." (v. 6.) O the tyranny! dragged them without any cause out of their houses. "These all," say they, "do contrary to the decrees of Caesar" (v. 7): for since they spoke nothing contrary to what had been decreed, nor made any commotion in the city, they bring them under a different charge: "saying that there is another king, one Jesus. * And they troubled the people," etc. (v. 8.) And what are ye afraid of, seeing He is dead? (b) "And when they had taken security," etc. (v. 9.) See how by giving security Jason sent Paul away: so that he gave his life (to the hazard) for him. t (a) "And brethren," etc. (v. 10.) See how the persecutions in every case extend the preaching. "Now these," it says, "were more noble than those in Thessalonica" (v. II): i.e. they were not (men) practising base things, but some were convinced, and the others (who were not), did nothing (of that sort). (b) "Daily," it says, "searching the Scriptures whether these things were so:" not merely upon a sudden impetus or (burst of) zeal. "More noble," it says: i. e. in point of virtue (a) "Therefore many of them," etc. (v. 12.) And here again are Greeks. (3) "But when the Jews of Thessalonica," etc. (v. 13), because there were lewd persons there. And yet that city was greater. But it is no wonder in the greater city the people were worse nay, of course to the greater city there go the worse men, where the occasions of disturbances are many. And as in the body, where the disease is more violent for having more matter and fuel, just so is it here. (a) But look, I beg you, how their fleeing was providentially ordered, not from cowardice: otherwise they would have ceased to preach, and would not have exasperated them still more. But from this (flight) two things resulted: both the rage of those (Jews) was quenched, and the preaching spread. But in terms befitting their disorderly conduct, he says, "Agitating the multitude." (b) Just what was done at Iconium--that they may have the additional condemnation of destroying others besides themselves. (ch. xiv. 2, 19.) This is what Paul says of them: "Forbidding to preach to the Gentiles, to fill up their sins alway, for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost." (1 Thess. ii. 16.) Why did he not stay? for if (at Lystra, ch. xiv. 19, 21) there, where he was stoned, he nevertheless stayed a long time, much more here. Why? (The Lord) did not wish them to be always doing signs; for this is itself a sign, not less than the working of signs--that being persecuted, they overcame without signs. So that just as now He prevails without signs, so was it on many occasions His will to prevail then. Consequently neither did the Apostles run after signs: as in fact he says himself, "We preach Christ crucified" (1 Cor. i. 23)--to them that crave signs, to them that crave wisdom, we give that which cannot even after signs persuade, and yet we do persuade! So that this was a mighty sign. See then, how when the preaching is extended, they are not in a hurry to run after signs. a For it was right that thenceforth the believers should be mighty signs to the rest. Howbeit, by retreating and advancing they did these things. (a) "And immediately," it says, "the brethren sent away Paul." (v. 14.) Here now they send Paul alone: for it was for him they feared, lest he should suffer some harm, the head and front of all being in fact none other than he. (b) "They sent him away," it says, "as it were to the sea:" that it might not be easy for them to seize him. For at present they could not have done much by themselves; and with him they accomplished and achieved many things. For the present, it says, they wished to rescue him. (a) So far is it from being the case, that (supernatural) Grace worked all alike on all occasions: on the contrary, it left them to take their measures upon human judgment, (only) stirring them up and rousing them out of sleep, and making them to take pains. Thus, observe, it brought them safe only as far as Philippi, but no more after that. "And receiving," it says, "a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed." (v. 15.) For though he was a Paul, nevertheless he needed them. And with good reason are they urged by God to go into Macedonia, for there lay Greece moreover bright (before them). (ch. xvi. 9.)
See what zeal the rest of the disciples showed with respect to their leaders: not as it is now with us, who are separated and divided into great and small: some of us exalted, while others are envious: for this is the reason why those are envious, because we are puffed up, because we will not endure to be put upon a par with them. The reason why there is harmony in the body, is because there is no puffing up: and there is no puffing up, because the members are of necessity made to stand in need of each other, and the head has need of the feet. And God has made this to be the case with us, and, for all that, we will not endure it: although even without this, there ought to be love among us. Hear ye not how they that are without accuse us when they say, "Needs make friendships?" The laity have need of us; and we again exist for them. Since teacher or ruler would not exist, if there were not persons to be taught, nor would he perform his part, for it would not be possible. As the land has need of the husbandman, and the husbandman of the land, so is it here. What reward is there for the teacher to receive, when he has none to produce that he has taught? and what for the taught, who have not had the benefit of the best teaching? So that we need each other alike in turn, both the governed, them that govern, and leaders, them that obey: for rulers are for the sake of many. Since no one is sufficient to do anything by himself alone, whether need be to ordain (cheirotonh^sai, or to examine men's counsels and opinions. but they become more honorable by assembly and numbers. For instance, the poor need givers, the givers again need receivers. "Considering one another" he says, "to provoke unto love and to good works." (Heb. x. 24.) On this account the assembly of the whole Church has more power: and what each cannot do by himself singly, he is able to do when joined with the rest. Therefore most necessary are the prayers offered up, here, for the world, for the Church, from the one end of the earth to the other, for peace, for those who are in adversities. And Paul shows this when he says, "That for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf" (2 Cor. i. II); that is, that He might confer the favor on many. And often he asks for their prayers. See also what God says with regard to the Ninevites: "And shall not I spare that city, wherein dwell more than six score thousand persons?" (Jonah iv. II.) For if, "where two or three," He says, "are gathered together in My Name" (Matt. xviii. 20), they prevail much, how much more, being many? And yet thou mayest prevail, though thou be but one; yet not equally so. For why art thou but one? Why dost thou not make many? Why dost thou not become the maker of love? Why dost thou not create (kataskeu'azeis) friendship? Thou lackest the chief excellence of virtue. For as men's being bad by agreement together more provokes God; so for men to be good by unanimity delights Him more. "Thou shall not follow a multitude," He says, "to do evil." (Ex. xxiii. 2.) "They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable" (Rom. iii. 12), and have become as it were men singing m concert in their wickedness. Make for thyself friends in preference to domestics, and all besides. If the peacemaker is a son of God, how much more he who makes friends also? (Matt. v. 9.) If he who reconciles only is called a son of God, of what shall not he be worthy, who makes friends of those who are reconciled? Let us engage ourselves in this trade, let us make those who are enemies to each other friends, and those who are not indeed enemies, but are not friends, them let us bring together, and before all, our own selves. For as he who is at enmity in his house, and has differences with his wife, carries no authority when reconciling others, but will be told, "Physician, heal thyself" (Luke iv. 23), so will a man be told in this case. What then is the enmity that is in us? That of the soul against the body, that of vice against virtue. This enmity let us put an end to, this war let us take away, and then being in peace we shall also address others with much boldness of speech, our conscience not accusing us. Anger fights against gentleness, love of money against contempt of it, envy against goodness of heart. Let us make an end of this war, let us overthrow these enemies, let us set up these trophies, let us establish peace in our own city. We have within us a city and a civil polity, and citizens and aliens many: but let us banish the aliens, that our own people may not be ruined. Let no foreign nor spurious doctrine enter in, no carnal desire. See we not that, if any enemy has been caught in a city, he is judged as a spy? Then let us not only banish aliens, but let us drive out enemies also. If we see one, let us deliver up to the ruler, (that is), to conscience (tw(i)^ nw(i)^), that imagination which is indeed an alien, a barbarian, albeit tricked out with the garb of a citizen. For there are within us many imaginations of this kind, which are by nature indeed enemies, but are clad in sheep's skins. Just as the Persians, when they have put off the tiara, and the drawers, and the barbarian shoes, and put on the other dress which is usual with us, and have shorn themselves close, and converse in our own tongue, conceal war under their outward garb: but once apply the tortures (basa'nous or "tests "), and thou bringest to light what is hidden: so here, examine (or "put to the test,")by torture again and again such an imagination as this, and thou wilt quickly see that its spirit is that of a stranger. But to show you also by way of example the sort of spies which the devil sends into us to spy out what is in us, come let us strip one of them, and examine it strictly at the tribunal: and if you please, let us bring forward some of those which were detected by Paul. "Which things," he says, "have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and neglecting off the body: not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh." (Col. ii. 23.) The devil wished to bring in Judaism: now if he had introduced it in its own form, he would not have carried his point. Accordingly, mark how he brought it about. "You must neglect the body," he says: "this is (the true) philosophy, not to admit of meats, but to guard against them: this is humility." And now again in our own times, in the case of the heretics, he wished to bring us down to the creature. See then how he dressed up his deceit. Had he said, "Worship a creature," he would have been detected: but what says he? "God" (viz. the Son and the Holy Ghost), he says, "is a created being." But let us lay bare for the decision of the judges the meaning of the Apostolic writings: there let us bring him: themselves will acknowledge both the preaching and the language. Many make gains "that they may have wherewith to give to the poor," unjust gains: this too is a wicked imagination. But let us undress it, let us convict it, that we may not be taken by it, but that having escaped all the devices of the devil, and holding to the sound doctrines with strictness, we may be able both to pass in safety through this life present, and to obtain the good things promised, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XXXVIII: ACTS XVII. 16, 17.
"Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him."
Observe how he meets with greater trials among the Jews than among the Gentiles. Thus in Athens he undergoes nothing of this kind; the thing goes as far as ridicule, and there an end: and yet he did make some converts: whereas among the Jews he underwent many perils; so much greater was their hostility against him.--"His spirit," it says, "was roused within him when he saw the city all full of idols." Nowhere else were so many objects of worship to be seen. But again "he disputed with the Jews in the synagogue, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain of the philosophers of the Stoics and Epicureans encountered him." (v. 18.) It is a wonder the philosophers did not laugh him to scorn, speaking in the way he did. "And some said, What does this babbler mean to say?" insolently, on the instant:--this is far from philosophy. "Other some said, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods," from the preaching, because he had no arrogance. They did not understand, nor comprehend the subjects he was speaking of--how should they? affirming as they did, some of them, that God is a body; others, that pleasure is the (true) happiness. "Of strange gods, because he preached:unto them Jesus and the Resurrection :" for in fact they supposed "Anastasis" (the Resurrection) to be some deity, being accustomed to worship female divinities also.* "And having taken him, they brought him to the Areopagus" (v. 19)--not to punish, but in order to learn--"to the Areopagus" where the trials for murder were held. Thus observe, in hope of learning (they ask him), saying, "May we know what is this new doctrine spoken of by thee? For thou bringest certain strange matters to our ears" (v. 20):everywhere novelty is the charge: "we would fain know therefore, what these things may mean." It was a city of talkers, that city of theirs. "For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time m nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing. Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I look upon you as being in all things" (v. 21, 22)--he puts it by way of encomium: (the word) does not seem to mean anything offensive-- deisidaimoneste'rous, that is, eulabeste'rous, "more religiously disposed. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with his inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. What therefore ye ignorantly worship, this declare I unto you." (v. 23.)--" On which was inscribed, To an Unknown God." The Athenians, namely, as on many occasions they had received gods from foreign parts also--for instance, the temple of Minerva, Pan, and others from different countries-being afraid that there might be some other god not yet known to them, but worshipped elsewhere, for more assurance, forsooth, erected an altar to that god also: and as the god was not known, it was inscribed, "To an Unknown God." This God then, he tells them, is Christ; or rather, the God of all. t "Him declare I unto you," Observe l how he shows that they had already received Him, and "it is nothing strange," says he, "nothing new that I introduce to you." All along, this was what they had been saying: "What is this new doctrine spoken of by thee? For thou bringest certain strange matters to our ears." Immediately therefore he removes this surmise of theirs: and then says, "God that made the world and all things therein, He being Lord of heaven and earth" --for, that they may not imagine Him to be one of many, he presently sets them right on this point; adding, "dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (v. 24), "neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything "--do you observe how, little by little, he brings in the philosophy? how he ridicules the heathen error? "seeing it is He that giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth." This is peculiar to God. Look, then, whether these things may not be predicated of the Son also. "Being Lord," he saith, "of heaven and earth "- -which they accounted to be God's. Both the creation he declares to be His work, and mankind also. "Having determined," he says, "the times  assigned to them, and the bounds of their habitation," (v. 25, 26), "that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one,of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being: as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring." (v. 27, 28.) This is said by Aratus the poet. Observe how he draws his arguments from things done by themselves, and from sayings of their own. "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art." (v. 29.) And yet for this reason we ought. By no means: for surely we are not like (to such), nor are these souls of ours. "And imagination of man." How so? * * But some person might say, "We do not think this." But it was to the many that he was addressing himself, not now to Philosophy. How then did they think so unworthily of Him? Again, putting it upon their ignorance, he says, "Now the times of ignorance God overlooked." Having agitated their minds by the fear, he then adds this: and yet he says, "but now he commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (v. 30.) "Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead." (v. 31.) But let us look over again what has been said.
(Recapitulation.) (b) "And while Paul waited," etc. (v. 16.) It is providentially ordered that against his will he stays there, while waiting for those others. (a) "His spirit," it says, "within him" parwxu'neto. It does not mean there, anger or exasperation: just as elsewhere it says, "There was paroxusmo`s between them." (ch. xv. 30.) (c) Then what is parwxu'neto? Was roused: for the gift is far removed from anger and exasperation. He could not bear it, but pined away. "He reasoned therefore in the synagogue," etc. (v. 17.) Observe him again reasoning with Jews. By "devout persons" he means the proselytes. For the Jews were dispersed everywhere before (mod. text "since") Christ's coming, the Law indeed being henceforth, so to say, in process of dissolution, but at the same time (the dispersed Jews) teaching men religion. But those prevailed nothing, save only that they got witnesses of their own calamities. (e) "And certain philosophers," etc. (v. 18.) How came they to be willing to confer with him? (They did it) when they salt others reasoning, and the man having repute (in the encounter). And observe straightway with overbearing insolence, "some said, What would this babbler say? For the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit." (1 Cor. ii. 14.) Other some, He seemeth to be a setter-forth of strange deities: daimoni'wn, for so they called their gods. "And having taken him, they brought him," etc. (v. 19.) (a) The Athenians no longer enjoyed their own laws, but were become subject to the Romans. (g) (Then) why did they hale him to the Areopagus? Meaning to overawe him--(the place) where they held the trials for bloodshed. "May we know, what is this new doctrine spoken of by thee? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears; we would fain know therefore what these things mean. For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing." (v. 20, 21.) Here the thing noted is, that though ever occupied only in this telling and hearing, yet they thought those things strange--things which they had never heard. "Then Paul standing in the midst of the Areopagus said, Ye men of Athens, I look upon you as being in all things more religiously disposed" (v. 22): (f) for the cities were full of gods (daimo'nwn, al. eidw'lwn): (h) this is why he says deisidaimoneste'rous. " For as I passed by and viewed the objects of your worship--he does not say simply tou`s dai'monas (the demons, or deities), but paves the way for his discourse: "I beheld an altar," etc. (v. 23.) This is why he says, "I look upon you as being more religiously disposed, viz. because of the altar. "God," he says, "that made the world." (v. 24.) He uttered one word, by which he has subverted all the (doctrines) of the philosophers. For the Epicureans affirm all to be fortuitously formed and (by concourse) of atoms, the Stoics held it to be body and fire (ekpu'rwsin). "The world and all that is therein." Do you mark the conciseness, and in conciseness, clearness? Mark what were the things that were strange to them: that God made the world! Things which now any of the most ordinary persons know, these the Athenians and the wise men of the Athenians knew not. "Seeing He is Lord of heaven and earth:" for if He made them, it is clear that He is Lord. Observe what he affirms to be the note of Deity--creation. Which attribute the Son also hath. For the Prophets everywhere affirm this, that to create is God's prerogative. Not as those affirm that another is Maker but not Lord, assuming that matter is uncreated. Here now he covertly affirms and establishes his own, while he overthrows their doctrine. "Dwelleth not in temples made with hands." For He does indeed dwell in temples, yet not in such, but in man's soul. He overthrows the corporeal worship. What then? Did He not dwell in the temple at Jerusalem? No indeed: but He wrought therein. "Neither is worshipped by men's hands." (v. 25.) How then was He worshipped by men's hands among the Jews? Not by hands, but by the understanding. "As though He needed anything:" since even those (acts of worship) He did not in this sort seek, "as having need. Shall I eat," saith He, "the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?" (Ps. 1. 13.) Neither is this enough--the having need of naught--which he has affirmed: for though this is Divine, yet a further attribute must be added. "Seeing it is He that giveth unto all, life and breath and all things." Two proofs of Godhead: Himself to have need of naught, and to supply all things to all men. Produce here Plato (and) all that he has philosophized about God, all that Epicurus has: and all is but trifling to this! "Giveth," he says, "life and breath." Lo, he makes Him the Creator of the soul also, not its begetter. See again how he overthrows the doctrine about matter. "And made," he says, "off one blood every nation of men to dwell upon all the face of the earth." (v. 26.) These things are better than the former: and what an impeachment both of the atoms and of matter, that (creation) is not partial (work), nor the soul of man either? But this, which those say, is not to be Creator.--But by the mind and understanding He is worshipped.--" It is He that giveth," etc. He not the partial (merikoi` dai'mones) deities. "And all things." it is "He," he saith.--How man also came into being.--First he showed that "He dwelleth not," etc., and then declared that He "is not worshipped as though He had need of aught." If God, He made all: but if He made not, He is not God. Gods that made not heaven and earth, let them perish. He introduces much greater doctrines, though as yet he does not mention the great doctrines; but he discoursed to them as unto children. And these were much greater than those. Creation, Lordship, the having need of naught, authorship of all good--these he has declared. But s how is He worshipped? say. It is not yet the proper time. What equal to this sublimity? Marvellous is this also--of one, to have made so many: but also, having made, Himself sustains them (sugkratei^) in being, "giving life and breath and all things. (b) And hath determined the times appointed, and the bounds of their habitation, that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after Him and find Him." (v. 27.) (a) It means either this, that He did not compel them to ,go about and seek God, but according to the bounds of their habitation: (c) or this, that He determined their seeking God, yet not determined this (to be done) continually, but (determined) certain appointed times (when they should do so): showing now, that not having sought they had found: for since, having sought, they had not found, he shows that God was now as manifest as though He were in the midst of them palpably (pshlaphw'menos). (e) "Though He be not far," he saith, "from every one of us," but is near to all. See again the power (or, "what it is to be God,") of God. What saith he? Not only He gave "life and breath and all things," but, as the sum and substance of all, He brought us to the knowledge of Himself, by giving us these things by which we are able to find and to apprehend Him. But we did not wish to find Him, albeit close at hand. "Though He be not far from every one of us." Why look now, He is near to all, to every one all the world over! What can be greater than this? See how he makes clear riddance of the parcel deities (tou`s merikou's)! What say I, "afar off?" He is so near, that without Him we live not: "for in Him we live and move and have our being." (v. 28.) "In him;" to put it by way of corporeal similitude, even as it is impossible to be ignorant of the air which is diffused on every side around us, and is "not far from every one of us," nay rather, which is in us. (d) For it was not so that there was a heaven in one place, in another none, nor yet (a heaven) at one time, at another none. So that both at every "time" and at every "bound" it was possible to find Him. He so ordered things, that neither by place nor by t time were men hindered. For of course even this, if nothing else, of itself was a help to them--that the heaven is in every place, that it stands in all time. (f) See how (he declares) His Providence, and His upholding power(sugkra'thsin); the existence of all things from Him, (from Him) their working (to` energei^n), (from Him their preservation) that they perish not. And he does not say, "Through Him," but, what was nearer than this, "In him."-- That poet said nothing equal to this, "For we are His offspring." He, however, spake it of Jupiter, but Paul takes it of the Creator, not meaning the same being as he, God forbid! but meaning what is properly predicated of God: just as he spoke of the altar with reference to Him, not to the being whom they worshipped. As much as to say, "For certain things are said and done with reference to this (true God), but ye know not that they are with reference to Him." For say, of whom would it be properly said, "To an Unknown God?" Of the Creator, or of the demon? Manifestly of the Creator: because Him they knew not, but the other they knew. Again, that all things are filled (with the presence)--of God? or of Jupiter--a wretch of a man, a detestable impostor! But Paul said it not in the same sense as he, God forbid! but with quite a different meaning. For he says we are God's offspring, i.e. God's own, His nearest neighbors as it were. For lest, when he says, "Being the offspring of God" (v. 29), they should again say, Thou bringest certain strange things to our ears, he produces the poet. He does not say, "Ye ought not to think the Godhead like to gold or silver," ye accursed and execrable: but in more lowly sort he says, "We ought not." For what (says he)? God is above this? No, he does not say this either: but for the present this--"We ought not to think the Godhead like unto such," for nothing is so opposite to men. "But we do not affirm the Godhead to be like unto this, for who would say that?" Mark how he has introduced the incorporeal (nature of God) when he said, "In Him," etc., for the mind, when it surmises body, at the same time implies the notion of distance. (Speaking) to the many he says, "We ought not to think the Godhead like unto gold, or silver, or stone, the shaping of art," for if we are not like to those as regards the soul, much more God (is not like to such). So far, he withdraws them from the notion. But neither is the Godhead, he would say, subjected to any other human conception. For if that which art or thought has found--this is why he says it thus, "of art or imagination of man" --if that, then, which human art or thought has found, is God, then even in the stone (is) God's essence.--How comes it then, if "in Him we live," that we do not find Him? The charge is twofold, both that they did not find Him, and that they found such as these. The (human) understanding in itself is not at all to be relied upon.--But when he has agitated their soul by showing them to be without excuse, see what he says: "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." (v. 30.) What then? Are none of these men to be punished? None of them that are willing to repent. He says it of these men, not of the departed, but of them whom He commands to repent. He does not call you to account, he would say. He does not say, Took no notice (parei^den); does not say, Permitted: but, Ye were ignorant. "Overlooked," i.e. does not demand punishment as of men that deserve punishment. Ye were ignorant. And he does not say, Ye wilfully did evil.; but this he showed by what he Said above--" All men everywhere to repent:" again he hints at the whole world. Observe how he takes them off from the parcel deities! "Because He has appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained, whereof He hath given assurance to all men, in that He raised Him from the dead." (v. 31.) Observe how he again declares the Passion. Observe the terror again: for, that the judgment is true, is clear from the raising Him up: for it is alleged in proof of that. That all he has been saying is true, is clear from the fact that He rose again. For He did give this "assurance to all men," His rising from the dead: this (i.e. judgment), also is henceforth certain.
These words were spoken indeed to the Athenians: but it were seasonable that one should say to us also, "that all men everywhere must repent, because he hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world." See how he brings Him in as Judge also: Him, both provident for the world, and merciful and forgiving and powerful and wise, and, in a word possessing all the attributes of a Creator. "Having given assurance to all men," i.e. He has given proof in the rising (of Jesus) from the dead. Let us repent then: for we must assuredly be judged. If Christ rose not, we shall not be judged: but if he rose, we shall without doubt be judged. "For to this end," it is said, "did He also die, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." (Rom. xiv. 9.) "For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive according to that he hath done." (Rom. xiv. 10, and 2 Cor. v. 10.) Do not imagine that these are but words. Lo! he introduced also the subject of the resurrection of all men; for in no other way can the world be judged. And that, "In that He hath raised Him from the dead," relates to the body: for that was dead, that had fallen. Among the Greeks, as their notions of Creation, so likewise of the Judgment, are children's fancies, ravings of drunken men. But let us, who know these things accurately, do something that is to the purpose: let us be made friends unto God. How long shall we be at enmity with Him? How long shall we entertain dislike towards Him? "God forbid!" you will say: "Why do you say such things?" I would wish not to say the things I say, if ye did not do the things ye do: but as things are, what is the use now in keeping silence from words, when the plain evidence of deeds so cries aloud? How then, how shall we love Him? I have told you thousands of ways, thousands of times: but I will speak it also now. One way I seem to myself to have discovered, a very great and admirable way. Namely, after acknowledging to Him our general obligations,--what none shall be able to express (I mean), what has been done for each of us in his own person, of these also let us bethink ourselves, because these are of great force: let each one of us reckon them up with himself, and make diligent search, and as it were in a book let him have the benefits of God written down; for instance, if at any time having fallen into dangers he has escaped the hands of his enemies; if ever having gone out on a journey at an untimely hour, he has escaped danger; if ever, having had an encounter with wicked men, he has got the better of them; or if ever, having fallen into sickness, he has recovered when all had given him over: for this avails much for attaching us to God. For if that Mordecai, when the services done by him were brought to the king's remembrance, found them to be so available, that he in return rose to that height of splendor (Esther vi. 2-11): much more we, if we call to mind, and make diligent enquiry of these two points, what sins we have committed against God, and what good He has done to us, shall thus both be thankful, and give Him freely all that is ours. But no one gives a thought to any of these things: but just as regarding our sins we say that we are sinners, while we do not enquire into them specifically, so with regard to God's benefits (we say), that God has done us good, and do not specifically enquire, where, and in how great number and at what time. But from this time forth let us be very exact in our reckoning. For if any one can recall even those things which happened long ago, let him reckon up all accurately, as one who will find a great treasure. This is also .profitable to us in keeping us from despair. For when we see that he has often protected us, we shall not despair, nor suppose that we are cast off but we shall take it as a strong pledge of His care for us, when we bethink us how, though we have sinned, we are not punished, but even enjoy protection from Him. Let me now tell you a case, which I heard from a certain person, in which was a child, and it happened on a time that he was in the country with his mother, being not yet fifteen years old. Just then there came a bad air, in consequence of which a fever attacked them both, for in fact it was the autumn season. It happened that the mother succeeded in getting into the town before (they could stop her); but the boy, when the physicians on the spot ordered him, with the fever burning within him, to gargle his throat, resisted, having forsooth his own wise view of the matter, and thinking he should be better able to quench the fire, if he took nothing whatever, therefore, in his unseasonable spirit of opposition, boy-like, he would take nothing. But when he came into the town, his tongue was paralyzed, and he was for a long time speechless, so that he could pronounce nothing articulately; however, he could read indeed, and attended masters for a long time, but that was all, and there was nothing to mark his progress. So all his hopes (in life) were cut off, and his mother was full of grief: and though the physicians suggested many plans, and many others did so too, yet nobody was able to do him any good, until the merciful God loosed the string of his tongue (cf. Mark vii. 35), and then he recovered, and was restored to his former readiness and distinctness of speech. His mother also related, that when a very little child, he had an affection in the nose, which they call a polypus: and then too the physicians had given him over and his father cursed him (for the father was then living), and (even) his mother prayed for him to die; and all was full of distress. But he on a sudden having coughed, owing to the collection of mucus, by the force of the breath expelled the creature (to thhri'on) from his nostrils, and all the danger was removed. But this evil having been extinguished, an acrid and viscid running from the eyes formed such a thick gathering of the humors (ta`s lh'mas), that it was like a skin drawn over the pupil, and what was worse, it threatened blindness, and everybody said this would be the issue. But from this disease also was he quickly freed by the grace of God. So far what I have heard from others: now I will tell you what I myself know. Once on a time a suspicion of tyrants was raised in our city--at that time I was but a youth--and all the soldiers being set to watch without the city as it chanced, they were making strict inquisition after books of sorcery and magic. And the person who had written the book, had flung it unbound (akataskeu'aston) into the river, and was taken, and when asked for it, was not able to give it up, but was carried all around the city in bonds: when, however, the evidence being brought home to him, he had suffered punishment, just then it chanced that I, wishing to go to the Martyrs' Church, was returning through the gardens by the riverside in company with another person. He, seeing the book floating on the water at first thought it was a linen cloth, but when he got near, perceived it was a book, so he went down, and took it up. I however called shares in the booty, and laughed about it. But let us see, says he, what in the world it is. So he turns back a part of the page, and finds the contents to be magic. At that very moment it chanced that a soldier came by: * * * then having taken from within, he went off. There were we congealed with fear. For who would have believed our story that we had picked it up from the river, when all were at that time, even the unsuspected, under strict watch? And we did not dare to cast it away, lest we should be seen, and there was a like danger to us in tearing it to pieces. God gave us means, and we cast it away, and at last we were free for that time from the extreme peril. And I might mention numberless cases, if I had a mind to recount all. And even these I have mentioned for your sakes, so that, if any have other cases, although not such as these, let him bear them in mind constantly: for example, if at any time a stone having been hurled, and being about to strike thee, has not struck thee, do thou bear this ever in thy mind: these things produce in us great affection towards God. For if on remembering any men who have been the means of saving us, we are much mortified if we be not able to requite them, much more (should we feel thus) with regard to God. This too is useful in other respects. When we wish not to be overmuch grieved, let us say: "If we have received good things at the hand of the Lord, shall not we endure evil things?" (Job ii. 10.) And when Paul told them from whence he had been delivered, (2 Tim. iv. 17) the reason was that he might put them also in mind. See too how Jacob kept all these things in his mind: wherefore also he said: "The Angel which redeemed me from my youth up (Gen. xlviii. 16); and not only that he redeemed him, but how and for what purpose. See accordingly how he also calls to mind the benefits he had received in particular. "With my staff," he says, "I passed over Jordan." (Gen. xxxii. 10.) The Jews also always remembered the things which happened to their forefathers, turning over in their minds the things done in Egypt. Then much more let us, bearing in mind the special mercies which have happened to us also, how often we have fallen into dangers and calamities, and unless God had held his hand over us, should long ago have perished: I say, let us all, considering these things and recounting them day by day, return our united thanks all of us to God, and never cease to glorify Him, that so we may receive a large recompense for our thankfulness of heart, through the grace and compassion of His only begotten Son, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XXXIX: ACTS XVII. 32-34. XVIII. 1.
"And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth."
What can be the reason that, having persuaded (some so far as to say) that they would hear him again, and there being no dangers, Paul is so in haste to leave Athens? Probably he knew that he should do them no great good; moreover he was led by the Spirit to Corinth. (b) For the Athenians, although fond of hearing strange things, nevertheless did not attend (to him); for this was not their study, but only to be always having something to say; which was the cause that made them hold off from him. But if this was their custom, how is it that they accuse him, "he seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods?" (ch. xvii. 18.) Yes, but these were matters they did not at all know what to make of. Howbeit, he did convert both Dionysius the Areopagite, and some others. For those who were careful Of (right) living, quickly received the word; but the others not so. It seemed to Paul sufficient to have cast the seeds of the doctrines. (a) To Corinth then, as I said, he was led by the Spirit, in which city he was to abide. (c) "And having found a certain Jew named Aquila, of Pontus by birth, lately come from "Italy"-for the greater part of his life had been passed there--" and Priscilla his wife, because that Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome." (v. 2.) For though it was in the reign of Nero that the war against the Jews was consummated, yet from the time of Claudius and thenceforward it was fanning up, at a distance indeed, so that, were it but so, they might come to their senses, and from Rome they were now driven as common pests. This is why it is so ordered by Providence that Paul was led thither as a prisoner, that he might not as a Jew be driven away, but as acting under military custody might even be guarded there. (Having found these,) "he came to them, and because he was of the same craft, he abode with them and wrought: for by occupation they were tent-makers." (v. 3.) Lo, what a justification he found for dwelling in the same house with them! For because here, of all places, it was necessary that he should not receive, as he himself says, "That wherein they glory, they may be found, even as we" (2 Cor. xi. 12), it is providentially ordered that he there abides. "And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was straitened in the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ." (v. 4, 5.) "And when the Jews opposed and blasphemed," i.e. they tried to bear him down (ephre'azon), they set upon him--What then does Paul? He separates from them, and in a very awful manner: and though he does not now say, "It was need that the word should be spoken unto you," yet he darkly intimates it to them?--" and when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles." (v. 6.) "And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue." See how having again said, "Henceforth--" for all that, he does not neglect them; so that it was to rouse them that he said this, and thereupon came to Justus, whose house was contiguous to the synagogue, so that a even from this they might have jealousy, from the very proximity. "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house." This also was, of all things, enough to bring them over. "And many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city." (v. 8-10.) See by how many reasons He persuades him, and how He puts last the reason which of all others most prevailed with him, "I have much people in this city." Then how was it, you may ask, that they set upon him? And yet, the writer tells us, they prevailed nothing, but brought him to the proconsul. "And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. And when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews ;made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment-seat." (v. II, 12.) Do you mark why those men were ever contriving to give a public turn to the misdemeanors (they accused them of)? Thus see here: (b) "Saying, This fellow seduceth men contrary to the law to worship God. And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said: If indeed it were any wrong-doing or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you. But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. And he drave them from the judgment-seat." (v. 13--16.) This Gallio seems to me to have been a sensible man. (a) Thus observe, when these had said, "Against the law he seduceth men to worship God," he "cared for none of these things:" and observe how he answers them: "If indeed it were" any matter affecting the city, "any wrong-doing or wicked lewdness," etc. (c) "Then all the Jews? took Sosthenes the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment-seat: and Gallio cared for none of these things" (v. 17): but their beating him he did not take as an insult to himself. So petulant were the Jews. But let us look over again what has been said.
(Recapitulation.) "And when they heard," (ch. xvii. 32) what great and lofty doctrines, they did not even attend, but jeered at the Resurrection! "For the natural man," it saith, "receiveth not the things of the Spirit." (1 Cor. ii. 14.) "And so," it says, "Paul went forth." (v. 33.) How? Having persuaded some; derided by others. "But certain men," it says, "clave unto him, and believed, among whom was also Dionysius the Areopagite and some others." (v. 34.) "And after these things," etc. "And having found a certain Jew by name Aquila, of Pontus by birth, lately come from Italy, because that Claudius had ordered all Jews to depart from Rome, he came to them, and because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tent-makers." (ch.xviii. 1-3.) Being of Pontus, this Aquila * * * . Observe how, not in Jerusalem, nor near it (the crisis), was hasting to come, but at a greater distance. And with him he abides, and is not ashamed to abide, nay, for this very reason he does abide, as having a suitable lodging-place, for to him it was much more suitable than any king's palace. And smile not thou, beloved, to hear (of his occupation). For (it was good for him) even as to the athlete the palaestra is more useful than delicate carpets; so to the warrior the iron sword (is useful), not that of gold. "And wrought," though he preached. Let us be ashamed, who though we have no preaching to occupy us, live in idleness. "And he disputed in the synagogue every sabbath day, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks" (v. 4): but "when they opposed and blasphemer" he withdrew, by this expecting to draw them more. For wherefore having left that house did he come to live hard by the synagogue? was it not for this? For it was not that he saw any danger here. But therefore it is that Paul having testified to them--not teaches now, but testifies-- "having shaken his garments," to terrify them not by word only but by action, "said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads" (v. 6): he speaks the more vehemently as having already persuaded many. "I," says he, "am clean." Then we also are accountable for the blood of those entrusted to us, if we neglect them. "From this time forth I will go to the Gentiles." So that also when he says, "Henceforth let no man trouble me" (Gal. vi. 17), he says it to terrify. For not so much did the punishment terrify, as this stung them. "And having removed thence he came into the house of one named Justus, that worshipped God, whose house was contiguous to the synagogue" (v. 7), and there abode, by this wishing to persuade them that he was in earnest (pro`s ta` ethnh hpei'geto) to go to the Gentiles. Accordingly, mark immediately the ruler of the synagogue converted, and many others, when he had done this. "Crispus the ruler of the synagogue believed in the Lord, with his whole house: and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized."--(v. 8.) "With his whole house:" observe the converts in those times doing this with their entire household. This Crispus he means where he writes, "I baptized none save Crispus and Gaius." (1 Cor. i. 14.) This (same) I take to be called Sosthenes--(evidently) a believer, insomuch that he is beaten, and is always present with Paul.* "And the Lord said in the night," etc. Now even the number (of the "much people") persuaded him, but Christ's claiming them for His own (moved him) more. Yet He says also, "Fear not:" for the danger was become greater now, both because more believed, and also the ruler of the synagogue. This was enough to rouse him. Not that he was reproved as fearing; but that he should not suffer aught; "I am with thee, and none shall set upon thee to hurt thee." (v. 9, 10.) For He did not always permit them to suffer evil, that they might' not become too weak. For nothing so grieved Paul, as men's unbelief and setting themselves (against the Truth) this was worse than the dangers. Therefore it is that (Christ) appears to him now. "And he continued a year and six months," etc. (v. 11.) After the year and six months, they set upon him. "And when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia," etc. (v. 12, 13), because they had no longer the use of their own laws. (c) And observe how prudent he is: for he does not say straightway, I care not, but, "If," says he, "it were a matter of wrong-doing or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: but if it be a question of doctrine and words and of your law, see ye to it, for I do not choose to be a judge of such matters." (v. 14, 15.) (g) He taught them that not such are the matters which crave a judicial sentence, but they do all things out of order. And he does not say, It is not my duty, but, "I do not choose," that they may not trouble him again. Thus Pilate said in the case of Christ, "Take ye Him, and judge him according to your law." (John xviii. 31.) But they were just like men drunken and mad. (d) "And he drave them from the judgment-seat" (v. 16)--he effectually closed the tribunal against them. "Then all" (the Jews) "having seized Sosthenes the ruler of the synagogue, beat him before the judgment- seat. And Gallio cared for none of these things." (v. 17). (a) This thing, of all others, set them on (to this violence)--their persuasion that the governor would not even let himself down (to notice it). (e) It was a splendid victory. O the shame they were put to! (b) For it is one thing to have come off victorious from a controversy, and another for those to learn that he cared nothing for the affair. (f) "And Gallio cared for none of these things:" and yet the whole was meant as an insult to him! But, forsooth, as if they had received authority (they did this). Why did he (Sosthenes), though he also had authority, not beat (them)? But they were (otherwise) trained: so that the judge should learn which party was more reasonable. This was no small benefit to those present--both the reasonableness of these, and the audacity of those. (h) He was beaten, and said nothing.
This man let us also imitate: to them that beat us, let us return blow for blow, by meekness, by silence, by long-suffering. More grievous these wounds, greater this blow, and more heavy. For to show that it is not the receiving a blow in the body that is grievous, but the receiving it in the mind, we often smite people, but since it is in the way of friendship, they are even pleased: but if you smite any indifferent person in an insolent manner, you have pained him exceedingly, because you have touched his heart. So let us smite their heart. But that meekness inflicts a greater blow than fierceness, come, let us prove, so far as that is possible, by words. For the sure proof indeed is by acts and by experience: but if you will, let us also make the enquiry by word, though indeed we have often made it already. Now in insults, nothing pains us so much, as the opinion passed by the spectators; for it is not the same thing to be insulted in public and in private, but those same insults we endure even with ease, when we suffer them in a solitary place, and with none by to witness them, or know of them. So true is it that it is not the insult, as it is in itself, that mortifies us, but the having to suffer it in the sight of all men: since if one should do us honor in the sight of all men, and insult us in private, we shall notwithstanding even feel obliged to him. The pain then is not in the nature of the insult, but in the opinion of the beholders; that one may not seem to be contemptible. What then, if this opinion should be in our favor? Is not the man attempting to disgrace us himself more disgraced, when men give their opinion in our favor? Say, whom do the bystanders despise? Him who insults, or him who being insulted keeps silence? Passion indeed suggests, that they despise him who is insulted: but let us look into it now while we are free from that excitement, in order that we may not be carried away when the time comes. Say, whom do we all condemn? Plainly the man who insults: and if he be an inferior, we shall say that he is even mad; if an equal, that he is foolish; if a superior, still we shall not approve of it. For which man, I ask, is worthy of approval, the man who is excited, who is tossed with a tempest of passion, who is infuriated like a wild beast, who demeans himself in this sort against our common nature, or he who lives in a state of calm, in a haven of repose, and in virtuous equanimity? Is not the one like an angel, the other not even like a man? For the one cannot even bear his own evils, while the other bears even those of others also: here, the man cannot even endure himself; there, he endures another too: the one is in danger of shipwreck, the other sails in safety, his ship wafted along the favoring gales: for he has not suffered the squall of passion to catch his sails and overturn the bark of his understanding: but the breath of a soft and sweet air fanning upon it, the breath of forbearance, wafts it with much tranquillity into the haven of wise equanimity. And like as when a ship is in danger of foundering, the sailors know not what they cast away, whether what they lay hands upon be their own or other men's property, but they throw overboard all the contents without discrimination, alike the precious and what is not such: but when the storm has ceased, then reckoning up all that they have thrown out, they shed tears, and are not sensible of the calm for the loss of what they have thrown overboard: so here, when passion blows hard, and the storm is raised, people in flinging out their words know not how to use order or fitness; but when the passion has ceased, then recalling to mind what kind of words they have given utterance to, they consider the loss and feel not the quiet, when they remember the words by which they have disgraced themselves, and sustained most grievous loss, not as to money, but as to character for moderation and gentleness. Anger is a darkness. "The foot," saith Scripture, "hath said in his heart, There is no God." (Ps. xiii. 1.) Perhaps also of the angry man it is suitable to say the same, that the angry man hath said, There is no God. For, saith Scripture, "Through the multitude of his anger he will not seek" (after God). (Ps. x. 4.) For let what pious thought will enter in, (passion) thrusts and drives all out, flings all athwart. (b) When you are told, that he whom you abused uttered not one bitter word, do you not for this feel more pain than you have inflicted? (a) If you in your own mind do not feel more pain than he whom you have abused, abuse still; (but)though there be none to call you to account, the judgment of your conscience, having taken you privately, shall give you a thousand lashes, (when you think) how you poured out a flood of railings on one so meek, and humble, and forbearing. We are forever saying these things, but we do not see them exhibited in works. You, a human being, insult your fellow-man? You, a servant, your fellow-servant? But why do I wonder at this, when many even insult God? Let this be a consolation to you when suffering insult. Are you insulted? God also is insulted. Are you reviled? God also was reviled. Are you treated with scorn? Why, so was our Master also. In these things He shares with us, but not so in the contrary things. For He never insulted another unjustly: God forbid! He never reviled, never did a wrong. So that we are those who share with Him, not ye. For to endure when insulted is God's part: to be merely abusive, is the part of the devil. 'See the two sides. "Thou hast a devil" (John vii. 20; ib. xviii. 22), Christ was told: He received a blow on the face from the servant of the high-priest. They who wrongfully insult, are in the same class with these. For if Peter was even called "Satan" (Matt. xvi. 23) for one word; much more shall these men, when they do the works of the Jews, be called, as those were called, "children of the devil" (John viii. 44), because they wrought the works of the devil. You insult; who are you, I ask (that you do so)? Nay, rather the reason why you insult, is this, that you are nothing: no one that is human insults. So that what is said in quarrels, "Who are you?" ought to be put in the contrary way: "Insult: for you are nothing." Instead of that the phrase is, "Who are you, that you insult?" "A better man than you," is the answer. And yet it is just the contrary: but because we put the question amiss, therefore they answer amiss: so that the fault is ours. For as if we thought it was for great men to insult, therefore we ask, "Who are you, that you insult?" And therefore they make this answer. But, on the contrary, we ought to say: "Do you insult? insult still: for you are nobody:" whereas to those who do not insult this should be said: "Who are you that you insult not?--you have surpassed human nature." This is nobility, this is generosity, to speak nothing ungenerous, though a man may deserve to have it spoken to him. Tell me now, how many are there who are not worthy to be put to death? Nevertheless, the judge does not this in his own person, but interrogates them; and not this either, in his own person. But if it is not to be suffered, that the judge, sitting in judgment, should (in his own person) speak with a criminal, but he does all by the intervention of a third person, much more is it our duty not to insult our equals in rank; for all the advantage we shall get of them will be, not so much to have disgraced them, as to be made to learn that we have disgraced ourselves. Well then, in the case of the wicked, this is why we must not insult (even them); in the case of the good there is another reason also because they do not deserve it: and for a third, because it is not right to be abusive. But as things are, see what comes of it; the person abused is a man, and the person abusing is a man, and the spectators men. What then? must the beasts come between them and settle matters? for only this is left. For when both the wrong-doers and those who delight in the wrong-doing are men, the part of reconciler is left for the beasts: for just as when the masters quarrel in a house, there is nothing left but for the servants to reconcile them,--even if this be not the result, for the nature of the thing demands this,--just so is it here.--Are you abusive? Well may you be so, for you are not even human. Insolence seemed to be a high-born thing; it seemed to belong to the great; whereas it belongs rather to slaves; but to give good words belongs to free men. For as to do ill is the part of those, so to suffer ill is the part of these.--Just as if some slave should steal the master's property, some old hag,--such a thing as that is the abusive man. And like as some detestable thief and runaway, with studied purpose stealing in, looks all around him, wishing to filch something: so does this man, even as he, look narrowly at all on every side, studying how to throw out some (reproach). Or perhaps we may set him forth by a different sort of example. Just as if one should steal filthy vessels out of a house, and bring them out in the presence of all men, the things purloined do not so disgrace the persons robbed, as they disgrace the thief himself: just so this man, by bringing out his words in the presence of all men, casts disgrace not on others but on himself by the words, in giving vent to this language, and be-fouling both his tongue and his mind. For it is all one, when we quarrel with bad men, as if one for the sake of striking a man who is immersed in putrefying filth should defile himself by plunging his hands into the nastiness. Therefore, reflecting on these things, let us flee the mischief thence accruing, and keep a clean tongue, that being clear from all abusiveness, we may be enabled with strictness to pass through the life present, and to attain unto the good things promised to those that love Him, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XL: ACTS XVIII. 18.
"And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow."
See how the Law was breaking up; see how they were bound by conscience. This, namely, was a Jewish custom, to shear their heads agreeably with a vow. But then there ought to be also a sacrifice (ch. xxi. 26), which was not the case here.[*]-- "Having yet tarried :" after the beating of Sosthenes. For it was necessary that he should yet tarry, and comfort them concerning these things. "He sailed for Syria." Why does he desire again to come to Syria? It was there that"the disciples were ordered to be called Christians" (ch. xi. 26): there, that he had been "commended to the grace of God" (xiv. 26): there, that he had effected such things concerning the doctrine. "And with him Priscilla"--lo, a woman also---" and Aquila." But these he left at Ephesus. With good reason, namely, that they should teach. For having been with him so long time, they were learning many things: and yet he did not at present withdraw them from their custom as Jews. "And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; but bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem." Therefore it was that he was hindered from coming into Asia, being impelled to what was of pressing moment. Thus observe him here, entreated (by them) to stay, but because he could not comply, being in haste to depart, "he bade them farewell." However, he did not leave them without more ado, but with promise (to return): "But I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus." (v. 19-21.) "And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the Church, he went down to Antioch. And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples." (v. 22-23.) He came again to those places which he had previously visited. "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus." (v. 24.) Lo, even learned men are now urgent, and the disciples henceforth go abroad. Do you mark the spread of the preaching? "This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the Spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." (v. 25-26.) If this man knew only the baptism of John, how is it that he was "fervent in the Spirit," for the Spirit was not given in that way? And if those after him needed the baptism of Christ, much more would he need it. Then what is to be said? For it is not without a meaning that the writer has strung the two incidents together. It seems to me that this was one of the hundred and twenty who were baptized with the Apostles: or, if not so, then the same that took place in the case of Cornelius, took place also in the case of this man. But neither does he receive baptism. That expression, then, "they expounded more perfectly," seems to me to be this, that he behooved also to be baptized. Because the other twelve knew nothing accurate, not even what related to Jesus. And it is likely that he did in fact receive baptism. But if these (disciples) of John, after that baptism again received baptism, was this needful for the disciples also? And wherefore the need of water? These are very different from him, men who did not even know whether there were a Holy Ghost.* "He was fervent," then, "in the Spirit, knowing only the baptism of John:" but these "expounded to him more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace." (v. 27.) He wished then also to depart into Achaia, and these also encouraged (him to do so), having also given him letters. "Who when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: for he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ." (v. 28.) "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper coasts"--meaning what we have read as to Caesarea and the other placest" came to Ephesus, and having found certain disciples (ch. xix. 1), "he said to them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him who should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." (v. 2-4.) For that they did not even believe in Christ is plain from his saying, "that they should believe on Him that was to come after him." And he did not say, The baptism of John is nothing, but, It is incomplete. Nor does he add this (in so many words), but he taught them, and many received the Holy Ghost. "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve" (v. 5-7): so that it was likely they had the Spirit, but it did not appear "And all the men were about twelve."
(Recapitulation.) "And they came to Ephesus, and there he left them" (v. 19): for he did not wish to take them about with him, but left them at Ephesus. But they subsequently dwelt at Corinth, and he bears high testimony to them, and writing to the Romans, salutes them. (Rom. xvi. 3.) Whence it seems to me that they afterwards went back to Rome, in the time of Nero, as having an attachment for those parts whence they had been expelled in the time of Claudius. "But he himself went into the synagogue." It seems to me that the faithful still assembled there, for they did not immediately withdraw them. "And when they besought him to stay, he consented not" (v. 20, 21), for he was hastening to Caesarea. "And having arrived at Caesarea," etc., "passing through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, confirming all the disciples." (v. 22, 23.) Through these regions also he merely passes again, just enough to establish them by his presence. "And a certain Jew, Apollos by name," etc. (v. 24.) For he was an awakened man, travelling in foreign parts for this very purpose. Writing of him the Apostle said, "Now concerning Apollos our brother." (1 Cor. xvi. 12.) (b) Whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard," etc. (v. 26.) It was not for nothing that he left them at Ephesus, but for Apollos' sake, the Spirit so ordered it, that he might come with greater force to the attack hepibh^nai upon Corinth. What may be the reason that to him they did nothing, but Paul they assault? They knew that he was the leader, and great was the name of the man. "And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia" (v. 27) i.e. in faith, he did all by faith; "the brethren wrote," etc. nowhere envy, nowhere an evil eye. Aquila teaches, or rather this man lets himself be taught. He was minded to depart, and they send letters. (a) "For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly," etc. (v. 28.) Now by this, that he "publicly" convinced them, his boldness was shown: by the clearness of his arguing, his power was declared: by his convicting them out of the Scriptures, his skill (of learning). For neither boldness by itself contributes aught, where there is not power, nor power where there is not boldness. "He mightily convinced," it says. (b) "And it came to pass," etc. (ch. xix. 1.) But whence had those, being in Ephesus, the baptism of John? Probably they had been on a visit at Jerusalem at the time (of John's preaching), and did not even know Jesus. And he does not say to them, Do ye believe in Jesus? but what? "Have ye received the Holy Ghost?" (v. 2.) He knew that they had not, but wishes themselves to say it, that having learnt what they lack, they may ask. "John verily baptized," etc. (v. 4.) From the baptism itself he (John) prophesies : and he leads them (to see) that this is the meaning of John's baptism. (a) "That they should believe on Him that was to come :" on what kind (of Person)? "I indeed baptize you with water, but He that cometh after me, shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost? (Matt. iii. 11.) And when Paul," it says, "had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied." (v. 6.) (b) The gift is twofold: tongues and prophesyings. Hence is shown an important doctrine, that the baptism of John is incomplete. And he does not say, "Baptism" of forgiveness, but, "of repentance." What (is it) then? These had not the Spirit: they were not so fervent, not even instructed. And why did (Apollos) not receive baptism? (The case) seems to me to be this: Great was the boldness of the man. "He taught diligently the things concerning Jesus," but he needed more diligent teaching. Thus, though not knowing all, by his zeal he attracted the Holy Ghost, in the same manner as Cornelius and his company.
Perhaps it is the wish of many, Oh that we had the baptism of John now! But (if we had), many would still be careless of a life of virtue, and it might be thought that each for this, and not for the kingdom of heaven's sake, aimed at virtue. There would be many false prophets: for then "they which are approved" would not be very "manifest." (1 Cor. xi. 19.) As, "blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20, 29), so they that (believe)without signs. "Except," saith (Christ), "ye see signs, ye will not believe." (Ib. iv. 48.) For we lose nothing (by lack of miracles), if we will but take heed to ourselves. We have the sum and substance of the good things: through baptism we received remission of sins, sanctification, participation of the Spirit, adoption, eternal life. What would ye more? Signs? But they come to an end (alla` katargei^tai. Thou hast "faith, hope, charity," the abiding things: these seek thou, these are greater than signs. Nothing is equal to charity. For "greater than all," saith he, "is charity." (cf. 1 Cor. xiii. 5.) But now, love is in jeopardy, for only its name is left behind, while the reality is nowhere (seen), but we are divided each from the other. What then shall one do to reunite (ourselves)? For to find fault is easy, but how may one make friendship, this is the point to be studied; how we may bring together the scattered members. For be it so, that we have one Church, or one doctrine--yet this is not the (main) consideration: no, the evil is, that in these we have not fellowship--" living peaceably," as the Apostle says, "with all men" (Rom. xii. 18), on the contrary, we are at variance one with another. For be it that we are not having fights every day, yet look not thou to this, but (to this), that neither have we charity, genuine and unswerving. There is need of bandages and oil. Let us bear it in mind, that charity is the cognizance of the disciples of Christ: that without this, all else avails nothing: that it is an easy task if we will. Yes, say you, we know all this, but how (to go to work) that it may be achieved? What (to do), that it may be effected? in what way, that we may love one another? First, let us put away the things which are subversive of charity, and then we shall establish this. Let none be resentful, none be envious, none rejoicing in (others') misfortunes: these are the things that hinder love; well then, the things that make it are of the other sort. For it is not enough to put away the things that hinder; the things that establish must also be forthcoming. Now Sirach tells us the things that are subversive (of friendship), and does not go on to speak of the things which make union. "Reproaching," he says, "and revealing of a secret, and a treacherous wound." (Ecclus. 22, 27.) But in speaking of the men of those times, these things might well be named, seeing they were carnal: but in our case, God forbid they should be (even) named. Not from these things do we bring our inducements for you, but from the others. For us, there is nothing good without friendship. Let there be good things without number, but what is the benefit--be it wealth, be it luxury-- without friendship? No possession equal to this, even in, matters of this life, just as there is nothing worse than men hating (us). "Charity hides a multitude of sins" (1 Pet. iv. 8): but enmity, even where sins are not, suspects them to be. It is not enough not to be an enemy; no, one must also love. Bethink thee, that Christ has bidden, and this is enough. Even affliction makes friendships, and draws (men) together. "What then," say you, "now, when there is no affliction? say, how (are we to act) to become friends?" Have ye not other friends, I ask? In what way are ye their friends, how do ye continue such? For a beginning, let none have any enemy: this (in itself) is not a small matter: let none envy; it is not possible to accuse the man who envies not. (b) How then shall we be warmly affected? What makes love of persons? Beauty of person. Then let us also make our souls beautiful, and we shall be amiable one to another: for it is necessary, of course, not only to love, but also to be loved. Let us first achieve this point, that we may be loved, and the other will be easy. How to act that we may be loved? Let us become beautiful, and let us do this, that we may always have lovers. Let none make it his study to get money, to get slaves, to get houses, (so much)as to be loved, as to have a good name. Better is a name than much wealth. For the one remains, the other perishes: and the one it is possible to acquire, the other impossible. For he that has got an evil character, will with difficulty lay it aside: but by means of his (good) name the poor man may quickly be rich. Let there be a man having ten thousand talents, and another a hundred friends; the latter is more rich in resources than the former. Then let us not merely do this, but let us work it as a kind of trade. "And how can we?" say you. "A sweet mouth multiplieth its friends, and a gracious tongue." Let us get a well- spoken mouth, and pure manners. It is not possible for a man to be such, and not to be known.
(a) We have one world that we all inhabit, with the same fruits we all are fed. But these are small matters: by the same Sacraments we partake of the same spiritual food. These surely are justifications of loving! (c) Mark how many (inducements and pleas) for friendship they that are without have excogitated; community of art or trade, neighborhood, relationships: but mightier than all these are the impulses and ties which are among us: this Table is calculated more (than all else) to shame us into friendliness. But many of us who come thereto do not even know one another. The reason, it may be said, is that there are so many of them. By no means; it is only our own sluggish indifference. (Once) there were three thousand (ch. ii. 41)--there were five thousand (iv. 4)--and yet they had all one soul: but now each knows not his brother, and is not ashamed to lay the blame on the number, because it is so great! Yet he that has many friends is invincible against all men: stronger he than any tyrant. Not such the safety the tyrant has with his body-guards, as this man has with his friends. Moreover this man is more glorious than he: for the tyrant is guarded by his own slaves, but this man by his peers: the tyrant, by men unwilling and afraid of him; this man by willing men and without fear. And here too is a wonderful thing to be seen--many in one, and one in many. (a) Just as in an harp, the sounds are diverse, not the harmony, and they all together give out one harmony and symphony, (c) I could wish to bring, you into such a city, were it possible, wherein (all) should be one soul: then shouldest thou see surpassing all harmony of harp and flute, the more harmonious symphony. (b) But the musician is the Might of Love: it is this that strikes out the sweet melody, (d) singing (withal) a strain in which no note is out of tune. This strain rejoices both Angels, and God the Lord of Angels; this strain rouses (to hear it) the whole audience that is in heaven; this even lulls (evil) passions--it does not even suffer them to be raised, but deep is the stillness. For as in a theatre, when the band of musicians plays, all listen with a hush, and there is no noise there; so among friends, while Love strikes the chords, all the passions are still and laid to sleep, like wild beasts charmed and unnerved: just as, where hate is, there is all the contrary to this. But let us say nothing just now about enmity; let us speak of friendship. Though thou let fall some casual hasty word, there is none to catch thee up, but all forgive thee; though thou do (some hasty thing), none puts upon it the worse construction, but all allowance is made: every one prompt to stretch out the hand to him that is failing, every one wishing him to stand. A wall it is indeed impregnable, this friendship; a wall, which not the devil himself, much less men, can overpower. It is not possible for that man to fall into danger who has gotten many friends. (Where love is) no room is there to get matter of anger, but only for pleasantness of feeling: no room is there to get matter of envying; none, to get occasion of resentment. Mark him, how in all things both spiritual and temporal, he accomplishes all with ease. What then, I pray you, can be equal to this man? Like a city walled on every side is this man, the other as a city unwalled.--Great wisdom, to be able to be a creator of friendship! Take away friend: ship, and thou hast taken away all, thou hast confounded all. But if the likeness of friendship have so great power, what must the reality itself be? Then let us, I beseech you, make to ourselves friends, and let each make this his art. But, lo! you will say, I do study this, but the other does not. All the greater the reward to thee. True, say you, but the matter is more difficult. How, I ask? Lo! I testify and declare to you, that if but ten of you would knit yourselves together, and make this your work, as the Apostles made the preaching theirs, and the Prophets theirs the teaching, so we the making of friends, great would be the reward. Let us make for ourselves royal portraits. For if this be the common badge of disciples, we do a greater work than if we should put ourselves into the power to raise the dead. The diadem and the purple mark the Emperor, and where these are not, though his apparel be all gold, the Emperor is not yet manifest. So now thou art making known thy lineage. Make men friends to thyself, and (friends) to others. There is none who being loved will wish to hate thee. Let us learn the colors, with what ingredients they are mixed, with what (tints) this portrait is composed. Let us be affable: let us not wait for our neighbors to move. Say not, if I see any person hanging back (for me to make the first advances), become worse than he: but rather when thou seest this, forestall him, and extinguish his bad feeling. Seest thou one diseased, and addest to his malady? This, most of all, let us make sure of--"in honor to prefer one another, to account others better than one's self" (Rom. xii 10), deem not this to be a lessening of thyself. f thou prefer (another) in honor, thou hast honored thyself more, attracting to thyself a still higher extinction. On all occasions let us yield the precedence to others. Let us bear nothing in mind of the evil done to us, but if any good has been done (let us remember only that). Nothing so makes a man a friend, as a gracious tongue, a mouth speaking good things, a soul free from self-elation, a contempt of vainglory, a despising of honor. f we secure these things, we shall be able to become invincible to the snares of the Devil, and having with strictness accomplished the pursuit of virtue, to attain unto the good things promised to them that love Him, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XLI: ACTS XIX. 8, 9.
"And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus."
(a) See him in every place forcing his way into the synagogue, and in this manner departing thence. For in every place, he wished to have the occasion given him by them. (c) He wished to separate the disciples thence, and to have the beginning for ceasing to assemble with them, given by (the Jews) themselves. And it was not for nothing that he did this (b)which have said. He was henceforth "provoking them to jealousy." For both the Gentiles readily received him, and the Jews, upon the Gentiles receiving him, repented. (a) This is why he continually made a stir among them, "for three months arguing and persuading concerning the kingdom of God:" for you must not suppose because you hear of his "speaking boldly," that there was any harshness: it was of good things that he discoursed, of a kingdom: who would not have heard him? "But when divers were hardened, speaking evil of the way." They might well call it "the way;" this was indeed the way, that led into the kingdom of heaven. "He departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this was done for the space of two years, so that all that were in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks." (v. 10.) (a) Do you mark how much was effected by his persisting? "Both Jews and Greeks heard: (c) all that dwelt in Asia:" it was for this also that the Lord suffered him not to go into Asia (oh. xvi. 6) (on a former occasion); waiting, as it seems to me, for this same conjuncture. (Hom. xl. p. 245.) (b) "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits. went out of them." (v. 11, 12.) Not touched the wearer only (and so were healed), but also receiving them, they laid them upon the sick (and so healed them). (g)" He that believed on Me," saith Christ, "doeth greater works than those which do." (John xiv. 12.) This, and the miracle of the shadows is what He meant (in those words). (d) "Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth." (v. 13.) So entirely did they do all by way of trade! Observe: vagabond, or, itinerant, Jewish exorcists. And to believe indeed, they had no mind; but by that Name they wished to cast out the demons. "By Jesus, whom Paul preacheth." Only see what a name Paul had got! "And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus know, and Paul know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." (v. 14-16.) They did it in secret: then their impotence is publicly exposed. (f) Then not the Name does anything, unless it be spoken with faith. (h) See how they used their weapons against themselves! (j) So far were they from thinking Jesus to be anything great: no, they must needs add Paul, as thinking him to be something great. Here one may marvel how it was that the demon did not cooperate with the imposture of the exorcists, but on the contrary exposed them, and laid open their stage-play. He seems to me (to have done this) in exceeding wrath: just as it might be, if a person being in uttermost peril, should be exposed by some pitiful creature, and wish to vent all his rage upon him. "Jesus know, and Paul know." For, that there may not seem to be any slight put upon the Name of Jesus, (the demon) first confesses (Him), and then has permission given him. For, to show that it was not any weakness of the Name, but all owing to the imposture of those men, why did not the same take place in the case of Paul? "They fled out of that house naked and wounded:" he sorely battered their heads, perhaps rent their garments. (e) " And this became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, that dwelt at Ephesus, and fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many of them that had believed came confessing and making known their practices." (v. 17, 18.) For since they had got to possess such power as, by means of the demons, to do such things, well might this be the consequence, "And many of them that practised curious arts, brought their books together, and burnt them in the presence of all men; "--having seen that there was no more use of them now that the demons themselves do these things--" and reckoned up the price of them, and found the amount fifty thousand pieces of silver.* So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed." (v. 19, 20.) (i) "And" (so) "he disputed," in the school of one Tyrannus for two years :" where were believers, and believers exceedingly (advanced in the faith). Moreover (Paul) writes (to them) as to great men.
(Recapitulation.) (b) "And having enteredin to the synagogue," etc. (v. 8.) But why eparrhsia'zeto? t means, he was ready to confront dangers, and disputed more openly, not veiling the doctrines. (a) "But when some were hardened, and spake evil of the way, having departed from them, he separated the disciples." (v. 9.) He put a stop, it means, to their evil-speaking: he did not wish to kindle their envy, nor to bring them rate more contention. (c) Hence let us also learn not to put ourselves in the way of evil-speaking men, but to depart from them: he did not speak evil, when himself evil spoken of. "He disputed daily," and by this gained the many, that, being evil intreated and (evil) spoken of, he did not (utterly) break away from them, and keep aloof. (e) The evil-speakers are defeated. They calumniated the doctrine itself; (therefore) so as neither to rouse the disciples to wrath, nor * * them he withdrew, showing that everywhere alike they repel salvation from them. Here now he does not even apologize, seeing that the Gentiles everywhere have believed. "n the school of one Tyrannus:" it was not that he sought the place, but without more ado where there was a school (there he discoursed).[*] (d) And look, no sooner is the trial from those without over, than this from the demons begins. Mark the infatuated Jewish hardness. Having seen his garments working miracles, they paid no heed to it. What could be greater than this? But, on the contrary, it resulted in just the opposite effect. f any of the heathens believe not, having seen the (verb,) dust working these effects, let him believe. (f) Wonderful, how great the power of them that have believed! Both Simon for the sake of merchandise sought the grace of the Spirit, and these for this object did this. What hardness (of heart)! Why does not Paul rebuke them? t would have looked like envy, therefore it is so ordered. This same took place in the case of Christ (Mark ix. 36): but then the person is not hindered, for it was the beginning of the new state of things: since Judas also is not hindered, whereas Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead: and many Jews even for opposing (Christ) suffered nothing, while Elymas was blinded. "For am not come," saith Christ, "to judge the world, but that the world might be saved." (John iii. 17.) "And seven sons," etc. (v. 14.) See the villany of the men! They still continued to be Jews, while wishing to make a gain of that Name. All that they did was for glory and profit. (g) Look, in every case, how men are converted not so much in consequence of good things as of things fearful. n the case of Sapphira, fear fell upon the Church, and men dared not join themselves to them: here they received handkerchiefs and aprons, and were healed: and after this, then they came confessing their sins. (Hereby) the power of the demons is shown to be a great one, when it is against unbelievers. For why did he not say, "Who is Jesus?" He was afraid, lest he also should suffer punishment; but, that it might be permitted him to take revenge upon those who mocked him, he did this; "Jesus," says he, " know," etc. He was in dread of Paul. For why did not those wretched men say to him, We believe? How much more splendid an appearance they would have made had they said this, that is, if they had claimed Him as their Master? But instead of that, they spoke even those senseless words, "By Jesus, whom Paul preacheth." Do you mark the forbearance (of the writer), how he writes history and does not call names? This makes the Apostles admirable. "And the evil spirit," etc. (v. 15), for what had happened at Philippi (ch. xvi. 16) had given a lesson to these also. He mentions the name, and the number, thereby giving to the persons then living a credible proof of what he wrote. And why were they itinerant? For the sake of merchandise: not assuredly to bear tidings of the word; how should that be their object? And how ran they anon, preaching by the things they suffered? "Insomuch," it says, "that all that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord." Ought not this to have converted all? And marvel not, for nothing convinces malice. But come now, let us look at the affair of the exorcists, with what an evil disposition (they acted). Why the same was not done in the case of Christ, is an inquiry for another time, and not for the present, save that this also was well and usefully ordered. It seems to me that they did this also in mockery, and that in consequence of this (punishment), none dared even at random to name that Name. Why did this put them upon confession? Because this was a most mighty argument of God's omniscience (therefore), before they should be exposed by the demons, they accused themselves, fearing lest they should suffer the same things. For when the demons their helpers are their accusers, what hope is there thenceforth, save the confession by deeds?
But see, I pray you, after such signs had been wrought, what evils within a short space ensue. Such is human nature: it soon forgets. Or, do ye not remember what has been the case among ourselves? Did not God last year shake our whole city? Did not all run to baptism? Did not whoremongers and effeminate and corrupt persons leave their dwellings, and the places where they spent their time, and change and become religious? But three days passed, and they returned again to their own proper wickedness. And whence is this? From the excessive laziness. And what marvel if, when the things have passed away (this be the case), seeing that, the images lasting perpetually, the result is such? The fate of Sodom--say, does it not still last (in its effects)?" Well, did the dwellers beside it become any the better? And what say you to the son of Noah? Was he not such (as he is represented), did he not see with his eyes so vast a desolation, and yet was wicked? Then let us not marvel how, when such things had been done, these Jews (at Ephesus) believe not, when we see that belief itself often comes round for them into its opposite, into malignity; as, for instance, when they say that He hath a devil, He, the Son of God! Do you not see these things even now, and how men are many of them like serpents, both faithless and thankless, men who, viper-like, when they have enjoyed benefits and have been warmed by some, then they sting their benefactors? This we have said, lest any should marvel, how, such signs having been wrought, they were not all converted, For behold, in our own times happened those (miracles) relating to the martyr Babylas, those relating to Jerusalem, those relating to the destruction of the temples, and not all were converted. Why need I speak of ancient things? I have told you what happened last year; and none gave heed to it, but again little by little they fell off and sunk back. The heaven stands perpetually crying aloud that it has a Master, and that it is the work of an Artificer, all this that we see--I mean the world--and yet some say that it is not so. What happened to that Theodorus last year--whom did it not startle? And yet nothing came of it, but having for a season become religious, they returned to the point from which they had started in their attempt to be religious. So it was with the Jews. This is what the Prophet said of them: "When He slew them, then they sought Him, and turned early unto God," (Ps. lxxviii. 34.) And what need to speak of those things that are common to all? How many have fallen into diseases, how many have promised, if raised up, to work so great a change, and yet they have again become the same as ever! This, if nothing else, shows that we have natural free-will--our changing all at once. Were evil natural, this would not be: things that are natural and necessary, we cannot change from. "And yet," you will say, "we do change from them. For do we not see some, who have the natural faculty to see, but are blinded by fear?" (True--) because this also is natural:[* *] if a different (necessity of) nature come not also into operation: (thus) it is natural to us, that being terrified we do not see; it is natural to us that when a greater fear supervenes, the other gives way. "What then," you will say, "if right-mindedness be indeed according to nature, but fear having overpowered it cast it out?" What then if I shall show that some even then are not brought to a right mind, but even in these fears are reckless? Is this natural? Shall I speak of ancient things? Well then, of recent? How many in the midst of those fears continued laughing, mocking, and experienced nothing of the sort? Did not Pharaoh change immediately, and (as quickly) run back to his former wickedness? But here, as if (the demons) knew Him not, they (the exorcists) added, "Whom Paul preacheth," whereas they ought to have said, "the Saviour of the world." "Him that rose again." By this they show that they do know, but they did not choose to confess His glory. Wherefore the demon exposes them, leaping upon them, and saying, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye?" So that not ye are believers, but ye abuse that Name when ye say this. Therefore the Temple is desolate, the implement easy to be overcome. So that ye are not preachers; mine, says he, ye are. Great was the wrath of the demon. The Apostles had power to do this to them, but they did it not as yet. For they that had power over the demons that did these things to them, much more had power over the men themselves. Mark how their forbearance is shown, in that they whom they repulsed do these things, while the demons whom they courted do the contrary. "Jesus," says he, "I know." Be ashamed, ye that are ignorant (of Him). "And Paul I know." Well said, "Think not that it is because I despise them, that I do these things." Great was the fear of the demon. And why without these words did he not rend their garments? For so he would both have sated his wrath, and established the delusion. He feared as I said, the unapproachable force, and would not have had such power had he not said this. But observe how we find the demons everywhere more right minded (than the Jews), not daring to contradict nor accuse the Apostles, or Christ. There they say, "We know Thee who Thou art" (Matt. viii. 29); and, "Why art Thou come hither before the time to torment us" (Mark i. 24): and again, "I know Thee who Thou art, the Son of God." And here, "These men are servants of the most high God" (ch. xvi. 17): and again, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know." For they exceedingly feared and trembled before those holy persons. Perhaps some one of you, hearing of these things, wishes he were possessed of this power, so that the demons should not be able to look him in the face, and accounts those saints happy for this, that they had such power. But let him hear Christ saying, "Rejoice not because the demons are subject unto you" (Luke x. 20), because He knew that all men rejoice most in this, through vainglory. For if thou seekest that which pleaseth God, and that which is for the common good, there is another, a greater way. It is not so great to free from a demon as it is to rescue from sin. A demon hinders not to attain unto the kingdom of Heaven, nay, even cooperates, unwillingly indeed, but nevertheless cooperates by making him that has the demon more sober-minded; but sin casts a man out.
But it is likely some man will say, "God forbid it should ever befall me to be sobered in this way!" Nor do I wish it for you, but a very different way, that you should do all from love of Christ: if however, which God forbid, it should so befall you, then even on this behalf I would comfort you. If then the demon does not cast out (from the kingdom of heaven), but sin does cast out, to free a man from sin is greater beneficence.
From this let us study to free our neighbors, and before our neighbors, our own selves. Let us see to it, lest we have a demon: let us examine ourselves strictly. More grievous than a demon is sin, for the demon makes men humble. See ye not those possessed with a demon, when they have recovered from the attack, how downcast they are, of how sad a countenance, how fraught with shame their faces are, how they have not even courage to look one in the face? See the strange inconsistency! While those are ashamed on account of the things they suffer, we are not ashamed on account of the things we do; while they are abashed being wronged, we are not abashed when doing wrong: and vet their condition is not a subject for shame, but for pity and tenderness and indulgence: nay, great is the admiration it calls for, and many the praises, when struggling against such a spirit, they bear all thankfully: whereas our condition in very deed is a subject for ridicule, for shame, for accusation, for correction, for punishment, for the worst of evils, for hell-fire; calling for no compassion whatever. Seest thou, that worse than a demon is sin? And those indeed, from the ills they suffer, reap a double profit: first, their being sobered and brought to more self-control; then, that having suffered here the chastisement of their own sins, they depart hence to their Master, purified. For indeed upon this we have often discoursed to you, that those who are punished here, if they bear it thankfully, may naturally be supposed to put away thereby many of their sins. Whereas from sins the mischief resulting is twofold; first, that we offend; secondly, that we become worse. Attend to what I say. Not this is the only injury we get from sin, that we commit a sin: but another and a worse is this, that our soul receives a habit. Just as it is in the case of the body--for it will be more plain when put in the form of an example--as he who has taken a lever has got harm not only in this respect, that he is sick, but also that after the sickness he is become weaker, even though he may return to health after a long disease: just so in the case of sin, though we may regain health, yet we are far from having the strength we need. For take the case of one who has been insolently abusive: does he not suffer his deserts for his abusive conduct? Aye, but there is another and a worse thing to rue (which is), that his soul is become more insensible to shame. For from each several sin that is committed, even after the sin has been done and has ceased, there remains a kind of venom instilled into our souls. Do you not hear people saying, when they are recovered from sickness, "I dare not drink water now?" And yet the man has regained his health: aye, but the disease has done him this harm also. And whereas those (possessed) persons, albeit suffering ill, are thankful, we, when faring well, blaspheme God, and think ourselves very ill used: for you will find more persons behaving thus in health and wealth than in poverty and sickness. For there stands the demon over (the possessed), like a very hangman, fierce, uttering many (menaces), even as a schoolmaster brandishing the lash, and not suffering them to give way to any laxity. And suppose that some are not at all brought to a sober mind, neither are these liable to punishment; no small thing this: even as fools, even as madmen and children, are not called to account, so neither are these: since for things that are done in a state of unconsciousness, none can be so merciless as to call the doers to account. Why then, in a far worse condition than those who are possessed of evil sprits are we that sin. We do not, indeed, foam at the mouth, nor distort our eyes, or throw about our hands convulsively; but as for this, would that we did it in our body and not in our soul! Will you that I show you a soul, foaming, filthy, and a distortion of the mind's eyes? Think of those who are in a passion and drunken with rage; can any form be filthier than the words they discharge? In very deed it is like a sputtering of noisome slaver. And just as the possessed know none of those who are present, so neither do these. Their understanding darkened, their eyes distorted, they see not who is friend, who foe, who worthy of respect, who contemptible, but they see all alike without a difference. And then, do you not see them, how they tremble, just like those others? But they do not fall to the ground, say you? True, but their soul lies on the ground and fails there in convulsions: since had it stood upright, it would not have come into the condition it is in. Or think you not that it betokens a soul abjectly sprawling and lost to all self-possession, the things men can do and say when drunken with rage? There is also another form of madness worse than this. What may this be? When men cannot so much as suffer themselves to vent their anger, but instead of that nourish within their own bosoms, to their own proper hurt, as it were a very hangman with his lash, the rancorous remembrance of wrongs. For it is a bane to themselves first, (he malice that they bear. To say nothing of the things to come, what torture, think you, must that man undergo in the scourging of his soul, as day by day he looks how he may avenge himself on his enemy? He chastises himself first, and suffers punishment, swelling (with suppressed passion), fighting against himself, setting himself on fire. For needs must the fire be always burning within thee: while raising the fever to such a height, and not suffering it to wane, thou thinkest thou art inflicting some evil on the other, whereas thou art wasting thyself, ever bearing about with thee a flame which is always at its height, and not letting thy soul have rest, but evermore being in a state of fury, and having thy thoughts in a turmoil and tempest. What is more grievous than this madness, to be always smarting with pain, and ever swelling and inflamed? For such are the souls of the resentful: when they see him on whom they wish to be revenged, straightway it is as if a blow were struck them: if they hear his voice, they cower and tremble: if they be on their bed, they picture to themselves numberless revenges, hanging, torturing that enemy of theirs: and if, beside all this, they see him also to be in renown, O! the misery they suffer! Forgive him the offence, and free thyself from the torment. Why continue always in a state of punishment, that thou wayest once punish him, and take thy revenge? Why establish for thyself a hectic disease? Why, when thy wrath would fain depart from thee, dost thou keep it back? Let it not remain until the evening, says Paul. (Eph. iv. 26.) For like some eating rot or moth, even so does it gnaw through the very root of our understanding. Why shut up a beast within thy bowels? Better a serpent or an adder to lie within thy heart, than anger and resentment: for those indeed would soon have done with us, but this remains forever fixing in us its fangs, instilling its poison, letting loose upon us an invading host of bitter thoughts. "That he should laugh me to scorn," say you, "that he should despise me!" 0 wretched, miserable man, wouldest thou not be ridiculed by thy fellow-servant, and wouldest thou be hated by thy Master? Wouldest thou not be despised by thy fellow-servant, and despisest thou thy Master? To be despised by him, is it more than thou canst bear, but thinkest thou not that God is indignant, because thou ridiculest Him, because thou despisest Him, when thou wilt not do as He bids thee? But that thine enemy will not even ridicule thee, is manifest froth hence (that), whereas if thou follow up the revenge, great is the ridicule, great the contempt, for this is a mark of a little mind; on the contrary, if thou forgive him, great is the admiration, for this is a mark of greatness of soul. But you will say, he knows not this. Let God know it, that thou mayest have the greater reward. For He says," Lend to those of whom ye hope not to receive." (Luke vi. 34.) So let us also do good to those who do not even perceive that one is doing them good, that they may not, by returning to us praise or any other thing, lessen our reward. For when we receive nothing from men, then we shall receive greater things from God. But what is more worthy of ridicule, what more paltry, than a soul which is always in anger, and wishing to take revenge? It is womanly, this disposition, it is babyish. For as the babes are angry even with lifeless things, and unless the mother beats the ground, they will not let go their anger: so do these persons wish to revenge themselves on those who have aggrieved them. Why then, it is they who are worthy of ridicule: for to be overcome by, passion, is the mark of a childish understanding, but to overcome it, is a sign of manliness. Why then, not we are the objects of ridicule, when we keep our temper, but they. It is not this that makes men contemptible--not to be conquered by passion: what makes them contemptible is this--to be so afraid of ridicule from without, as on this account to choose to subject one's self to one's besetting passion, and to offend God, and take revenge upon one's self. These things are indeed worthy of ridicule. Let us flee them. Let a man say, that having done us numberless ills, he has suffered nothing in return: let him say that he might again frantically assault us, and have nothing to fear. Why, in no other (better) way Could he have proclaimed our virtue; no other words would he have sought, if he had wished to praise us, than those which he seems to say in abuse. Would that all men said these things of me: "he is a poor tame creature; all men heap insults on him, but he bears it: all men trample upon him, but he does not avenge himself." Would that they added, "neither, if he should wish to do so, can he:" that so I might have praise from God, and not from men. Let him say, that it is for want of spirit that we do not avenge ourselves. This does us no hurt, when God knows (all): it does but cause our treasure to be in greater safety. If we are to have regard to them, we shall fall away from everything. Let us not look to what they say, but to what becomes us. But, says he, "Let no man ridicule me," and some make a boast of this. O! what folly! "No man," says he, "having injured me, has ridiculed me:" that is, "I had my revenge." And yet for this thou deservest to be ridiculed, that thou didst take revenge. Whence came these words among us-- being, as they are, a disgrace to us and a pest, an overthrow of our own proper life and of our discipline? It is in downright opposition to God that thou (so) speakest. The very thing which makes thee equal to God--the not avenging thyself--this thou thinkest a subject for ridicule! Are not we for these things worthy to be laughed at, both by ourselves, and by the heathen, when we thus speak against God? I wish to tell you a story of a thing that happened in the old times (which they tell) not on the subject of anger, but of money. A man had an estate in which there was a hidden treasure, unknown to the owner: this piece of ground he sold. The buyer, when digging it for the purpose of planting and cultivation, found the treasure therein deposited, and came and wanted to oblige the seller to receive the treasure, urging that he had bought a piece of ground, not a treasure. The seller on his part repudiated the gift, saying, "The piece of ground (is not mine), I have sold it, and I have no concern whatever with this (treasure)." So they fell to altercation about it, the one wishing to give it, the other standing out against receiving it. So chanting upon some third person, they argued the matter before him, and said to him, "To whom ought the treasure to be assigned?" The man could not settle that question; he said, however, that he would put an end to their dispute--he would (if they pleased) be master of it himself. So he received the treasure, which they willingly gave up to him; and in the sequel got into troubles without end, and learnt by actual experience that they had done well to have nothing to do with it. So ought it be done likewise with regard to anger; both ourselves ought to be emulous not to take revenge, and those who have aggrieved us, emulous to give satisfaction. But perhaps these things also seem to be matter of ridicule: for when that madness is widely prevalent among men, those who keep their temper are laughed at, and among many madmen he who is not a madman seems to be mad. Wherefore I beseech you that we may recover (from this malady), and come to our senses, that becoming pure from this pernicious passion, we may be enabled to attain unto the kingdom of heaven, through the grace and mercy of His only- begotten Son, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XLII: ACTS XIX. 21, 23.
"After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season. And the same time there arose no small stir about the Way."
HE sends Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia, but himself remains at Ephesus. Having made a long enough stay in that city, he wishes to remove elsewhere again. But how is it, that having from the first chosen to depart into Syria, he turns back to Macedonia? "He purposed," it says, "in the Spirit," showing that all (that he did) was done not of his own power. Now he prophesies, saying, "I must also see Rome:" perhaps to comfort them with the consideration of his not remaining at a distance, but coming nearer to them again, and to arouse the minds of the disciples by the prophecy. At this point, I suppose, it was that he wrote his Epistle to the Corinthians from Ephesus, saying, "I would not have you ignorant of the trouble which came to us in Asia." (2 Cor. i. 8.) For since he had promised to go to Corinth, he excuses himself on the score of having loitered, and mentions the trial relating the affair of Demetrius. "There arose no small stir about the Way."[*] Do you see the renown (acquired)? They contradicted, it says: (then) came miracles, twofold: (then) again, danger: such is the way the threads alternate throughout the whole texture (of the history). "For a, certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver temples of Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen." (v. 24.). "Which made," it says, "silver temples of Diana." And how is it possible that temples could be made of silver? Perhaps as small boxes kibw'ria.[*] Great was the honor paid to this (Diana) in Ephesus; since, when (Hom. in Eph. Prol.) their temple was burnt it so grieved them, that they forbade even the name of the incendiary ever to be mentioned. See how, wherever there is idolatry, in every case we find money at the bottom of it. Both in the former instance it was for money, and in the case of this man, for money. (ch. xix. 13.) It was not for their religion, because they thought that in danger; no, it was for their lucrative craft, that it would have nothing to work upon. Observe the maliciousness of the man. He was wealthy himself, and to him indeed it was no such great loss; but to them the loss was great, since they were poor, and subsisted on their daily earnings. Nevertheless, these men say nothing, but only he. And observe: "Whom having collected, and the workmen of like occupation," having themselves common cause with him, "he said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth" (v. 25); then he brought the danger home to them, that we are in danger of falling from this our craft into starvation. "Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at naught; but also, that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians." (v. 26-28.) And yet the very things he spoke were enough to bring them to true religion: but being poor senseless creatures, this is the part they act. For if this (Paul being) man is strong enough to turn away all, and the worship of the gods is in jeopardy, one ought to reflect, how great must this man's God be, and that he will much more give you those things, for which ye are afraid. Already (at the outset) he has secured a hold upon their minds by saying, "This Paul hath turned away much people, saying, that they be no gods, which are made with men's hands." See what it is that the heathen are so indignant at; because he said that "they which be made of men are no gods." throughout, he drives his speech at their craft. Then that which most grieved them he brings in afterwards. But, with the other gods, he would say, we have no concern, but that "the temple also of the great goddess Diana is in danger to be destroyed." Then, lest he should seem to say this for the sake of lucre, see what he adds: "Whom the whole world worshippeth." Observe how he showed Paul's power to be the greater, proving all (their gods) to be wretched and miserable creatures, since a mere man, who was driven about, a mere tentmaker, had so much power. Observe the testimonies borne to the Apostles by their enemies, that they overthrew their worship. There (at Lystra) they brought "garlands and oxen." (ch. xiv. 13.) Here he says, "This our craft is in danger to be set at naught.--Ye have filled (all) everywhere with your doctrine." (ch. v. 28.) So said the Jews also with regard to Christ: "Ye see how the world is going after Him" (John xii. 19); and, "The Romans shall come and take away our city." (ch. xi. 48). And again on another occasion, "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." (ch. xvii. 6).-- "And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath." Upon what was that wrath called forth? On hearing about Diana, and about their source of gain. "And cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion: and rushed with one accord into the theatre." (v. 29). Such is the way with vulgar minds, any trivial occasion shall hurry them away and inflame their passions. Therefore it behooves to do (things) with (strict) examination. But see how contemptible they were, to be so exposed to all (excitements)! "Having caught Gains and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they dragged them:" (here) again recklessly, just as did the Jews in the case of Jason; and everywhere they set upon them. "And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not," (v. 30) so far were they from all display and love of glory. "And certain of the Asiarchs, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre" (v. 31) to a disorderly populace and tumult. And Paul complies for he was not vaingloribly was confused." Such is the nature of the multitude: it recklessly follows, like fire when it has fallen upon fuel; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together." (v. 32.) "And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward." It was the Jews that thrust him forward;(1) but as providence ordered it, this man did not speak. "And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people" (v. 33.) "But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians?" (v. 34.) A childish understanding indeed! as if they were afraid, lest their worship should be extinguished, they shouted without intermission. For two years had Paul abode there, and see how many heathen there were still! "And when the town clerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is temple-keeper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell thing were not palpable. With this saying first he extinguished their wrath. "And of the Diopetes." There was another sacred object hiero`n that was so called. Either he means the piece of burnt earth or her image.(2)(*) This (is) a lie. "Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess." (v. 36, 37.) All this however he says to the people; but in order that those (workmen) also might become more reasonable, he says: "Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsman which are with him, have a mater against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause, for which (matter) we shall not be able to give an account for this concourse" (v. 38-40.) "A lawful assembly," he says, for there were three assemblies according to law in each month; but this one was contrary to law. Then he terrified them also by saying, "We are in danger to be called to account" for sedition. But let us look again at the things said.
(Recapitulation.) "After these things were ended," it says, "Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia to go to Jerusalem," saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." (v. 21.) He no longer speaks here after the manner of a man,(8) or, He purposed to pass through those regions, without tarrying longer. Wherefore does he send away Timothy and Erastus? Of this I suppose he says, "Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone. He sent away," it says, "two of those who ministered to him" (1 Thess. iii. 1), both to announce his coming, and to make them more eager. "But he himself tarried awhile in Asia." (v. 22.) Most of all does he pass his time in Asia; and with reason: there, namely, was the tyranny, of the philosophers.(1) (Afterwards) also he came and discoursed to them again. "And the same time" etc. (v. 23), for indeed the superstition was excessive (a) "Ye both see and hear," so palpable was the result that was taking place--" that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul by persuading hath turned away," not by violence: this is the way to persuade a city. Then, what touched them closely, "that they be no gods which are made with hands." (v. 26.) He overturns, says he, our craft: (e) "From this work we have our wealth. Hath persuaded." How(2) did he persuade--he, a man of mean consideration? How prevail over so great a force of a man. Even this is enough, that he said, it ought to have been condemned long ago: if it was strong, it ought not to have been overthrown so quickly. (b) For, lest they should that a human being should have such power as this, and if a human being has power to effect such things, why then one ought to be persuaded by that man, he adds: (f) "not only is this our craft in danger to be set at naught, but also," as if forsooth alleging a greater consideration, "the temple of the great goddess Diana," etc. (c) "whom all with wrath, and shouted, Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" (v. 28.) For each city had its proper gods. (d) They thought to make their voice a barrier against the Divine Spirit. Children indeed, these Greeks! (h) And their feeling was as if by their voice they could reinstate the worship of her, and undo what had taken place! "And the whole city," etc. (v. 29.) See a disorderly multitude! "And when Paul," etc. (v. 30.) Paul then wished to enter in that he might harangue them: for he took his persecutions as occasions for teaching:" but the disciples suffered him not." Mark, how great forethought we always find them taking for him. At the very first they brought him out that they might not (in his person) receive a mortal blow; and yet they had heard him say "I must also see Rome." But it was providential that he so predicts beforehand, that they might not be confounded at the event. But they would not that he should even suffer any evil. "And certain of the Asiarchs besought him that he would not enter into the theatre." Knowing his eagerness, they "besought him:" so much did all the believers love him.--"And they drew Alexander," etc. (v. 33.) This Alexander, why did he wish to plead? Was he accused? No, but it was to find an opportunity, and overturn the whole matter, and inflame(3) the anger of the people. "But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians." (v. 34.) Do you mark the inordinate rage? Well, and with rebuke does the town clerk say, "What man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians--"(v. 35) (coming to the point) which they were frightened about. Is it this,(4) says he, that ye do not worship her? And he does not say, "That knoweth not" Diana, but, "our city," that it always worshipped her.(5) "Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against." (v. 36.) Why then do ye make a question about them, as if these things were not plain? (b) Then he quietly chides them, showing that they had come together without reason. "And to do nothing rashly" he says. Showing that they had acted rashly. (a) "For ye have brought hither" etc. (v. 37.) They wanted to make religion the pretext for what concerned their own money- making: (c) and it was not fight on account of private charges to hold a public assembly. For he put them to a nonplus, and left them not a word to say for themselves.(6) "There being no cause," he says, "for this concourse, for which" (matter) "we shall not(7) be able to give the account."(v. 40.) See how prudently, how cleverly, the unbelievers (act). Thus he extinguished their wrath. For as it is early kindled, so also is it easily extinguished. "And when he had thus spoken," it says, "he dismissed the assembly." (v. 41.)
Seest thou how God permits trials, and by them stirs up and awakens the disciples, and makes them more energetic? Then let us not sink down under trials: for He Himself will "also make the way of escape, that we may be able to bear them." (1 Cor. x. 13.) Nothing so makes friends, and rivets them so firmly, as affliction: nothing so fastens and compacts the souls of believers: nothing is so seasonable for us teachers in order that the things said by us may be heard. For the hearer when he is in ease is listless and indolent, and seems to suffer annoyance from the speaker: but when he is in affliction and distress, he falls into a great longing for the hearing. For when distressed in his soul, he seeks on all sides to find comfort for his affliction: and the preaching brings no small comfort. "What then," you will say, "of the Jews? How was it that in consequence of their weakheartedness, they did not hear?" Why, they were Jews, those ever weak and miserable creatures: and besides, the affliction in their case was great, but we speak of affliction in moderation. For observe: they expected to be freed from the evils that encompassed them, and they fell into numberless greater evils: now this is no common distress to the soul. Afflictions cut us off from the sympathy we have for the present world as appears in this, that we wish for death immediately, and cease to be loving of the body: which very thing is the greatest part of wisdom, to have no hankering, no ties to the present life. The soul which is afflicted does not wish to be concerned about many things: repose and stillness are all it desired, content for its part to have done with the things present, even though there be nothing else to follow. As the body when wearied and distressed does not wish to indulge in amours, or gormandizing, but only to repose and lie down in quiet; so the soul, harassed(1) by numberless evils, is urgent to be at rest and quit. The soul which is at ease is (apt to be) fluttered, alarmed, unsettled: whereas in this there is no vacuity, no running to waste: and the one is more manly, the other more childish; the one has more water, is tossed to and fro, just so is the soul that our greatest faults arise out of overmuch pleasure, any one may see. Come, if you will, let us represent to ourselves two houses, the one where people are marrying, the other where they are mourning: let us enter in imagination into each: let us see which is better than the other. Why, that of the mourner will be found full of seriousness (philosophi'as); that of the marrying person, full of indecency. For look, (here are) shameful words, unrestrained laughter, more unrestrained motions, both dress and gait full of indecency, words fraught with mere nonsense and foolery: in short, all is ridicule there, all ridiculous.(2) I do not say the marriage is this; God forbid; but the accompaniments of the marriage. Then nature is beside itself in excess of riot. Instead of human beings, those present become brute creatures, some neighing like horses, others kicking like asses: such utter license, such dissolute unrestraint: nothing serious, nothing noble: (it is) the devil's pomp, cymbals, and pipes, and songs teeming with fornication and adultery. But not so in that house where there is mourning; all is well-ordered there: such silence, such repose, such composure; nothing disorderly, nothing extravagant: and if any one does speak, every word he utters is fraught with true philosophy: and then the wonderful circumstance is, that at such times not men only, but even servants and women speak like philosophers--for such is. the nature of sorrow--and while they seem to be consoling the mourner, they in fact utter numberless truths full of sound philosophy. Prayers are there to begin with, that the affliction may stop there, and go no further: many a one comforting the sufferer, and recitals without number of the many who have the like cause for mourning. "For what is man?" (they ask) (and thereupon) a serious examination of our nature--"aye, then, what is man?" (and upon this) an impeachment of the life (present) and its worthlessness, a reminding (one another) of things to come, of the Judgment. (So from both these scenes) each returns home: from the wedding, grieved, because he himself is not in the enjoyment of the like good fortune; from the mourning, light-hearted, because he has not himself undergone the like affliction, and having all his inward fever quenched. But what will you? Shall we take for another contrast the prisons and the theatres? For the one is a place of suffering, the other of where there is sadness, there must needs be seriousness. He who aforetime was rich, and inflated with his own importance, now will even suffer any common person to converse. with him, fear and sorrow, like some mightier fire, having fallen on his soul, and softening down his harshness: then he becomes humble, then of a sad countenance, then he feels the changes of life, then he bears up manfully against everything. But in a theatre all is the reverse of this--laughter, ribaldry, devil's pomp, dissoluteness, waste of time, useless spending of days, planning for extravagant lust, adultery made a study of, practical training to fornication, schooling in intemperance, encouragement to filthiness, matter for laughter, patterns for the practice of indecency. Not so the prison: there you will find humbleness of mind, exhoration incentive to seriousness, contempt of worldly things; (these) are all trodden under foot and spurned and, fear stands over (the man there), as a schoolmaster over a child, controlling him to all his duties. But if you will, let us examine in a different way.(1) I should like you to meet a man on his return from a theatre, and another coming out of prison; and while you would see the soul of the one fluttered, perturbed, actually tied and bound, that of the other you would see enlarged, set free, buoyant as on wings. For the one returns from the theatre, enfettered by the sight of the women there, bearing about chains harder than any iron, the scenes, the words, the gestures, that he saw there. But the other on his return from the prison, released from all (bounds), will no longer his own case with that of (those) others. (To think) that he is not in bonds will make him thankful ever after; be will despise human affairs, as seeing so many rich men there in calamity, men (once) having power to do many and great things, and now lying bound there: and if he should suffer anything unjustly, he will bear up against this also; for of this too there were many examples there: he will be led to reflect upon the Judgment to come and will shudder, seeing here(2) (in the earthly prison) how it will be there. For as it is with one here shut up in prison, so in that world also before the Judgment, before the Day that is to come. Towards wife, children, and servants, he will be more gentle. Not so he that comes from the theatre: he will look upon his wife with more dislike, he will be peevish with his servants, bitter towards his children, and savage towards all. Great are the evils theatres cause to cities, great indeed, and we do not even know that they are great. Shall we examine other scenes of laughter also, I mean the feasts, with their parasites, their flatterers, and abundance of luxury, and (compare with them) places where are the halt and blind? As before, in the former is drunkenness, luxury, and dissoluteness, in the latter the reverse.-See also with regard to the body, when it is hot- blooded, when it is in good case, it undergoes the quickest change to sickness: not so, when it has been kept low. Then let me make my meaning clearer to you:--let there be a body having plenty of blood, plenty of flesh, plump with good living: this body will be apt even from any chance food to engender a fever, if it be simply idle. But let there be another, struggling rather with hunger and hardship: this is not easily overcome, not easily wrestled down by disease. Blood, though it may be healthy in us, does often by its very quantity engender disease: but if it be small in quantity, even though it be not healthy, it can be easily worked off. So too in the case of the soul, that which leads an easy, luxurious life, has its impulses quickly swayed to sin: for such a soul is next neighbor to folly, to pleasure, to vainglory also, and envy, and plottings, and slanderings. Behold this great city of ours, what a size it is! Whence arise the evils? is it not from those who are rich? is it not from those who are in enjoyment? Who are they that "drag" men "before the tribunals?" Who, that dissipate properties? Those who are wretched and outcasts, or those who are inflated with consequence, and in enjoyment? It is not possible that any evil can happen from a soul that is afflicted. (James ii. 6.) Paul knew the gain of this: therefore he says, "Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed." (Rom. v. 3.) Then let us not sink in our afflictions, but in all things give thanks, that so we may get great gain, that we may be well- pleasing to God, who permits afflictions. A great good is affliction: and we learn this from our own children: for without affliction (a boy) would learn nothing useful. But we more than they, need affliction. For if there, when the passions (as yet) are quiet, (chastisement) benefits them, how much more us, especially possessed as we are by so many! Nay, we behoove rather to have schoolmasters than they: since the faults of children cannot be great, but ours are exceeding great. Our schoolmaster is affliction. Let us then not draw it down willingly upon ourselves, but when it is come let us bear it bravely, being, as it is, always the cause of numberless good things; that so we may both obtain grace from God, and the good things which are laid up from them that love Him, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and evermore, world without end. Amen.